If you are writer who’s even mildly active on social media then you might have heard about the NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month. But what about Camp NaNoWriMo?
Camp NaNoWriMo is a spinoff of NaNoWriMo which you can customise as per your own needs. In their own words:
Camp NaNoWriMo is your next, great writing adventure! Every April and July, take the chance to do something new with your writing… with all the flexibility that Camp offers. You can set your own writing goal (you’re not locked into 50,000 words!), and work on any writing project, novel or not.
Camp NaNo Website
It has no restrictions of word count so you can look at it as a flexible NaNoWriMo. It is good for all writers, especially for those who are new to this format of writing because of the flexibility it offers. You can writer either 10K words of 100K – there is absolutely no word count limit (minimum or maximum.)
You can sign up for Camp Nano here and join the most awesome writing community on the planet. This would be my 8th year, and I will be working on the proof of Sinister Town for this April’s Camp Nano.
So what are you waiting for? Going Camp NaNoWriMo today and get started on your writing project. You can even join writing groups there or create one of your own.
Are you participating in Camp NaNoWriMo April 2021?
In this video, I have tried to capture my process of writing a short story. If you are a new writer or are curious about how writing is done, then I am sure you’ll enjoy this video. I you are a veteran writer then I am sure you will be able to relate to it a lot. In any case, I hope you enjoy watching it.
I was contacted by one of my writing buddies for contributing in an anthology, so this story is for that. I have already submitted this story (on 28th December’20) and will update here once it will get published.
For this particular anthology, I had to write on a particular theme, therefore in order to brainstorm the concept for my story I have used Prompt Writing. If you don’t know what it is then read this: Prompt-Writing.
In this video, you’ll get a glimpse into how prompt writing is helpful in coming up with story ideas. Following are the days on which I shot this video and the corresponding time in the video for each writing session:
Characterisation is one of the most important elements of any story, long or short. If you don’t get the characterisation right, chances are that your story will fall flat on its face and no writer wants that to happen! So the best way to make sure that your story stays with the reader long before they’ve turned the last page is to nail the characterisation.
And for that I am here to share the 7 types of characters that can be created in fiction writing. There are the 7 types of character that you can, after reading this post, easily identify in the books you’ll read – even in the fantasy books with complex characterisation.
This post is a followup to the 2 hour Webinar I conducted on my YouTube channel. You can watch it here:
So let’s have a look at these 7 types of characters.
7 Types Of Characters In Fiction
1. Dynamic Characters
Dynamic Characters are the characters who go through a significant transformation in the story. As a result, they end up being different at the end of the story than how they began at the start of the story. The change or transformation they undergo can be for the better or worse.
Examples of Dynamic Characters: Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Nevile Longbottom in Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling. Theon Greyjoy, Sansa Stark, Jamie Lannister and Samwell Tarly in A Song Of Ice And Fire series by George R. R. Martin. Bilbo and Frodo in Lord Of The Rings series by J. R.R. Tolkein
2. Static Characters
Static Characters are the characters who do not go through any significant transformation in the story. They remain more or less the same way at the end of the story as they were at the beginning. These are generally strong-headed characters.
Examples of Static Characters: Hermione Granger, Luna Lovegood, Professor Dumbeldor and Hagrid in Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling. Arya Stark, Jon Snow, Danerys Targaryan and Cercie Lannister-Baratheon in A Song Of Ice And Fire series by George R. R. Martin. Gandalf in Lord Of The Rings series by J. R.R. Tolkein.
3. Round Characters
Round Characters are characters that are multi-layered, well-developed, possess multiple intricate personality traits and are insanely interesting. They have complex personalities and are mostly reader’s favourites. They help in driving a major chunk of the story forward and often are a part of sub-plots (if they are not the protagonist fo the story.)
Examples of Round Characters: Harry Potter, Neville Longbottom, Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, Luna Lovegood, Professor Dumbeldor and Hagrid in Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling. Arya Stark, Jon Snow, Theon Greyjoy, Sansa Stark, Jamie Lannister, Samwell Tarly, Danerys Targaryan and Cercie Lannister-Baratheon in A Song Of Ice And Fire series by George R. R. Martin. Bilbo, Frodo and Gandalf in Lord Of The Rings series by J. R.R. Tolkein.
4. Flat Characters
Flat Characters are characters that are single-layered possessing 2-5 basic personality traits and are not at all interesting. They appear only in limited scenes in the story and play only a very specific role beyond which their character is not explored further. Most of the times they are unimportant and uninteresting to read, but they do play a key role in a few scenes in the entire story.
Examples of Flat Characters: Crab and Goyle in Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling. Most characters from Meereen, Yunkai and Astapor and even the Sand Snakes in A Song Of Ice And Fire series by George R. R. Martin. Merry and Pippin in Lord Of The Rings series by J. R.R. Tolkein.
5. Stock Characters
Stock Characters represent a ‘type of people or personality’ rather than an individual. They portray a specific stereotype based on social prejudices and/or cliches. They are opposite of Symbolic Characters and are usually used to depict the negative traits.
Examples of Stock Characters: Mean stepmother, abusive husband, estranged father, con artist, billionaire bachelor, gentle giant, tough guy, nerd girl, hopeless romantic and so on. Professor McGonagall and Lucius Malfoy in Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. Jorah Mormont, Davos Seaworth, Melisandre the Red Priestess, Olenna Tyrell in A Song Of Ice And Fire series by George R. R. Martin. Gollum, Saruman and Sauron in Lord Of The Rings series by J. R.R. Tolkein.
6. Symbolic Characters
Symbolic Characters represent a theme or concept larger than them. They always have dynamic personality and qualities and stand for a class of certain type of symbolic traits rather than an individual. They are the exact opposite of Stock Characters and depict positive traits and greatness in a broader sense of the word.
Examples of Symbolic Characters: Professor Dumbeldor in Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. Eddard Stark, Tommen and Robert Baratheon in A Song Of Ice And Fire series by George R. R. Martin and in Lord Of The Rings series by J. R.R. Tolkein.
7. Foil Characters
Foil Characters are the characters that are used as a foil to highlight the qualities of the main characters. They are generally polar opposites of the main characters and authors use them to bring out the qualities of their main characters indirectly.
Examples of Foil Characters: Draco Malfoy is a foil to Harry Potter’s character in Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. Sansa Stark is a foil to Arya Stark and Jamie Lannister is a foil to Brienne Of Tarth in A Song Of Ice And Fire series by George R. R. Martin. Gollum is a foil to Bilbo and Frodo’s character in Lord Of The Rings series by J. R.R. Tolkein.
So these are the 7 types of characters in fiction. Did you know about them already or was it the first time you heard about some of these? I’d love to hear about what kind of characters you personally prefer while reading fiction books or writing your own stories.
Here are some other great resources on types of characters and characterisation in general:
Creating Realistic Characters is an hour-long webinar on characterisation basics. I will be doing a follow-up Webinar with the advance techniques used for characterisation, so make sure you attend this one.
