READER FRIDAY: Describe Your Process


Describe your creative process in writing a book? From research, to drafts, to goal setting, to edits and beta readers.

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About Jordan Dane

Bestselling, critically-acclaimed author Jordan Dane’s gritty thrillers are ripped from the headlines with vivid settings, intrigue, and dark humor. Publishers Weekly compared her intense novels to Lisa Jackson, Lisa Gardner, and Tami Hoag, naming her debut novel NO ONE HEARD HER SCREAM as Best Books of 2008. She is the author of young-adult novels written for Harlequin Teen, the Sweet Justice thriller series for HarperCollins., and the Ryker Townsend FBI psychic profiler series, Mercer's War vigilante novellas, and the upcoming Trinity LeDoux bounty hunter novels set in New Orleans. Jordan shares her Texas residence with two lucky rescue dogs. To keep up with new releases & exclusive giveaways, click HERE

12 thoughts on “READER FRIDAY: Describe Your Process

  1. I generally have to let my mind “dwell” on the key elements to my story before I start to write – main character (story teller), key plot concept, & emotional elements. I then plot out the 7 turning points to the storyline to see if I still like the journey. I call this my “W”: inciting incident, point of no return that leads into turning point 1 (for the first 25% of the plot). The next 2 turning points cover then 50% middle: escalating the stakes turning point & the dark moment. The last 25% contains a last minute surprise plot twist & the ending. That’s my “W” outline plot brief,to start.

    I then research the setting for the story. Sometimes this goes fast if it’s a city or location I’m familiar with. The research might only be logistical where I hunt through a city map & drill down into street views for certain key action items or I might start with where I want my character to live.

    By this time, I’m steeped in the story and I’m generally ready to write. Starts are always a challenge for me & I focus on what’s the biggest emotional or mysterious punch for an opener.

    Once I start into the story, I set a daily word Count goal, generally 1500-2500 words/day. I make a hard copy of each day’s writing to do my edits before I go to bed. I call these my rolling edits, where I keep editing my previous writing until I have few corrections, while I continue forward with new stuff for my daily word count. When I’m done writing, it’s pretty clean & I do a final read through on my kindle, making any last minute notes. (Reading it on my kindle allows me to “feel” like it’s a real book & I try to get sucked into the story like a reader.)

    That’s it. I write 5-7 days a week. With my flexible daily word count goals, I can take time off for fun stuff or family “must do ” stuff by just upping my daily word goals to get me back on track for any deadline I might have.

  2. My process is so torturous and time-consuming, I’m not sure it qualifies as a process at all. The four books I wrote that were published seemed to pour out of me. I was blissfully unaware of rules or technique, plotting or pantsing…sometimes the picture in my head was so clear that it was hard for my fingers to keep up on the keyboard. These days, I print out my messy first draft and sit in my local library with a hard copy for about a week reading it and making ‘big picture’ notes in a composition book. I rewrite every paragraph of every page. Once I do those edits, I print out a second hard copy and it’s back to the library (they have a Keurig now and let you buy one cup at a time, which is great). The second read-through yields better dialogue and more meaningful interactions amongst my characters. This is when I start to like the book. I end up rewriting every paragraph on every page when I key-enter the notes I’ve made on the hard copy, and this becomes a third edit (on screen because my thoughts about it change as I go) when the story flows smoothly and my characters’ dialogue gets sharper, more focused, more fun (hopefully) to read. If it’s a shorter romance (like the one I just finished), I’ll send it out at this point. If it’s a bigger, longer book (suspense), I go on and do more rounds. I have just organized an online critique group (shout out to Mary Buckham, who put some of us former students in touch with each other), and getting feedback from other writers is invaluable.

  3. An idea sparks. I tell myself it won’t work, and if my mind refuses to let go, then I let it spin out scenes and characters and ideas. I write nothing down yet.
    When my ideas are bursting out of control, I start naming my characters. Names are the first thing I write down. Now that I know how to plot, I find my plot points. This structure thing makes this step go a whole lot faster, which is good yet annoying because I know it’ll be months before I can actually write this new idea.
    Then I write. I’m still trying to figure out daily quotas and how to motivate myself to just sit and get it done, but every year I get more done. I’ve also been fervently looking for critique groups. I’m fairly sure I found a good one this summer.
    As I write, my mind constantly dreams and wrestles with my ideas. I don’t review, but if I know how to fix a chapter to make it work/stronger, I’ll go back and fix it before moving on.

    That’s how far I’ve gotten in my writing process. I’ve queried, so I have a fairly good idea how it works, but I’ve got nothing finished to start querying again.

  4. I am currently doing a first edit of my first book. OMGosh, the plot holes and pacing problems! I swear, I’m about to stick it in the round file. But I am learning what I should have done better in the outline process, so hopefully I can use this new knowledge in my upcoming NaNoWriMo adventure.

    • Finishing each project is a good exercise, rather than abandoning it unfinished. I have 2 first projects that were completed but will never see the light of day. They were learning exercises.

      But when I sold, I had 2 additional manuscripts to sell to the publisher. My inventory.

      I always feel like my best work will be my next one. Fingers crossed.

  5. Well, a few scribbled notes–I found the notebook this week–then sit down and start typing.

    Characters, voice tone, my voice, what each person looked like, how they acted, and the deaths–psychological, physical, philosophical (which may be the same thing as psychological), personal, and/or spiritual) began to emerge and, eventually, to resolve.

    I did find out that, at heart, I am an outliner, but I flew in from out-of-town by the seat of my pants. It was a terrifying experience doing it that way.

  6. I write at least 500 words on my current WIP, plus a query on a finished one every day. I also spend about half an hour going over the outline and notes on the WIP and usually try and do a rough sketch of the next day’s scene. If I get in a time crunch,I do the query the next day. I don’t really manage to get a query off every day. About three or four a week. Writing is so much more fun than querying.

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