How Not To Start A New Book

As many of you already know, my writing process is a bit unorthodox. With the books so far written in my ‘The Council Of Twelve’ series, I generally worked as follows:

1. Preparation (develop characters and update character sheets)

2. Draft plot and take notes

3. Start writing the first draft of the book by hand

4. Read the first draft, make necessary corrections in red

5. Type the corrected draft into the computer

6. Personal editing I

7. Personal editing II

9. Send book to the editor

10. Additional steps after the book is returned to me, fully proofread, edited, and formatted…

‘The Council of Twelve’ series is published with four books, and books 5 and 6 are written and prepared to be published. I have an additional book connected to the series currently with my editor. Book 7 is in my personal editing; books 8 and 9 are written and need to be typed into the computer. Since I got ‘The Council of Twelve’ series so very well prepared, I permitted myself to write a different story; one that has been in my head for quite some time already.

I have my ‘The Council of Twelve’ plot and character sheets updated and carry them with me constantly in the form of ‘Microsoft OneNotes’, which is a wonderful writer’s tool, at least to me… It allows me to take notes and write down ideas at any given time, on either my phone, my computer, or my tablet, and I have nothing else to do than to sync the program to have access to the latest version on any of my devices. Additionally, after nine books in the series, I know my characters quite well and rarely need to peek at my notes.

Now, I sit here, working on my new book. It’s a remarkable story and wonderful to work on. As soon as my pen touches the paper, it writes. I’m writing, drafting, plotting, writing again… And today I realized that, except a few notes on tiny paper sheets at the beginning and a hand-drafted family tree, I hadn’t done much preparation. In my excitement to start the book, I forgot to prepare correctly.

And now, in my handwritten draft, I’m paying for my omission. I forgot how often I have to flip to the pages to check on descriptions, characters, colors, and names. I discovered two ‘Davids’ and two ‘Peters,’ which angers me to no end.

I’m a very reliable person, and I don’t generally neglect my duties, not even those I have set up for myself, except in the preparation of this particular book. I decided to write a book outside the YA Fantasy genre, where I feel ‘home’ with my series. I should have known that careful preparation to write that book was necessary. But here I stand and could kick myself for not doing what should have been done quite some time ago.

I would therefore strongly recommend to new writers, like myself, to carefully prepare what needs to be prepared before starting the new book. Otherwise, they will find themselves in the same situation I am now, with a few mixed ideas, two very similar conversations, and two Peters and Davids. At least, I find myself discovering my mistake now. I can still work on fixing the problem. But I know I shouldn’t have let it go that far. At least next time, I know what I have to do. Go back to the well-prepared, reliable writer I am.

What kind of advice would you give your fellow writers? What mistake have you been making that you had to correct? What problem were you facing that needed to be fixed? Let us know in the comments.

12 thoughts on “How Not To Start A New Book

  1. I wish I could prepare like you, AJ. I have it in my head, but when it comes to writing it on a piece of paper, or on my computer, it all vanishes and becomes confused.
    In my head I have the beginning and the end, with a vague idea as to how to get from one to the other. It all comes together during the first draft. I allow my characters a great deal of leeway during this process, and rein them in during the rewrites.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, it seems I took on your writing process – and failed. Don’t get me wrong, I love the story, it just got a few bumps on the road from the beginning to the end because I missed the ‘cheat sheets’.


  2. We all have to find a method that works for us. Looks like you’ve found one that works well for you, AJ.

    My method is similar with some variations. When the idea for a story comes to me, I jot whatever I think of into a spiral binder or on an index card (depending on how much info I have).

    When I’m ready to write, I start with my main characters and write up dossiers on each of them, adding information as I write the story.

    Instead of handwritten, my text goes right into the computer on a Word document, which is filed under the title of the story (if I have one, or the locale where the story takes place).

    When the first draft is written, I begin my editing. As I go over each chapter, it’s sent to my online critique group.

    While doing the first edit on subsequent chapters, critiques come in on those I’ve sent off. The second editing is done on those chapters in between the first edits to be sent off to the critiquers.

    During my first editing, I use three editing programs to catch as many mistakes as possible. The critiquers usually pick up the rest. I also use the read aloud program to catch things before I send a chapter off.

    During the second editing with the group critiques, I have to run a search and find to make sure certain words and phrases haven’t already been used within close proximity on the suggested changes.

    When I’ve added all my changes, I read through the entire story before sending it to my editor.

    After making the changes my editor has suggested and I’ve accepted, I use the read aloud program to go through the entire story again before it’s sent for publishing.

    This works for me, but like I said, we each have to find what works best for us.

    Thanks for giving us your method, AJ. I wish more writers would do this to help our newbies who are struggling to learn the craft. 🙂 Best wishes on your writing.

    Liked by 1 person

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