I will be giving away some really exciting gifts for this Webinar!
1 Signed Copy of my novel Deceived.
1 Signed Coffee Mug.
A kick-ass Character Profile Sheet Template with 50 character traits.
For these prizes, you will have to earn points and here is how you can do it:
1 Point for retweeting/sharing my tweets and posts related to this Webinar – 1 point per tweet/share.
2 Points for sharing about this Webinar on your social media platform.
3 Points for sharing about this Webinar on your blog or website.
5 Points for creating a reel about this Webinar or my Youtube Channel.
1 Bonus Point for any kind of social media shout out for this Webinar.
Please make sure to Tag Me in your shoutouts, videos and posts otherwise you won’t be able to earn any points.
The participant with most points will received a signed copy of my book Deceived and the Character Profile Sheet Template The runner up will receive the coffee mug and the Character Profile Sheet Template. The next 8 people with highest points will receive the Character Profile Sheet Template.
So what are you waiting for?! Start sharing and earning points!
Plot, one of the 5 main elements of fiction writing, is a term that confuses many new as well as veteran writers. When it comes to Fiction Writing, there is a big difference in the Story and the Plot. If you want to learn the difference between Story and Plot then read this article: Story Vs Plot.
Plot is basically the logical sequence in which events happen in a story. These events and their sequence should make sense and take the story forward. They always follow the pattern of cause and effect or action and reaction and thus have a great impact on the characterisation too. Therefore, while working on a fiction story, it is very important to outline your basic plot before plunging into the depths of structuring.
Let’s have a look at what exactly makes up the plot:
The 5 Elements Of Plot In Fiction
1. Inciting Incident
The event that kick starts the story or the point where the story begins is known as the inciting incident. This is where your story will begin.
The problems faced by the protagonist(s) which forces them into action. Please note crises is different conflict. Conflict forces the protagonist to make a choice or a decision keeping in mind the consequences and then facing those consequences.
3. Rising and Falling Action
Rising Action is the sequence of events which lead to rising tension in the story because of the varying intensity of emotional turmoil the characters go through in the story leading the plot to the Climax. RA includes many patterns of action-reaction in varying intensity which keeps the readers engaged and interested in the story.
Falling Action is the opposite of Rising Action and is the sequence of events that leas to the falling tension in the story because of the resolutions of the sub-plots and side-stories leading to the final resolution of the main conflict. It follows the Climax of the story.
The highest point of tension in the story. The point at which the main conflict of the story is faced by the protagonist of the story.
Resolution is the end of your story. It is the point at which the main conflict is resolved and all the loose ends of the story are tied up. This is where your story ends.
And with this you can take your first steps into the deep ocean that is plot structuring. These are also the events that have to be decided on while outlining a story, so next time you want to outline a new story or an existing one then begin with these 5 elements.
If you have any queries or want to share your experience with plot lines or plotting then don’t hesitate to comment in the comment section below. I’d love to hear from you!
Storyboarding is a wonderful organising technique, that I feel, is highly underrated when it comes to fiction writing. It is a great tool to plot your novels and to put it all together in a coherent plot-line.
I am an intuitive writer but working on multiple long-form fiction projects can be downright scary at times because you tend to forget where you are in a particular story and what needs to be worked and re-worked on. Things get disorganised and that totally sucks the fun out of writing, even for a Panster like me.
And this is where storyboarding comes in. I used it to plot my first book Deceived and I am using it to plot my other 3 books too. So I thought it was time that I shared a little about how I storyboard. Organising tools can be dealt in any way one finds it comfortable, but many writers feel at a loss when they are to put their story into a coherent form and give it a structure. Therefore, I highly suggest using this amazing tool to streamline your novel and make sure nothing is left out or out of order. It is also a great way to let you know what to work on next and how much work has to go into a novel before calling it finished (which a lot of writers generally struggle with.)
So, here is how to storyboard a novel:
Storyboarding A Novel In 5 Easy Steps
The first thing that you’ll need is a surface, that we’ll call as our base. It can be a cardboard sheet, drawing sheet, whiteboard or even a clean wall. Basically, you’ll need a big surface are where you can plan your novel.
Now select a fitting plot structure for your novel. We all begin our stories with at least one plot structure in mind so if you don’t want to get too technical or like doing things intuitively then stick to the basic ones. If you are a plotter and good at organising stuff, then you might already have 2-3 plot structures in mind for your story, so put them in use now. If you are not into plot structuring or don’t know about it much, then go for the basic 3-Act Plot Structure.
I generally use the 3-Act Structure, developing it into 4 and then 5-Act Structure and then adding different curves of tension and plot-points. I also tend to use the Fichtean Curve a lot in my graphs, especially for tension and pacing.
Once you’ve decided on the plot structure to begin with, draw horizontal lines leaving a gap of 5-6 inches in between them. Draw at least 5 lines so that you have enough space for all your islands.
Prepare a list of scenes that you have already written, presently working on or plan to write. For this you will have to name your scenes for quick and easy reference. For example, if in a scene, the heroine meets with an accident, then simply name it Accident. If suppose there are two or more scenes of accidents then name them Accident I, Accident II and Accident III and so on. These won’t be your final scene names, they are just for your own reference, so don’t fret over them much and waste time doing it.
Step-3: Plot Points
Make a list of all the major plot points in your story – anything of significance that defines your plot. These plot points will help you see your story in an objective way, helping you determine the key moments, the points of no return and the climax and resolution. If you feel something is missing, then better start working on your plot points now, before you go ahead.
Now is the time to take the post-its or the index cards and start putting down each and every scene on them. These would be known as islands. Simply put the heading of the scene and write 2 lines describing it on each post-it or index card. You need to do it for all your scenes and plot points.
I usually colour-code as per how finished the scenes are, for example, the pink stickies I have used here are for the finished scenes, the blue ones are for the plot points, the peach ones are for scenes that need re-writing and the yellow ones for the scenes that are yet to be written.
Step-5: Put It All Together
Now put up all the post-its or tape the index cards as per your plot-line. Go as per the sequence of the scenes and plot points and start putting all the islands on your base.
Note: Do not paste your islands on the storyboard using glue otherwise you won’t be able to move them around without messign up your board.
And that is how you storyboard your novel.
After you’re done, have a good hard look at the overall story and if you feel some scenes are missing then simply create islands for them and add them to the Base.
How do you storyboard your novel? Don’t forget to share your experience with storyboarding in the comments section below!
NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month is around the corner and I am really looking forward to it particularly this year because of the entire lockdown situation. I simply cannot wait to get back to one of my story’s draft and start writing again motivated by all the NaNo energy on my social media feeds! I love NaNo and there are more than a million reasons for it, the first and foremost being that it helped me write my own novel!
