Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Writing Book Review - First Draft in 30 Days

Some writing books tell you exactly what they do on the cover.

Some don't.

"First Draft in 30 Days: A Novel Writer's System for Building a Complete and Cohesive Manuscript" by Karen Wiesnar is the latter I'm afraid. This is not a book about writing your first draft. It's a book describing an Outlining method.

Admittedly it is a very detailed outlining method which the author claims can function as a first draft, but it's still an outline.

Having said that it's not a bad Outlining method. I'd really like to use it sometime because it seems like it could be very useful. Unfortunately, just like with the Snowflaking method, I find the 30 Day time period a bit disconcerting. (Okay I'm impatient and want my Outline now when I outline). For people who want to try a really deep and detailed Outline this method could be really good. She does a very good job of explaining and illustrating her method using works by famous authors as examples.

And this book has a lot of added value as well. The section on research is useful, and the worksheets at the back are excellent - as well as the ones needed for her outlining method there are also character capsule sheets (which I use all the time because they're just that good), setting capsules, dialogue specific sheets (where you define any dialogue quirks a character has).

All in all this is one of those books you need to thumb through before you decide if you want to buy it. It's about one of those that's about the author's method. It works for them, but it might not work for you. You only want to buy it if it's useful.