• Abbie Smith

Writerly Wednesday: Speed Drafting



Welcome back to Writerly Wednesday! This week I want to talk all about speed drafting. What is speed drafting, you may ask. Well, I'm glad to tell you.


As authors, sometimes it's more beneficial to do a fast draft of your novel, especially if you are trying to publish multiple books in short periods of time. For me, personally, it takes a while to get through a novel. I'm not one who can publish every few months. But, as the saying goes, to publish, you have to write it.


While we were waiting for publication of Guns & Smoke, my co-author and I went on a writing retreat weekend. We found an AirBNB in the middle of nowhere and intended on doing nothing but writing for four days straight. While we didn't think we could finish an entire draft in a weekend, it was a great jumping off point.


What is speed drafting like?


Well, that depends. I'm a plotter. I need to have the story beats mapped out beforehand, and even a loose chapter-by-chapter outline. I personally need some structure. I find that it keeps me on task and gives me a look at the road ahead so I don't get lost in the draft.


We managed to draft the first 40,000 words in the course of four days. It was exhausting but it was also exhilarating. Being able to solely focus on writing with no interruptions or obligations was incredible. This allowed us to really dive into the characters and the story work that we'd done beforehand and figure out some changes in the manuscript. We took our time really delving into the important plot points. After that weekend, we finished the draft within 28 days.


165,000 Words in TWENTY-EIGHT days!


So, what are the pros and cons of speed drafting?


The main pro is that you have a workable draft. You can't fully form and develop a story until you have words on the page. It's easy if you don't know what to do to just make a note of something you want to add later and keep going. Another perk is that you know, roughly, what the story is going to look like. If you're an indie author, you have to be constantly thinking ahead to the next step. We were able to get the cover copy for Leather & Lace written before we ever edited a word. It allowed us the opportunity to think ahead to cover concepts and marketing ideas, even before the book was finished.


Cons of speed drafting include mistakes. Not deeply delving into every single plot point can create a lot of work later. When Lauren did our developmental edits, she realized we were missing a lot of key story structure moments. When rereading the fast draft, we learned that there are a lot of things that will need to be reworked and rewritten. But, at least it's written. Another con is that it's really easy to get sucked into drafting that other parts of your life get neglected. I am very lucky. I don't have a spouse or children, so my time is pretty open. That's not the case for everyone. Speed drafting may not be an option depending on your busy schedule.


What tips and tricks can I give you?


The biggest one: Plot. Read books on story structure, figure out the story beats, do your world building, make sure your characters are well rounded before. you. write. a word. I cannot stress enough how much it helps for me to have the story beats written out and an outline. Now, that doesn't mean the story is set in stone. I allow plenty of wiggle room if the story decides to take a turn away from it.


Last year, for NaNoWriMo, I wrote a 75,000 word draft of a solo novel with only a single character perspective. I have never done that in my life. I would never have been able to write all of those words in the course of a month if I hadn't done my prep work.


Give yourself grace. Remind yourself that you aren't human. While speed drafting is a sprint, your mental health is the most important thing. You need to be sure to take time for yourself. If you find that you can't write one thing or don't feel like writing, take the nap, drink the coffee, do whatever you need to to take care of yourself.


Don't stress if there's a plot point or moment that you aren't sure how to write. In speed drafting, it's about getting words down, not necessarily the words that make it to publication. If you know an action scene needs to happen, but you can't or don't want to write it, just use brackets, like this: [Character A defeats Character B in a duel to the death] and move forward!


Speed drafting isn't for everyone. I still struggle with it myself, but I hope that this has provided some insight into what it looks like and I hope these tips help you decide if speed drafting is something you may want to do.


Check out my post from last week if you'd like some resources on story structure and character building by going here.


Feel free to reach out to me on social media if you have any questions or would like to talk writing! I'd love to connect with you.


Abbie

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