Drafting Ahead of My Headlights

National Novel Writing Month

National Novel Writing Month

It’s week two of NaNoWriMo and I hope everyone is having a positive experience. Don’t give up! This is about training yourself to be persistent more than it’s about numbers. I’ve no complaints and am on track to complete A River in Each Hand this November. And if I don’t? Then I’ll finish it in December. It’s about results. The number that matters is 1.

1 book.

On to a personal drafting insight…

I’m not sure what others see, or don’t see, when they draft a story, but here’s my experience. Perhaps you see yourself here?

I’m a visual person, and never more so than when I’m writing. It’s a great aid, but sometimes when I draft at a fast pace, like during NaNo, I discover I’m writing beyond the headlights. Huh? I assure you it makes sense.

I see the story in my mind (and hear the characters). In the developmental stage glimpses appear associated with key scenes that become anchors, or “real” moments. What I see in-between at that stage is blurred fast forward filler.

For instance, while editing my first book in this series, Trust in the Forgotten, there’s a moment near the end when the protagonist repeats a ghost’s cryptic words from earlier in the story. At that moment those words flashed in my mind in a new way. I “saw” what would become the key anchor moment in the second book.

So, the part about headlights…

Cover: CA Hawthorne

Cover: CA Hawthorne

Drafting and visualizing work together. The clearer (more slowed down) the next portion of the story, the faster I can draft it. When I quit at the end of the day I look over the next portion of the outline and let the visualizations begin. Settings appear. Characters move and interact. I hear dialog.

The next day I take off. The problem comes when I draft so fast I write past where I’d already slowed the visual narrative. Like driving so fast at night that you can’t stop in the distance your headlights are allowing you to see ahead. Instead of flow, I struggle with awkward chunks of story blocked together. It’s forced. The solution is to stop, get away (even if it means sacrificing word count), and allow my mind to realign any anchors and start filling in-between. The story slows. The pictures return. Drafting becomes writing down what I see. Of course, conveying in words what’s appearing in my mind isn’t always easy, but that’s about vocabulary. I have the pictures and no one can take that away.

5 Replies to “Drafting Ahead of My Headlights”

  1. Pingback: Drafting Ahead of My Headlights | Christina Anne Hawthorne

  2. I love your title! There are definitely days I sacrifice word count for true productivity another day. I also see the pictures in my head, sometimes hear the dialogue – though some days I have to listen really hard.

    • Yes, it’s the productivity that matters. I wrote this because I’ve heard some say they DON’T see (or hear) what they’re writing. Thanks for weighing in on that. I’m not surprised you “see.” It shows in your writing. Too, I agree that it doesn’t always come easy.

  3. For me it was getting the story down that was in my head. But after when I read it, there was lots of work to do to get it ship shape. So if I ever did Nano again I would slow down a bit and try to do some quality scenes. I think I realised after doing nanowrimo and trying to shape that crappy draft that I could do this any time but have a clearer picture to make less work. Good on you for doing it Christina Im cheering you on!

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