My Writing Process
Many people, both friends and family, asks numerous questions about my writing process. They can include questions such as, 'how do you plan an entire novel' or, 'how many steps does it take to finish the book'. All of these questions have answers that they don't expect. I have a writing process that I believed is normal but apparently isn't.
Considering that I'm an author, let me start with explaining how I plan out an entire novel. The simple answer is, I don't. You see, there are two types of writers which are 'plotters' and 'pantsers'. Plotters are writers that plan out every detail of their story. You may see them creating an outline before writing their first draft. On the other hand, pantsers will make things up as they go along. This is as if they're writing by the seam of their pants, hence why they're referred to as 'pantsers'.
For the most part, I'm a pantser. I always give myself a general idea of what the novel is going to be about, how it starts, how it ends, but that's the most amount of plotting I'll ever do. Pretty much everything in my first draft is made up as I go along. I see my first draft as a way for me to get all my thoughts down while the revising and editing stages are what refines the story until it has a seamless, coherent, and tight plotline. Typically, in this stage, I don't worry about grammar or word usage. I just turn on orchestra music and start writing.
The next stage of creating my novel is a self-edit. During this time, I'll have a tab open for my first draft and another document open for a rewrite. I still like to keep my music playing, but instead of just writing to get my thoughts down, I'm rewriting the entire novel. I look at it with a more critical eye, deciding what scenes to keep and what scenes to cut. There are also times when I'll keep a scene but give small or drastic changes. I make sure to look out for various flaws in the story such as plot holes, inconsistent character development, and tension. These aren't the only things I look for, but they are a few of them. It's also important to note that 'real' editing is about refining the story by strengthening its plot. It's not just about grammar and spelling.
The next step is another self-edit. This will be my third draft, and I work on refining the story even more, but at this stage I also make sure to check for grammatical errors, spelling errors, and missed words. There are still a few changes to the plot but not as much as my first edit. By this point I have a strong grasp of the events that unfold throughout the novel and the development of each character.
The next step is to pass it on to a developmental editor. It's a common misconception that writers work alone when in reality we work with various editors, beta readers, ARC readers, and graphic designers. It usually takes about a month before the editor finishes, and sends me my manuscript with edits, comments, suggestions, and an editorial letter. From there, I change what needs to be changed while considering the comments and critique I was given. This usually means another rewrite but it's definitely worth it. Once that next draft is finished, I send it back and get another critique where I make more changes to the overall story. To me this first editor is very important because a technically well written novel doesn't make it entertaining, the plot and all its nuances is what does.
Beta readers are the next important step. Most people use them before the developmental editor, but I like to do it afterwards because at that point the heart of my story is finished, and they can give me feedback on the novel I envisioned. I use multiple beta readers and look for common trends in their feedback, and I use those trends to decide what changes I need to make next.
After all that editing is done, it's just grammar and spelling I have to worry about. I work with a line editor, copy editor, and proofreader. Then, the novel is complete and ready to be sent to ARC readers.