The Writing Process Blog Tour

Welcome to the next stage of the writing process blog tour!

I am following Lisa who I met while studying How to Think Sideways with Holly Lisle.

I do realise that those participating in the blog tour are all at different stages in their writing career, but we all find a way that works to get the next scene or chapter written.

1. What Am I Currently Working On?

I work on plotting the next story, editing or publishing the last story, and writing the current story, using blocks of available time.

At the moment, I just completed a last edit of a second SciFi Novella about a space pilot who dreams warnings of events soon to happen. Sensing Danger I and II have been fun to plot, write and edit. I am also planning a third in the Sensing Danger universe, that, hopefully, will give a good ending to the three novellas.

I am plotting a Fantasy novel now, learning all about magic and settings and characters in fantasy novels, while doing a two year novel course at Forward Motion for Writers.

FM is a wonderful site with plenty of writers willing to give advice or just join in friendly chats. If you have not visited FM do so. You will be surprised with the many small courses, and writers who will cheer you on with your current projects.

I have another novelette plotted in my Broken universe waiting for me to find time to write the scenes.

I have a second mystery novelette plotted with P. I. Robins, the main character in Divided Loyalties.

I have new covers to create for most of my novels and novella, but decided I need to learn to use Photoshop to create the images first, so try to spend 2-3 hours twice a week learning to colour drawings so that they look like photos.

It is fun to draw the space ships and planets but I still think they need a lot of work before I can upload the new covers to the sites and get the print layouts ready for POD.

2. How Does My Work Differ From Others In My Genre?

I have read every Anne McCaffrey, Elizabeth Moon, Mercedes Lackey, and L E Modesitt, Jr. story I could get my hands on, so no doubt about it, I use similar styles to them in my SciFi and Fantasy.

In SciFi, I prefer strong characters (male, female, or alien) making decisions and acting on them, not pondering what to do next. So I differ to most SciFi stories where the setting is more important than the plot, by making the plot and characters more important than the setting. Hopefully I will get better at improving the settings as I learn more.

In Fantasy, I hope (still working on the first fantasy novel) to have a good magic system where there is a payment for using magic, and that I include interesting settings.

As for mysteries, I have the whole collection of Agatha Christie novels, so hopefully, I will bring interesting settings and unusual characters to my mysteries.

I love working on the character motives and red herrings, ways of committing murder and solving same, and coming up with new ideas or events, but, as most plots have been worked before, I just hope I have a refreshing angle on old murder themes.

3. Why Do I Write What I Write?

I started writing because the publishers stopped publishing the types of stories I love to read. Now, with the changes in technology, there are many more Indie writers publishing their works, so I again have lots of books to choose from to read for pleasure.

However, having studied how to write novels, I find I can think of better endings or middles for many of the books I read, so lose interest quickly when I guess where the stories are leading.

I mainly write to discover how my story goes as I write it.

4. How Does My Writing Process Work?

  • I start with an idea such as reading something at NASA web site or in the newspaper and ask “what if” and think of how far into the future I would need to go for the scientists to work out the results of the “what if” ideas.
  • Then I work out if the ideas would be better off as SciFi or Mystery or Fantasy or Thriller.
  • Once I decide on the genre, I work on the character, conflicts and setting.
  • After that, I work on the plot using James N Frey’s Premise process. If the plot falls flat, I know I need to work on conflict and character and setting some more before I try the Premise process again.
  • Assuming I am happy with the process of plotting, I use Dramatica Pro to answer all the questions needed to tie together the characters arcs and conflict arcs and story arc. I print out the answers if the story is a full novel. If the story is a novella or novelette I just refer to the Dramatica report as I write. This process helps me fix timelines for multiple characters, set descriptions of characters so I don’t change their eye colour half way through the story, or many other details I could get wrong as I write. I find there is much less editing if I work the plot in Dramatica Pro, before I write the story.
  • Before I write the scenes in Word, I copy in the following text as a guide for each scene.

Create:
Weather, lighting, building and surroundings (setting)
*position of actor, desc. including height, weight, colouring, clothes, jewellery, action, speech with tone, volume, more action, body language (emotion)
repeat * for each actor in scene

Complicate:
action = feeling> reflex> reaction>speech

Resolve:
Final action/speech/twist (changed emotion)

  • Then I close my eyes and image the scene playing out as a movie and add dot points in each section for what the scene needs based on the scene sentence, and finally I work through the dot points writing detail of the action, description, dialogue, emotions, etc until I complete the scene.
  • I use a Time Tracker Excel spreadsheet to record the time I sit and write, even when I don’t feel like writing. I find reading and fixing spelling mistakes for the previous day’s scenes before starting the next scene helps get my head back into the character and story, and I log the editing time in the Time Tracker as well as the new words written. The main reason I track my time is to work out how long it takes from start through editing, cover creation and pod layout to publish each story and what the break even sales count needs will be.
  • I try to write every morning, from Monday to Friday, until I complete the first draft. I take a break every hour for at least five minutes. Mostly I write for two hours, but other days I can write for three or four hours before I quit. Some days I struggle with a scene and only get 500 – 800 words per hour, and other days I get over a 1000 words per hour.
  • I can change any scene as I write as long as it does not break the premise and resolution. This gives me lots of room to experiment or add other cool conflicts. The main question I ask when I come up with another cool plot point is “Can this scene be anywhere in the story?” If the answer is “yes” I dump the plot point because the story must lead from the first scene to the next, through to the climax and resolution, as per James N Frey’s Premise process.
  • Sticking to this question for every scene keeps the editing of plot down to zero, and editing for spelling mistakes each morning keeps all the rest of the editing down once the story is completed.
  • In the afternoons I work on publisher tasks, such as creating images, cover layout, interior layout for POD or many other things relating to publishing my completed stories. This way I keep the other tasks under control and don’t feel guilty that I am spending time away from writing.
  • When I edit the completed story, I run the spell check, then use a speech program I wrote to read the scenes in MS Word back to me, so I can fix any sentences that don’t flow smoothly and add more detailed description where required, because I don’t add enough description while writing the draft.
  • I run a Manuscript Analyser program I wrote to count word usage. I have a habit of using the same words too much, rather than use more descriptive words.
  • Once I fix the overused words, I send my story to beta readers. While I wait to hear back from the beta readers, I work on completing the cover and blurb, or start the next story plot waiting to be written.
  • I make any changes required if the beta readers question something then make a copy of the final draft.
  • I make three copies of the final draft, one for Smashwords, a second copy for Calibre to format for Amazon and a third copy for formatting in Scribus for CreateSpace.
  • I upload the formatted files to the web distributors, enter the links in another spreadsheet, and blog on the different sites. Done.

My process works for me, but could become too distracting for many other writers. I rely on the plotted outline, using one scene sentences showing action, conflict and resolution of the scene. The plot is only a guideline, and subject to lots of changes as the characters take over the story, but, because I get the plot correct before starting to write the scenes, I keep the plot editing to a minimum.

What about you? Similar process or totally different?

If you wish to participate in this blog tour with a blog of your writing process, please comment below.

You only have to answer the above four questions with a link back to my blog and find another writer to follow you. I will do an intro to your blog with a link so my readers can check out your site. Please comment if you are interested and I can email you about writing your intro with links on my blog.

Of course, I could possibility be the last blogger on this writing process blog tour!

Either way, I hope you are all inspired to work on your own writing processes, whether you use a seat-of-your-pants or plotter process.

Keep writing and having fun.

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