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.
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!