How do you like to write?
I was quite amused when I started my writing journey in earnest in 2020, to find out that there were two generally accepted types of writers. Planners and…pantsers. You have to be careful how you say that! (Nobody wants to be called a pants writer). Basically, you either plan plan plan or fly by the seat of your pants. Fun!
It took me a little while to figure out that I am somewhere in the middle. Which on reflection is unsurprising since I am a complicated hot mess of contradictions. The idea of planning every little part of my book and then writing it filled me with horror. It felt as though all the joy was taken out of it. Yet, I also knew that being completely pants didn’t work for me either, because I’d get lost and find I didn’t know how to end.
There's a term for these people: a Planster.
I like to map out my story, using a classic story arc or beats. I tend to use the beats outlined in Save the Cat by Blake Snyder; that works for me, although there are others. I also write lots of detail about my characters and map out their arc too so I can see there is growth (or mental decline - always fun to write!) and a journey for them to go on.
Then I’m straight into writing the first draft. I try not to overthink this stage, it’s important to just get the story out, any finessing (and changing of course) comes later. For me, this is the most fun of all the stages. I’ve been lucky enough not to have an issue with writers block, but that is where the story arc is so helpful; you always have some idea of where the story is going.
Editing is the biggest and most laborious of stages. I really feels as though it will never be finished. I also made some pretty huge edits in Waiting for the Winds to Change, right before submitting it. I felt the start was too slow and took too long to build. It was worth it though.
I work with beta readers, editors and my writing coach to help me. I share ideas for the title with other writing friends to get feedback, as well as sharing the synopsis for input. Writing the actual story is just a fraction of the work that an author has to do.
Then I edit some more!
I’ve seen a lot of other new writers ask ‘when will you know that it’s complete?’
I think this is tricky to answer, and perhaps more experienced writers get better at this and have to do fewer edits, but I just kept going until I was happy with it. There are no more grammatical, punctuation or spelling errors (that I can find), the pacing seems good and I don't find any passages that made me obviously cringe (writers will know that feeling well).
Oh, and it is a very good idea to put your beloved manuscript away once in a while and do something else. Because coming back to it with fresh eyes always reveals something you’ve gone blind over before.
And then that’s it, you just have the submissions to deal with - which is a major undertaking in itself!
And then there's marketing and publicity...which is a whole 'nother topic!