Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Vannetta Chapman's Writing Process and a Giveaway

Today, I'm thrilled to introduce you guys to Vannetta Chapman. All year long, I'm asking successful authors like Vannetta to share with us about their writing process. I found Vannetta's fascinating, and I think you guys will too.

Vannetta has offered to giveaway (to any US address) an autographed copy of A Simple Amish Christmas, which spent some time on the CBD bestseller list. To get yourself entered to win, you must be a Go Teen Writer follower, and you can either ask Vannetta a question or comment on something you found interesting about her process. Make sure you leave an e-mail address where I can reach you. (Closes Tuesday, March 1st at 11:59 Kansas City time.)

Enough jabbering from me. Onto Vannetta's wisdom:

My process for writing might sound a bit odd, so remember--WRITING IS DIFFERENT FOR EVERYONE. The best thing you can do is write a lot, find what works for you, and don't be afraid to constantly change your process.

As I'm finishing my CURRENT work, I'm thinking about my NEXT work. You know, songs on the radio, things I read in the news, other books I read, dreams, different things spur our ideas. Whatever it is, I write it down. Ideas will slip away. I don't want to lose them. I keep notes in my writing journal.

By the time I'm ready to start, I've narrowed my ideas down to the one I like most. If there are several ideas I like, I'll go with the strongest for my beginning and work the others into the story line. Then I start writing. I plop my character into the middle of an uncomfortable, untenable situation.

I write every day. I have a deadline and I set a schedule for so many pages to complete a day. Even when I didn't have a deadline, I set goals for myself, even if it was only 3 pages a day. I don't edit pages the same day I write them.

The next day I look back over the pages I wrote the day before. This drops me back into the story. I might change a few words, adjust the scene a little, then I write 3 new pages. There's my schedule -- edit 3, write 3.

At some point, my characters become lost, wandering around, confused, dazed even. I LOVE this point. This is where I zoom ahead and write my ending. Imagine you walked out of the room during a movie, and you came back in and saw the ending--the PERFECT ending. Sometimes this will be one chapter. Other times it will be a quarter of the book.

Now I go back to where I stopped and I write TOWARD the ending. Crazy, right? But it's worked every time, because I know where I'm going now. I have a destination in mind.

Once I'm finished I usually take a break of a week or so. Then I start at the beginning and read through it -- checking for inconsistencies and errors.

Last step and maybe the hardest is handing my baby to my pre-readers. These are friends that I TRUST to tell me the truth. I don't want to hear "what a great story." I want to hear what was good and what was confusing. Sometimes these friends are writers, but not always. They are always people who love to read.

That's it! That's my process. Although I teach English composition at my local college, I don't formally outline my books. Isn't that funny? But creative writing is a bit different than academic writing. It doesn't mean you can be sloppy, but it does mean you can listen to your "muse." In fact, I'd say that's a critical part of the process. Good luck! I know you can find the process that works for you.


A Simple Amish Christmas, a CBD bestseller

Falling to Pieces--A Quilt Shop Murder, 2011

The Plain School at Pebble Creek, 2012




  1. I follow Go Teen Writers.
    How many books has she written?
    Has she always been interested in writing?
    I know what you mean about losing ideas :)
    That sounds like a good schedule.
    Is it easier to write a book on the computer?I am currently using a notebook.

  2. I love that you write the beginning and the ending and then fill it in! Seems smart to me. This is great advice. Thank you!


  3. WOW! I love this. Just goes to show that you shouldn't get hung up on the "right" way. There isn't one.

    I'm one of those people...that get stuck thinking "maybe I shouldn't do that." I need to stop, and just do what feels right.

    Thanks for sharing Vannetta!

  4. It's a bit funny that you mentioned stopping your story half-way through and writing the ending, because I actually have done that. Tnanks for your advice about not editing your work the same day you write it. Do you ever feel like your work is done being edited? Or do you still pull the published book off the shelf and say, "I wish I would have rephrased that paragraph"?

  5. Hi Sierra. A Simple Amish Christmas was my 9th book to finish, but the 1st one to see the shelf in a bookstore. I've always loved reading, and I was always good in English class. I didn't want to be a writer until I was in graduate school though, and yes--I do write on a computer. : )

  6. Jennifer, I'm glad you found that idea helpful. Thanks for stopping by the blog!

  7. Nicole, I really don't think there is a "right way." I also don't think I'll be doing things the same way a year from now or 5 years from now. We all grow and change. : )

  8. Rebekah, that's cool that you and I happened on the same process. : ) As far as editing, a book goes through SEVERAL rounds of edits, but the answer to your question is YES. Even after I see it in the stores, I still read a page and think "I could have changed that word ..." I suppose that's why we need deadlines.

  9. Oops!Forgot the email sorry :( It's

    Vannetta: Wow 9! Yeah, I'm thinking about maybe editing and doing drafts on the computer.A chapter at a time.Still working it out though.


  10. tholloway1@yahoo.com

    Have you ever started a story and just didn't know where to go from there. For example, did you ever have trouble filling in the blank between where you are writing and the end of the story?

  11. Very interesting. I suppose each writer has their own routines like you do. I could never be disciplined enough to write anything.

    lkish77123 at gmail dot com

  12. Love the process! It sounds very disciplined.

    meredithfl at gmail dot com

  13. Interesting the way she writes...

  14. I am a new follower via google. If I were a writer I think I would write the beginning and then the end and fill in the middle like you do. I would really love to win this signed book. My mother loves Amish romance and this would make a perfect gift for her - after I read it, of course!
    Mary B.

  15. Love to read Amish books and would love to read this one of course!

    Thanks for offering it and your helpful info.


  16. Vannetta's process doesn't seem so odd to me. It makes some sense. If you begin with a character...establish a destination then you can flourish with the journey.
    Thanks for an opportunity to win A Simple Amish Christmas which looks lovely.

  17. I follow, and I love all the Amish books and authors


  18. Vannetta is a new author to me, and I wish her a lot of sales


  19. Thats a really cool way to do it. Its nice to know that it works for REAL writers not to follow the supposedly rules. i personally hate doing outlines, and doing the ending that way is awesome!! i love the idea!! the way you describe your process, i am sure the book is great!

  20. OH. MY. GOODNESS. THAT IS EXACTLY HOW I WRITE. But all the writing I do right now are English and History papers :'( Yes I'm fifteen and in college. It's not weird, really. But anyways, my first English professor told me that she's never cared for outlines because the end result (the paper) is what matters. I totally loved her for saying that because in middle school, I'd always have to write my paper then write an outline for it afterwards to get credit. xD So thanks for letting me know that there's an actual, published author somewhere out there who does the same!


  21. MarthaE was our winner. Congratulations!

  22. Thank you so much Stephanie and Vannetta. I have sent you an email with my info. I look forward to enjoying this book.