My Writing Process

Funny memes are hitting the writing groups lately. “How do you write?” they ask a writer. The writer creates a long, tedious response. The questioner asks, “That’s the end of the book?” But the answer is, “No. That’s just one sentence. Then I move to the next sentence.”

Another meme also compares writing to making a cake and tasting the flour and complaining that the cake tastes horrible. Some writers refer to the first draft of a novel as vomiting on the page. 

The truth is writing is unique in that the writer must both create the raw material by attempting to put his or her ideas into words onto a page as well as mold it into a work of beauty. Without the raw material, there is nothing to work on, to edit. That’s why perfection is so dangerous for any artist. To compare to sculptors, writers create the block of marble AND carve out David.

So while I finished the rough draft of my novel, the next part of the process is to create a work someone would want to read. It needs to marinate, and I need to distance myself from it so I can see it with a reader’s eyes and not my writer’s eyes. The story is on the page. In February, I’ll read through my story and figure out where it really begins compared to where I started to write. I knew when I started that they were not the same words or even pages. I’ll make sure my story makes sense, figure out what scenes slow the pace or don’t add to the story, figure out where I need to add scenes, if I need to, and I’ll consider re-ordering them as well. I’ll also decide if my beginning and ending satisfy. My first read-through will be all about the story.

The second time I read it, I’ll look to see if I need to add or subtract to the setting or details to the characters so the reader sees what I saw as I was writing. There’s a balance here too, because overwriting is as much of a problem as underwriting. Think of the difference between a movie and the book. Movies usually do not match up with our expectations after reading a book because each of our imaginations are unique and creative. Readers don’t need all the details because they can create them themselves. It can be a fine line for writers because readers don’t need spoon-fed.

The third time I read my story, I’ll probably try to make all my characters consistent, and make sure I have their names and descriptions consistent across the entire work. This will be important because I have three or four characters named Richard. They were all Richards in real life, but that’s way too many Richards in a novel. I started to switch one of their names to Timothy, but I know at one point he came back into the storyline, but I forgot I had changed his name. Oops. 

The fourth and fifth times, I’ll go over the writing sentence by sentence, line by line, scene by scene, clarifying, beautifying my writing. I’ve always loved editing because making good writing sparkle is a lot of fun. Trying to figure out what to say? Not so much.

After that, I’ll go after spelling, grammar, typos.  Finally, after that, I’ll be ready to send it to my alpha readers for feedback, as well as my mom and sister, just because they are my mom and sister. Alpha readers are people in the writing industry who understand process, structure and storytelling. After I get their feedback, I’ll start looking for beta readers. Beta readers are people who love to read and will read my novel to tell me what works and doesn’t work for them them. I’ve beta read three young adult and middle grade novels now and have really enjoyed it. I hope others will enjoy beta reading mine. 

My goal is to complete process to the alpha readers by June so I can query agents at the DFW Writing Conference. I also am planning to start the second book in my trilogy in February and have it ready for the editing process by September. Goals, goals, goals. My ultimate goal is to have at least two of the three book published by summer 2024 so they are ready to go for 200th anniversary of the events I’m writing about.

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