Drafting

6 Tips For Fast Drafting

Fast Drafting

There is no reason to wait for November to bang through a novel draft. Nope. No reason at all. And while NaNoWriMo excels in getting writers to go butt-in-chair and pound the keys each Turkey Season, you should feel free to do your own draft writing months whenever you have the time. (Because seriously? November? Thanksgiving week messes up my word count every time I NaNoWriMo. Anyone else have this problem?)

To send you on your way, here are some tips to run your own fast draft any time you want:

1.     Perfection is unrealistic. You’re rolling your eyes, aren’t you? You know that you can’t write perfectly if you fast draft, and yet I have to type this. And it has to be number one. And when you hit page eighty and the muse is off taking a cat nap, you need to remember this. It’s not only that your writing won’t be perfect, but your scenes won’t be either. Neither will your plot. Your goal is to get to the end so that you know if this novel is a shoe or a houseboat. A barn or a skyscraper.

2.     Don’t write the stuff you don’t want to write. I often hear my writing coaching clients say, “I couldn’t get myself to sit down and work because the character had to go to grandma’s funeral and I didn’t want to write that part.” So? Skip it. You heard me. Skip to the next chapter, summarize or leave yourself bullet point notes if you must, but keep typing. Keep going!

3.     There is no such thing as a Plotter or a Pantser. The only way to keep your story from being underplotted or overplotted is to both plot and fly by the seat of your pants. So, try to write down all the important plot events on one piece of paper while drafting, but don’t get married to those plot events. This will give you the limitation you need to keep being creative as well as the permission to let your story evolve.

4.     Writer’s Block isn’t real. It should be called Character’s Block, because it’s not the writer who has hit a wall, but the character. If you get stuck, back up at least twenty pages. You’re not going to want to because you want to keep moving forward, but almost every case of writer’s block I encounter is because the character made the wrong narrative choice several scenes earlier. Fix the choice and keep writing!

5.     Leave the beginning alone. I can’t tell you how often I work with writers who have re-written the beginning seventeen times and the ending twice. That’s because whenever the writer learns something new about their character, the writer tends to double back to make sure that said epiphany is in the beginning. But you really don’t want to do that. Keep a running list next to your workspace of all the things you’d like to change about the beginning, but don’t backslide and go fix it. Writers who can’t avoid heading back to the beginning over and over tend to overwrite and stiffen up their opening into oblivion until it’s become unusable.

6.     Set yourself a goal and don’t let it go. The reason that NaNoWriMo gets novels written is that there is a support network. You can go on your social media and say, “Can’t talk now. I’m NaNoWriMoing.” So when you set up your own fast draft season, make sure you have your schedule and intentions arranged upfront. Meet those intentions no matter what, and make sure that the people in your lives know that you’re drafting and therefore busy with a capital B.

Remember that the first draft—the fast draft or shitty draft—is about embracing the calamity of inspiration. Let it be a mess, and it will launch you on your way. All you have to do is let it.


Cori McCarthy is the author of four young adult novels and the middle grade category winner of the 2014 Katherine Patterson Award for her novel in verse. Cori’s books include the space thriller The Color of Rain (Running Press Teens, 2013), the near-futuristic thriller Breaking Sky (Sourcebooks, 2015), the contemporary mixed format novel You Were Here(Sourcebooks, 2016), and the forthcoming Now A Major Motion Picture (Sourcebooks, 2018). Breaking Sky is in development at Sony Pictures to become a feature length film. Cori holds three degrees in writing: a BA in Creative Writing from Ohio University (emphasis in poetry and memoir writing), as well as a graduate certificate in screenwriting from UCLA, and an MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Cori lives in the Midwest and is the cofounder of the charitable initiative Rainbow Boxes. She has been writing fiction, nonfiction, screenplays, and poetry for 15+ years, and editing all genres for 5+ years. For more information on Cori, please check out her website www.CoriMcCarthy.com.

AREAS OF SPECIALTY: Speculative fiction, science fiction, fantasy fiction (including high fantasy), poetry, novels in verse, contemporary fiction, humorous fiction, middle grade & young adult novels, screenplays, thrillers, unique memoirs, graphic novels, adaptations of fairy tales.

AVAILABLE FOR: Manuscript critiques, query letter editing, content editing, developmental editing, writing coaching.

