Okay, okay... so, I may have fibbed a little the last time I posted in stating that I'd be back soon....
I'm sorry to have kept you waiting. When I started my publishing journey, I told you all that I wanted you to be a part of it, and I meant it. So, forgive me for taking so long to come back and catch up. I promise I'm going to do better!
So, I have a bit of good news. My time away wasn't just spent Netflix-ing and reading some spectacular books, but a lot of it was spent finishing my new novel. That's right! I've officially finished three novels now, and with each novel my writing process has changed and improved a bit.
Here is a sneak peek into what my process looks like:
Step 1: The voices come to me.
Okay, laugh it up. My husband thinks I'm ridiculous when I say this too, but I'm pretty serious. I've never gone all Stephanie Meyer and 'had a dream' that lead to a great story idea, but so far just when I've finished a novel and decided to give myself a break... I'll start hearing my new character. Each of my characters are so different, they all have flaws and parts of their lives that never make it into my books. For a few weeks, I allow myself to learn about them and figure out exactly what I want you all to take away from the story they have to tell. (I'm currently in this phase for manuscript #4, and boy is it fun!)
Step 2: Pen to Paper
For the next step, I usually write out an outline. It's not always specific or even accurate. (The murderer in my first novel never even existed in the outline) I'll take a few days to write down each character and describe them in great detail. Hair color, eye color, height, what they like, what they don't like, how they grew up, who they admire, what secrets they keep. It's always interesting in this stage because I finally get to lay all of my ideas out and see the characters brought to life. I'll usually even base them (physically) off of someone I know, that way when I'm writing the novel I can picture them in my head and it makes the descriptions come a lot easier. I keep the outline with me throughout the process that way I am sure my characters are consistent and someone's hair doesn't change from blonde to red throughout the story or that someone who is strong willed and stubborn doesn't start acting weak for no apparent reason. This is also the point where I will begin doing my research on elements I will include in my novel that I'm unfamiliar with. (My Google searches probably have me on some sort of watch list by now lol!)
Step 3: The Notebook Comes Out
I always write my first draft on paper. ALWAYS. A very good friend and fellow writer once told me there was nothing better than putting pen to paper and letting your ideas flow, and he was right! I usually fill about three large notebooks with my first draft. By the end of it, my hands are cramping, the margins are scribbled with notes, edits, additions, and thoughts, and the book finally has it's bones. This step takes the longest, usually about six- nine months. Some weeks I'll have no inspiration or I can't seem to figure out where the characters are headed and so I'll just jot down ideas until the perfect one comes to me. Sometimes the ideas flow out of me quicker than I can write them down--- you just never know what to expect day to day. FUN FACT: In the latest manuscript, there were a lot of minor characters who weren't mentioned a lot so they weren't added into my outline. I would draw blank spaces in the notebook if I couldn't remember their names (_______________) for me to fill in later, when I began editing. (Every character is important, it's just my memory!)
Step 4: Technology finds it's place
Finally, when my first draft is finished (and after I've let my hand rest for a few days) I begin typing. I'll spend hours a day in front of the computer going over my story, editing what I need to, and reliving the story once more. This process usually takes about two weeks to a month, depending on the word count and my schedule.
Step 5: Reading
When the last word has been typed (and after I do a happy dance), spell check has been checked, and I've checked for any formatting issues, I will read through the manuscript carefully, checking for any errors or inconsistencies, and fixing them as I go. After that, I will read it again, this time out loud to make sure all of the dialogue sounds natural. I also usually catch the majority of my errors when I read it out loud because my mind can't just fill in the blanks of what I was trying to say. My wonderful husband suffers through being read to like a kindergartener in order to help me improve my art and for that I love him. :) (and who are we kidding, he's getting to hear AMAZING stories for free! Audible, anyone?)
Step 6: Finishing Touches
After this, my novel is ready to be submitted to publishers. I usually write a 'blurb' right away (what you would find on the back cover or jacket of the book to tell you what it's about) If my story doesn't already have a title at this point, I add it now. As a creative outlet, I'll play around with book covers and marketing ideas.
Step 7: Celebrate(!!) & Wait
For a moment, my work is done. I sit back with a book that has been on my 'To Read' List for nine months and enjoy it. I bask in my accomplishments (tehe.) and try to find a new show to binge watch. And then I wait. I wait for good news to come and I wait to hear that little voice- to tell me it's time to start the process again-- they've got a story to tell.
Thanks so much for reading my post. I'd love to hear from you--- what is your writing experience like? Did anything I say sound similar to yours? Anything surprise you? Let me know!
Until next time!
Kiersten J Modglin is an author of suspense & mystery novels. Lover of books, blogs, and Boston Terriers.