The Actual Process of Novel-Writing (told with 10th Doctor gifs)

A lot goes into writing a novel.  Different authors do it different ways, and there’s no “right” method of bringing a book to life.  Today, I thought I’d just lay out the process that I go through to write and edit a novel, from first dream until finished product.  Also, I just finished re-watching seasons 1 through 4 of Doctor Who, so… here’s some David Tennant gifs for your eyeballs to enjoy.

1. The Dream

My novels usually begin with an idea.  I’ll be minding my own business doing something, and BANG!  Out of nowhere, a story idea shows up and is just like, “hello.  I’m your new novel.”

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My novels seem to start with characters.  Usually a character or two and a scene or two.  It’s a mad bunch of brainstorming and dreaming and going, “this is gonna be AMAZING.

 

2. The First Draft

Usually, there’s a bit of time between the FIRST IDEA and the First Draft.  I gather my strength.  I stockpile caffeine and twizzlers.  (Sometimes, I wait for November and a good old NaNoWriMo.)  Then I buckle down and write, pretty fast and messy and furious and rambly and incredibly fun.  It’s like, ALLONS-Y, THIS IS IT!  ROUGH DRAFT TIME!

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3. The Second Draft (Aka The Re-Writes)

After another break in time, I’ll buckle down and start on the Second Draft.  I being by reading through the entirety of my messy manuscript, making notes and trying to work out a plot.  Usually, I realize that I need to re-do about a third of the book.  I generally end up writing about five brand new chapters.  So I write new scenes and edit old ones, stitching together the narratives, brainstorming and trying to figure out how the plot points all fit together.

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4. The First Round of Edits

After another little break, I read over the entire novel, focusing on the Big Stuff.  Plot points, character arcs, and overall flow.  I change stuff around if I need to, and fix obvious issues.  Do I focus on sentence structure or passive voice or adverbs yet?  Nope.

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That all comes later.  The First Round of Edits is for BIG fixes only.

 

5. The Second Round of Edits

This edit is for the Smaller Stuff.  Usually I like to print out my manuscript at this point, as it’s a lot easier to see my flaws on paper than on the screen.  This is where I focus on using strong verbs, making sure my dialogue is tight, touching up the setting, and examining things on the paragraph and sentence level.

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6.  Getting Critiques/ Reviews/ Beta Readers

At some point, it’s time to get my work critiqued.  For my first novel, I actually got my first critiques a lot earlier (which I highly recommend for your first novel).  But now that I’m an “experienced writer,” this is when I start to let people read my work and get feedback on it.  So I SEND IT OUT!  BETA READERS!  CRITIQUE CIRCLE!  WRITER’S CLUB!  MY MOTHER!  MY BOOKISH FRIENDS!  RANDOMS STRANGERS ON THE STREET!  Everyone who will read it.  I get feedback.  Ask questions.  Take the helpful suggestions and leave the rest.

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7. Repeat Steps 5 & 6 Indefinitely, Until I Either Hate My Novel or I Get it Published.  Also, Move on and Write New Novels!

I keep editing and getting feedback until I’m ready for submitting to an agent.

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(And then realize I wasn’t actually ready, and work on it some more, and finally decide to move onto new writing projects instead.)  Also, the process of publishing is something entirely separate from the process of writing and editing a novel, so I’ll save that one for another blog post.

// I’d love to hear if your writing process resembles mine at all!  Also, who’s your favorite Doctor?  What do you think of the 13th being a female?  How’s your writing going?  Leave a comment and let me know!  Also feel free to check out the Guest Book and introduce yourself and leave a link back to your own blog. //

 

Just a Little

In the past four or five days, this is all the writing I’ve done:

Tuesday: 75 words

Wednesday: 73 words

Today: 315 words

These numbers might not look that impressive.  But each of those numbers represents a small victory for me.  None of those were days I wanted to write.  I felt uninspired, unsure, and a little annoyed.  Will this book ever end?  Will it ever be publishable?  Why am I even doing this?  Where is this plot going?

