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First Draft in 30 Days: A Novel Writer's System for Building a Complete and Cohesive Manuscript Paperback – 27 May 2005

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Writer's Digest Books (27 May 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582972966
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582972961
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 1.5 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 247,842 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Karen Wiesner is a novelist and member of Romance Writers of America. She is a frequent guest at writers conferences and the author of Electronic Publishing.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
There are so many skills crucial to a writer's success that it's often easy to overlook one of the most basic and necessary skills of all: brainstorming. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mr. P. D. Williams on 24 Oct 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an excellent book for anyone who gets lost in the middle of writing a novel and needs a organising structure.

I can understand why a writer might react negatively to the idea of using an outline when writing a first draft, especially if they have never done it before. But this book does teach an invaluable method of brainstorming and harnessing all of your creativity PLUS organising the chaos so that you get your book written. Give it a try and you'll soon discover that it is easy to be more creative with outlines than without them. If you don't use outlines, take note - they are like steroids for your Muse.

This book does have flaws - it could hold your hand a bit more I feel, and some excellent points and advice are lost within long, dense paragraphs. For this I give it four out of five stars - but in terms of usefulness to any writer it has to be five out of five.

I did find this book inspiring as well as very useful, and I found that using the techniques in this book enabled me to create more wonderful, more crafted and more satisfying books. In my experience, grinding to a halt without finishing my novel - that's ugly. This brilliant if flawed book takes away the ugliness.

I use this book regularly, years after I first bought it. I also use many of the principles in this book when I am teaching creative writing to students of all ages.

It's a great book - I heartily recommend getting it and putting it to work for you. You'll be creative in ways you only hoped and dreamed about before.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Budding Writer on 22 Jan 2010
Format: Paperback
I was a 'start writing and see what happens' amateur writer before I read this. I found it really useful for tightening up manuscripts and driving a story with a better plot. It breaks everything down into simple steps and makes you think about how to grip a reader. If you've started to get serious about writing and have a good story idea but don't really know where to take it, I would recommend this.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Miss E. F. Hallam on 18 July 2011
Format: Paperback
This is the best book I have purchased in regards to fiction writing. From the very basics of character sketches and setting plans all the way to a day by day plan of when and how to send out your manuscript, this book is PERFECT for anyone interested in becoming an author. I would definitely recommend!
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5 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Giorgia on 29 Aug 2009
Format: Paperback
Completely pointless, for those who have never written, and never will. It's not even inspiring: it just takes away all the beauty of the writing process without inspiring you at all.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 59 reviews
97 of 99 people found the following review helpful
Wiesner has all of her ducks in a row 26 Aug 2005
By Dave Schwinghammer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Don't let Karen Wiesner's romance background scare you away. This woman is a professional, and she's got some sensible suggestions.

According to her bio, she's written over twenty books, including such diverse genres as romance, mystery/police procedural, suspense, thriller, paranormal, and action/ adventure. Perhaps even more impressive is her planning acumen. Wiesner is always two, three novels ahead of the game, thanks to her formatted outline.

Many writers either can't or don't want to outline their novels in advance (See Tony Hillerman, for instance). Wiesner couldn't either at first until she developed the formatted outline. Wiesner refers to the formatted outline as the first draft of the book. When she revises, she revises the outline rather than suffer through countless drafts of the manuscript.

This woman is a real left-brainer. She plans virtually everything, including time to let the manuscript marinate. The appendices include character, setting, plot, and research outlines as well as a place to write potential interview questions for possible experts and your characters. Her story evolution worksheet is almost as helpful as the formatted outline.

And-oh,yes-I almost forgot Chapter eight. It's for us poor shleps who already have a completed manuscript with all kinds of holes. She shows us how to use her system to salvage the mess.

As one who has endured twenty-three drafts on his first effort, Wiesner's FIRST DRAFT IN 30 DAYS is a godsend.
279 of 297 people found the following review helpful
Very misleading title 16 Mar 2005
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
"First Draft In 30 Days: A Novel Writer's System for Building a Complete and Cohesive Manuscript" is what it's called but this is not the result the book actually provides. If you follow this method, after 30 consecutive days of work, you will NOT have a first draft or a manuscript at all. What you'll have is a complete OUTLINE of - to quote the book - 60 to 100 pages!

Days 1-6: Preliminary outlines and sketches

Days 7-13: Research

Days 14-15: Story evolution (ideas for beginning, middle, end)

Days 16-24: Formatted outline

Days 25-28: Evaluating the strength of theoutline

Days 29-30: Revising outline - and on Day 30, you're to put this outline "on a shelf for at least two weeks to several months."

