Everyone has their own process. Some sit and throw words onto a paper until it’s finished. Some plot and outline until the book is written before it’s begun. I’m a mix.
Each book is different for me, which is both awesome and frustrating. I have to plot some. My stories are too complex not to. For example, in my first Cupolian book, I knew the ending would be XXX, and certain things would have to happen over time that I had to set up from the beginning. So I do have to plot. Planning of characters and such is a little different. With Cupola, I didn’t have to plan out characters for the most part because they were so passionate and bigger than life. They told me who they were. There were a few, like Avaline and the royal family, who I had to think on. “What are their desires. etc?” but that’s about it.
This new book/series, however is different. I had the original idea and then changed it. Like completely. A lot of that is because I need it to appeal to others. I wrote Cupola for ME. No one else. MEEEEEE!!!! I have a new series I will one day write, maybe, if I ever get the chance, that I will also write for me, but right now I’m writing for others. As in, I want a larger audience to like this book. I want this book to get picked up and do well in the traditional market, etc. I’m also writing it for a different audience. The style and voice, to me, is like it’s written by a different person. Maybe my readers will read it and go, “No. It’s you.” But it’s been very difficult for me because it is so different. But that’s a good thing. Stretching your abilities’ boundaries, practicing that which is difficult, improves your craft.
Now. Where was I? Oh yeah, my process.
So, I plotted until I had a basic plot. I can’t plot further than that. I have to write after that. Writing allows the characters to have faces, personalities, desires, etc. I rarely write the ending and sometimes not the beginning. On this book I had the beginning. It was the first scene that came to mind even before I changed the whole concept. It never changed. And it’s awesome 😉
But, after I get the rough draft finished, I take 7 days off. Sometimes it’s more, but that’s not on purpose. That’s just when life happens. Those 7 days allow me to come at it from a new light. So, my first edits usually add several thousand words to my piece. In other words, my rough draft is like an overly expanded outline that’s still missing a few things and out of order. It’s a big mess. From my understanding, most writers write a ton of what they don’t need and then cut it. I’m the opposite. I go back in and add the details. I also add the first/last chapters if they’re missing, completely flesh out the characters as far as their roles, needs, desires, etc, and make sure the plot flows and makes sense and such. This is why first edits take so long for me.
Second edits are like most people’s firsts, from what I can tell. Second edits are like, sentence structure, any missed inconsistencies, grammar and such. They’re made after the entire book is written and no longer an indecipherable mess. Second edits also transfer the piece from Scrivener to Word and make sure the chapter breaks are where they need to be. By now, I want a title and should be working on a blurb. I want that blurb by the end of second edits, its rough draft anyway.
Third edits are basically just grammar, typos, etc. I may have to add another round of edits in there if I feel it’s missing something or there’s a spot I just can’t work on anymore in a previous edit and I’m like, “Just skip it for now.” Then I have to go back and fix it. I usually print out third edits and do them on paper. I also catch any overused words or phrases by now, hopefully long before now.
Fourth edits are where I read the whole book aloud. Yes, the whole thing. At this point, my beta readers should have a copy. They can read while I read. I can easily do two chapters a day this way. Any more, and it usually starts to run together and make it to where I don’t do as well. After that, I’m done. If a beta tells me something I need to change, I’ll go over it and see what needs to be done, but then I’m done. I either publish it or query it. I’m going to query this next one.
There is a long list of things to do at that point, polishing the blurb, getting a cover if it’s self, making a list of agents to query, that sort of thing. But that’s another topic for another day.