Stephanie writes young adult contemporary novels and is the creator of GoTeenWriters.com. Her novels include The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series (Revell) and the Ellie Sweet books (Birch House Press). You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and check out samples of her work on her author website including the free novella, Throwing Stones.
Surely there's a perfect novel writing system out there.
I thought that for years. That one of the many craft books I bought, or one of the many blogs I read would teach me The Perfect System. The one with the worksheets that had all the right questions, that made my story unfold in a logical and deep way, and that made edits a breeze.
I no longer look for The Perfect System because I no longer believe one exists.
I now believe that I will forever be fine-tuning how I write novels, and that continuing to try new approaches and techniques helps keep me strong and fresh. I also believe that writing a story is inevitably messy, and I might as well get use to it.
I wrote the first "How To Write A Novel" series back in 2011, and I've learned a lot in the last four years. Some posts in that series still feel solid to me. Others make me cringe. For a while now I've been mentally kicking around the idea of redoing the whole thing, and it feels like the right time.
But don't think for a second that I'm offering you The Perfect System.
Writing novels is like climbing trees—there isn't just one way up. I'm not offering you a checklist or steps, because a technique that works best for me after the first draft might be something that you like to do before you ever put pen to paper. An exercise that helps me understand my characters may do absolutely nothing for you.
Rather, my intention is to offer you what consistently works for me in the order that I typically do it. In doing so, I hope you'll come to better understand the way you write. I also hope you might learn ways to deepen pieces of your personal process, and that you'll walk away with some new ideas to incorporate in your own writing routines.
To help me with my planning (and because this a topic I'm obsessed with) I would love to know a bit about your writing process. Do you feel like you have a good idea of how you write best? Do you like to plan everything out or discover the story as you write? What craft books, classes, podcasts, or blogs have influenced how you write?