If you are new here, I’d like you to know that I wrote the first draft of my debut novel Deceivedin NaNoWriMo 2014. Though I ended up changing the story later, the foundation was laid in NaNoWriMo’14 itself. Therefore, I have a very special place for NaNoWriMo in my heart.
As per NaNoWriMo rules of participation, a writer cannot begin actually writing the draft of the story that they are planning to work on for the WriMo but they can start prepping for it in advance. In fact, they totally encourage all writers to prepare well and they have a really awesome name for it too – Preptober (Prep October.)
So let’s get down to business and look at the 10 ways you can prepare for NaNoWriMo 2020. It doesn’t matter if you are beginning a new story or working on the draft of an old one, these points would be useful, and even handy, either way.
10 Ways To Prepare for NaNoWriMo
1. Finalise The Idea
The first thing that you’re going to have to establish before working on the draft of any story is to settle on an idea (probably two ideas in case if you’ll be working on multiple projects.)
Unless you’ve finalised an idea or two, don’t even think about entering the waters because WriMo is all about pushing your limits and belting out words. And you can only do that when you are not confused about what exactly to work on.
A lot of people make the mistake on beginning a random project thinking they’ll figure it out once the WriMo begins but mostly those projects either end badly or simply don’t end at all and get shelved.
The last thing you want is to get stuck with an idea that cannot be developed further after a certain point. You will curse the day you settled on that idea and it’ll make you lose your momentum making you start all over again with hunting for a new idea. You need to develop your idea beforehand otherwise you’ll end up with a half-baked book.
3. Establish The Theme
Next, you need to figure out the theme, i.e., the main point you (as a writer) are trying to convey through your story.
Knowing the theme of your story will prevent you from straying and wandering from your story and help you to end up feeling lost or, worse, with a confusing plot. You can have multiple side-themes, but we are talking here only about the main theme. If you don’t know about it yet, then first identify it and then work on it.
4. Work On The Plot Outline
You need an outline if you really want to work on your story and at least finish one of its drafts. It doesn’t matter if you’re a planner or a pantster, you’ll have to keep it handy because while participating in a WriMo, you simply cannot afford to lose time fretting over the outline (which you should’ve have prepared in advance!)
There are a lot of people who like to write by the seat of their pants, but the problem that creates in WriMo is that you do not have the liberty to get stuck! When you’re writing on a schedule, you need to have at least some sort of a plan to help you move forward, even if you write intuitively and refer to it only if needed. I strongly suggest creating at least a basic outline for your story before starting work on it for WriMo.
Conflict is the main conflict or the main argument of your story.
The conflict will make your story come alive because it is, by all means, the heart of your story. You first need to establish it and then make sure that it works for your story. The entire story would be woven around it, so make sure you get it right.
6. Build The Characters
The most important thing after the plot of the story are the characters. Characterisation is an entire universe in its own and while working on a story you can either concentrate of putting the story on paper or building your characters, so do it now!
Start brainstorming your character’s personality, physical as well as behavioural traits, their personalities, mannerisms and most importantly their backstories. Get to work now. And remember don’t just work only on your main character but also work on the side characters too.
Organise all your notes, scribbles, brainstormed papers, potential plot points that you worked on, POV ideas, sub-plot ideas, scenes and anything else related to your story in one place. Either put them all in one big folder or simply put them all in a file. You will be writing quite a bit in prep, so you will have even more things to add to your file or folder by the time October ends, so prepare for it from now itself.
Clear your schedule for the entire month of November, except for the really important things. If it can be done before or after then move it on your schedule and free up days for writing. You do not want to have more than 5 Zero Days (and if you are serious about your story, which I think you should be) then keep those 5 days in reserve for emergencies only.
9. Work Out A Writing Schedule & Space
Try a couple of different timings and find out the one that suits you best. Some writers find comfort in writing late at night, whereas some love writing in the wee hours of morning (I certainly do.) Some like to write in the quiet hours of the afternoon while others like to write in the evening. So figure out what works best for you.
When I say create a writing space, I do not mean to buy a desk if you don’t have one. Write wherever you feel comfortable and prepare that place for yourself. For example, in spite of having a dedicated writing space with a huge desk, I love sitting on my dining table for writing. So I will prepare it by decluttering the table and making space for writing. You can do it anywhere, on the terrace, your balcony sitting area, your garden, on the kitchen island, on the dining table, your bed… anywhere really.
10. Let Everyone Know
Now, this is the last part of the prep. You need to let everyone know that you’ll be participating in WriMo and will be busy throughout the month of November. If they can’t do anything else to support you, they should simply leave you be for the entire WriMo month so that that you can work on your story undisturbed.
Social media is another great tool to announce your participation as it makes you feel excited for your project. Try and connect with your writing community or other writers participating in WriMo to discuss your preparations as well as to know how others do it.
Questions: Have you ever participated in NaNoWriMo before or is this your first time? Are you excited for NaNoWriMo 2020? How are you preparing for this Corona- infested year’s NaNoWriMo?
Do share your experience as I would love to know about it!
Learn to write a book from start to end in this 4-week intensive workshop – Fiction Writing Masterclass. It is recommended for writers who have an idea and don’t know where to begin or how to write the book. It is also suitable for writers who have already started their book but are not stuck somewhere along the way no knowing where to go and whom to ask for help.
This workshop will teach you the coveted art of writing a book as well as finishing your book within 6-8 months.
Please register here to receive further details For Fiction Writing Masterclass:
In the last 4 months, whenever I have delivered a lecture, I am ALWAYS asked about one particular topic, each and every single time with no exception at all – What is a Beta Reader?
Beta Reading is a concept well-known in the writing community but often misunderstood and misinterpreted by the new writers. So, finally, I’m writing about one of the most exciting parts of writing a book – Beta Reading!
But before we proceed, make sure to check out my Resources For Writers page in order to learn more about fiction writing & novel writing.
WHAT ARE BETA READERS?
What is a Beta Reader?
Beta Reader is a person who reads your book and provides you with detailed feedback on your manuscript from the perspective of a reader.
When I say ‘detailed feedback,’ it does not mean a review. What it means is that the Beta Reader should tell you about what they thought of your book overall, what was good in the book, what aspect they did not like or appreciate, what they thought could be better, what felt missing and what they thought worked and what did not in its favour.
You can even create a particular questionnaire for them to help them aid in Beta Reading Report, or simply leave it to them. It is entirely up to you.
WHO CAN BE A BETA READER?
Anyone who is a voracious reader, and by that I mean a hardcore bibliophile, who reads at least 40-50 books a year and has read over 500 books in their life are perfect for Beta Reading.
Good command of the language is very important as well as a good sense of grammar and syntax is necessary when you’re looking for a good Beta Reader.
Where To Find A Beta Reader?
Beta Readers can be a little tricky to find. You’ll have to either get involved in particular circles online or will have to do a lot of research and hunting online. If you are planning to write consistently, meaning it is not a one-time stint for you, then I suggest the former way.
