During the drafting stage of writing your book, it’s highly beneficial to talk through your ideas with someone familiar with your genre. This can be a bookworm friend, editor, or even a coach.
As writers, we often find ourselves working in a vacuum, stuck in our own heads. Once we’ve firmly planted ourselves inside our own brains (keep your hands, arms, and legs inside, folks), we become simultaneously too close to, and too far away from, the ideas we’re working on.
Self-isolating during the drafting process can make it difficult to judge what’s happening with our story, plot, and character arcs. Talking through your book can help you get things into perspective and course-correct if needed. A simple conversation about your draft can get your wheels turning, validate your working outline, and help you rework plot and character points that don’t serve the story.
Talking through your book is a lot like therapy. It might take you a little while to figure out what the problem is, but once you nail it, it’s full steam ahead.
Let’s look at a few more benefits of talking through your book while you’re drafting it.
Getting crystal clear on where the story is going
At any point in the drafting process, you have an idea you’re trying to form into a full book. It could be a set of bullet points, full outline, or even a partial or full draft. Talking can help you flesh out the critical points in your story so you can move through your draft without needing a ton of rewrites to the main framework.
Talking through your book will help you gain valuable perspective on where the story is going and whether the beats make sense and work within the overall book or series. Verbalizing your story direction allows you to “see” it from another angle. Getting feedback is great, but simply hearing yourself talk about your book can help you get outside your own head a bit.
Spotting plot holes or other potential problems
Talking about your book-in-progress gives you a chance to find and fix glaring errors with the plot points and character arcs. If you’ve got someone who can sit down with you and point out critical errors in your storytelling, you’ll be able to quickly identify and talk through solutions for those problems.
Discuss what’s going on with your characters and why. What are their motives? How do their choices drive their growth or transformation? How do their interactions affect the story?
Hash out emotional payoffs and reasons for your characters’ specific actions. Talk through whether their specific actions or decisions are necessary to drive the plot forward, and consider what you might need to cut.
Be prepared to receive constructive honesty throughout this process. These conversations are about strengthening your story, so don’t take it personally if you find that something’s not working.
By contrast, if you’re self-isolating to crank out your draft (we know it’s tempting), you might miss things that aren’t serving the story well. You might also end up self-sabotaging your process because deep down, you know something’s not working…you just don’t know what it is.
Exchanging ideas for story and character direction
Sometimes, we just need a sounding board–someone who is willing to let us bounce ideas around until we figure things out. Other times, we want suggestions, tips, and possibilities for our characters.
Beyond just swapping ideas, talking about our draft gives us a chance to geek out the ideas we’re excited about. For example, I did a plot call with Jolene for book two of my epic fantasy series, which I’m currently drafting.
At the time, I was feeling stuck and unmotivated, even though I had a thorough understanding of most everything that needs to happen in this book. Just spending an hour on the phone to talk about my ideas completely overhauled my view of the story, boosted my confidence, and got me excited to work on the manuscript again.
…And that brings us to the part about validation. We all need it. We all want it. So we might as well acknowledge it. (Yes, I want someone to tell me I’m awesome. I’ll admit it.)
Sometimes getting our ideas validated is all we need to get the extra boost we’re looking for during drafting. You might be doubting yourself now, but once you talk through your draft, you’ll find that you probably have the story a lot more under control than you realized.
Need to talk through your draft?
As authors, editors, and storytelling experts, Allie and Jo can help you navigate your story development and take it to the next level. We offer coaching calls, including our popular Author Mapping Call, to help you get clear on your story and where it’s headed. Get more info here.