Thursday, March 17, 2016

Don’t Get it Right, Get it Written

with guest Terri Blackstock.

 Since this month is Speedbo month, I thought it would be appropriate to give you the best piece of writing advice that I’ve ever been given: Don’t get it right, get it written.

Many years ago, when I was starting out as a writer, I had a pile of unfinished manuscripts, each with only three chapters written. I would get a great idea, start writing, second-guess, rethink, rewrite, doubt, show it to someone, get bad feedback, rewrite again, and … finally, after months of working on those three chapters, I’d lose interest in that story and toss it into a drawer. Then I’d start a new book.

Then one day at a writer’s conference, I heard this principle, and it clicked. I went home, determined to write a first draft without judgment, without going back to change anything, without showing it to anyone. For the first time, I was able to fly through a manuscript, building momentum as I went. I resolved not to let anything interrupt that momentum. Because I knew the temptation to rewrite before I moved on, I didn’t allow myself to read what I’d already written before I started each day. I simply picked up where I left off and plowed forward.

I should mention here that I’m not going for magic in that first pass. My first draft is always really bad. Years ago, one of my great fears was that I would drop dead during a first draft, and out of a sense of nostalgia or sentimentality, my husband would show it to someone. The thought was horrifying, so very early on, he and I had an agreement that he was to burn any of my first drafts the very day I was hit by a bus or decapitated by a lumber truck. I told him often, just in case he got distracted by my sudden demise and forgot. It was as important as the fact that I wanted a closed casket and someone to clean my toilets before the mourners started arriving.

I have to admit, writing that first draft is drudgery, wrought with fear and dread as I force myself to get that story down. But those feelings instantly fade when I start the the second draft, because that’s when my creativity is allowed to flourish. That’s when I work on my prose and smooth out my scenes. That’s when my setting comes alive. That’s when I really get to know my characters. I no longer fear that I’ll never finish, because I’ve already finished it once. 

How to Plow Through a First Draft

In order to fly through my first draft, I have to do some preparation. I need a map to follow so I won’t get off course. It’s probably possible for seat-of-the-pantsers to write a first draft quickly, but they must have a better sense of direction than I have. Inspired by the storyboards that film-makers use, I’ve adopted my own version of storyboarding. Whereas film-makers draw pictures depicting their camera shots, I write out my scenes on index cards, which I used to tack to a big bulletin board. Now I’ve gotten rid of the board and use the index card feature of Scrivener. I still often handwrite the cards, but then I type the scenes onto the Scrivener cards so I can keep them neatly on the screen. 

I plot out the major arc of the story, with each scene that comes to my mind, spacing those scenes out accordingly. Then I plot backward if necessary, or I ask what happens next, and go as far as I can in both directions, making a card for each step. Then I look at the holes in the plot and figure out what should fill them. In the case of generalized cards, where it says something like, “She looks all over the country for him,” I try to figure out what that would look like in actual scenes. Would I show her going to Tulsa’s police department? Would she drive the streets of New Orleans? Who would she talk to? What would she learn? I jot those scenes on cards, then place them on the board where they should logically go.

Usually, I’m ready to start writing before I finish story-boarding, and I don’t want to quench that passion, so I focus most intensely on the first hundred pages of index cards first. Then I start that first draft. When I get to the end of the first hundred pages, I’ll take a day or so to pay meticulous detail to the index cards for the next hundred page segment. I don’t let myself go back and make changes. If I need to change something in the part I’ve already written, I make myself a note in brackets. It looks something like this: [CHANGE MARTY’S JOB FROM FIRE JUMPER TO MASSEUSE.] I will fix that on the next pass. But from that point on, I’ll just consider him a masseuse.

I’ll repeat that process for each hundred page segment until I’ve gotten to the end. Yes, my plot often changes as it’s in progress. Sometimes I don’t think of a plot twist until I’m at that point in the story, but then I just make some quick changes to my index cards so I can remember what I’ve done, and go on.

There have been times when my storyboard system breaks down, and I just can’t get a handle on the plot enough to write it. In that case, it’s helpful for me to go ahead and write a detailed synopsis for myself, so I can see how the whole story works on paper. It has much more detail than I would put in the synopsis I give to my editor, but once it’s finished, I then make changes to my storyboard to reflect what’s in the synopsis.

I know what you’re thinking. These steps sound like they slow down the process. But honestly, the storyboarding and writing of the synopsis usually don’t take more than a week. I don’t spend a lot of time on it. But once there’s enough on my board to map out a hundred pages, I let the horse out of the gate.

I hope this has helped you fly through your first draft for Speedbo month. If you don’t want to use index cards the way I do, at least take a few to post around your writing space. On them, pen the words, “Don’t get it right, get it written.” Make it your motto. Then avoid the instant gratification—or embarrassment—of showing your first draft to friends or writers’ groups for critiques (unless it’s just to show them that you’ve been putting in the work), and for heaven’s sake, don’t upload it to Kindle. Make a deal with your spouse and kids. That first layer is for your eyes only, until the end of time. Just get it down on paper as fast as you can. Then start all over, rewriting it until it sings. One level at a time, one draft after another, all on the flat foundation of that miraculous … and very messy … first draft.

Happy Speedbo Month! You can do it!

Terri Blackstock has sold over seven million books worldwide and is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. She is the award-winning author of Intervention, Vicious Cycle, and Downfall, as well as the Moonlighters, Cape Refuge, Newpointe 911, SunCoast Chronicles, and Restoration Series. Her latest book is If I Run.

See the complete list of Terri’s books at Join her at Facebook ( and Twitter (


 If I Run (Zondervan)

Casey Cox’s DNA is all over the crime scene. There’s no use talking to police; they have failed her abysmally before. She has to flee before she’s arrested . . . or worse. The truth doesn’t matter anymore.

But what is the truth? That’s the question haunting Dylan Roberts, the war-weary veteran hired to find Casey. PTSD has marked him damaged goods, but bringing Casey back can redeem him. Though the crime scene seems to tell the whole story, details of the murder aren’t adding up. Casey Cox doesn’t fit the profile of a killer. But are Dylan’s skewed perceptions keeping him from being objective? If she isn’t guilty, why did she run?

Unraveling her past and the evidence that condemns her will take more time than he has, but as Dylan’s damaged soul intersects with hers, he is faced with two choices. The girl who occupies his every thought is a psychopathic killer . . . or a selfless hero. And the truth could be the most deadly weapon yet.

Terri has generously offered a copy of If I Run to one commenter. Leave a comment letting us know how your Speedbo is going. Or leave a question for Terri, or an observation on "Don't Get it Right, Get it Written." 
It's never too late to Speedbo. Details here.


  1. Your system is very similar to mine. I need to get through that first rough draft quick for basically all of your reasons though it seems I have to be a bit more detailed to start.

    I am however so pressed for time this round, I'm finishing chunks and handing that "100 page chunk" to my crit partner after one polish up. Mainly because I don't have time to have someone tell me it's not working after I finish and luckily I've worked my writing muscles enough that my rough drafts now look like my 3rd or 4th rough drafts when I was a newbie. :) And thankfully, she didn't tell me it stunk and needed rewritten, score me.