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The 5 Best NaNoWriMo Apps for Planning & Plotting Your Novel (HINT: Start Planning in October)

This is the year! You are SO IN! You’re going to knock out 50,000 words in November, then spend the next few months revising and adding until you have that glorious thing: a completed novel, polished and shiny, ready to be sent out to an eager world.

You got this. But as every writer knows, before you begin, you need to lay out your tools: cup of coffee, notebook and pen for helpful scribbles, laptop or tablet . . . and the right apps.

PLANNING IN OCTOBER

Planning is the fun part! But that’s the danger: you can get lost in planning and diagrams and research and oops! It’s almost Thanksgiving. Don’t succumb: come November 1, be churning out your one or two thousand words a day.

In October, though, plan away. Scapple ($14.99 for Mac and Windows; free to try for 30 days), from the people who brought you Scrivener, the writer’s best friend (see below), is a simple mind-mapping app that allows you to plop down characters, events, or ideas and connect them with lines, shift them around, or arrange them however you like. Like scribbling on a whiteboard, but faster.

The Cult of Mac also points us to Lists for Writers, $2.99 for iPhone/iPad or Android. When you’re writing fast—and you’ll be writing fast—this is a great go-to for prompts and ideas. What kind of hair does the bridegroom have? What does my earth-bound angel actually do for a living? What attitude does my super-spy’s husband have toward her work? Flick through a list, grab a likely answer, and go. This app will stay useful well into November.

WRITING IN NOVEMBER

Scrivener ($45 for Mac and Windows; $19.99 for iOS (universal); free to try for 30 days) is often accused of having a cult, and if that’s the case, I’m a happy member. I’ve been using it for nine or ten years, first on large business documents at my then-day job, and then as a novelist. I genuinely do not understand how people write big projects without it. Some of my favorites of its many features:

  • Allows you to break your work into chunks – chapters and scenes—that you can color code and swap around easily in the “binder” that organizes them on the left of your screen.
  • Gives you a place to keep all your research right within the project. Photos, sound clips, videos, PDFs, entire web pages—they’re right there at hand in your research section.
  • Split screen feature allows you to have two windows open at the same time. Describing a magic raven? Pull up your raven photo and set it right next to the scene you’re typing in.
  • The project word counter tracks your progress every writing session and alerts you when you’ve hit your goal—useful for NaNoWriMo.
  • And of course, Scrivener easily exports your document into Microsoft Word format so that you can send it out into the world.

Some people find Scrivener a bit intimidating initially. With so many ways to help you write, research, and organize, using it for the first time can be like sitting down to the controls of a jet plane. Here are three key things to know if you’re new to Scrivener:

  1. If you’re planning to use it for NaNoWriMo, get it ahead of time and play around a bit to see if it’s for you.
  2. The Scrivener tutorials are famously excellent, so give one a spin.
  3. Forget about all the stuff it can do. Just begin by using its most basic features—the binder that organizes your documents, and the Research folder—and don’t worry about the rest. Those two features alone can be writer’s-life-changing.

For years Scrivener cultists, I mean fans, have been begging the creators for an iOS version, and it’s finally here. Now you can sync a project to Dropbox and work on it anywhere, from the coffee shop to the line at the post office. The transition to iOS was worth the wait: Macworld gave the iOS version a four-and-a-half mouse rating and said “Scrivener for iOS does just about everything you could ever need in order to research, plot, and write a short story, doctoral thesis, novel, or a review like the one you’re reading right now. . . a robust, flexible writing tool that will serve you well.” (Note that because of screen size limitations, a few features are not available on the iPhone version.)

Tried Scrivener, and it’s not for you? Ulysses (Mac ($44.99) and iOS ($24.99, universal) (sorry, Windows and Android users) gets raves from the Scrivener-decliners. One iTunes reviewer said, “Ulysses hits perfectly between the hack of using a standard word processor and folders to create long-form writing, such as a novel, and the too-much-to-be-worth-the-effort kitchen sink approach of Scrivener. I have become many times more productive since I started using it and it quickly, quickly, QUICKLY justified itself in terms of cost.”

The Mac desktop app has been around for a decade or so, and a 2010 Macworld review sings the praises of its clean interface and “superb design.”

The Ulysses iOS version is new this spring, and the five-mouse Macworld review is a rave beyond raves.

