Sunday, July 31, 2011

Writing Process

Do you know your writing process?
This is how you write the story, revise it and get it ready for submission.
There are many ways to go about this--I know writers that are pantsers, sit down and write the rough draft beginning to end with only the barest of details.
There are writers who plot, plot, plot, have color coded index cards and detailed character sheets before they even start writing.
Some have a loose outline, and write only the scenes that come to mind.
I'm a mix, I have to have an idea of where I am going. I must really know my characters. Just as importantly, since I write urban fantasy, I have to get the world and the rules set up for it first.
Here is the kicker, I don't know of one writer that doesn't revise. There are a few out there, but I don't know them or they aren't saying. This is one of the most important parts of the process. This is where you dig deep, get that description, pull out the fresh writing, find out more about the characters.
The final part of the process is editing--for unpublished writers this is crucial. Many a manuscript has been over looked due to grammar errors (I really struggle with that) and other basic problems.
What is your process? Do you plot and then write it quickly? Do you take forever to write (that's me)? Do you need lots of brainstorming? How many times do you revise (this varies)? The trick is to KNOW your process so you can work within those confines to improve your writing.
If you're like me, its ever evolving. But, tell me your process, because I'd be interested to know.

18 comments:

Christine said...

My process is evolving. I know I need some tent poles standing for my plot. I know the beginning, the ending and a few scenes. I figure out my characters (I think I do then they pull something out that surprises me). I write a discovery draft, which usually means editing out scenes I thought were necessary. Then I write the first draft beginning to end. Then I revise. More than once. Tho' I'd like to cut some of that out, I don't think it is possible. It's how I write. I can't change this. I enjoy breaking apart my book and restacking the pages, adding scenes, deepening character and setting.

Copy edits and tweaks are always last. Always. But I have learned to write a cleaner first draft just to make the revisions easier to see.

Heather said...

My process is a work in progress. For my first manuscript (an urban fantasy) I tried to world build first - come up with the rules of the world, the mythology, etc. After that, I worked on my characters - who was my protagonist, antagonist, etc. The plot grew from the characters and world (don't get me wrong - I knew there would be a murder that someone would need to solve, and I knew who the killer was and what his/her motive was).

I wrote for a set time each day. When I got to my last 30 minutes, I did a short sketch/outline using the GMC model of what I wanted to happen in the next scene (to serve as a writing prompt when I returned to my laptop). The next day I would read the most recently completed scene to get back in the world then pick up my writing. W

hen I finally got to the glorious end, I set the manuscript aside and started the process over on something entirely different (a political thriller). I wanted to give my mind a chance to move away from the world I'd created so that I when I began revising, it would be with fresh eyes. About a month later, I put the thriller aside and began revising the first book. After that round of revisions (took about 2 weeks), I set it aside and returned to the thriller. Then the second round of revisions occurred.

The problem I'm finding is that my revisions are more akin to massive home renovations - each pass reveals another problem I'd overlooked before that requires major work.

Sigh, such is life.

Lisa Dunick said...

I'm not sure I have a process. When I write, I tend to write--long stretches, lots of pages. And when I revise, I tend to do the same. I don't like pulling myself out of the work if I don't have to.
But the lead up to the writing? That's a lot of research, world building notes, and planning. When I sit down to write, finally, I tend to know where I'm going.

Suzanne Johnson said...

I have developed a process I call "the woven plot arc." It's a ten-step process that leaves me with a good outline from which to write. Not so detailed that it stifles the muse, but detailed enough that it keeps me from wandering off-course. It gets updated at the end of every chapter as I write, reflecting unexpected turns my characters take, so it's a living, evolving outline. At the end, with a few tweaks, it becomes a synopsis and also provides me a ready-made back cover or query blurb. Starting tomorrow I'm teaching this technique for the first time in an online workshop...so I'll see if it can work for anyone else!

Chris Bailey said...