    So, I have written 8 chapters, revised those 8 chapters (23k), and well, I have two days to finish my line edit, and then back to getting in 7 more to meet my goal for speedbo, though I'm hoping for more. Still not sure when I'm going to get in my taxes though...

  2. Hi Terri! I hope you will allow a fan-girl moment here.....I am a HUGE HUGE fan of yours!!!! I think I've read almost all of your books, you are one of my "go-to" authors and one I HIGHLY recommend to anyone asking for a great suspense writer. My husband has also enjoyed your books. One of my favorite series was the Restoration series because through your descriptions, it's something I can imagine happening today. With all of our dependence on electronic things, I pictured the exact scenarios happening in those books. Those were very descriptive & vivid, it really made me think!

    I love your motto "Don't get it Write, Get it Written"; while I'm not a writer I tend to use this method for book reviews (without even knowing it). I use the Microsoft Word doc program and just start writing out my review, not worrying about grammar or spelling. Because if I don't get it out while the story is fresh on my mind, I tend to lose what I want to say. Once I have completed that, I'll re-read it & revise it as many times as necessary until I'm satisfied with it. I try to take notes (even if they are mental ones) of key plot scenes or key characteristics of the hero/heroine/secondary characters or whatnot so that I can touch on those points when I go to write my review. And yes, I do have to agree with you, that first "draft" is!! It's a learning process for me, and the one thing that really helps prayer! I ask the Lord for His words to flow as I write too, and He's so faithful to help me :-) Maybe that sounds a bit strange, but just as the writer wants to glorify the Lord in their writing, I want to do the same in my reviews. I love telling other people how the faith-thread in the story helped my walk or maybe a problem the characters worked through might have helped me through mine too.

    I'm so thrilled you came to post on Seekerville today Terri!! Like I said, I am a HUGE fan and admire your writing so much. And I'm super duper excited for your newest release "If I Run"...congrats on that! Please add my name to the pot for a chance to win a copy, thank you so much :-) Blessings to you, I loved getting to know how your writer mind works!

  3. Love the motto. Like you I had a few three chapter books. I went back to work on them and would like to say I have them all done. On a couple of them I lack three or four chapters to finish. I write an outline. A loose outline. Not always at the beginning but once I get going I write out some of the points in the story and they do change.

    Thanks so much for sharing

    Tina P.

  4. Hi Terri:

    From the sample chapter on Amazon it seems "If I Run" is written in First Person Present. Is this true? Is the whole book like this or is this done for only one of many POV characters?

    I think this POV is very rare. Its use is one reason why I like Hank Phillippi Ryan's books so much. I think it is much more immediate than third person deep POV.

    I'd love to know what you have to say about this.


    P.S.Please put me in for a chance on winning "If I Run".

  5. WELCOME TO SEEKERVILLE, TERRI! I had the good pleasure of meeting Terri at the 2015 Writer's Police Academy in Appleton, Wisconsin.

    I got to put this post up, so consequently I read it a dozen times. I needed to hear this. I don't have many unfinished manuscripts but I do edit, edit, edit. Bad habit.

    I like your methodology.

    If I Run looks spectacular and I cannot wait to read it. Super excited to get in on the start of a new series. Gorgeous cover too!

  6. Hi, Terri! Thanks for your post. You've given me lots to think about.

    I'm a s-l-o-w writer. I'm talking molasses on a sub-zero winter's day kind of slow. I've often contemplated writing what my romance-writer sister calls a dreck draft, but no matter how many times I've tried, I haven't been able to rein in my Internal Editor. I think that has a lot to do with being a detail person who worked as a line/copy editor back in the Dark Ages.

    To my credit, I did write my upcoming release in six weeks flat. To accomplish that never-before-attempted feat, I set a lofty goal of 2,000 words per weekday. I know Ruthy probably knocks that many out before the sun's up, but my process is different. It wasn't easy, but I made my self-imposed deadline. When I headed off to spend a month with our daughter who's working in Austria, I had the peace of mind that came from having my first draft done.

    I returned home prepared to do some serious work on my story. To my surprise, it wasn't as bad as I feared. In fact, my edits were the lightest I've had so far. This just goes to show that even slow writers like me can benefit from picking up the pace. So, I guess there's hope for me yet. =)

  7. Please allow me a fan girl moment TERRI BLACKSTOCK WOW! Ok, that's out of my system now.

    I love your books and the fast pacing. As a suspense writer, I strive to keep my books moving. How do you keep the pace fast with zero boring pages?

    I'm pleased to say that I write a brief outline. Main plot points of where I want the story to go in order to keep moving forward. I have to have some form of a roadmap.

    Do you ever finish a first draft and then not want to edit? I battle that is why I ask.

    I'd love to win a copy of your book! By the way, the readers at church love you. You won our St Matthew Suspense Contest a few years back.

  8. It's always interesting to see the process thank you.

  9. Hi Terri,

    Welcome to Seekerville! It's such a thrill to have you with us. Could you tell us a little more about your week of plotting and making index cards. Are you learning more about your characters during this week, or do you already know them pretty well? I was thinking if you already knew them, it might make plotting easier because then you'd have an idea how they might react during a situation.

    I saw Jennifer Garner in an interview yesterday about her new movie. She said she often texted the woman her new movie is about. She'd ask how she really responded in a situation. She wanted to be true to her character. I found that so amazing, and it made me stop and think how I need to be true to my characters.

    Thanks so much for sharing with us today. I'd love to be entered in the drawing. Thanks.

  10. Welcome, Terri!
    That's a great motto and one that I'll post on my inspiration board.
    I love the agreement you made with your husband about the first draft...LOL! That sounds like something I would do.
    Although I have Scrivener, I prefer to use an actual foam board and easel that remains in my view. It's those bright fluorescent post-its that I love. :)
    Thanks so much for sharing your process. I'd love to be entered in the drawing.

  11. Terri, we met some years ago in an airport flying home from ACFW, then again at the Writers Police Academy last year. We're thrilled to have you join us in Seekerville today. Your post is wonderful!

    I spend a lot of time on my synopsis and first three chapters, then write the rest of the story as a rough, first draft. As you mentioned, the real work/fun comes with revisions.

    How long does it take you to come up with your stories initially? I'm spending more time than I'd like at that step. Any tips you use to speed up that part of the process.

    IF I RUN sounds fantastic. I love your stories. Will look for your latest!

  12. Hi Terri,

    Loved this post. Great advice. I have to remind myself all the time to get it written and worry about fixing it later. Often, when I finally re-read the first draft I'm like,"This isn't too bad." :) Also, like you mentioned, I learn a lot about the story during the process of getting it down on paper, ideas that would have never come to me otherwise.

    Please do not enter me in the contest. I just finished If I Run and really enjoyed it.

  13. I tried writing some fanfiction a couple of years ago and fell into the same trap --wanting to edit, fact check something or revise ... Great reminder to just let it flow and get it all down first before trying to edit.

    @Trixie - I should try that and see if that works for book reviews --you might be on to something!

