Ongoing Writing Process

In the last couple weeks I’ve described the first steps in my writing process, from the conception of the story idea, through to the publication of the book.  Today I share why I believe it’s always an ongoing writing process.

So What’s Next?

While the book is complete, the related writing process continues for me, because, as I’ve said, I see my stories as living things, so the completed book is perhaps only an adolescent.  It still needs nurturing.  The world of books is a scary one and the story needs the author’s and wider family’s help to explore the world.

The wider family of which I speak are not only my family, friends, and beta readers, but in today’s tech savvy world, they are reviewers, social media users, and other authors.  I personally feel that authors, or indeed anyone who writes, should not see our peers as competition, but instead be supportive of each other.  We all need friends and a newly published book is no exception.

Social Media

Social media is a great tool in this ever expanding world and greatly aids the ongoing writing process.  Twitter is one of my favorites and I can be found on there @RebekahSFiore.  The use of hashtags makes both sharing and searching so easy on the site. Here are some I use…

#MondayBlogs ~ For those of us who only post to our blogs on Mondays

#Romance #Romantic #Erotic and #Erotica #EARTG ~ Genre specific. The latter is Erotica Author ReTweet Group

#AmWriting #AmReading ~ Widely used hashtags for anyone who reads or writes, so absolutely everyone

#IndieAuthor #SupportIA #IARTG ~ Specifically for Indie authors. The latter is Indie Author ReTweet Group

#1LineWed ~ Authors share a single line from a work. My One Line Wednesday tweets are currently all taken from Serendipity

#Amazon #Kindle #Ebook #Smashwords #Nook ~ Retailer/ reading

For a comprehensive list of author specific hashtags take a look at this Ultimate List.

What are your favorite hashtags?  Please leave me a comment and let me know.  I’d love to chat

Next Steps In My Writing Process

In last week’s post I described the first part of my writing process, from conception of a story idea through to the second edit.  This week, I describe the next steps in the process…

First Look

When the second edit is complete, I let others read the story for the first time, either with or without the cover art, which I’ll say more about in a moment.  My nerves always kick up at this point.  I’ve put so much time and effort into the story that letting anyone see it is terrifying.

My husband is always the first to read anything I write, and I’ll implement any changes he suggests.  I then send it to my network of beta readers and friends who are happy to take a look.

If their response is positive, I schedule a publication date.  If, however, they inform of any errors, or have any suggestions, I take those on board and action them where necessary.

Cover Design

Although I’m an artist myself, I outsourced cover design for Serendipity, my first published work so I could focus on writing and promotion.  I wanted to keep costs down, so I decided to go with a pre-designed cover.

There are many great designers out there and I used this list as a starting point, having been directed to it by a friend.  I looked through a number of them, before returning to the first I’d seen, Melissa Alvarez’s BookCovers.us.  The moment I saw the image, I loved it and felt connected to it.  That said, I needed to make sure it was the one, so looked at other images on that site and elsewhere.  I liked some others, so showed my husband three designs and asked him which he liked, without saying which I was drawn to.  He chose the same one and within minutes I’d completed the purchase.

The Story Becomes A Book

Once the story is complete, the penultimate step for me is writing the various elements needed to take a story and turn it into a book.  The front and back matter, including the blurb.

The last step, is perhaps the most important for anyone who independently publishes; formatting everything for publication.  I begin by “nuking” my completed manuscript to remove any hidden formatting; by pasting it into Notepad and then into a new Microsoft Word document.  Creating each version from this new Master doesn’t take long at all, around a couple hours.  Each version is then read again to check for any errors.

The submission process for both distributors is easy, and neither take long to publish.  For more control over the publication date, I always allow pre-order period, prior to the official launch date.  Serendipity was available for two weeks ahead of the launch on February 1st.

Seeing the book on a retailer website is a special moment and something that should be celebrated.  It’s another nerve wracking but exciting time in the life of the story as you await the next step.  For me it’s akin to the final weeks of pregnancy, regardless of whether, in reality, you’re physically capable of birth. You’ve nurtured and developed the story for so long and the wait for it’s birth, or launch, is full of emotion.

