On her Blog: Life, the Universe and Writing, Shallee McArthur is hosting a What's Your Process Blogfest. I'm looking forward to reading how other people approach the process of writing. :)
I found the process of writing evolved.
This was how I used to see planning a novel.
My process was simple and linear.
I have a much more twisty kind-of-process now.
These turn up in unlikely places: a wall with crumbling mortar or a stain in the plaster; the man who barges by; the kids who push into the centre of anything and the ones who hang back; seeing or reading a re-working of an old story with an unexpected twist and - clichéd but true – from dreams. I carry two kinds of note books around with me: Brief and Extended ideas.
Characters and setting
My process reflects a visual approach: I look for images I can be inspired by the characters, and the settings, grow from pictures. For protagonists and antagonists alike, I select character traits and an improvement journey.
I’m a big Mind Map fan. I write the idea in the middle of a page then collect ideas; at this point they branch out in any directions. I select where I want to go with the story
I plan the over-all desired outcome for my character and the obstacles they will face. For every chapter I plan an outcome and an obstacle.
Hook and voice
I work on the hook and the voice for the novel – experimenting with the opening up to about the 250-word mark
I’d love to be able to write every day – free from interruptions. I need blocks of time, hours, when I get immersed in the creating the story. Music can help to keep concentration levels high it can play a part in helping me create the right mood or tonal quality in the writing. Quite often, I work in total silence – apart from the uneven ticking. First draft. This is when I write. I don’t switch off my grammar, spelling and punctuation keys – and my internal editor gnaws like eye teeth – but I set word targets and write. Writing is organic and, even though I have a plan, I will go with a new direction if necessary. During the first draft process, some chapters may be short and unfinished. When events unfold, I go back to flesh out skinny chapters. Especially when I realise it is the place to add details and foreshadowing.
This is where prior knowledge (planning) combines with hindsight. By checking the chapter against the outcome, I look for ways to make the obstacles higher – to create more internal or external tension. I turn up the conflict: if the stake can be raised on the way up and twisted on the way down this is when I make sure it has been done.
A.R.R.R!!! (Adding, Rearranging, Removing, Replacing) I’m a planner but I get caught by the need for revision. Global alterations. Picking sections up and moving them around. Editing is when the revision gets in-depth. Line by line - one paragraph at a time – I weed out repetition keeping a Thesaurus handy. I use Find to spot weak words and cut out the deadwood. The aim is to make every sentence stronger. This goes for grammar errors and spotting spell-checker over-sights: I proof read until my eyes bleed.
After I’ve done the writing and revisions, the Writers’ Circle, Beta Buddies or anyone prepared to read with a critical eye, become essential. By this point, I have lost all perspective – usually, I hate every word – but because I’m a rational person I look for readers outside my maelstrom. I’m desperate for feedback so I can think and start the post-writing rewriting all over again ;)
Experimenting with genre and audience is an important part of my writing process. I write chronologically so my next challenge is to write an manuscript that isn't.
Have you found your writing process evolved? What challenge have you decided to conqueror next?