So I was discussing with Mroo and Dangland the other day and decided that I should just make a big blog post on what my general workflow for writing is. I’ve gotten kind of big on writing longer short stories lately for some reason (closer to novellas really), and right now I’m in the lull between one wrapping up and beginning to draft the next. So. Let’s workflow!
Most of my process is adapted from the Snowflake Drafting method and One Pass Revision method. You can use any writing implement of choice, though I’m partial to Scrivener with it’s layout options.
1. First, an idea. I usually aim to have a 1 sentence summary and then 1 paragraph summary that I can work with. I prefer the one sentence summary to be pretty cut and dried. For Enough, the one sentence was “Loki escapes capture and goes half-mad on the road to recovery.” The one paragraph just expands that, detailing the conflicts that will arise and a final sentence of how it resolves.
2. Character development. Each character gets the following treatment:
Summary: One line explaining the character
Motivation: The abstract thing driving them, usually an emotion
Goal: The physical thing they want
Conflict: What’s stopping them
Epiphany: What lets them break through (and I do allow for this to be another character’s actions depending)
1 paragraph synopsis: The character’s progression through the story.
I do this for every major character, villain (if there is one), and usually strong supporting characters who may not be the main characters.
3. Next, I expand that 1 paragraph into a page. Each paragraph is basically covering one of the sentences from before.
4. I then take every MAJOR character (and not always the villain, if they won’t feature heavily) and write the same 1 page summary, only entirely from their perspective. This usually shows me things that the other characters won’t see, gives me more ideas on how they interact and think about the other characters, and so on.
5. I then write a four page summary of the entire plot–1 page for opening and ending, 1 page per conflict. This usually takes me roughly an hour or two to sort through, and let’s me see how the story is going to move, flow, whose doing what where, and who gets focus in each area. This is a really great way to know what’s going on at all times and keeps down on the extraneous.
6. This step is probably the least fun, but the one that keeps my stories very tight, and any additions that happen and aren’t in this step are usually necessary and grow from writing the story. I create a table and take my four page summary and write down what each and every scene will be, from one to the next. I group ones that go together well as chapters, and number them so that I can quickly and easily move them around. This lets me see the logic of the story, know what I’m doing, and generally be prepared for any changes. This makes it so later I will have a much easier time in the revision process.
7. I finally start writing. Since I use Scrivener, I move over to my Story folder and create my first index card. Each index card for each chapter will have a rough run down of what scenes are in it so I don’t have to constantly look at my scene list. I’ll usually add document notes with any potential changes I’d like to make once I finish the first draft of a chapter (for instance, the latest story I wrote I was thinking about adding a scene but couldn’t decide if I wanted to. I noted it, and when revising later determined the scene to be unnecessary).
8. Once I finish the first draft, I usually send it off to Dangland, who reads through it. He’s usually reading each chapter just as they finish, and I basically use him to make sure that the plot is interesting and my basic scenes are not out of left field or unnecessary. He also makes sure my characterization doesn’t go off track. He does a lot, he just doesn’t know he does. 🙂
9. Once anything gets changed after Dangland reads it (this will usually be massive cutting of scenes if it happens at all (it rarely does, for which I thank step 6)), I will start in with the one pass revision method. I tear into things, fix temporal warps, figure out tenses and flow. I make sure that I have the entire story as one big document, that way I can verify things work between chapters. My readers (at least the ones that are starting from when I post the first chapter) may not necessarily appreciate this, but anyone who see it in complete form will. Since my works are usually not nearly as long as a novel, I usually don’t feel like I have as much tearing apart to do (I’ve written novels and revising them is oh my god horrible).
10. I send the revised story over to Mroo. She will read through it, commenting on grammatical errors, awkward phrasing, and generally things she particularly enjoys or notices to be slightly off.
11. I make at least one more pass, incorporating changes suggested by Mroo. At this point I’m only tweaking phrases or tiny details. After a third pass, I will not make any further tweaks. You have to stop some time, and that third is usually when I’m reviewing a chapter before uploading it online.
12. sweet sweet victory. I’ll give myself a day or two to chill out, gestate over any new ideas, and be a bum.
And there you go! Hope you found it interesting. If you’d like to see a story completed with this method, well, I don’t think my WordPress readers are gonna dig on the Avengers fic I just finished; the next story is still Avengers related, but it’s alternate universe and can stand apart from any knowledge of the movie/comics, so I’ll mention when it’s done going up.