  14. This post couldn't have come at a better time! I'm on a mission to finish my draft this week. Sometimes just telling ourselves we CAN do it makes all the difference!! Thank you for the inspiration!

  15. Thank you Terri. I'm a plotter and a planner, and I think I'll adopt your system or features of it.
    I enjoy your suspense novels, but I have to say that hands down, my favorite of anything you've done has been the "Restoration" series. It gripped me emotionally. I loved the Brannocks and the way you brought them through so many trials. I still think about the play the neighborhood kids did in honor of Beth, and the way Doug and Kay processed her death.
    My Speedbo project isn't going great, I got distracted and tired, but I still have four chapters, which is four more than I had in February. If it slops over a little into April, so be it.
    Please enter me in the drawing.
    Kathy Bailey
    Undaunted in NH

  16. What a great post, Terri. I am definitely a plotter. Though I haven't used the cork board and cards on Scrivener, I really like writing my first drafts in there. And keeping track of my research, characters and their pictures and . . . wait this isn't about Scrivener. ;)

    I usually plot and write my synopsis before I start writing my story. This helps me become familiar with the story. Then, when I write my first draft, I write it as quickly as I can. I don't look back either, because I'll get caught up in "fixing" it. I like the idea of having the agreement with my husband that he must delete/burn my first drafts in the event of my demise. ;)

    Great post!

  17. JILL—I loved what you said about telling ourselves we CAN do it. I forget that sometimes. ;)

  18. Thanks, Terri! This is a good encouragement. I'm about 30,000 into my 45,000 speedbo goal! Yeah!! :). Chucking along, even with all the distractions of life. I'm going to put the motto by my computer, so I can see it everyday.

    P.S. I already have a copy of If I Run, so don't put me in that drawing. Terri, I loved it! Thanks!

  19. Thanks, Terri! This is a good encouragement. I'm about 30,000 into my 45,000 speedbo goal! Yeah!! :). Chucking along, even with all the distractions of life. I'm going to put the motto by my computer, so I can see it everyday.

    P.S. I already have a copy of If I Run, so don't put me in that drawing. Terri, I loved it! Thanks!

  20. Welcome to Seekerville, TERRI! I can't even imagine the pre-planning that must go into intricate stories such as yours.

    I, too, used to be the queen of the first three chapters...still have them boxed away and maybe SOME day I'll go through them to see if anything is worth revisiting! As you mentioned, I got bored because I didn't know how to push ahead to get beyond those three! But nowadays, I'm (thankfully) a finisher, getting those words on the page (even though I do revise and clean up chapters as I go so it's pretty much ready to hand in when I hit The End).

    Although I used to strike off without a map, I'm now a "planster" of sorts. With very limited writing time available and a synopsis required as a part of my proposal to get a contract, it's something I've had to learn to do. And such a blessing it's actually been because now that I can see "farther down the road" in my stories, I finish them! Yet my planning is at a high enough level that there's lots of room for daily creativity and surprises!

    Thank you so much for the story planning tips! A perfect post for Speedbo month! I always enjoy hearing how successful authors pull together a story -- and love gleaning new ideas to try out!

  21. Thanks Terri! Your method is great. I'll try to push forward. Would love a copy of your book.

  22. This is sterling advice from an amazingly accomplished author. Terri, thank you so much for being here today! It is our pleasure to have you!

  23. HELLO TERRI! I love the line "Don’t get it right, get it written." I will remember this tidbit as I am writing reviews. I can get stalled when focusing on writing the "right" words.... Congrats on your release of IF I RUN!

    SPEEDBO: WRITE ON! You have crossed the half way point!

    Please put me in the drawing.

  24. I'm sorry I'm just now jumping in. I've had a little trouble figuring out how to post. Thanks to all of you who posted about your Speedbo progress! Congratulations. It's more than half over, and you're going to have such fruit from all this hard work.

    I'll be answering questions and responding to comments all day.

  25. Terri, your toilet bowls are going to carry me through the rest of my day. I laughed so hard that I could barely tell my husband (who also loves your books).

    Thank you for your advice about drafts. I feel so much better being paranoid that someone will see my first draft and am encouraged as I work my way through my first repair job.

    The only sad part of your post for me is that I see that my Scrivener looks like a resale shop during the Christmas rush. I'll have to clean it up after Speedbo.

  26. Trixi--Thank you for your comment about my books! I'm so glad you liked the Restoration Series. I wanted to comment on your mention of prayer as part of the process. I do that too. God does care about how we use the gifts He gave us, so why wouldn't He want us to pray about what we write? I've been praying about my WIP and felt a brick wall with one of my subplots. I just couldn't feel it. I changed it to something else, and instantly felt the wall vanish. Then I second-guessed and went back to the original one, and the wall went up again. I believe that is prayer being answered--God saying, "No, not that. Go back to the other one. That's what I want you to write." So yes! Do pray about your work.

  27. Vince--If I Run is in first person present, and I've never tried that before, but I felt it served this story well because I wanted the reader to really feel that he/she's experiencing the story just as the character is. I didn't want any distance there. The whole book is that way, and I have two POV characters who are both done that way. Thanks for asking. If it jars the reader at first, I'm told that they forget that by the time they move into the story. You can check out a sample and see how you like it.

  28. Keli Gwyn--There's nothing like a deadline to force you to speed up the pace. I have trouble writing without a deadline, honestly.

  29. Terri asked "How do you keep the pace fast with zero boring pages?" I guess if I'm getting bored writing it, then the reader is going to be bored. I always ask whether the scene or the event is too predictable. If it is, then I ask what would twist it up? I also write short chapters to keep the pacing fast. Readers seem to like that because they think they'll read just one more chapter before putting it down, but they git to the end of it and then think, "Okay, just one more."

    1. Well, it works because that is what happens to me when I'm reading one of your books!

  30. Hi Terri,
    I've been hearing a lot of buzz about If I Run and had already added it to my amazon wish list. It must be fantastic with so many great reviews in just one month. Seeing your writing process here at Seekerville is a treat. It's so funny to hear your instructions to your husband in case of your untimely demise, so much like things I would say I had to smile.

    I'll definitely be reading If I Run as suspense is a favorite and would love to have my name in the drawing for a copy. Thanks for the offering and a word of advice, stay away from runaway buses and lumber trucks ;)

  31. Jackie asked, "Are you learning more about your characters during this week [of working on index cards], or do you already know them pretty well?" I already have an idea of them in my head by the time I start a book. But I'm not one who does character sheets and figures everything out about them before I write. I seriously learn most about them during that first draft. But I know enough about them--because they've kind of been living in my head for a while--to start the first draft.

  32. TERRI, thank you so much for being our guest today and sharing your writing process with us! Very, very enlightening!

    I'm a Scrivener lover, too, but I use the scene cards to summarize what I've already written. My brain just can't seem to function in pre-plotting mode. Believe me, I've tried! Until I start getting the words on the page and watching the characters come to life, I can't see what's going to happen next beyond very vague concepts of how the story needs to proceed.

    However, your method of working through 100 pages at a time makes a lot of sense. Seriously contemplating whether my brain is retrainable after all these years!!!

