Writing Wednesday: A Novel Process

Last week’s goal status: My stories are going back out to market as quickly as they can. My first ePublication for this year released on time last Friday.  Blogs continue to post as scheduled (3 per week.) I finally managed to post 3 comments on other people’s blogs, in my effort to increase my internet presence without just gratuitously piling on.

I managed another 3,207 words for the week – which means 3 weeks in a row (every week this year) of making my 3,000-word quota. Swordsmaster has crossed the 68,000-word mark.


I can see why George R.R. Martin, J.K. Rowling & such fall so far behind on their deadlines – the number of times you have to go through a novel to get it right.

I don’t know how many of you this is going to matter to, but I believe it’s useful to see how other people do things. It might be too much “inside baseball”, but process is very important to me – I make lists (and lists of lists), lay out steps (you’d think an outline would be a natural for me, but it’s not – at least not at the beginning of a story.)

My production process on short fiction:

  1. Write the story (draft)
  2. Revise for inconsistencies and errors.
  3. Send it out to my Beta Readers.
  4. After two weeks, read it with fresh eyes and revise as necessary, considering any feedback I might have from my Beta Readers.
  5. It’s done. Stop rewriting and revising (pay attention to Heinlein’s Rule #3) – put it out on the market and move on to the next story.

Pretty simple – the fiction is so short, it’s not hard to keep track of the facts and the characters. Novels (as I continue to learn) are a totally different beast. Now, realize that I have NEVER completed a novel (Swordsmaster WILL be my first), so my production process is not only my own (we’re all different), but it continues to evolve. Perhaps, once I have a few under my belt I will arrive at a consistent progression. The order of these steps (after #4) is most likely not the exact sequence I should go through (I’ve been adding them as I realize my story’s – and my – shortcomings, and I’ll probably add more, as well as juggling them around), but at this time, here’s how I’m working through Swordsmaster :

  1. (DONE) Write the story (draft) with an eye to completing it. If any thoughts occur to me on what I should do differently, note it in the margins or in a separate document – don’t let it stop me from FINISHING the story.
  2. (DONE) First Revision to incorporate my notes.
  3. (DONE) Leave it alone for a while (it was almost two years on Swordsmaster, but a month would probably be good enough.)
  4. (DONE) A complete readthrough to refamiliarize myself with what I have
  5. (DONE) Skim and make notes on weaknesses, where changes are needed (take notes only)
  6. (DONE) Note consolidation
  7. (DONE) Handle notes
  8. (IN PROGRESS) CHARACTER-BUILDING Part 1: Character development (select major & minor chars – flesh them out) – includes character interviews
  9. CHARACTER BUILDING Part 2: make sure characters are now behaving according to their interviews. Add any to additional scenes as needed
  10. BELIEFS: Legends, Myths, and Religion
  11. Settings/details (visual, seasons, smells, senses)
  12. Settle on naming conventions and culturals between: Etaarnen, Haval, Sketten, Jarrun, etc.
  13. Focus on times and distances – build calendar, look for inconsistencies in travel times, distances, seasons, etc.
  14. Consistency Read through (times, names, spellings, distances, directions)
  15. Outline/map Scenes, what happens in each, characters, decide on chapter separations
  16. Physical Map of Caladon, Haval, Slette, and the rest of the world.

I know that a different writer would have done things in a different order – the map might have been first, or the language issues, or the character-building. For me, the story is paramount – everything else is there to service the tale and to add depth.

There’s something else that’s different about writing a novel. In short fiction, I’m used to starting in my right-brain (creative) and staying out of the left-brain (analytical) until the draft is written and it’s time to clean-up. With the novel, I find that I’m having to switch from one side to the other (still with definite divisions, but the back and forth is something new) – create / analyze / create based on analysis / analyze again / repeat as necessary. That’s where you have to watch out about getting trapped in a never-ending revision loop. I hope I don’t fall into that trap.  Just saying…


My next release date will be February 23rd – I think this one is going to be a collection. Time to get to it…


OutOfPlaceCover1William Mangieri’s writing – including his recent ePublication “Out of Place” – can be found in many places, including:
• Smashwords:  https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/NoTimeToThink
• His Amazon Author page:  http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B008O8CBDY
• Barnes & Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/william-mangieri?store=book&keyword=william+mangieri
• Createspace (if you prefer physical books):  https://www.createspace.com/pub/simplesitesearch.search.do?sitesearch_query=william+mangieri&sitesearch_type=STORE
• His site on WordPress:  https://williammangieri.wordpress.com
• “William Mangieri’s Writing Page” on Facebook at:  http://www.facebook.com/NoTimeToThink
• His Goodreads author page:  http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6893616.William_Mangieri
• Or on twitter: @WilliaMangieri

One thought on “Writing Wednesday: A Novel Process

  1. Pingback: Writing Wednesday: Left, Right, Left, Right… | William Mangieri's Writing Page

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