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.


From idea to manuscript – Part 2

Thanks for coming back!

So, if you read my previous post, you know that this series of blog posts is going to track my process from idea to polished manuscript for my new WIP, EMILY. Yes, I know that’s a wack WIP title, but that’s genuinely where I am right now. Expect that to change at some point 🙂

There is about a week left in April, and I’m going to use that for Stage 1: Planning to Plot.
This could easily be considered part of the plotting stage, but I like to keep it separate. As I progress through a manuscript, the pressure to “get things right” builds. As you’re creating a plot that works, writing the draft, doing the initial edits, and then several rounds of revisions, it gets harder and harder to put the puzzle pieces together. I think this is especially true when you write mysteries and suspense.

The fun thing about the “Planning to Plot” stage is that you get to do/think/write/scribble ANYTHING. Of course, this freedom doesn’t disappear entirely when you’re in the later stages, but there’s endless freedom in this first one.
So, between now and May 1, I’ll be planning to plot. This means:
  • Sketching out the central mystery more clearly
  • Conceptualizing the main characters
  • Considering the story arc
  • Developing the inciting incident, main plot points and climax
I’ll be taking notes, but my favorite time to think about these questions is while driving, while in the shower, while washing dishes, etc. By May 1, the goal is to have most of the above loosely inked out, and I’ll be ready to begin the formal plotting process (which I love 🙂

OK! Thanks, and I’ll be back soon with the update.

From idea to manuscript – Part 1

I’m working on a new novel at the same time that I’m beginning to build my author site. I’m in the very beginning stages of both, and they are both huge priorities right now.
I’ve decided to merge the goals and start a new real-time blog series about my writing process. I must be the first person to come up with this idea, ever. (No? Hmm…)
I’ll blog a couple of times per week about how I write, the ups and downs, the plotting, the planning, the yucky, the wine, the wHine, the character development, the chapter outlines, the word counts, the goals.
I’m very excited. Even if nobody else reads this, it’ll be my own little tool to hold myself accountable. But in the event that someone is reading and wants to join me, send me a note! We’ll do it together.
Alright, well…
No time like the present. A little about my writing style and where I am with my WIP:
1. I have had this idea for a couple of years now. It’s another upmarket domestic suspense novel, which seems to be where I call home these days. I fell in love with a character named EMILY, and that’s who the story is about. I won’t be talking too much about the story itself in these posts, but at the moment, I have a three sentence pitch about EMILY, an idea for the story’s central mystery, and… that’s about it.
2. I’m a HEAVY outliner. Pages. Handwritten pages at first, which turn into typed outlines, all with several notebooks of descriptions, questions, sketches, whatever.
3. I draft quickly and revise slowly.
So, armed with that knowledge about myself, guess I should get going. First, I’m going to set a deadline for the first complete draft. It won’t be clean by any means, but I’ve made a commitment to myself to no longer write super messy drafts. By “complete draft,” I mean the first draft that I would be OK letting anyone else look at (even though I probably won’t at that time). It’s the end of April now, so I’ll give myself three solid months. You do what works for your, shorter or longer. My deadline is:
July 31, 2015
Alright! In the next post, I’ll talk about the first step: Planning to plot.
Thanks for reading!

First post – Better late than never?

Well. I figured it was time.
Welcome to my new author site. I’ve been writing fiction seriously for about four years now. My recently completed adult suspense novel, WHILE WE WEPT, is currently in the query trenches. Anyone who’s been there knows that querying is one of the most nerve-wracking, painful, nail-biting experiences a writer can go through. I’m trying to stay sane. And to keep writing.
Always keep writing.
I’m going to make it my goal to update this regularly with information about my work, writerly tips, juicy drama, query information, grammar tidbits and anything else that comes to mind.
OK, you already know there won’t be any “juicy drama,” but still. You should come back sometime.
How’s that for a first blog post?