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From First Draft to Finish Novel

A Writer's Guide to Cohesive Story Building


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From First Draft to Finished Novel
A Writer's Guide to Cohesive Story Building
by Karen S. Wiesner
Writer's Digest Books, 2008
ISBN 978-1-58297-551-1
$19.99 paperback, 272 pages

Download the Worksheets!
Click here to view or download the five outlining worksheets from Appendix E:

Worksheet 1: Character Sketch
Worksheet 2: General Setting Sketch
Worksheet 3: Character Setting Sketch
Worksheet 4: Plot Sketch
Worksheet 5: Formatted Outline Capsule

Click here to view or download the five master checklists from Appendix F:

Checklist 1: Story Plan Checklist
Checklist 2: Cohesion Checklist
Checklist 3: Punch Checklist
Checklist 4: Revision Checklist
Checklist 5: Editing and Polishing Checklist

Download a Sample Story Plan Checklist
As you prepare to write your own story plan checklist, you might find it helpful to look at a completed one. Click here to view or download a sample story plan check list Karen Wiesner created based on Richard Matheson’s novel I Am Legend.

Read an Excerpt!
Layering a story takes precision and patience. Click here to read an excerpt from the introduction and learn more about the philosophy of cohesive story building.

Online Exclusive: Q&A With Author Karen S. Wiesner
Successful novelist Karen Wiesner talks about what it takes to become a prolific author, how to build a strong author/editor relationship, and much more.

About the Book
Build a fully developed, multi-layered story from the ground up! Writing a story is not that much different than building a house. Both require some brainstorming (to provide a clear vision), a blueprint or outline (to lay a solid foundation upon which that vision can be built), building or drafting (to make the vision a reality), and decorating or revising (to polish the masterpiece and make it presentable to the public).

In From First Draft to Finished Novel, novelist Karen S. Wiesner carefully explores each of these stages, showing you how to:

  • Create a quick outline to help organize and expand your original idea
  • Develop a detailed Story Plan Checklist to solidify your story’s details
  • Combine and effectively use tools like your outline and story checklist to weave together a cohesive draft
  • Put together a strong query letter and submission package

This book also features exclusive worksheets, checklists, and detailed examples designed to help you:

  • Improve your outlining techniques through the use of character, plot, and setting sketches
  • Write a strong Story Plan Checklist that ensures your characters evolve and your plot progresses
  • Develop your editing skills using revision and “punch” checklists

Whether you’re working on a new story or a project in development, From First Draft to Finished Novel is your blueprint to a story readers won’t be able to resist.

About the Author
Karen S. Wiesner is an accomplished author who has published fifty-six books in the past ten years and has eleven more releases forthcoming spanning many categories and formats. Karen’s books have been nominated for and/or won sixty-eight awards, and they cover such genres as women’s fiction, romance, mystery/police procedural/cozy, suspense, paranormal, futuristic, gothic, inspirational, thriller, horror, and action/adventure. She also writes children’s books, poetry, and writing reference titles such as her bestseller, First Draft in 30 Days, available from Writer’s Digest Books. 

Her previous writers’ reference titles focused on non-subsidy, royalty-paying electronic publishing, author promotion, and setting up a promotional group like her own, the award-winning Jewels of the Quill, which she founded in 2003. The group publishes two anthologies a year, edited by Karen and others. She is also a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), EPIC, Sisters in Crime Internet Chapter, BooksWeLove.net, and World Romance Writers. In addition to her writing, Karen enjoys designing Web sites, graphics, and cover art. She lives in Wisconsin with her long-suffering husband and son. 

For more information about Karen and her work, visit her Web sites at www.karenwiesner.com, www.firstdraftin30days.com, www.falconsbend.com, and www.JewelsoftheQuill.com. If you would like to receive Karen’s free e-mail newsletter, Karen’s Quill, and become eligible to win her monthly book giveaways, visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/KarensQuill or send a blank e-mail to KarensQuill-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.

Table of Contents
Introduction: Principles of Building a Cohesive Story

The Essential Process of Layering
Layering to Gain Cohesion
How to Use This Book
Getting Started

Layer I: Planning for and Laying a Foundation

Stage 1: Brainstorming
Stage 2: Researching
Stage 3: Story Blueprinting
Stage 4: Setting the Story Blueprint Aside

Layer II, Part A: Building on the Foundation

Stage 1: Building a Cohesive Story With a Story Plan Checklist
Stage 2: Evaluating the Blueprint

Layer II, Part B: Strengthening the Foundation

Stage 3: Writing the First Draft
Stage 4: Creating a Punch List

Layer III: Decorating

Stage 1: Revising
Stage 2: Involving Critique Partners
Stage 3: Setting the Final Draft Aside
Stage 4: Final Editing and Polishing

Layer IV: Preparing a Proposal

The Query Letter
The Synopsis
The Partial
Putting the Proposal Together

Epilogue: The Cohesive Story
Appendix A: Glossary of Terms
Appendix B: Story Plan Checklist Exercises
Appendix C: Editing and Polishing Exercises
Appendix D: Story Plan Checklist Examples

Example 1: I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson
Example 2: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, by J.K. Rowling
Example 3: Scared to Death, by Debby Giusti
Example 4: The Friday Night Knitting Club, by Kate Jacobs

Appendix E: Outlining Worksheets

Worksheet 1: Character Sketch
Worksheet 2: General Setting Sketch
Worksheet 3: Character Setting Sketch
Worksheet 4: Plot Sketch
Worksheet 5: Formatted Outline Capsule

Appendix F: Story Checklists

Checklist 1: Story Plan Checklist
Checklist 2: Cohesion Checklist
Checklist 3: Punch Checklist
Checklist 4: Revision Checklist
Checklist 5: Editing and Polishing Checklist

Appendix G: Sample Submission Elements

Sample 1: The Query Letter
Sample 2: The Synopsis
Sample 3: The Partial

Index

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Ignoring Your Characters’ Desires

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Ignoring Your Characters’ Desires

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so we started this series to help identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's writing mistake is ignoring your characters’ desires.

Listening to Ghosts: 7 Metaphysical Experiments for Writing Support

Listening to Ghosts: 7 Metaphysical Experiments for Writing Support

Author Coco Picard shares 7 different out-of-body writing experiments to help you through the writing process.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Dance Time

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Dance Time

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have your characters dance.

Convention-al Wisdom: Why I Love Attending Cons as a Writer

Convention-al Wisdom: Why I Love Attending Cons as a Writer

Russell James shares how convention act as more than networking events for writers, but as an opportunity to be face-to-face with your readers, to make new friends, and more.

Alicia Thompson: On Writing Romance in Isolating Times

Alicia Thompson: On Writing Romance in Isolating Times

Writer Alicia Thompson discusses what she learned about herself in writing her new romance novel, Love in the Time of Serial Killers.

Examples of Hooks for Books

60 Examples of Hooks for Books

This post collects 60 examples of hooks for books. Also called elevator pitches, these book hooks show real-life examples in a variety of writing genres for fiction and nonfiction books.

How To Turn Artifacts and Research Into a Family Memoir

How To Turn Artifacts and Research Into a Family Memoir

A century’s old family heirloom acted as a clue to the past for author Cornelia Maude Spelman. Here, she shares how to turn artifacts and research into a family memoir.

Miriam Parker: On Writing the Book You Want To Read

Miriam Parker: On Writing the Book You Want To Read

Author and publisher Miriam Parker discusses her surprise at writing her new novel, Room and Board.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 622

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a story poem.