On the Blog Tour this week please welcome Bruce Blake. Our topic this week is our writing process. Bruce describes his. We are all different. If you have time this week check out a few others.
I spent a number of years working for a restaurant chain. It wan’t a fast food place, so the job actually required a bit of thinking, but not too much. Everything was sorted and set-up, with procedures for opening, closing, cleaning, and of course the recipes for food and drink. Doing it the same way every time assured the result would be the same every time.
My writing process is similar, though I’ll argue it doesn’t taste as good as the baked brie did. I do have a particular way of doing things that I follow, though in the plotter versus pantser debate, I still fall somewhere in the middle.
Here is an overview of how things look.
1. Have an idea. There is no time frame assigned to this one. They just happen sometimes, and other times I sit down for weeks tearing my hair out to get one (I guess that’s only funny if you know I’m bald). We all have ideas but, to paraphrase Neil Gaiman, the difference is as writers, we notice them.
2. Write the idea down. Don’t forget this step–they melt.
3. Think about the idea.
4. Think about the idea.
5. Think about the idea.
6. Write some notes. Do some research. Sketch some characters (I don’t mean draw. Mine all look the same…stick people).
7. Start breaking the expanded, somewhat fleshed out idea into smaller chunks, sometimes known as chapters. I write only a sentence or two about what I expect to happen in each given chapter, and what POV it will be from. Sometimes I get all the way to the end before I move on to #8, but more often, I get half to two-thirds complete.
8. Write. As big a pain in the ass as it can be sometimes, I am a linear writer. I begin at the beginning and end at the ending. I don’t jump around and write my favourite scenes first, or my least favourite. The order you end up reading it in is generally the order I wrote it (though I have been know to shift chapters around after the fact). To me, this helps me keep things cohesive. I want to see it the way the reader will see it.
9. Thinking, note taking, research, character development and outlining continues through the writing process. This is how I fall in the middle in the plotter/pantser thing. I usually know where I’m going to end up, and there are a few brightly coloured handkerchiefs tied to branches here and there to keep me going that direction, but I’m also happy to take a hard left turn and see where that takes me if it seems like a better idea.
10. Write the crap out of that bastard.
11. Let the editing begin. I’ll usually take a couple weeks off from the manuscript before starting to edit, but once I start, I go balls deep. First edit is a read through, partly a proofread, partly looking for cohesion. Second time I pull out my list of Bruce’s bad words. This list includes words I use habitually, passive words, and wishy-washiness (nearly, barely, almost). Third read is for sentence structure. Fourth is for word choices. Lots gets cut through all these run-throughs.
12. Send it to the beat readers. I have a few trusted people, but I’ve also used some who it turned out weren’t sure what a comma was for. Be careful of that.
13. Receive the comments from the readers. I spend a day trying to convince myself that they are not insane and their comments have value. Once I’m back to trusting them, I evaluate and edit again
14. Send it to the editor. While waiting to get it back, it’s important to keep working on something else, otherwise my fingernails end up getting very short.
15. Evaluate the edits, make necessary changes.
16. Let my baby free.
And in case you’re wondering, I write in a coffee shop. My favourite is place called Serious Coffee. The barista starts making my mocha as soon as he sees my car pull into the parking lot. Why would I write somewhere else?
If you are a writer, what does your writing process look like?
If you are a reader, what did you expect a writer’s process to be?
Bruce Blake lives on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. When pressing issues like shovelling snow and building igloos don’t take up his spare time, Bruce can be found taking the dog sled to the nearest coffee shop to work on his short stories and novels.
Actually, Victoria, B.C. is only a couple hours north of Seattle, Wash., where more rain is seen than snow. Since snow isn’t really a pressing issue, Bruce spends more time trying to remember to leave the “u” out of words like “colour” and “neighbour” then he does shovelling (and darn that extra L). The father of two, Bruce is also the trophy husband of burlesque diva Miss Rosie Bitts.
Bruce has been writing since grade school, but it wasn’t until five years ago he set his sights on becoming a full-time writer. Since then, his first short story, “Another Man’s Shoes” was published in the Winter 2008 edition of Cemetery Moon, another short, “Yardwork”, was made into a podcast in Oct., 2011 by Pseudopod, and his first Icarus Fell novel, “On Unfaithful Wings”, was published to Kindle in Dec., 2011. The second Icarus Fell novel, “All Who Wander Are Lost”, was released on July 17, 2012, and the first book in the four-part “Khirro’s Journey” epic fantasy is due soon. He has plans for at least three more Icarus novels, several stand-alones, and a possible YA fantasy co-written with his eleven-year-old daughter.
On Unfaithful Wings
I was alive, then I was dead, now I’m stuck somewhere in between.
My name is Icarus Fell. I am a harvester.
The archangel Michael brought me back to collect souls and help them on their way to Heaven–that’s what a harvester does. If I get enough of them before the bad guys do–if I do a good job–I can have my life back. Now people I knew in life are dying, killed by a murderer’s knife, their bodies defiled, and the cops think I’m the killer.
I’m not, but I think I know who is.
But how does a dead man, a man who no longer exists, stop a psycho? I’m not sure, but I’m going to stop him before everyone I know is dead.
I have to stop him before he gets to my son.