After writing another 75 words today, I was ready to close my laptop and call it quits for the day.  But I didn’t.  I decided to write one more sentence.  And then that spawned the idea for another sentence.  Three paragraphs later, I feel like I’ve finally written myself around the little wall of writer’s block that’s been in my way all week.  I got through the hard scene, and now I’m onto the exciting one.  Now I have a new idea to work with when I write tomorrow.

The longer I’m a writer, the more I’m learning that I need to push myself to work on my novel every day that I can.  And the more I do that, the easier it is to write.

So don’t stress if you can’t write 1,000 words every day.  Make yourself goals and try to stick to them.  For the next week, my goal is to write something on my novel every day.  It doesn’t have to be a ton, but I’m going to try to write consistently every day, even if it’s just a little.

Why I Blog

I’ve been a blogger for over two years now.  I have nearly 100 followers (love you guys!) and I’ve written 119 posts.  So I thought that now would be a good time to share the why behind this blog.

Here’s four things I love about this blog:

1. Getting to talk about writing

I don’t actually talk about writing with my friends that much.  It feels a bit personal, complicated, messy.  It’s just… not something I talk about with people that much.  And I don’t currently have any writer friends in “real life.”  So it’s fun to get to share things that I learn about writing with people who want to hear them.  It’s fun to get to shout to the world that I discovered how the heck to write setting, or what close POV really means. (Non-writers just don’t get it, do they?)

2. Instantly Rewarding

When I write a novel, I spend months or years writing and editing before anyone else reads it.  It’s a really long process, and while the writing itself is enough of a reward, it takes forever and a day before my writing is ready to be shared.

But with blogging, it’s so fun to see people enjoying my thoughts and words soon after they’re written.  I love posting something right before going to bed, and then waking up in the morning to an inbox full of emails saying “so-and-so liked your post.”  It’s wonderful to know that people are enjoying things I have to say.  It makes me feel like my voice matters.

3. Inspires me to keep writing

I’m not quite sure how this works, but keeping a writing blog motivates me to keep writing novels.  When I write blog posts, it’s a reminder to myself that I am a writer.  I have stories to tell.  I have a voice.  I have stories burning inside me.  Sometimes I’ll even write lil pep talks to myself in my blog posts, and that’s such a powerful thing to do.

4. Community

I can’t tell you how cool it is to find like-minded people who understand.  You folks know the joys and struggles of writing.  You know the pain of writer’s block and the joy of finishing a draft.  I love being connected to people who understand.  And when you beautiful folks comment on my blog posts and share your thoughts?  You give me hope and happiness.

So.  Thank you, readers.  Thank you, followers.  Thank you to the people who like and comment and share.  You help keep me motivated and positive.  You help me be a better writer.

That’s why I blog.  For you.

Artsy Stuff and Learning Curves

Hello lovely writers!  Today’s post includes fanart, a poorly-drawn graph, and some rambling about learning to be a writer.  Hope you enjoy!

Long before I was a writer, I was an artist.  (Not necessarily a good one lol.)  I’ve been making things since I was a really little kid.  I’ve been drawing horses and dogs for as long as I can remember, and I’ve taken art classes since I was in middle school.  I’ve always enjoyed the feeling of accomplishment when I finish something I’m proud of.  I’ve always enjoyed art for the escape it provides: when I’m working on a piece of art, the rest of the world is entirely gone.

I’ll sometimes still get out the ol’ pencil box and do some fanart or whatever.  (Some examples below because why not?)

And just recently, I picked up the guitar!  My brother has had a guitar just sitting in his closet for the past few years, and I earlier this summer, I had the sudden idea to ask to borrow it.  So for the past several weeks, I’ve been teaching myself guitar!  (This is why I love the internet, guys: YouTube tutorials, online tuners, free guitar chords, and pretty much anything else you need.)  And it’s been so much fun.  I love the learning curve that exists for when I first learn something new.  It seems like every day I practice, I learn something new.  I’m constantly making big strides; I’m growing exponentially.

