After a lot of requests from aspiring authors to divulge her writing process, my good buddy and agency sistah Tawna Fenske (whom you may remember from my interview here) came up with the idea to have some of us share ours as well, just to illustrate how different the processes can be.
So these fine writers--
Tawna Fenske (romantic comedy)
Sean Ferrell (literary fiction)
Cynthia Reese (southern romance/inspirational romance)
Nelsa Roberto (young adult)
Kiersten White (young adult)
--are also blogging today about the way they produce a book. Click on any of their names to check out how they weave their magic.
Take all of our methods for what they're worth...and then figure out what works best for you. :)
If I actually have anything organized enough to be called a "process," I suppose I would label it:
Because when creativity strikes, it is a rather chaotic process for me. When an idea bubbles up** I chase it around my head for a while.
I purposefully do not write it down, because I figure if the idea isn't compelling enough to stick with me in this embryonic phase, it's not worth the paper and ink. Or the hard drive space. (Yes, I have lost ideas this way. Would they have made good books? Huh. Guess I'll never know.)
If after a week or two the idea just won't go away, if characters appear, spinning micro-fantasies in my head at odd hours of the day and night, then I start to write.
At the beginning.
Chapter 1, page 1. Just as if I were reading instead of writing. In fact, that's how I like to think of my writing--as interactive reading. It's more fun that way.
And then I continue until I reach the end. Linear Linda, that's me.
See, I'm a "pantser." A writer who doesn't outline. Sure, I have a vague, big-picture idea of what's going to happen, but the details remain obscure until I reach them. I want them to surprise me.
(I tried to outline a book once. Very precise, very organized. As soon as I knew for sure what was going to happen, I got bored with it and quit. Which was a pretty good indication the method wasn't for me.)
Of course, sometimes the surprises I run across with my process mean I have to go back and tweak the earlier chapters, but that's okay. Tweakage is fun.
Working this way also means it's tough for me to achieve a consistent output. My daily word count varies from -5000 (a personal best for hacking out stuff that just wasn't going to fit) to +3500 or so. Mostly it hovers between one and two thousand. Not blazing fast, but it'll get the job done.
Since I tweak as I go, as soon as I finish the "first" draft I'm pretty much ready to send it off to my fantastic critique partners and beta readers. They may have had a small taste of it along the way, but mostly I'd rather they read it whole, so they can give me an overall impression of the book as a complete entity before they start pouncing on what tends to be a prodigious number of typos. (Those beasties multiply in cyberspace, I swear.)
I take whatever they tell me to heart. They are that good. Now, I don't necessarily follow all their suggestions--for one thing, these amazingly brilliant women don't always *gasp* agree, so that would be impossible--but I give them all serious consideration.
After incorporating whatever changes I've decided will work, I do one last run to make sure no inconsistencies have been introduced. If they have, I fix 'em.
Voila! A book is born, and is ready to be kicked out of the nest into the hands of my totally wonderful agent, Michelle Wolfson. (Be sure to follow her on Twitter--@WolfsonLiterary--because her tweets are a hoot.)
That's it. Basically, writing a book is simple. But not easy.
Best of luck with yours. :)
*"Creativity Happening Again, Oh Snap!" (What? You thought I was going to use a different S-word, didn't you? Well, I can be polite. Sometimes. So there.)
**I actually get all my ideas from the Book Ideas-R-Us online division, but since I write paranormal mysteries I wanted to sound more...um, mysterious.