Friday Speak Out!: My Sexy First Draft Experience

Friday, January 15, 2016
by Lois Paige Simenson

Yesterday was a milestone for me. I officially finished a first draft of my first fiction novel, hitting 95,000 words. That’s an all-time record; hadn’t written that much in one document since my master’s thesis.

I spent much of 2015 reading about novel writing. I dove into On Writing, by Stephen King, The Art of Fiction by John Gardner (that one was tedious), Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott, and How to Write a Damn Good Novel, by James Frey; all have excellent tips for the beginner novelist.

The problem was, I read so much that I confused myself and hit writers’ block. God forbid that I use an adverb, an adjective, or too much description! I became paranoid of revision. So, I stopped reading the how-to’s and took a writing workshop. The instructor said, “Write from the heart, be honest and don’t sweat the rules—that’s why God invented revision.”

I took her advice, signed up for Nanowrimo and wrote ‘till the cows came home.

They arrived yesterday.

During first draft, I discovered that I’d never written an action scene or a love scene. I asked my husband to help me write the action scenes, since he’d been a firearms instructor. He tried keeping a straight face reading my descriptions. “Rounds, not bullets,” he’d say, rolling his eyes that I didn’t know the difference between a revolver and a pistol.

The next challenge was writing my first love scene. I’m not a romance reader and never read a Harlequin in my life—but I did read the Outlander series. This is where method writing comes in handy. You know, like method acting, where you actually DO the thing. Okay, so I used my own personal love and sex experiences (ahem). But turning it into words on a page is another story.

I poked around our library and met a librarian who was a member of the Romance Writers of America. Score! She gave me a crash course on romance, loading me up with Harlequins, Signets, and Silhouettes. I grabbed a Danielle Steele, a Debbie Macomber, and set out to research romance. I won’t lie, it was a steamy couple of days…

My love scene turned out to be TEN PAGES. My novel is a crime-suspense-thriller, not a romance (oddly, my tough, outdoorsy Alaskan husband was the one who said I should include romance). I made myself laugh and cry and felt like Kathleen Turner when she finished her novel in Romancing the Stone.

You know what? A cool thing happened: I’m looking forward to revision!

And who knows, maybe my next novel will be a romance.

Who-da thunk it?
* * *
Lois Paige Simenson writes for newspapers and magazines. She guest blogs and has a blog, The Alaska Philosophaster at Her writing has appeared in The Anchorage Press, The Hill Congress Blog, 49 Writers, and online at Erma Bombeck She is a playwright, with a play that received a staged reading at the annual Last Frontier Theatre Conference in Valdez, Alaska, and two plays recently staged and produced by Perseverance Theatre at the Anchorage Center for the Performing Arts. She’s working on her debut fiction novel, Otter Rock.
Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!


Sioux Roslawski said...

Lois--Congratulations. Speaking as a writer who did NaNo a number of years ago, stripped it down to the bone when I discovered it was horrid, and am now back up to 84,000... revision IS fun. It's rewarding to be able to flesh out things that need it, to delete things that are not needed, and in the process, you might be lucky enough to experience some left turns--some plot twists that occur when the story is driving itself.

Good luck, Lois. You doing it gives me hope that I can do it as well...

Unknown said...

Thanks for this post, Lois - think it's so important for us to share the surprises and differences of our creative journeys!

Bookie said...

This was so good! And something I needed to hear. I have read two of those four more. I am frozen from writing a novel..Made it a New Year's goal and still can't start. I think if I can just find a starting point, I will be off and running...but until then......

Renee Roberson said...

Great post! I love the part about the steamy few days. Writing love scenes is sooo hard--which is why I mostly stick with writing YA :-) Good luck with your revisions!

Anne Louise O'Connell said...

Congratulations on finishing your first draft of your novel! I laughed as I read this and can so relate :) Good luck with the revisions.

Margo Dill said...

I was going to say the same thing as everyone else. Congrats on getting your first draft finished!

Margo Dill said...

I was going to say the same thing as everyone else. Congrats on getting your first draft finished!

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