For example, the first day of playing guitar I could barely play a few chords.  On the third day, I could play a simple song really slowly.  By day 5, my fingerstips no longer felt like I was slicing them open.  Within just a few weeks, I’ve learned how to use a capo, I can play chords in quick succession, and I’m able to pick up new chords really quickly.  I’m starting to learn strumming patterns and put everything together to play songs at regular tempo.

I fondly remember my early days of writing, when I’d just started out.  Every chapter I completed was uncharted territory; every blog post I read taught me something new.  I was like a sponge as I discovered found craft books and online blogs.  And then about halfway through my first novel, I found the website Critique Circle.  I used to get so excited when my chapters would come up for critique, because I was always learning.  New terms, new ideas, new things to think about.  Characters, tension, showing vs telling, passive vs active voice, dialogue, setting.  So much to learn about.  Writing was so exciting.  It was new and special and a bit scary.  It was also so exciting, because it was so easy to find resources that broadened my knowledge.

Sometimes, now, I find it difficult to be in love with writing.  I’ve grown so much as a writer.  I know so much more; I have a lot more experience; I know what I’m doing.  Not that I’m an expert or anything LOL – obviously I’m always learning and honing my craft.  I’m just… not a beginner anymore.  And because I’m no longer a beginner, I’m not learning new things about writing at the same rate as I was when I first started writing.  For reference, I’ve made this nifty graph:

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If you’re thinking that it looks like I made this graph if MS Paint, then you’re correct.  🙂

I’m at the point in my writing journey where the speed at which I’m learning has started to level off a bit.  So it’s easier to get discouraged, because I don’t see my skill improving at the same rate it used to be.

That’s why it was so refreshing for me to start learning guitar.  I’m still in the “beginner” phases, where I’m learning so quickly that it’s exciting and enticing.

So here’s a question for all you experienced writers: how do you keep perusing your dreams and your art when the learning gets slow?

I actually do want your answers (leave a comment below!) but I’d also like to add my own answer.  I do it by reminding myself how far I’ve come.  I don’t take for granted the things I’ve learned.  And I remind myself why I learned them.  I didn’t just learn about writing so I could keep all that knowledge in my head.  I learned about writing so I could be a better writer.  

And I’m in love with writing.  Not with being a writer, or knowing about writing, or being a published author, or anything else.  With the actual writing.  With taking an idea and making it come alive.  With editing a mess of a story into a coherent book.  With making magic happen with words and fingertips on keys.  That’s what I love.  The knowledge is just a tool to help me do that better.  So who cares about learning curves?  Let’s go write stories.

So apparently now I’m a PLOTTER?!? (And 5 reasons I’m okay with that)

Fellow friends, writers, bloggers, readers.  I regret to announce that this is the death of Ever-The-Pantser-Beth.  I am no longer a person who writes with no abandon and no outline.

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Just… take a look at this screenshot below.  You know what this is?  It’s an… an… *whispers* an outline for my WIP.  *GASP*

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So, yeah.  I’m now a plotter.  Well, sorta.  Here’s the thing about re-writes: it’s kinda important to have some idea where your story is going by the time you’re in the 2nd draft of a novel.  So, with this 2nd draft, I’m finally keeping an outline-type thing.  And I really like this format.  It’s just a Google doc.  (For the record, the document’s official title is “Dragon Story Brain Dump.”  Because I refuse to officially have an “outline” for my novel lol.)  Here’s some reasons why I’ve really been enjoying this method of “outlining.”

1. It’s so flexible.

And as I go through the story, I can add notes and questions and details.  Nothing is set in stone, because the outline is literally just bullet points and sub-points.  In the past, I’ve tried out Scrivener and other similar plotting software, and I found they were too much for me.  It took too long to organize my notes, so I felt like I lost time when I was trying to use them to plot my story.  (To be clear, lots of writers adore Scrivener and other programs.  But they’re not for everyone.)  A simple Google doc is easy to edit and re-arrange, and I can see my whole plot at once.  I can add in as much detail as I want to, and it doesn’t bog down the flow of the outline.

