My between-drafts process

I’m working on a new novel and am creating a new process to do so.

Before the turbulence of social media, ereaders, and big life events the past decade, I had a process for writing romance novels. This was before I attended writer conferences or workshops. I didn’t have a plan for my stories, or even a plot, but I had a process I enjoyed.

I was a pantser, which means I wrote forward on my story with a vague idea of the end, and a confidence that I would get there. And I did. Then it was time to celebrate before I began the next draft. I didn’t know about GMC; The Heroes Journey, or the three-act-six-point plot structure, or turning points, or character arcs, or Story Engineering.

I did know revising and multiple drafts were the process of writing. The only writing advice I heard a decade ago was – “Writing is 10% inspiration, 90% perspiration.”

While in the throes of a draft, I remained focused on my story from first page until the end. No distractions beyond the day-job, my girls activities, family, friends, and pets. Only one story in my head at a time. Between drafts I would read at least two contemporary romances, one book on the craft of writing, and then a book for fun that was none of the above.

I’ve only written a third of my first draft, but I have now storyboarded and plotted all the way to The End! So that’s good for a reading break in my new novel writing process.

Here’s what I just read, and both were great and very different from each other and my own story.

Untangling the Knot

Untangling the Knot by Deanne Wilsted

This is a charming story of a wedding gone wrong through mistakes and angelic nudges. Its texture is layered with multiple point-of-view characters and even the bride-zilla shows her endearing side.

Set within a Catholic Church, the style feels like a watercolor painting of a wedding – with lots of  Catholic guilt and grief. I found it a highly enjoyable read.

Prince Charming, Inc.Prince Charming, Inc. by Jamie Brazil

This is a delectable romantic journey in designer and vintage clothing, through historic landmarks of Sausalito, and the nirvana of delicious cheesecake.

The beauty of this story lies in the heroine’s emotional contradictions. Her  inner desire is for a secure and cozy home and happy family. But she is also focused on the dreams and reputations, and agendas, of the prior three generations of eccentric women in her family. The style of this story puts it at the top of the genre class, and the brass TUB and bathing rituals are beyond awesome.

My craft book is Fire in Fiction by Donald Maass and should arrive soon. Until then, I’ll focus on writing the first draft. I will be attending an all day workshop presented by Mr. Maass in 4 weeks too.

I expect my new process will mean a greater percentage of inspiration and less sweat. My girls are grown and in their own homes, there is only one pet (a 15 yr old cat) and writing is my day job. It feels good.

8 thoughts on “My between-drafts process

  1. LOL. I was CLUELESS about the GMC acronym at my first RWA (RCRW) meeting. Also funny, I’m waiting on my Fire in Fiction book and hoping to have it read by March.
    Thanks for the kind words on Prince Charming, Inc. You’re my favorite blogger!


  2. Ok, I got more out of this then I intended. Loved your post. I’m a punster and have tried to plot and plan, doesn’t seem to work for me. But what really surprised me is that as I went to scroll down I was surprised to see (under the sites I promote) the link for Disability is Natural. It caught my eye because both my daughter and I deal with disabilities. Anyway I thought it was a great link and loved that you had it promoted on your site.


    1. I’m glad you liked my post and the link. Kathie Snow is great and there’s lots of great articles on her site. I’ve been getting her newsletter for a few years and hope to promote her more in the future.


  3. Great post, Terri! I consider myself a plotter, but I do allow the characters some leeway if they feel THAT strongly about something. Having said that, the brats do sometimes get out of control and have to be reined in! 🙂


  4. Rose

    Love seeing you work. Thank you for sharing how you craft your stories.

    BTW, I have a question! It is on formatting a flashback. Of course, I could make up my own, creative answer, but that is not my way. I want a reputable source to cite, and I cannot find validation for directions I have previously given (except following DuMaurier’s example: 4 periods, close quote, and start a new chapter).

    After clearly writing the anticipated time jump into the story, what is the correct way to signal a flashback? Some suggest 3 or 4 periods and a double return. Some suggest use of asterisk. If one uses the asterisk, how many are used and are they centered?

    Is there an actual editing mark for this specific creative jump?
    I thought I would ask.


    1. “Is there an actual editing mark for this specific creative jump?”

      That’s a debate between the writer and editor. While there probably is one accepted norm – like in the Chicago Manual of Style, now the final format would need to be considered as what could be used in a print version could not be used in a digital version. Different editors and publishers will often have their own accepted norm…

      So, no. I am not a reputable source to cite for validation. 😀


  5. Robert McKee’s STORY remains the best of the best in terms of plotting, plot points, characters. But the thing is, most writers know this stuff intuitively. They’ve done their homework – read enough novels of the type they’re writing to know when to twist and plummet, to shock and surprise. It’s all about rhythm – and letting the characters speak through you. Great post, Terri.


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