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First Draft in 30 Days: A Novel Writer's System for Building a Complete and Cohesive Manuscript
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First Draft in 30 Days: A Novel Writer's System for Building a Complete and Cohesive Manuscript

3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  345 ratings  ·  45 reviews
Finish an outline so complete it reads like a first draft—in just 30 days!
Say goodbye to writing and rewriting with no results. Starting—and finishing—your novel has never been easier!
First Draft in 30 Days provides you with a sure-fire system to reduce time-intensive rewrites and avoid writing detours. Award-winning author Karen S. Wiesner's 30-day method shows you how to
Paperback, 216 pages
Published March 1st 2005 by Writer's Digest Books
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This book has a persuasive title designed to grab your attention and sell copies. A more accurate title might be How to Write a Complete Outline for your Novel In 30 Days. But I can understand why they didn't go that way. Spending 30 days writing an outline doesn't sound very exciting.

However, when Karen Wiesner talks outline, she's referring to a scene-by-scene outline that's about one quarter as many pages as the finished manuscript to be. And when you finish an outline like this, writing the
Jennifer Chase
This book helped me to get my first novel written -- I'm grateful that I found this book. I use a slight variation of the outline techniques discussed for all of my novels. It's worth checking out for anyone who wants to write their first novel or anyone who has already written several books. Everyone can learn something from this book.
Lisa (Harmonybites)
An editor once told me that if you're going to take advice on writing, take it either from name-bestselling writers or gatekeepers such as acquiring editors or agents--not necessarily anyone who writes for Writer's Digest or has taught a writing class. By those terms Karen Wiesner doesn't qualify. I bought this book anyway for one reason--there really isn't much out there that gives you much guidance about how to construct plots, and I had a half-written novel on my hands that was stuck. Well, t ...more
Margit Sage
Jan 16, 2012 Margit Sage rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Aspiring novelists
Recommended to Margit by: Highly rated on
Shelves: writing, nonfiction
I followed this process pretty much during the month of October, 2011 to outline my first novel, although for the character sketches, I used some questions I found in other books in addition to the ones she suggests. I found the book and the resulting detailed outline incredibly useful when writing the actual novel during NaNoWriMo in November (I was able to finish my ~60,000 word novel on December 1st, having written the 3k word prologue the last few days of October, ~54k words in Nov, and the ...more
Chaunce Stanton

Planning a book before writing a book seems off-putting to many writers who would rather dive in to Scene One and just see what happens. Having written in that manner for my first novel, and then having to spend a lot of time in rewrite, I can say from firsthand experience that "pantsing" - flying by the seat of the pants - is definitely one way to write, but not the most efficient way.

If you are a hardcore pantser, don't bother picking up this book. Chances are you're too stubborn to take anyt
Ann Miller
I met First Draft in 30 Days when it came riding into my 40,000-words-too-short first draft on a white charger and delivered the tools to add subplots. I am forever grateful.

First Draft in 30 Days is the book I love to hate. Weisner takes a completely anal/analytical approach to laying out a novel which is diametrically opposed to my personality. However, ditzy, creative people need to impose order on their work or their books will never become cohesive. The story train needs to stay on the trac
I have found this book highly useful, but I can't say that it's perfect. Her terminology is garbled and her examples are often too straightforward to clearly express the points she's trying to make. Most of all, this is a book about detailed outlining of a novel. It actually has nothing to do with writing a first draft. The author claims that her outlines are so detailed that they count as a first draft, but I don't buy it and neither do most of her reviewers on Amazon.

In many ways, this book ha
Not so much about writing a first draft, but rather about writing a very cohesive and detailed outline which Wiesner claims takes the part of a writer's first draft. Not sure if I buy into it, but I'm giving it a whirl. I had some quibbles over her habit of repeating certain things way too many times (her website, for example - once would have been quite enough; by the 4th/5th time it felt like self-promotion, which was not the point of the book) and there was some clunky bits I skimmed, but ove ...more
Oh Karen, thank heavens I found you! I did so want to write a novel before I turned 80. Now it seems I can write 80 before 80. Let's see, if I'm X years old and do 4-5 books a year, then multiply that by the number of years it will take me to reach 80 and, wait - - how many is that? Oh that's right, I'm not tellin'! Let's just say that, with your outlining system, it is theoretically possible.

