Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Writing Process--Tell Me Yours & I'll Tell You Mine

I've been analyzing my writing process and I thought it might be fun to share it with you and see how it compares to your writing process.  (Yeah, I know, I think about weird things, but I'm a writer, what can I say?)

First, I get out my writer's notebook.  I write a sentence or two for each chapter as to what is going to happen in that chapter.  For example:

Chapter One:  We meet Rafe and he becomes a "hostage."  Gary the HT has a super-secret file and a bomb.

Chapter Two:  We meet Claire, the hostage negotiator.  Goes to try to defuse the situation.  Literally.

And so on I go.  Then I sit at my computer and pound out my rough draft.  Usually each chapter is about five pages long in the rough draft stage.  Very basic dialogue, sketchy setting, etc.

Once that's done, I go back and add layers.  It's funny to me how details for a scene will come to me, a bit of conversation to add, research on setting that appears in my mind's eye, just begging to be included.  Of course as I flesh out my characters, the process of layering comes faster.

When the layers are there, I go back and check for five things:

1.  Have I used the five senses?  Sight, smell, touch, hearing, taste?

2.  Does each scene further the story?

3.  Is my dialogue natural?

4.  Can I cut any fatty parts?

5.  Is there any passive voice?

Then I go over it one more time for flow (because I'm fanatical like that), print it out, and read it out loud.  (Honestly, there isn't any better way to find things that need editing).  Send it to beta readers.  Fix any problems they find, and finish with another edit for clarity and content.  Then give it to my critique group to tear apart.  Do a final edit and . . .

Poof!  Done.

Then on to my editor to start the publishing process.

So what's your writing process? How do you arrive at a finished product?


KaseyQ said...

My process rarely goes in order- pivot points, scenes, and dialogue come to me at random points during my day and I jot down notes. When I get a chance to write, I'll flesh out my notes into scenes or chapters. Then I go back and fill in the blanks to stitch it all together into something coherent, like a patchwork quilt. :-)

Randy said...

That is pretty similar to the way I put together a story. Start with an idea of what I need in each chapter and then fill them out.

Jordan McCollum said...

My process:

Plot outline, hitting ~15 major milestones.

A little background on characters, Goals/Motivations/Conflicts.


Fix things I changed along the way.

Read the entire thing and make notes to deepen characters, make sure every scene has a goal and tension, include emotions, etc.

Make changes. Send to betas.

Get notes. Make changes.

Print out for paper edits, checking for a weaving of action/body language, thoughts, dialogue, setting and pure emotion, responses in the right places, more emotion.

Bring to critique group.

Make changes. In the future, I may do this next phase before the above, but the next step is to REALLY DIG IN to make sure my writing is smooth and fresh. (I'm in this phase right now. Sometimes it's torture--like how many of the 18 times someone raises an eyebrow do I really need? How many can I write in a more engaging and fresh way? Is 8 furrowed brows too many for 275 pages? Is that too cliche/boring? etc.)

And I guess I might go through overused words like just, as, etc.

The end.

Jon Spell said...

It's interesting how the phrase "wail like a banshee" (which makes sense) has changed so that anything can be done "like a banshee" to mean wildly, out of control, over the top, etc., even though a banshee probably doesn't write or drive all that much in the every day supernatural world in which it exists.

I guess it gets the point across quicker than



Anonymous said...

My writing process is, well, without much process.

I sit down. I start writing. I have a vague idea of what will happen (I know my characters, as I've imagined them in my head) and then just let it go. I have a serial fiction series on my blog that is literally me sitting at the keyboard on Thursday morning and running with a suggestion from the audience.

It's fun. And scary.


Rebecca H. Jamison said...

I do about the same as you, but I don't really organize it by chapters at first. I just write down what's going to happen in what order. I do the layer thing too.

That's interesting you do beta readers before critique group. I do the opposite.

C. Michelle Jefferies said...

Once I get an idea I write as much about it as I know in my project notebook.

Then I usually let it sit again and stew, taking notes as needed.

Then I flesh out the major details, theme character arc story structure and add any more notes that come to me.

I write the first 10-20 pages freestyle to get the voice and feel but then turn to my notes to write the rest.

I used to freewrite between plot points but now I do like Julie and write one sentence for each scene or chapter and then write from there. This has saved me alot of time even if I spent a week on the chapter sentences.

One the rough draft is done I set it aside and after a month or so I go back and flesh it out. I do a setting sweep, and an add emotion, make sure the chapters flow into the others, technology and internal thought sweep. (haha you can see my weaknesses here.)

Then I do a plot and character arc sweep and a grammar edit. Finally I send it out to my group and CP and fix the problems and do another grammar edit on the new stuff. Then I do a read aloud if I haven't done it before and hopefully send it out.

Jordan I need to take notes from your routine.