The Writing Process
As my sixth novel releases today, I find myself reflecting on my author journey, which began four years ago.
The first draft of my initial book took a year to craft. At the time, it was a bloated, rough, unwieldy thing that sorely needed revisions and editing. Another sixth months, and dozens of revisions later, I had something that resembled a publishable book. In comparison, it now takes me about six months to produce a better, more refined story, from concept to release. While writing a fiction novel is largely a creative endeavor, the final result is still a product. As with any product, a refined process will ensure better results in a shorter period. That is what I wish to share with you today.
Fellow authors, some less seasoned than myself, others with far more experience, often ask me about my writing process. Even readers inquire about it. I believe that each author must discover what works for him/her, and that often begins by learning about what works for others. Here is what works for me.
I begin with an outline – one that is far less detailed than what I used for my first few books. It is more of a list of key plot points that will guide me, similar to points on a map. I ensure the story stops at each point, but I am unsure of how I will get from one point to another until the characters take me there. With that in place, and my key characters defined (that’s a whole different blog post), I write. The first draft of an 80K-90K word novel takes about eight weeks for me to craft.
Revisions come next, fleshing out the story, polishing the prose, and dragging emotion out of my characters. Sometimes, I revise during the first draft as well. Regardless, three total revision rounds yield the results I desire.
Technical edits follow my revisions. This is the term I use when leveraging software that analyzes my book and points out areas of improvement, including repeated words, phrases, adverb use, and a myriad of other potential grammar improvements. The revision/technical editing phase requires four weeks to complete, putting the calendar at twelve weeks since I began. That’s when I kick my book off to my editor.
My editor, who focuses on copy editing but also provides developmental feedback, spends about three weeks with the book before it returns to me. I spend another week incorporating edits and then the book heads to my proofreader. However, during the three weeks when the book is with my editor, I have already outlined the subsequent novel and am prepare to begin the first draft.
Proofreading takes a week, followed by a day for me to fix the errors discovered. My book then goes out to beta readers, who have two weeks to pour through the material and provide feedback. Advanced Reader Copies(ARC) are then sent out to my ARC team, giving them four to five weeks to read the book and offer feedback before it releases. During this activity, I continue writing the next book. When release day comes, six months after I began, the first draft of the sequel is complete. At the same time, the new release should have around thirty reader reviews ready to roll from my ARC team.
This process is working and allowing me to release three to four books a year. It took time to develop and required testing various models during my first four releases. Now that my writing process is firmly in place, I feel confident that I am weaving exciting adventures filled with interesting characters that will result in a quality, enjoyable book for eager fantasy readers, young and old.
Writing Process Summary:
- Weeks 1-8 Outline/rough draft
- Weeks 9-12 Revisions/technical edits
- Week 13 Send to editor
- Begin outlining the next book
- Weeks 14-16 Editor and incorporating edits
- Begin first draft of next book
- Weeks 17-19 Proofreader/beta readers
- Weeks 20-24 ARC Readers
- Week 25 Release
- By the time release hits, I am 8 weeks into the process for the subsequent book, with a complete first draft