First Drafts and New Years

Take that, sky!

Take that, sky!

When it comes to starting a new tale, I find there are two ways to go about it.

The first is to plan things out. To take notes, jot down what you need. Little scraps that come together, get played with and eventually sorted into some kind of blueprint for the story. At which point, the first draft is put together and probably isn’t unlike what the blue print made it out to be. I foresee this approach being outright necessary for novels, but optional for short stories.

Short stories can get away with beginning with a first draft that is guaranteed unsellable, a throwaway draft. It is, after all, just a short story. Perhaps a 14,000 word maximum, but most of the time, it will be less than 10,000 words. Probably more like 6k to 8k. From this first draft, one can get down a number of details and discover what kind of questions need to be answered after research. You can figure out names and hammer a decent plot of some kind.

My current approach to my first novella is somewhere between these two methods. It actually began with a short story I wrote a year ago, totalling some 14,000 words. I like the characters, but the tale itself could have been beefed up some. So I threw it in the draft bin and went to work on other things. Now, I’ve dusted it off and am looking over it. I’ve taken notes, added names and added thickening plot elements. I think there are still a few things that will need further development, but I’ll handle that as I write this second draft.

It’s hard to figure out what manner I prefer for story telling. I’ve never written a tried and true novella before. It’s always been short story. Longer tales require more planning, more consideration and respect for the length. Who in their right mind would want to write a fully throwaway draft of an entire book is an absolute writing masochist, and if they plan to live off writing royalties, they better grow to like hunger pains.

This kind of transition is not what I expected. But learning it is part of my growth as a writer. And on those grounds, I’m considering my resolutions for new years.

First, I’m making a promise to myself to no longer voice my political views on Twitter and Facebook so often. It alienates people, is bad for business and fiction is primarily meant to be an escape from reality.

Two, I’m going to try and not read or study anymore producers, actors, other authors or directors of any kind unless they’ve already passed on. The fact is I’ve been burned and let down by some of the blogs I’ve been looking at. I won’t name names, but some of the views expressed sound downright abysmal. I’ve learned a few things which have frustrated me.

Third, write 1,000 words a day minimum if possible. Not including blogging, tweeting or the like. It takes 30 minutes. It keeps me on schedule with everything I’m trying to do. Think about it. 1,000 words a day, at seven times a week. That’s a short story draft a week.

Fourth and final of my writing resolutions. Get published by two or three new publishers this year. The fact is, I want to prove that multiple people think my work can sell. If I’m published all the time by one or two guys, it suggests that I appeal to only a certain group of people. If I have four or five publishers who think I sell, then that says I might have something ideal.

So that’s it. Happy New Years, folks!

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