Some of you may have noticed that I rarely use my blog to expound upon Ye Writerly Methodes and Modes, and hand down words of Ye Wysdome. There is a very good reason for this.
Who said I have Ye Wysdome?
I'm a writer. A published writer. This is my goal and my dream and the life which I have chosen (and been lucky enough to succeed at). However. This doesn't mean that if I tell you how I got published, the same thing will happen to you. This doesn't mean that if I tell you how I write, it will work for you. Being a published author does not qualify me to tell you anything, except how I work, and what works for me, but we're all different.
For instance, I like Dragon Flight. I wrote it, slaved over it even, and presented it to you, the reader, when I was sure that it was the best that I could make it. Today I read a review online of Dragon Flight that was written by someone who loathed it. They found it to be almost unreadable, and would not recommend it to anyone. This person is not a professional reviewer, so normally I would ignore the review. Everyone is different, and it's well known to my friends and book club members that I have hated with a mad passion books other people love and vice versa. This review, however, inspired me to write this blog entry because the reviewer is an aspiring writer who had heard me speak at a conference. From my books (she has also read Dragon Slippers), and what I said at a conference, she analyzed my "writing process" and where it had gone off the rails, resulting in my books not being very good.
The big confession.
Several of them.
First off, I have nothing against this woman. She thinks her thoughts and has her opinions and that's all dandy.
She was wrong. What she described is not at all how I write. For one thing, she called me a "discovery" writer, because I (apparently) said I didn't outline. (By the way, I have no clue what conference this was at, so I have no idea what I may have been yakking about.) There are, in this blogger's opinion, only two types of writers. Those who outline and worldbuild first, and those who are "discovering" the story as they go along (I got the impression that she thinks of this as almost a stream-of-consciousness situation).
I can't be 100% certain, but I believe that if you interviewed 100 writers, you would find that all of them have a different writing process, rather than just falling into the Forman Outline, No Formal Outline categories.
The Biggest Confession of All.
I am not very articulate.
I know, I know, I could talk the hind legs off a tauntaun. But stick me on a panel and ask me a writing question, and I go, "Uh, I dunno." Part of it is because, well, I'm used to sitting with my little computer and writing my thoughts, deleting the ones I don't like, changing them around, pondering, changing some more things, and then posting/publishing them. So I have long suspected two things about Me At Writing Conferences: 1. I sound like a moron. 2. I am not explaining anything well.
Let me clear that right up, to the best of my ability.
I am going to tell you about My Writing Process, that you may behold it in all its beauty. Perhaps it will anger you, perhaps it will inspire you. If you, too, are a writer (and many of my blog readers seem to be), please feel free to use the comments to discuss your writing process!
Step 1. Inspiration!
An idea will come to me, whether it's a plot, like Dragon Slippers, a character like Galen in Princess of the Midnight Ball, or a setting like a little something I'm working on now but don't want to discuss! I mull this all over for a while, thinking about the characters, their stories, how it will fit together, and get a general sense of where the story will go, whether it's one book or a series, etc. This could technically be called an outline, but it's not that formal. I do make notes: character and place names, thoughts, good dialogue snippets, to make sure I don't lose anything as I sift it all together. This could take anywhere from days to years.
Step 2. Writing!
This is basically the rough draft. So when I say that I wrote Dragon Slippers in three months, this is what I mean. I didn't go back and make any changes, I just wrote it all out from beginning to end before I lost the broad thread of the story. That was the shortest time I've ever spent on a rough story, too. Some of them have taken a year, my last couple of books have been around six months each. The end product of Step 2 is not a finished book, and I would NEVER let anyone see it, not even my husband. It's like prancing around in unsexy underwear: strictly for the eyes of myself and occasionally my stuffed dragon Magne who I still talk to when I am upset. (While I'm confessing things, I thought I might go all out. . .)
Step 3. Revising!
I read back through, make changes, cut boring bits, fine tune characters and dialogue. Then I give it to my agent, and she critiques it and I fix things, and then it goes to my editor.
Step 4. Editing!
I hate step 4. My editor sends me notes. I make changes, or don't, depending on my Vision. I sweat and swear and dance around. I eat too much. I read and reread the manuscript, the editorial notes, I dither over every change. Then I send the manuscript back. My editor either suggests one or two more things, or she puts it through to the copyeditor, or Grammar Police, and then we all go over each line and consider each word and its usage until I want to start screaming.
Step 5. Behold!
A shiny new book!
This is how I roll.
So tell me:
How do YOU do that voodoo that you do so well?