Monday, April 4, 2011

Lightning Fingers

Kinda like this, but not. At all. Cuz that would hurt.

I've been getting a lot of questions about how I've drafted Shiny Old Idea so quickly. (For those counting, I'm at 55K in 8 days, and if you read the excerpt on the post below, you can tell it's not crap quality. Though there will definitely be revisions needed.)

The short answer is this. (NaNoWriMo)

The long answer is slightly more complicated. Though it does stem from NaNo (I've participated for four years now, and I became serious about writing during my second year), there are a bunch of other factors. NaNo taught me that the best way to go about making a publishable novel is to have a novel to make publishable.

You can't make a diamond out of nothing.

...but it does come from coal.

Between being a high school/college student always having to finish papers last-minute and having a predisposition to focus wholeheartedly on the task at hand (swimmer), I became very good at churning out good quality, high quantity words in a short period of time.

In my third year of NaNo, I wrote with a very detailed outline, hit 50K in 15 days, and finished the novel at 80K in 23 days, all with a decent plot and okay writing. I was 16, and that was the novel that told me writing could be something for me.

Last November, I wrote Splashback, the 60K novel I'm querying, in twelve days. It was 55K then, and had a few plot issues. After two rounds of revision, pages are out with 12 agents, and it's surprising to me how much of the original version is in the final draft.

Still, when I started Playing God a week ago, I scrapped the outline and started writing, setting a 5K/day goal for myself, with 10K on weekends. It's scary, but since Playing God is a complete rewrite of an oooold novel (thus the moniker Shiny Old Idea), I know the characters well enough to make this work.

And even as I see issues, I know this is my best work yet, though I'll probably (hopefully) finish on Saturday, after two weeks.

Some people need to edit as they go. Some people have less time than I do. Some people get frustrated with their characters, or their plot, or their computer. And some people, like me, having lightning fingers.

I think I do this because I don't want to lose the rush of inspiration that drives me. If I set a goal, I'll work like hell to get there, even if it's though the hardest chunk of the novel (my 10K Sunday was 40-50K, which are the worst words for me in a novel.). But now it's behind me, and I'd still be going at it a week from now if I hadn't buckled down with that goal.


How do you draft? Do you use an outline? Have you done NaNo? I'm so curious as to the writing processes of others because I live sort of in a vacuum when it comes to writers.

Tell all in the comments, pleeeease? (for virtual cookies and hugs and daisy chains?)

(And if you don't, well, I have lightning fingers!)


  1. I'm not as fast as you, but I did write The Color of Yin in about 32 days, and I think it's the best manuscript I've completed so far. Definitely an helps me to get the story somewhat fixed in my head, thus making the writing process many times easier.

  2. I totally agree - you have to write the thing before you can make it publishable :)

    And I too am a NaNo permanent fixture, and I love it every year :D

  3. I don't really outline, and I definitely don't write fast. I do edit as I go, though, and my first drafts, though probably about four-five months coming, more if I'm busy, are pretty clean. None of my novel ideas(yet) are standalone, though, so plotting(and outlining a little, I suppose) does come heavily into play. I always leave my ideas in my head, rather than putting them in a solid outline on paper, so my subconscious can fool with them and make them ten times better by the time I get to the scene. Unless I think I'll forget it. I generally know what's happening next, what's happening three chapters away, ect., but the getting there is usually a mystery until I get there. =)

    I think the most I've ever written in one day is about 3k--I can't focus on something for more than a couple hours at a time unless I'm utterly enthralled, lol. When I have time to write, I usually hit between 0.3k and 2.5k, depending on how the scene's flowing/if I get stuck on a transition that I can't word perfectly, lol(Me=perfectionism poster child.). I'm rewriting my first novel right now, b/c it's the first in a seven-book series, and I'm 4/5ths done. =) I expect things to majorly pick up after graduation, which marks the beginning of my first summer of peace in three years. O_o

  4. Oh, and NaNo--I've done three years, I think. I participated in the young writer's site, where you can set your own goal, and the highest I've gotten is 21k(~4 chapters in one month), but that was a huge improvement from my pace before November(~1 chapter per month). Like I said--I'm slow. Not steady, though, so I'm not liking my chances on winning the race. =P

  5. I wish I was a fast writer like you!
    Me and my cps are doing Nano. In fact we were talking about it one day and I decided to open up a group dedicated to finishing a project.

    If interested :)

  6. Sorry, I meant to post this comment on your other post!

    WOW! I'm seriously impressed girl!

    Keep up the good work. I would do anything to write like lightning like that!

    I am a HUGE Save the Cat fan. After learning about it from Alyson Noel and Jessica Brody--I will never ever write a book without the beat sheet again. Blake Snyder rocks!!