  33. Debby Giusti-- "How long does it take you to come up with your stories initially?" I get my ideas like bolts of lightening, from everything you can imagine. Usually I get it before I’m ready to work on it, so I just make a little note for later, with everything I know about it. That might be only one sentence or a concept. But by the time I get to work on it, it’s had a little time to germinate.

    Kathy Bailey-- Don’t be discouraged that you might not finish in March. I’m a slow writer. I do a book a year, so I get it. Just make sure you break it into pieces you can actually handle, then keep that pace.

    Glynna Kaye--It’s very important for me to say that if this system doesn’t work for you—if you’re a pantser and can’t do an outline to save your life—then don’t do it. Some people have to write by the seat of their pants. Whatever works for you. During my career, I've often gone to writers conferences and learned new ways to approach things, and wound up trying to do it someone else's way. It usually failed. Once you figure out what your way is, keep doing it and don't let others mess you up.

  34. Thanks, Barbara! Hahaha! I'm dead serious about the first drafts and the toilets. And I have customized my Scrivener to be a little more girlie than some people might like.

  35. Mine is going slow because I'm doing what Terri did!! I keep going back over it and changing it. I'm going to take her advice "Don't get it right, just get it written"

  36. Myra, don't retrain your brain! If this system is against the grain for you, don't do it. You are probably a pantser. Trust me, when I try doing character sketches and other things I hear about from other writers, I get paralyzed. So take what you can use and toss out the rest.

    And the beauty of Scrivener is that you can use it in the way that suits you best.

  37. Naomi Shores, welcome to Seekerville.

  38. Kelly Bridgewater!!! "I'm about 30,000 into my 45,000 speedbo goal!" Amazing job! Go you!!!

  39. I also have If I Run, and it's a post Speedbo reward that I am totally psyched to get to read.


  40. Terri, this made me literally laugh out loud: "Years ago, one of my great fears was that I would drop dead during a first draft, and out of a sense of nostalgia or sentimentality, my husband would show it to someone. The thought was horrifying, so very early on, he and I had an agreement that he was to burn any of my first drafts the very day I was hit by a bus or decapitated by a lumber truck. I told him often, just in case he got distracted by my sudden demise and forgot."

    LOL! I know that feeling! But mostly, I just can't write on momentum and power through the first draft in a short amount of time--unless I am forced to by a looming deadline. I want to mull over each plot point, each scene, each emotion my character might be feeling as I write that first draft. But when I'm forced to write quickly, I can't really say my first draft is much worse than when I mulled it over as I wrote it. LOL! Although my editor would probably disagree with me. :-)

  41. I find it very encouraging that Terri writes a book a year. It can be very tough for us slower writers to keep up with the rabbits flying by us.

    However, that said, I am going to work on my Don't Get It Right, Get It Written skillset.

  42. Melanie--I so agree about deadlines. When I don't have one, I find it very hard to write. I have to say that my first drafts are drudgery. I hate writing them. I don't really have fun writing until the second draft. So deadlines force me to buckle down and get it done.

    Tina--There was a time when I wrote three or four a year, back during my romance days. When I started writing suspense, I did two a year for a while. Then I slowed to one every nine months. Now it's all I can do to get one a year done. Mostly that's because of other life distractions and chronic pain from all those years of sitting at my desk for eight to twelve hours a day. Occupational hazard.

  43. Hi Terri,

    I've never used a story board. I do my initial notes about the characters in a notebook and proceed to a detailed synopsis on my computer. After reading about your process, I think I'd like to try it. Thanks for explaining it in detail. :)

  44. Terri I just ran into a huge collision near the 3/4 point in my WIP and it took a LOT of work to fix it.
    If I'd just PLOT maybe I could avoid that.
    I just know that if I wrote out all those cards, before you know it, I'd have lost them.
    But still, this was a mess in my WIP. Although I like how it cleared up. My way is definitely the HARD WAY.

  45. Terri thanks so much for being on Seekerville today.
    I love your work!

  46. Terri, the title of your post hooked I'm reading and commenting BEFORE I begin my day's Speedbo writing. A visit to Seekerville is to be my reward for finishing my daily Speedbo goal,m but I'm so glad I stopped in early today. Your advice is PERFECT! "Don't get it right, get it written!" needs to be imprinted on my brain. What I've written so far....plenty of dialogue dry. Your reminder to "get the story down" first, then come back to layer and polish is great. Love index cards! :) Thank you!

  47. Terri, you hit me right upside the head.

    I'm so bad about getting opinions on my story before I finish it and then I doubt everything. Takes me forever to complete one because I keep thinking how dumb it must be. LOL.

    Decapitated by a lumber truck? That's a new one.

  48. I think we all need to stop immediately and write up a note on how to dispose of the messy first draft in case of our demise. I know I'll feel better.

    I wonder how many of us have put notes in our manuscripts like {fill this in later} and accidentally sent it off to our editor.

    I occasionally write this in the middle of my story -AND THEN THE ZOMBIES CAME-for my husband, who does my typo read through, to make sure he's really paying attention.

    I hope my editor has a sense of humor in case I forget a zombie in my final draft.

  49. Don’t Get it Right, Get it Written

    My name is Pam, and I really have a problem with this.

    I need an intervention.

    Pam hangs her head in shame.

  50. We all have problems with this, Pam. You've taken the first step--admitting you have a problem. :-)

    Connie, what you just described is a temptation so many of us face. We want instant gratification, so we want to show someone what we've done and get feedback immediately. But for me, that always ruins it. I'll be on a roll and have momentum going, then I'll show someone, and inevitably they suggest a change. Then the doubt sets in, and I second-guess my whole plan, and I wonder if what I'm doing is going to work. The story is ruined. DON'T SHOW IT TO ANYONE until you finish the first draft. You can get their feedback later and fix anything that needs fixing, but if you've already written the story once, the revisions will be so much easier.

  51. Terri, thanks for emphasizing what I've heard over and over from other writers--First get it down, then get it right. Your strategy as a plotter obviously works, as is reflected in the success of your books and the awards they've won. Thanks for sharing.

  52. Terri,

    Thanks so much for taking time to answer our questions.

    I always look forward to reading your books, and I always want the paperback and not the e-book. I've got at least two shelves dedicated to your stories.

  53. BTW, a random comment here: Welcome and congratulations to Laurie Wood who joined Speedbo today. She is # 139. She also moved up to the next stage in the Harlequin Love Inspired Manuscript Matchmaker Contest held by the Love Inspired Editors. Go Laurie.

  54. Welcome to Seekerville, Terri. Thanks for this post! Like Pam and Keli and a few others here, I cannot seem to write a rough draft. Still your motto is important for those like me with a bad case of Internal Editor-itis, as it reminds me of my "sickness" and encourages me to spend the least amount of time revising that I can and just move on.

    Any tips on adding emotion during revisions? I seem to do a better job adding emotion when I first write the scene.


  55. As Tina mentioned, "Don't get it write, get it written," is a phrase to remember. Thanks, Terri, you've given us permission to write a fast first draft, which is the reason we started Speedbo! Great confirmation!

