Shallee McArthur is hosting the What’s your Writing Process Blogfest, and it is the perfect topic for Writing Wednesdays. She wants it on 18th Jan, so I’ll post it today and leave it up for tomorrow’s scheduled post!
I haven’t written a novel (yet), so all I can do is write about my short-story-writing process. If you can call that a process. Yes, the industry term for me is a pantser! But let’s try and describe this ‘process’ anyway:
1. I’m a big believer in prompts and free-writing. I free-write (nearly) everyday, and use prompts a lot. They can be words, sentences, pictures, writing exercises, a piece of music, whatever. Also, I write mostly by hand, use sketchpads as notebooks, and multi-colored pens.
I write based on these prompts and every once in a while, I like a turn of phrase, or a sentence, even. It has what I call, for lack of a better word, heartbeat, or energy. It says something true, maybe odd, or surprising. I take that sentence and use it as a prompt, and if the page or two I write from it have the same degree of energy, I decide I would take it further. Sometimes, this happens soon, and I have written story drafts within a day. Sometimes two such pages written at different points of time have come together. I never throw away anything I write.
Mostly, I know where the stories would end up, the climactic scene, or maybe even the last sentence. I basically struggle through the dark to get to this ending, no plotting involved. This is the time I’m really hard to live with, because I dream all the time, talk to my characters, sometimes live their lives in my head.
2. Once the first draft is ready, I forget about it for a month or two, and then go back to it.
This time, I check on the research I need to do, the gaping plot-holes scattered throughout, and attempt to do something about them. This is also the stage when I might decide to re-write the whole story, by changing POV, or dropping/adding characters, or beginning the story at a different point. I might summarize the scenes on index cards and slide them around to find the right beginning. This would be my second draft, and I shift to the laptop at this stage.
I will only go back to writing by hand if I feel I need to add a scene.
3. There can be as many as 25 drafts, and several complete re-writes. I usually share the 3rd or 4th draft with friends/editors whose opinions I trust, and later drafts try to include the review suggestions that come up during critique.
4. Once I have the story structure, dialogues, and characters where I want them, I edit the story sentence by sentence, trying to justify why each one is there. I also prune as many words as I possibly can.
5. I read the proofed story aloud, twice. More, if I feel like it. I add, take away words, punctuation, based on the sound of my reading.
I realize this is a very inefficient way of doing things. I know I will tweak it a lot in terms of plotting when I write a novel.
I also acknowledge that each writer has an individual writing process, which is open to change. Mine will change too, I don’t doubt that.
Now I’m off to visit the other entries, because I’m bound to learn a lot from them. Thanks, Shallee, for holding this blogfest, it is a brilliant idea!