Prolific author Lynn Viehl talks, in a series of interesting entries on her blog, about her novel writing process.
While I’m writing the book I do not back-track to read and mess
with what I’ve written, edit or rewrite the new material as it lands on
the page, change my mind about the story, hate myself, hate the work,
avoid the work, wait for the planets to align correctly before I write,
let my inner rabid bitch off her leash, wonder how what I write will
affect the reader, worry about the state of my soul, chakrahs or ego,
or otherwise railroad myself.
My apologies in advance to the
writers who do any/all of the above. My methods are a professional
necessity, because honestly I could not handle what you do in order to
write a novel.
She also mentions that she gets an advance of about $21,000 a book which, because she mentions it so often on her blog, comes across more like boasting than informative candor.
In another post, she discusses how she pitches her book projects to editors. Once she has a deal, it’s time to…
… move into the construction phase of the novel
process. I’ve already done the imagining, researching, and outlining for the novel, and I probably have at least a hundred pages of it written as part of the pitch, so everything is ready to go.
A hundred pages? No wonder she can just write without angst… she’s already gone through all her angst, and made all the tough decisions, in her massive (way too massive, in my opinion) sales and outlining process.
I "sell" my DIAGNOSIS MURDER novels (and now my MONK books) on the basis of a punchy page that reads more like book-jacket copy… and then I write a beat sheet for myself that oulines the rest of the plot. By beat sheet, I mean a crude version of the outlines we write in the episodic television business (you can see samples on my website or in my book SUCCESSFUL TELEVISION WRITING). All together, it might amount to ten pages, mostly in bullet-point form. A hundred pages? Good God.
Unlike Lynn, I also rewrite my books as I go, usually starting my work each day by editing whatever I’ve written the night before. Then again, I also go through almost all of the whining and self-doubt that Lynn manages to avoid…but in the end, I think it helps my work. It forces me to concentrate on plot and character… and to go back and rewrite/refine/hone my writing.
But everyone has their own method. Mystery novelist Sandra Scoppettone, for instance, doesn’t outline at all, discovering her plot, her characters, and her murderer, as she goes. Now that is unimagineable to me…