It’s been a little more than two years now since I began working on my first novel. I started it two or three weeks after Black Friday. I thought I had finished it a year ago, only to realize that I needed write it differently last fall.
It seems that I’m inching inexorably closer to that goal. I’ve rewritten the prologue and a completely new beginning to the novel. I’ve pored over the middle, cutting big chunks out of it out in the process, and am so near the end of the story I can taste it.
In fact, I’m 4-6 major scenes away from completing it. Of course, the closer I get to that ending, the slower the progress. I very much feel like the snail in the Monsters University trailer (starting at 40 seconds):
I imagine it’s part of the process of learning how to write a damned book, but I’ve been very interested to see that the closer I get to this (new) end, the more often I scrap scenes entirely and the more often I rewrite from scratch.
In the writing forum I hang out in, there are endless debates and discussions about how to write. Do you draft straight through and then revise? Revise as you go? Perfect a scene before moving on to the next? Do you write in order? Maybe skip around and arrange your scenes later? Are you a pantser or a plotter?
There are a million iterations of these discussions, and we’re all different. What works for one person may be anathema to another.
Personally, I’m a hybrid pantser-plotter. I edit as I go—my “first draft” efforts are the equivalent of 2nd-4th draft statuses for some folks—with the intention of doing additional finer editing later. I don’t like to leave a scene until I am very comfortable with how it works.
Another differentiating point between authors is the editing process. Some authors loathe editing and can’t stand the thought of having to go over their work multiple times to perfect it. I can read through a scene over and over again if I need to. I enjoy the editing process.
In fact, I wish I was able to just write straight through to the end of this thing and then do all my editing. I envy authors who say that’s what they do. I enjoy editing and tweaking and refining and honing and sharpening and fine tuning so much, I could have finished this thing three times already if I could only get to the end in one pass.
Maybe that will come with future novels. I’ve been writing professionally for more than 14 years, but aside from some short story dabbling more than a decade ago, this is my first significant effort to write fiction.
I know that my process today is significantly better than it was when I started this thing, and I can only hope that it continues to improve.
One more note: When I say things like “finish,” I don’t really mean finished. Once I am “finished,” I’ll have about 20,000 words to cut. Doing so is going to suck giant donkey balls.
Once I am “finished” with that, I’ll have maybe four weeks of fine editing. Once that is “finished,” I’ll be sending the new book out to my awesome beta readers. After I get their feedback, I’ll have additional edits to make.
Once I’m “finished” with those, then I can restart the query process. Assuming I get some interest from an agent, I can start the revisions he or she requests. Once those are finished and he or she shops my book, I can then make the edits that the publisher wants. Once those are “finished,” I can start the wait for the publishing date and begin work on pre-promoting the book.
Being a writer is cool!
Lastly, another reminder to check out D.A. Castillo. He’s been my critique partner for almost a year, and the dude is a gifted story teller. I blame it on all those years spent being a Dungeon Master/Game Master, not to mention his experience in TV. He has taught me so many things about plot, tension, and stakes, and my novel has benefitted greatly from his help.