The process is not just about how we get from point A to point B (or C, D, E, or anywhere else). There are rituals that many writers observe. Music? Maybe. Lip balm? Definitely. Snacks? Probably. Work in pieces? Only if inspired to write dialogue/action for a later scene. Start at the beginning and write in a linear manner until the end? Yes. Outline? No.
My actual process of writing a novel is similar to Holly Lisle's One Pass Manuscript Revision.
I write a first draft. It doesn't always meet my word count expectations, and that isn't a problem. My revision process is about asking the questions Lisle covers, and more - slaying adverbs, rewording sentences that need to be, er, reworded, and ensuring that there is variety when it comes to descriptions and words that begin sentences. For example, it is very easy to get bogged down in always beginning a sentence with "I" or "my" when you write in first person. (Digression: it seems like every book I read lately is in first person, and I'm getting quite tired of it.)
At the moment, the first draft of Project Muffin Man is complete. Now, you might look at my word count widget on the side of this blog and say, "What? It says that you've only reached 55% of your desired word count."
That's true. The first draft was not quite 30,000 words, but it laid out the bare bones of the story. That's how I do it. Sometimes the first draft is "meatier" than others. It all depends on what's in my mind.
Now my second draft (aka revision of the first draft) is tackled on a daily basis with three goals in mind:
1. Revise one chapter per day over the next 30 days. That doesn't put a huge amount of pressure on me to finish quickly, though if I do reach my goals, I will have written this novel in a month and a half. Yes, I was and am quite inspired on this project. ;)
2. Add 1,000 words (or more) per chapter, per day.
3. Email to two betas (in addition to the one who is currently giving feedback on one chapter per day).
I already have notes from the alpha reader, and I keep them open as I work. The beta has given feedback on each chapter read, and I have incorporated that feedback. Hence, my goal is to have a polished manuscript no later than October 31 to send to two betas (one of whom has already volunteered to read; the other will probably be someone whose input I value greatly).
The ultimate goal is to have it query-ready by November 30.
I think some writers would be agog at the idea of writing a novel in a month and a half, and simply tweaking it here and there. Others probably would say, "Pssh. A month and a half is nothing!"
Writing is like many things in life: you have to do what works for you, whether it's an intense twice-a-week 5,000-word sprint, or a leisurely once-a-day 1,000 word stroll.
My desk: where Sweet Tarts are organized by color and eaten in order from least favorite flavor to most desirable flavor, adverbs are slain, bubble gum-flavored lip balm is a must, bits of seed and torn paper are scattered by my caique, and Hermes hopefully blesses my work. ;)
Copyright (c) 2011 Wendy L. Callahan