Friday, October 28, 2011

Amy Corwin's Writing Process & Giveaway!

My writing process is tortuous and convoluted at best. I wish I could say I just sit down at the computer and write. But alas, it ain’t so. One day, I may be so efficient and pulled together that I can write a book in three months like so many others.

In the meantime, here is my process, and God help me, I don’t see it changing anytime soon.

I get basic ideas at odd times. Generally, a scene will play through my mind of a woman and a man, in conflict. She’s psychic and has seen a murder. He doesn’t believe it. That sort of thing. I write this down at the first possible moment, along with any pertinent facts that I can think of, such as names, hair color, or any other details that come to me in this first vision.

Of course, as luck would have it, these ideas usually occur while I’m right in the middle of writing something else. So I simply document the notion and get on with whatever I’m working on at the time.

When I’m ready to begin the manuscript, I create a folder structure on my computer with a blank template file and work out the broad-brush plot outline. This translates into writing three short phrases or notes per chapter so that I have at least a vague idea of what I want to happen. At this point, I find it difficult to actually start writing until I’ve done two things: 1) thought of something funny, either a comical character or funny situation involving the hero/heroine; and 2) one or more twists. Without something funny or several plot twists, I just can’t generate the excitement to start writing.

Then…I write. It usually takes me about three months to write the first draft. This draft is bad. Very bad. So I put it away and work on something else. I often edit a previous manuscript at this point. This allows time for ideas about the first manuscript to vegetate and morph. I think of plot twists and bizarre things that never occurred to me in the first draft. This is also why I generally have several projects in various stages of creation. I edit one manuscript while vegetating on a second.

After a few months, I’ve often thought of some really, really cool twist or change that I want to make on my new manuscript, so I write those down. In the meantime, I try to finish the edits to manuscript two and get that off to my editor.

When I go back to manuscript one, I’m ready to do serious deconstruction/reconstruction of the plot and characters. More often than not, I delete the first three chapters. Sometimes, I write an entirely new first chapter. You see, as you write a story, something strange happens. Your characters take on lives of their own. So the latter chapters are true to your characters, but the first few…not so much. So you have to redo the.

Once this is done, I work on adding descriptions and characterization since my first draft tends to be mostly dialog. In fact, I’ve often toyed with the idea of writing a book that is 90% dialog. I may still do that at some point when I feel bolder.

Anyway, for the final draft (which is usually about the 5th or 6th time I’ve gone through the manuscript) I check all the details for accuracy. This is essential for my 19th century mysteries. Things like dialog, speech patterns, historical facts, and other facts must all be verified for accuracy.

All in all, it takes me about two years to produce a manuscript that is ready to send to my editor. The one thing that I find absolutely critical is creating gaps in the process. Without gaps, I don’t have the “fresh eyes” essential to adequately editing a manuscript. Even with that, I’ve been known to see what should be there instead of what is there.

Thankfully, I’ve found editors to save me from myself. They are invaluable and always make me stretch further than I ever thought possible.

It is not possible, at least for me, to write a book without the input from critique partners and editors. Maybe one day.

And maybe one day I’ll be able to write a book in less than two years.

We’ll see.

Leave a comment to be included in Amy's drawing for winners choice of either The Vital Principle or The Necklace, ebook or print. Please note if the chosen winner lives outside the U.S. they will receive an ebook.


Amy said...

Thanks for letting me babble about writing--my favorite subject! LOL

Anne Patrick said...

Amy, it was my pleasure. I wish you continued success in all your writing endeavors.

Anne Patrick said...

The winner of Amy's drawing is Sarah McNeal. Sarah chose The Necklace for her free book. Congratulations, Sarah. I'm sure you'll enjoy it.

Thank you everyone who dropped by this month in support of Amy!