With each book I write I find that my method keeps getting more complicated (or detailed maybe is a better word) as I learn more techniques that are effective for my writing. I also find that the “mistakes” I’ve made consistently in the past I’m not making so much any more. So the good news is that, with lots of practice, good habits get more ingrained. (At least I hope so!)
I still consider myself to be a pantser. I have only a vague idea of my story and characters before I start writing. I get the first draft on paper as quickly as possible. In the case of Sarai’s Fortune I wrote the first draft in two weeks during Candace Havens’s Book in a Month Workshop. The second draft is where I really like to work. It’s like the pressure of getting the bulk of the words on paper is off allowing me to focus on craft.
I was going to do the 2nd draft and edit Sarai’s over the summer, but, life being what it is, I had to rearrange my schedule slightly and get Saving the Sheriff on paper first. I started working on the second draft for Sarai’s about three weeks ago. This is where I put on my plotter hat. I started by mapping out what I’d written so far to see where I needed to work on larger issues – pacing, overall plot, character development, etc. Then, plan in mind, I concentrated on only two chapters a day polishing and fixing. Sometimes one of the chapters I spent time on was new. Sometimes the edits flew by. And sometimes I did some major rewriting.
I find that some of my best ideas strike while I’m working on later drafts. So as I went along, if an idea would hit that impacted what I’d already gone over, I kept a list of what to go back and fix. Now I’m done with the second draft and going through that list. Most of the list is little things like search for “said” and “asked” tags and remove if not necessary or rewrite. Some of it is bigger like Sarai’s clothing starts out conservative and neutral and gets more casual and more colorful through the course of the book.
The plan is to have this phase done in the next week or two and then do one more fast read through – changing only little things in the prose – before I send to Wendy and my critique group for feedback. And when I’m done with that, it’s on to my editor Lill!!! So close on this one. And with each book I feel like I’m honing my craft as a writer, which is exciting just by itself.