Thursday, October 2, 2014
I am writing faster now than I ever have, but I can't produce a book every three months. Maybe every 6 months. I'm trying.
When I first started writing seriously, I didn't have a plan. I sat down and wrote whatever came to me. Then I tried to stitch it together in some sort of sequence. Most of the time I wasn't even sure of the ending. Needless to say, I did not produce anything publishable.
Then I started learning about the structure of a story. I studied screenplays for awhile. Then I studied the basic formula for a mystery. The next book I attempted was charted and diagramed to pieces. Still didn't work for me.
I took a story that I really wanted to tell and tossed all the previous versions that had been tweaked into proper formulas. Then I wrote a new, fresh story with those characters. It worked.
It is surprising how much of what I learned stayed in my head. As I wrote, I could see what needed to come next - a twist here, a reversal there, climax, slow down, and voila! A publishable story was done.
My latest lesson is about timelines. I made a list of things to do prior to publication, starting with writing the book. I gave myself word count deadlines - 20,000 words by such a time, 30,000, 40,000 and then bones to the first reader. While the book is in the hands of the first reader (I give my readers 2 weeks) I start the next book. That gets me out of the story completely and helps to make it feel fresh when I come back to it with the first reader's feedback.
One of my books was rewritten so many times that I had to force myself through the final edits. I was so sick of that story, I couldn't wait to send it on it's way. This new system helps me avoid that.
I like to use 3 rounds of reading with several readers on rounds 2 and 3. The first round is to make sure the story works and where the holes are. I flesh it out and send it off to the second round of readers to see if I filled all the holes. Then I go back to the new Work In Progress again. Two weeks later I have more feedback and more rewriting.
The third round is again for content, continuity and pacing. With that feedback, I can usually call the book done and hand it off for a line edit (punctuation, grammar, etc.)
This feels like a good method for me to write quickly. What sorts of systems are you using?