How I sit down and write a novel: Step 1–sit down. Step 2–open laptop. Step 3–go to google docs. Step 4–write a novel.
Ta-da! Hundred thousand word novel now complete, yay!
…but for reals, let’s talk about writing process.
I hope you’re familiar with plotters vs. pantsers. If you’re not, then…are you curious?
I fall pretty far on the pantser side of the spectrum.
I do 0 plotting before beginning a story, I do 0 worldbuilding, I fill out 0 character sheets. My stories start with a little seed, like “where is there still softness?” or “this is about a lonely necromancer.”
Then I go and start chapter one and have a lot of questions which lead to google research rabbit-holes and one scene builds to another and I write out the pre-inciting incident and the point-of-no-return inciting incident and the midpoint and the post-midpoint dramatic point and the low, dark moment which builds up into the climax and during the climax it looks like things won’t work out but then things do work out and then we have a lovely resolution.
Ta-da, finished novel!
But that takes months.
Months of chipping away day after day, writing 1500 words or 1000 words or going over things I wrote the day before, until the whole novel takes shape.
However! The writing process doesn’t end with the last word of the epilogue of draft 1.
My revising process goeth thusly: I read everything I wrote and make it better. Simple:)
I think this is the true sign I’m a pantser. (Side note, does anyone have a better name for it than that?) Sometimes I revise a whole chapter in a day, improving descriptions and verbs. Sometimes I revise like 2 pages. Sometimes I have a crisis about the timeline and skip around 10 different chapters (bless you, Ctrl+f) changing all the references to “yesterday” and “tomorrow.”
Sometimes I find one scene that contradicts another, and I have to figure out which one I like better and which one to change. Sometimes I spend too long trying to decide if “she went and ran” sounds better/worse than “she went, running.”
Sometimes I make a whole string of google docs comments explaining to my future self why I changed one thing and what it was before I changed it. Sometimes I spend 20 minutes double-checking my research, sourced entirely by blurbs and links in google docs comments.
Writing a novel is like using a whole bunch of straight pencil strokes to form the outline of a circle.
You keep drawing straight lines, cutting down on the edges of the shape over and over until it starts to look circular. This ^right here^ represents what a first draft looks like upon completion.
Then you go and revise, and you dig into the whole mess of stray marks you’ve left behind, erasing and drawing other outlines and cleaning it up, until you’ve crafted a whole, beautiful shape.
Ta-da! Masterpiece. And the exciting part–it’s a masterpiece you never expected to find when you started.