Finally, if NaNoWriMo (or any writing, really) demands anything from you, it’s time management skills. That’s where the Pomodoro Timer (iOS and Android, $1.99) comes in. This little app keeps you writing for 25 minutes, then gives you five minutes to stretch, walk around, or play on Facebook. But it dings you back to work when that five minutes is up. Let this bossy, cheerful tomato keep you churning out words.

Good luck! And remember the Rule of First Drafts, coined I am not sure by whom, which should become your mantra for November: The only thing a first draft needs to be is done.

Ready? GO!


Fantasy Vs. Contemporary: How to Let Your Character Dictate the Story — No Matter the Genre

Fantasy vs contemporary novels

Back in 2009 (how could it have been that long ago!!!!) when I started writing Infinite Days, I was compelled by my main character, Lenah, and her voice. Infinite Days is a book about Lenah, a 592 year old vampire, who gets a second chance to be human. I was enthralled by this character who had seen so much darkness, reveled in it in fact,  and who had to relearn what it means to be human. She experiences love, compassion, envy, and more. When I first heard Lenah’s voice (I'm going to sound nuts) she came to my mind clearly. I could literally channel her and I understood how she would speak.

She's quite tortured, you see. That’s Lenah. That sentence you just read - that’s how she would talk. I would never say “quite tortured.” Anyway (I’ll move on before you call the looney bin), she had a clear conflict. At the time I had never read a single Twilight book and was unaware of the paranormal explosion in the YA fiction world. I wrote Infinite Days in eight months. From Lenah’s conflict came the story. Her emotional needs drove the conflict, not the other way around. I didn’t create the supernatural rules/lore for the world first, but with what the character needed. As a vampire, Lenah wanted to be human more than anything. So, to push her to want it even more, I took away any aspect that was remotely human from the vampire experience: the more she aged the less she would be able to experience the sense of touch, the only sense of taste was blood and flesh, and the ability to love waned over time. So much of our human experience is about being out in the world with other humans. As a vampire, Lenah couldn’t be out in the daylight. After a while, that kind of isolation drove her insane.

As I explain the process now, I think it probably seems like I was totally aware of all of this but I wasn’t. I’m a big believer in Robert Olen Butler’s “white hot of the subconscious.” Olen Butler says in his book From Where You Dream: “Art does not come from the mind. Art comes from the place where you dream. Art comes from your unconscious; it comes from the white-hot center of you. Does this make sense? Do you understand what I'm saying? If you want to think your way into your fiction, if you think you can analyze your way into a work of art, we're going to be totally at odds philosophically about what art is and where it comes from.”

I love that.

When I started writing a contemporary story, Between Us & The Moon,  I was already writing and drafting from a character-driven place, yet the rules had to change. In Lenah’s stories, anything was possible, which made my choices huge. But again, I narrowed the scope of those choices to anything that would push my character out of her comfort zone and inhibit her from getting what she wanted. So the choices got more specific.

Genre should never dictate the character’s emotions. As I hinted at above, a contemporary world in some ways narrows the scope of the character’s problems even further because of the sheer limitations as to what that character can and can’t do. A way to narrow that scope even further is to think about what your character needs. One of the best ways I can say to bridge the world of writing fantasy and contemporary is in the arc of the character.  

Try out the following 3 questions:

  1. Who is your character at the end of the story who he/she was not at the beginning?
  2. How did he/she get there? They have to earn that change. Without change you have no story.
  3. What does he/she want? Well, if he/she is a supernatural creature, does the world in which the live making it harder for them to get what he/she wants? If your answer here is something abstract like: she wants happiness! That’s not specific. That’s abstract. What is something specific that your character can do in the story that represents “wanting happiness?”

Should You Wave Your Prologue Goodbye? (When Prologues Work and When They Don’t)

Does your book-in-progress have a prologue? If so, that might be a problem. According to the dubious wisdom of the blogosphere and the crotchety advice of literary agents who see too many duds in the slush pile, prologues are frowned upon. Agent Kimiko Nakamura wrote in Writer’s Digest that “almost every agent agrees that poorly executed prologues are the quickest route back to slushville. Prologues reflexively cause agents to skip to Chapter 1 without a look back.”

