Starting a Book: How to Turn that Outline into a First Draft
By Julie Petersen / Once you create the outline of your novel, you need to make use of it and write your first draft.
You might be wondering and asking yourself a lot of questions about the process. Is it a good thing to edit the draft and write things a bit differently? What if you get new ideas as you write and you want to add them to your draft? When should you start editing your manuscript? What happens if you experience a blockage and you can’t write anything for a while?
While transforming your novel’s main blueprint into a manuscript, many questions will pop up into your head. It’s quite a normal situation for writers. Even so, you should pay attention and approach them with a cool head. Here are some details regarding the problems that might appear along the way:
Modifying your outline to transform it into a manuscript
Once you write the outline, is very important that you have a break from your story. After some time, a few days to one week, you can start reading your outline again in order to have an objective approach towards it. If you don’t do this, you might have a subjective approach towards the outline, you might think that it’s a very good one, when actually you could’ve done better. Taking a break from it makes you more distant and objective, thus improving the final result.
Once a review of your outline is done, you can start writing the first manuscript. When doing this, you need to create exhaustive descriptions of your ideas. You need to do this in order to have a complete story, you don’t want to have any gaps in it. You can avoid these type of gaps by reading your manuscript every time you end a chapter. Once you check for gaps in your last chapter, you should start from the beginning. New ideas might pop up, edits to other chapters might need to be made in order to have a fluent story.
When writing the manuscript, you might abandon some of the ideas in your outline, you might adapt them according to your new situation or you might create completely new ones. Even though they don’t respect your outline, you should continue developing your ideas. You are a writer, that’s what writers do, they create, they come with ideas and they write them down.
Some writers might abandon or modify parts of the outline, others might stick with it through and through. Either way, when writing, if you focus on one idea, you can’t see the bigger picture and you might end up with some actions or events that appear out of the blue.
From time to time, you need to examine the entire manuscript in order to rearrange its main ideas.
Getting rid of ideas that occupy your mind
You are a writer, a very creative person and, unwittingly, ideas will pop up in your head while writing the manuscript for your next novel. What needs to be done when you are in this kind of situation? The most appropriate method would be to write your ideas down, regardless of your current actions. Why? Because one of those ideas can modify your novel in a way that it’ll transform it into a bestseller. One of those ideas can be the next big thing for you. You don’t want to waste any of them.
If you are in a situation like this, with a head full of ideas unrelated to your current project, you should take 1 or 2 days off in order to write them down and create a small description for them. Even though it might seem a waste of time, one of those ideas might be the inception of your next project or a major improvement for your current one.
Organize your final edits and write them down
While writing your manuscript, you will want to edit certain bits and pieces of your outline. The best way to do this is by creating a document containing all your edits. This way, the computer will remember every edit you’d like to make to your outline. You need to write them down with very precise specifications because, by the end of your manuscript, you might forget all the edits you intended to make and their purpose.
Why is this the best way? Because when writing, you don’t want stop for long periods of time in order to make the edits that popped up in your head. This will interrupt the stream of ideas and you might end up in a slump. This is the main reason you should consider writing your edits down and making them later.
Getting over no inspiration periods
We are humans and, every once in a while, your mind hits a dead end in terms of ideas. How do you get over this, how do you recharge your batteries? What needs to be done in order to avoid this type of situations? You can use tools for brainstorming for ideas, to help with keeping to your schedule.
Your plan is to write one chapter of your book today. Once you’ve done that, you shouldn’t push your limits and try to write one more. By doing this, you will put your brain to a great effort and you might end up brain-dead for the next few days. Once you reach your goal, you should stop writing.
You can read the outline of your next chapter and brainstorm for ideas to improve it. You can write those ideas down and make a small list of ideas that you want to blend in your next chapter.This is the main tactic in avoiding the no inspiration periods. If you use this method, no such periods will appear during the process.
Edit only when your manuscript is done!
People tend to review their compositions over and over again, once they write it down. This is not a very good idea because, by the time you are done writing your chapter, you are not able to have an objective approach towards it. If you are still in the midst of your ideas, you’ll think that your composition is perfect the way it is, without seeing errors or omissions.
The second reason for leaving the editing for the end is because you might remove one or two ideas from your older work and this might lead to unrelated actions. One of those ideas was the foundation of one action and removing it might lead to irrelevant content, actions with no groundwork. Once you finish your manuscript, take some time off, have a closer look and start editing it. If it is your first book, you can ask someone you know to review it or hire a professional writer at a writing service companies, to look through your draft.
Lots of questions might pop up in your head when trying to transform your outline into a manuscript. If you keep your calm and start writing, those uncertainties will vanish and you’ll be able to have a clear mind.
When writing your manuscript, you should have an objective vision towards your outline, this way you may correct and add new ideas to it. It’s better if you write them down and add them later to your manuscript, this way you will have a logical flow of events.
About the Author
Julie Petersen is a freelance writer and the founder of an educational blog askpetersen.com. Now she teaches English and is working on her first book, dedicated to online learning.