A couple days ago, I told you a bit about my editing process, so now I guess I should tell you about my writing process.
This is a more difficult post to write because the process is more involved. I’m going to try to summarize it, though.
I tend to go through five steps, though I don’t think of them like this at the time.
- Idea Generation
What happens in each step of the process?
I keep a notebook with lists of ideas or summaries of something I want to do. Some of these “notebooks” are files in my computer, though I am a huge fan of keeping a notebook nearby as often as possible.
When I find an idea that I want to work on, I walk around with it my head for a while. How long varies. For one story, I walked around with the main character telling me all about herself for two weeks before she finally told me her name. That story was started, but it hasn’t ever been finished. It will be in the not-too-distant future.
Otherwise known as planning and research. This is where I figure out if it’s nonfiction or fiction, poetry or prose, long or short. And I do some preliminary research if it’s something I don’t know much about. I limit my research time, though, because I could easily spend too much time doing that and very little writing.
This step is pretty self-explanatory. I will do extra research from time to time if it’s needed. This step also generally takes the longest.
We already talked about this on Tuesday, but it’s worth including here, too. I view editing as part of the creative process as well. In my writing phase, I get the bones of the story/article/post down. Then in editing, I often add new content, so it’s a mashup of editing and writing. In general, it’s shaping.
Sometimes I will listen to music as I do this. Again, it’s something with little or no lyrics and often the same type of music I listen to while editing.
What does your process look like?
When you think about editing, I’m sure you imagine the proverbial red pen, bleeding all over the page. Right?
Although the red pen still, undoubtedly, has its place, things have changed quite a bit. I would say 99% of my editing is done on the computer.
I use a PC, so I use Microsoft Word. When I finish the draft of a manuscript, I let it sit for up to a week. (Honestly, usually it doesn’t sit that long, just a few days.) When I open the file to edit, I use the Track Changes feature.
For fiction and nonfiction, I start with the little things: spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Then I move on to continuity. I look at things like flow and transitions. For fiction, I look at character development, dialog, and story progression. I look for plot holes. (Sometimes I don’t see them, so I use beta readers to help me find those.)
I go over it more than once before I send it to either an editor if I’m self-publishing or an agent/publisher if I want to go a different route. Typically, I go over it at least four rounds. Each round consists of multiple passes checking everything I mentioned above. On my current novel that I’m working on with The Wild Rose Press, I have about five passes for each round. I’m on the second round with them, which is really about the sixth round for me.
If you want to count each pass as its own editing round, then you could say RealmWalker: New Beginnings is undergoing its 30th editing pass. Is this too much?
Each pass, each round is making the story better and the characters more developed and stronger. This is particularly important where BethAnne is concerned. She’s my primary point-of-view character. I don’t want her to come across as someone who needs to be saved by a hero.
When it’s time to get to work, I sit down at the computer, turn on some music, and open the file of the moment. It can’t be just any music, though. I get too caught up in the lyrics of contemporary music and traditional classical music doesn’t help. I listen to electronic music that specifically says it’s good for studying or concentrating. It has a good beat, good tempo, and very little or no lyrics.
It keeps me on track and I get into a good work flow with that kind of music playing in my headphones. (Earbuds. Whatever.)
Here’s my question for you: What does your editing process look like? Do you listen to any music or do you work in silence?
If you’ve been on this blog any at all, you know the answer to this.
The short answer: Yes.
The long answer: Yes, and I have 10 books (including 2 novels and a book of poems), 3 short ebooks, and 3 short stories available under Jen Nipps (nonfiction) and Kat O’Reilly (fiction). I have another book in the editing process with a publisher and at least two more in that series. (One in progress, one in planning stages.)
I’ve had multiple articles and other short pieces published in WritingforDollars, Ada Magazine, the Ada News, Writers’ Journal, World of Myth Magazine, and 4Health Magazine. This doesn’t include various anthologies and other websites and blogs.
Some of the articles that were published in WritingforDollars have been republished in short ebooks through JEN Enterprises Presents and are: Bop Your Way Through Writer’s Block, 3 Keys to the Kingdom, and Why You Need a Writing Practice.
The short stories I currently have available are “They Call Me Malak,” “Sex, Politics, & Vampires,” and “This Is Your Karma.”
I’m keeping track of other things I want to write, so this is not all that you’ll see from me.
This could probably go into an FAQ section. A lot of times, I’m asked how much research do I do for my books.
The easy answer is: It depends on the book. Some require more research than others do.
Here’s the thing.
I like to research things. I can easily get lost in Google searches and following tangents until what I’m looking at bears nothing to the original search. So what do I do?
Honestly, I start writing. When I need to know something, I look up that thing. For example, in Navajo Rose, I needed to know some police scanner codes. I did a Google search on that phrase and got a pretty good list on various scanner codes used in law enforcement.
Doing research like this keeps me on track and I don’t go off on very many tangents.
It should go without saying that if I’m writing anything historical/semi-historical, I do a lot more research up front, but I do enough to get going and then look up whatever else I need to know.
I’m still hoping to find an old map of Ireland, the older the better.
I’m a day late with this post. To be honest, I didn’t decide until late Wednesday night that I would be participating in NaNoWriMo this year.
I know a lot of you know what NaNoWriMo is, but there are probably a lot who don’t.
November is National Novel Writing Month. It was started in 1999. In 2005, they became a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization.
Here is a little bit about NaNoWriMo (or NaNo for short):
National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) believes stories matter. The event began in 1999, and in 2005, National Novel Writing Month became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. NaNoWriMo’s programs now include National Novel Writing Month in November, Camp NaNoWriMo, the Young Writers Program, Come Write In, and the “Now What?” Months.
Last year, NaNo had some pretty impressive numbers.
402,142 participants, including 95,912 students and educators in the Young Writers Program, started the month as auto mechanics, out-of-work actors, and middle school English teachers. They walked away novelists.
972 volunteer Municipal Liaisons guided 646 regions on six continents.
1,195 libraries, bookstores, and community centers opened their doors to novelists through the Come Write In program.
65,962 Campers tackled a writing project—novel or not—at Camp NaNoWriMo.
And lest you think it’s just a vanity exercise to see if you can do it (50,000 words in one month is a lot for some people and not-so-much for others):
Hundreds of NaNoWriMo novels have been traditionally published. They include Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants, Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, Hugh Howey’s Wool, Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, Jason Hough’s The Darwin Elevator, and Marissa Meyer’s Cinder.
But, really, this just scratches the surface of all that NaNo is. To learn more about it, I encourage you to visit the site and poke around in the “about” section. If you want to try it, leave your NaNo username in the comments here and I’ll add you as a writing buddy.
I’ll see you tomorrow. I have some writing to do.
We’re going from nonfiction to fiction. Romance, actually. And it does get steamy.
Kiernan’s Curse started with a dream I had. The first past of the dream is used in the beginning. The second part of the dream is in the middle.
Set in central Ireland in the early-mid Middle Ages, this is the book where I decided on my pen name. I wanted something that sounded Irish.
Can a heart be unsealed and allowed to love again after being closed as tightly as the west tower?
Kiernan Maguire fends off attacks on the village of Beinn but Maeb Faly is determined she won’t be so easily turned away. With battles waging on his health, his keep, and his heart, something has to give.
This is book 1 of the Maguire Men. Others in the series are in various stages of completion. I’ll let you know when they are available.
It will be free on Kindle from Friday, October 19, 2018, to October 23, 2018.