To understand the process of writing a novel we need to look at the stages in writing. Even if some authors do write a novel at first attempt, then polish it up – the most of us plan it with great care.
There are three main stages after plotting. After you go through these stages you’ll have a novel that is as close to perfect as it could get. Just be patient, never rush it.
This is the first writing stage. If you used the expanding snowflake technique explained here, you are almost done with this stage.
This is a stage where you write detailed descriptions chapter by chapter from beginning to end. There is no style, no order, your chapters seem like compilation of explanations and quotes from the real chapters. This is the draft that will guide you through the next two stages, so if you want to make a change to you novel while you are writing it or rewriting it, start by going back here and testing how the change fits your plot.
Now that you have a skeleton to keep you on track, with ideas of your chapters, you can begin writing it. Don’t pay attention to your grammar, the lack of style or typos. This is the stage where it is important only to write it. Your themes might be muddled up, your points unclear – it doesn’t matter. The only thing to do is to sit down at the scheduled time and write as much as you can. Leave the polishing for later.
This is the final stage of the real writing process. This is where you go through your second draft (raw material) and correct your grammar, intensify the theme, make your points clearer, apply more context and add your own style to it. Read it out loud as you go along, it helps to hear how the words you wrote really sound – if you don’t like it, rewrite it.
Do the polishing part as many times as you want, but don’t criticize yourself too much -after a while give it to a friend or a family member (several would be great), and ask them to read it and mark every typo, every unclear sentence, every words they dislike in the context, then think about the notes you get. You don’t have to change every word they mark, but if you see a word that was marked by several – change it. That way you get an idea of what your audience will be like.
There is never too much polishing, if you ask me. But there has to be a point where we stop and decide that it is done (you can always do a second edition if your real audience finds some flaws).
Author: Mladen Reljanović
Mladen Reljanović is the founder and lead writer at Writer to Writers. He is the author of Oaktown stories, senior student of communication and a pianist.