With warnings like that one, it’s no wonder writers cut their prologue for fear of ending up in the trash folder. As a freelance book editor, though, I’ve seen writers alter the strongest parts of their manuscript because of a one-size-fits-all decree they’ve read on an agent’s (or another writer’s) blog. By deleting your prologue, you might be deleting the best part of your book—the part of your book, even, that would get an agent to request more pages.

So what makes a good prologue good, and a bad prologue bad? I’ll delve into detailed examples below, but first, here are a few rules of thumb.

Good Prologues Oftentimes…

… Occur in a different time and place than the rest of the book. (But they shouldn’t be used as information dumps for backstory. Details about past events should be integrated throughout the novel via exposition, dialogue, or a character’s inner thoughts.)

 … Showcase a narrative perspective that diverges from the rest of the book. (An omniscient prologue, for example, in a third-person limited novel.)

… Are written in a different tone than the rest of the book. (Heightened prose if the book’s prose is simple; minimalist if the book’s prose is florid.)

… Provide key information that the novel’s primary narrator doesn’t know about. (Again, though, this should be a limited, strategic piece of information; prologues shouldn’t be used as information dumps.)

Bad Prologues Are Generally…

… Conspicuous information dumps for information and backstory. (Yeah, this happens a lot.)

… Written as exposition rather than as a compelling scene/s. (Prolonged exposition is a sign that your prologue is an information dump.)

… Written in the same point-of-view or narrative perspective as the rest of the book.

… Written in a melodramatic tone. (This often corresponds to a scene that’s a failed hook.)

…. Focused on a dramatic scene that doesn’t end up connecting in an interesting way with the rest of the book.

… Written after the rest of the book was finished because the writer worried that Chapter 1 wasn’t good or didn’t have an enticing hook. (It’s better to work on fixing Chapter 1.)

Prologues as a Whisper to Your Reader

Author Bharti Kirchner wrote an excellent article for The Writer magazine in which she explains that a prologue, particularly in sci-fi and fantasy novels, “can provide readers with a basic understanding of the setting and culture of an alternate universe before the story begins.” Consider the prologue of George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones. In it, three men of the Night’s Watch —a military group guarding a great northern wall — search the wilderness for eight dead bodies. As the three men discuss what killed these people — did they freeze to death? — the reader is overhearing their conversation, thereby learning all sorts of tidbits about Martin’s fictional world.

After the men discover that the bodies are missing, they’re attacked by a group of mysterious creatures. One of the Night’s Watch men, Will, watches as a terrifying shadow confronts Royce, his Night’s Watch compatriot:

A shadow emerged from the dark of the wood. It stood in front of Royce. Tall, it was, and gaunt and hard as old bones, with flesh pale as milk. Its armor seemed to change color as it moved; here it was white as new-fallen snow, there black as shadow, everywhere dappled with the deep grey-green of the trees.

Will then witnesses an event that will become pivotal to the Game of Thrones universe for five books to come (and counting). He sees that Royce doesn’t stand a chance in fighting this fearsome apparition because its weapon causes Royce’s sword to shatter:

A scream echoed through the forest night, and the longsword shivered into a hundred brittle pieces, the shards scattering like a rain of needles… He [Will] found what was left of the sword a few feet away, the end splintered and twisted like a tree struck by lightning.

This prologue notwithstanding, Game of Thrones is written in the close third-person, with each chapter told from the point-of-view of a different main character. At the book’s outset, none of these characters have seen an “Other,” as these creatures are called, so Martin used his prologue to establish a delicious, suspenseful case of dramatic irony: The reader knows that the Others are real, but the book’s narrators don’t. In an interview with The Writerauthor Jennie Shortridge described this situation well: “I like to read prologues because I know the author is whispering a secret to me,” she said.

Many newbie writers withhold information from the reader for too long in an attempt to create suspense. But why should a reader care about a mystery if they don’t even know its parameters? In Game of Thrones, Martin provides just enough information to make the reader terrified of the White Walkers (let’s just drop this “Others” nonsense), but little enough to let the reader join the book’s characters in solving the myriad mysteries surrounding them.

Prologues That Are Actually Chapter Ones (And Chapter Ones That Are Actually Prologues)

As an editor, I often notice that the first 50 pages of a manuscript contain a handful of sections that could each be the book’s first page. The author didn’t know where to begin, so instead of choosing a beginning, they chose two or three, and then struggled with how to sequence them. I call these “false starts,” and they’re usually well-written because the author imagined each as the grandiose opening sequence. These paragraphs stand out because they don’t integrate well with the surrounding material.

