Before you read this I want to make one point very clear. This is MY process, it’s what I found works for ME.
If you’re an aspiring author it may or may not work for you.
As you read through it, you’ll see that my process has evolved as I’ve learned more about the craft. It’s a learning curve and while I have written well over a million words, I’m still learning and don’t profess to have all the answers for my own writing, let alone for you and yours.
The best way to describe my writing process would be to say it’s evolving. For my first thirteen books, I wrote by the seat of my pants. I’d start at chapter one and keep ploughing forward until I got to the end. I’d always know what the start of the novel was, how I wanted it to end and one or two waypoints I wanted to hit along the way, but the pieces in between were a mystery to me. I’d know the setting, the characters who’d inhabit the story and any underlying themes I wanted to introduce, but not the minutiae of the story; that would come as I wrote it.
At first I would jot the contents of a chapter down as memory aid after I’d written the chapter, but the more novels I got under my belt, the more I found myself starting to plot these notes out for two or three chapters in advance.
I also keep a list of the names used in a table showing the alphabet and Christian and surnames I’ve used. Another document I keep is a spreadsheet of all the characteristics and details I include about characters. This may sound anal, but it saves a lot of checking back to keep things consistent.
For two of the three novels I’ve currently got awaiting publication or out on submission, I have taken the bold step of changing my process and fully plotting them in advance before starting to write them. This seems to have worked as I found it largely better to have a framework to hang my novels on and I was able to complete the first draft in a much shorter time period than usual.
However there were also times I felt constrained by the outline when a new idea came to me during the writing process.
All of the above is for the first draft.
Once that’s complete, I’ll put it aside for a month then read it with a notebook at my side and I’ll pinpoint timeline errors and any other mistakes that need fixing. (Since outlining, the number and scale of these errors has dropped hugely)
After I’ve done this read through and corrected the errors found, I send the novel to trusted beta readers to garner their opinions. I fix the common points raised by the beta readers then read through the novel one last time before I deem it ready for submission. This read is done aloud and while I find it horrible to hear my voice droning on for hours, it’s amazing what this picks up as the tongue trips where the eye skips.
If the novel is accepted for submission, then I’ll have to go through the publisher’s editing schedule on it which consists of Structural, Line, Copy and Proof edits.
By the time my novels get in your hands, dear reader, I’ve been over the story a minimum of ten times.
These methods work for me and if you want to adopt them or adapt them for your own use, I’d be delighted to have helped another author.