My process is processing toward a process. What it so far appears that I do is to start with a rough outline and some character sketches. And then some dialogue pops into my head, and I write it down. Then I figure out where the characters are, and what the action is, while dialogue takes place. And then I check what I have with a little Dwight Swain, Goal -Conflict-Disaster-Reaction-Dilemma-Decision.

I think it's a lot like Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Carla Swafford said...

I write, write, and write, revising along the way, until I reach the middle. Then I breakdown what I've written so far. Dividing it per SAVE THE CAT process while keeping THE HERO'S JOURNEY in mind. See if I need to add (usually add, rarely substract) more.

That's when I decide if I need to go back and change part of the plot or the action. I jot down notes of where I want to go with the story and then I write, write, surprise myself, and write more.

M.V.Freeman said...

Christine,
I really like that you do the discovery draft-it gives you a feel for the story. I think that is an interesting and neat idea.

As for copy edits and tweaks...I don't think they ever end...lol

M.V.Freeman said...

Heather,
See, I did it all backwards...the book I am on now I wrote the history and sketched out the world halfway through. I was an idiot.

Anyway, I've managed to overcome that and am moving on. I like that you can push yourself.

The idea of putting the book aside and then revising is great! I admire that you can start on something completely different. Very cool.

My revisions take forever....but that's another story. :) And they are home renovations or demolitions.

M.V.Freeman said...

Lisa,
I think the key is you do lots of research and you know what you are going to write when you sit down.

Sometimes I don't and I think I need to work on that.

How long of a stretch do you usually write?

M.V.Freeman said...

Suzanne,
That sounds so cool. I really like that. Let me know how that workshop goes and I might take it for my next book!

An every changing out line sounds fantastic. I like that idea. A lot.

M.V.Freeman said...

Chris,
I laughed at the "Lather,rinse, repeat". I think you are so right about that.

I get dialogue but I tend to see the lay out of the scene first. It's like a paint a picture, than go in. Sadly,it usually involves deleteing words and then adding more dialogue.

M.V.Freeman said...

Carla,
It sounds like you are a true pantser...

I like that too. I really think jotting down notes is an excellent way to keep moving forward.

Especially, the writing, writing, writing! :D

Lisa Dunick said...

For the book that's on submission right now I'd write from about 9-2 and then later at night. I pumped out about 75k of the words in 1 month, but I already mostly knew what I was going to write. It was just a matter of getting it on paper.

M.V.Freeman said...

Lisa,
When I get a chance, I'm going to ask you more about how you prepare, because I really want to push this next one. I am NOT going to take as much time as I did with this last one...

Lexi said...

Wait, there's supposed to be a process? I'm a plotser, a pantser with plotter envy. I figure out who my H & H are, their names, hair color, etc., and a vague story line (woman murdered and Heroine is suspect) and start writing. At some point, I sit down and make a list of plot points (moving statue, white stag from another dimension) and try to squeeze them all in.

M.V.Freeman said...

Lexi,
I have to admit, I'm pretty danged impressed! You are awesome...

Ok, now does this apply to the overall arc of say..three books? Or do you wing it? (Which I confess I highly admire. ) :)

Lexi said...

Mary, don't be impressed yet. Time will tell if my system, or lack thereof, works! After I finished Demon Hunting in Dixie, I came up with loose plot ideas for several more books in the series, but things kind of grow as I go. I had no idea, for instance, until the second book that the mineral properties of the crater in Hannah are what draw supernatural creatures to the town. So, although I have an idea how I want to end the series, I do not, by any means, have all the kinks worked out. Amazing? Not at all. I'd like to be more of a plotter!

Cari Hislop said...

As a pantser I sometimes get the rare mental snapshot of the story before it unfolds, but usually I have no idea what will happen. I trust the story knows how it's going to unfold, so once I know the hero and heroine I let them tell the story. I think of my writing process like painting with water colours. Working from light to dark I start writing not knowing what the heck is going to happen and then every so often go back to the start and read through what I've written making changes and then carry on farther into the story and then go back to the beginning and work through it all again adding/deleting. I usually find once I get to the end of the story, it's usually done because I've been revising and editing the whole time.