Join the online Beta Reading groups – you can find these on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can follow the #betareading on Instagram and Twitter and go from there. Or you can join or become a part of the websites or forums dedicated to Beta Reading. Remember, being a part of these groups means, you’ll have to volunteer to beta read for other writers as well. Many times people prefer to exchange works with each other for beta reading. That is a good way to start.
Otherwise, I’d recommend starting your own blog/website and interacting with fellow bloggers because most of the bloggers who blog about writing and reading are into Beta Reading.
How many Beta Readers do I need for 1 manuscript?
You can have as many Beta Readers for your manuscript as you can find, but make sure to have at least 5 of them.
10 is a great number but only if you can manage to find that many.
Do they charge money?
Traditionally speaking, no, Beta Readers do not charge money. They can either do it for free or ask for your feedback on something they’ve written in return for their feedback. But in recent times, things have changed drastically and the rise in the ever-growing demand for Beta Reader has given birth to Professional Beta Readers.
Professional Beta Readers are Beta Readers who deliver quality work and therefore are in high demand. Their time is money because everyone wants them, therefore, they charge money and give out their time as per the availability. While looking for Beta Readers, you can always hire 1, or maybe 2, of these professional beta readers and the rest voluntary ones.
But, be careful. Just because a person charges for money doesn’t make them professional. Make sure to check their background, read their reviews or testimonials for their service and make sure to have a sample done for free before paying anything.
And now for the second part fo the topic.
Why Do You Need Them?
The answer is simple, you need Beta Readers in order to make sure that your manuscript reads the way you intended it to. You may know the whole story in your head, hell it might have played in your mind more than a couple hundred thousand times already by the time you finish writing your manuscript, but that does not mean that you have written it all down the same way. As a writer, our closeness to our works posses the biggest problem when it comes to seeing our own mistakes. Therefore, a fresh pair of eyes could easily find out the mistakes that won’t stick out to an author even after multiple read.
Along with zeroing in on possible mistakes, potholes and problems with your plot and characterisation, Beta Readers will also let you know how ‘readable’ is your book. No that is something hard to describe but trust me, just because you’ve poured hours and hours of hardworking in a book doesn’t necessarily mean it reads good. And readability is one of the most important things when it comes to a manuscript.
And lastly, you need them because they will provide you with an important perspective of a reader for your story and will help you analyse if you need to change, develop, add or remove some aspect, scene, chapter or sub-plot in your final manuscript before you do the final round of revisions and edits and start considering the submission process.
I’ll be covering more ground on Beta Readers, the best way to approach as well as brief them and some important dos and don’ts, so keep an eye out for my next couple of posts.
In the meantime, do check out some other articles I’ve written on writing fiction:
Hello, writers, and welcome to my Class of July 2020.
If you want to skip the details and register right away, please scroll down to the end of this post.
After having conducted Introduction To The Basics Of Creative WritingandIntroduction To Novel Writing Webinars of 2+ hours each, I realised that writers needed more knowledge of techniques in order to be able to start their novels on the right foot and end them within a specific time (plus-minus a couple of months.) Therefore, I cut down right to the centre of the heart of it and came up with a specifically designed class for writing a fiction story from start to end.
About Fiction Writing Masterclass:
Fiction Writing Masterclass is a 4-hour long online workshop on writing a book. The workshop is on the 25th of July 2020 (Saturday) from 11:00 am to 3:30 pm and also on 26th July (Sunday) from 4:00 pm to 8:30 pm (there would be a half an hour break in between.) It will be conducted by me, author Heena Rathore Pardeshi – an award-winning author and a literary critic and editor. You can read more about me here.
The workshop would be followed by an hour of doubt-clearing and writing discussions for all the participating students who want to talk to me and discuss their writings or book(s) with me. I’d be happy to answer any questions about the market, my own books and my writing journey.
The session would be followed up by another session of an hour for clearing more doubts – the day for it would be decided mutually by the participating students in the workshop according to everyone’s convenience.
Please Note: Because of heavy demand, and upon request of some students, this workshop will also be conducted on 26th July (Sunday) evening from 5:00 to 8:30 pm. So if Saturday doesn’t work for you, you can attend the Sunday workshop instead. They are both the same workshop.
Syllabus for Fiction Writing Masterclass:
Brainstorming a book idea and solidifying it with mind-mapping
The 10 Literary themes and how to choose the right one for your story
How to write the first full draft of your book
Basic elements of story writing
Plotting – The 10 most-important plot-structures and selecting one for your book
Characterisation – Character arcs, inner conflicts, profiling, importance of backstory & using objects (literally and figuratively)
Exploring narration, point-of-views and different styles of writing
How to write scenes – the correct execution of scenes
How to write chapters effectively and dividing your book into chapters How to begin and end the scenes in your novel
How to write dialogues – The 10 golden dialogue writing rules to perfect techniques, style and formatting
How to deal with the problematic middle 75% of your story – Pacing & Tension
What is Show & Tell concept, how to save your book from it and how not to get carried away in doing so
Understanding Climax, Resolution & Ending – the difference and their elements
How to self-revise and self-edit your drafts – a quick guide and a checklist.
How to finish your novel
So here I present the Masterclass that will cover everything a writer needs to know in order to start and finish a full-length fiction novel.
What is so special about this Masterclass?
It covers topics that other “writing classes or specialists” never talk about. Mostly, in my opinion, because they don’t write that much themselves
It is cheaper than any other writing class in the industry especially considering the variety of the topics and the scope of the class
Interactive lecture, where you can ask questions right after we finish discussing a topic
Lifelong support. Reach out to the instructor, me, at any time through my social media platforms and I’ll be happy to answer your query
Special discounts if you later decide to avail any of my writing services – manuscript critique, editing or proofreading. Or any of the publishing packages with Citrus Publishers
Certificate of completion from Citrus Publishers
Complete course notes along with assignments and exercises
Free evaluation of the assignments after the class for up to a month
Details Of Fiction Writing Masterclass:
Batch-1: 25th July 2020 – 11:00 am to 2:20 pm
Batch-2: 25th July 2020 – 04:00 am to 08:30 pm
Platform for the workshop: Google Meet
Fees for the workshop: ₹2,000 per person for Indian nationals and $27 for non-Indians (please email me for bulk bookings and discounts.)
Capacity: 10 students per batch
Once you make the payment, you’ll be sent the payment acknowledgement within 24 hrs.
Upon enrolment, you will be added to my Fiction Writing Masterclass WhatsApp group and will receive some reading materials and some writing exercises to do until the day of the workshop.
The main workshop notes would be emailed to you on 20th July (for both batches.)
What would you need for the Fiction Writing Masterclass?
You will need following for the class:
Laptop, computer, tablet or smartphone – anything would do.
If you are using a smartphone, then don’t forget to download the Google Meet app
A good WiFi or mobile data or internet connection
Printout of the notes that I will be sending you
A notebook and pen to take down notes
What will you receive in the Fiction Writing Masterclass?
