The Before Draft Zero Series:
Last time I finished up with all the things I do before actually drafting. In this post we’ll put it all together and start writing Draft Zero!
If you’ve followed along, you should now have;
- Story Anatomy Worksheet
- A Chapter Breakdown
- Your 3 Act Structure
- A Character Breakdown
- A World Building Questionnaire
- A temporary Query/Blurb to keep you on track.
When I have all of these complete, it’s time to go back and fix that Chapter Breakdown. First things first, you need to reorder your mixed up dot points or chapters. Ask yourself where in the story that event or scene would make the most impact and where it feels the most natural. This part is vital for me. If I rush into drafting, usually I’ll get stuck at the 30,000 word mark and have to rethink my original plot points.
Then it’s on to writing a chapter outline for Chapter 1! I learned this method from Rachel Aaron’s 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love. A fantastic resource that teaches you to set 5 minutes aside before writing each chapter to write out an outline. This way you don’t get stuck half-way or second guess yourself. Since using this method I’ve found it quite easy and normal to get 2000 words down in under an hour, most of which are quite good. After all, Draft Zero is all about getting the words down, not worrying about how you say them.
Here is my breakdown of Rachel’s book (I like to have it in the front of my notebooks to remind me):
To write your Chapter Outline you need a notebook and all of the above mentioned documents to help keep you on track. Using the Chapter Breakdown, you want to grab the dot point for Chapter 1 and expand to scene–even sentence–level dot points. I like to get down a lot of detail and movement in that specific chapter. It usually looks something like this (Sorry about the blurriness these are my notes for my WIP and I don’t want to spoil anything):
Hahaha, hopefully you understand what I mean with all that blur… Basically the dot points flesh out my chapter more than the Chapter Breakdown and keep me on track. I don’t do this for every chapter straight away, as I said earlier, I like to set aside 5 minutes before writing each chapter to create one of these. Mainly, this is because things change as you write and little details need to be weaved through the entire manuscript, not just appear for one moment and disappear the next.
It’s okay to leave gigantic spaces between each point–places to be filled in later.
Most of mine end up something like this at the beginning:
-MC goes to visit person.
(big white space…)
-They kiss and it’s awkward.
-Then they travel to place…
In other words, my Chapter Outline starts off very vague. And that’s okay. Sometimes it all just clicks while you’re writing, and suddenly you have to get all the words down before you forget!
When I’ve got a good solid A4 page (blank spaces omitted), or more, I dive into writing the expanded version! My first real draft!