    I'm submitting my next proposal on Monday, then setting a goal to write a fast 100 pages. And then the next 100, and the next... I'm calling it the Blackstock Method!

    Hugs and continued success. Love your stories!

  56. Thanks, Richard. That means a lot coming from you! And I appreciate you, Jackie, for having a shelf for my books. I have one too, though I have a hard time keeping every single book there.

    Congratulations, Laurie!

  57. Jeanne, sounds like you use your synopsis to plot your story. I do as well. It lets me see the holes, however I want to try Terri's technique.

  58. Hi Janet--If you do a better job adding emotion during the first draft, then do it there. Trust me, I give the first draft everything I have. If I have the emotion during that draft, I definitely use it. When I say that I'm writing a first draft (or a rough draft), I don't mean that I'm skimping on the story. I still give it everything I can. But if I get stalled or write a scene that just isn't what I want it ultimately to be, I push on anyway. I don't go back and work on it until it's right. You are probably a pantser, and when you finish the last page for the first time, the book is finished. I wish I could write that way (the grass is always greener), but I can't.

    Debby, I love that you're calling it The Blackstock Method. You have a good plan. Just stick with it if it works!

  59. hi Terri
    I'm hearing Larry the Cable guy: Git 'er done!
    Will be putting up: "Don't get it right, get it written" where I can see it. Primo advice that I need to heed. THANKS!!!!

    Thanks for sharing your process as well. It's so cool to see how different authors write. I'm still not quite sure of my process, but I like to think I'm cherry picking the best stuff that works for me from other successful writers.

    I LOVE your book blurb. Please put my name in the draw for If I Run. Gotta go put it on my wish list on Amazon, just in case. I tend to forget about cool books I hear about. So many books, so little time...

  60. Terri,

    Thank you for this post. I must admit I have an unfinished children's (middle reader) that I have not finished. I got stuck when I couldn't find the research I needed and I wanted it to be perfect. I hope to get back to this story soon.

    I am currently writing a sequel to the first book I wrote while at the same time editing a second book I wrote.

    I am so grateful for all the prayers. I am feeling much better, but still very weak and still in some pain. I will see my doctor on Monday for follow up.

    I was able to write 300 words this morning and hope to write more. I missed writing while in the hospital.

    Have a great day everyone.

  61. Hi Wilani==Regarding research, when I'm in a first draft, I do try to do some research, but often I know I need to do deeper research. I just make myself a note in brackets to look something up or find out more about a subject, and I move on. I don't stop for a week to get the research done. Right now I'm working on the 2nd book in my If I Run series, and I'm researching PTSD as I go. I have Google Alerts that send me links to every article published about PTSD, but I have them going to a folder so I don't have to stop and read them as they come in. I just go through them when I finish writing for the day, and if the articles illuminate something or give me new ideas, I make notes in what I've already written rather than going back to change things. By the time I get to that second draft, I have a lot more information and can use it in a better way.


  62. "I have Google Alerts that send me links to every article published about PTSD, but I have them going to a folder so I don't have to stop and read them as they come in."

    This is brilliant. I never thought of this.

    Thank you for sharing!!

  63. Since you write a book a year, Terri, can we assume you are working on another now and can you give us a little peek at what that might be?

    BTW, are you an office writer or a lap top wanderer??

  64. Hey Tina, wrong Terri answering. But I'm so glad you asked. I love a laptop. Now I rarely write in my office. Is anyone else like that?

  65. I had never heard of Google alerts. I will have to check it out.

  66. Good afternoon, Terri! What an honor to say hi to you here on Seekerville! Your next book sounds terrific, and I would love to be in the drawing.

    I think I need to have a conversation with my husband or rewrite my will. I have about five first drafts and a couple of first-three-chapters that need proper disposal when the time comes.

    I am definitely a plotter. My detailed chapter outline will be anywhere from 10,000 to 20,000 words for a LIS. I love that stage because I call it an outline and anything goes. From there, I flesh out the rest of it in a first draft, but I'm still working on silencing that inner editor. Thanks for the tips!

  67. Tina, I am a laptop wanderer. I have a nice office, and when I'm in it, I have my laptop plugged into a large monitor. But my favorite place to write is in my car. I can roll down the windows and sit in that cockpit and see nature while I write. I use a MacBook Air, so it's easy to take around with me.

  68. Right now I'm working on Book 2 in my IF I RUN series. The story continues ....

  69. Google Alerts are great. You can set them up for anything--including yourself--and get an alert every time that is talked about on the internet. Go to and you can sign up for your alerts. They're especially great if you're writing about current issues, but even historical writers will find more info than they imagined by doing this.

  70. I love this method and something I will definitely have to try with my next idea. I am still trying to decide which way I like best and your ways seems very similar to mine and an easy slide into. :-)

    I have to admit learning something like Scrivener has me intimidated. Although I suppose it is more organized than the hundreds of scraps of papers, folders, post-it notes, index cards, that are floating around most the time. I don't know if I will ever transition to the electronic age completely, though. I feel like I am more creative and less distracted with paper and my fountain pens.

    "Don't get it right, get it written" is definitely an effort, but it is definitely encouraging.

    MELISSA: You sound incredibly busy! Go ahead and schedule your tax appointment before the 15th but in April and you will have the relief on knowing it is done. Taxes can't be avoided but they can be delayed. :-) Speedbo is more important anyway!

    TINA: I think I will have to begin adding ZOMBIE sentences to my drafts for my husband to catch. He would get a kick out of that. He says Zombies are definitely lacking in Christian novels. :-)

  71. Oh man... I have so many abandoned books between 5 and 20 pages laying around for the exact same reason! In fact, this year's Speedbo is the first time I agreed with myself to do just what you've said - don't let ANYONE see the first draft (not even my curious husband!), and don't look back and rewrite and rework. I'm just getting the words down and it's amazing how fast you can fly and how much momentum you can build!

    Thank you for the post! I couldn't sum that concept up easily until I read "Don't get it right, get it written." I'm definitely going to post that up in my workspace!

  72. Thanks so much for sharing with us today, Terri! This is fun to see how you work. I need to get better at plowing through and working more in layers.

    I'm still laughing at your instructions to your husband. :) Made me realize I need to have a talk with mine! :)

  73. Crystal--If you're more comfortable with pen and paper, don't worry about learning Scrivener. Do what works for you. You can do the exact same method with a physical bulletin board. I did it that way for years, and still have to revert back to it now and then. Someone said that they would lose the cards. You wouldn't because they'd be pinned to the board. And there's something very satisfying about marking through each card after that scene is written. I love being able to see my progress that way, then how much farther I have to go.

  74. Thanks, Megan. Remember, I didn't come up with that quote. Not sure who did--it wasn't even the person I heard it from--but I've used it for many years.

  75. Hi Missy--You're successful enough already. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. :-)

  76. Ha, ha, Crystal. The zombie trick does work.

  77. That's fascinating that you like to write in the car. I am amazed. It's really interesting that we are all so different.

    I sell short stories on the side and I start them all with pen and paper. The only way.

