Last week, I wrote about the reasons why I write. Further along that theme is the question of how I write.
The pedantic answer is with a laptop, a wireless keyboard, text to speech software and Wordpad, because I like barebones in my word processing. But that’s not what most people mean when this question comes up.
This is how I do it, and I honestly have no idea if it’s orthodox or not. It’s just what works for me. I start off with an idea, and more often than not this idea is not a plot, but the basis for the plot. Or at least, the problem the plot needs to resolve. Sometimes, it isn’t always even that much, but is just a situation. See, with me, I usually have to write the story if I want to find out how it ends. Which might explain why, as discussed last time, these ideas keep haunting me until I write them out.
So, with idea firmly in hand – or brain – I sit down at my computer, open up a document, and start typing. I don’t edit as I go. Typos, spelling mistakes, missing words and all that get kept, I just typetypetype until the idea is fully out, right there in digital form. Supremely messy digital form.
My first drafts tend to be short. I’m not trying to be wordy, I’m just trying to tell the story. Also, and importantly, a lot of things I write don’t make it past this particular phase. I’ve gotten them out, I know how it all ends, and am satisfied. If I’m just writing for my own entertainment (or ability to sleep), that is all I need.
But if it is something I want to share, or just something I want to play with, one of two things happen here. Sometimes, if what I’ve written isn’t too messy, I’ll edit it right there in the document it was created in. That is what I do with these blogs, in fact. Sometimes, though, I’ll open up a new document and literally retype the whole thing. This is where polishing starts. Sentances get restructured, details get added, the story is more fleshed out here. Then, I go back up to the top and scour for spelling mistakes and missing words. I find most spell checkers difficlt to use with text to speech software, so often I don’t use one at all. Luckily, misspelled words get pronounced wrong, so I know a mistake is there by hearing it. Sometimes, the misspelling still sounds right. So any you notice in these missives have that to blame.
That is usually enough. I will save it, or send it to someone. I would say that 99% of things I’ve written in the past have never been read by anyone and were eventually deleted off of harddrives. I’m trying to change that. If I decide to share it, I’ll give it one last read-through and then post it somewhere or other.
Incidentally, full rewrites seem to roughly double the length of a thing I have written. This is just as well given that my first attempt at a novel, currently in rough draft form, is 30,000 to 40,000 words, which I think I mentionned last week. Standard length of a first novel seems to be 80,000 words. I don’t plan to rewrite for length, but length will happen given my particular method.
Will this method work for you? I haven’t got a clue. It’s what works for me, though.