First Draft Composition: A Focused, Directed Vision is a MUST

Think local, not global, when you're feeling overwhelmed by planning or drafting a novel

Think local, not global, when you’re feeling overwhelmed by planning or drafting a novel

If you’ve been following my posts this week–especially those of the last two days–especially yesterday’s, The Post NaNoWriMo drag, and a previous one about inspiration not striking as I’d like–then you know I’m struggling to make progress as I try to wrap up a first draft I’m working on, the first one in a new series about my fantasy world of Herezoth. I’m just feeling overwhelmed by all the directions and possibilities, and I’ve noticed a pattern to my panickings/uncertainties:

  • Where do I take the next book? I have a particularly couple, the princess and a guardsman, I’m trying to bring together but it doesn’t seem entirely feasible and I have no clue how their storyline is going to end. And never mind Herezoth’s war with Esclavay! Do I have one kingdom invade the other? Keep battle maritime? I know NOTHING about warships/sea battles! I’d have to do so much research….
  • How do I end this current book? I know I need a big battle scene and I know some of the characters who will be involved, but how do I wrap this novel up?
  • Do I need to create a new character to partner sorcerer protagonist Zate in the final battle I’m planning? Who? I think I might have to, and editing a new character into the first part of the novel is always SUCH a headache.
  • How much more filler material will I need before I even get to the big battle?

So, what do all these issues have in common?

The panorama of my thought process is just too wide right now. Trying to think of a novel on a global scale–and especially a trilogy, good heavens–when all you need to concentrate on is adding another sentence to the one before it is a surefire way to intimidate yourself completely out of writing!


Somehow, I’ve gotten away from my tried and true formula of narrowing my vision to the current scene I’m developing. What’s just happened? Which characters does it affect, and how would they respond to the revelations/events that just occurred? How can where I’ve just gone advance me one step farther? Just one step?

Sometimes I’m sure what ultimate direction that step is in, and sometimes I’m completely off in my judgment. Sometimes I have no clue. Whatever the circumstance, it’s fine. When writing, you’ll get to where the story needs to go if you concentrate on using the characters to move you just one more step.

Just today, for instance, I struggled to get a scene down because I was trying, at the same time, to figure out what would come after. Well, when I let go of worrying about the scene to follow and worked on the scene in front of me, lo and behold–I got to the scene’s end, and I realized I had created a transition back to the princess’s POV. Realizing that, I immediately understood I needed another scene with her, and I can use it to advance the plot a day or two and show how she’s adjusting to that guardsman I mentioned above and his new assignment as her personal guard.

It’s so frustrating when I know what I need to do to write, because it’s helped me write before, but I resist those tried and true methods to just think too globally and freak myself out! For me, thinking local and small about my fiction is the way to progress. If that means that later on I have to edit in a character, well, I’ve done it before, and I know that’s preferable to being stuck and not writing.

17 responses to “First Draft Composition: A Focused, Directed Vision is a MUST

  1. I am not an experienced novelist, but I did learn a lot during the NaNo thing. I liken a runaway story to days when I feel so overwhelmed by too many things that need to be done, that I am paralyzed. I pick one thing and I just start. Whenever I got overwhelmed by the possibilities of where my story was going, I did, as you mentioned, focusing on the minutiae of the scene I was in – that got me going again and eventually gave me a better sense of direction for the overall storyline.

    • ugh, that kind of feeling paralyzed is the worst! i’ve totally been there and know exactly what you mean. Yep, one thing at a time is what it takes! I struggle with anxiety and sometimes find it hard not to put the big picture aside as it crashes over me like a tsunami.

  2. A good reminder. Thanks. Been getting bogged down with the what if’s, and the fact that the plot twisted on me (in a great way). A vague male character jumped up and screamed that he should evolve into a love interest by the end of the book. This means my suspense is now a suspense/romance (good), but will also be longer, and means a different ending.
    Panic Party, anyone? 🙂

    • hahaha! those moments when characters scream “look at me” are simultaneous the best and the most frustrating! best of luck to you with finishing out. sounds like this evolution will really enhance your story!

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  6. Victoria, thanks for this great post. What always stands out to me about your work is it’s precision focus. I am SO tired of reading indie fiction that has no focus (or trying to read it). Thanks for reminding all of us that discipline and the ability focus are a huge part of maximizing our creativity.

    • Dear Lisa, thank you so much! I’m glad you enjoyed the post 🙂 you are right, disciplined focus can be tough, because it’s so tempting to look at the big picture and freak out, but it’s worth it 🙂

      • Yes, looking at the big picture too frequently is freaking me out. Plans are starting to roll in my life that necessitate money from my future books (among other small internet businesses), and I’m having a little trouble transitioning from the big picture to the next paragraph. So excited, but also nervous. lol

  7. Reblogged this on Rose's Road and commented:
    I read this post when it first came out, but it’s like I’m reading it again for the first time. Mostly because it’s exactly what I need to hear right now. I’m kind of panicking over writing a larger part for a small character, when all I really have to do is add a couple diary entries to what I’ve already written. Why does the brain have to make this stuff so difficult?!?
    So, for the next couple of writing sessions I am going to do my best to just concentrate on the next few words, instead of the entire darn book.

    Do you need to narrow your view of your current work in progress?
    Have you been spending too much time thinking about your novel as a whole rather than how you’re going to draft your current scene?

  8. Just reblogged this! Too good to keep to myself. I hope you don’t mind. 🙂
    Here’s the link:

  9. Yes, I am. Thanks for the reminder to keep it simple and take one step at a time!

  10. franz louise bermejo

    can you help me about my thesis

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