3 hours of interactive lecture on writing your fiction novel
In-depth notes on the lecture (on all topics)
Bonus material to help in your writing on the WhatsApp group
Writing assignment and some exercises to defeat writer’s block
Course completion certificate awarded by Citrus Publishers (in printable PDF format)
Being a part of my Writing Pack – that is staying connected to me and other students through the WhatsApp Writing Group for life!
Please make sure to check the email address and the phone number before submitting the form otherwise I won’t be able to contact you.
As a beginner, you might feel the need, a very compulsive need, to note down all he ideas that you get and work on them, but the only thing it manages to do is keep you busy for a couple of months or maybe just days before the steam blows off and your mind starts to wander. And that is something that you cannot afford to do while writing a novel.
When you write a novel, you will be working on it for at least a year, (that is if you are lucky) otherwise you might end up writing it for a couple of years or maybe decades… but lets’ not go there now.
Imagine being stuck with an idea that you don’t like anymore after 3-4 months or an idea that simply can’t be developed further after the first 100 pages. It would be a disaster!
Most writers quit at this stage because they feel that either they cannot write, that they are bad at writing or simply that it is not worth the effort when in reality it is only because of the fact that you picked the wrong idea.
The best way to pick the right idea – a good idea, a solid idea is to not note it down when it comes to you. Yes. Do not write it down. Let it be in your head. Let is sleep there, eat there, poop there and grow there. Give it a couple of months, and only and only if you feel that the idea is growing and simply put – driving you insane because you cannot stop thinking about it then, that is a good idea.
The first place you need to begin, especially while starting a long-form fiction project (or re-starting it), is to discover yourself as a writer – to find out what kind of a writer you are. Because unless you do it, you won’t know how to proceed further, especially once the initial flame of anticipation and excitement burns off.
Typically, there are two types of writers:
Intuitivewriter (also known as Discovery writer)
Plotter (also known as an Outliner)
Now, these are basically the two extreme ends of the spectrum. So consider the figure below:
You will find yourself somewhere in between these two ends, depending upon your unconscious inclinations.
Intuitive or Discovery writers write based on their intuitions. The ideas come to them unbridled and then the details follow, their unconscious as well as subconscious mind working on the idea day and night without them even being actively aware for most of the process. Majority of the story as well as the elements in it, comes intuitively to them. Think of a big cauldron (the mind) on the flames of your unconscious and subconscious mind cooking the soup (the story) month after month, simmering it as it bubbles there, and gets nice and thick, as you (consciously) stir it sometimes and adding bits of veggies and pieces of meat into it. It keeps on cooking and bubbling and improving its consistency, while the writer himself goes on about living their life knowing something is brewing in their mind and that ‘something’ is going to be good!
What their job is to give it enough time and keep on putting as many stirs and veggies and chunks of meat in it as they can, by consciously working not their stories and when it all gets too unbearable – when you feel the urge to jump out of the bed in the middle of the night and stat losing your precious sleep night after night, to grab your laptop or pen and paper and write it all down, then you do it.
This is how the mind of an intuitive writer works.
The downside is, their mind it always hyper -aware of their story and they find it hard to separate the real world and their story-world as it reaches its crescendo. It tends to drive a person mad – imagine all your characters talking in your head and wanting to be written!
Generally, people who are on the emotionally sensitive side, and are more receptive to energies, tend to be intuitive writers. Simply put, they are easily possessed but heir ideas and stories.
This intuitive approach is the same for all kinds of artists – painters, singers, lyricists, etc.
Outliners or plotters on the other hand, are the writers who have to outline their ideas, plot their characters and then work from the inside out. This may turn out to be an absurdly complex process, but it won’t feel like that to an outliner. The advantage is that, it is a very meticulous way of writing. And discipline prevails over creativity, so in this case you have to make sure it doesn’t kill the creativity all together because it possess the ability, and may tend to, suck the joy out of writing by making it feel too mechanical at times.
If you are an outliner, then it should be obvious to you why you get stuck in your writings – because your mind needs an outline or a plan to go ahead. That is simply how your mind works, so no need denying it. Brace it and do what is needed. Learn to plot ahead, learn writing by chalking out a plan for what to write next.
Eventually, when you have worked on your projects enough, you will start to feel a deeper connection with your writing intuition and then will you’ll automatically start writing based on intuition than an outline. But it takes time.
This is why you need to know what kind of a writer you are. You need to understand how your mind works in order to be able to work with it in harmony.
I have more insight to share about intuitive writers than outliners because I happen to be one. I am a highly intuitive person and as a result, I am an extremely intuitive writer. My stories keep me up at night, making me spend a lot of my sleeping time tapping away at my laptop while my cats stare at me like something is wrong with me. When I write, I enter a trance which can only be felt and not explained. All I can tell is, when I start writing, everything else fades to nothing and I forget time and space and enter a world that is not the one we are in. It is my story’s world, I am not me, I am my characters and that is how I do it and I wouldn’t prefer it any other way. Although it is emotionally taxing, it is irrevocably rewarding.
As an intuitive writer, I very rarely face the blank-page-syndrome, though on the downside, I cannot force myself to write when I don’t feel like it. So I had to learn to navigate these slippery slopes in order to build a consistent writing habit.
It is difficult, but achievable with time, patience and disciple.
Editing is the process in which a manuscript is modified, corrected and polished thoroughly. In the literary world, there are different kinds of editing. Editing is very subjective, depending upon what exactly is lacking or needs improvement regarding the overall quality of the individual manuscript. For example, in some manuscript, prose needs tightening, whereas in the other the overall plot-structure needs to be fixed, or in some, the scenes are not executed well or the dialogues are lacking in quality, and so on. So the first job of an editor is to determine (based on the sample chapters they are provided by the writer) to determine which kind of editing does their work needs.
Editing is the process of correcting and polishing the manuscript in order to make it stand out.
To understand this better, the editing can be categorised as following::
Now, let’s take a look at the definition of all the types of editing listed above and try and understand them better:
Editing (in the overall sense): Editing involves minor changes that polish your manuscript technically by focusing on the sentence structure, punctuations, spelling mistakes, typos, grammatical errors, pointing out mistakes in the already revised text. While editing, the overall story remains the same. Here, ‘fixing’ the manuscript’s structure, as well as the overall plot, is the priority.
Copy Editing: Copyediting, commonly known as line editing, is a light form of editing that lends a professional polish to a book. The editor reviews your work, fixing any mechanical errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Copyediting is the least-expensive version of editing. Some professionals divide copyediting and line editing into two separate edits, copyediting being the lighter, grammar-only edit, and line editing being a more intense look at each sentence’s meaning.
