Since I’m starting work on the second book in the Nightfall series, I think it a good time to provide a rundown of my writing process. I will also be putting up a progress graphic on the sidebar of this blog to keep track!
The first book, From the Dark, was written in the following way, albeit that most of it was an unconscious process to me. What follows is the recapitulation of it, as well as how I hope to apply the process to Into the Light (working title.)
Stage 0: Brainstorming (and Research)
For me, brainstorming amounts to coming up with the starting points of the plot.
Something I will expand on in future posts is that I tend to come up with the plot as I write.
For FtD, brainstorming meant coming up with the core concept I wanted in the book (which for FtD was a spaceship heist. Yes! It has turned out to be more than that.)
For the second book, ItL, I’ve been helped in the brainstorming by having looked ahead toward the next two books when I was writing FtD. I have a much bigger web of starting points to work with, most of which can be attributed to having spent the amount of time I have with the world and the characters.
Research for FtD took three months, plus more wherever it was needed during the writing. For ItL, it will mostly be a matter of looking things up when I need them.
Stage 1: The First Draft
The First Draft is where I plan to put down a set number of words per day, scaffolding the ideas and plot that I’ve brainstormed.
For FtD this took about two years. To be sure, when I was writing FtD, I didn’t realize it was just the first draft. I’d gone into it with the typical new author’s naivety that I was writing the final draft. So I spent a lot of time polishing sentences and sections, some of which were entirely cut away for the final manuscript.
For ItL my goals have become much clearer. I’m writing with the understanding that much of this will be reworked or rewritten, and the goal is, as I’ve said above, to scaffold entire sections; to see if ideas work; and to get a sense of the general flow of the book.
For ItL, I would like Stage 1 to take three months, instead of the twenty-four it took for FtL.
The discrepancy is that a lot of the process of writing FtL was me struggling with finding a style and voice that fit the genre and what I wanted to do. Much of the three+ years writing FtL was, unbeknownst to me at the time, the process of this happening. For ItL, I would say I am able to draw on a more-stabilized style + voice, and hopefully will be able to save a lot of time for Stage 1.
Stage 2: The Second Draft
Although it sounds iterative (first, second), the Second Draft has quite a distinct set of goals for me. These are: to rework sections that didn’t work in Stage 1; to rewrite sentences to become of better quality; and to cut, edit, or add things to form the flow of the book.
Stage 2 will involve reading a section a day, then rewriting or reworking it as needed. In Stage 2, writing quality becomes one of the top priorities.
For FtD, the process was mashed in together with Stage 1 and Stage 3, and indeed continued all the way till the self-publishing. For ItL, I hope for the process to take three months to four months.
At the end of Stage 2 I will give the book to T. to read for feedback. T. was my first reader for FtD and will be for ItL.
Stage 3: Working on Feedback
In this stage, I respond to first readers + beta readers’ feedback.
This means I will respond to T.’s edits, then probably send the manuscript out for beta reading. (I have found a few trusted beta readers, including the fabulous Tiffany Dawn Munn at OwlEditing.com.) I will then respond to their feedback and edit the manuscript.
For FtD this was a continuing, messy process that took six months to a year. Now that I’ve been bloodied in the arena, I hope to shorten this process to three months.
Stage 4: Final polishing
Polishing of ideas, sentences, sections, and then the formatting to put it into a publishable format. In this stage, I will also look forward (in the sense of “planning for,” and not “anticipating with happiness”) to the marketing aspects of it, as I’ve found since beginning the self-publishing journey, that it is always better for marketing to have been planned for three months ago.
Stage 5: Publishing + marketing
I will write more about this in the future, as marketing was not anything I’d ever expected in my life to do, and will only describe here as being dunked into the cold, cold ocean to find out your life preserver was actually cotton candy.
Which is all to say I hope ItL sees light (yeah) in close-to-a-year’s time.
There is still a lot to unpack about the writing process, but I do want to get to spaceship-related posts sometime soon too! Till next time!
Header image licensed from Adobe Stock / © sdecoret.