I love when writers talk about their processes. How they write. How they plot. How they revise. It's kind of like getting to take a peek in your neighbor's house. Getting to see how they decorate, their furniture choices, their color schemes. Sometimes it might not match your particular style, but still. You can't help but be curious. (And sometimes you discover a style that might work for you as well!)
In case you've ever been interested in taking a glance into my house . . . here's a high-level peek into how I write a book.
Sometime in the next couple weeks, I'll talk more specifically about how I plot. And maybe about how I revise, too. :)
For the record, I've yet to have my process work the same way twice. It changes every time I start something new, but some of the basics are pretty constant.
1. I usually get hit with inspiration for a new story (one that actually sticks, I mean--I have plenty of concepts that fizzle out after a day or two) right around the time I'm halfway (or almost) finished with the draft I'm currently writing.
Sometimes timing can be everything.
For the WIP I'm currently revising: A year or so ago, while in the middle of a different WIP, I got a Word-a-Day email with a word I love but rarely use--and suddenly it became part of the title idea for a new book. The email came in on my phone as I was walking down the stairs and when I got to the bottom I stepped into the living room to find that my husband had an old surfing movie on--and right there my main character for that new book came to me. (Hint: she surfs!) So those two things happened nearly simultaneously. And from there, she--and the concept--grew.
2. I spend a while letting the story/characters develop organically--if (in the story's case) somewhat vaguely--in the back of my mind. Every once in a while I'll jot notes down if something particular strikes me about the plot that I know is a keeper. (This goes on for four to six months or so. It might be shorter, but usually I'm busy finishing--or, ha, sometimes deciding not to finish, *sigh*--another project.)
Although, in some cases, characters spring into my brain fully formed. And mess up everything.
For this WIP, I'd been getting to know my main character for six months--and right when I was about to get down and dirty with plotting, a second main character plowed her way in. (TWHS) (Sorry. Couldn't help myself.) (So immature . . . ) But anyway. There she suddenly was. And she ruined MANY of those plot points I'd thought were keepers.
But, okay, to be fair, she also added a lot to the story. (I totally grew to love her, the sneaky little thing.)
3. I get serious about the project and start plotting for real. With both my computer (Scrivener, whut whut!) and a notebook. (This part of the process can be two weeks to two months, depending.)
This is when I 1) read a bunch of books on craft and try to follow their advice (which lasts approximately three days--because my stories/characters refuse to stay in line, even when I'm just plotting them, *sigh*) and 2) call in a CP for some major brainstorming.
4. The writing starts. (A month or two for this step.)
This is usually a false start. It happened twice with my current WIP. Got about 30-40k in and ended up scrapping just about everything. Because I almost never have the world built enough--the fantasy aspects. I know vaguely how everything works, but when the writing actually begins, I end up realizing I need to know things in a MUCH more detailed way.
5. More plotting. (Another few weeks.)
It's another CP's turn. Or two. MOAR brainstorming. But this time it's focused on very specific aspects. This is when things get all messed up, and I feel like I can't make my story work the way I want it to . . .
And then, somehow, things start falling into place.
6. The REAL writing starts. (Three to six months.)
I follow the outline I've plotted as closely as I can. Which frequently isn't possible because once the real writing starts, everything shifts and changes.
And I love every second of it. :)
Every second I'm not otherwise engaged by complaining about how hard writing is. And how I have to re-plot the second half again. And how I'm never going to finish this stupid draft. And how my characters are refusing to cooperate.
So, you know, basically the same as every other writer I know.