How do I write? What is my illusive writing process that can sometimes take forever and befuddle the minds of those that hear about? Wonder about it? Probably not, but I am going to share anyway because I can.
My writing process breaks down into three stages. Writing, editing/buffing/filling out, and polishing. I like to refer to them as the skeleton, meat, and skin/polish stages. You’ll see why as I explain what I do in them.
Writing (the skeleton)
Pretty self-explanatory. I write out the basic story and dialogue. Dialogue is key here: I focus on writing the scenes, as in the spoken parts. The voices of my characters are very clear in my mind, and I have the scenes already mapped out, so writing out what is being said is very easy. I get the important parts of the scene outlined.
On chronology/writing in order: I write the ‘big’ scene/scenes first. Like the defining moments in the novel that the story is centered around. Those I try to write first. I’ll scrap them if they don’t fit after everything else is done, but the essence of them remains same. After I get those done, I work from the beginning to the end in order of the certain ‘thread.’ For example: in Harmonic Waves, Hequera is separate from the Trinity and the One, so I worked on hers in order, because I knew her arc, then I tweaked the total chapter order to make the best chapter transitions. So I go by arcs, sort of, in chronology with respect to themselves but not each other. There are a bunch of things happening concurrently, so I don’t even try to plan that detailed like Oh, while Hequera is doing this, Trinity and the One are there...Nah, I just go vaguely. Not to sound cavalier with it. I know when things happen in their order when it matters, but not the nuances.
This part takes the shortest. I’m pretty good at banging out sections. Relatively bare and dry sections, but they are there. There is the next stage for injecting life and fullness to it.
Editing (putting the meat on)
So after I finish writing the skeleton, or the base frame of the story, it begins the process of ‘creating the first’ draft or basically the ‘meat’ stage. Where I fill in the descriptions of the environment, add some more dialogue, elongate scenes, perhaps add a chapter or two, and make some major corrections.
After the first round, I then say I have a ‘first draft.’ This process can last many rounds, or complete runs through the novel. This is the most time consuming process, because I am looking at both macro and micro levels of the book. What does it need? And so on. Where to trim or add. What the point of it all is.
How to Stop Wildfire took like a dozen or so of these rounds or something in that range because I kept re-writing large chunks. Harmonic Waves was only like 1-3 rounds of this. I was actually really pleased with that. I don’t think Threads That Bind the Tempest is going to be as easy, but who knows. It really depends on the complexity of the book and how thought-out everything was when I went in initially.
This part gives me the most grief, but when it is done, not much else is needed to be done except for the fine edits, which brings us to the next section.
Polishing (applying the skin and making it pretty)
By far the most unexciting part of the entire writing process. This part is just going through the book and catching all typos and grammatical errors. I am my own editor. There are too many linguistic nuances and world-words to send it off to an uninitiated and unfamiliar editor, so I handle it myself. My English technical skills are pretty good; I have faith in myself to catch 95% of the problems. Even professionally edited and published books can have egregious errors. Doesn’t matter as long as it is readable and pleasant.
I’d say this part merely boils down to fine editing and minor last-minutes changes. The editing rounds vary depending on how sloppy I was during the other processes. 3 for sure: I like to make sure I fix as many mistakes as I can. The last round is usually the most nerve-racking. I always feel like I’m going to miss something particularly abhorrent.
Usually I don’t but….sometimes I do. That is why Amazon/Createspace’s ability to upload a new draft is glorious and amazing. So good.
At some point I call it quits on the editing. When I have soothed myself into calmness to publish it. Then everything is done! Woohoo.
So there you go. There is a look at my haphazard writing process that is a bit of a mess. Have you learned something? I hope not. Don’t try to emulate my process. Create your own and learn to deal with it. Be original in chaos. Gods, that sounds like something Cyclone would say.
I’m going to go shoe-horn that in somewhere.