The worksheets in the appendix are similar to those in "The Marshall Plan" (an author also of the crime/suspense/thriller genres) and, although this author says you can apply it to any genre, the book leans heavily towards suspense fiction. (Romance is an "optional" plot thread, for example, and her worksheets have headings like "character/suspect".)

For mystery, suspense, and thriller fiction where plots are intricate and have tons of crucial details, this method may be a useful way to track all that. For writers who use outlines as a guideline only and/or who stray from it if the work evolves in a new direction, this is a lot of "writing before the writing" that may not prove to be all that productive in the long run.
145 of 161 people found the following review helpful
30-Day Outline 5 April 2005
By Jack Payne - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Whoever the book titlers are at Writer's Digest, they should be ashamed of themselves. A 30-day outline is a far cry from a 30-day draft. The first draft--the "rough" draft of your book--must be the most painstakingly thought out and executed of all the drafts, be there two, three, five, or six more to follow. It's here, right in the beginning, that you develop your story flow, your pulse, your synthesis of surroundings with characthers and their actions / reactions within the disciplined framework of your plot. I'm sure most successful novelists would tell you that. In no way can a 30-day outline be labeled a 30-day draft. These are two separately, pronouncedly different and distinct writing phases. ##### I have always been a firm believer in outlines, and have always developed one for every one of my books (including my novel, Six Hours Past Thursday). In no way can you, as a writer, feel that you are somehow going to be led by some spontaneous, invisible hand through the jungle of story creation, be it fiction or non-ficion. To me, outlines form the basics of essentialism for a writer. ##### To flip the coin to the other side--objective analysis of Karen Wiesner's First Draft In 30 Days from the standpoint of content--it is first rate. There is nothing arbitrary or random about her call for a tightly-disciplined approach to book creation. Dispersing learned counsel in rapid-fire bursts, she lays out a good sequence for outlining your book. Preliminary thoughts, research, story evolution, formatted outline, evaluate strength, a revistation, and, importantly, putting it on a shelf for a quiet period of rest and final reflection before proceeding into the first draft. A good pecking order. ##### My lone objection is to the misleading title. Hence, the 3-star rating.
31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
Okay, if you like making word processing templates yourself 17 Feb 2007
By David Burch - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
You need to decide whether you write from the seat-of-your-pants or whether you are a planner. This book is for planners. Buy No Plot, No Problem if you are the other sort.

Okay, you're a planner. Should you buy this book. Well, it doesn't cost much and it has a decent system. Other systems to look at would be the Marshall Plan, the Weekend Novelist or The Novelist's Bootcamp.

I would recommend How to Write a Damn Good Mystery to either sort.

What's wrong this book? The most important parts of this book are the worksheets. They are printed in the book. You must copy them and write on the copies in long hand or take the time to reproduce them all using your word processor.

I myself would rather spend my time writing. In this day in age there is not reason why I should not be able to download the worksheets in electronic format. I would even settle for paying more for them; however, the publisher gives a lame excuse that doesn't cut it--basically, they just don't want to do it.

Here's the excuse from the author's web site:

Q. I just got my hands on the book a couple of days ago, Karen, and I'm in love. What I do wish...that I could order a CD with all the forms instead of having to copy or remake them. I know they all existed as forms on your computer...and I know Writer's Digest does CDs with its Writer's Market. Any possibilities there? Also, it occurred to me that you might want to do online workshops...and you could include the forms in the workshop if you don't have copyright or permission conflicts.

A. Since my background is with small press and electronic publishers, one of the first questions I asked Writer's Digest Books was about offering 1) an inexpensive workbook that included only the worksheets, so they could be re-used easily for each new project, and 2) printable order forms on my website. The first suggestion wasn't possible--this isn't something WDB does normally. As for the second option, I was told that since the worksheets are one of the most valuable aspects of the book--the heart of it, it's not really feasible to put more than three of the worksheets on my website. I chose the most frequently used ones or the most intensive, so those are the ones available on the website now. Please be aware that it's illegal to distribute or put these worksheets on any website. You may make copies for your own use, or download them to you computer for individual use.
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Nicely laid out plan 20 July 2005
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Definition of First Draft = extended outline of your novel

1) I love lists and templates and this has 'em readily available

2) Chapters aren't too long or filled with unnecessary examples. She states her points, gives an example then tells you what page the template is on so you can fill in your own. Efficient and not a waste of my time

3) Like any novel writing program, if you stick with it you'll get it done. So if you go this route, do it from beginning to end and supplment the sections that you feel need extra help. For instance, in handling the character sub-plots I would combine her section with the Marshall Plan of Novel Writing's discussion and format for sub-plots

A very good book. Another plan that makes it look doable if one simply commits to writing.
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