I recently read Book in a Month, by Victoria Lynn Schmidt, Phd.
Here is the pitch (quoted from Amazon) – “Using a combination of flexible weekly schedules, focused instruction, and detailed worksheets, author Victoria Schmidt leads you through a proven 30-day novel-writing system without the intimidation factor.”
Book in a Month teaches a system of outlining that is far more indepth than your basic taking-notes-in-history-class outline. If you follow the program, you develop a story thoroughly- characters, setting, plot. The book asks good questions that cause you to think of your story and the people in it in great detail, even the props used in a particular scene.
The author includes motivation throughout, which is nice if you need that sort of thing. She emphasizes goal setting and checking your progress toward those goals as well.
Honestly, I don’t think I could write a decent book in a month. But I do think the outlining process and the writing concepts are sound.
One thing I didn’t agree with was Schmidt’s suggestion that you shouldn’t go back and fix problems or make changes until the initial draft is finished. I think she suggests doing so in the interest of making good on her claim that you can finish a draft in 30 days.
In practice, I don’t believe that’s a good idea. Wrangling 70,000+ words is difficult enough without adding new complications. Fixing issues sooner rather than later is advisable.
The only certifiable bollocks I found in the book was the bit about buying a new copy of the book each time you begin a new project. Um, how bout no.
How bout I make my notes in the spiral notebook I bought at walmart for 15 cents during back to school supply time and not write in the nice book.
Despite that crackpot (old timey word alert) suggestion, Book in a Month is really useful. If I were ever to teach a class on creative writing, I would use it as a textbook.
It would also be a good tool for anyone who intends to participate in NaNoWriMo (http://www.nanowrimo.org/). Although if you are really trying to crank out word counts, outlining might cut in on writing time. You could do the outlining in advance and launch into the writing when November hits.
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