Thursday, November 13, 2014
The Discovery Draft by Terry Burns
I told them in my own work that several of the problems they were having was solved by the way I went about writing. I like to use what is known as a 'discovery draft.' If I am writing a manuscript that is going to be maybe ninety thousand words, the first draft might just be possibly twenty-five or thirty thousand, but it will contain the entire base story line.
That's a discovery draft.' In the second draft I take that first draft and set it up on it's end like the stalk of an artificial Christmas tree. Then, like putting branches on that tree I start filling it in with setting and description, fleshing out the characters, adding sub-plots, and appealing to the five senses to bring it alive. I don't worry about messing up the main plot line because that's already in place.
And that pesky first page? When I have the entire manuscript the way I want it I go back and say "Okay, now how do I force them to turn this first page?" It's not where I start, it's the very last thing I do.
Sometimes when I'm stalled out on the way the story is developing, or even experiencing the dreaded 'writer's block,' I find it may be because I'm trying to make a character do something that is not in their nature to do. They respond by revolting on me, and the story doesn't move well again until I back up to the last place where it was flowing well to see what I've done. I usually find myself saying, "Well, sure, this character is not going to do that."
Sometimes we find we have painted ourselves into a corner in a plot and have nowhere to go. Using a discovery draft we can back up to see why the branch we are trying to fit into the 'stalk' isn't fitting. Of course, the discovery draft concept is more a tool for the seat-of-the-pants writer and not as useful to those who plot and outline the entire story concept before starting to write.
But for us SOTP people it can be a really useful tool.