5 Resources for First Drafts of Novels


Need help on the first draft of your novel? Here are some great resources.

  • Planning or Outlining: Many revision techniques found here can also be invention techniques for those first drafts. As I’m working on my first draft of a new novel, I’m finding that many of the same techniques are helpful.

    For example, spreadsheet plotting works equally well as a revision technique or as an outlining technique for the first draft.

  • Subplots: I searched through all my how-to-write books for tips on subplots and finally found a whole chapter in Robert Kernen’s book, Building Better Plotsplots. He does a great job of laying out options. I’m choosing to contrast with a slightly comic (I hope!) subplot.
  • Characters: While there are many great character books around, I still go back to John Vorhaus’s The Comic Toolbox: How to Be Funny Even If You’re Notcomic. I know it’s about comedy — and it does help you be funny. But I read it mostly because it helps me develop characters better and faster than any other resource. Since I’m hoping my subplot will be a bit of comic relief, I’m using his plotline for that subplot, too.
  • Narrative Arc: CD player in my car. One of the best things I’m doing right now is listening to a long series as a Books-on-Tape. Right now, it’s Garth Nix’s Sabriel, Lirael and Abhorsen trilogy. I read them long ago, but hearing them one right after another brings the overall narrative arc into much better focus. I did this a couple years ago with the Dark is Rising series and it was fascinating, too, to hear them all in relatively a short space of time.
  • Emotional Arc: In Emotional Structure: Creating the Story Beneath the Plot dunne, Peter Dunne lays out two great charts of how the emotional arc intersects the narrative arc. I have a column in my plotting spreadsheet for the emotions of the scenes, so I can monitor the emotional arc while I’m planning, too.

Fiction Notes by Email

When a new post appears on Fiction Notes, we'll send it to you by email.
We love to make it easy for you!

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

Comments are closed.