One of the things I get asked most often is what my writing process is like. How do I work? How do I outline? How do I order my thoughts?
Friend, it goes about like this :
I’m on my fourth novel now. I’ve written so much in the past five or so years that I fear my head will explode at some point. You’d think I have the way of doing it down by now, but you would be wrong.
Don’t misunderstand, I’ve tried. I’ve researched the writing process, talked to other writers about it, attempted to try some of the recommended methods to write. There are even diagrams on the internet showing how the writing process should go, like this one.
In four novels, I haven’t been able to follow a process like the above one once.
This is a more accurate depiction of what my process looks like.
My first novel was a learning curve. It was rewritten so many times that I personally lost count after seven. I still find drafts of it like sprinkled glitter in my hard drive. No matter how I try, I can’t get rid of them all. I lost faith at some point. Then we went on vacation to the UK and Europe, and when we were back home, I started to write again, inspired and ready to make it work. By that time, the story just flowed out of me. I knew exactly what had to happen, because I’d written the thing so many times. Without having to think about it too much, I changed what needed to be changed and cut what needed to be cut. The writing process felt natural for the first time.
The second novel was a whole other ball game. I didn’t have any idea what to put in the book. As in, at all. It took some brainstorming sessions and help from friends and family to gather ideas. These were written down and then put in order as they would happen. I followed that plan religiously and wrote the novel exactly as the notes said. This second book involved choreographed battle scenes and troop movements, which was a first for me, so those had to be planned out with diagrams. On the whole, much more detailed planning went into book 2.
The third one? Eh. I knew what happened in the end. I fell into writing completely blind and wrote what I felt in the moment. I did have a diagram for the final battle, sure. The final battle just didn’t end up happening like the diagram suggested. 😀 The diagram did make for some fun conversations with friends and family though. People would stare at it (because it was openly on my living room wall) and look for the names of their favourite characters, just to see if they made it that far. I started using code to confuse people. Yup. I’m a terrible person.
The inspiration for The Physician’s Apprentice hit me in the time I was writing The Queen’s Fury. I did do some planning initially. In fact, at the time it was the most planning I’d done for any book. When the writing process started though, the plan fell through. Like with TQF, I wrote what felt right in the moment.
The amount of planning I did before the rewrite is vast. I’ve delved into details I never imagined I would, but I love building this world and its lore so much that I won’t stop refining it even when the book is done. Still, the detailed plan for how the rewrite would go and the new story lines and characters? I haven’t been following it for the most part.
What often happens is that I’ll write the scene as planned, then realise it isn’t working, because… The character is acting out of, well, character. The scene is too dramatic or too ‘white room’. The dialogue is unnatural. The plan leaves a gaping hole I hadn’t considered. Or *insert reason here*.
All of the prattling above might explain the number of times you read the word ‘rewrite’ in this post. Maybe more planning would make for less fixing stuff, but sticking to rigid plans would remove some of the best scenes from the book. It’s a toss up and a gamble.
I’m still learning. I’ll find a groove one day, or I won’t. We’ll see. The point is, I have no set way to do this, I just kind of blunder into it. And all the editors in the world just cringed. 😛
Do you have a process? Share, please! Your wisdom might help me too.
Have a good one, folks!