By now I’ve gotten a few finished manuscripts under my belt. And a few unfinished ones, but we never mention those (Never… Never). But, specifically I want to talk about my process for the last two because a) they’re the most recent and applicable to the topic I want to discuss and b)all the other ones have been shoved into a drawer to never see the light of day again.
(Puts on serious glasses)
I want to talk about process. Specifically, how books come about.
I’ve said before, I can’t explain what I was thinking when I wrote an exact line or decided to make a character a certain way, because I don’t remember. Writing is vaguely trance-like for me and things just happen. It’s weird.
But what I want to focus on is the overall process. The general “How?” Not the minutiae. Things like the research, the outlining, and all the writing that goes into it.
I find that that “How” changes with each book. That each book demands its own process, is forged and then the mold is broken.
For example: of my last two manuscripts, one was a bit of a Herculean labor. I dragged each scene, each line of dialogue out of me, deliberating over everything that went in and generally giving myself a massive migraine. And the other? It flew onto the page like it had been lying in wait to be unleashed upon the world, and when I was done I wasn’t entirely sure what I had just written.
Even more examples: In general, I am an outliner. I’m a type A kind of person. But one manuscript followed closely to the outline, while the other one went skipping off in a different direction without even asking.
One had a lot of planning before I even started writing. The other didn’t.
One had a clear beginning and ending from the start. The other didn’t.
One had a lot of research behind it. The other had EVEN MORE RESEARCH.
So, I guess what I’m trying to show through this roundabout, very personal way, is that how you write a book changes. Each idea demands its own process and forges its own path. Be open to change. While you might find the process–the how–strange and unpredictable, as long as you end with a final product you can be proud of, what does it matter? You might be pleasantly surprised by what you did, and adapt your approach in the future.