Idyll Chatter: Draft King

Exciting news! Right after Thanksgiving, I finished my first, really-rough draft of Idyll Series: Book 2! And since Idyll Series: Book 2 is a really-rough working title, I’ll announce that the sequel to IDYLL will be called… drum roll… THE WILDS!

So my idea is that all three books in the trilogy will have a long ‘I’ and at least one ‘L’ in their name. See if you can guess the title of Book 3! (No the title is not TITLE, although that does fit the rules).

My hope is to have THE WILDS out by some time in April. Seems like a long time away, but there’s a lot of passages in the rough draft that need some heavy ‘fleshing out,’ before the manuscript can graduate to a true editing/proofing process.

I long time ago, I wrote this post about my rough-draft technique. At the time I called it gap writing—because I write it fast and leave a lot of gaps. Can’t think of the right word? Don’t bother with a thesaurus, leave a gap! Bored by trying to write a description? Leave a gap! Need to do some research? Ain’t nobody got time for that! Leave a gap!

A lot of writers espouse this philosophy of purposely writing a crappy first draft. The point is to get your thoughts down as quickly as possible, to keep your momentum going and to not let any one passage become too precious. Because when you get to the polishing and editing phase, some stuff is going to turn out to be highly expendable.

I spent a long, long time writing and rewriting Idyll, so this gap writing technique has been very useful for me this time around. And that’s for two big reasons:

1) Plotting: When I write as loosely and quickly as possible, then I’m quicker to scope out any plotting dead-ends. I’m a big believer in outlining my stories, but my outlines tend to be very squishy in the middle. And sometimes I don’t spot implausibilities or contradictions in the storyline until I’m in the dead middle of it. With gap writing, I stumble into those plot-holes sooner, and I can take solace that I’ve wasted slightly less time getting to that problem-area than I would have if I had been writing a fully fleshed-out manuscript.

2) Characters: I’m not one of those writers who might say, “My characters speak to me!” or “My characters surprise me!” If my characters come up with a funny line, or they have a eureka moment, then I (their unseen and all-powerful overlord!) will take every ounce of credit for it! With that being said, sometimes I won’t find my perfect voice for a character until I write them in some suddenly seminal scene. And sometimes that scene doesn’t come till the end of the book! With gap writing, I don’t have to kvetch about reworking every previous conversation to match the character’s new voice, because all those passages are fairly fluid anyway.

PS: I think gap writing is also pretty similar to writing in ‘story beats,’ which is a technique used by the Self-Publishing Podcast peeps. David Gaughran explains excellently in this post.

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