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Pushing past the sticking point
How to troubleshoot that first draft PLUS a sneak peek at some art!
I recently spoke at Anime Milwaukee on a really fun author panel with Ian Nytes and TR Nickle. We got the chance to walk writers through the entire publishing process from both the traditional and indie side of things.
I love these kinds of events. Meeting readers and writers is one of my favorite things about this weird career. We got a ton of questions about pretty much everything, but it’s the process questions the always lie near and dear to my heart.
It’s probably because it took me the better part of 10 years to figure out a method to my drafting madness. If there is anything I can do to help other people avoid that kind of black hole, I’m there.
So if you’re struggling to reach “The End” here are a few tips to get you there!
You’re on the wrong side of the Plotter vs Pantser divide
This is a tough one for everyone to figure out. Like many writers, I started out as a ‘pantser’ (someone who writes by the seat of their pants). There’s just something sooo romantic about sitting down and letting the words fly. So that’s what I did.
And ended up with about six hundred pages of tangential, plotless trash. I blame the dreaded middle. That second act is always a tough one. So if you feel yourself getting lost, it might be time to dip your toe in the plotting pool.
You’re editing too soon
I was guilty of this one too! I’d have a great writing session one day, plowing through ten, twenty pages in one go before wrapping up. Then the next day, I’d spend the whole time re-reading that section, trying to make it utterly perfect and wind up with zero new words.
Rinse and repeat this over the course of a few weeks and you can imagine how slowly the draft was coming together.
But! (I can hear you say) You’ll have a perfect draft in the end!
Because you know what happens? You spend six months making your first three chapters perfect, only to run into something in chapter 4 that make those previous chapters useless.
First drafts are supposed to suck. They’re just the building block, the foundation for what comes next. So relax. Have fun, and just write what you want to write without that internal editor whispering in your ear.
You can edit anything except a blank page.
You’re being too linear
This is some advice I’ve heard from my chaos-gremlin (I mean pantser!) buddies. Sometimes the first draft just stinks. You can feel your feet dragging, your words drying up. So what do you do?
Might be time to shake things up. Jolt you out of your literary ennui. So instead of plodding your way through a draft until you reach the bright shiny scene you’re dying to write. Just write the shiny scene.
Find your joy again and continue.
Because in the end, that’s what writing is supposed to be all about. Joy.
And speaking of shiny…..
I was really, really, hoping to share the cover for my next novel, THE QUEEN OF DAYS with you all. But alas. It’s not quite ready for eyes yet.
But never fear! I’ve got an early draft of some character art to share with you all! Here it is, from the incredible Alice Maria Power. The Talion Gang in all their chaotic glory!
I absolutely love the Usual Suspects vibe of this artwork. It totally fits the heist and hijinks feel of THE QUEEN OF DAYS. If you don’t believe me, here’s the pitch:
THE QUEEN OF DAYS is about Balthazar and a band of thieves who team up with a time-eating demon to steal an ancient statue before it can be used to resurrect a fallen god.
Aaaaannnd when that fails, it’ll be up to them to put down the god, save the city and cash in on the reward.
They may not be the heroes anyone would have chosen. Or asked for. Or even really wanted, but they’re here, so what the hell?
Let chaos reign.