Question 2: Do you do any editing as you go or do you puke it all out (so to speak!) then do all your revision once the draft is done?
Answer 2: Yes. And no. It depends.
Questions like this are tricky and I hesitate to answer them. I suspect that underneath this question is anxiety about the questioner’s writing process. He could be stuck in the middle of a project. Or he has completed a book, but is unhappy with the quality of it. Or he thinks he has a great idea, but is feeling unsure how to build on it.
I know the feeling!
It doesn’t matter how many books I’ve written, I have never written the book I am working on right now. In my experience, each book wants/needs to be written in its own way, much as every child needs to be parented in the way that best suits her, not necessarily what worked for her siblings.
I also understand the desire to ask other writers about their process. I am a voracious reader of auther biographies and particularly like seeing other people’s marked-up manuscripts, like the opening of Charles Dickens Great Expectations, below.
All that being said, my books generally start with an idea and the voice of a character in my head. I scribble a lot; dialog, scenes, backstory, and often several different directions a story could go. When I get frustrated, I go back and try to figure out which scenes have energy and which ones are useless. I cut out the crap, often restructure what’s left, and fill in where there are plot or character holes. During the cutting and filling I will frequently polish those key scenes until they are pretty much ready to be printed, while others scenes are still incredibly rough (often just a line or two.) Why? Once I understand the emotional state, desires, needs, and weaknesses of my characters in those scenes, I have a clearer sense of how to pace the rest of that story.
But your mileage may vary.
“Well, there are only three possible endings—aren’t there?—to any story: revenge, tragedy or forgiveness. That’s it. All stories end like that.”
Today’s Prompt: Choose one of the following character scenarios.
1. Girl meets Girl
2. Girl meets Boy
3. Boy meets Boy
4. Boy meets Girl
Now choose a setting: basketball court, bus stop, library, summer camp, elevator.
Then choose a problem: blind date, someone cheated, death of beloved pet, joined the military, lost movie tickets, earthquake, stubbed toe.
Finally, take one of the three endings proposed by Jeanette Winterson in the quote above: revenge, tragedy or forgiveness.
With those building blocks, start writing and see how far you can go.
Scribble… scribble… scribble…