A clumsy solution to this multiplicity of false starts is to make one of them the prologue. In an interview forThe Writer, author Jennie Shortridge said that “the most common mistake I see when writers try to use prologues is that they’re simply writing Chapter 1 and calling it a prologue.”

While a good prologue stands apart from the rest of the story — taking place in a different time, or told from a different point-of-view — an unnecessary prologue is often told by the same narrator, and written in the same style, as the rest of the book. Even if well-written, this type of prologue might turn an agent off because it indicates that the author simply couldn’t figure out how to integrate the prologue’s material somewhere else. “They [prologues] are sorely overused and seem like a cheap device,” literary agent Andrea Hurst told The Writer. “Better for writers to be creative—come up with ways around them and start the novel with a great first chapter.”

The Book Thief is an example of a prologue that’s good, but might as well have been called Chapter 1. In it, the book’s omniscient narrator, Death Himself (a grim reaper type figure), tells the reader about the book’s protagonist, a girl who he calls the book thief. He (Death) informs the reader that terrible things will happen in this girl’s future, and Chapter 1 begins by detailing the first of these terrible things.

Alluding to future (or past) events in an omniscient voice is classic prologue material, but in this particular case, it turns out that the entire book is narrated by this glib Death guy, and he oftentimes alludes coyly to future events. The Book Thief’s prologue could easily have been the the first chapter. The litmus test is to simply imagine that the prologue is labeled “Chapter 1,” and that the current Chapter 1 is labeled “Chapter 2.” If everything still makes sense (or reads even better, as might be the case), then you probably have a chapter, not a prologue.

We also see Chapter Ones that would have made great prologues. The first Harry Potter book is a perfect example. Remember that opening scene where Dumbledore, Professor McGonagall, and Hagrid bring baby Harry to his aunt and uncle’s doorstep? That scene conspicuously stands apart from the rest of the book, which is mostly told from the limited perspective of 10-year-old Harry. In the opening, though, an omniscient narrator holds the reigns, and we glimpse the inner thoughts of Dumbledore, McGonagall, Hagrid, and Harry’s aunt and uncle.

Yet that opening is labeled Chapter One. The commencement of Harry Potter’s POV starts with Chapter Two, and Chapter Two begins with a sentence that effectively bridges the 10-year gap between the two chapters: “Nearly ten years had passed since the Dursleys had woken up to find their nephew on the front step, but Privet Drive had hardly changed at all.”

This little quark in one of the world’s most widely-read books reminds us that “chapter” and “prologue” are just labels, after all, and while there are widely-recognized formats for which label correspond to which narrative tactic, authors sidestep the rules all the time. In his masterpiece 100 Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez evaded the issue altogether by using unlabeled breaks between chunks of text rather than parts and chapters. Marquez’ unique decision reminds us that whatever the label, those spaces of white between sections do seem to be vitally important. Whatever the case, most remember the opening to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone as being a prologue; indeed, a quick Google search revealed bloggers using it as an example of an effective prologue.

Another Chapter One that’s really a prologue is the first chapter of Fight Club, where Edward Norton, errrr, the book’s unnamed protagonist holds a gun to his throat/Tyler Durden’s throat. Who knows, maybe someone told both Chuck Palahniuk and J.K. Rowling that literary agents don’t like prologues, so they slapped on a Chapter One.

So… Should I Keep My Prologue?

If you’ve carefully considered the components of a bad prologue and are still convinced that yours is good, go ahead and keep it if you’re planning to self-publish. If you’re querying agents, you can tailor your strategy query-by-query. If an agent has specified that they don’t like prologues, you should query without it, or make your prologue the first chapter instead—absolutely don’t this, though, if changing the prologue to “Chapter 1” creates a bad transition into Chapter 2. If you don’t know an agent’s stance toward prologues, the safer bet might still be to cut the prologue since prologue hostility seems widespread.

That being said, agents dislike prologues only because they’ve read so many bad ones. It takes only one sentence to recognize good writing, so if your prologue has a good start, the agent will keep reading. A friend of mine received offers from two agents (and requests for full reads from many more) based on a submission that included a prologue—a very good prologue. In the end, it’s the writing that counts, and they’re not just saying that.


