Endless toying with ideas until one catches, that is what starts my writing process. I collect intel on the subject, ranging from scribbled notes to images to websites to researching locations and places. During that period the plot unfolds. When I’m sure where it’s going, how the story will be shaped, I start writing.
I write the first draft in one go. No looking back, no revising of the first pages until they shine and sparkle, no such thing. Main reason? I usually end up chucking the first two or three chapters of a novel, so what’s the use. I know there is a lot of ‘First Pages’ going on at writing conferences and professional critiques, but I strongly believe that you can only send in your first pages when you have written the end of your story, even if it turns out a provisional end.
The first draft gets shelved for at least a week or two, before I go back and do a rewrite. I never root around in a draft. I rewrite the whole thing, from beginning to end. That is the only way I can let the story flow, both in my mind and on paper.
The revised draft (which could be the second, third, fourth or fifth draft) goes to my beloved critique partners of the Burnishing Club. Usually two of them get their red Sharpies out. When they return my manuscript, I breathe in deeply, remind myself that they love me, and face the cold wind of being questioned. Don’t’ worry, I love wind, the stronger the better! They never fail me, my crit buddies, and I love them for that.
The final draft is again a thorough rewrite and usually involves the chucking of the first chapters. More often than not they turn out to be backstory. Sometimes, the final draft goes to my crit buddies who haven’t seen it yet, particularly if I’m not sure about it or if I realize that I didn’t kill as much darlings as I should have. Or just because I think the manuscript can do with a pair of fresh eyes. If I’m happy, I put the manuscript aside until I’m ready for a line-edit, where I root out everything ugly and unnecessary like passive sentences, thought verbs, stage directions and what not, where I will tweak and polish until it shines and sparkles like it should.
Then and only then, I will send it out into the world, knowing as an editor, that I will not have shed the last tear or spilled the last drop of sweat. For there will always be agents and editors, who, with a keen eye for detail, find fault in my stars.
That’s it, a peek into my writing process. I hope you enjoyed it. Next on the Writing Process Blog Tour are Donna Weidner and Gary Fabbri. Amazing writers! Do visit their blogs and read about their writing process!