Stages of a Novel

desk 002Depending on the novel or the author, the stages which each draft of a story must pass through changes. But I believe the common list goes something like this:

1. Idea / Plot

2. Write

3. Leave for a month (in a drawer, if possible)

4. Edit / Re-write

5. Beta read

6. Final edits

7. Submission / Publication


I’ve found myself in an odd place with Planes Shifter. I’m at a circle of 6.5 ~ 1.5, where I’ve found myself – as a writer – in a completely different place to my last edit. I’ve read up on story arcs and character motivations. I’ve read other books I’ve enjoyed and my brain has connected whole new aspects of plot. And I’ve recognised something about my own process.

Because I know the ending; I keep wanting to cut the beginning down (again) and to explore that ending place more. To continue with plotting and ideas. So a book that began with a girl leaving a village and travelling to a town, meeting X and then travelling on to a base via two other buildings… is now a book beginning one month into her stay at the base. And now I want to cut that to “in her sixth month at the base” to get me nearer the ending and the “interesting new bits I could develop.”
This is particularly interesting as the first book in a trilogy; where I’ve already given myself permission to have more places to expand and explore the things introduced here.

It’s also been interesting to “become bored” with the beginning of my book. Because I’ve forced myself to re-read it so much – thanks to self-imposed deadlines – I’ve actually lost that space I gained through the time away.

And so, I’m adding a new number.

6.75 :: where I ask people to read my first chapter, and tell me-
what they expect will happen next
what they’re itching to know
where they got bored
d) what felt “extraneous” or unnecessary at this point

Hopefully that will allow me to separate my own boredom/itch to get to the next bit from the actual problems with the chapter, and thus allow me to build the final book from a good place.

How do you deal with blocks in editing?

2 responses to “Stages of a Novel

  1. I edit in cycles and focus on specific elements, but sometimes it takes me in an unexpected direction. I’m at a point where I know that there are more edits To come but I also want a reader’s reaction before I go in for another cycle because, as you said, I need to know if its my own boredom or an actual issue that’s dragging me down.

    • I find having “alpha readers” really helpful, especially in terms of the “promises I’ve made” that I may not always be aware of/remember, and thus, may not have a payoff for unless I’m made aware of it.
      I’ve also found that I understand some of the “how to write/plot” aspects better now, and I know I didn’t do them in the early stages – so trying to work out if I need to change those things is a fine line that I think I;ll be asking my readers for feedback on.
      Thanks for commenting.

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