Wednesday, 21 August 2013

How I Write a Novel

So, more on how I work:

I’ve got my novelling process down to a somewhat ordered format. Conception, pre-writing, outlining, drafting, editing, done. Often these steps overlap.

Conception: This is where I come up with the idea for a novel. Sometimes a character arises, and I want to tell her story (Grace Anson). Other times a situation happens, and I want to know more (what happens if the farmboy says no to the quest?). Sometimes I’ll do the ol’ “What If…?” (What if a valley is unfarmed because it is haunted?)

Pre-Writing: this is where I start putting elements of the story together. This often happens simultaneously with Outlining. As I get characters and scenes and story neepery, I write it down. This is where the real writing of the novel happens. From the outside, this process looks an awful lot like this:

But inside, there’s a whole lotta hampster wheels cranking away.

I’ll have most of the novel written out in my head before I actually start putting words to page. The characters play out their scenes and have their dialogues and fights and other happenings. I do my best to remember what happens, and often take notes.

Outlining: Happens during the pre-writing stage as I take notes. This is where I start ordering scenes. I’ll put down what happens in a scene, who’s involved, where it’s happening, and what important thing needs to happen. I’ll also make encluing* notes. I like to have my outline in place before I officially write scenes. (Snippets of dialogue from pre-writing don’t count.)

Drafting: By now, most of the novel is done (in concept). Here’s where I BIC (butt in chair) and do the actual scribing onto the page. I mostly follow the outline, but sometimes little things will pop up. I’m okay with that, if it fits in with the overall plot. If something does crop up, I’ll go and stick it in the outline. Because I know most of how they story’s gonna unfold, I can simply write it all down, without having to pause to think much.

Editing: Once the draft is done, I’ll let it sit for a while. Sometimes my brain will fill in subconscious details that aren’t on the page. When I let a ms age, I can come back to it with fresh eyes. Then the holes are more obvious. I’ll give it an editing pass or three, maybe let it sit a bit longer. Whatever.

Done: Once I’m done with a draft I like, then it’s ready to do the rounds with the beta readers. I’m fond of OWW but sometimes it can take a long time to ‘orkshop an entire novel. Otherwise, I’ll toss it out to a couple of mates and other random volunteers.

*enclue (en-clu’) en-clu-ed, en-clu-ing - v: to stick clues or other subtle-yet-pertinent information into a story. Covers hints and clues leading to the truth, but not necessarily red herrings.

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