Useful Tips

We write the book: Errors of the first chapters


There are several approaches to writing the first draft:

The author has no plan: sits down and prints what comes to mind. This method is suitable for writing works with one or two storylines.

Before starting to write the text, the author prescribes a plan: sometimes brief, sometimes detailed. This option is ideal for medium-difficulty novels - with two to three storylines. One of the varieties of this method is the "Snowflake Method" by American writer Randy Ingermanson.

Its meaning is as follows: the writer builds the plot from the simplest scheme to a complex detailed synopsis.

For multifaceted works that require serious research, we can recommend the following technology:

Five files are created:

Factual material is being added there: politics, economics, fashion, culture, description of individual events, etc.

All materials are organized into sections. Each section is bookmarked.

The author writes a new interesting fact in the desired section and then can easily find it in a pile of material.

This file lists all the more or less significant characters. Describes the detailed biographies and relationships of the characters with each other. For better visualization, it makes sense to pick up photos of actors on the Internet for a particular role.

This file lists all events by month. This is not only about historical dates, but also about facts that create color.

For example: “December 1925 - release on the screens of the film Battleship Potemkin.”

It was a landmark tape - everyone watched and discussed it.

Or: "In the spring of 1925, newspapers began to print crosswords (hit of the season)."

Or "The most fashionable stockings - in a box, also called" crossword "."

This file is created in Excel or in the Scrivener program (I personally use it, but as an example I will show tables for Excel, because everyone who has Microsoft Office installed on the computer has it).

So, we create two tables:

Table 1. The detailed plan for the chapters

In this table, we create five columns:

• Date - when the event described in the novel occurred.

• Paragraph. If the chapters are large, they should be divided into paragraphs (one paragraph - one scene). Each of them is marked with numbers: for example, 23.9, where 23 is the chapter number, and 9 is the paragraph number. This is required in order to quickly, having typed the paragraph code in the search engine, find the right place in the novel. Then these codes are removed.

• Event. In order not to forget in which paragraph we are talking about, we describe the scene in one or two sentences.

• Focal character - each scene is viewed from the point of view of a hero.

The second table is needed in order not to lose the plot lines and to clearly know what a particular character was doing at a given time. In the left column are the dates by month, in the upper row are the names of each of the heroes. Thus, in each column we have a short biography of the hero.

When the author fills in all the columns, he will see before his eyes a structured plan of the novel with all the plot twists and turns. It is clearly seen what is coming from, and where to look for the right event to correct it.

Each scene is described in detail in this file. So far, only in the form of a draft: events, reactions, thoughts - nothing more. Chapter numbers and paragraph codes are arranged here, as described in the Plan.

After the plot is fully verified, each scene is thought out from and to, you can start writing the main text.

Personally, I write it directly on top of the synopsis. Uploading yourself with the question “What’s next?” Is no longer required: all efforts are focused on style and language. With this approach, there are very few “production wastes”, because all unnecessary is cut off at the planning stage.

Often a writer beats the scene for hours, but it doesn’t work. Time is running, it’s worth it, the author is desperate.

How to be Record the thought - what exactly needs to be reflected in this scene - and move on. You can write the whole novel with this cursive, and then edit it.

The next stage is editing: we read the first version of the novel, look for logical and emotional errors in it, remove something, add something. As a result, notes appear on the fields: “Masha forgot about her sick mother — correct!”, “Add Kolya’s biography”, “Rewrite the whole scene from Vasya’s point of view”, etc.

It is necessary to check the text for the presence of extremely essential elements:

1. Each character in each scene must be something interesting. He has his own goal and he seeks to achieve it.

2. Each scene should have a dominant emotion. We answer the question: what do people feel when they read this paragraph?

3. In each scene there should be details that clearly characterize the place of action or the interlocutor of the focal character. These details create the effect of recognition.

The Geysov house appeared - prefabricated, bleached, terrible, tarnished from old age, rather gray than white - the kind of housing in which you know that you will find a cleansing gut instead of a shower.

V. Nabokov "Lolita"

4. In each scene there should be vivid comparisons, jokes or contrasts. This is what makes the text tasty.

Here is the doorman. And worse than that, there is nothing in the world. Many times more dangerous than a janitor. Absolutely hateful breed. Even cats. Flayer in a pose.

M. Bulgakov “Dog Heart”

5. In each scene, it is necessary to pose a hook question - the answer to which should concern the reader.

Example: Why did Professor Preobrazhensky lure Sharik to himself? What happened to Sharik after he was euthanized? etc.

There are four types of hooks: an obstacle, a threat, a secret, and news. For details, see the article by Alexander Molchanov "Hooks in the script."

6. Each scene should move the plot or reveal important character traits of the hero.

7. Each scene should contain a conflict or lead to a conflict.

In the process of writing the second draft, we decide which scene to execute and which to pardon. In a well-built scene, there are two turning points: external and internal.

a) external - that moves the plot forward,

b) internal - that affects the focal character: he is aware of something or somehow changes.

Sometimes one of two turning points is enough. But if there is neither one nor the other, the scene is a clear candidate for culling.

The third draft is working on the style and fixing minor flaws. Next is the proofreading.