So, what do you know about skincare? ;)
Some really great tools in here. As usual with this type of book I took more of a pick-and-choose of which steps I actually used but I could see trying out the whole system with a brand new project.
Stephen Simpson
A lot of writers hate outlining, but this book gives a lot of good tips on making it a faster and less painful process.I think some of the assumptions built into the 30-day shtick could be pretty unreasonable (particularly if a book requires a lot of research), but that's more of a quibble than a serious fault.
Kathryn Moore
Some good content. The suggested methodology is over architected for my liking, but had some good ideas.
Adria Estribou
best writer's resource book I've found yet. I plan to use this at the start of every manuscript. note: the title is misleading, it should be "complete outline in 30 days" because what you end up with is a plot summary, plot arc, outline and short blurb about every scene (which is a lot to accomplish in 30 days!) Before reading this book I was worried that plotting things out in advance was uncreative (with disasterous results for a shelved first novel). Wiesner's processess allow for a lot of cr ...more
Jul 16, 2012 Patricia rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Patricia by: Writer's Digest
This is a great book for writers who need structure or a place to begin. I started reading it while I was already well into my work-in-progress. I am using it as a tool to clarify my writing goals and to tweak my first draft.

The details it makes me explore give me a place from which to begin again when the dreaded blank page is staring me in the face. I enjoyed the idea so much that I have already purchased her next book - From First Draft to Finished Novel.
I'm beginning to think that these write-a-book-in-a-month books are all about doing busy work but not doing any writing. This book has even more complicated busy work than the last write-a-book-in-a-month that I read.

I'll agree with the other reviewer who said this book is mid titled. It's First Outline in 30 Days, not draft.

Skimmed through most of it and returned it to the library.
My complaints:

The title is misleading. It is not telling you how to write a first draft in 30 days, it's telling you how to create a detailed outline in 30 days.
The font is tiny! I think it's Times new Roman sized 8/9. I'm short sighted and so the tiny font made it very hard to read.

Rick Ludwig
I found this book very helpful and applied many of the lessons it taught. The time frame is a bit compressed for me, but the steps make excellent sense. I will keep it in my library and will definitely refer to it each time a start writing a first draft.
LoRee Peery
This looks like a wonderful layout for writers needing lots of ideas for goals, outlining, planning, and scheduling. I had a couple "aha" moments and will try her pointers. I look forward to using her worksheet(s) for revising a couple older manuscripts.
Jessica Aspen
I don't actually use this book the way she intends it to be used, I use it in conjunction with Randy Ingermanson's Snowflake method to help me flesh out some of my Snowflaking. His system just works better for a reforming pantser like me!
Chelsea Clemmons
I'm very much a type B personality, and this book has helped me SO MUCH in organizing what I'm doing and getting my book ready to go without having to do six or seven drafts of a full manuscript. This book is a lifesaver.
I've checked this book out twice wanting to like it, but the title is misleading and I don't have the patience for it. The title SHOULD be "First OUTLINE in 30 Days", because it talks about planning instead of drafting...
Didn't rate this one because I started to read it, then flipped through it and found the minutia of organization a bit daunting for my style. I could be very helpful to some, but, since I didn't read it, I couldn't tell you!
Another great book by Karen Wiesner. I bought this while in the throes of National Novel Writing Month and was happy with the systematic methodology Wiesner offered as one way of power-drafting a first draft.
This is a great text for a writer who is just starting and wants an understandable format. It helped me put a lot of my thoughts on paper/file so I could move forward in a more sturctured and timely way.
Annie Payne
This book was exactly what I needed to get my inspirational juices flowing, and it provided me with some much needed info and guidance to get my writing career going. Thanks, Karen!!!
How to write a (highly detailed) outline in 30 days. Not the book for me - I'm excellent at outlines but need the kick in the pants to actually do the writing.
For my style of writing this was the best method I've read
for keeping track of story line and research while writing. I'm using her system and it's working.
Although 30 days is a bit ambitious - it certainly helped explain to me how to get a draft together. Fantastic aid for first time writers
Packed with goodness, definitely recommending to others if you are organized and can stick to your goals, otherwise forgetaboutit!
Great book, gives step by step advice for creating an outline for a novel. Very helpful for anyone who wants to write a novel.
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Creating realistic, unforgettable characters one story at a time…

Karen Wiesner is an accomplished author with 106 books published in the past 16 years, which have been nominated for and/or won 128 awards, and has 40 more titles under contract. Karen’s books cover such genres as women’s fiction, romance, mystery/police procedural/cozy, suspense, paranormal, futuristic, gothic, inspirational, thrill
More about Karen Wiesner...
Cohesive Story Building Writing the Fiction Series: The Complete Guide for Novels and Novellas Shards of Ashley (Family Heirlooms Series, #5) Woodcutter's Grim Series, Volume I: Classic Tales of Horror Retold (Woodcutter's Grim Series, #1-3 & The Amethyst Tower: The Final Chapter) First Love (Angelfire Trilogy, #2)

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