The Writing Process: Part 2
This is the second half of my “Writing Process” article where I talk about how I go about crafting my novels. Part 1 can be found here.
Ah, the second draft. Time for spring cleaning. Here is where I address not only any typos or grammar issues I come across, but I rework dialogue, change details and descriptions, and even re-write whole scenes or chapters. I go through the entire manuscript, page by page. It’s a lot of work, but it goes much faster than the first draft.
By the time I’m done with the second draft, I feel like the story is more or less complete, but it’s still not ready for anyone to read.
This draft is the “read through” draft. Here is where I a pay special attention to how the words sound, actually reading the entire manuscript out loud. Sometimes you write something, but when you read it out loud it doesn’t sound quite right. So I read the entire manuscript straight through, marking any parts that I think need fixing. I don’t stop and actually make any changes, however, until I’m done. This helps keep me in the flow of the writing.
At the end of the read through, I go back an fix all the passages I’ve marked up. This process is rather quick and when it’s finished I’m at last ready to share it with the world (or at least a small subset of the world).
I share the manuscript with friends, family, and my beta readers at this point. What’s a beta reader, you ask? It’s simply a person who is willing to read through the entire manuscript with the understanding that it’s not a finished product and provide feedback about what they did and didn’t like. Think of it like a focus group or a pre-screening for a movie.
Once they are finished reading it, I make more changes to the manuscript based on their feedback. I always look forward to hearing what people think and this is for me one of the more enjoyable steps in the process.
At this stage, the work goes off to my editor. Here is where the rubber meets the road. Sometimes the feedback I get here can be a little rough. All of my bad habits and squirrely ideas get scrutinized in this phase and sometimes the dialogue, the characters, and even the plot, can get a major overhaul during this stage.
This is the most humbling part for me and at times makes me question my ability as a writer, but having that second set of eyes to go over everything in depth is crucial to getting it right and getting the story to make sense and connect with readers.
Finally, it’s time for the line edit. Some people call this “proofreading” but I prefer line edit since it seems to imply more in depth, line by line, editing. Though some of this actually happens in all of the other stages, this is the time to remove every last little error from the manuscript. Sometimes when I change things or re-write based on feedback, I actually introduce new errors that weren’t there in previous versions. So line editing is the last line of defense, the place where (hopefully) all those errors get caught. I’ve learned, however, even the most rigorous editing can still miss things. But, if possible, the goal is to catch them all.
And that’s it! The book is finally ready to be published. There is actually a whole new set of challenges which arise after this point and which I may describe at a later date, but as far as the actual writing itself, here’s where the journey ends.
I want to stress that it’s tremendously gratifying to arrive at this point. It’s a tremendous amount of work, but in the end you are rewarded by being able to hold in your hands something which did not exist before. That ideas can be transformed into paper is a marvel that we often fail to acknowledge only because it is so commonplace. It truly is a gift to be able to take what was once something entirely contained inside your head and share it with the world in this way.
I hope you enjoyed this little window into my writing process. Feel free to drop me a message on my Facebook page and let me know what you thought about it or if you have any questions.