Wednesday, 29 August 2012

First Draft Writing

Because I've just begun writing another novel and am going through the plotting and first chapters of the first draft process, I thought it timely to briefly include a few of my own thoughts on the exercise. Not unlike Sally's recent post on plotting, for story structure when working out the ideas for a new novel, I use Michael Hauge's Storymastery . I has 6 stages and 5 turning points and I find it a great basis for keeping my thoughts and scenes in focus and on track.
It also got me thinking about how and where we write. How we get those words on paper. I've traditionally always handwritten in longhand on A4 ruled paper using every second line like a double spaced first printed draft. Of course, this means typing it all up into the computer. I'm a fast typist so that's not a big problem and it allows for editing along the way but I really must try typing my story directly into the computer. :) It's just that my hands can keep up with my steady flow of thoughts at handwriting pace.
Another method I use, not so much the cut and paste information from the internet for present day background info for my romances, but mainly for typing up more extensive research notes for historicals which usually end up in whopping great big Marbig folders, and when I want to vacate my office and write outdoors or away from home, is to use my Alphasmart, or "Alphie" as I call him. The second photo below will give you an idea of what it physically looks like and link here for the website to find out more about it.

The old way
The new way

It goes for literally 100s of hours on a couple of AA batteries. I have it's own carry bag and you can use it in the car, on a train, plane, outdoor table, on your lap. It's much more lightweight and portable than a laptop but maybe equal to a netbook or similar. It has 8 files and you could write a whole 50,000 word novel on it. It only has a 4 line display but instead of being limiting, actually it keeps you focused on just what you're writing and you can easily scroll up or down to check what you've written. If you don't want or need all those extras and online capability, it's great simply for writing.
Then you just plug it into a USB port on your computer, open your Word file or document or whatever, press the "Send" button and it instantly zaps across. Exciting to watch it happen. So you can type away from home, return and transfer what you've written immediately into your novel file.
Anyway, enough promo for that. I've had mine for years but just thought it might be interesting to hear how other authors write and where they do it. I usually end up in my office for all writing because that's become my habit over the years but when the weather's kind, I might occasionally venture outdoors. With the last days of winter here in Australia, blossom and wattle and daffodils out everywhere, and the weather growing milder with the promise of spring, maybe I'll be doing it more often.


  1. It's funny isn't it how we all have our ways of doing things. I cannot write longhand. I have to do it straight onto the computer. Like you Noelene I am a fast typist and I find I can keep up better with my thoughts on a keyboard. I have found if I write a draft out in longhand when I come to type it up I always change if anyway so it isn't worth it.

    I have a netbook which I use away from home. It's small, light and very good and it does everything a laptop should do. It suits my purposes.

    Now the summer is over I hope everyone is getting back to writing.


  2. What summer was that, Margaret? :-)
    Thanks for a good post, Noelene. It's interesting how people write and what method suits them best. Your Alphie looks great, but that 'old way' picture has a charm of its own.

  3. Hi Noelene. Many thanks to the link to Michael Hauge. I now find every time I watch a Hollywood film that I think back to his advice. He certainly knows what he is talking about. I've used his advice on creating heroes, but never worked through his plotting steps. As I'm just about to write a new novel, I'll definitely give his method a go. I used to write in longhand but find that I can type faster. I know many people, including Jill Mansell do their drafts still in longhand. For myself, I now use an Ipad. I have an alphasmart but couldn't get on with the screen being so tiny. I wish I had as they are almost indestructible!

    1. Cara, just finished reading The Sanctuary. A lovely story that I thoroughly enjoyed.

  4. I too have an Alphasmart which I won in a (writing) competition some time back. I haven't made much use of it, tending to write straight on to the PC instead. Thanks for reminding me about it - using the Alphasmart has the added benefit of NO INTERNET so I can't get sidetracked by blogging etc. I think it might be time to dig it out...