Sometimes I wonder if I even have a writing process. Upon further thought, I realized…maybe I do? Each piece of writing, and each book for that matter, seems like it wants a different process. Here’s what’s working for me right now (it changes at the drop of a hat so don’t hold me to this).
Oh how I hated outlining in school. However, I think if I tried to write a novel without a plot outline I might never finish that book…which explains why I didn’t finish many previous stories. I tried loosely writing out all the scenes I knew I wanted to write out, but that still left a lot of holes that required a ton of work to fill.
Then I found a woman named Rachael Stephen who runs something called the Story Magic Academy. Rachael’s YouTube channel and her official course introduced me to the Plot Embryo. It has changed how I plan out the entirety of my novels.
Drafting has gotten easier as a result.
Get the whole story out on the page(s). No giving in to the internal editor to go back to fix the little things that pop up during the process. Follow the outline finished in the pre-writing. There’s a reason it seemed like it would work in the first place!
The hardest part of drafting is sitting down to write. Just like exercising, or really anything needing a routine, the hardest part is showing up. Most days, for me at least, once you’re on a roll you can keep going as long as you keep your plot outline and plan in mind.
I like to plot out my scenes as well. Something simple enough to keep things exciting. Writing out the Motive, Conflict, and Resolution for each scene or chapter has worked well for me.
I use Scrivener, which is a writing application that helps me break up and move things if need be. I love the program so much more than scrolling through a huge Word document.
This step is where I get a bit foggy in my process. I’m great at the initial creation, but terrible at the next step — fixing the thing. I’m pretty sure this is also a routine thing. But, I’m still learning and I’m still trying. Reading has been the first step.
Read through the whole finished story. This is advice I’ve heard so many times, so it must work. I read through my draft and make notes about things that I really need to remember (such as massive questions left unanswered), but I don’t start doing any editing to the writing.
I’ve found that reading through the draft gives a great idea of what plotlines weren’t as strong as I was looking for, what notes didn’t quite hit like I wanted, and where I completely forgot to put explanations when they were necessary. It let me read it from a newcomer’s eyes. Reading all the way through also shows me what works, which is honestly like a big exhale.
Then I make a list of what needs to be done for the plots. First and foremost, the plots must make sense. I can fix the words later, but the structure of the story must be strong for the words to rest securely. Like building a house without a strong foundation, it just won’t work.
Once I’m done with the plot fixes, I’ll start tackling the writing revisions. I’m not sure how that will go or even how long that will take.
Editing comes after revision. Revision is to fix structural and plot based problems. It’s about the creation. Editing is to polish.
I am not at all at the Editing phase. I would love to get there this year. I’ve already done the hard part of getting the words on the page. Now, I’m fixing things to make it the best it can be.
If any of you are writers, do you have a process that suits you? Have you tried something different lately that’s worked well? Do think each book needs a different process?