It’s done! It’s finally done! The first draft of Spring-Heeled Jack has been completed! It is just shy of 28,000 words and 150 pages. That’s not too long, but that’s because I just wanted to get the story on paper. Now, the main purpose of this post isn’t to say “Yay, I’m done! Now I’m gonna get back to work and not say anything relevant!” The purpose of this post is because I want to talk about my writing process.
To start, I always write out an outline. I know some people don’t like outlining and I understand, but for me I need that foundation. This is not a super detailed outline, but instead a very brief list of important plot points and where the story is heading. This is important because it keeps me in line and I don’t get stuck on where to go next. This is one of my primary ways of keeping writer’s block as an absolute minimum.
So after I draft out a rough outline, I start the first draft. This is where I just put the most rough cut, un-edited version of my story down and go. I do my best to just keep writing no matter what, but there are times where I forget that it is just my first draft and I insist that it be perfect. As a result I will get writer’s block at times and all progress halts until further notice. There are times where I am looking at my outline and I need to figure out how to get from point 1.1 to 1.2, but those moments are usually easy to overcome. This first draft is also where characters get established and evolve. What I mean by that is when I start the draft, the characters are whatever I need them to be for the moment. For example, in Spring-Heeled Jack, the main character started out as an ambitious thrill seeking wannabe detective. However, as I wrote I realized that I wanted him to be more quiet and anti-social. So, in the draft you notice a very obvious shift in personality for no obvious reason. Also, the first draft gets me a firm feeling and understanding of my story and what I want it to be. I can write notes all day and still not know what shape I want my story to become.
After the first draft, I move on to my analysis phase. This is where I take a fine-tooth comb to my story and get out all the tangles. In this phase, I go through and read ever chapter multiple times, taking notes on all sorts of things. I make sure that my characters’ personalities are consistent and what I want, and if not I make not of it. I also take note on what I need more or less of: more description, dialogue, development. I do this with every single chapter and it tends to be a long process, but so far I’ve found it to be one of my most favored parts of writing.
Once the analysis is done and I’ve taken all of my notes, I move onto the second draft. This is where I go through and, with all the notes I’ve taken, I write my story in it’s “final” form. I say final in quotes because sometimes it’s the absolute final and other times…it’s sorta final. After completing the second draft, I go through and clean up any clunky moments and keep an eye out for typos. That’s also when I open it up to prereads from friends and family. I don’t want their critique on the story, but instead I need a second set of eyes to pick up on anything that I may have missed. Now, my family is very harsh and not the kind to say “Oh, this is wonderful honey,” without further critique. They will tell me if it sucks and how much it sucks. If it sucks too much, I go into a second analysis and do some more combing. This is what I mean by this being the “final” step.
In reality, I can go through as many drafts as needed until it gets to where I think it is good enough. Usually, only two drafts are required before I think it’s ready. That being said, those drafts can go through any number of revisions.
But that, my lovely protagonists, is my writing process. I hope for any of you reading who were having any sort of troubles can look at this for inspiration or even use it as your own writing process. It isn’t anything to special, but it works well for me as I hope it works for you. May you all have a very wonderful day!