Behind the Scenes with Isabela Powers
In my December Newsletter, I gave my subscribers a preview of my writing process, which is detailed below. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can post your question/comment in my December Newsletter page.
I begin with a fresh new page. Unlike some writers, a blank page does not terrify me. On the contrary, I can’t wait to fill it with ideas. I use Mr. Ingermason’s Snowflake Method to get started, but not exactly in the order he suggests.
If it’s a brand new story, I start with five sentences—story set up, disaster 1, disaster 2, disaster 3, and the denouement. Though brief, this gives me a good idea of how my story will pan out. I stop there on story development and begin working on character development. This includes fleshing out main characters (pun totally intended) and their back stories before moving on to supporting characters. Mr. Ingermason suggests going back and forth between character development and story development, but I a bit of a single track thinker. I like to get all the back stories down before moving on to the story development. Moreover, it’s during this phase that the bulk of research is done. I like to have all my facts jotted down before I start writing the story.
After all my characters have been developed and I’m fairly satisfied with my research, I then return to my five sentences. I expand each sentence into a paragraph, which I further expand into chapter descriptions. I like to decide chapter names and what information gets poured into a chapter early on. Chapter names give me direction and keep me focused. By the time I finish expanding, I’ve successfully mapped out my outline.
I then go back and rewrite the outline, but this time in story form. This is the first draft. Typically, the first draft, like the outline, is pretty messy. Meaning little to no attention has been paid to grammar, general continuity, or repetition. During this phase of writing, I just put on the earphones, blast my creative-mojo-fueling music, and write. Anything and everything that comes to mind gets typed, so long as it’s moving the story along. It’s kind of like drawing. You sketch out an idea of what you want before you get up close and personal and begin defining the details. I consider my outline and first draft the sketch of my story.
Next, I rewrite the first draft one more time, paying closer attention to grammar and details. This is draft two. The story is pretty well put together by now, and many of the loose ends are tied up. I stop rewriting here. I give the story one very, very critical pass, and when I reach the end I like to announce to no one in particular that I’ve successfully completed draft three. By this time, the story is pretty tight and can be happily shipped to the editor. But because I’m anal, I let the story sit for about a month or so before going over it about two or three more times. Even then, I still feel that I could do a better job, but have enough discipline and self-control to stop myself and just send the story to the editor.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is my writing process in a nutshell. What do you think? Is all that rewriting diabolical? Of course not! Writing is good for the soul.