Stages of writing a new manuscript

I was writing the last post, and I realized that it may be helpful for me to define my stages of writing a new manuscript. In my “Idea to Manuscript” blog series, I’ll be talking about these stages a lot.

Stage 1: Planning to Plot
I’ve described this before as the “fun part.” The “just let soul glo” part. The who cares if people don’t have turtle-hands, I DO WHAT I WANT part. It’s the stage where you take an idea and lightly mold it into a compelling story idea, without restraint.

Stage 2: Plotting
Still fun, slightly more restrictive. In the formal plotting stage, I take my scribbles and notes from stage 1 and start to create a rough outline. It starts out quite top-level, but eventually, I’ll get down to outlining individual scenes. I usually handwrite these outlines, and I rewrite them many, many times. I sometimes think of lines that I’d like to include in the story, so I drop them in a Word document and tuck them away.  I don’t start writing before the outline is complete. Remember, this is just how I write. A lot of people hate outlines, and that’s cool, too.

Stage 3: Rough drafting
Let those fingers fly! Ew, that sentence creeped me out right after I finished typing it. But basically, I take the outline and write the scenes. I usually create individual Word documents for each chapter, but that’s more compulsive than it is actual helpful for my writing process.

Stage 4: Initial edit
Once I have all of the chapters/scenes completed, I merge it into one document. There’s that satisfying feeling of seeing that big shiny word count. Then I have to clean it up and fix any glaring problems with flow. It’s clunky, but it looks like the beginnings of a FULL DRAFT (ehhmahgaaawwdd).

Stage 5: Main edit
This is the first heavy edit on the rough draft. This process can take about as long as the initial drafting. The goal here is to turn the rough-rough draft into a solid, presentable draft.

Stage 6 – Stage who the hell knows: Revisions
I’ll write full posts about this later.


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