Friday, February 06, 2015

Eat Dessert First ~ Janice Sperry

Today's post courtesy of Janice Sperry, author of The Rebel Princess

I often run into the problem where the story in my head is ten times better than what I put on the screen. That sentence started off as amazing — shiny even. Then I turned it into words and sucked the life out of it. Sound familiar? Fortunately, I have found a way to extract most of the awesome from my brain and onto the page for fiction. So, since I love lists, here’s how to extract the awesome from your brain in 7 easy steps. (Okay, it’s not going to be easy, but it will be worth it.)

1. Eat dessert first. Stick to the stuff you love for your rough draft. I’m a dialogue girl. My characters start out as a bunch of talking heads in an empty room. It’s terrible and I don’t care. The rough draft is the hardest part for me and I am more likely to finish it if stick to the parts I enjoy. I add the internal dialogue, description, and action in later drafts.

2. Don’t try to get it all out in one sitting. It’s okay to leave some ideas in your head. You can get the rest of them out when you work on the second through fifteenth drafts.

3. Accept that your rough draft is going to be rough. I’ve always heard the rough draft was supposed to be terrible, but I didn’t understand how terrible until I participated in a NANOWRIMO. I wrote some awful prose, but the story isn’t bad. And getting the story out was the whole point. Prose can be fixed.

4. Set goals and finish the rough draft. You will be amazed at how much easier it is to get the details out of your head once your have something to work with.

5. Read your manuscript out loud after you’ve gone over it a few times. You’ll hear all sorts of things you didn’t mean to say.

6. Ask some people to read it for you, using the track changes tool in Word. You will see your story through a completely new perspective after reading their comments.

7. Have more people read it, do one more editing session and start submitting.

1 comment:

Karlene said...

I love the "eat dessert first" idea. I'd never quite thought about it that way before. My first drafts are a bunch of talking heads, too. Or stream of consciousness first person.

It also helps me to regularly insert, "this totally sucks," as part of that stream of consciousness writing. Just acknowledging it lets me move on.