Tuesday, April 6, 2021

My Writing Process (2021)


My Writing Process

 I've probably written about my writing process before, but it's an ever evolving, ever refining thing. Right now, I'd like to describe the stages that a story goes through before I publish it.

This is the system I use. It works for me, and it's fast--I can publish at least a book a year, start to finish, with my method. But this is a very individual exercise, and everyone works a bit differently. You'll want to adapt what you learn and come up with your own.

Step 1: Daydream. This is where I do my "pantsing". I watch it in my head like a movie, and throw in whatever seems appealing. It's a mess, and that's fine. Most likely, I'll eventually tire of it, and the whole story moves to "the compost of my imagination". Ideas get recycled and reused in different forms. Eventually an actual story emerges, ready for the next step.

Step 2: Outline. I'll make a form with the basic story structure, which I've adapted from KM Weiland's blog. I'll fill in just a couple lines for each major beat. (Key moment, inciting incident, first plot point, first pinch point, etc.)

This is for a book I have yet to write, and it will change a lot before it's finished. That's perfectly fine.

Step 3: Rough draft. I usually do this for NaNoWriMo or in that style. I'll use the outline as a rough guide, so I know where I'm heading next, and then just get all those words out, unedited, unpolished. If I realize that an earlier part needs to change, I'll go up and make a note, right in the document. I may even stop and do some brainstorming (stream-of-conscious typing about the story) or write notes and suggestions to myself.

Step 4: First draft. I take the mess that is the rough draft, look at all the notes I've made, and turn it into something presentable. This is the stage that takes the longest. 

Being me, I'll also make all kinds of spreadsheets to help me keep track of where the story is and what needs to happen next. Here's the one from my DreamRovers series:

Step 5: Get feedback. Some of these steps will be going concurrently. I'll be submitting chapters for beta-readers before I've finished the whole first draft, for instance.  I have three main beta-readers right now, plus at least one stranger to my style/world, if I can find one. Reading out loud might happen anywhere in the process. It's great for catching plot holes as well as mistakes. My kids enjoy being my test audience. Both the beta-readers and my kids act as motivation to get that next chapter done on time.

Step 6: Polishing. This will include making changes that I've found, as well as incorporating advice from the feedback I've received. This will take several drafts.  

Step 7: Proofing. I'll make the cover and do the formatting, then order a copy of a physical proof from amazon. This will allow me to pick out mistakes and make changes that I wouldn't have noticed in another format, like a screen.

Step 8s and beyond: Publish! And market like crazy. But that's another topic... 

If you'd like to check out the finished results, you can find my books at www.thespectrabooks.com

I hope you find something useful here. Enjoy!

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