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First Draft in 30 Days
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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.
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.
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.
A.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Good method and diagramming. Problem is that she does not really give good reasons for outlining. I recommend Melvin Curl's Expository Writing for that. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Theoni Lussos
Great book with a lot of solid, practical advice. Karen's process is a bit pedantic for me, but you can derive your own solid process from her info and advice. Read morePublished 6 months ago by JamesOsiris
Received it 1 week before estimated. Really helpful for a first time struggling writer.Published 10 months ago by Cassondra Carder
I loved it. It was in great condition and is helping alot in the novel writing process.Published 11 months ago by catpansies
I have only written Non-fiction in the past and beginning to write a series of novels was scary to me, fortunately another author friend recommended this book. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Donna Garrison