Having written a handful of novels now and a lot more scripts, I think I’ve identified my process:
- It all starts with a burst of inspiration and the awareness that an idea has the potential to be an interesting story. This happens a few times a day for me.
- This idea percolates a while until it demands to be written…or at least explored.
- I start what I call a BS file on the project which stands for “brain storm” or well…something else. Here I jot down what had previous been just brain mush. Putting things into words has a way of exposing flaws.
- I do some story-breaking and see if the idea holds water. My guide, The Plot Machine, comes in handy here. The idea may run out of gas, in which it’s sent back down to the minors where it percolates some more.
- Assuming the breaking goes well, I start the “blech” draft where I just start pounding out new words. Typically I start at the top and just jam 2000 words a day on the project. A better approach may be to start at the top of Act II cause that is really where the rubber hits the road.
- The second pass corrects all my “blech” prose and fills in the blanks of the plot. All the stuff I sort out in Act III is tracked into Act I. Often the whole story falls apart here and I wonder what I saw in it to begin with.
- A third pass further stitches the story together. I pay more attention to details here, like character names and motivations.
- The result is a readable draft that I can offer up to beta-readers. Then it’s a matter of wash-rinse-repeat until I’m so tired of the thing that I publish it.
It’s a tedious process, but so far I haven’t found a way to shorten it. I wish I could.