How Do I Love to Write? Let Me Count The Ways…

My first novel took over a year to write. When my favorite authors were putting out a couple books per year, I knew I needed to keep up if I wanted to make it in the book industry.

Being a strategy consultant for my day job, much of my work is helping companies be more efficient or effective. When it came to writing, I simply wasn’t “walking the walk,” and so it was time to take a look at my writing process. It was then I realized I’d had no process! On my first book, I started on Chapter One, and wrote—and rewrote and rewrote—each chapter by painful chapter. It was chaotic and tedious.

After thinking things through, I made some serious changes. I spent about a month plotting out my second novel using storyboards (i.e. high-level scene-by-scene descriptions) and character bios. Even though characters never behave and like to take over and change scenes from my plans, I wrote the second novel in less than six months, with much fewer rewrites. Tweaking the process with each novel, I can get a novel to my editor in under four months: one month planning the story, one month rough drafting, and one-two months rewriting and polishing.

Putting some rigor into my writing process has allowed me to write over twice as fast, and I find writing more enjoyable (less “spinning my wheels”). I wrote Collision, a full-length novel coming out tomorrow(!), in four months. Being the first book in a trilogy, the first month of planning the series and characters was crucial and well worth every minute. Now, as I work on the next two books in the Colliding Worlds trilogy, I’m confident about the plot and excited to write!

For the writers out there, what’s your process? Has it evolved as your writing experience grows? Let’s swap best practices!

Enjoy writing!

Berinn Rae

www.BerinnRae.com

Collision (book 1 in the Colliding Worlds trilogy)

July 30, 2012

Amazon   Barnes&Noble

COLLISION, Book 1 in the Colliding Worlds Trilogy by Berinn Rae

Sienna Wolfe knows it’s going to be an interesting day when a man with golden skin and strange tattoos crashes in her backyard… and ends up tied to her bedposts. She likes her life just the way it is – simple, easy, relaxed. But when the gorgeous new alien in her life asks for her help in an inter-galactic war on a scollision course with earth, she can’t say no… but she’ll soon wish she had.

The U.S. military has figured out they have uninvited company, and they’re not happy. Sienna knows it won’t be easy protecting earth from an alien invasion, but she refuses to back down. Now it’s up to Sienna to pull off the impossible: save the world and – hopefully – live a little happily ever after.

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18 Comments

  1. In looking back, I have worked on several books at the same time, alternating, completing about 3-4 books in one year. This article reminds us to push a little harder and if we want to keep our names/books fresh with readers, I agree with you on keeping up.

    Great article, Berinn!

    • Thanks for stopping by, Kay! working on 3-4 books at the same time gives me goosebumps! That’s awesome that you can juggle so well!

  2. Very impressive, Berinn, and congratulations! I wrote my novel releasing next week at 10,000 words/week, but it went through tons of rewrites, since I didn’t plot it out at first. I’ve started using Karen Wiesner’s First Draft in 30 Days, but I do need to allow the characters to take the plot where they choose and surprise me. I need a balance of structure and pantster writing.

    • Doesn’t it feel great when you start to get into a rhythm? I tend to shoot for writing a certain number of scenes per week (vs. word count). Word counts stressed me out for some reason. I’ll take a look at Wiesner’s process. It sounds intriguing!

  3. I know many authors plot everything from page one on..writing in order. Me though, I am all for going in with a basic plan and finding order as I go. I have never been able to write from beginning to end. I bound around happily moving from one thing to another. I might know the major arcs, but I never know all the details of how it will work on the page. My only writing goal is usually a word count goal. When I first started writing I would only write when I was “inspired,” had a great idea, and felt compelled to get it down on paper. Now, I just sit down and write, and I keep on slogging through. I do have one set rule though. Any day that everything I write seems terrible, I back slowly away from the computer, and plan to start again tomorrow.

    • You make a great point about not waiting until we’re inspired to write. Writing definitely has to be treated like a job if we want those books to be written!

  4. Your realization that you had to pick up the pace to play with the big guys sounded familiar. It was daunting at first to realize that once I submitted the novels I’d spent a few years writing, I’d have to write the next ones faster. I’ve settled on a combination of plotting and pantsing–I know the story arc and the characters but leave them some room to show me what really happened. Now I can get a first draft finished in weeks, not months. And congrats on your novel release–and on getting the others ready for prime time.

    • Thanks, Peggy! The industry definitely moves at a fast (too fast) pace. And, I’m with you on the combo of plotting and pantsing. A bit of both are needed for my best writing rhythm!

  5. Hi Berinn – I take about two months to write a solid first draft. But, that pace has picked up since I sold in March. I had one story I started in 2011 and finished early spring. And I’m still playing with edits on the pages after the partial I’ve sent off to a publisher.

    After I sold BULL RIDER”S BROTHER, I sat down and started the sequel BULL RIDER’S MANAGER – which came in right at two months. I bullet point out the plot, know my characters, and then set down for a daily word count.

    Since I”m writing two series, I know I have to get my words down to meet my personal deadlines for the next book.

    Great post. Love to hear how others are doing.
    Lynn

    • Hi Lynn! Two series will definitely keep you busy! Best wishes in your deadlines – it sounds like you have a great plan and the dedication to meet them!

  6. Wish I was so organized, Berinn. I really admire a woman with a plan. And one that works, no less! Way to go, ladies. Self discipline like so many things includes self-deluding on my part. Way to make it a little simpler, gave me great ideas! Thanks

    • Thanks for stopping by, Pam. Self-delusion sounds like a splendid and required attitude to have while writing! Oh, and have fun trying out different ideas!

  7. I love hearing how other authors work. The plotting process seems to work well for you. I need to try something to speed up the process.

  8. Great article, Berinn. I’m a new Crimson author, too. Nice to meet you! I’m not much for plotting or outlining, but I’m a stickler for character charts. There’s a great one authors can download at http://www.charlottedillon.com. I recommend it!

    • Charlotte Dillon has an amazing website of resources for writers. I find character bios critical for writing series – ‘ll check out her character charts. Thanks for the share!

  9. Most impressive, Berinn. I do write outlines for my novels and know my characters but I have never really written down the character bios. I will give it a try.
    Thanks Susan for the web address for the chart.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Carmen. And best wishes on your next novel!!


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