The writing process is a funny thing. As far as I know, every author has a different one, and mine has changed on more than one occasion. With that in mind, I thought it might be interesting to go over my current writing process. At the moment, there are usually around 12 steps that I go through:
1. The Idea
Every story starts with an idea. Sometimes it’s a dream, sometimes a question, sometimes I spend a bit too much time daydreaming and end up with a very fleshed out story. (Well, for a daydream, anyway.) But there’s always something that sets of an idea, and that’s where the process begins.
2. The Plot
The next step is to come up with a rough plot, usually just for the main story. I want to know the main story points, and the main challenge in the story.
3. The Music
This has absolutely nothing to do with writing a novel. It’s just this weird quirk that I have. For every story, there is a playlist of music that I associate with that story. Usually these are songs that make me think about a particular event. For some reason, this seems to help me move the planning process along. While I’m working out what order to put the songs in, I’m also working out which order the plot points need to happen. It’s a fun way to go deeper into that rough plot created in step 2.
4. The Characters
This, for me, is the most important part. Of course, there are many different arguments on the most important part of a story, but I want to bring my characters to life. That means knowing everything about them. I know things that may well never make it into my books. Mikayla loves chocolate-mint ice cream. Samuel came into his psychic powers when he fell out of a tree as a child. Michael’s father left him and his mother when Michael was 9. None of these facts have any importance to the story, but they help make a character. Of course, this means that this takes a long time. I don’t just do this for the prominent characters in the story, either. The minor characters all have a full background and personality as well. If a character is named, I have a profile on them.
5. The World
Another very important part of planning any story. I must know the world we’re in. How is it different to the one we live in? What is the mythology, the legends, the stories of how that world came to be? How was it created? These things are important to any story, fantasy or otherwise.
6. The Plot Part II
Returning to the Plot, we now have a much better idea of who the characters are and how they are likely to deal with the situations I put them in. This is also where I go through and write every plot point, from every plot and sub-plot in the story. All of these things written on paper helps the story be more organised, and helps eliminate the potential for writers block. It’s a lot easier to write if I know what’s going to happen, after all. (Though I must say, when writing stories, I have written some scenes that I didn’t expect to write until I was actually typing out the words.
Finally, the actual writing bit! Time to put all that planning into action.
After finishing a manuscript, I like to forget about it for a couple of weeks. Then I can come back to it with fresh eyes and work out what works and what needs to be changed.
Usually, after that self-edit, I decide a bunch of things need to change. Hence begins the re-write of the manuscript. The second time around is generally much better.
Bring in the other people! At this point, it’s time for a few trusted people to go through my book and edit or beta-read. The whole point is to make sure that there are no typos and that the story makes sense to people other than myself.
By now I’ve got feedback from others, so it’s time to go through again with their feedback in mind and change everything to suit. If all is well, we know have a pretty decent manuscript hanging about.
Finally! The book is finished, now we need to worry about the fun stuff. Now, I’m kind of including all elements of publishing in one step here, but there is a lot to it. From cover design to layout to the final product, there’s a lot of work involved. The writing, however, is finally complete, and it’s time for a well earned rest.
There you go. This is the process as it stands today, but I suspect it may well change in the future. So the all important question – where am I now?
At the moment, I’m well into step 3, but characters take a long time. Because of that, I’m kinda jumping a bit between the characters, the world. and the plot. As the characters come together, so does the plot. After all, it’s their personalities that make the way they react to events. Likewise, the world changes the characters. What they’ve been through in the past is going to change them. Right now, through, I’m really looking forward to getting to part 7. That’s where things get really interesting.