A short while back a friend and fellow blogger invited me to participate a writing process blog tour. Shamefully, I never got around to answering those few questions, and acquiring two more participants.
You see, my writing process is not very well defined. I have never claimed to be an expert. I am learning every day and honing my craft as I venture on this journey. We all do. It’s a never ending process, learning.
For example, I thought of myself as a panster, a linear writer. When I wrote my last book, I sat down and passionately went from beginning to end without much thought to structure. I wanted to write out the story. I told it as it was in my mind, letting the characters develop as I went along with the storyline unfolding. I didn’t use an outline. Chapters were long, some covering years.
This novel is different. It has patterns, almost like a formula. I had to complete a fairly involved outline to manage the details, so now I am using that to guide the storyline. Basically, I am taking that outline and fleshing out the facts and the descriptions, adding the words. There is a distinctive rhythm to it. Chapters are 1500 to 3000 words (+/- 100 or thereabouts), so even the longest are short. It tends to run 1500, 3000, 1500, 1500, 3000, 1500, 1500, 3000, in alternating POV between the detective and the sidekick for the first half. I have become a plotter, maybe it is the nature of the work.
Now that the detective and his future sidekick are about to be together, I’m not sure what’s going to happen with word counts or POV. Primarily the detective’s POV, with the story continuing to be told in third person narration. Here’s the Scrivener outliner of what I have so far. The binder on the left is filling; the synopsis window on the top right corner holds the fish skeleton of the novel. As you can see, the green lines indicate lots of progress. I am about halfway finished by my best guesstimate at fifteen chapters and 31,500 words.
In the editor mode, I have the fish skeleton to refer to as I move along. I would show you my corkboard, but I have added some character sketches and profiles which would be spoilers, and I don’t want to ruin it for you.
I started this in November, put it aside in December in frustration, and did not pick it up again until May 4th. I worked on “Surviving Sister” for a few months, but did not make much progress on that story.
I don’t have a name for this WIP, but I’m thinking about something along the lines of “Leisure Lagoon and the Asian Moon” or “Alliance Lagoon”, “Paradise Saigon”, “Hot City Cold Case”, “Cold Case Hot Nights”, “Murdered Before Midnight”, “Cold Blood in Paradise”, “Cold Case Hot Play”, “The Jernigan Connection”, “Naked Revenge”, “Naked Malice”, “Naked Evidence”…I dunno. I’m still playing with that. I want it fairly short. I am thinking of using the last three as series titles for the first three books. It would work well for the stories I have in mind.
Any one of those make you want to read the book blurb?
My writing process is obsessive. I don’t know how the rest of you writers out there process the information for your books in your head, but I can tell you what happens to me.
I can sit down and write 3000 words naturally flowing one day, and struggle over one sentence the next. I am averaging about 1700 words a day. But the actual word count is not the struggle. The struggle is in my head. Despite having an outline, which has been extremely valuable (thank you Carrie Rubin), there is always something going on in my head. ALWAYS!
I write for hours, or I write for minutes, but all in-between (and during) there are thoughts about plot, exposition, character, conflict, motive, climax, resolution, setting, humor, seriousness, and so on, bouncing around in my mind. I write a while, I get up and pace, go smoke a cigarette, have a bite to eat, try to take a nap, go to the grocery store, drive across town…all the while thinking, thinking, thinking, of what to write next and how to write it. Then I return to the keyboard, minutes or hours later, and write. Now, consider there are two interconnected plots. Of course there is reading and revising…which goes on constantly…even with a first draft, because I cannot let it go until I feel it’s right.
It’s an obsession.
It never goes away. And when I am not thinking about this book, I am thinking about the next one.
So that’s my writing process. Later, I’ll tell you about my research process, which is also a part of my writing process, and is very deep, even for things that might seem quite shallow.