How to Write a Book
First--work update: Halfway through revising The Calling, and started on the black dragon's book (not sure anyone out in bloggerland cares, but reports keep me on target).
Recently I've been doing surveys and interviews in which one of the questions is about "how" I write. Everyone is fascinated by the writing process, and I confess it's interesting to learn how an idea travels from the author's head to become a finished novel.
I can't help feeling, though, that some people are searching for the "secret" to writing a novel, or worried that they're writing the "wrong" way.
Well, there isn't a secret or a right way. The secret is (drumroll): Whatever works best for you is right.
When I first started, and this newbie knew nothing, the current wisdom was that you had to have a detailed outline before you dared write the first word. After all would you get in the car and drive somewhere without a road map? (Um, yes, I do it all the time. I like to explore.)
So newbie me (I knew nothing, remember) spent copious hours trying to figure out how to outline and how write to it.
What a waste of time! I never managed to do it. I write much better visualizing the story in my head (for months beforehand) and then making up the details as I write the draft and revise it. I can do a vague plot outline if I'm lucky, but I simply am unable to note every detail of a book before I start.
After I got published (writing my way), suddenly everyone told me I wrote "organically," "from the inside out," and "by the seat of my pants." Because a few mega-bestselling authors came out and confessed that they never used outlines, suddenly the trend reversed, and being a "pantser" became the thing.
Now some plotters (those who meticulously outline) are nervous that their method is somehow wrong and inferior.
Guess what? Neither way is right!! Neither way is wrong, either. Some authors (for example, Diana Gabaldon), write scenes completely out of order and link them together just before turning in the ms. Some authors write the last scenes first. Some write linearly, beginning to end.
And no one is right.
What you do is pick the method that is right for you. Don't EVER let anyone tell you your way is wrong. If it works for you, stick with it. If your method isn't satisfying you, play around with other methods until you find one you like.
There are no hard and fast "rules" in how to write a book. You can't even say "have a beginning, middle, and end" because many literary novelists bend rules and timelines and have endings that you aren't sure are really endings.
The good thing is, editors and readers are interested in your end product. If they want to know how you got there, it's because of curiosity.
They care about your book, and will have no idea whether you spent months writing an outline or made it up as you sat at your keyboard. If they love the story enough, they won't care, either.