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On Writing Draft One

Updated: Nov 25, 2022

Hello, blank page. We're going to be friends.


There is nothing like the unblemished white space, the wide open canvas of uncomplicated possibility. Void of imposter syndrome. Ripe for the seeding. I've been told I'm mad, the way a blank page excites me, rather than twists every nerve. I think it's just a writer thing.


Since summer, I've queried my very first book, WICKED GLIMPSES, and began writing a much darker YA fantasy. At 82K words, I'm in the thick of draft one (title coming early 2023), of the first in a planned trilogy that transports readers between gritty 1800s New York and a parallel, magic-enslaved world on the cusp of war, as a girl grapples with learning she has been hidden in time, her memory reset with every move, to keep a siphoning king from capturing her power.


Essentially, it is Shadow & Bone meets Willow with the mood and dramatic narrative of VE Schwab's A Darker Shade of Magic.

It took me 18 months to write my debut (which I'm mapping a pub plan for now). It's taken about six months to draft my second, with 18K to go, and I've never loved characters more. They're authentic, flawed, brazen, complex, dark, and grayer than any I've written. The plot is full of threads that will take a surgeon to untangle if, in the home stretch of finishing the draft, darlings have to go. But this is the first book I've written that has felt like a universe, and I cannot wait to get it in beta reader hands...and in reader hands...hopefully next year.


Three main things I've done differently with this draft than I did with my first:

  1. Start with general premise and core worlds, but develop the intricacies of story, settings and character more organically, as I wrote. (50% plotting / 50% pantsing)

  2. Outlined and self-edited in sections, rather than all at once. (For me, it's meant less pivoting.)

  3. Joined a brilliant critique group and shared 20K sections with partners each month to course-correct and brainstorm (cleaner first draft).

Whether writers are writing their first or thirteen novel, it is equal parts possibility and imposter syndrome. Passion and hair-pulling. Careening into the unknown and riding the rollercoaster.


We'd go mad if we didn't write. And we write because, maybe, we're a little mad. We do it for ourselves. And we do it for the moment our work finds itself in a reader's hands and they sigh and gasp and squeal along with us.

I cannot wait to get these stories in your hands.


XO,

SLZ

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