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Usable Fast Draft

Or how I wrote a 76K book that doesn’t need a ton of revision in 33 days.  In fact, I fully expect to submit this book by the end of this month, maybe sooner.

These notes are for me as much as anyone else – I love posts about writers’ various processes.  One thing I’ve learned over the years is that no book works exactly the same as any other.  Even though I’ve been at this writing gig for ten years this September, I’m constantly surprised.  My writing process changes from book to book depending on what I need and how I’m growing.

Please note, too, that I had a dismal few months of writing this year and so I was totally due for a breakout writing period.  I’m sure that helped create the perfect storm that hit me in July and let me write The Billionaire Submissive so quickly.

I broke all my personal rules for writing/plotting this story.

  • I still don’t have a picture of either the hero or heroine (usually I create a character cast) though I hunted down a picture of Lilly’s red stilettos at the very beginning (and pray to God they end up on the cover).
  • I never jotted a single note about their background.  I do not have a profile or even a few words ANYWHERE about them.  Boom, they showed up as they are.  Hello, so nice to meet you Lilly and Donovan!
  • I wrote the blurb first (so I had a very strong premise).
  • I did no advance plotting.  I started writing scene 001 with no outline, no plan, nothing.
  • I didn’t even jot down ideas for future scenes until I paused around scene 017 (the end of the first night where Lilly and Donovan were fully together on page from that point forward).
  • I skipped ahead and wrote the ending scenes of the book at that point (030-032).
  • I created scene layouts for what I wanted to happen in between – just a few lines – starting at scene 020-024.  Basically the last 1/3-1/2 of the book.  Those 4 scenes morphed into 18 scenes!
  • I never had a playlist for this book.  I finally added one song around scene 020e/020f but it totally led me in the wrong direction and I had to rewrite the scene 3 times before I finally got it right.  Those are the only two scenes I struggled with/had to rewrite before I was happy with them.
  • I didn’t write any of this Dark and Early, but rather Dark and Late, staying up until midnight or even 2 AM several times.  (I have to get up at 6 AM for work, but the story wouldn’t let me rest.)

Typical Fast Draft rules I broke

  • I reread daily, almost constantly in every free minute I had, if I wasn’t writing new words.  I used Scrivener’s compile and dropped the file into Dropbox each night.  Then during the day if I was stuck waiting to pick up Princess from band camp or driving around in the car or watching some boring TV show with That Man before he went to bed, I was reading my book, start to finish, over and over and over.  I’ve read it 3 times at least since I finished it too.  It just keeps sucking me in.  I’d say all in all I’ve probably read the whole thing 10 times already.
  • I made revisions as I went.  When I read, I made mental notes of things I wanted to fix and that was my chore for later that evening before I could go to bed.
  • As I reread at night on the computer, I would do line edits too, so each time I reread, the story was markedly stronger and cleaner every single day.
  • I rewrote the trouble scene over and over until I was happy with it (I didn’t skip it).  I didn’t let it stall me though – I’d already skipped ahead and written the end by that point, so I knew I could get there.  I just had to work through that problem scene.

Overall, I think these were a few of the key components that fed the perfect storm and helped me finish so quickly.

  • I had a strong premise from the very beginning that tickled my fancy, intrigued me, and made me smile/giggle every time I thought about it.
  • Writing hard and fast kept me in the zone constantly.
  • Rereading and editing as I went made the story constantly better, which helped keep me in the zone and kept the words coming fast and furious.
  • I wanted to know what was going to happen as much as the reader hopefully will.  No plot meant everything was a surprise and delight as it unfolded, although I already had the ending written fairly quickly.  (That pesky middle had lots of surprises.)
  • Because it’s a separate book from my other series, I was free of expectation.  I had zero expectation for this book.  It’s new, fresh.  I didn’t have to reread anything to remember some quirk about a character I mentioned 2 or 3 books ago.  I didn’t have to worry about disappointing anyone (other than my family who’d be shocked at the language and content in this book!) because the world, story, and characters are completely brand new.

I wish I could deliberately set up every book like this, but alas, I know that will never happen.  Some books need to marinate in my brain for long periods of time.  Some parts will fly and others crawl.  I think it’s important, too, to get it out of our heads that A). fast-draft books must be crap because they were written so quickly aka carelessly or B). that slow books are better and more intellectual or C). if I struggle to write the scene/book then it must be bad or wrong somehow.

I’ve written crap slowly.  I’ve written crap quickly.  It’s still crap.  I’ve plotted and written a 40 page outline with 3 spreadsheets and then threw the whole thing out, so a slow/intellectual approach isn’t necessary “best” either.  And I’ve been assured by my most trusted readers that even though I personally struggled with many scenes in Lord Regret’s Price and it seemed like it took forever for me to write it, that it doesn’t read like it was a painful slog.  (It’s been accepted but I haven’t seen my editor’s revisions yet.  Hopefully Tera agrees it wasn’t a slog or she wouldn’t have accepted it!)

It’s all about where I am in the journey at that moment.  Lord Regret was teaching me some things I wasn’t prepared for.  That road was dark at times, slow and lonely, but I still had to make that trek.  I can see it now in how easily Lilly and Donovan pulled off their story.  I couldn’t have written it if I hadn’t been in that dark place with Sig.  I couldn’t have written Sig’s story if I hadn’t already been whipped by Lady Blackmyre in Her Grace’s Stable.

And now that Lilly has beaten some sense into me, I think I’m fully prepared to face Mama C and Mal too.

But I’m not done with Lilly yet either.  Just last night she was whispering a very naughty idea to me for what the next book in her world should be.

2 thoughts on “Usable Fast Draft

  1. I love reading writers’ processes. I love how each book builds towards another and watching that through you. I keep wishing for that perfect process for me, something I can apply to each story and move forward. And you keep showing me, it’s not likely to happen 😆 and I should embrace it. Thank you.

  2. Exciting stuff! I look forward to reading it. 🙂

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