Writing is a burning passion…a glorious obsession…a beautiful madness.
But the process of taking your story from a simple spark of inspiration to a completed manuscript can produce more than its fair share of blood, sweat, and tears. Writing a novel is like trying to eat an elephant. A daunting task, for sure! But how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. And the same is true for completing your manuscript.
Okay, okay, now when do we start writing?
Whoa, slow your roll, my friend. I know writing is the most fun you can have legally (or is that just me?😉), but before you can start putting words on the page, there’s just a teeny bit (okay, a whole lot) of background work to do first.
I’ve found that the most effective way for me to tackle a new writing project is step by step – or bite by bite, if you will. Before I even begin writing my first draft, I spend a few weeks creating characters, imagining my settings, choosing plot points, doing background research, daydreaming about key scenes, making style boards on Pinterest (ooh, that’s fun!), and writing a detailed outline.
This may sound as boring as all get-out, but trust me, if you follow this process, you will thank me in the end! Because what you’re doing is creating a detailed road map to follow once you begin to write – one where you’ve chosen the beginning, the ending, and every point in between.
And knowing exactly where your story is going, scene by scene, will make it so much easier to sit down at your computer and put words on the page every day.
However, writing without a road map often results in a first draft that’s positively riddled with detours and dead ends, making it incredibly difficult (not to mention time-consuming!) to revise into a novel that’s even remotely coherent. Trust me in this! My first manuscript took two years to complete for this very reason. And it was…not…fun.
Now, there is one caveat I need to mention here.
If you’re anything like me, your imagination never stops…well, imagining. So if you’re knee-deep in creating your road map and an amazing scene or a bit of killer dialogue pops into your head…write it down fast! Those are the little gems you do not want to lose! Then save it in a file (I call mine “Snippets”) and get back to work mapping out your novel.
If this process sounds dead-boring and sooo looooong, then take heart. It really only takes a few weeks (less if you’re really motivated). And when your road map is complete, the real fun can begin. Because that’s when you’ll take the bones of your story (your outline) and start adding flesh to them.
In tomorrow’s post, we’ll talk about what I consider step one in the writing process – creating a protagonist your readers will love. I’ll also have a free printable PDF linked in the post, and you won’t want to miss it!
Okay, friends, it’s your turn to chime in. What part of creating your novel’s road map is the hardest for you? Let me know in the comments below.
If you missed yesterday’s post, you can read it here.
Click here to read an excerpt from my upcoming YA novel, Kaleidoscope.