Line Editing: Lineediting is often used interchangeably with the term copyediting. However, when it is distinguished from copyediting, it refers to a unique edit that falls between copyediting and developmental editing in intensity. In line editing, the editor looks at your book line by line and analyses each and every sentence. The editor considers word choice and the power and meaning of a sentence. The editor considers the syntax and whether a sentence needs to be trimmed or tightened. Line editing helps in making the prose sing.
Mechanical Editing: Mechanicalediting refers to the application of a particular style, such as The Chicago Manual of Style or Associated Press (AP) Style. The editor looks at punctuation, capitalisation, spelling, abbreviations, and any other style rules. Mechanical editing is sometimes included in copyediting.
Substantive Editing: Substantiveediting considers a work’s organisation and presentation. It involves tightening and clarifying at a chapter, scene, paragraph, and sentence level. Unlike developmental editing, which covers the big-picture issues and deep-level restructuring, substantive editing deals with the actual prose. Substantive editing is sometimes referred to as line editing and can also be confused with developmental editing. Always check with your editor and put in writing what his or her services cover, regardless of the term used.
Developmental Editing: The developmentaleditor looks deeply at the organisation and strength of a book. Think big picture. The editor considers everything from pacing to characters, point of view, tense, plot, subplots, and dialogue. Weak links are exposed and questioned. The editor scrutinises order, flow, and consistency. He asks questions such as: Is this the right number of chapters? Are the chapters and paragraphs in the right order? Are there any places in the book where the pacing lags? Is there a hole in the information or story presented? Are the characters likeable? Developmental editing considers all the aspects of a manuscript that make the book readable and enjoyable. Because of the extensive nature of this form of editing, it is more time-intensive and costly. However, it is worth the investment if you are serious about succeeding as an author.
So these are the types of manuscript editing a writer has to inevitably come face-to-face with, at some point or the other, in their writing journey. So it is always advisable to know these terms before you deal with an editor who might expect you to already know about them. Or better yet, it might save you from a trap if, god-forbid, you end up with an editor who doesn’t know what they are doing (believe me, there are a lot of people who just do things for the sake of it, and of course also for the money.) So educate yourself well, before negotiating any kind of deal with an editor especially while self-publishing.
Character Profile Sheets are a great literary tool that help you in profiling your characters, especially the main characters of your story. They not only help you in being consistent with your character’s traits throughout your story or manuscript but also help a great deal in creating as well as painting the character arc you desire for your story.
Generally, a Character Profile Sheets consists of the main physical, mental, emotional and social traits of your character’s life and personality along with their general likes and dislikes, their taste in music, their occupation, and stuff like what they like to eat, what they don’t their allergies and different kind of health issues, etc, etc, etc. Basically, your Character Profile Sheet consists of everything about your character.
Character Profile Sheets can be as long or as short as your want them to be, but my advice would be to keep them detailed because detailed Character Profile Sheets lead to good characters and good characters leads to good characterisation.
Another great thing about Character Profile Sheets is that it greatly helps if you get stuck in a writing slump. Working your characters is a great way to jump start your brain to getting into the right mindset to start writing again.
Check out my video on Character Profile Sheets on YouTube or listen to its podcast on iTunes.
When it comes to Character Profile Sheets there are three things that you need to remember:
If you are a punster then start with a basic Character Profile Sheet to begin with and add details as you go further because starting with a detailed Character Profile Sheet can be very overwhelming. But if you are a plotter then you can straight away start with a detailed Character Profile Sheet.
No matter how long or short your character profile sheet is or how detailed or summarised it is always make room for character’s background in it because character background is very, very, very important an you need to be consistent with it throughout your story. Take it from someone who has written a book with a lot of characters, always make a room for character background in your Character Profile Sheet.
Your Character Profile Sheet will evolve as you make progress with your manuscript so always keep on revising your Character Profile Sheet along with each and every single draft of your story. Otherwise, there’ll be either no point of maintaining a Character Profile Sheet or it’ll get too confusing for you and ruin your manuscript.
So that’s Character Profile Sheets for you. If you want a ready reference with links to some really good Character Profile Sheets then read this article – Character Profile Sheets(the links are the end of the article.)
If you have any questions or doubts or want to discuss Character Profile Sheets with me then leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you ASAP.
As almost all the plotters would swear by, outlining a story helps a writer greatly in making sense of the story for the readers. We, as writers, know what our story is and how it plays out, the difficult bit is to put in into words in a systematic way and have it make sense to its readers the same way that it does for us. And this is where the story structures come into play.
I used to consider myself a hardcore plotter until I finally realised that I’m more of an intuitive person who writes by the seat of her pants as much as I rely on planning my stories. So now I try to find a balance between pantsing and plotting. And I personally see story structures as an adventurer’s maps – you can have all the adventures you want to have by following your intuition, but occasionally you need the maps to take you where you want to go, especially when you get lost or stuck.
I used the 3-Act Structure for plotting my first novel, Deceived, but for my second and third manuscripts, I needed something more extensive as they are more complex than my earlier work, so I used the 4 Act Structure. In this article, I’ll be introducing the 4-Act Structure and its benefits and use. If you wish to know more about the 3-Act Structure then you can read the following articles I wrote a while ago:
The 4-Act Structure is basically the broader version of the 3 Act Structure in which the elaborate ‘middle’ is broken into two separate acts. This method is very popular among writers especially those who write lengthy novels and the ones who struggle with the ‘infinite middle.’
Act-1: Setup of conflict
Here’s a simple diagram to depict the 4-Act Structure:
What are the advantages of using the 4-Act Structure?
There are many advantages to using the 4-act structure, just like any other outlining tool:
It helps in dealing with the overall story better, in an organized manner (just like any other story structure.)
It assists in specifically dealing with the problematic middle of the story – the 75% part of the story that is a bit vaguely structured in the 3-act structure of story writing.
It encourages in figuring out the problems with the story plot and in combing out the plot holes that would inevitably make your story weak.
It helps in understanding what exactly your story is lacking in order to make it into a near-perfect manuscript.
It even aids in recognizing, and then getting rid of, the redundant scenes, side stories and subplots.
It greatly helps in dealing with the most coveted enemy of any writer – writer’s block, when you get stuck in the inescapable limbo.
It also serves, for many writers, as a quick fix to complete the drafts within a particular timeline. It’s not necessarily a short cut, but can definitely be viewed as an answer to many plot-progression related problems.
When should the 3-Sct Structure be used? Before starting the first draft, in between or at the of the nth draft?
Over the course of the last couple of years, I’ve discovered the hard way that it’s always best to first write the first draft by the seat of your pants, no matter if you consider yourself a planner or a pantster, because the first draft has to be as unadulterated and pure as can be, and that would be possible only if you let your imagination take over your mind and the muse and instinct guide your hands. The story structure, whether it is a 3-act structure or the 4-act structure or even the 9-act structure, should be applied for the first time to the first draft once it is complete. Then as you progress, it depends on how often you want to adjust your story according to the structure; you can do it while you write or revise your drafts or before or after that. It is entirely up to you.
