Monday, September 19, 2016

On Writing, Revising, and Editing

The Crannig Castle cover reveal is one week from today! So close!

So, I'm about ready to start formatting the last book of the Time Captives trilogy. The LAST book! It's insane that I'm actually at this point. As I reflected on that as I was brainstorming ideas for today's blog post, I realized I've never really explained my writing process. I keep on refining it, trying new things, going back to old ways, but I thought, as I'm bringing probably my biggest project thus far to completion, now would be as good a time as any to describe my writing process.

I get my initial ideas from lots of places: dreams, books and movies, current events, just out of the blue. I generally write down the premise and sometimes make up random scenes throughout the story which may or may not (more likely not) end up in the final version. When I'm ready for a new writing project, I pick one and get going.

For me to actually complete a story, I have to have a general outline in my head. Basically, a beginning, an ending, and a few pit stops in the middle. But those basic points are usually easy to come up with. I say usually because a story I really want to write is driving me nuts by having absolutely nothing for a climax. Trouble is, I can't get serious about the project until I have a climax.

Most of the time, I write my first draft in a notebook. Twisted Dreams is my only completed story to date that was written entirely on the computer. I'll hand it to my youngest sister constantly throughout this first draft, but she's the only one who gets to see it.

My first drafts are usually a mess, some more than others. Once I have a complete notebook draft, I type the entire thing in to the computer. For Across the Stars, The Experiment, and Espionage, this mostly resulted in minor edits. Time Captives and the Cassie story, however, are another story. For Time Captives, I wrote the basic material for the first two books, went to the computer, and wrote the first eight chapters of Creighton Hill three more times before I figured out what was wrong and how to fix it. From scratch. I basically threw out everything but my basic plotline and the Adriel stuff, and completely and totally rewrote it. By the time I'd finished the first computer drafts for those, I had it pretty much figured out, so Crannig Castle's first computer draft was more of just an edit from the handwritten version. The Cassie story is similar to the first two Time Captives books. The first draft was a horrible mess, so I scrapped most of it, and when I wrote it on the computer, it was a whole new book.

Once I complete my first computer draft, I hand it over to my mom. She identifies the plot holes, the things my small life experience doesn't realize is unrealistic, and asks questions that never even occurred to me. Then I go back and revise as needed. Sometimes, like for The Experiment, this results in rearranging the storyline, throwing out some scenes and writing entirely new ones to go in their place. Sometimes, like for Across the Stars, it results in adding multiple additional storylines to fill out the plot.

Once I'm decently satisfied with this version, I give it to my dad and middle sister. They don't usually cause full rewrites, since it's usually pretty decent by then, but with The Crossways, it did. I cared far more about Adriel than the Time Captives when writing it, and my dad noticed. So I rewrote everything with the current Time Captives, reducing the number of POVs, rearranging events to heighten the drama and add conflict, and all round make their story matter again.

After my family has given a book a pass, I give it to friends to beta read. Their feedback usually brings about minor edits, but sometimes they'll ask questions that require explanation, so I'll go in and add dialogue to expound upon things. And then, when I've finished with beta reader feedback, I'll hand it to a few more friends to proofread. I've gone over it so many times by then, there's not much left to catch, but I usually get a few notes.

And then I come to where I am now: ready to format! And that's how I turn a tiny, underdeveloped story idea into a book.

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