    Diversity in our styles is really interesting.

    I can only write novels at my desk in my chair.

    And you are right. If it's not broke, don't fix it.

    But write til the end works for all of us.

  78. Laughing about the Google Alerts! I frequently discover "Myra Johnson" has been arrested or died. Who knew there were so many of us out there?

  79. Hi, Terri. What a fabulous post! I didn't start out writing this way, but also got the..."get it down, fix it later" advice at a conference! I'm not a panster... and I, too, have to have a direction before I begin.

    When I pass, I'm thinking my darlings will toss everything without reading, just to be rid of the piles!! LOL

    My Speedbo goal changed. Now, I'm working on a synopsis and three chapters for the Love Inspired Historical Manuscript Matchmakers pitch.

    Your new book sound exciting and I'd love to be entered to win a copy. Thanks again for a great post!

  80. Thank you, TERRI, for such an interesting and inspiring post! Love the agreement with your husband, especially the closed casket and clean toilet thing (and the bus and lumber truck, lol). I need to make similar arrangements with my husband, and not just for first drafts. There are several notebooks around here somewhere filled with truly wretched poetry and song lyrics from my teen years. It ALL needs to go. Thanks again for the inspiration, information and laughter.

  81. Myra, it's good to know what your name-counterparts are out there doing. :-) Kathryn, I think a lot of my stacks will be burned too, to get rid of the clutter. I still have a lot on hard copy. But I picture my publisher calling my husband after I die and asking if they can have the book I was contracted for and never finished. And it will be pretty tempting for him to turn it over. I won't harass him from Heaven if he does, and I trust him to do what's best, but he knows my preferences. :-)

  82. I don't know, Laura. I wouldn't destroy them. I would love to have copies of the poems I wrote in my teens. Even if they're bad, they would chronicle my journey as a writer. Hang on to them while you're living, letting family know they can destroy them when you're gone if they want. But it's very likely they might keep them for sentimental value. And who knows? You could be wildly famous and some museum might pay the estate big bucks for those.


    And, WOW ... I knew I was going to love this post when I read this: "Don’t get it right, get it written."

    One of my husband's favorite expressions from the super stressful deadline-oriented job he used to have was "Sometimes Done is Better than Good," and although I've always loved that saying, I never really applied it to writing until today. That statement above that changed your writing life just changed mine as well, so I cannot thank you enough!!

    I was struggling with my WIP this week, and when I don't feel good about it, I can't go forward until I do feel good about, which as you know wreaks absolute havoc with one's deadline because it slows you down something fierce. BUT ... this week, I was struggling so badly, that I started to freak out because of my tight deadline, and my hubby said, just what you said: "Just get it written, Julie, and move on." So I did, and it WORKED!!! Which is why your incredible advice is not only WONDERFUL, but timely as well.

    I am a pantster (or was before I wrote a family saga with 15 characters whose ages, anniversaries, etc. I had to keep track of), so now I write a very extensive synopsis that almost reads like a book (according to my agent and editor), including snips of dialogue that I eventually use. I then create a chapter-by-chapter outline, which sounds a lot like your storyboarding technique, and I agree, it really works!!

    SO thank you again for a great blog!


  84. TERRI SAID: "Years ago, one of my great fears was that I would drop dead during a first draft, and out of a sense of nostalgia or sentimentality, my husband would show it to someone. The thought was horrifying, so very early on, he and I had an agreement that he was to burn any of my first drafts the very day I was hit by a bus or decapitated by a lumber truck."

    LOL ... this made me laugh out loud!!

    YOU ALSO SAID: "I have to admit, writing that first draft is drudgery, wrought with fear and dread as I force myself to get that story down. But those feelings instantly fade when I start the the second draft, because that’s when my creativity is allowed to flourish."

    WOW, WOW, WOW!!! I never fully understood this until now, but I can soooo see this, so thank you again for great statements and tips.


  85. Hi Julie, Thank you for your great comments. I'm so glad you found my advice helpful!

    I include dialogue in my synopsis as well, especially if it's a scene that I have in my head and I really don't want to forget it. I throw everything in there that I might need later. For the publisher, I condense A LOT.

    I love your husband's quote, "Sometimes DONE is better than GOOD." That's so true. I'm certainly not advocating turning it in if it's just done and not good, but we have to give ourselves permission to move on with the first draft. Sometimes that's hard for those of us who need affirmation from others and want to show it to someone, and we want to polish what we've got so we don't embarrass ourselves. But the answer to that is not to show anyone anything until it's finished.

  86. Or at least until it's in the second or third draft.

  87. Terri,

    I really could've used this blog and this motto at the beginning of speedbo and in the months preceding. Still, it's helpful to see how other authors proceed. Instead of using notecards, I keep all my unplaced ideas in an idea file which is probably a bit more disorganized than your note card method. Sometimes during the process I try to go through and re-organize this file with mixed success. Usually I just have to live with some degree of mess.

    Also, instead of storyboarding, I usually just start writing scenes and ideas as they come. Naturally, some of them I keep and some of them I have to toss or modify later. Since I don't write the scenes in order, I stay organized by printing them out and placing them in order in a binder. That makes for easy review when I need a reminder of what I've written and what I have left to write. (Each file has a header that helps me link the printed document to the computer file.)

    So, basically, the storyboarding progresses for me as I write through a combination of brainstorming (as in the idea file) and writing (by chapters or scenes). So far, I've never been able to start with an outline or a story born without also doing some writing to get the ideas flowing. Even during speedo, I have at times gone back to reread or rethink certain parts I've written since I find that my first idea is often not my best. Doing it this way, of course, I have to be careful to keep writing even when I feel like much of what I've written isn't good enough.

    By the way, I would love to have a copy of your book. Sounds interesting. :-)

  88. TERRI BLACKSTOCK. I think I've read all your books except the restoration series, and it's for that sounds too much like it is happening right now. I want a little distance when I'm reading your books. I'm with all those who are your fans. I'm sure I would loose my power of thought if I would ever meet you, or maybe swoon I'm such a big fan! I'd love to read IF I RUN. Thank you

  89. Lara, I so understand getting to the point in the story where you feel like your first idea wasn't your best one. That does happen to me every now and then, and I have had to delete some chapters and start over with the right idea, but I try not to let it slow me down too much. And I don't do that unless I'm absolutely certain that I've gone down a wrong road and there's no way to get back to the right one.

    I've had over seventy books published in my 30+ year career, so I've broken my own rules a number of times. There are always exceptions.

  90. Encouraging post and comments. What a great way to end a tough Speedbo day. I find I'm getting stalled in the editing process...I think there's such a thing as over-editing and that's what I've been doing. I'm going to approach it with a fresh perspective after reading this.

    Oh, and Terri, I BEYOND LOVED, If I Run. I devoured that book and mourned it's end and am impatiently awaiting the next book. You're right -- that first person present tense voice kept me inside those characters' skins and made the read all the more edgier. I'm getting heart palpitations just thinking about it. So, obviously no need to enter me in the draw.

