What? Writers have a process? Well, the good ones do.
Let’s get this out of the way right up front. I have written two full-length novels and have started a third. My style and process is known as being a “pantser” in the writing community. This means I do not have an outline or pre-determined track for my story. I make it up as I go…actually my characters talk to me and we wrestle about it. I don’t recommend this for just anyone as it is like doing a high-wire act with no safety net. But, for those of us who like it, it can be a lot of fun. I get to be as surprised as my readers as my tale unfolds. I begin with an idea or “what if” thing in my mind, but after that I am on Toad’s Wild Ride!
I begin with the selection of the main locations where my story will take place and often this will entail some research which I do at that time. I write about things I know as often as possible, but when I need more, I find it and learn about it. Then I create my main character and secondary characters. I make sure they have the necessary skills and traits that will enable them to do what I need them to do within the storyline. If necessary, I add another character along the way to give me the ability to pivot my plot in the direction I want it to go. I don’t like rewriting large portions of a book, so I give these things a lot of thought while in the creation process. Then, I turn my characters loose on the world and allow them to do wonderful and crazy things and encounter incredible danger along the way. I don’t like killing my characters off very much so this is always a challenge for me. I’m a softie.
I alternate between different plot lines in my book frequently. I don’t want the reader to get bored or bogged down, so I use short chapters and alternating storylines to keep it moving. Stephen King says the main thing to remember is, it’s all about the story.
I do a lot of revisions and editing while I am writing the first draft which is not the norm I am told. But when I have completed it, I have something fairly solid to work with already as I begin final editing. I just prefer it that way.
I allow my wife and no more than two additional beta readers to review my draft and I take their impressions into consideration. But in the end, I follow my own instincts. Then, off it goes to the editor and then the publisher.
This is how I do it. Pantser or Outliner, makes no difference. You do what works best for you!
Larry Hamilton www.hamiltonhousebooks.com
Author of The Atlantis Codes and Critical Mass