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.”

hello 10.gif

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!

ALLONS-Y.gif

 

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.

Oh! NO! YES!.gif

 

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.

10 no.gif

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.

Oh look at that.gif

 

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.

10 hmm.gif

 

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.

10 Oh I'm ready

(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. //

 

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Queries and Quests

This week was a momentous occasion for me as a writer.

I sent out my first query letter to a real-live, actual agent.

It’s an incredible feeling, having a novel that I feel ready to share with a professional.  Having a query letter that explains what happens.  Having taken that first baby step out into the world of actually publishing.

I soon found myself getting really excited.  The more query letters I send out, the better chance I have of getting an email someday asking for a partial- or full- manuscript.  Someday I might actually get PAID for all the hard work I’ve put into this novel.  Wow.

Now, to be realistic, this probably won’t happen for a while.  One blogger buddy I follow has an outstanding MS, a delightful query letter, has been submitting for many months, and has come up empty (even after several full-MS requests).  So obviously I’m not trying to get my hopes up too much.  But it’s fun to dream.  To speculate.  To hope.  To reference Doctor Who:

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I think that far-flung hopes and improbable dreams are beautiful things, and that they are part of what motivate us to try harder, to push ourselves, and to achieve success.

But on the other hand, I can hear Albus Dumbledore echoing through my mind:

dwell

So even though I’m really, truly excited for the slight possibility that today could be the day I hear back from an agent, I’m not consumed by that.  I’m trying to balance.

Because honestly, my first three pages of my novel could be a little tighter.  My query could be a little more captivating.  Oh, and I have another book that’s in my heart, burning to be set free onto the page.  So my goal is to dream my improbable dreams and let them be my guide, but not lose sight of the work in front of me.

And that, my friends, is something that every writer – every person who wants to accomplish great things – must learn.


 

Part of this blog is about the sharing of information.  The writing community is all about looking out for each other and helping each other out, so while I’m on the subject of querying, I’d like to share two amazing resources I came across this week:

1. Query Letter Critiques by an Actual Legit Agent

While I was looking around for more agents and agencies, I discovered this agent who posts critiques of query letters that people submit to her for suggestions.  Yes, you heard right.  An actual, legit agent reviews of actual query letters.  Link here.

2.  A Beautiful Catalog of Agents

I’ve run across several catalogs of agents (basically where you can search by agent by genre or other criteria).  My favorite thus far is http://www.aaronline.org/ because it’s clean, easy, and fast.

CREDIT for these sources is at least partially due to this video (posted on the vlogbrothers channel on Youtube)

Whether you’re writing a first draft, editing, or querying like I now am, don’t quit.  Don’t give up.  Keep dreaming, keep working hard.  Being a writer isn’t easy, but it’s worth it.