So, I realize it’s been almost a month since I last posted a blog. Welcome to procrastination. This is my life. I wrote a couple book reviews, but I feel like I should post something a bit more, I don’t know, personal? since I skipped out on so many weeks, so I’ll post those reviews later.
Instead I’m going to talk about how I write a book! 😀 I realize, of course, I’m not published yet, so some of you might roll your eyes and move onto the next blog on your list. And that’s fine. But I personally am always interested in how people write, whether they’re bestselling authors, or haven’t even completed their first manuscript. Because everyone has a different strategy. Also, I’ve written a total of 8 1/2 books, so I *sort of* know what I’m talking about.
Now, I’m not an outliner/plotter. I’m what they call a seat-of-the-pants writer, or pantster, to an EXTREME level. BUT I usually do have a general plot in my head when I begin a book. (Not with the first book I ever wrote, though. I had a totally different strategy with that one, which I will post about another time.) SO, when I begin a book, all I have in my head is a beginning and an end—and a couple key characters.
I sit down with that.
That’s it. It usually takes me about 5-10k words to really get into the story, but once I’m there, writing is easy. Like breathing (not to sound cliche or anything). I could write 3-5k words and not even realize it, because I’m completely lost in the story. (Kind of like reading a book!) I write and write and write, and by the time I’m halfway through the manuscript, my house is a terrible mess and there are 5 piles of laundry needing to be done and we’ve all gained pounds from eating too much pizza. And I’m also sleep deprived. (Because I have kids and don’t want to neglect them so I *try* to only write when they’re asleep.)
This stage of writing is seriously addictive to me.
I mean, I have to make sure I have nothing else going on that month, because it’ll most likely be forgotten as I lose myself in my story. When I get close to the end, my word count really shoots up to like 5-8k, and an occasional 10k (which I’ve only done once since I had kids).
Now, if I’m really into the story, I could a finish my rough draft in a few weeks. (I wrote three full manuscripts last year.) But before you roll your eyes or feel discouraged, keep in mind that it’s TERRIBLE WRITING and that I’m going to go back and do a ton of REWRITING which isn’t really that fun. Because there are a lot of typos, unnecessary scenes, missing scenes that still need to be written, characters that need to be deleted, merged, or deepened, and plot threads that need to be either tied up or deleted. I usually go back through the entire manuscript about 3-5 times in the rewriting phase. I clean that baby up so it’s comprehensible enough for someone to understand what’s going on.
Rewriting can take another month.
When I finish rewriting, I’ll take a little break and work on something else. Or I might just read a book or two. (Which, by the way, reading is like refueling your brain, and it’s absolutely necessary if you want to be a writer.) It’s good to wait at least a week before you go back through the manuscript. Two weeks is better. If you can keep yourself away for a whole month, that’s perfect. The longer you wait, the better.
So after a waiting period, I’ll read through what I have, making small changes as I go, but writing down the major changes to make later, because I want to see how the story flows in one quick read-through. Then I’ll go back and make the major changes. And when I *think* the book is just about perfect, I’ll set it aside again, read another book or write another book, then return to it with fresh eyes.
And realize it’s not anywhere near perfect.
So I’ll do more revisions. *sigh* But this is what I get for being a seat-of-the-pants writer. I tried plotting once, and didn’t end up finishing the story because I already knew what was going to happen, so what was the point of finishing? 😛
In all, I might go through the entire manuscript 10 times (give or take) before it’s ready for beta readers. When I think it’s ready, I might find just a couple trusted friends to beta read, who will be able to point out the obvious. After fixing it up again, I’ll look for more beta readers (some who I might not even know personally), and send it out. After that, it goes to an editor.
So that, my friends, is how I write a book. It sounds long and painful, but it’s actually really fun! (If you like writing, and if you’re passionate about your story.)
QOTP: If you’re a writer, how do YOU write a book? Are you a pantster or a plotter? If you’re not a writer, how do you imagine you’d write it?