Hop around enough blogs or read author interviews and you’ll discover every author has their own process for taking a book from zero to finished product. And every author tends to be different in their process. Every now and then I like to fill you in on mine (whether you like it or not :giggle: )
I finished the first draft of RIDING THE NIGHT last week. The first draft is the nuts and bolts and guts of the book. It’s where I do the hardest amount of work because that’s where the entire creation of the story goes. I don’t go back and edit once I’m writing–well, typically I don’t, though this time I did have to go back and un-doormat my heroine and fix a few plot things because I felt I couldn’t move forward without going backward. But ideally not my process. Usually I start writing the book and i don’t look back until I’m finished.
Once I finish the book I let it sit for a few days because I need some distance. My head has been filled with these characters, usually for a few months, so I need a break. I walk away from the book for a few days to a week(given time and holy-shit-I’m-on-deadline parameters), and then I open it again with a fresh eye.
I start at the beginning and read through every line, cutting extraneous words and phrases that don’t need to be there. This is where I have to take it slow and easy, something I didn’t do when I was writing the first draft. First draft is just to get the story from my head to the page. It doesn’t have to be pretty, it just needs to be there. Refining means just that–making it pretty. Sentences have to make sense. Plotline has to be cohesive. Word choice is critical. Dialogue must flow. Characterization has to be on point and my characters have to change from the beginning of the book to the end, otherwise what’s the point? As you can see, there’s a lot that goes on during the refining stage of the book. It’s a constant juggling process and I have to make sure I don’t drop any of the balls or the book will fail. This isn’t a process that can be done quickly, because once I’m done with this I’m done with the book. It’s off my desk and into the hands of my editor, who will read it and hopefully tell me it doesn’t suck.
But I’m not perfect and I do make mistakes and there are things I just can’t see (forest for the tress, ya know) and thank God for editors and copyeditors who catch what I don’t catch.
Now….back to refining.