Posted by: nancyisanders | October 14, 2013

Highlights: Writing Session 3

I was ready to tackle the next section of my manuscript.

First thing, I got out my Basic Plot Worksheet A. It’s the roadmap I’m following as I write my nonfiction article.

This is the third part which is actually the 2nd half of the Middle.

Before I dove into writing, I went back to self-edit some of the sections I wrote in my previous writing session. I usually like to start out a writing session like this. It gives me time to look at what I wrote with fresh eyes. Plus, it helps me pick up the thread where I left off.

Before I started the editing process, I made sure to save this file as a new version so my last version wouldn’t get lost. I saved this as version D.

When you edit your own manuscript, you’ll see your own weak spots. Here’s what I noticed in mine:

I realized I needed to reorganize the sentences into a different order in my Beginning.

In the first half of the middle, I realized I had headed off on a bunny trail away from my main topic. So I deleted several sentences completely. (I felt confident doing this since all those sentences are still intact in my previous version of the manuscript.)

I found different quotes to pull the theme back together and rewrote two of the three paragraphs I’d worked on in my previous writing session.

Now I was ready for writing the second half of the middle on my plot chart.

I sat down and read through a couple of different research books on my topic for the next hour and a half. As I read, I jotted down on scrap paper potential sentences and quotes that I liked. I wrote three more rough paragraphs. Wahoo!

After my research session, I headed into my office to type my next three paragraphs into my manuscript.

Now for the comparison test.

I pulled up on my computer my sample target article I had typed word-for-word. I compared my word count with it.

Uh-oh. I had already hit 1000 words and I still had the entire ending to go! This is always an issue I have to deal with when I write nonfiction for a magazine. I’m so used to writing entire books of nonfiction where I can create scenes and utilize long quotes. I knew I needed to switch gears to write for a magazine instead.

So I compared the different sections of my manuscript with the word count in the different sections of my sample target article. This helped me see where mine was too text heavy.

I studied how my sample target article got so much information packed into so few sentences.

Then I saved my manuscript as Version E so I wouldn’t lose any of those long sentences I just wrote. Next, I trimmed my article down in a similar way to my sample target article. I cut it back to about 500 words…much more workable for hitting an 800 maximum word count that Highlights requires.

Whew! My writing session was done for the day.

And guess what?! I still don’t like my article yet. It’s still too technical and sort of disjointed.

But that’s okay. Because it’s a first draft. I usually feel my first draft is awful. You probably do too.

In fact, most writers I know never even finish that first draft because they think it stinks.

It probably does!

But I’ve learned to keep on keeping on and just get that first draft down on paper from beginning to end. Because somewhere by the time I start heading toward the finish line, something magical starts to happen. I realize I actually have something I can work with in my hands. And that’s a good place to be.

So get ready! Write the second half of your middle if you haven’t yet. Then plan to come back here again. It’s time to write the ending to our articles! (Of the first draft, that is, lol.)

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