Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Method to the Madness

Now that I have some beta readers who have read the first part of my book and are excitedly awaiting the second part (well, I am imagining them awaiting excitedly as it gives me more motivation) I am thinking about my writing style. I don't mean voice, I mean the way I get the actual words onto the paper.

While I don't outline, I do have about 10-15 upcoming scenes set with the goal for the scene set up. I'm very scene-oriented in my writing.

I'm not much of a writer. I'm much more a re-writer. A blank page makes me cringe. I'm much better at slopping crap down on the page and then going through and cleaning it up. I hope that the quality of the zeroth pass will improve as I grow as a writer, but for now I'm okay with it. I call it the zeroth pass because it is not even good enough to call it the first pass!

From there I ignore it for a while to give myself some space (usually this means that I move onto another section). Then I go through and flesh out what is going on with my scene. I consider this my first draft. Then I go away for a little longer. Then I go through on screen again until I feel like I am ready to send it to people. But I don't send it out. I print. Yes, the poor little trees. If it makes you feel better, I always recycle my paper. I go though and make copious comments and changes. Then I select random lines on random pages and try to add tension there. I repeat this two or three times. Then I send it out to beta readers who make suggestions that I then incorporate. I am hoping to get a couple sets beta readers so that I can incorporate the suggestions of the first couple and then send that out the the other couple.

This whole process is non-linear. I am sketing ahead, 0 drafting, editing, and sending different parts out. But once I go through the whole book like this I am going to revisit a couple trouble areas, but I am assuming those will be okay...for the most part. Then I am going to print it out and smile at the massive amounts of paper--papers that my brain child is upon. I know, poor trees again. I just can't stare at the computer for hours on end. I know! I'm a computer programmer! Go figure.

I plan on going through that three times, but visiting random pages. Maybe I will send out the whole thing to a couple people who are interested. I'll do stuff like making my words sound better etc at this point. I'll play it by ear...see how I want to proceed when I get there.

What about you out there in blog-land? How do you write? What is your process?

13 tidbits:

Charles Gramlich said...

I tend to be fairly linear, but I'm also a "rewriter." I really like shaping some material that I've gotten down alerady.

Leigh Russell said...

I rewrite a lot. I agree, rewriting is easier because you have something to work on, but I've always found the sight of a blank page very exciting.

I've blogged a lot about the editing process. When I first sent my MS to The Editor (note the capitals - very important person) I ended up having to cut about 50% of my MS and then write it up again. And again. I changed some words, changed them back again, found the perfect expression, lost the change... it's a long process, but I loved every minute of it. To use a cliche, it was a steep learning curve.

Please visit the Bookroast where the first in my series of UK thrillers is featured today. I'd be interested to hear your critique of the extract there.

You're very welcome to visit my blog where you might like to join in my Virtual Book Launch, if you like crime fiction.

PJ Hoover said...

I fluctuate on how much I outline, but I always write linearly. My brain works much better that way!

lynn said...

For my current WIP, I'm writing each chapter as completely as possible, polishing it a bit and sending it to beta readers. Then I edit per their comments. So far that's working well, and when I finish the novel I'm hoping to only have to go back and do little things, like liven up the language and tighten.

Have to agree with PJ--my mind works better linearly :)

Lauren said...

@charles- I wish I was more linear.

@Leigh- I am going to go over to Bookraost right now. Thanks for sharing with me about it and for commenting on my blog :)

@PJ- I wish that I wrote more linearly.

@lynn- Actually in many ways sounds like we are fairly similar--just I skip forward before sending out :)

stu said...

I tend not to go back to sections until I've got a complete draft together. Usually I'll go round and round with the edits for ages, trying to improve it each time, until I finally can't stand it anymore and declare things finished.

Incidentally, should you find yourself short of a second set of Beta readers, I'd be happy to help.

Beth said...

I write in longhand first before using the computer - I find that this prevents me from doing so much editing while I write. I am brutal with the editing and it really slows me down.
Your process sounds great!

strugglingwriter said...

" I'm much better at slopping crap down on the page and then going through and cleaning it up."

That's me a bit. I write very much in a linear fashion. I don't outline and usually don't have any scenes pre-determined. I do work best when I know the ending I'm working towards, however.

Lauren said...

@stu- Thanks, I might take you up on that! It won't be for awhile though. Probably like four months. Not until the whole thing has gone through one round. If you ever need a beta reader, please let me know. I really enjoy doing crits.

@beth- Sometimes I do longhand too. This espcially helps with getting going on a part that I am stuck on. However, that might be because the internet is not stretched out before me.

@writer- Actually, the ending is what I started with! I haven't written it out yet, but it is very clear in my mind. I do have the last line though. It's very poetic and involves a sunrise. But not a lame, over-used type sunrise--there's a certain twist that makes it not lame.

Leigh Russell said...

I'm definitely linear and often flesh out details before I know the bigger picture. I say 'know' rather than 'create' because my stories seem to be waiting for me to discover them. I can have problems controlling my characters, who often lead me astray - which is fine if the detour leads in the right direction...

colbymarshall said...

I think the only process I have is that I don't have one...sometimes I outline, sometimes not...sometimes I know where I'm going, sometimes I don't. It's very not exact, kind of like me in general ;-)

Lauren said...

@leigh- I wish I had the feeling of knowing like you! I know my end, but the subplots aren't quite as easy.

@colby- That's great that you are able to be so open in your creativity! I think what you said about how it's like you in general. I'm very much not linear in any part of my life so I guess it makes sense that it's in my writing too! Maybe how we write says a lot about how we are in life! :)

Janna Qualman said...

Thanks for visiting my blog!

And I'm like you... I'm a much better re-writer. :)

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