  91. Thank you, Kav! I'm honored that you liked it so much. Makes my day!

  92. Hi Marianne, I appreciate your comments so much. I hope I do get to meet you someday!

  93. Seventy books in 30 years. Okay, you aren't a slow writer at all. I stand in awe.


  94. The beauty of moving several times over the years is many of those under the bed things do get tossed. Oh, thank you, Lord!!!

  95. Welcome Terri. This post is so helpful to me. I never get anything written because I can't put something on paper that sounds terrible so I want to fix it before I go on. I realize that won't get me anywhere, so I am trying to make myself just write. I started a book during Speedbo last year and wrote 1,000 words a day. I did use index cards to write out scenes and used those. But then I ran out of scenes! I wasn't really sure what I needed in different places and didn't really get back to it. This year I am again committing to 1000 words a day but still not sure what some of my scenes are. So I am just writing very basic scenes for where I think it needs to go. My writing sounds more like a glorified outline than an actual novel, but I am getting it done. I haven't missed a day yet, even though some days I have almost zero free time.

    Please enter me in the drawing. I would love to win the book.

  96. Terri, Thank you for your post. I saw your printed out page with lots of red all over it, and I recognized a kindred spirit. Part of my Speedbo goal is to print out my manuscript and then go through this draft. It's slower than I thought because I'm not only catching word repetition, but it turns out I used the word "both" an awful lot.

    Any advice on how you go from first draft to second? Does it get easier to see what you want to correct on your subsequent revisions or does your editor help you?

    Thank you so much for the encouragement to just sit down and get that first draft cranked out.

  97. Terri, I'd love to do anything that helps me to write faster! :)

    BTW, your manuscript printout looks a lot like one of mine with all the red. LOL

  98. Isn't that funny how we all feel this giant sigh of relief when we see Terri's manuscript pages with red ink. I think you are gutsy, Terri. I use purple ink, as it isn't quite so accusatory. LOLOL.

  99. DST change has made some of us have to go attend to our evening duties, but I wanted to give a quick thank you to Terri for being such a wonderful guest. You've beensp engaging and attentive and you didn't even ask us where we got that silly name Speedbo from! LOL.

    We've been honored to have you with us today! Praying for continued success for you and your writing ministry and thank you for being a ground breaking writer who has shown the world the power and entertainment of inspirational fiction.

  100. Welcome to Seekerville, Terri! I poked my head in this morning and saw you were here, but sadly I had to rush off to work and couldn't stick around. On the bright side, it gave me something to look forward to all day.

    Thank you for such a helpful post. I really do need to force myself to write a totally rough, rough draft just once. I'm an edit-as-I-go writer, which makes the whole process painfully slow. I'm in the midst of completing revisions right now, but I plan to use the Blackstock Method on my next wip.

    I had to readjust my Speedbo goals after spending the first week of the month fighting a cold and allergies, but that's okay. I did manage to write the opening scene for my next wip, and I entered one of my completed manuscript in a new contest. Now, I'm working on completing fairly intense revisions on another manuscript so I can send it back to the editor.

  101. AGREED, TERRI ... about not showing that first draft to anyone!! Fortunately (or unfortunately), I'm WAY too anal to show anyone anything I have crossed every T on or dotted every i, so no worries there! Just worries about getting it done ... ;)


  102. Sandy, you might benefit from a brainstorming session with a writer’s group.

    Tanya—great question. Tanya asked how I go from first to second drafts, and whether my editor helps me. My editor isn’t involved until I feel the book is finished, usually after the tenth draft or so. Then I get a revision letter and dig back in for another draft. Then there’s a line edit and I dig back in for another draft.

    When I talk about a second draft, I’m not talking about a proofread. As you can see from the pages I showed you, I literally write all over that draft in hard copy. Then I make the changes in the computer, print it out and go at it again and again. The proofread is the last thing I do. But to me, I get deeper into every aspect of the book with each draft.

    Tina, I usually use green ink for the same reason. I just happened to dig this one up with red ink, and it photographed well. :-)

    Rhonda, congratulations on pushing past that cold and not allowing the setback to derail you. Most of us will look for any excuse not to write! Especially when the goals are so intense.

    Julie, before I sold my first book to a publisher, I quit even talking about wanting to be a writer with non-writer friends. I felt like no one was going to take me seriously until it was a done deal. I’d gotten tired of being patronized when I said I was going to be a writer. I think that restraint helped me to wait for gratification. It became easier and easier to not show anyone an unfinished manuscript. Now, when I forget that rule and do, I always regret it.

  103. Go! Rhonda. Way to make up for lost time!

  104. It might be helpful to explain the different levels of edits. After I do my own drafts to the point that I feel it's finished--or when my deadline hits and I have no choice but to give it up--then I turn it in.

    1) Macro Edit/Content Edit/Overview/Revision Edit (or whatever they call it at your publisher)--The editor writes me a long, detailed revision letter about the story itself and what worked or didn't work. He/she challenges me to dig deeper and rethink certain scenes. Often, he'll make sweeping suggestions that require more rewriting. For instance, he might say, "Your hero seems too passive and often doesn't act when he should." That's not something I can fix in a sentence or two, so I dig back in from page one, working my way through another draft to make sure that the problem is fixed. This always helps me take the book to the next level.

    2) Line Edit--After I've done the revision, the editor goes through the manuscript looking for places that need to be checked for accuracy, making sure my timeline works, checking consistency, and pointing out awkward phrases, etc. This usually doesn't require an extensive rewrite, unless they find inconsistencies in the timeline or something and I have to dig back in and do some rewriting to fix that.

    3) Copy Edit--After the line edit is finished, a different editor does the copy edit, and this is the stage where they're correcting spellings and punctuation, checking the timeline again, making sure that if I said she got up from her chair that I don't have her still sitting a few paragraphs later.

    4) Proof--When all that is finished, someone at the publishing house does a proofread at the same time that I do it, just to make sure that we didn't create new problems with our corrections, and that everything reads like we want it.

    I should say that I do 95% of the changes myself. The editor points out the problems, and sometimes suggests a rewrite, but I do the rewriting. By the time a book is finished, I've been through it so many times that I almost have it memorized, so any word that the editor changes jumps out at me.

    THIS is why it takes me a year to write a book now. It's hard, hard work and there's never been a time when I thought I could skimp on any of this.

  105. Terri, thank you for answering my comment. I so appreciate all the advice about different drafts. I'm presently on my fifth or sixth draft and now feel better about that.

  106. That last answer did two things, Terri:

    1. Qualified you for sainthood.

    2. Made this blog post into a workshop.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

  107. Terri, at the risk of sounding "Fan Girl" gotta tell ya, I love your books. Can't imagine how they started at the first draft but by the time I've read them, they're fabulous. :) Having said that, I appreciated this message because the Type A in me wants to constantly fix things at the risk of not getting my story down.

    I am 12,168 words to my SpeedBo goal. Sigh..which is 4,832 words behind my necessary word count...sigh..but who's counting? UGH!

    Thank you so much for the encouraging words of wisdom.

  108. Sharee, At least you're 12,168 words farther along than you were. And that's pretty good for two weeks! Thanks for the kind words about my books.

