The Writing Life in Pictures: First Draft Tools

When the going gets tough, the tough revert to basic tools.

A pen. A composition book. And a timer set to 15 minute intervals.

“Ready, set, write.” No stopping, no judgments. Just put words and ideas onto the page.

This is how I’m spending my morning, fifteen minutes by fifteen minutes. Later I’ll transcribe the gist of my scribbles to the laptop. That’s when the fun begins, because by then the scene will be a living entity. (Or so I tell myself.)

“Beep!” Break’s over! I’ll see you later tonight.

Laura

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26 thoughts on “The Writing Life in Pictures: First Draft Tools

  1. Robin Helm

    I SO can’t do it that way. I do everything on my laptop. When I type the chapter heading, I feel that I have started writing the chapter. I write first thing in the morning for perhaps an hour, go do something else while it stews in my brain, and then come back to write some more. I also keep up other screens while I write, switching back and forth when I need to think by having a diversion. I play Scrabble and other word games, check e-mail, comment on Facebook, beta for other writers, and read another book while I write my own. As I finish things, like beta work and reading, I close those screens and have a sense of accomplishment. Usually, I can write a chapter in 8-10 hours once I begin.

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  2. Laura Hile Post author

    I used work like that, Robin –I’m on another break — when I had a clear idea of where I was going with the story! Lately I become ensnared in self-criticism, disliking everything I see come up on the screen. So I limp along with the notebook.

    Mercy’s Embrace, though long, had a simple focus: humble Elizabeth. Show her her father’s foolishness and the consequences of his choices and make her grow up. Then cause her to fall in love, not through flattery or ego strokes, but through friendship with someone who actually likes her. And who is handsome, smart, charming, and a bit of a risk. (I also had to make the reader fall in love with him, like you have done with Xander — pause to sigh over Xander — in your Guardian, which I am now reading — pause to type in the link.)

    But the sequel isn’t as simple because I can no longer have falling in love as the central plot device. (Dang.) And while I have a lovely, devious ending in mind for the baddies (Sir Walter, William Elliot, Ronan McGillvary), I am having to feel my way through the issues Patrick and Elizabeth must face as a couple. Not the usual stuff (yawn), but not conflict for conflict’s sake, either. I think I’ve got it. Time will tell.

    The biggest question, though, remains unresolved. Shall I kill off Mary? πŸ˜€ Readers have been begging for that for years.

    Break’s over. It’s about time to transition to the laptop, if I can combat the word loathing. Funny thing, the ego…

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  3. Jennifer G.

    Think little engine that could. O e small step. This is indeed new territory for you but with familiar characters. Ones that have grown and changed and can some more. Want me to read scribbles? Tee hee. Anything for a sneak peek!

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    1. Laura Hile Post author

      (Checking in on another break.) Have transitioned to the laptop, words are coming more easily. Poor Elizabeth is about to meet The Contessa, Patrick McGillvary’s indolent Italian stepmother, who has come at Ronan’s suggestion to look her over. Think the woman will be nice? Ha, guess again!

      Thinking like The Little Engine That Could (thanks, Jennifer!) and listening to those songs Gayle posted links to. “I am woman, hear me roar …”

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    1. Laura Hile Post author

      Gayle! Girl! Saturday night, Pacific time. Like 10 pm. Which is … late for you.

      What, you want something now? Proof that I’m working? It’s the beginning, and I always struggle with those. Rewrite that first chapter twenty times, I do, and even then I usually cut it out! πŸ™‚ This will be the fifth attempt at starting this book, each from a different place. But I’ve found my feet, Elizabeth is sailing into battle.

      Don’t believe me? Give me ten minutes to open the file manager and I’ll put up what I have, okay? Just for you.

      And for anybody else who wants to look …

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  4. Laura Hile Post author

    Danged HTML!

    Make that longer than ten, Gayle. I find I must replace all the commas and apostrophes. And the accent grave must come out of pied-a-terre because it turns into something else!

    And it’s only two pages, so I’m afraid you won’t be gratified. But the conflict is humming along nicely. Plus, I’m about to bring Ronan to call (he was skulking about on the corner, making sure (as he is wont to do) that his brother hadn’t come home unexpectedly). Ronan is a boob, but a useful one.

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  5. Gayle Mills

    Don’t rush on my account, Laura. I’ve only been checking every two minutes. *taps toe on floor*

    Take your time. I’ll wait patiently until you’re finished.

