The above video is the one I posted last week on my channel, alorabora. It’s mostly comedic, but it covers my first draft writing process. I thought an in depth discussion of my process would be better served as a blog post for my other writers to read if they wish.
Please note that this is just my rough draft writing process. I’m not even going to touch on revisions.
For both Ahlam and Complete Immersion I stared with a rough plot outline. Complete Immersion was based on a dream I’d had and Ahlam stemmed from a writing exercise I did during a Pen & Paper meeting. My friend Chibi and I plotted out lots of major events and sketched out character attributes for Ahlam. It was great fun and I still have all of those notes. I wrote the first draft of Complete Immersion during Camp NaNoWriMo over three years ago, so I am going to focus on my writing process for Ahlam.
As I mentioned in my video, I have a story binder. This holds all of the information about my story: characters, maps, outlines, timelines, etc. The very first page of my binder is a chapter list. As I write new chapters, I add them to this list. It helps me organize my thoughts and easily get a good look at how far the story has come. So far, it has thirteen chapters. The next page is a map of Ahlam’s work and a list of everyone she works with. Following that I have more reference pages and a timeline of how I want the story to progress.
I don’t have a strict outline that I follow while writing. I would say that I plan organically. I know how I want the plot to progress and how the story will end on a high-level, but scene-by-scene I take a more pantsing approach and let the characters interact organically. I use my reference pages to track character traits and facts, new characters, new ideas, etc. I look back at them whenever I need, hence why the writing binder is necessary for writing.
I use a simple Word Doc to write my manuscript and while I write, I plan a couple of chapters ahead. I use my big timeline to track how the story is progressing and I’ve also creating a pacing chart to map out how I want the book to be paced between major events. When I start a new chapter, I think about what’s happened so far, and what needs to happen to get the story where it’s going. Then I create a general plan for that chapter and the next one. Sometimes I follow this plan. Other times something comes up in the story and I go a different direction. I write my plans for that chapter and the next a few lines below the actual line I’m writing on, so I can look at them as I write if I want. Keep in mind that these plans are just a few words, usually not even a sentence about what I want to happen.
That’s really about it. Then, as I said above, out-of-sync with the audio, I do that over and over and over again.
I really like the way my writing process is right now. It works well with Ahlam and it keeps me on track with my plan while also allowing for organic growth and additions. I really like the name organic planning or maybe organic plotting. Can we make that one of the writer-type categories?
What do you guys use when you draft? Does it change between manuscripts? I’m super curious about how other writers write, so please let me know in the comments. Or if you have any questions about my process, hit me up in the comments or on twitter and we can have a chat. 😀
Alright, that’s all from me this week.
(Unless you are subscribed to either of my youtube channels.)
Good luck writing!