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.