Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Process In Which I Write

As an independent contractor, there are moments when I have a lot of free time. Usually I'll stay at home and write, and other times I take my computer to work with me. Almost every time I write at work, the minute I bust out the computer, my co-workers (more like family, cause I've been there for so long) ask me about my "writing process." I feel so cheesy calling it that, but that's what it is. They've come to know me as "the writer" at work, which they find fascinating. I kind of love it when they ask me questions, because I know they truly support me and they're interested in what it is I do.

So, when they ask me how the writing thing works, this is what I say:

It starts with an idea. Of course, right? Some people have ideas from years ago that stick with them, maybe even have a few manuscripts they work on all at once. I, on the other hand, can only work with one idea at a time. After I finish something, it takes a while for another idea to come to fruition. It usually begins with a scene in my head. Whether it's a dead girl rotting in a corner (ex: Drowning Bailey), or a girl walking alone in the middle of an alley. You get what I'm saying. I see these characters in my mind and I want to know more about them. Who they are, what's their motive, and why in the world this girl is dumb enough to walk alone in an alley in the dead of night.

With that idea in mind, I start writing. Yep, just like that. That image is always the beginning. It somehow works out that it fits perfectly with telling the story, and introducing this strange new character. I take that scene and describe everything about it. The character, the scenery, what she's thinking or feeling. From there, I have a general idea of where I want the story to go. I mean, out of nowhere, the idea just sort of unfolds in my head.

Most sane people will write out an outline to keep their sanity in check. What do I do? I write chapter by chapter––no outlines. There are times when I reach the end of a manuscript that I will jot down a really short outline for the last few chapters, but nothing too big. I find that writing chapter by chapter puts me in the mind of the reader, as if I'm reading it for the first time along with them. I love being surprised by my characters. They have me feeling scared, sad, angry, shocked; all those things you're supposed to feel as a reader, and seeing it as it's developing really gives me that sense of where the story needs to be.

My newest thing is: not reading the manuscript through until it's completely done. I write until the very end and then go back and revise/edit. It keeps the story fresh, and I don't feel sick of it because I've already read it a million times. That always put a damper on things when it came to editing. By the time the story was complete, I was burnt out and not at all interested in reading it over again for the hundredth time. This way my mind is clear and ready to give the manuscript my full attention.

When I've completed that part of the process, that's when my CPs and Beta readers come in.

So there you have it! This is the process in which I write. What's your writing process?


  1. My stories always, always start out with a character. Be it a name, a physical description, etc. For Hushed, it started with Archer--I wanted to write a boy who killed people. Then I ask myself questions about that character. (Why is he killing? Does he know it's wrong? What makes him stop? etc.)

    My outlining process is vague. I generally have an idea where the story is going, or how it'll end, but I rarely know *how* it gets from point A to point B. ;)

    I draft slowly, because I do a lot of my editing/revising while I write. I hate edits/revision, so I like my first draft to be as clean as possible. Most people say that doesn't work, but I've finished five books that way, so it works for me. ;)

  2. Heather, your process sounds something like mine. I'm not an outliner either, and I
    love letting the story write itself. One time there was even a connection between the
    plot and subplot I didn't see coming! Interesting. I'm posting a blog today too, which
    concerns my journey into writerhood. Hope you're having a great day. (Not too hot.)


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