During one of my writing coach (WC) sessions, my WC says, “This is all crap. You have the bones, but nothing else. But DON’T PANIC. This must be part of your process.”
Okay, she didn’t say the ‘crap’ part, but the comment floored me nonetheless.
I don’t have a (friggin’) process. I’m floundering here, WC, help me!
But I know what she meant.
There are writers who craft a perfect first draft. You know, those gifted savants that pen a best seller at the age of twelve, and go on to a long and splendid career.
Then there’s the rest of us. We plod through draft after draft until we manage to pummel words into a story shape. We then fling it upon the world (or agent), hoping readers will see past the tangled mess to gaze upon the gem hidden beneath.
Okay, maybe that’s just me.
The thing is, the path one takes to finish a novel is as varied as everyone on this planet. Do you come up with the characters first, then the story? Do you have a plot and need characters to populate the parts? Do you write the ending, then figure out how everyone got there? Or do you start at the inception, when your main character is birthed? Do you write the back story first along with character sketches, magic rules, and other world-building features (politics, religion, etc)? Do you outline? Or just wing it?
All these things are part of the writing process. And it doesn’t end there. Once the draft is complete. There are re-writes, revisions, edits, proofing, formatting, and then (maybe) publishing. Phew! It is a wonder there are as many books out there, considering how much work is involved.
Regardless of how we get there, we all want to get published (traditional or self). But how? How do you know what is the right way to write?
I am nearing the end of a my third novel length-work. And I don’t have a clue what my process is. I do know that what I’ve done in the past did not work. But I’m also beginning to see that writing a crappy first draft is a necessary part of my process. For me, the trick is I can’t end it there. Once I’m finished with that first draft, it is not a matter of moving on to edits and minor plot revisions, but major re-writes are in order. Maybe in the future I can bypass the crappy-first-draft phase, maybe not. With the guidance of my WC, I can now see that my first draft is just that – a draft.
The bones are there. I just have to add the flesh and blood.
What’s your favorite part of the writing process? Your least favored part?
- How I Wrote KING CITY (leegoldberg.typepad.com)
- Everything you need to know about crapping at the opera before 1830 [Secret History] (io9.com) (I couldn’t help including this one. Sorry, WC!)
- What is the easiest part of the writing process? What is the most difficult? (ptbertram.wordpress.com)