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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.