Saturday, August 16, 2014

Drafting Process // Vol. II

DSC_9887About fifteen months ago, I wrote a post detailing my ideal drafting process: the one I hoped to follow as I pursued the second draft of my novel, The Bridge Between Heaven and Hell. As it turned out, that process needed some serious fixing. A visitor actually commented on that post, noting, “You might want to give yourself more flexibility,” in reference to one of my plans of action. Her observation turned out to be very true. Reading a 250,000-word book which took close to three years to write is no easy feat, because one’s writing style evolves so much over that period of time; also, when the first draft takes that long, one’s ideas change radically and one thinks, “In the next draft, I’m doing to do this-and-this different,” . . . et cetera and so forth. So, I have revised that previous, very long list, cutting it down to ten steps instead of—what—sixteen?

If you have suggestions for improvement, don’t hesitate to give them. Also, if you’d like to copy and paste this post into a Word document to save it to your computer, you have my permission.

Note: This drafting process applies to any and all drafts—first, second, third, fourth, eleventh, you get the idea. Let’s hope, however, that if you use this process you won’t have to go all the way to eleven.

1) For first draft: evaluate. Did you just get the idea? or half of the idea? or did a simple inspiration—an image, a movie, a book—give you a sudden thought? If so, you need to spend two to six weeks mulling over the idea in your head. For succeeding draft: take two to six weeks off to give your brain a break.

2) Make a list of the plot in the general story order. If you want to, you can read through your previous draft, but it’s unnecessary if you know your novel well enough.

3) Make a list of the major characters. E.g.: Reuel, Arac-Enen, Eladriel, Graece, Xara-Phenia. Fill them out completely with several different character exercises. While you can use your own ideas for this, some of these might be helpful to you: their love language, Meyers Briggs personality type, a journal of one of their days (written by them), a character interview, and the character form.

4) Make a list of the minor characters. E.g.: Ambryna, Eric, Vol, Volum. Fill them out with only one or two character exercises. Of the ones above, I would choose their Meyers Briggs personality type and the character form.

5) Pitch it. Don’t know what a pitch is? If you want to be a serious writer, you’d better learn—these are pretty important. In general, it’s a description of your book in less than 25 words (some say less than fifteen).

6) The one-paragraph synopsis. Self-explanatory.

7) The one-page synopsis.

8) The 2-3 page synopsis. This is where you get to focus on your finest plot points.

9) A general, loose outline of the book.

10) Chapter- by-chapter outlines.

Hope you found that helpful. :) Any questions or observations I will gladly answer below.


  1. Good advice, Hannah. I often wonder what "extra" things I should do in writing a book just because right now, all I really do is... write. That is half the battle and one I don't often conquer, but right now, I'm also thinking more about what I can do to press the stories along. Without words on pages, there is nothing to pitch. ;)

    1. Indeed. :) I personally am not one of those people who does or advocates editing while writing, because in my opinion it destroys any passion for the story itself and causes the author to fall into criticizing him/herself instead of moving the story along. Thanks for commenting, Rissi!


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