On this blog, we’ve talked a lot about various topics in the craft of writing, such as plotting, character development, heart in writing, determination… we’ve covered a lot. But there is one topic that we haven’t even touched.
Why is that? Well, the main reason is because that’s not where I’ve been as a writer. It hasn’t been present on my mind because, for the last three years, I’ve been editing and revising. Which is also the second reason. I haven’t drafted in three years. And as a result, I’ve forgotten my process.
As I’m attempting the draft another novel, bits and pieces about my drafting process are coming back to me. I’m going to share them here in case it helps you, but also in case I forget again, I know where to look.
6 Quirks of My Drafting Process
- The first step in my drafting process is one that I thought I didn’t need. Remember in my plotting article, I talked about putting my plot in a spreadsheet? Well, I’m remembering why that was so helpful now. I use the spreadsheet to have my scene list, but also be able to see what each POV character is doing, seeing, or thinking during each scene. Which leads me to the second thing.
2. I only draft in POV. The main character is my only POV character in the first draft. After the first draft is done, I know what happens throughout the entire story and can branch out inside those parameters. The second draft is when I go through and write the second POV character’s story. Once both POV drafts are done, I add the scenes specific to the second character to the original draft.
3. Now there are some decisions to make. I now have to decide whose POV I will use in the third draft for shared scenes. Often, I will edit two scenes together because of certain details, but the scene as a whole is generally in one POV or the other. The third draft is also when I dig into the editing to make it flow.
4. Contrary to popular advice, I do edit as I go in the first draft. Because I draft scenes individually and often out of order, I need to read the previous material to get a running start. As I read, of course, I see things that don’t work, need tweaking, or that I don’t like. So I change it. By the time I get to the third draft, each scene is pretty much how I think I want it. All I have to do then is make sure each scene leads well into the next without any information gaps or contradictions.
5. Once I’ve decided on the proper POV for each scene and made it flow as best I can, I go back to my plot. By now, it isn’t completely accurate, but that’s okay. The plot is still showing me the framework of the story, and I now know more of the story than the plot does. I typically end up adding a couple more scenes to the bullet list that I need to write to help with the story flow. Remember, the bullet list is only there to motivate me to write and check things off the list. It isn’t in the exact order of the story, and it doesn’t need to be.
6. The final thing, or, rather, the first thing I do in drafting, is to write the ending scene. I always write the ending scene first. It helps me to know where I’m going as I draft, plus, I usually have a clear picture in my mind of how the story ends already. So I write it down.
So, that’s what I’ve remembered so far about my drafting process. Did anything surprise you? Can you relate to my quirky habits? What does your process look like?