Writing Notes: My Finishing Process

Before I get too jiggy with today’s
notes, I’ll just say right up front that this is my personal
process. All writers are different, and we all need to find our own
process, so your mileage may vary.

Why am I giving you a disclaimer right
up front? Because I don’t work according to many of the “rules”
(or “guidelines” on kinder, gentler blogs) that are bandied about
for new writers still trying to figure out what works for them. I’ve
tried lots of things, and discovered what works best for me, and
that’s all I’m sharing here – it’s by no means a
definitive…well…anything. It just is what it is – my way of
doing things.

All that out of the way…when I refer
to my “finishing process”, I mean everything that comes after the
first draft. For me, this includes four things:

  1. Read through & minor revisions

  2. Edits from my editor

  3. Formatting

  4. Proofreading

You’ll note that there is no “second
draft” or “third draft” – I am not a multiple drafts writer. I
do one draft, and everything stems from that. If the rough
draft isn’t good enough to only need minor revisions/edits, I trunk
it. This does mean I take greater care with the first draft, but I do
try not to let it drag on too long (TBW being a notable exception –
last year was a busy year!). As long as it ends up moving along a
definite plot line that is resolved in the end, odds are I can make
it publishable. It doesn’t need to be a literary masterpiece – it
just needs to entertain readers for a couple of hours.

In an ideal world, I’d let the draft
sit for a few weeks before re-reading it. But I treat my writing as a
business, and as such I have deadlines to meet. TBW only got to sit
over the weekend, but that’s the nice thing about working with
other people. They will (hopefully) spot all the stuff you miss by
going back too early.

So Monday I started going through TBW.
Starting at the beginning, I fixed any continuity errors,
characterization, scene shifts (serial novels tend to need more work
in that area), and cleaned up any grammar that jumped out at me.
Spell check was on too, so I caught my misspelled words as well. And
I formatted the document as I went through so my editor wouldn’t
have a hard time reading. I identified just two largish issues I need
to deal with before I send it off – my setting map, and my ending.
I’ll get those fixed tomorrow.

After my round of revisions/edits, I
email the document to my editor (TBW will be sent off either Thursday
or Friday). She’ll have it for a couple of weeks, and send it back
to me all marked up with changes and suggestions using Track Changes.
I’ll go through the entire ms again, accepting or rejecting her
suggestions, and making changes where indicated (note, I rarely
reject a suggestion or change). As I’m going through the document
this time, I mark my italics and simplify the paragraph/chapter
elements as much as possible to facilitate the next step.

At that point, I declare the book
“done”. The only changes from there on out will be small things
my proofreaders find, and publication stuff (formatting, conversion,
print formatting, etc).

From there, I format the book into
various ebook files and one print file. Once I have all those ready
to go, I send out copies to proofreaders and reviewers (Advance
Reader Copies). Then I make whatever small changes the proofreaders
send back, and that’s pretty much it. Voila, book done, moving on
to the next…

And now you see why the disclaimer’s
at the top. I don’t revise, revise, revise. I don’t spend a ton
of time on a finished draft, and I don’t waste any sleep over
whether it’s “perfect” or not. I do the best I can, and then
move on to the next work.

So that’s my finishing process –
what’s yours? Do you have one? If not, what are you currently
toying with?

9 comments on “Writing Notes: My Finishing Process

  1. Cheryl Corbin

    I like your process. I get hung up on wanting it to be perfect – the best thing I’ve ever written, rather than making it as good as it can be right now and getting it out there. I’m going to try to rein that in for this story. A good story released into the world is better than a great story that never leaves my head.

  2. Brooklyn Ann

    I’m a multiple draft kinda girl there’s always stuff I missed and always things new betas will catch. I will trunk a novel if my crit buddies are so bored they can’t get through it.

  3. Jamie D.


  4. Jamie D.

    B.J. Daniels is a multiple draft writer too – she writes Harlequin Intrigues, and I think she said she goes through around 8 drafts for each book? I can’t even imagine (and she puts out like six books per year), but it’s working quite well for her, obviously.

  5. Ardee-ann Eichelmann

    Jamie, I am not really a multiple draft writer. My novel (a NaNoWriMo piece) needs help because it was a NaNoWriMo get it written piece. It needs some reworking and needs the end to be finished more cleanly.

    There is a LOT of editing to be done because it was written for SPEED’s sake. The editing is hard. If I ever get it ready for others to read I think the reasons that editing is hard will be evident. If not well I guess that is okay too. I love my novel and want it to be ready for the world before too much more time passes. We will see. LOL!!!! I let it sit too much but that’s just me.

    I used to be a writer who went for “perfection” but now I just enjoy the process and don’t fret over every word. I love adjectives and adverbs and do not write clean sparing prose or non-fiction. I write what I feel.

    I enjoy reading about your process. We do things in contrasting manners but we work toward a common end, a novel in our hands.



  6. Jamie D.

    Oh absolutely, Ardee-ann…I think that there are two basic types of writing – when you write for speed, by default you have to sacrifice some quality there. And that’s what NaNo is all about. So naturally there will be more editing required for a NaNo draft.

    Good for you for learning to just enjoy the process. I think that’s something we all need to do, no matter what our own methods entail.

  7. Dolly

    While I don’t have a definitive process, definitely multiple drafts. At least two. First draft would be just that. First draft. Then comes the harder work and more drafts. While I’m not aiming for perfection, I am aiming for as best as possible instead of good enough. But then as an unpublished writer, I am not yet in position to judge when it may be good enough. So I’m following my reader instinct.

  8. Jamie DeBree

    Nothing wrong with that. 🙂

    I do think we sell ourselves short in the judgment department. Writers as a general rule are far, far more picky than any normal reader will ever be (considering what sells these days, I feel very confident saying that).

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