I’m going to be honest with you: my process is really non-existent. That is because I look at writing each story differently. When I first started writing to how I start now, just looking at it would make all of your heads spin. Yes, I am a former pantser turned planster? Maybe. That’s to be determined because I still haven’t found a proper way to outline and to date I have only finished three full novels (two in first drafts and one on its fifth draft…currently being ignored as we speak).
So how exactly do I write?
STEP ONE: Characters
I am of the belief that a character’s name has to match who the character’s identity is. Charles Dickens, in my own humble opinion, was a master of this. Each character he wrote had a name that perfectly described who they were in the story.
Fun fact: I actually share my birthday with his death date, which is June 9!
I can spend hours on babynames.com searching for the right name. The name has to be perfect before I start planning or writing.
STEP TWO: Outline/Planning
This step I am a bit new to. I am not a good outliner. I understand what I want the characters to say but I don’t know how to get that on to paper at the start of the book. So depending on the project, I write a detailed outline or I write key words/phrases I want to get the vibe of the story. This helps me stay in the right course of direction.
STEP THREE: The Writing
When I am in a writing zone, I can write for at least an hour or two a day. I have to lmit myself to that much time because I need to think and get into the characters and their minds. I need to know what their every thought and last move will be.
I also try to write a chapter at a time and have each chapter be one scene or a group of related scenes. I also try to end each chapter on a cliffhanger, again taking from the writing of the 1800s. Serial storytelling is one of my favorite genres so it has inspired my work.
STEP FOUR: The Vibes
This step happens at the same time as step three. I always have to be listening to music. However, the music selection depends on the story. If I am writing a contemporary story, I want to be listening to recent hits like Taylor Swift or Olivia Rodrigo. If I was writing a historical inspired story, I want to be listening to film scores or classical music. For fantasy like settings, I am always listening to video game scores.
This helps me get into a vibe with my wrtiting. The music feeds my emotions and how I want to get everything done.
STEP FIVE: The Avoidal
This is usually when I get stuck working on the first draft or revising any of the other drafts. Even though I want to get this done, even though I want to finish writing what I have, my brain just starts to get tired. That means two things. 1.) I don’t know what the characters want to say anymore moving forward or 2.) I really need to take a break.
Usually when it is number 2, I take a break from one month to several months. During that time, I am trying to figure out what I want to say. Yet, I don’t read other books in the genre. Instead, I watch TV or movies. I find watching media helps me understand characters and writing more. Right now, I am actually in step five as I work on revisions and it’s at the number 2 phase. (I’m on a binge watch of Criminal Minds. I’m on season 7 of 15. I should finish by the end of this month I believe.)
When it is number 1, I try and rest a lot. It is during my rest breaks when the characters speak to me. My characters are like real people to me and if they aren’t able to speak to me, then I cannot write their thoughts down.
STEP SIX: Begin Again
This is where I start again. I pick up where I left off. I have fresh eyes and a new vision. I feel refreshed and rested. I’m ready to try and finish this book again. I have the right music, the right characters, and the right mindset. It might have been months since I last looked at the project or it might have been days. Either way, I’m ready to start it again.
Briana Michelle Meyer currently lives and works in South Korea as an English teacher. She is right now trying to revise her novel about swimming and growing up. She spends a lot of time watching TV and might just write an essay about Spencer Reid one of these days. You can follow her on Twitter.