As a writer taking a rather unique path, I often receive a wide range of questions. So far, I’ve covered some broad personal writerly things like my muse, inspiration, and process. I’ll continue to shed some light on these questions. With luck, you’ll gain some understanding and insight along the way.
If you have a question you’d like me to answer, feel free to comment or drop me an email.
How did you write your first published novel and what, if anything, has changed since then?
My first published novel was approached with equal parts immense trepidation and fierce determination. I knew that I had a story worth telling and I needed to do it right so that I could share it with the world. So I was careful, meticulous with my plot and character development and when I understood that, logically, I was ready to begin writing, I began.
However, rather than delving into my development methodology — which I plan to delve into in the future — I’m going to discuss the tools I implemented in the drafting and editing processes.
First, since I am proficient with a keyboard (hello instant messaging from around the turn of the millennium) and have experience with editing, I worried that I might run into a self-editing spiral if given the opportunity to dwell on my draft, which I had done before. So my solution was to write the draft long-hand.
Yes, you read that right.
I still divided everything into manageable scenes, as I mentioned in last week’s Q&A session but I ended up with about two reams of filled, one-sided loose-leaf paper. At the end of the day’s writing or in between scenes, depending on how the day progressed, I typed them out, leaving the majority of the glaring issues intact for a later date.
When the draft (and the subsequent emotional outburst of happy exhilaration) was finished, I printed those scenes out, double spaced and invested in about two dozen red pens to hack, slash, refine, and perfect (it was a mess, to say the least). Upon completing that arduous task, I created a new file, compiled the same scenes I printed into one large document, and then I implemented those changes. Though I refrained from printing out the book multiple times, I did create new files with each subsequent pass of editing that came afterwards.
I didn’t stop that process until I felt confident in the story — that I could replay it in my head as if I was watching a movie and have everything lined up just so.
It wasn’t until I reached roughly a third of the draft from my second book, that I decided the hand-written-to-typed approach wasn’t necessary. Mostly because it felt more redundant than helpful. I’d somehow broken that dreaded cycle of editing. So I put the blank pages back on the shelf and just typed as fast as my fingers could go.
That process of writing individual scenes separately never changed, but I still feel comfortable with skipping the pen and paper routine.
The same holds true with the completed first draft. Rather than printing that beast, I edit the files, saving those versions individually to keep the various drafts intact. That way I can go back to check the evolution if I ever need or want to do so, while at the same time, hopefully preventing the death of a few trees in the process.
Coming up, I’ll share some thoughts about my previous book failures and elaborate on why they landed in my discard pile, so to speak.
Until next time,
P. S. If you want to see for yourself what books I have to offer, find your FREE copies at your favorite retailer.
P. P. S. If you are interested in learning more about me, my books, and other various, important topics on a monthly basis, along with access to a free, ever-growing resource library of downloadable content, sign up for my newsletter.