Every writer tends to have their own process. Some sit down and start typing. Others develop a detailed outline and write to that. Some do meticulous research that allows brings realism to their fiction. My process tends to fluctuate as a learn more about the craft of writing. So, here is the much simplified workflow I go through now.
- I set the stage with the seed of an idea. It’s the overarching story that I want to pursue. I may not have any clue how it will end, where it will start, or how the characters will interact but I know it’s what I want to write about. For Serpents Unwound, it was the idea of hacking into a healthcare environment for revenge and profit.
- I start to sketch out some of the main characters. The protagonist. The antagonist. The sidekick, if there will be one. Essentially, any character that will play a significant role in the story I try to get an idea of who they are, what drives them, what their background is, and of course, what they look like. I want to be able to close my eyes and picture them.
- I then create a whole bunch of “what if” questions that range from the mundane to the extreme. While I think I have an idea of the plot this exercise helps develop interactions with characters and the choices they make in the story. It helps plant subplots and twists and turns and all the fun things that make a story a story.
- I throw in some research if there are items pertinent to the story. Locations. Images. Technology. Whatever is needed, this is where I take the time to gather up the details that will help create the “world” I’ll be playing in.
- Last, I outline my chapters and scenes. If you really want a good book on outlining I highly recommend K.M. Weiland’s book, “Outlining Your Novel: Mapping Your Way To Success“. She is an incredible talent and runs the “Helping Writers Become Authors” blog that I routinely follow.
- Write, write, write.
- Once the first draft is written I’ll then go down the path of self-editing and making revisions as I see fit. There are a number suggestions on how to do this if you Google it. Pick what works best for you.
*** Now… we go into the things I SHOULD have done with Serpents Unwound and as a novice writer learning the ropes… I’m now adding these to my process.***
- I’ll send a copy of the self-edited draft off to a few hand-picked beta readers to give me feedback on plot holes, glaring grammar mistakes that I didn’t pick up in my self-edit, areas that need more development or explanation, etc.
- The all important professional editor time. Regardless of how good you may think you are and how much you trust your beta readers to help pick things out, the need for a professional editor is critical. If you read the comments on Serpents Unwound you’ll notice that the overwhelmingly common criticism is grammar mistakes. Never again.
- I’ll likely use a design service for my book cover. I’m not an artist by any means.
- Do some pre-release marketing like a cover reveal… maybe a chance to read the first chapter if you sign up for my e-mail list, etc.
So there it is. My current writing process minus the multiple cups of coffee, middle of the night inspirations, frustration at certain plot elements, and of course, the little bit of apprehension at putting your work out for anybody on the planet to read and critique.