Writing is hard. Writing a full length novel is extremely hard. As I've mentioned before on my blog, it took many years and countless attempts before I was able to successfully complete a first draft of a full book. To put it in perspective, I recently found a notebook from 7th grade that had about half a book scribbled into the pages. It's been a long road. But through all these years of trial and error, I've found a writing process that works for me. I used this process to complete The Last Empath of Doctsland and I'm using it again for my current WIP (Work in Progress for my non-writers/artists out there). I find this process to be helpful, and it gives me structure, so I thought I'd share it in case it could be of use to anyone else!
Step 1: Make a notes/outline sheet.
My notes sheet consists of many things, but the main items are characters lists and descriptions, and a chapter by chapter outline. I include desired word counts, and add in notes for story continuity as I write. I keep this sheet open whenever I'm writing or editing so I can reference it and make sure I don't contradict myself or forget important details that I've made note of. This also helps me to get a feel of my characters and my story before I start writing. The outline in particular is helpful- this helps me with writer's block or writing myself into a corner.
Step 2: First Draft
The next step is pretty self explanatory. Using the notes and outlines I've made, I write the first draft of the book. This draft is usually very messy as I'm a lot more concerned with getting the story from my head to the page than anything else- I can always refine it later.
Step 3: Find a beta reader or two.
This step is super important for me before I start re-writes because it helps me understand what potential readers may like/dislike, what they don't understand, what they'd like to see more of, etc. Feedback from an outside source helps me to put the story into perspective so I know what to work on before I launch into re-writes. I will usually try to do this between the first and second draft, and then again between the 2nd and 3rd drafts. Different feedback from different beta readers is also very helpful.
Step 4: Rewrite and Edit.... like a million times.
I rewrote and edited The Last Empath of Doctsland so many times this year that I never want to read it again, to be honest. But each time was necessary to refine the story and turn it into something I like, and hopefully readers like as well!
Step 5: Leave it alone.
It's easy to get stuck in a never-ending cycle of editing, especially when you're nervous about sharing your work with the world. You want it to be perfect! But there does some a time where you need to let your baby go and stop fiddling with it. Once that time came with The Last Empath of Doctsland I resolved to just not even look at it again, otherwise I'd want to continue changing things.
What am I reading these days, you ask?
Well, it's The Sadeiest by Austrian Spencer of course!
This book is unlike any book I've ever read before. I'm not particularly well-versed in horror other than reading several Stephen King books, but after The Sadeiest I'm definitely going to branch out more in that genre. The book tells the story of death through a series of disjointed scenes focusing of various characters. Through the eyes of death, you walk through the lives of the deceased in a unique and poignant snapshots. You're left reeling, trying to put the pieces of the story together whilst getting the images out of your head before bed (I read before I go to sleep, and last night I definitely woke up in the middle of the night thinking about the book). The Sadeiest is both gripping and haunting, and I would definitely recommend it!