The Drafting Process
We have already covered the planning process in detail in the previous chapter and you are now ready to begin drafting the bulk of your novel. Over the course of this section, you are going to make some important decisions. Decisions that will help to shape the reader’s experience of your story in a number of critical ways. By the time you get to the end of this stage, you will be ready to start making steady, daily progress on your first draft.
However, before you can start writing much text, there are some decisions you will need to make beforehand regarding tense, point of view, and a number of other stylistic considerations. But most of that can come a bit later, for the initial decision lying before you is choosing which point of view(s) you will be writing from, which is what our first entry is all about.
The point of view you select will have a major impact on the drafting of your novel. In fact, you can’t do much drafting at all without first committing to a style you will be using throughout the entirety of your story.
Writing is a diverse art form and as such, you have a number of options to choose from when considering the best point of view for your narrative. In our first entry on viewpoint, I will help you to unpack and ponder each of these options, explain how each operates in the context of storytelling, and then help you to decide which approach is the best fit for the novel you are writing.
Descriptive writing is where your imagination gets to interact directly with your readers’, helping them to envision the wonderful characters, settings, and events of your world and plot.
In this section, I will first go over the use (and misuse) of adjectives and adverbs and then head into some general tips to keep in mind when drafting descriptive language. Finally, we will cover writing about your characters and settings, before ending with a conversation on the old adage of showing vs. telling, as well as how and when to include exposition and summary in your narrative.
Although it may not seem obvious at first, dialogue is one of the most flexible tools you have at your disposal during the drafting process. For well-written dialogue not only helps to establish characters and the relationships between them, but can enhance and reinforce theme and atmosphere, impart vital information (or even misinformation), provide context and background, foreshadow, inject humor or tension into a scene, and a great deal more.
In this section, we are first going to cover some general rules to consider when drafting dialogue, then take an in-depth look at another aspect of writing that is challenging for many new authors, dialogue tags. Finally, we will examine how to construct a character’s inner monologue, which follows many of the same rules as crafting dialogue.
Scenecrafting lies at the heart of constructing works of fiction. It is a core writing component as well as a complex art. The various tools and techniques that go into developing and drafting a scene possess myriad layers and facets, representing a nearly infinite variety of potential approaches. Your ability to structure and embellish scenes is a skill you will be growing throughout the entirety of your writing career, developing your own process and style as time goes on.
In this section, I will offer an overview of scenecrafting in general, including some tools that should help you to wrap your head around the process so you can begin drafting significant portions of your text. By the time you arrive at the end of this section, you should have a plan in place for how you will go about drafting scenes in your novel as well as some techniques to help keep the ball rolling.
For this chapter’s culminating exercise, we will be drafting and polishing your opening scene, helping to ensure that the reader’s first impression of your novel will be a good one. It includes techniques for inserting a tempting hook that will help to seal the deal and ensure they take the plunge and read your book from cover to cover. We will also discuss taking a step back and writing from the reader’s perspective. This is especially important at the beginning of your novel, as your reader knows absolutely nothing yet regarding your world, characters, and plot.
We will then discuss the pros and cons of opening with a prologue, including some tricks and tips for constructing one. Finally, we will end with a series of exercises intended to get the ball rolling as you dive into a complete draft, as well as a few to help flesh and round things out.