My Writing Process
1. Rough Draft
Usually I use NaNoWriMo to get this draft down, though in grade school I used a notebook for the same effect. For the rough draft, you are not allowed to stop and edit. You have to churn out a certain number of words a day, and it's not going to be pretty. It's a mess that you cringe to think of anybody ever looking at. It might even include passages like these (from a yet untitled novel about griffins):
Tyra rolled her eyes. “What about the other women in the vale?”
Since I am not allowed to edit, I sometimes go back and add a line explaining the changes that I'd like to make. Occasionally I include several paragraphs brainstorming how this section ought to go, or outlining what I think should come in the next couple sections. The rough draft has no chapters, but I do have heading titles to help me find the sections quickly.
Again, the rough draft is for nobody's eyes but mine. If you're working on NaNoWriMo, congratulations! You've got a start! But please please please do not assume that you have a full publishable story on your hands. Yes, amazon will publish it for nothing, but it gives indie authors a bad name.
Ahem, coming off the soapbox...
2. First Draft
This draft takes the longest, often several months. I start by listing out every scene in the novel with a few key words. For example, here's the first chapter of The Spectra Uprooted:
I move these clips around into chapters and add in a few lines for scenes that I think ought to be added. My goal is to have the story build to a climax in each chapter, with all of the scenes in that chapter adding up to it. Once I've got this guideline, I fill out the scenes that I've described that still need added. Also, because I'm slightly OCD about page numbers, I keep track of chapter length on an excel sheet, which I've already described. I also make the changes that I noted during the rough draft.