Stages of My Writing Process

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Every writer has their own methods of revision/editing/rewriting. My novels typically go through a few drafts (one went through four and a half before I gave up on it) and this is the process once I have a complete draft:

Revision: To me, revision is reading back through the story and planning how it should be rewritten (or if it should be rewritten at all – maybe it’s fine as is, but this rarely happens), deciding if character relationships and/or personalities need to change, and other big-picture stuff like rearranging scenes and events in the story. It’s not technically writing for me.

Rewriting: This is actually writing the story over again according to the plan established during revision. Of course, an awesome idea might come up during the rewrite, which means that nothing in the revision is set in stone; it just helps to have a thorough guideline.

Editing: I consider editing to be the small-scope stuff: sentences and paragraphs, grammar, spelling, etc. I know some people differentiate between line editing and developmental editing, but my developmental editing is revision.

After editing, it’s time to let others read it and get some second opinions. In real life, I don’t know any writers at all, but there are plenty of awesome people online, so why not trust a “stranger” with my “masterpiece,” haha! I go through that process until the novel/story feels good enough. Yes, it’s a long, time-consuming process and one that does not lend itself well to instant gratification. Not many people seem to understand that. A great book can seem like it was written without a flaw or a hitch in the process, and that is most definitely not the case!

10 thoughts on “Stages of My Writing Process”

  1. Hey Maggie! Sorry I haven’t been around!

    I guess I can’t really say I have a process since it’s my first time revising/editing/rewriting. Right now I’m only 1/3 of the way into my first round and so far I’ve just been rewriting large chunks as I work my way through. For me there probably won’t be any big changes or scenes moving around since I usually can’t see the story any other way (though there will probably be small changes). After this first sweep, I will go through it a few more times until I feel it’s passable and then maybe get some outside help. Being that it is the first book I ever wrote, and I finished it a while ago, it will probably take more time than I’d hope. But like you said, writing a book, for most people, isn’t something that you can sit down at your computer and work on for a few hours and have a nice finished product to show the world at the end of the day. A lot of times you have put in hours, days, months on just working out what your story is going to be about. It’s definitely not something that happens over night. To get it right, you have to put in a lot of work. I admire authors who make it seem as if they wrote a perfect tome over night, because I know how much time and effort they must have put into it.

    Writing a book is like having a child. At first you have a tiny sparkle of an idea which grows over time. Then, finally, one day you are ready and begin to write. That idea that had been growing inside you is now something you can see with your own eyes. Sometimes it wakes you up in the middle of the night and keeps you up all sorts of hours. Before your very eyes you watch it grow and change. Sometimes it almost drives you insane, but you still manage to love it. You steer it the best you can, but it doesn’t always listen. You prepare it for what’s next, but fear it is too soon. But eventually you have done all you can and must let it out into the world and hope it makes its way. (Sorry for the mad ramble!)

    To sum it all up: Writing a book is hard!


    1. Katie! I’ve missed you!

      I almost always have to change the order of scenes because I rarely plan that much before writing the first draft. The book=child analogy is always accurate. It irritates me how non-writers think the writing life is easy.


  2. I wonder whether Jane Austen and Charles Dickens wrote and re-wrote their first drafts? I imagine them putting pen to paper and waiting for each right word to appear, the story just pouring out of them. 😀

    Ernest Hemingway wrote in the morning and drank with others in the afternoon. Very balanced of him.


    1. To me, it doesn’t make sense to do small stuff like sentence structure first, even though it does feel easier and more approachable than the big-picture stuff. Thanks for visiting, Kirsten!


  3. I’ve found the more times I go through the manuscript, the harder it is to change things (characters, subplots, setting), because they start to feel as if they’re set in stone. Even though I know it’s not. And I’ll still change them if I have to, but it’s much more difficult to let go.

    So with this latest manuscript, I gave it to my critique group & partners on the second draft instead of waiting. I found I was much more inclined to play around with characters and plot.


    1. That sounds like a good approach – because it’s true that the more you work with a story, the more attached to certain parts of it you become.


  4. I always go chapter by chapter. I think of it as building a house. Each chapter is a brick, and you want each brick to be solidly placed before you put the next one on top of it. So, I guess I’m doing the revising, rewriting, and editing all at the same time, to make sure each chapter is as good as I can get it before I go on to the next one.

    And, yes, writing is hard. I read somewhere that Stephen King said writing a novel is like paddling fron New York to Boston in a bathtub. It’s not surprising that some of them don’t make it, what’s surprising is that so many of them do.


    1. I can’t do it like that. I have to look at the big picture and have the whole story in front of me before I start fixing it.


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