Noveling is a process. It’s arduous. The Arduous Process looks different for everyone, but I just want to share a snapshot of what noveling is like for me, personally.
Obviously, there will be gifs.
Here it is from start to finish (because there comes a point where a novel is finished, right? RIGHT????).
The Spark of Creation (aka: when an new story idea strikes).
The moment of inspiration is different for every novel, but the moment it takes root, there’s no going back.
This is the part where I cheat on the novel I was working on by thinking about and creating playlists and Pinterest boards for my new idea. It’s all fun and games in the beginning, when it’s forbidden.
Everything is shiny and new and exciting about this idea, and I’m usually pretty jacked and acting kind of weird around the house.
It’s very much like the beginning of The Lion King, when everything is bright and hopeful and beautiful.
Drafting Begins (aka: I write the rough draft of the novel).
It’s time to get started! All the Pinteresting and playlist-making and movie-trailer-dreaming has come to this, and it’s time to start actually writing the novel. I couldn’t be happier!
Two chapters into the novel:
But I’m not stressed because I’m a discovery writer, which means I don’t plot out a novel before I write it; I just start with some inspiration and make most of it up as I go along (because what can possibly go wrong with that?).
This leads us to the next phase: intermittent snacking.
The time eventually comes to kill off the first character. I usually meet this challenge with a healthy mixture of maniacal zest and sincere sorrow.
I also tend to get stuck in research ruts, which is where I spend five and a half hours researching one minute detail (which I’ll probably end up throwing out further down the line in the editing process).
By this point, we’re where everything is falling apart for the characters, and my main character has reached their lowest point (this is often called “the dark night of the soul”). All their hopes and dreams (and maybe even some of their loved ones) have gone up in smoke. It’s a very traumatic time. For the main character. Less so for me.
Inevitably, I slow to a halt and spend a while existential crisis-ing.
Shortly after this, I complete the first draft, which is hands down one of the most amazing feelings of this whole process.
Editing Begins (aka: I try to fix up the story to make it presentable to others, and it promptly falls apart).
Editing usually begins well. I typically take a few month break (sometimes even more) between my first draft and my second draft and am thus very refreshed and ready to dig into my novel once more.
I read the first draft, which often feels like I’m discovering the novel for the first time all over again. Except this time without all the frills and euphoric visions. No, this time, I read it with all the cynicism my dual personality can muster.
And then I begin to notice that there are some, well, some rather large problems that my witty back and forth banter with myself won’t fix.
Then, I lose all comprehension of all words, story craft, plot structure, character building, etc..
Enter from stage right: the Google search.
Typical Editing Phase 1 Google searches look like:
- how to tell if your novel has a plot
- how to plot a novel
- why does my main character need to have a goal?
- how to write a plot twist
- wHaT IS A pLOt?
- is my novel trash?
- save me
People generally think it’s pretty cool that I write novels, and this is the part (when I can’t recall the difference between an inciting incident and a plot twist) where they ask about it. I can’t help myself but respond thusly:
Editing Continues (aka: something has gone terribly wrong with the story and I’m still editing it a year and a half later).
It’s usually at this juncture that I find some irreparable plot hole and can’t cope.
Eventually, I do learn to cope…
As I said, some people are kind enough to check in with me every once in a while. They’ll ask me again about my novel, to which I reply like Edna Mode:
Despair and confusion continues.
After I’ve spent three years of my life editing a novel….
After I’ve reworked that first chapter approximately 4543 times:
Again, with the thoughtful, invested people asking me how the novel is coming:
But then I start to get a second (or maybe this is the third? Or fourth? Or fifth?) wind, and things start to turn around. Something clicks in my brain; I get some sort of breakthrough. I see how to take this novel to the next level and end this
I respond in the only way I can.
In general, there is Renewed Vigor, and I’m ready to kick this novel in the butt.
Me to my Renewed Vigor:
And then, some time later, I finish the novel.
And there it is, friends.
My noveling process from start to finish. Now, please excuse me while I get back to editing my novel.
What does your process look like?
p.s. – this was going to be a serious post, but that clearly didn’t happen, lol. Someone *cough cough* let themselves loose on a gif-hunt, and now here we are.
p.p.s. – I think I may have used a record number of gifs in this post. I was also a bit loopy while putting together this post because I’ve been staying up late working on my novel and am thus a little sleep-deprived.