Always wanted to write a book? Have the story but don’t know how to start–or keep going to write a novel? Denise Jaden has your answer. Fast Fiction: A Guide to Outlining and Writing a First-Draft Novel in Thirty Days is the answer to most of the question you’ve had about how to write that novel.
Yes, I know National Novel Writing Month is barely over (or still eight months away), but you don’t need the challenge to write a book. And if you use Jaden’s book, you will be done by the time November rolls around.
I was a bit skeptical when I picked up the book. I may have even muttered about the way we do everything so fast and without real thought. But after I read the book, I changed my mind. Jaden herself says, “If someone had told me during my early writing days that I would be able to write a draft of an entire book in less than a month, I probably would have though they were crazy,”
Jaden guides you through the first draft of a 50,000 word novel. And she does it just in time for the novel-writing March Madness contest she holds each year on her own blog. The book is divided into three parts–Before the Draft, During the Draft, and After the Draft. She doesn’t leave you hanging with a draft and no idea what to do. But I’m leaping too far ahead.
In Before the Draft, you’ll learn how to narrow down the idea for your novel, separate plot from story idea, and set a three-act structure (and she tells you how to do each step.)
You will also learn why theme is important, how much to develop your characters (and how much to let them develop themselves), and why setting is important. She helps you develop a list of scenes (in clear terms), and to write a story plan and how you will write your first draft.
All of this will happend before you start launching into During Your Draft. In that section, you will get help for each of 30 days in which you are going to draft your novel. Jaden reminds you that it is a first draft, not a finished product. One of the pieces of the book I found most useful is the weekly checkpoints she helps you set at the beginning of the 30-days.
For each of the 30 days of drafting, there is an encouraging portion of avoiding pitfalls, writing tips, and hints. Then there is a Simple Task for each day. Following her advice and using the tips will have you writing 2,000 words a day.
I expected to hear some repetition in the 30-day section, but there wasn’t any. Each day is molded by the goal for that week, and has a new idea and fresh approach to old writing problems. No clichés, no trite affirmations, no platitudes.
The last section, After the Draft, Jaden talks about revisions, using first readers to help you identify problem areas, and how to fix those areas.
I found myself wanting to write a novel for the first time in a long time, just to try out her method. I love the positive town that never sounds cheerleader-ish, and the real advice.
I received the book as a review copy and would love to keep it for myself. But I give away review copies. Leave a comment and I’ll give the book away on Thursday’s blog. If you’ve wanted to write a novel, but weren’t sure exactly how to do it, you’ll know how when you finish.
—Quinn McDonald is tempted to write a novel now. She has always said she is not a fiction writer. She used to say she wasn’t a book author, either. She is the author of The Inner Hero Art Journal.