Friday 21 December 2018

Guest Blogger - Megan O'Russell - My Writing Process

I love writing. I love sitting down with my laptop and creating a whole new world filled with unique characters. Making choices like what kinds of technology exist, what religion people follow, what is considered a marriageable age all affect how a story is built. It’s my privilege as an author to be able to arrange those details in a way that not only shapes my characters’ experiences, but also will (hopefully) affect my readers’ experiences.

All that said, writing is not always easy, nor is it completely fun. Every author has a different process, and through my writing I’ve found a way to smooth out some of the more painful bumps in the road. Thus far, I’ve always gone the traditional publishing route, so my experiences have been fairly consistent. At this point, with four novels currently published and six more written and contracted, I can safely say the process goes something like this. 

1) Find a scathingly brilliant idea.

Usually, my ideas happen while hiking a really hard trail. When my legs start hurting so badly I don’t want to walk anymore, it’s really easy to start picturing fantasy worlds where I am not, in fact, climbing up a mountain.

2) Plot the world. 

What I really mean by this is deciding what kind of mayhem I want to inflict on my characters. For example, in Girl of Glass I knew I wanted to mix Sci-Fi, dystopian, and paranormal. The idea morphed into a mid-apocalyptic Sci-Fi with chemically induced vampires. When plotting out the world, I had to decide what the restrictions/weaknesses of the vampires were and how non-vampires reacted to the creation of chemically changed humans.

3) Choose a cast, and start writing.
I am a pantser. I know where I want my story to end, but I don’t know all the back alleys I’m going to take to get there. Once I have my cast in hand and my destination set, I go for it.

This is the super fun phase. I set daily word count goals to keep on track and start each day by doing a rough edit of the work from the day before.

4) Revisions—aka I suck and never should have started this project to begin with.
Once the rough draft is finished, I go through and do a round of revisions. This is the phase where I am most tempted to hit delete. It gets to the point where I’ve stared at the same page so many times I’m fairly certain words no longer have meaning.

5) Beta reader and read aloud.
If the manuscript survives my revisions, I give it to my Beta reader and then do a full out loud reading of the whole shebang. It may seem excessive, but it helps to find a lot of errors my eyes glance over. Reading aloud also helps make sure the characters’ speech patterns are consistent and the voice of the narration keeps to a tone that will be pleasing to the reader.

6) One more edit.
Just to make my eyeballs bleed.

7) Writing a blurb and synopsis. (Also known as the dark time where you regret ever wanting to be an author.)
By this point, I’ve spent anywhere between three months and a year getting a manuscript ready. Somehow, writing a blurb and synopsis is way more painful. Condensing your whole world into a tantalizing few paragraphs or summarizing your plot in a few pages that don’t make you sound insane is way harder than it should be.

8) Submissions. #TheWorst
But at least you’re only waiting.

9) Signing a book deal. #TheBest 
But don’t delude yourself into thinking your work is over. Now you get to do more edits with people leaving tons of notes on your manuscript so all you see is an ocean of changes that need to be made. You will end up going through your manuscript a dozen more times. You will always miss a typo.

10) Book release!
You’ve done it! A whole book out into the world. Now it’s your job to care for the book. To find it reviews and readers. To make sure you maintain a good relationship with your readers so they too will love your book baby.

11) Start again from step one.
And that’s it. Eleven easy steps to writing a novel!

Okay, so it’s not easy, but it is worth it. I’m sure my process will shift with time, and what works for me may not work for anyone else. No matter how you build your world, get the words down, and reach your readers, happy writing!

You can follow Megan on her website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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