I have come to realise that if the story structures are applied to the story in the initial stage of the conceiving of the plot, before or right after beginning the first draft (which is far too complex and difficult than one might think) then it corrupts the authenticity of the plot that otherwise might have been and makes it feel constrained. And such writing often results in an amateurish end product.
Like every year since 2014, I’m participating in Camp NaNoWriMo April’18. For this month I don’t have a lot planned out, but just a basic idea of what needs to be done. I’m mainly going to go for 2 things this time – sorting out the ending of Sinister Town and writing the first draft of a story I’d started as a short series flash-fiction, Jessie.
Over the last couple of months, I’d have some really good, strange, outright hilarious and some really amazeballs story ideas and, strangely enough, I wrote them all down. I never really write down random story ideas anymore, I used to write them down very carefully when I started out as a writer, but after I heard the invincible, and my writing idol, SK mention in one of his many speeches, that if you can’t remember an idea for a year (or basically a long time) then it’s not worth
working on. That was the point where I abandoned scribbling down ideas and, now that I reflect on it, maybe that was one of the reasons for my major writer’s block. Anyway, so I’d been writing down random ideas, mostly because I’d been in a writing slump lately (for like a year and a half now) and so I just wanted something different to write about – something random that would help me in ‘pantsing.’
So I have those story ideas to develop too. One of them is a dark elf story and I can already feel it coming together beautifully as a full-length novel. So I hope I have enough things to write and meet my goal of 50K words as I really need to get back into my usual flow of writing, something that I dearly miss!
I wish all of you who are participating in Camp Nano April all the very best!
Choosing the main Point Of View(s) for your story is either the simplest or the hardest thing you’ll ever come across while writing your book. Determining the voice which narrates or unfolds your story is a tricky thing because if you select the wrong one your story is doomed.
Sometimes (a few precious instances), you don’t have to think about the POV because either you already have it figured out even before starting the story or know which one comes more naturally to you, the one that suits your writing style and feels like the perfect fit for your story. If you find yourself in this situation then consider yourself very lucky because otherwise, you might have a very hard time figuring it out.
Rest of the time (i.e., for the majority of your writing career), you won’t know how to go about determining the POV for your story. This happens mainly due to the unyielding need for perfectionism. You want your story to be perfect (obviously!) but you can’t figure out which should be the main or the central voice that tells the story.
Ideally, more than half of the times the answer lies in using multiple POVs, but that comes with another set of problems that I’ll be covering in my next article relating to POVs. But what if you don’t know which multiple POVs to use?
When stuck in the latter situation, you’ll find yourself in a dark endless pit which will drive you to the brink of giving up, and we certainly do not want that. So to make the process of selecting the perfect POV(s) for your story, I’ve come up with a list of 10 questions that you need to ask yourself in order to get the answer to your POV worries.
The 10 Questions:
How much you want to reveal? And how much you want to hold back?
Whose perspective will be interesting for the reader?
Who’s in the middle of most of the conflicts?
How much information about the plot/story you want to reveal?
How much information about the character you want to reveal?
How it’ll affect the pacing of the story?
What are you comfortable with? First person? Second Person? Or Third Person?
How’d you like the reader to perceive your character and story line?
Are there any parts of the story that need to be shown through different perspectives or through scenes that don’t have the main POV character(s) in them?
How many stories are you trying to tell? And are these stories a part of the main story?
The process doesn’t end here. Once you’ve asked these questions to yourself, it’s imperative that you don’t only answer these questions truthfully but also try to understand them in detail so as not to mess it up. Once you’ve laid out the answers, 99% of the times you’ll be able to figure out the POV(s) for your story. The remaining 1% is your gut feeling which will either confirm your decision and make you feel like you’ve conquered the world or (at it happens to me most of the times) will make you doubt everything you just did and will force you to repeat the entire exercise again (and again, till you get it right.)
If you want my advice, never ignore the gut feeling. Otherwise, you’ll regret it later on.
Watch my video podcast on 10 Questions To Help You Determine The POV(s) For Your Story:
If you have any doubts regarding this post or want to share your experiences or anecdotes then please leave a comment below.
Point Of View, casually known as POV, is one of the most important literary devices that is used in fiction writing. Determining the perspective from which the story is told is often the making or the breaking point of a novel.
If you make a wrong decision, your readers will be highly disappointed due to lack of plot coherence, and not only this, choosing the wrong POV also affects the bonding between the main characters and the reader, thus, affecting your novel on the whole. But if the point of view is chosen well, the readers will not only love your story and develop a memorable relationship with your characters but will also respect your writing and look forward to reading your other works.
Hence, it won’t be wrong to say that the choice of point of view and its execution shows the writer’s ability, efficiency, and dedication to their story. And in order to make the right choice you need to have an in-depth and precise knowledge about all the POVs before settling on one (or more) for your story.
Point of View aka POV is the perspective from which a story is told. Point Of View is what can be called as the voice that tells the story to a reader.
Following are the 3 types of Point Of Views (POVs):
First Person Point Of View–
In First Person POV, the narrator is a character himself/herself. The story unfolds as a first-hand experience of the narrator or it can be said that the character is narrating the story.
The information is unreliable as its scope is limited depending entirely on the main character’s knowledge of/in any situation. For instance, if the character is delusional then it creates a problem if you’ll write the entire book from his perspective.
The First Person POV has recently garnered a lot of popularity as a lot of new authors are using it. The advantages of First Person POV is that the reader can relate to the main character quite easily and the bond that follows is very strong. But of course, it requires a high level of expertise to pull it off.
The pronouns used in First Person POV are – I, me and mine.
Types of First Person POV:
First Person Central POV: When the story is told from the point of view of the main character it is known as the First Person Central POV. This helps in developing an intimate bond between the main character and the reader. It often includes internal monolog, personal feelings, etc, which help in making the reader understand the main character inside-out.
First Person Peripheral POV: When the story is told from the point of view of a secondary or a minor character, who can also be an observer, is known as First Person Peripheral POV. This POV is detached and neutral and provides an objective look at the main character.
Popular books written in First Person POV:
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins
The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
Penryn And The End Of Days Series by Susan Ee
Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer
Second Person Point Of View–
In Second Person POV, the narration is addressed from one person to the second person.
The disadvantage of this POV is that it is difficult to relate to. It is a form of direct speech and the narrator or the character refers directly to the reader as “you.”
The Second Person POV is rarely used in fiction-writing, though there are some authors who use it for writing their novels. It is mostly used for instructional writing and how-to books.
The pronouns used in Second Person POV are –You, your.
Popular books written in Second Person POV:
Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney
If On A Winter's Night A Traveler by Italo Calvino
You by Caroline Kepnes
All The Truth that's In Me by Julie Berry
Booked by Kwame Alexander
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Third Person Point Of View–
Third Person POV is the point of view in which a narrator (generally, the one who is not part of the story) tells the story.
