Slacker’s Syndrome

And how a Slacker can write a first draft in forty days.

The last few posts demonstrate part of the aforementioned syndrome. Reblogs and reposts. Such is life.

There are always times when it gets a bit much. Finding something new and fresh can be as painful as toothache. Truly.

In the last two weeks, I sent a 50-page sub (with associated synopsis and cover letter) to a trad publisher; a 3-chapter sub (plus synopsis and (yes, And) a scene outline) and wrote 15 scenes. That’s a lot.

It meant my brain fuzzed out when it came time to do the blog posts. I stared at the screen and scowled. Looked up the Daily Post word, dribbled my way through the usual posts, read and commented on a few, but the usual river of ideas wasn’t even a rivulet. Not this time. A dry-creek bed.

So, I did the Slackers Syndrome response. I reblogged a couple of times, and reposted (one or two, no memory now of what or when, and too lazy to go look).

It’s just like that sometimes. I’m not going to worry about it as long as I put something up twice a week. And today is one of those two days where ‘something’ gets posted.

And there you have an intro to another form of Slackers Syndrome. This one is the ‘how to write a novel in 40 days’ – the slackers’ way. Do you want the answer? IF not, stop now. Here it is:

First, do a ‘plan’ – it can be however you plan, but this is how I do mine. A beat sheet (one for each main character) that has (at the very least) the major turns. I often don’t have the final resolution at this stage. Doesn’t matter.

Next, do a scene outline (at least for the first Act). You could move on and do a scene outline for each act and write them all out as single sentences, as purpose-outcome sentences, or write only the main ones (which is the first scene of the act, the mid-scene of the act, and the final scene of the act (for act 2, do it for each half); that’s ten scene outlines including open and close/beginning and end). This planning stuff usually takes half a day; sometimes only an hour or so. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s a mud-map, not a job interview.

Then comes the secret to achieving the ’40 day first draft’ – Write each scene (have at least ten per part). It doesn’t have to be in order. Sometimes, writing the big turns first gives the point to aim at when writing the lead-up scenes (and it can give a huge insight when you get there – what if? moments come at these points; they strengthen the story, give it freshness).

Here then is the outcome:

Each scene is (roughly) 1200-2000 words. There are (roughly) ten scenes per part (using one part for Act one, two parts for Act two (‘cos there’s a mid-point in there), and one final part for Act three), which equals (roughly) forty scenes. Writing one scene per day (two on day one, just to be sure the plan is all fired up properly) as a minimum, you end up at day forty with (40 x 1200 = 48,000 words OR 40 x 2000 = 80,000 words).

Done. See? That’s a first draft. And you only had to write one scene per day. Now you know the Slackers’ Syndrome Secret – putting the effort into finding out what to write means the writing is easy (well, easier – wait ’til you get to editing! Which I won’t be writing about, because it’s the hardest part for me – does anyone have a Slackers’ Syndrome Secret to Editing?), and you have the proof in your hand. You did it!

Of course, the subs to publisher/s means there’s no book out this month, but I’m working on a new one – Fantasy/Action-Adventure (which wasn’t on the list of WeesInPee, but that’s life.



14 thoughts on “Slacker’s Syndrome

    • Title: (to show genre, tone, etc)
      Character name
      First Plot Point (a big moment, no going back)
      What needs to be learned
      Meet/See the baddy
      MidPoint (a bigger moment, a twist of bigness)
      The fight progresses
      The baddy is badder – a direct conflict moment
      The black moment (darkest before the dawn)
      Second Plot Point (ensure goody and baddy are both committed to the final showdown)
      Prepare for showdown
      Showdown is on!
      that’s it for a BS, but it helps me focus on the scene outline and ‘fill-in’ to these bigger moments in the story.

      Liked by 5 people

  1. Very interesting. I too sometimes feel like I have run out of things to say. Then. I remember that each day we live, we learn, we feel, we hurt or are happy, and in those emotions and events, we write. Wonderful synopsis on writing a book.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. There are a lot of people who think that writing a book is just a piece of cake. But if it were there would be a lot more successful authors about. I enjoyed reading this post and getting a glimpse into the process. And I can quite understand why your blogging inspiration may have “dried up.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • this is the beginning – it always changes, and at every step I – ahhhhh – review things, just to make sure it’s something different, hopefully, not seen before. Shrug. We’ll see. it’s always fun.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I like this. Big scenes tend to pop in my head. The characters talking away or doing something like a scene in a movie. This way of doing it makes sense to me; you do the scenes, then you create the bridges between the scenes and you have your novel. Cool.

    Liked by 1 person

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