Part of the fun for me is thanks to Amazon’s thirteen global market websites.  Seeing the book page on each site in the various languages and the seemingly vast differences in price, thanks to the different currency conversions is entertaining for me.

There’s More

While it might seem as if the writing process is complete.  For me there’s still more to it.  In next week’s blog post, I’ll describe the next steps.

Are You An Expectant Parent?

Either in reality or as a writer?  Do you get nervous when anyone else reads your story?  Please leave a comment so we can share our experiences of the always emotional time.

My Writing Process

I think of my writing as a living thing that needs nurturing to allow it to grow and develop.  In this post I’ll discuss elements of my writing process.

Planning

Sometimes I let an idea, or a premise for a story roll around in my mind for a long time before writing a single word.  When the idea’s almost infantile cries become more demanding, I make notes in a notebook and let it develop.

Writing can be and often is a solitary calling.  But it’s vitally important I don’t become isolated.  I always discuss my ideas with my husband in the first instance.  He knows me and my style better than anyone.  He tells me what he thinks and occasionally suggests something I’ve perhaps not thought of.

When I’m happy with the ideas, I type up the chapter framework as I see it at that time.

First Draft

 

When I’m happy with the framework, or when the story’s metaphorical cries are becoming more persistent, I start writing.  I always start with the first chapter, but from that point I’m not too concerned about doing things chronologically.  Again, I listen to and observe the story in my mind and if a chapter, or even some part of one later on is demanding attention, I give it.

Writing this way helps battle the nightmare that is writer’s block.  If the words aren’t flowing as freely as I’d like, but something else is, perhaps a section of dialog, I get that written.

While all my chapters are typed in individual documents, I don’t abandon the notebook.  It’s an essential tool for a writer at all times, and I’ll jot ideas down as they come to mind.

When the initial very rough draft of a chapter is complete, I leave it overnight while going over what I’ve written in my mind.  Is there anything I’ve inadvertently missed out?  If there is, I’ll revisit the chapter and add it in as soon as possible.  At that point I might also do some very basic edits, but only if I notice something immediately.

When I’m happy, before moving on to the next chapter, I make a note of the individual and cumulative word count.  Similarly to how we nurture and watch our children grow and develop, I like to see how the story is growing, and it also helps during the editing process.

First Edit

The editorial process can, and should be labor intensive.  It should never be rushed.  I always leave anything, even these blog posts, to rest for a while before beginning the edit.  Depending on the length of the first draft, I don’t touch it for anywhere between a day, to a couple months, or even longer.  By the time the first draft is complete I’m so familiar with the story, having been so immersed in it, I need a break to clear my mind.  To spend time with my husband and family and anyone or anything else I’ve neglected.

When I’m ready to edit, usually when the story’s cries are becoming more persistent and demanding of my attention, I always start with what I think of as a pre-edit, or first phase.  Using Diana Urban’s list of 43 Words you should cut from your writing, I find and replace, or delete them.  The word list is extensive, so I go through each chapter in turn in 5 word blocks to make it easier.  Yes, it means I’m going over each chapter multiple times, but I find it actually speeds the process up.  When each block is complete, I note the revised word count.  It is surprising how much the numbers change, even during this first phase.

I begin the true first edit by reading each chapter aloud, editing as I go.  By reading this way, you pick up things that aren’t so obvious when reading silently.  I repeat the step any number of times, but never less than twice, because it is so easy to miss something the first time.  That is especially true, if, during the first read I’ve added in extra details.  Then, the second read in effect becomes the first and so is vitally important.

Second Edit

This is when I check certain things for consistency, including for example the number of times a character uses a catchphrase.  I go through each chapter highlighting them in the document and edit where necessary.

When I’m relatively happy with the draft, I print the whole thing.  Similarly to reading aloud, it helps catch things I’d otherwise miss, because I’ve gotten so used to seeing the words on screen.  By seeing the story in print, it’s almost as if I’m looking at it anew.  I make notes on the printed copy, then go back to the electronic version and implement them.

When I’m happy with the manuscript, I move on to the next step.  I’ll share that with you next week.

What’s Your Writing Process?

Our writing process is as individual as we are.  Is yours similar or vastly different from mine?  Or have you got any suggestions on how I can improve?  Please leave me a comment and let me know.