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  6. Gayle Mills

    OK. I think I’m doing something wrong. I clicked on your name. Clicked on THB. I see the template, but clicking on it doesn’t bring up the page for the story. What do I do next?

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  7. Laura Hile Post author

    Okay, back from getting dinner. The table of contents comes off the THB page under my name (above the black and white blog header photo). Click on Chapter 1 to access the story.
    (Sorry, I left directions kind of vague.)

    Or, you could get to the same place by clicking here.

    Now to get rid of the curly quotes in my software so I won’t have to reformat everything again!

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  8. Gayle Mills

    Hmmm…. the link takes me exactly where the directions did. But I still can’t get beyond that page to the story. Am I the only one having problems?

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    1. Laura Hile Post author

      Gayle, hit Control and refresh, simultaneously.
      That should reload the page. I think your computer is hauling up a cookie of what the page looked like earlier.

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  9. Robin Helm

    I am having some of the same issues with Legacy that you’re having with your book four. They are together now, so the romantic tension is not the big thing it was in SoulFire. My tension will come from another place. I know where I’m going, but it’s developing that believable plot to get there that is the killer. Thanks for the mention of Guardian. You are very gracious.

    Your book will be wonderful. Anyone who can make me like Elizabeth Elliot is talented and gifted. I have complete confidence in you!

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    1. Laura Hile Post author

      It’s for the search engines, Robin. In fact, I should probably reference you as Robin Helm in future. Everything on the Internet gets crawled over by web bots and cataloged. When Guardian is searched, I want your name to appear on Google! Strategy of the underdog…

      Also, people need to hear about good books, plain and simple. πŸ™‚

      Elizabeth Elliot isn’t anything special. She’s not even who Jane Austen wrote. She’s who I would be if I were beautiful enough to get away with my arrogant impulses!

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  10. Robin Helm

    I just read your preview, and it is wonderful! I think Elizabeth should keep slipping up and calling her Mama just to put her in her place. Contessa, indeed! I’ll have her know that Elizabeth is the daughter of a baronet!

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  11. Laura Hile Post author

    Yeah, Robin, but don’t forget, handsome Sir Walter remains unmarried. And with that so-coveted title…

    … we might be surprised at who makes a play for him!

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  12. Laura Hile Post author

    Sigh. I don’t that that would be it, Gayle. I have Googlechrome and it works for me. The Chapter 1 page is blank? You’re getting to the story page with the green border? With the picture of the church at the top? The one that says Chapter One? And there’s no story text on it?

    If you are, you might try clearing the cookies on your computer. But I don’t know how to do that. Because I think that’s what’s happening, to save time and memory your computer is taking you back to the page you viewed earlier. I can also email the chapter to you tomorrow, with the HTML coding removed.

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  13. Gayle Mills

    Yeah! That time it worked! And so does your opening. I love Elizabeth’s sassy attitude. “Not Mama?” What a hoot! The sparks between these two strong-willed women will be fun to watch. Elizabeth’s adjustment to Patrick’s household staff will be interesting, as well. There is, after all, a new sheriff in town.

    The only thing missing was the man himself. I’m sure you’ll rectify that oversight.

    In short, very good beginning. I like it.

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  14. Sophia Rose

    I enjoyed the first chapter and see that getting back to the basics is working for you. Loved meeting the two new to me characters! Sir Walter and his new acquaintance- ha!

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  15. Robin Helm

    You’re right about the search engines, Laura. When I google “robin helm, soulfire” or “robin helm, guardian,” everything I’ve ever said or anyone else has ever said about either book comes up – pages of links to Facebook posts, Mary’s interview, your mentions, twitters, and everything else. It really weirded me out the first time I saw that. Thanks for all you’ve done for me on here, twitter, and Facebook. I truly appreciate it, and I try to return the favor every time I can.

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  16. Laura Hile Post author

    Something else you need: Google Alerts. It’s free. You set the parameters, and Google will send periodic reports. Creepy, but it’s nice to know if, say, your books appear in a review you haven’t heard about. Or show up in a “free download” piracy site!

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  17. Robin Helm

    I’ll do that, Laura. I found my paperbacks in Barnes and Noble today, and I didn’t know they were there. That was weird. I put them both on Nook, but how did they end up there in paperback?

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Why yes, we DO want a piece of your mind. ;-)

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