Thursday, January 12, 2012

First Draft in 30 Days

First Draft in 30 Days: A Novel Writer's System for Building a Complete and Cohesive Manuscript by Karen S. Wiesner
F+W Publications, Inc
ISBN: 978-1582972961
Trade Paperback, 222 pages

I wish I had this book when I was writing my first novel. Although I was organized and had some sort of outline, the advice and worksheets of this book would have come in handy. A manuscript is a long document and unless you’re very well organized, keeping a tab of all your characters, settings and plot threads can get tedious. Have you ever flipped through your first draft just to confirm that the secondary character you introduced in chapter three still has that limp when he reappears in chapter six?

First Draft in 30 Days shows a writer how to create a flexible and customizable outline that is detailed and complete. The author states in her introduction that her book “teaches you how to become a systematic, self-disciplined, productive author—no matter your genre or level of experience.” Now that’s a heavy promise. Does she deliver? Yes.

When I began reading it, I was excited and inspired to write my second book. I could relate to almost everything she was saying and I was able to recognize what I needed to work on as a writer. You can follow the 30-day method meticulously or simply use it as a reference to improve your own style and technique. It is especially useful if you are writing mystery and suspense novels as you need to keep track of all your characters’ motives and alibis—the crime timeline, as Wiesner refers to it. I love the book’s layout. It’s easy to read and it includes dozens of worksheets to fill out as well as sample worksheets that dissect the character, setting or plot of best-selling novels. In addition, there are goal sheets to get your writing career going and a glossary and index.

If you’re seriously thinking of writing a novel, but are having trouble putting it all together or you’ve written a first draft but it needs revision and some major work regarding plot or character development, this book will definitely help you. I have used it as a basis for my How to Write a Book workshops. The practical tools this book provides will help identify your weaknesses and strengths as a writer. It is an excellent reference and useful workbook for writers who want to improve their craft.

Note: I first read and reviewed this book on August 26, 2010 on NouveauWriter.

Disclosure: I bought this book through Amazon. I was not told how to rate or review this product.

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