Writing Process: The Halfway Point

A short while back a friend and fellow blogger invited me to participate a writing process blog tour. Shamefully, I never got around to answering those few questions, and acquiring two more participants.

You see, my writing process is not very well defined. I have never claimed to be an expert. I am learning every day and honing my craft as I venture on this journey. We all do. It’s a never ending process, learning.

For example, I thought of myself as a panster, a linear writer. When I wrote my last book, I sat down and passionately went from beginning to end without much thought to structure. I wanted to write out the story. I told it as it was in my mind, letting the characters develop as I went along with the storyline unfolding. I didn’t use an outline. Chapters were long, some covering years.

This novel is different. It has patterns, almost like a formula. I had to complete a fairly involved outline to manage the details, so now I am using that to guide the storyline. Basically, I am taking that outline and fleshing out the facts and the descriptions, adding the words. There is a distinctive rhythm to it. Chapters are 1500 to 3000 words (+/- 100 or thereabouts), so even the longest are short. It tends to run 1500, 3000, 1500, 1500, 3000, 1500, 1500, 3000, in alternating POV between the detective and the sidekick for the first half. I have become a plotter, maybe it is the nature of the work.

Now that the detective and his future sidekick are about to be together, I’m not sure what’s going to happen with word counts or POV. Primarily the detective’s POV, with the story continuing to be told in third person narration. Here’s the Scrivener outliner of what I have so far. The binder on the left is filling; the synopsis window on the top right corner holds the fish skeleton of the novel. As you can see, the green lines indicate lots of progress. I am about halfway finished by my best guesstimate at  fifteen chapters and 31,500 words.

halfwayoutliner

 

In the editor mode, I have the fish skeleton to refer to as I move along. I would show you my corkboard, but I have added some character sketches and profiles which would be spoilers, and I don’t want to ruin it for you.

Editorhalfway

 

I started this in November, put it aside in December in frustration, and did not pick it up again until May 4th. I worked on “Surviving Sister” for a few months, but did not make much progress on that story.

I don’t have a name for this WIP, but I’m thinking about something along the lines of “Leisure Lagoon and the Asian Moon” or “Alliance Lagoon”, “Paradise Saigon”, “Hot City Cold Case”, “Cold Case Hot Nights”, “Murdered Before Midnight”, “Cold Blood in Paradise”, “Cold Case Hot Play”, “The Jernigan Connection”,  “Naked Revenge”, “Naked Malice”, “Naked Evidence”…I dunno. I’m still playing with that. I want it fairly short. I am thinking of using the last three as series titles for the first three books.  It would work well for the stories I have in mind.

Any one of those make you want to read the book blurb?

My writing process is obsessive. I don’t know how the rest of you writers out there process the information for your books in your head, but I can tell you what happens to me.

I can sit down and write 3000 words naturally flowing one day, and struggle over one sentence the next. I am averaging about 1700 words a day. But the actual word count is not the struggle. The struggle is in my head. Despite having an outline, which has been extremely valuable (thank you Carrie Rubin), there is always something going on in my head. ALWAYS!

I write for hours, or I write for minutes, but all in-between (and during) there are thoughts about plot, exposition, character, conflict, motive, climax, resolution, setting, humor, seriousness, and so on, bouncing around in my mind. I write a while, I get up and pace, go smoke a cigarette, have a bite to eat, try to take a nap, go to the grocery store, drive across town…all the while thinking, thinking, thinking, of what to write next and how to write it. Then I return to the keyboard, minutes or hours later, and write. Now, consider there are two interconnected plots. Of course there is reading and revising…which goes on constantly…even with a first draft, because I cannot let it go until I feel it’s right.

It’s an obsession.

It never goes away. And when I am not thinking about this book, I am thinking about the next one.

So that’s my writing process. Later, I’ll tell you about my research process, which is also a part of my writing process, and is very deep, even for things that might seem quite shallow.

13 thoughts on “Writing Process: The Halfway Point

  1. “It never goes away. And when I am not thinking about this book, I am thinking about the next one.” Yup, that’s the story of my life! It sounds like you are a lot more organized than I am though. But as far as constantly thinking about it, researching, writing, re-writing, obsessing. . .all true. I also find the need to step away though. I’m usually working on multiple projects–a book plus test writing and other things. Sometimes the words just don’t come until I go off and do something else–like take a shower. 🙂

    • I wrote the entire time I was in nursing…wrote every day volumes, but it was objective writing, scientific, technical. It is so hard for me to write creatively for that reason. I’m not as wired for it now as I was in my twenties. Help, I’ve been rewired!

  2. I like “Murdered Before Midnight.” Has a nice ring to it that grabs my attention. But the others are good, too. Anything with “Naked” in the title certainly catches the eye. 🙂

    I’m a bit obsessive in my early drafting stages, too–both during the outlining, story-building phase and the first draft. Maybe frenzied is a better word for me. I feel like I can’t get everything down fast enough. But once I get to the editing phase, I relax. I can spend a greater time editing than I can drafting. I get burned out if I write longer than two straight hours in that phase.

    Glad your outline is serving you well!

    • Thanks Carrie. It is working very well. I don’t know about titles. Murdered and Midnight shows up on Amazon in so many titles. It does have a nice ring to it, but there is so much more to the story than that one plot line of the murder.

      My husband came up with some thoughts about series names since the setting will almost always involve the nudist resort. He says I should call it “The Richard Noggin Naked Eye Series.” (because he’s a PI and Naked means exposed also). Then use the word Naked before any word that best describes something in the book. I like the idea.

      Obsessive like coffee 😉

      • True. I forgot about the need to find a title that doesn’t bring up an entire bookshelf of books on Google. I find titles very tricky, even though I haven’t had to come up with too many of them yet.

  3. I see what you mean now about the outline. I wrote a books a while back, too without structure, but becoming a better reader made me a better writer. I started to see the bones behind things and knew that I could use those bones to build a better book. I don’t know if I’m always right, but I feel I can read a book and tell if an author really put time into its construction before hand…and when they were winging it. That makes me feel like a good reader could see bones, too–and I want that structure to stand up. 🙂

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