How much time do you spend on writing your first draft? Do you write with or without an outline?
As Hemingway famously said, “The first draft of anything is sh*t.” Knowing that and being under contract to produce a book a year, Barbara Kyle, author of the historical novel, The Queen’s Gamble writes her first draft and does the research in about four months.
Guest Post: I can’t imagine working without an outline – it would be like building a house without a blueprint. In fact, the most helpful tip I can offer any emerging writer is: take the time to write an outline. Take a long time. The outline is where the heavy lifting of creation takes place: the invention of your characters and plot. I spend four or five months writing my outlines, while concurrently doing research. (John Grisham says he works for up to six months on his.) I call the outline a Storyline, because as writers we must never forget that we’re telling a story. In the workshops for writers that I give, I love to teach the principles of outlining. I did a video on this subject in my series of online workshops called “Writing Fiction That Sells.” Anyone interested can watch a clip on my website: www.barbarakyle.com.
After the first draft comes the really pleasurable work; the second draft.
As I said, I love to fix. I spend a month or so on that. Then, the last few weeks before my deadline is for an intense, quick polish. Then I send the manuscript to my superb editor, Audrey LaFehr. After she gives me her notes, I do another draft that incorporates her suggestions – another month or so. The book then goes into production, which takes about 9 months. Then, voila, it’s in the stores – and by that time I’m deep into writing the next book!
I’m under contract to produce a book a year, so I have to carefully manage my writing time. When I start a new book I work for 4 or 5 months on the outline, while concurrently doing research. As Hemingway famously said, “The first draft of anything is sh*t” so I try to write my first draft as quickly as possible, to just get it done. That takes about 4 more months. Then, the really pleasurable work begins: the second draft. (As I said, I love to fix.) I spend a month or so on that. Then, the last few weeks before my deadline is for an intense, quick polish. Then I send the manuscript to my superb editor, Audrey LaFehr. After she gives me her notes, I do another draft that incorporates her suggestions – another month or so. The book then goes into production, which takes about 9 months. Then, voila, it’s in the stores – and by that time I’m deep into writing the next book!
Speaking of my next book.
I’m working on Book #5 in my Tudor-era “Thornleigh” series. (The Queen’s Gamble is Book #4.) I have a contract with my wonderful publisher, Kensington Books, for three more in this series, so I’m deep into the next one. It features Mary Queen of Scots, at the moment, she escapes captivity in Scotland and takes sanctuary in England, naively expecting Queen Elizabeth, who was her cousin, to help her. Little did she know what a crisis her presence would cause Elizabeth.
About The Queen’s Gamble
Young Queen Elizabeth I’s path to the throne has been a perilous one, and already she faces a dangerous crisis. French troops have landed in Scotland to quell a rebel Protestant army, and Elizabeth fears that once they are entrenched on the border, they will invade England.
Isabel Thornleigh has returned to London from the New World with her Spanish husband, Carlos Valverde, and their young son. Ever the queen’s loyal servant, Isabel is recruited to smuggle money to the Scottish rebels. Yet Elizabeth’s trust only goes so far—Isabel’s son will be the queen’s pampered hostage until she completes her mission. Matters grow worse when Isabel’s husband is engaged as military advisor to the French, putting the couple on opposite sides in a deadly cold war.
Set against a lush, vibrant backdrop peopled with unforgettable characters and historical figures, The Queen’s Gamble is a story of courage, greed, passion, and the high price of loyalty…
About Barbara Kyle
Barbara Kyle is the author of the Tudor-era “Thornleigh” series of novels, which have been published internationally: The Queen’s Captive, The Queen’s Lady, and The King’s Daughter, praised by Publishers Weekly as “a complex and fast-paced plot, mixing history with vibrant characters.” Her new novel, The Queen’s Gamble, will be released on 30 August 2011.
Barbara previously won acclaim for her contemporary novels under pen name ‘Stephen Kyle’, including Beyond Recall (a Literary Guild Selection), After Shock and The Experiment. Over 400,000 copies of her books have been sold.
Barbara has taught courses for writers at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies, and is known for her dynamic workshops for many writers organizations. Her popular series of video workshops “Writing Fiction That Sells” is available through her website. Before becoming an author, Barbara enjoyed a twenty-year acting career in television, film, and stage productions in Canada and the U.S.
Other books by Barbara