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First Draft in 30 Days

4.4 out of 5 stars 67 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 860-1404798870
ISBN-10: 1582972966
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Karen Wiesner is a novelist and member of Romance Writers of America. She is a frequent guest at writers conferences and the author of Electronic Publishing.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Writer's Digest Books (March 5, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582972966
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582972961
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #322,418 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on March 15, 2005
Format: Paperback
"First Draft In 30 Days: A Novel Writer's System for Building a Complete and Cohesive Manuscript" is what it's called but this is not the result the book actually provides. If you follow this method, after 30 consecutive days of work, you will NOT have a first draft or a manuscript at all. What you'll have is a complete OUTLINE of - to quote the book - 60 to 100 pages!

Days 1-6: Preliminary outlines and sketches

Days 7-13: Research

Days 14-15: Story evolution (ideas for beginning, middle, end)

Days 16-24: Formatted outline

Days 25-28: Evaluating the strength of theoutline

Days 29-30: Revising outline - and on Day 30, you're to put this outline "on a shelf for at least two weeks to several months."

The worksheets in the appendix are similar to those in "The Marshall Plan" (an author also of the crime/suspense/thriller genres) and, although this author says you can apply it to any genre, the book leans heavily towards suspense fiction. (Romance is an "optional" plot thread, for example, and her worksheets have headings like "character/suspect".)

For mystery, suspense, and thriller fiction where plots are intricate and have tons of crucial details, this method may be a useful way to track all that. For writers who use outlines as a guideline only and/or who stray from it if the work evolves in a new direction, this is a lot of "writing before the writing" that may not prove to be all that productive in the long run.
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Format: Paperback
Don't let Karen Wiesner's romance background scare you away. This woman is a professional, and she's got some sensible suggestions.

According to her bio, she's written over twenty books, including such diverse genres as romance, mystery/police procedural, suspense, thriller, paranormal, and action/ adventure. Perhaps even more impressive is her planning acumen. Wiesner is always two, three novels ahead of the game, thanks to her formatted outline.

Many writers either can't or don't want to outline their novels in advance (See Tony Hillerman, for instance). Wiesner couldn't either at first until she developed the formatted outline. Wiesner refers to the formatted outline as the first draft of the book. When she revises, she revises the outline rather than suffer through countless drafts of the manuscript.

This woman is a real left-brainer. She plans virtually everything, including time to let the manuscript marinate. The appendices include character, setting, plot, and research outlines as well as a place to write potential interview questions for possible experts and your characters. Her story evolution worksheet is almost as helpful as the formatted outline.

And-oh,yes-I almost forgot Chapter eight. It's for us poor shleps who already have a completed manuscript with all kinds of holes. She shows us how to use her system to salvage the mess.

As one who has endured twenty-three drafts on his first effort, Wiesner's FIRST DRAFT IN 30 DAYS is a godsend.
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Format: Paperback
Whoever the book titlers are at Writer's Digest, they should be ashamed of themselves. A 30-day outline is a far cry from a 30-day draft. The first draft--the "rough" draft of your book--must be the most painstakingly thought out and executed of all the drafts, be there two, three, five, or six more to follow. It's here, right in the beginning, that you develop your story flow, your pulse, your synthesis of surroundings with characthers and their actions / reactions within the disciplined framework of your plot. I'm sure most successful novelists would tell you that. In no way can a 30-day outline be labeled a 30-day draft. These are two separately, pronouncedly different and distinct writing phases. ##### I have always been a firm believer in outlines, and have always developed one for every one of my books (including my novel, Six Hours Past Thursday). In no way can you, as a writer, feel that you are somehow going to be led by some spontaneous, invisible hand through the jungle of story creation, be it fiction or non-ficion. To me, outlines form the basics of essentialism for a writer. ##### To flip the coin to the other side--objective analysis of Karen Wiesner's First Draft In 30 Days from the standpoint of content--it is first rate. There is nothing arbitrary or random about her call for a tightly-disciplined approach to book creation. Dispersing learned counsel in rapid-fire bursts, she lays out a good sequence for outlining your book. Preliminary thoughts, research, story evolution, formatted outline, evaluate strength, a revistation, and, importantly, putting it on a shelf for a quiet period of rest and final reflection before proceeding into the first draft. A good pecking order. ##### My lone objection is to the misleading title. Hence, the 3-star rating.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
You need to decide whether you write from the seat-of-your-pants or whether you are a planner. This book is for planners. Buy No Plot, No Problem if you are the other sort.

Okay, you're a planner. Should you buy this book. Well, it doesn't cost much and it has a decent system. Other systems to look at would be the Marshall Plan, the Weekend Novelist or The Novelist's Bootcamp.

I would recommend How to Write a Damn Good Mystery to either sort.

What's wrong this book? The most important parts of this book are the worksheets. They are printed in the book. You must copy them and write on the copies in long hand or take the time to reproduce them all using your word processor.

I myself would rather spend my time writing. In this day in age there is not reason why I should not be able to download the worksheets in electronic format. I would even settle for paying more for them; however, the publisher gives a lame excuse that doesn't cut it--basically, they just don't want to do it.

Here's the excuse from the author's web site:

Q. I just got my hands on the book a couple of days ago, Karen, and I'm in love. What I do wish...that I could order a CD with all the forms instead of having to copy or remake them. I know they all existed as forms on your computer...and I know Writer's Digest does CDs with its Writer's Market. Any possibilities there? Also, it occurred to me that you might want to do online workshops...and you could include the forms in the workshop if you don't have copyright or permission conflicts.

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