Random Thoughts – Drafting

Update: I’m writing this in a semi-haze, so please forgive if I sidetrack. I don’t intend to edit this post. Just a random series of thoughts.

1. Looking back at what I have done.

Had a long time to ‘debrief’ myself on my plane ride from Singapore to San Fran – freaking 20 hours in the air with 3 hours of layover time in the now Wifi-enabled Japan Narita airport. Being alone in the plane, away from my keyboard did me a lot of good in terms of thinking about what I want.

Personally, I felt that the last story opener I wrote The series on Goodbyes taught me a lot on two things:

  • What I can leave out in a story and let it be said in the white space
  • Weaving some subtext into the dialogue, which I will explore next time, but not in the next few works (don’t think this works that well for the superhero genre)

And with that… well, I think I’m ready to start writing something more substantial. Hence, in this post, I shall present my thoughts on my writing future:

2. The promise I want to make myself going forward

Today is the day – No more unstructured, whimsical writing. I’ve pandered long enough with half-written openers and plot lines in the last two months to know what I want. From now on, everything shall begin with a draft, a complete draft from start to finish including all plot lines, sub-plots and whatever internal message that I would like to convey with the story.

Here the limitations I will set myself to in future as I narrow down what I want to write about:

  • Basics: Semi-fantastical worlds anchored in the modern society.
  • Genre: Action. Science-Fiction deviating slightly to the macabre.
  • Word Length: 15,000 – 25,000 (Lemme bang out a few of these first)
  • Editing: No more editing in the middle of writing! This is the reason for drafting
  • Preferences: I would still like to explore the super-hero theme at least initially.
  • Writing Speed: Bang out more words, less thoughts. 1500 a day is the bare minimum, either in drafting or actual writing.

3. Drafting Requirements:

  • Scene by scene drafting, no ’empty’ space aside from actual dialogue and action sequences.
  • No posting on the Blog.
  • Each scene draft must be complete with purpose and nature of dialogue and what I want to achieve.
  • If I run into trouble with the main writing, refer and change the draft first.
  • Draft first, write later. If I get stuck, always refer to the draft.

4. Starting Now!

Today I officially began to draft a complete story from start to finish, looking at it from a top-down perspective instead of living scene-to-scene and moment-to-moment. So I’m embarking on my own little NaNoWriMo (since I’ve away from home and can’t commit every single day.) But let’s set a weekly target of 8,000 words considering I still write 3-4 days a week.

For my first story, I’m going back to superhero fantasy again. I initially chose horror, but well, I don’t think I’m good at hidden scares, more of a grotesque person.

5. Why suddenly Drafting

From all the research I’ve done about great writers… none of them honestly just pick up a pen and write. I don’t intend to flutter from a structure to another anytime soon. From my earlier works, you can probably tell I’ve a formula I use in my openers as well as my character archetypes. Now it’s just extending the practice into a novella-length work first before extending it again once I get comfortable with it.

I have 2 10,000+ word semi-stories which while I think they are readable, aren’t exactly what I want to introduce myself with. The writing is tolerable but I still want something tighter instead of having a chunk of explanation and dialogue in between. To me, that’s just not good. The story should flow, particularly in shorter pieces.

6. What I want

  • Short: 15,000 – 25,000 words
  • Action to Action – Explanation kept to a minimum, hence my choice of universe
  • Short and curt dialogue, which works well with male characters anyway.
  • No half-page explanations. If it doesn’t work, just change it.
  • Basic formula – Action opener -> Cue to smaller event -> Cue bigger event -> End.
  • By final third of the book, everything should be resolved except a twist.
  • One constant moral throughout the book.
  • Currently I’m looking at Wreck-It Ralph as a good example of how to pull all the above all. Honestly, the cartoons have still the best storylines in modern storytelling except they tend to whine on too long on relationships.

End post. If anyone of you have any exercises, cues or articles on drafting, lemme know.

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15 thoughts on “Random Thoughts – Drafting

  1. If you can manage 1500 a day, and save every last bit of it without editing, you’ll find you have plenty of material to work with. I’m impressed by your commitment. Best of luck!

    • Let’s just hope I see this one through. I need to be more focused. My main problem is I run out of interest in what I’m writing myself, which is why I want to keep it short. Consider me one for the new generation.

      I’m trying to taking inspiration from works with lots of natural breakpoints instead of one never-ending narrative.

  2. Amazed and impressed by your dedication. For me the drafting process is more of a mental exercise than an exercise of actually writing down a plan. I mentally re-live each scene (the important ones anyway) over and over until I have them basically down and I know how things will flow. Once it is nailed down, then I write it.

    My brain is constantly churning over and over the scene or scenes as I progress thorough life. I may stop the process to focus on life but when I have time, I am back to the scene. I have found that when I just write, I drift off topic and add much more than I really intend to say. At this point I have 210K words and of that about 30K are tight and ready for edit. The rest needs to be cut down and repackaged. That is where I am in life right now.

    By the way, 20 hours in that tube of death really is a pain. I admire anyone who does that more than once in life. You are my hero. Enjoy San Fran!

    • 210K words?!?!?! Wow, ok. Same advice I have for Linda. Try to find natural break points and do a trilogy. I believe you stand a better chance with the agents if you have 100K a pop with sequels ready.

      Just make sure to include me as a extra on the movie set when you become the next J.R.R Tolkien.

      I’m more amazed by you guys. 210K words is honestly beyond my wildest dreams, though it might have be due to my attention span.

      • It is going to be a part of a trilogy but now with this first book. The story doesn’t support it. I am in cut and slash mode but it will be good.

        Just typing and typing and I promise that you can bang out 210K. However, that is no indicator of anything worthy of being read.

  3. I wish you the best of luck my dear. Keep us posted to let us know how it’s going πŸ™‚

    • Ok, so far, hit my 8,000 words in 4 days without much of a hitch. Aside from a small edit every morning, I try not to touch anything else. Then write some, then work on my draft. Works pretty well, except over the weekend when I had to go away for a while, then I come back and have to try to get back in the groove.

      I’m typing this from a public computer by the way, doing my writing on my iPad, which is tedious enough. How’s the editing?

      • I took the weekend off! I submitted the first 20 pages of my novel for one of my courses as my final assignment – I spent a good twenty hours polishing each and every word only to realize it was better before I started. Tedious work. I’ll get my mark on it this week – hopefully my professor will like it!

      • You mean you liked your original better? Happens to me all the time.

        Good luck on your assignment!

      • Just goes to show there’s such a think as trying too hard. πŸ˜›
        Thanks πŸ™‚

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