  109. Thanks, Terri for all your details and encouragement!!! I don't need to win the copy of If I run, because I already have my own. And I must say: it's a must read peeps! :)

  110. Thank you, Megan! I appreciate that so much.

  111. Good evening Terri. I literally just now opened a birthday package sent to me from my daughter. Part of her gift was "If I Run." So very excited to read it. I have every one of your books and love them ALL.

    Thanks for the Google Alerts tip. I wasn't aware they existed. Thank you for sharing your process. I'm still learning what works for me and what doesn't. Tina is right.... this blog post is now a workshop :)

    Tina, your Zombie comments have my husband wondering what I'm reading because I spewed my tea lol.

  112. Happy Birthday, Pat! I'm so glad someone gave you IF I RUN. I appreciate your words about my books. And sorry I made you choke on your tea. Hahaha!

  113. Happy Birthday, Pat W. You scored in the present department. What a nice daughter.

  114. I didn't always think this way but getting it down is the only way I can finish. 🤓 Great advice!

  115. Thanks, Jess. I appreciate you're stopping by.

  116. Thanks, Terri, for being with us! Such a special day...lots of information.

    We're grateful!

  117. I enjoyed it. Thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate everyone who stopped by! Such a great community.

  118. Thanks so much for this, Terri -- the post and several of your comments. I don't have a problem with unfinished stories because I've finished everything I've written, but my progress from beginning to end is always laborious. I write and rewrite, edit and mutter my way through several drafts, but I never get to where I feel something is ready for the next step. You've given me several ideas that could change how I tackle my first draft and perhaps produce work that is more satisfying.

    All the best for success with 'If I Run'.

  119. Terri, I love your writing and was a huge fan of your Restoration series. I stopped writing today to reflect on my writing and create a skeleton for my pantser wip for Speedboat. Please enter my name in the drawing.

  120. speedbo the kindle autocorrected

  121. Terri, thanks so much for this incredibly helpful post. I am working on breaking the dreadful habit of editing the first few chapters over and over. I also need a road map, or at least some idea of where I'm going. The index cards sounds like a great way to help those of us who worry about getting it right instead of getting it written.

  122. This is my first time entering Speedbo and I haven't stopped to read the blogs this at all this week. I am trying to catch up on them today. I certainly enjoyed this one. We still have two weeks to write on and I plan on doing so. Does anyone else get stuck and write the words 'To Be Continued' on a scene when writing on you novel daily? Sometimes I'm stymied. Thanks for all your good input.

  123. Love that saying - "Don't get it right - get it written!" I'm already looking for post-it notes to write that one and post all over my office - even the house.

    I also appreciate you sharing about your method - storyboarding! Very helpful!


  124. I was really excited to read this post. Terri is one of my FAVORITE suspense authors. I love that you write in shorter chapters. For me, it packs a good punch that way and it keeps my interest. As an aspiring author, I am really encouraged by this advice. I am going to use the "Don't get it right - get it written!) to motivate me. Please enter me in the giveaway for If I Run. I am really looking forward to reading it. Thanks!!

  125. Thank you, Terri! I needed this post today! Every once in a while, it's good to remember that even our writing heroes don't have a perfect first draft. I love the way you've plotted with index cards on Scrivener. I use an Excel spreadsheet for now, and it's really helped me get the bones of my plot in place before I start writing.

    With this WIP I thought I'd try to plot every single scene ahead of time and then run through the first draft like a book afire. Then about a month and a half later, I decided to allow myself about six scenes on either side of the midpoint so I can have creative room if necessary, lol. They're summarized together something like "She teaches him in three steps how to better relate to people," and "they investigate boardinghouses and churches in next two towns, but storms, downed telegraph lines, and flooding hinder their search." So far so good.

    Thanks for giving us these tips!

  126. That's exactly what I needed right now, thank you!

  127. Thanks so much for the great tip, Terri.

    I'm almost at my halfway mark on my Speedbo goal. Will make it there yet. :)

  128. Thanks for your insights here! I always love seeing another person's process and appreciate it! I also attended a meeting with Mary Pearson and she uses a wipe board with taped dividers for sections, and sticky notes so she can move it around. Whether on a computer or on butcher block paper or every stage within, it's so helpful so you can see what's missing. Love Natalie's comments above, too!

    Thanks again!

    Time seems to be speeding up with other interruptions so I'd appreciate thoughts for finishing and whether to attend a funeral out of town next week. Plus two family birthdays here this week and my son may be ill....oh boy.

    Must be something good coming soon! Hope your goals are going well everyone!

  129. Hi gang!

    Terri - Your article really hit home for me. Thank you for taking the time to write it. I'm notorious for having stories that don't have endings! And I'm generally stuck there. While my story intro scenes are great I'm ready to get unstuck!

    I think in scenes and I can see them happening...but they are just 1-offs. I think of them any time of the day or night and I get worried I'll forget them, so I write them down...then I talk about them with trusted people to get their reactions...and I never finish the stories - either due to feedback....OR...due to constantly second guessing my story. The scenes are so detailed, but things about the characters, their names, and the plotting can get stuck in the mire.

    I know I'm a good storyteller - When I tell someone about a movie I've just seen, I regularly hear back from them saying something like: "I want to watch your version of that movie 'cause you told it so much better." So I don't think that is my roadblock.

    I used index cards years ago (before college) to plot a kids book. It was a good God-inspired idea because I was able to plot almost the whole thing (a miracle!), but then what Mary C. said happened - I didn't number them and like Gus-Gus' cheese in Cinderella - they got completely disorganized. But, if I were to use Scrivener like you mentioned in your article, I could avoid that problem (lots of real index cards do NOT travel well).

    A few questions for Terri (Or anyone):

    1.) How can you get passed your habit of bouncing your ideas and scenes off of trusted friends?

    2.) Do you always keep the index card/scene idea general to keep pace? Even if you randomly get a really detailed scene in your head? Or do you jot down that detailed scene and file it?

    3.) How do you handle character names - do you put one in and then change it as the plot develops (if needed)?

    4.) Do you ever start a story with nothing but a scene - no plot, no plot arc, just an exciting scene?

    I've read half the comments - I'll come back and finish in my next block of free time. Thank you guys for all the encouragement. As this is my first #speedbo - I"m really enjoying it - I'm using it to build my writing habit/time. So far so good! =) I started with 10m a day and now I am up to 20m without missing a single day this week. (I started at the end of last week). Talking with you guys and having the #speedbo pressure has been just the thing I needed.

    #TheBook: If I Run - it sounds so good. I'd love to read it! So count this as my entry please. :)

    p.s. I didn't mean to write so much. I was going for I just hope it makes sense. lol. Bottom line - Terri and Seekers - thank you. :)

  130. Thanks for the article Terri. I had to laugh— my wife, a huge fan of yours, came across this and made me read it. (Ostensibly because of the numerous 'starts' I have sitting around waiting to be finished.) I have tried the "first, fast draft" before, but I always get stuck on the details.
    Never heard of speedbo... But it sounds like a good challenge. I think I'll try this again.
    Steve C. Roberts