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Monday, November 14, 2011

Your Process Must Be 'Your' Process: WL 366 (#14)

Lesson 14: Your writing process must be your writing process if it's going to work for you.

Yesterday, I shared how important it is to develop a writing process. Today, you need to know that your writing process must be your writing process if you want to be successful at this writing game.

I do not believe there is a single book, mentor, instructor, or writer out there that can teach you the perfect process. Each writer will have her own individual writing process--it's never wrong as long as it works for you. I'd love to hear about your process. Here's mine for novel writing (my screenwriting process varies, but it's similar):

A sample of draft-two revisions in my novel

Step 1: Idea generation / note taking - If you're like me, you probably play with ideas and take notes for a while before you actually start writing. My idea for my Cornelius book series came to my mind around February. I didn't start writing the book until July.

Step 2: Write draft one - This is my brain dump. I write it fast and furious. I don't worry about style, grammar, punctuation, or technique. My goal is to get the story out of my brain and into my computer's brain. Oh, and editing in any form is forbidden.

Step 3: Write character biographies / outline if necessary - Yes, you've read this right. I don't write my character biographies until after my first draft is written. I don't do outlines unless I need it to work through a difficult section. My first draft tells me where my story is going and who is going to be in it. An outline is too structured for me in novel writing, however, I have to do a very detailed outline in screenwriting (before writing the first draft).

Step 4: Write draft two (draft-one revisions)- This is where I sculpt the true shape of my story. I add in the character personality enhancements based off the profiles I wrote in step 3. I delete scenes that don't work, and I add scenes where they're needed. I shift it all around until the puzzle fits together nicely.

Step 5: Write draft three (draft-two revisions) - This is where I add my style and flavor, enhance conflict, strengthen plot lines. This is also the draft where I make my characters shine by taking their personality enhancements in step 4 and making them larger than life.

Step 6: Write draft four, five, . . . and the final - This is where I polish it. I review grammar and punctuation, and I fiddle around with it--nip it, tuck it, puff it up--until I like it.  

Tell us about your writing process.

Visit me tomorrow for another Writer's Leap 366 lesson.


  1. Peggy Eddleman said...

    You're so right that it has to be your own writing process! I think through each scene very carefully before I even start to write. I plot a lot in advance. My story doesn't change with each revision-- it just becomes richer and has more layers of conflict.

  2. Jen said...

    I love reading comments on your blog as much as what you post. "Conversations' with other writers are always fun. You seem to be attracting a lot of followers - Lucky them! More people should benefit from your well-communicated, entertaining brilliance.