Monday, October 23, 2006

The process of writing a book

I'm up to page 70 on Girls that Growl. That means I need at least 150 more pages before it's done. Gah! Sometimes when I think about my deadlines I feel like pulling out my hair!

Ever wonder how writers write? Do they plan everything out in advance? Or do they just wing it and see what happens? While everyone's different, I can tell you what I do.

First I come up with a concept. That's sort of like a "What If." What if there were two twins and one of them wanted to be a vampire, but the other got bit instead. What if it were a week before prom? What if the cutest guy in school had just asked her out?

Then I come up with a title. (Though sometimes I think of the title first and the concept second. hehe) My first idea for Boys that Bite was "Wow, That Sucks!" (Get it??) But I thought some people might object to "suck" being on the cover so that's when I came up with Boys that Bite.

Then, if my editor likes the idea, I write up a synopsis. This is basically a plot summary from beginning to end. It's usually between 5-10 double spaced pages. And yes, you have to include the ending. Editors get cranky when you say things like "And to find out what happens you have to read the book!" just like teachers do when you write that in book reports.

Once the synopsis is approved by my editor I start the book. I usually have to write 3 chapters and send them in first because the cover department wants them so they can come up with a good cover for the book.

The way I usually write is I give myself permission to write crap in the first draft. Just get the basic ideas on paper and not worry about perfect sentences, jokes, etc. Then I go back and review each chapter many many times and revise the heck out of it. Edit and polish it to perfection. Then I show it to my critique partner and she edits it some more.

All this time I have to figure out what each scene is going to be. The synopsis gives me some clue -- like a roadmap -- but I really can't know all that's going to happen until I start the actual story. That's because characters can be funny sometimes. They like to do things you haven't planned them to. And sometimes that takes the story in a different direction. Subplots can be added, etc. etc. This is okay, as long as you still are aiming for the same basic plot as the synopsis. You can go from A to B to C or A to D to C as long as you end up at C in the end.

Once I'm done writing and polishing I send the book into my editor. Then they make notes on it and send me a list of questions and/or things they want changed. I make those changes and then send the book back. Then another editor (called a copy editor) goes through and corrects all the grammar and makes sure all the facts are right, etc. For example, in Boys that Bite I had inserted an extra day in the week. The copy editor caught that.

I get to go through the copy edits and check their changes and answer their questions. Then I send it back and they send the book to be typeset. Now it's in the same form as it looks like when you read it in a final book. (Before this it's been double spaced like an essay.) I read through the book again (yes again! at this point I'm usually sooo sick of it!!) and make sure all of it makes sense and there are no typos. You can't change a lot of stuff at this point cause it gets expensive now that it's formatted professionally.

And that's it! Next time I see it it's a finished book!

Whew! A lot of work, huh? But it's fun too. As long as you can make your deadlines. Which, speaking of, I'd better get back to!


1 comment:

JennGoose13 said...

Holy cow! That's a lot of work for writing a book. It's amazing that you can keep ideas flowing. I always have writer's block and that's probably because I'm focused on other things! I probably won't be able to sit down and write anything anytime soon because I'm focusing on college apps! EEK!! Anyway, it sounds like an interesting process of writing a book!