May 5, 2013

Wash, Rinse and Repeat: The Cycle of Writing Chapter By Chapter

As a magician of novels, aspiring writers often inquire about my writing process, so here is the five-step program exclusively available to you at the low cost of your first born novel.

By using this easy five-step process of Plan, Write, Review, Edit and Summarize, I managed to write a novel in nine months and only worked on it about three days a week for five hours per day!

1: Plan

No villain tries to take over the world without a plan, even if it doesn’t quite turn out the way she intended.  To get a general idea of where the plot is heading, I write a brief paragraph exploring what I think the chapter will be about.  This is when I decide whose point of view will most effectually advance the plot while still maintaining cinematic appeal.  I see my book as a movie: each chapter is a scene in that movie which has to feed the reader new information in an entertaining way.  The most planning goes into deciding how to write opening scenes and flashbacks, since I feel those are the most difficult parts of writing a book.  I’m not glued to the plan, but it gives me a jumping off point.  After I get a feel for how I’m writing the chapter’s tone, pace and theme, I ignore the plan and start writing spontaneously.        

2: Write

Put on your blindfold and start walking!  I write the chapter and see where it leads; sometimes doing a little “method writing” to get into character kind of like “method actors.”

Here are some of my favorite getting-into-character quotes from Reunion at Walnut Cherryville:

“I kicked my shoes off, threw my socks away and ran barefoot across the field…sometimes doing cartwheels…in my boxers.  The best feeling in the world was as simple as the earth between my toes.” ~ Johnny zoning out of reality thinking about his utopia. 

“A young man with a neatly ironed, black, Armani suit and matching Prada, pressed leather loafers strutted down the prison catwalk.  He stopped in front of our cell, gave me a piercing glare with his powerful emerald eyes and placed the laundry bag he held on the floor.  He was definitely fierce and had an amazing bone structure…one of the best I’d seen.” ~ Laura’s thoughts the first time she saw Kenneth.

“It’s an interactive, photovoltaic, LCD, frameless design, damage resistant, weather resistant, thermally durable, tough, electro optic, large-pane display glass!” ~ Vincent enthusiastic about his favorite fem-bot, ComCon.     

“I appreciate women of all different shapes and sizes, but my favorite kind of woman was a curvy, tall woman with some double D’s…now that’s bangin’!” ~ Collins thinking about the ladies.

3: Review

I have my sister, Julia, read the chapter, mark mistakes and give feedback for things to add or change.  It’s helpful to have someone you can trust review the chapter and have them give you their honest opinion about how the chapter was executed.  Since Julia does this for me, she’s my ghostwriter sometimes contributing her own ideas to the story.  

4: Edit

The chapter bleeds with red ink making you feel like your constructive critic has murdered your work.  You don’t always have to revise everything they recommend changing, but take time to evaluate their comments and suggestions.  If I agree with the suggested changes, then I apply the editorial feedback and rewrite as necessary.  Editing chapter by chapter takes some of the stress out of the editing process when it comes time to finalize the entire book.     

5: Summarize

Ah, the dreaded chapter summaries!  I always drag my feet about doing them because it’s like writing a book report, so they take some time to finish, especially when I let the chapters build up.  This involves rereading the chapter, taking note of details that are pivotal to the main plot, sub-plots or characters.  I then write a summary recording what was actually written and list unanswered questions posed in the chapter that will need to be addressed later.  These chapter summaries reflect my writing so I can track multiple plotlines and predict where they’re heading next.  It’s a good reference tool for recalling upon flashbacks.  Once the book is complete, they serve as my synopsis or outline of the entire book.   

There you have it!  My writing process revealed.  I accept novel payments from all major word-processing programs in the form of doc or pdf file formats.    

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