Another Interminable Process Post

Creepy monkey

Creepy monkey. Creepy, creepy monkey.

So I’ve finished up the writing of the first draft of a current project, which ended up about 90k words. By first draft, I mean all of the scenes are at least 75% complete, with most of them completely roughed out. The next stage of the process will follow what I did with the previous two books, which worked fine. Because I am a writer, I am fascinated with process. We all constantly wonder if we’re Getting It Right, a state which I can neither confirm nor deny. Hence this post, which anyone is welcome to skip.

As part of my process, which is perhaps overly paper-intensive, I’m printing out a copy right now, at a line and a half spacing so there’s plenty of room to write on it. I’ll go through that with my colored paper tags, marking the places where there are things to be fixed or done or included, including notes ranging in magnitude from “this needs to be foreshadowed in previous chapter” to “check street name.” I’ll read through the manuscript, tinkering at the paragraph and sentence level while answering each of those tabs so I can remove it from the manuscript.

When they’re all answered, I’ll print out another copy and read that aloud with pen in hand. That may happen more than once.

I’ve polished the prologue and first chapter a couple of times, so I’m running that past one writing group, and will be looking for first readers when I get to the read-aloud stage – if people are interested, please drop me a line in the comments.

Is this the only way to write a novel? A thousand times no! But it’s worked for me, and if there’s any part of it that’s useful to you, seize it freely. The single wisest thing I heard at Clarion West, from Syne Mitchell, was, “Try different things and find out what works for you. Then do that. Lots.”

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About Cat

Cat Rambo lives, writes, and teaches by the shores of an eagle-haunted lake in the Pacific Northwest. Her 200+ fiction publications include stories in Asimov's, Clarkesworld Magazine, and the magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Her story, "Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain," from her collection Near + Far (Hydra House Books), was a 2012 Nebula nominee. Her editorship of Fantasy Magazine earned her a World Fantasy Award nomination in 2012. She is the current President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). She is currently working on Exiles of Tabat, the third book of the Tabat Quartet. A new story collection, Neither Here Nor There, appears from Hydra House this fall.
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