I just turned in my second round of revisions for THE NAMELESS PRINCE to the ever-delightful Kristin Daly Rens at Balzer+Bray (for reals, I'm using the word delightful here) and that means I'm diving back into the second draft of a YA fantasy that I'm going to call THE SOULSWIFT until someone tells me not to.
And this has got me thinking about process, or more accurately, the fact that I don't have one. I've got five completed rough drafts under my belt, three of which are in various states of revision, and no two novel writing experiences have been the same for me. If I had to sum up my "process" in one word, it would be this: flailing.
(Someday, I'm going to write a novel comprised entirely of gifs.)
(Also, yay Downton Abbey!)
I can plot a novel. I can pants it. I can nine-box it. I can write it and try to slap the Aristotelian plot structure on top of it later, but it all comes down to the same thing. I flail my way through writing books. If books were dog training, I would not be the dog whisperer. I would be the jerk with a rolled up newspaper beating the words into submission.
dSo, in the case of THE SOULSWIFT I knew the spine of the plot with perfect clarity before I ever set pen to paper. Did that make the first draft any easier? Or even remotely fun? No. No, it did not. In fact, I dare say that was the most painful and craptastic rough draft I've ever written.
Why is that? Honestly, I think it's because I love the hell out of this book, or, at least, the idea of it. I'm more excited about THE SOULSWIFT than I've been about any project since I first started writing THE NAMELESS PRINCE a bajillion years ago. And I want it to be amazeballs, dammit.
So, as I attempt to figure out and articulate what it is that Megan does to make a book happen, I'm now doing something deliberately that I tend to do instinctively when I get stuck: I'm telling myself the story. I'm writing it over and over again in my notebook with my awesome new Pentel EnerGel pens that do not smear (#lefties). I'm having entire, handwritten conversations with myself on the page, asking why things happen and when and how and why again. I'm breaking the story down scene by scene in Scrivener. I'm outlining the story on index cards and taping them to the wall in the my office. (Okay, it's really the laundry room, but I can stare at that story while I'm folding underwear, so #winning.) And I will not attempt to tell you this story until I've told it to myself so many times and so clearly that I know exactly what I'm going to say when the time comes to put it on the page for you.
I'll let you know how that pans out.