Katherine Don is a journalist and author or co-author of eight nonfiction books, including Power of the Dog from St. Martin’s Press, Armchair Reader: The Book of Myths and Misconceptions from Publications International, and The Story of Harper Lee, a YA biography of Harper Lee from Morgan Reynolds Publishing. Katherine’s essays and journalism have appeared at Salon, The Atlantic online, the Huffington Post, and elsewhere. She is a regular contributor at Bustle.com and Romper.com. Her first screenplay, a short film that she co-wrote with a friend, was the first-place winner in the screenwriting category at the 2014 Los Angeles Movie Awards. Katherine holds a bachelor’s degree in biological anthropology from Northwestern University and a master’s degree in literary journalism from NYU.

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Genres of interest: Narrative nonfiction, academic works, books of journalism, essay collections, memoir, health/wellness, book proposals, and other nonfiction book projects.

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Layering Your Draft, Part Four: The Toothpick Test

If you’re just seeing this for the first time, you might want to start the blog series here! It’s all about how to build your novel like a layer cake, with lots of delicious flavors and character frosting.

Now that we’ve talked about what layering your draft means, and how to do it, I’m going to take on another important question. Why bother with layering? It can seem a little fussy, or unnecessary, or just like a lot of work. We’ve talked about how layering gives you the opportunity to tackle the story one thing at a time, so each aspect gets your full writerly attention and becomes much stronger than it could if you were trying to spread your attention out to too many places at once. (Ex: It’s much easier to draft with the arc of one character in mind than it is to draft with the trajectories of seven other characters, plus setting, plot, theme, and language.)

But there’s another sort of magic that layering brings to your finished draft. It gives it the depth and complexity of life. When I write an everythingallatonce draft, I might hit a few high points, but the truth is that the overall draft itself is going to feel flat when I compare it to real life–even on the most mundane day. That’s because when we walk through our days, we’re experiencing all of the layers at once, decoding them seamlessly and, for the most part, instantaneously. In a story, we have to build up a similar experience for our readers. We have to put in the time to construct the reality.

  Don’t fear the layers! They look like hard work, but they’re delicious. And so worth it.

Don’t fear the layers! They look like hard work, but they’re delicious. And so worth it.

So, going back to our cake metaphors, what are we looking for in a finished product?

Texture: Does it have a light, springy feeling? Or is it dense and dark and delicious? I think of the story texture as a combination of the voice and the content. Is that texture what you want it to be? Have you given the manuscript to beta readers or tried reading out loud to make sure that it’s working?

Consistency of the bake: Is it the same all the way through? This might seem like an odd question, since of course the plot is going to progress and the characters will change and grow. But often, when a draft isn’t working, it’s because it’s changed or gotten away from us. Maybe a subplot or a character has dragged the story out of shape. Maybe the structure is off-kilter. Maybe the reader expectations that were set up in the beginning of the book have been abandoned. Maybe the themes haven’t come together yet. Make sure that you’re telling the same story from beginning to end.

Are the flavors coming through? This is an important one. Writers can talk all day about what they intended to write, or how they wanted it to come across, but in the end, the reader only has the manuscript. So if you take a look at the finished product, and an important element of the plot has gotten pushed to the side, or the characters’ emotions or motivations aren’t clear on the page, it’s time to go back and do another layer.


So with all of these layers to create, how do we know when we are done?

Writers use lots of different methods. Some go straight to beta readers. Others put the manuscript in a drawer and wait for a certain amount of time (a week, a month, or more) to give fresh perspective.

I recommend also trying The Toothpick Test. When we test a cake for doneness, we stick a toothpick right in the middle and see if it “comes out clean”–no uncooked goop, or sticky crumbs. When we apply the same idea to a manuscript draft, it’s a matter of opening the book to a random page (I do suggest the middle, since it’s where many manuscripts have the most undercooked bits,) and check to for doneness. When you read this page out of context, what impression do you get? Does the manuscript need a little more bake time, a few more layers, or are the flavors and texture exactly what you hoped for?

If it seems to be in good shape, stick a few more toothpicks into random places–just to be sure! (One toothpick is usually enough to be sure with a cake, but a novel requires a little more thoroughness.)

So, have you tried layering your drafts? How do you know when you are done? Sound off in the comments!

And happy novel baking!


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