Monday, February 18, 2013

The Magic Wakes Blog Tour Day 14 and The Process


Day 14 Stops:

Livia Peterson--How the Online Writing Community Helped Me Get Published
Marcy--Author Interview


Also, due to health issues one of the posts from the mini blog hop on February 15th didn't go up. I'm posting it here for you today and wishing my host all the best for what she's dealing with at this time.

Welcome to number 3 of the Top 5 Things I Wished I Knew Before I Started Writing. 

This is part of the Mini Blog Hop for The Magic Wakes blog tour, and came about from a discussion the author had with a group of teen writers. The blog chain starts HERE.

3. The Process

So how do you actually go about writing a book? First off, this is going to be different for every single person that tries, but there are some steps that I feel are critical to good writing. The following steps can be mixed up to some degree, as well as tweaked in how you execute them, in order to fit your needs and style. Isn’t that wonderful!

In fact, I think I do them slightly different with each story.

Research

This could be as simple as sitting at the park listening to people talk, or as complex as taking a class on physics to make sure you "get it". Whatever degree you research, you can’t completely skip this step. Why? Because if you make something up to fill in a blank and it’s totally unrealistic, someone will notice. That’s when you get those reviews that talk about the characters or situation being “unbelievable”.

Write the book (pantsing/plotting/mix)

Most of you know what that means, but for any new writers out there let me explain. Pantsing is when you sit down with no plan (or very little) and start writing. You discover who your characters are as well as the plot as they unfold. Plotting is when you sit down and plan out every detail you can before writing. You know what your character looks like, sounds like, and their complete history. You know where they are, how they got there, and where you need them to end up at the end of the book.

Personally, I’m a mix of the two. I started out straight pantser, but have now learned to plot to a certain level. Plotting makes my writing happen faster and cleaner, while pantsing keeps the mystery alive for me so that I want to continue.

Now, when it comes to writing just do it. Even if it’s scribbling in a notebook while you sit in the doctor’s office or waiting in car pool line (I did this a lot!). It would be great if you could have an hour or two to devote to your craft, but we know how hard that is to come by. Be ready to make sacrifices to get the time you need for writing (see the post on Time).

Let it sit

This is such a crucial step in the process, and perhaps a hard one to learn. After you get that draft written, put it away and work on something else for a while. Or just read. Do something, anything else, and forget about your book. I usually wait at least a month, sometimes up to a year depending on how many other projects I have going.

When you come back to the manuscript you will be able to look at it with fresh eyes and see what’s good and what needs to be tossed out. Sometimes the only thing worth keeping is the character’s name. Eh, it happens to all of us. The point is, every bit of writing you do is practice for the one that will make it to the shelves, and the next one…

The BIG Picture

If that story is worth keeping, you need to read through looking for flow and plot holes, character consistency and believability. Sometimes this is where I start taking notes and building an outline so I can see what’s going on at a glance. Plotters would already have this and be one step ahead of the game. I’m just sayin’.

During this read through make notes on problem areas that don’t feel plausible or dropped threads.

Revise

Using those notes, cut and add scenes as needed to make the story make sense and move smoothly from each plot point. A plot point is a significant event within a story that digs into the action and spins it around in another direction. It can also be an object of significant importance, around which the plot revolves. It can be anything from an event to an item to the discovery of a character or motive.

Don’t worry about mechanics at this time, but if you can catch any grammar issues fix them as you go.

Let it sit (again)

You may want to find someone to read your story at this point. Someone you can trust to be honest and help you find the rough spots. You can then revise if there are a lot of large issues, or combine it with the next step.

Zooming In

Look at each chapter and scene individually. Do they have a purpose? Do they move the story forward or increase the tension? If you could take the scene out and the plot not be affected—then you should take it out.

Revise Again

If you haven’t found good critique partners and/or beta readers, do this now. I received this valuable bit of advice in one of my nicer rejection letters: get more eyes on your story. They liked the concept and the direction I was headed, but I wasn’t there yet. However they knew that a good critique partnership would help my writing and my story improve.

Let it sit

Revise

Looking for the following: passive voice, believable dialogue, excessive adj/adv usage, show vs tell. In the beginning I did each of these in a separate revising session, but now I'm automatically checking for these things from the beginning. Doesn't mean I catch all of them, but I'm more aware now that I have a few years under my belt.

This revision can be part of the critiquing session with other writers.

Write a Query and send it out, catch and agent/publisher and start selling books! This is a post all in itself.

Q4U: Are there any steps or special things you do during your writing process?

I have to have good lighting and quiet to get my writing done. Many times I can’t sit for long so I also do sporadic cleaning during my more “fidgety” sessions. Weird, I know.

Other Blog Hop Stops:
Alex Cavanaugh--Intro to Blog Hop
Cally Jackson--Time
Elizabeth Poole--Publishing Options
Me--The Process
Mason Canyon--Critique Partners
Katy Sozaeva--Platform Building
Katy Sozaeva--Book Review (separate link from above)

7 comments:

  1. I don't do the let it sit step for very long, but that's because by the time I finish, I've forgotten the beginning.

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    Replies
    1. LOL, then I guess that's as good as letting it sit. Thanks for always stopping by Alex!

      Delete
  2. I don't think I revise enough, but I'm still figuring out what my process is. For me, it's really hard to let it sit, so I usually write another story while letting it sit. Otherwise, I'll be revising before a week has passed.

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    Replies
    1. Great plan Rena! Working on a different project helps you walk away for a while and keeps your brain moving forward.

      And I think my process is always in flux when it comes to the details. It's good, it means we're learning, growing, and still alive.

      Delete
  3. I pants in-between plot points and it seems to work out. So essentially...I plot things out a lot, but sometimes, I have to pants.

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    Replies
    1. I think this method works well. Since you know your major plot point you have a direction to work toward, and yet the characters have a bit of freedom as to how they get there.

      Delete
  4. Charity, I do the same thing with the fidgettiness, those it's not always necessarily cleaning. I'll switch between writing and doing my homework or reading blogs or watching videos or just whatever I also need to get done at the time.

    My plotting/pantsing mix is similar to Michael's.

    Btw, Charity, I'm almost done on getting caught up on your blog. ^^ I just have to read from now until the first of February.

    ReplyDelete

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