I’m often asked what my writing process looks like.
How do I write a book? It’s pretty simple, actually.
(Not easy. But simple.)
First, I start with the basics:
- Who are the good guys?
- What are they trying to do?
- And, especially, why?
- Who are the bad guys?
- Where does this take place?
Then I boil all of that down into a strong core idea. For example: a bookish crystal shop owner has to save the world from the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse – who drive possessed muscle cars.
The idea has to work at the core level, it has to really grab me, before I start writing it. Otherwise, what’s the point?
Then I figure out how to make the whole book work, beginning to end, in a short synopsis. Maybe one page. That takes time. And even once I have that figured out, I don’t start writing it yet.
I go through a process of breaking the entire book down into smaller and smaller chunks, figuring out what works and what doesn’t. There’s always a certain amount of stuff that you have to throw out or change. There are gaps that you need to fill in.
After a considerable amount of work, I get to the point where I have a complete list of scenes, and a description of what happens in each scene. Once that’s done, I can start writing the book.
But nothing is set in stone. Any of this stuff could change at any time. I’m not a slave to the outline.
If I come up with a better idea on the fly, I’ll go with it.
I can always change the outline later to smooth things out again.
I think of it like a weather forecast: this is what will probably happen. But just in case, bring an umbrella.
I don’t think I’ve ever written a book that ended exactly the way I thought it would. And that’s okay. The outline is just a tool that helps you get the book done. That’s what really matters.
Are you writing a book? Let me know in the comments.
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