This is one of the most widely used POV and most of the early literature and classic novels are written in this POV. A lot of contemporary writers still believe that only the stories written in Third Person POV are good, but of course, it’s their personal opinion.
The Third person POV helps the readers understand the main characters from a distance and many believe that this is what makes it so interesting and capturing.
The pronouns used in Third Person POV: He, she, it, him, her, they, them, its.
Types of Third Person POV:
Third Person Omniscient POV: Omniscient = All-knowing. In Third Person Omniscient POV the narrator knows and reveals the feelings, thoughts, and/or motivations of all the characters (at least partially.)
Eg. Unwind Series by Neal Shusterman.
Third Person Limited POV: In Third Person Limited POV the narrator knows and reveals the feelings, thoughts, and/or motivations of only a single character, the main character.
Eg. Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling.
Third Person Objective/Dramatic POV: In Third Person Objective POV the narrator knows and reveals no feelings, thoughts and/or motivations of any of the characters. Rather, the narrator reveals only the facts and details about the story.
Eg. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Popular books written in Third Person POV:
Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare
Maze Runner Series by James Dashner
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Watch my video podcast on POVs:
If you have any doubt regarding POVs or want to share your experiences or anecdotes then please leave a comment below.
A First Draft is one of the most basic entities of fiction-writing and it lays the basic foundation of a novel. If you’re a writer then you probably might have come across this term more than a thousand times already, and if not then you’ve come to the right place. Just for the sake of it, I’ll start this article with the definition.
You can watch the video podcast of this article on YouTube here:
A first draft is the first thing you write about a project, a book, a blog post (like this one) or even an idea in general. It simply means writing down your initial thoughts in order to figure out the project as a whole.
First drafts are mostly the unplanned version of an idea. It can even be fragments of a concept written together to help you move further in your story or project later on.
“The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.”
– Terry Pratchet
2. Why is the First Draft important?
First Draft is not important, it is VERY important. If you won’t write the first draft of your novel, your thoughts will be scattered all over the place and you’ll struggle endlessly to put your ideas together coherently in a sensible form. Eventually, you might be able to get your thoughts organized, but it’ll waste a lot of your precious time.
A first draft helps you in discovering your characters, plot, and story-flow, and in building the three main pillars of your project – beginning, middle and ending.
The most important thing and the point of writing the first draft is to get the story on paper. To get it out of your mind and into this world. It’s like giving birth – unlikable to watch but necessary altogether.
It doesn’t have to be perfect because your next drafts will take care of that. All you have to do is, WRITE IT DOWN.
I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shovelling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.
– Shannon Hale.
3. What is the purpose of writing a First Draft?
The main purpose of writing the first draft is simply getting to know what your story really is. And in order to do this just let go of any fear and qualms you have about your project because the first draft (FD) is something that you write for your own self.
Don’t worry about the complicated things like story structure, sentence development, world building, character development, conflicts, exposition or other things like that because you’ll be working on these elements later on. NOT in the First Draft.
So, before starting out, be clear about what the FD really is, so that you won’t give in to the editor inside your head and leave your FD halfway like many writers do.
First drafts are simply the raw form of your story; it’s a skeleton in the earliest of stages. Most probably you’ll be working for months on this project after the FD is done, so you can clean it up later on. LEAVE EVERYTHING ELSE FOR LATER, simply get the damn story out in your FD. It doesn’t matter if you’re following a sequence or not or if you’re are simply writing random scenes (I do this a lot in my FDs) or if you’re writing the story backward. It does not matter as long as you’re getting the ideas of your story on paper. It’s totally OKAY! What really matters is that you WRITE.
Remember, most of the time (actually, all the time) the final product is miles away from the idea that you initially began with. So don’t waste your time on detailing or organizing your FDs as it might not even make it to the final MS. But it is still important for you to write the FD because that is what will get you to the final MS.
“The purpose of the first draft is not to get it right, but to get it written.”
– John Dufresne
4. How to write a First Draft?
There’s no specific way of writing FDs, but to help you get an idea, following are the two ways in which one can write a First Draft:
Two ways of writing the FDs:
Simple Method (Recommended for beginners and pantsters.)
– Sit in a comfortable place and use a simple writing software that you are comfortable with and start writing without worrying about anything, especially not about editing or spelling mistakes.
– Start writing. Just try and focus on your story and forget about everything. If you feel the urge to edit, then simply console yourself by thinking that you’ll edit it in the next sitting.
– Continue writing this way (preferably every day) till you’ve got the entire thing written.
That’s it, you’ve just written your FD!
Advanced Method (Recommended for plotters, fantasy writers and for novelists who use specific timeline.)
– First of all, write down the rough outline of your story by using single words or only a few words to make sure you understand what’s to come where.
– Then create an equally rough timeline just so that you have a sense of the timing for whatever events you’ve planned for the story.
– Sit in a comfortable place and use a simple writing software that you are comfortable with and start writing without worrying about anything, especially not about editing or spelling mistakes.
– Start writing. Just make sure that you’re keeping a tab on your story outline while writing. More new ideas will come to you with the help of each outlining point. This will make you write more and get a better perspective of your story.
– Continue writing this way (preferably every day) till you’ve got the entire thing written.
That’s it, your FD is ready! By following this method you have a more elaborate and a clearer FD, which will help you while writing your second draft.
Note-I: Use a writing software that you’re most comfortable to use. Don’t get confused or mislead into using complicated software that you don’t know anything about. [I use Pages and/or Word for Mac. It helps me think straight and write fast.]
Note-II: As I said above, there’s no specific way to write FDs. You can write FDs in any way that is totally different to the ones above.
Again, it doesn’t matter. This is just something I came up with in order to help writers understand First Drafts better.
5. What to expect from First Drafts?
Plot holes (Lots of them!)
Rough and incomplete storylines.
Loose ends (a lot of them.)
Last, but not the least, tons of ideas!
“The first draft of anything is CRAP, but it’s infinitely better than NO draft.”
– Ben Arment.
6. What NOT to expect from the First Drafts?
In short, First draft is the first step of a long staircase. You’ll have to be patient; there’s no other way.
What to do after completing the First Draft?
Rest? Take a break?
No… Do not take a break from your story after completing the FD. This is where a lot of writers go wrong (at least, as far as I know.) So trust me when I say, this is the right time to plunge deeper into your story.
When you’re done with the FD make sure that you re-read it a couple of times. After doing this you are ready to organize your story.
Move on to the next step of Character Development and Detailed Planning.
Terms Used:FD - First Draft
MS – Manuscript
SD – Second Draft
If you have any questions or doubts regarding this article then please ask them below in the comments sections and I’ll try my best to answer them as soon as I can. Also, please feel free to share your thoughts on this topic in the comments as I always love listening to all my readers.
The views expressed in this article are my own. This blog is under strict copyright laws and all trademarks have been registered. If you want to use content on your own site, you must ask permission first before you do so under the restrictions. Thank you!