The Process

Every writer has a slightly different process they use to get the story out of their heads and onto the page. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. There is no "one way." Most writers, though do some sort of outlining. I've heard of authors who outline everything! Down to some descriptions or dialogue. When I heard that the first thought I had was, "what's the fun in that?!?"

I prefer broad, rather sweeping outlines. For example, I'm working on "First of the Fallen" right now. "First" is also a prequel to "Ascent of the Fallen." It takes place during the Christianization of Ireland, soon after the fall of the Holy Roman Empire. So, a lot of my notes are historical notes in all caps in parentheses--either questions that I need to know the answers to in order to keep the research strong, or answers to previous questions I'd asked that need to be worked into the narrative.  My actual outline notes are also in all caps under the appropriate chapter heading. Not that that means the chapters will actually stay as-is. Those can always change at my whim or at the direction of an editor. My notes say things like: THE TUATHA DE OFFER TO TAKE IYA WITH THEM INTO THE UNDERHILL WHERE SHE CAN LIVE FOREVER WITH THEM UNTIL THE WORLD IS MORE THAN READY FOR THE RETURN OF THE OLD GODS. (That was a fun scene to write, by the way...)

Some authors use more traditional looking outlines. I've tried, but they don't work for me. I prefer the episodic outlines that give me insight on the scene I need to write next. It makes for a choppy first draft, but that's part of the editing process. That's another thing. First drafts are the ugly stepsisters of the writing world. No one wants to talk about them. They're ugly, and choppy, and filled with plot holes and inconsistencies. They're actually the bare bones of the book you're writing. During the editing process you go through the story, make sure everyone's accounted for and you haven't changed everyone's eye color. By the time you're done going through the draft, you might actually have a book on your hands.

However, no matter your process--detailed outline, episodic outline or flying by the seat of your pants--part of the process is the same. You need to actually sit down and write the thing! You need to put your butt in the seat and your fingers on the keys, to paraphrase on of my favorite writers Anne McCaffrey.

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