If you are a new-ish writer, do you ever wonder when you will finish the dang book?
I seriously started writing my women's fiction in December 2012. I had seven chapters from a story began way back in high school. (Oh oh! Backstory? Let me make it short and, hopefully, interesting.)
I came up with two new protagonists: a young millennial woman and her great-great Tante, a WWII East Prussian refugee. Both women deal with violence that intrudes into their sheltered lives.
- 2012: 7 chapters
- 2013: 36 new chapters, 5 chapters eliminated, 11 chapters reassigned to a different place in the story or combined
- 2014: 12 new chapters, 3 eliminated, 8 reassigned or combined
- 2015: 5 new chapters, 7 eliminated, 6 reassigned or combined
- 2016: take a break, read as a reader then take notes of changes to make
- 2017: 4 new chapters, 0 eliminated, 7 reassigned or combined
- 2018 thus far: 2 new chapters, 1 eliminated, 3 reassigned or combined
What a goofy process, right? (You can also tell I like excel spread sheets.) I was not a plotter. I was flying by the seat of my pants with this story, learning craft along the way. In my next story, I want to be more plotter-like!
the Forest or the Trees
By writing as a pantser, I kept refining and defining the story. One of the ways I gained focus was through writing a query letter. I could stand back and look at the whole of the forest rather than the individual trees. Janet Reid's Queryshark was my go-to study blog.
I also studied the three-act structure, the important moments in each act, first page critiques, and various crafting issues (point-of-view, show-don't-tell, backstory, tension, pacing) through books and through blogs such as: Writer Unboxed, The Kill Zone, Fiction University, and Helping Writers become Authors.
I've also kept an eye on how many chapters each protagonist has as the main plot focuses on the millennialist.
Obviously, I do not intend to rely on writing as a regular source of income. Not with a 5 year writing process in place! Yikes.
Are you writing a story? What is your writing process?