The Drafting Twilight Zone: Tips for getting it out and over

So you’ve unlocked your writing with your key of imagination and as you move through it you fall through to a dimension of sentence structures; a dimension of grammatical woes; a dimension of endless prose. You’ve moved into a novel with multiple character development and plot twists. You’ve just crossed over into the Drafting Twilight Zone.

Yep. The story of my life right now. Even though I feel like I’m so close to finishing the first draft of my next book, I can’t stop going back and wanting to add subplots and gradual detail. All stuff that I don’t even know you guys need but I feel is necessary.

In hopes of getting out to this whack ass drafting dimension of insanity, I took some time to see how the pros have handled this.

Try Stephen King’s technique that he shared in On Writing, which he learned back in high school. It’s a simple formula:

2nd draft = 1st draft – 10%

So he states that,

“Even today, I will aim for a second-draft length of thirty-six hundred words if the draft of a novel runs three hundred and fifty thousand words, I’ll try my damndest to produce a second draft of no more than three hundred and fifteen thousand … three hundred, if possible. Usually it is possible. What the Formula taught me is that every story and novel is collapsible to some degree.”

Great words. But this is for the second draft, which I’m kind of in but not totally. So then I found pretty nifty advice from Sarah Waters.

“Don’t panic. Midway through writing a novel, I have regularly experienced moments of bowel-curdling terror, as I contemplate the drivel on the screen before me and see beyond it, in quick succession, the derisive reviews, the friends’ embarrassment, the failing career, the dwindling income, the repossessed house, the divorce . . . Working doggedly on through crises like these, however, has always got me there in the end. Leaving the desk for a while can help. Talking the problem through can help me recall what I was trying to achieve before I got stuck. Going for a long walk almost always gets me thinking about my manuscript in a slightly new way. And if all else fails, there’s prayer. St Francis de Sales, the patron saint of writers, has often helped me out in a crisis. If you want to spread your net more widely, you could try appealing to Calliope, the muse of epic poetry, too.”

Good advice but a bit vague. Then I ran into Neil Gaiman’s words, who’s the author of American Gods—a novel and show that I just devoured. He gives me exactly what I needed, and wanted, to hear.

“The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.”

So guys, it seems that the only way out of the “Drafting Twilight Zone” is through. Full steam ahead bishes! My hope is that once I’ve finally finished this process, an ingeniously articulated masterpiece is created for yout reading delight. Here goes nothing.

As I glue myself to my writing chair, focused on finally knocking this out, be sure to check out my free short story series on this blog. Catch up. Don’t be lame. Friday is always a great day to read.

DNC’s Short Story Series Presents: “Complicated

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The Miseducation of Semicolons

The angst in each breath was daunting; my lungs couldn’t find life again.
OR
The angst in each breath was daunting. My lungs couldn’t find life again.

This is my life. To semicolon or not to semicolon…that is the question. And I’m sick of trying to answer it but then a ray of light burst through the clouds.

My dear friends at The Write Practice (okay, I don’t know anyone there but I swear it feels like I’ve met them), have helped to ease my mind about this ridiculous drama behind the semicolon.

In their article When To Use a Semicolon, they give two great ways and things to think about when we all go through this dilemma.

Here’s a couple of rules they suggested:

1. Each clause of the sentence needs to be an independent clause.
You know what an independent clause is, right? You’re writers! Sometimes, however, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the semicolon, and you’ll want to use it everywhere. Don’t.

If you’re going to use it, make sure that each clause can stand on its own as a fully formed sentence. If it helps, mentally separate the two clauses with a period to test their independence.

Justin didn’t walk; he ran. Justin didn’t walk. He ran.

2. Use them sparingly.
It can get exhausting for your reader if there is too much going on in one sentence. If there is too much going on in each sentence for a full paragraph, that may result in reader mutiny, and you’re going to have trouble bringing them back. Use the semicolon to connect ideas that are related, but don’t try to connect every single idea in a paragraph. Periods are your friends (at least in this context).

Ellie subtly flared her nostrils; the smell of lilac and lavender filled the air; it reminded her of her summers in the hills of Ohio; she and her cousins would make crowns of daisies and give them to their mothers.

For the love of God and the sanity of your readers, do not do this.

Ellie subtly flared her nostrils. The smell of lilac and lavender filled the air; it reminded her of her summers in the hills of Ohio. She and her cousins would make crowns of daisies and give them to their mothers.

Did that brighten your semicolon day? If so, or not, let me know. What are you thoughts about the mighty semi C (yep, I gave it a nickname)?

[VIDEO] “Spur of the moment with Author DNC” on YouTube

My mind has been all over the place, jumping from project to project but one of them is almost ready! Get a sneak peek and let me know what you think.

Enjoy!

-DNC