The First Draft Is The Deepest

WritingI’m right up to my knees at the minute in the first draft of my next novel, Blind Faith. It’s an enjoyable process because I’m finally getting into the story which has been floating around inside my head for months. It’s surprising too and it’s made me think about the whole writing process all over again.

I’ve tried planning a story and I’ve tried winging a story, but both have their ups and downs. This time I’m trying something different and, I don’t know whether it’s working, but it’s much more enjoyable.

I’ve only planned the main core of the story, literally a few milestones which will keep the story honest and stop it turning from a Romcom into a Horror. I’m concentrating on getting to know the characters and trust that these people will guide the writing to the right places.

I’ve started micro-planning too. This is literally a mini plan for the next day, just so I know when I sit down to start, what things need to be covered. But because the micro-plan evolves each day with the characters it feels more natural.

For the first time it doesn’t feel as though I’m writing a book. It feels more like I’m reading a book and I can’t wait to know what’s going to happen next. This is good, right? Is this what I’ve heard other writers describe? I always thought they were mad before, when authors talk about getting to know characters and letting them lead you to places. “You’re the author, surely you know where they’re going”, I would shout. But actually, I think I may have just got it.

The proof will be in the second draft when I have a completely disparate novel that rambles on with no real point.

Until next time…


4 responses to “The First Draft Is The Deepest

  1. Interesting. I might try this for my next book attempt! Like you I have plotted and planned but then I find the writing a bit boring…a sort of ‘join the dots’ exercise. I like the idea of a broad plot outline – maybe half a page/typed, followed by a micro plan for the next session each writing day (not currently writing EVERY day – but manage something 4 days out of 7 and that is twice as much as last month. I think this sounds more like the Ian Rankin style of writing as I understand it…I wonder how different the 1st and 2nd drafts will be with this method?

  2. I think it’s a great approach. You keep things on track, yet manage to allow the characters to surprise you in your prose.

    I did something similar with “Necromancer Awakening”. I wrote out a handful of key milestones so that I’d have a nice framework in place. I took it a step further, though, and created scene “cards” in the form of PowerPoint slides. These weren’t fully-fleshed out scenes or outlines. They were essentially bullet-point lists of one or two things I needed to express. Then, when I sat down to write, I had the safety net of a framework to guide me, but enough ambiguity to make it feel as though I was experiencing the story for the first time.

    Love your blog, by the way, Michael! Always helpful.

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