2. It’s not intimidating.

My lil Google doc with its silly name is inviting, simple, and streamlined.  It doesn’t feel like an official outline, so it doesn’t feel like it has to be perfect.  I can use abbreviations and question marks, and no one cares.  It’s fun to use, and it’s fun to see my plot coming together as I work through this draft of my WIP.

3. It’s not distracting.

Some of the nifty plotting softwares I’ve used, such as Scriviner and Scrapple, simply have too many features.  I get distracted by changing font colors and dotted lines and labeling everything correctly and it’s just too much.  My Google doc doesn’t have any bells and whistles.  It’s just a word-doc.  It serves its purpose perfectly, and I don’t get distracted by any extra features.  I have more time for writing and actually getting stuff done.

4. I can access it whenever.

Since it’s a Google doc, I can access it from anywhere I have internet.  I can also access it from my phone any time, so no matter where I am, I can grab my phone and jot down some ideas.  I love having my plot in my pocket everywhere I go.

5. Everything is in one place.

Along with a plot outline, this document is also the place where I’ve been keeping notes on my novel’s world, magic system, and magical creatures.  I also have sections for characters, potion recipes, and places that characters visit.  It’s just so nice to have EVERYTHING IN ONE PLACE.  It helps me avoid continuity errors, and it helps me easily find information.  (That way I’m not spending ten minutes searching through a chapter to find that one obscure spell that I forgot.)

ALRIGHTY, FOLKS.  I’m off to go write, with my nifty outline Google document to assist me.

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The Magic Hourglass: The Writer’s Quest

I don’t usually reblog posts, but this one really hit me, and I’ve been thinking about it all week. Definitely worth a read.

Lilaia Moreli - Words Are Sacred

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The glass has been shattered, and the sand has run out. So, fellow writers, hear me out. Stop looking for the bauble that will make time flow within your palm like a river. It doesn’t exist. It never has.

”How do I find time for my writing?” people ask. ”You don’t find it,” I reply. ”You make it, for nobody will give it to you.” Not the most satisfactory answer, I suppose. But true nonetheless. When there’s a will, there’s a way. Family, friends, job, duties, they all swallow up big chunks from our life. In the end, we feel drained, our body devoid of energy, our mind languid.

But I wonder frequently. Do we use that as a shield? A convenient excuse so as not to come face to face with the fears and insecurities we experience regarding our craft? After all, it’s a safe route to walk…

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I’m Back (in this country)!

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Hello friends!  Sorry for my lack of posting.  I’ve been off exploring and world-traveling, seeing mountains and Lochs and old castles, catching up on sleep and adjusting to time-zones.  In the space of a month, I’ve taken two international trips, plus one domestic trip involving a 12-hour trainride each way.  So while I’ve loved seeing spectacular scenery and cool ruins, I didn’t bring my laptop with me.  (I didn’t really have time for writing anyways.)

But after all my traveling, seeing, and learning, I was a little bit nervous to try my hand at writing again.  It had been a month since I’d worked on this story.  How was I going to jump back in?

Turns out, all it takes to jump back in to writing is to sit down, open my word document, and start working.

Look, it’s hard to go a while without writing.  But it’s also really nice to take some time off and go see the world.  I got to dream and plan and imagine in my time off.  I got to give my head a rest and read some good books and enjoy the beauty of nature.  And now?  Now it’s really nice to be sleeping in my own bed, not living out of my suitcase, and be writing again.  It’s really nice to have free time and cell reception and a story that I’m really excited to be working on.

So no matter where your summer plans are taking you, don’t forget that your writing is waiting.  Your story needs you.  And if it’s been a while since you’ve opened your word-doc, don’t be afraid to grab a coffee, sit down, and write.

 

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