Once I have the outline, I start with chapter one and move along. I have found that I enjoy writing longhand then typing what I’ve written. It acts as my first edit. I can think faster than I write and will think of phrases and words and upcoming scenes to write while I’m making progress through a chapter. Otherwise, I can type faster than I think, so I’m stopping to think of the next sentence. Sometimes, I will skip scenes or write a summary on what I want in the scene because I need more research or need to visit a location to get a feel for the place as well as descriptions. Or I need to talk with people to obtain more information.
Many times, I will discover some problem with the outline or the story needs an extra scene or two or a character shows up or I want to add a certain anecdote I’ve heard. The main thrust of the story hasn’t changed, but certain parts can be tinkered with. A good example of this is Zeta, which I’m reading to critique groups. I had finished the main story but discovered that it encompassed only around 50,000 words. Way too short. So, I added a second story. While Mallory deals with the events in Burlington, her office manager and friend, Darren, has his own adventures in Des Moines. I think it will work because it gives a background to Darren and tells his story a bit more. The two stories merge near the end when Mallory returns to Des Moines and there are pieces of each that continue to the end.
I try to have a flexible outline, one that can bend and twist as necessary. If I am locked into something rigid, then I have no place to move if a certain scene or the entire story doesn’t work. As I’m writing I’ll read chapters to the writers’ groups and receive feedback. Once that is done, I will go back and make the simple grammar/spelling/punctuation corrections. Then I’ll start on the bigger issues that usually deal with the flow of the story, continuity, questions raised by listeners. Once those matters are dealt with, I will read it through again to check things, then usually it sits for a while before it gets another read through. Meanwhile, by this time, I’m looking for publishers, putting out queries.
That’s how I write. So far, it works for me. I’d like the process to move faster, but I’m not a full-time writer able to spend hours every day locked in my room with a computer.
Maybe one day…