How I Write a Book

Have you ever wondered how an author goes about writing a book? I thought today I’d share my process. Of course there are as many different ways to write a book as there are different authors, but this process has worked for me for 12 years, so I’ll probably be sticking with it.

Ten steps to writing a novel. #writingcommunity #writinglife

1.) If you’re writing for a traditional publisher, the first thing you have to do is sell the book. Yes, that’s usually before you write it. Some publishers want only your main story idea. Most publishers want the first 50 pages and a story summary (synopsis). After consulting with my editor and my agent, I decide WHAT to write–what sort of story, where the setting will be, the general idea. Then I write my 50 pages. When it’s approved (which can take 24 hours to 3 months or more), then I go back, read what I wrote and begin writing the entire story.

2.) I make a schedule for how many words I need to write per day. It’s a pretty simple math problem. I can comfortably write 2,000 words a day, so I take my total word count, subtract what I’ve written for the proposal, and divide by 2,000. That gives me the number of days it will take to finish my book. I build in an extra week or two for “life stuff” which invariably crops up.

3.) Each morning the first thing I do is read what I wrote the day before. I only spend an hour on this because I need to move the story along. I might add a few descriptions here and there, or clarify a plot point. Then I stop and take the dogs for a walk or work in the garden. After an hour, I’m ready to move on to my new pages.

4.) The new pages are always fun to write. I can let my imagination take off and see where the story goes. Usually my word count for the day equals one or two scenes, and I try to stop writing before the end of the scene–that way the next day it’s very easy to jump back into the story.

5.) Once my pages are written, I save, backup and close the document. I need to let it marinate overnight before I start editing the next morning.

6.) When I finish a story, I send it off to two ladies who are my pre-readers (thank you Tracy and Kristy). They look for typos or general discrepancies in the story. While my book is with them, I take a break, catch up on accounting, etc.

7.) I love receiving my edits from my pre-readers. They find the funniest mistakes! Now I go back through the story, page 1 to the end, and I add another layer of emotion, description, tension … I also correct all those funny mistakes. This process usually takes 2 weeks.

8.) Then it’s off to my editor. I’ve been very fortunate to have wonderful editors. Later, after the story is approved, it will go through the publisher’s process which includes more substantive edits (plot problems), copy edits (comma problems), and then a final proofread.

9.) By the time a book is completely done, I’ve personally edited it 3 or 4 times. My pre-readers have checked it, my editors have gone through it twice, and finally proofreaders go through it a last time. I’m always amazed that a mistake makes it through–that is one stubborn mistake to hang on through that many people.

10.) Finally, I take a break before starting the next book. I need to “re-set” my brain, but you know that I am thinking about that next story. When it’s time to start, I’m rested and ready.

Finding the process that works for you is critical when trying to write a novel. #writingcommunity #writinglife

I don’t have special software or a magical computer set-up. Just an old iMac and MS Word. That’s it! I love my job–love the writing, the editing, and of course the readers. If you have friends who want to write, please share this blog with them. And if you have any questions about my writing process, please leave a comment below. And thanks for stopping by my blog.

V

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8 Comments

  1. Jaime on July 1, 2021 at 4:44 pm

    How interesting! I love your books – you are so creative!
    Thank you for sharing this process.

    • Vannetta Chapman on July 20, 2021 at 8:55 pm

      Thank you for stopping by, Jaime. Writing is definitely a “process,” but I love doing it.

  2. Connie Ruggles on July 1, 2021 at 9:43 pm

    Thanks for giving us a look at the “inside” world of your writing. And you’re looking great, what you’re doing clearly works for you!

    • Vannetta Chapman on July 20, 2021 at 8:54 pm

      Hi Connie. Thanks for your kind words. I think you hit on a key thing–find what works for you! And that’s different for each writer.

  3. Jolan Crawford on July 9, 2021 at 12:22 am

    Thanks for sharing your technique. You make it sound so easy.

    • Vannetta Chapman on July 20, 2021 at 8:48 pm

      Well…EASY may be a stretch, but it’s certainly “doable.” 🙂

  4. Jackie Tessnair on July 9, 2021 at 2:08 am

    Thanks for sharing this Vannetta. I have always wanted to know how an author writes a book. You have it all planned out.

    • Vannetta Chapman on July 20, 2021 at 8:47 pm

      I used to be a “pantster” and I guess a part of me still is. But it sure eases the stress to have some of it planned out!

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