I’m done! I did it! Yay! People who hate exclamation points are curmudgeons. Suck on my exclamations nerds! I wrote a whole ass Novella. This is a big accomplishment to me for a lot of reasons. I’ve only finished one other Novella and it took me much longer, and was a much worse quality which is why I never released it.
I see people asking authors about their writing process all the time and I’ve never really read an answer to “what is your writing process” that I liked with the exception of Steven King’s wonderful and well-titled book On Writing. I thought it would be fun to lay out as best as I can what my process was for writing this novella, what my writing process is in general, and what I learned from tackling this project.
Where Do You Get Your Ideas?
My Grandma asks me this after every article I write. It’s a hard question to answer, where do any ideas come from? I recently wrote an article for Bunnyears.com called “What Your Favorite Celebs Eat In A Day: Hint It’s Mostly Candles”. I got the idea for that from my unnatural desire to eat a Yankee Candle mixed with the thought that celebrities get to do all of this cool stuff normal people can’t. One day I thought if I could do anything with no consequences I would probably just eat an entire Yankee Candle. Not murder someone, not slap the president, not even rob a bank, I would eat a Yankee Candle. What is wrong with me you ask? I have no idea, but I realized that eating candles is funny and a celebrity doing it is even funnier so the article was born.
The idea for my Novella came from an unusual building that’s on the way to a park where I sometimes used to roller skate with my friends. It’s an old U.S. Naval training building that was constructed in 1948 and It’s designed to look like a boat. I love old unusual architecture. I often look at places like that and wonder why on earth their empty.
New buildings are going up in Nashville all the time and none of them are half as interesting as this old place. That sort of got my wheels spinning about old buildings and what kind of person might want to rent them and refurbish them and what kind of ghosts they might find there. I didn’t want to write a traditional ghost story though, so I tabled the idea for a while and let it simmer. Then I got the idea for a sci-fi story that was sort of hiding in a ghost story and I pulled that old building off the back burner. It got a redesign in the book it isn’t boat shaped because that didn’t fit the story I wanted to tell but that’s where the spark came from.
I use my notes app on my phone to jot down story and article ideas that can pop up anytime. Then when I have free time or when I’m looking for something to write about I sort through them. If I keep passing over one a lot I’ll delete it or throw it into a long term projects file I have.
Once my writer brain has filed something away, combined it with something new, and created an original idea I get started on a draft. Now this is where I think it’s important to say I agree with Steven King that everyone’s process is different and you just have to experiment a lot to find what works for you. So remember this is my process and maybe it’s something you’d like to give a shot if you have no idea where to start writing but if it doesn’t work for you that’s great. It means you can cross it off the list and try another method. You’ve learned something and that’s awesome!
So with whatever I write my first draft is a total sloppy copy. I like to think of it as a burst of pure emotion, just feelings, no grammar. Grammar is stressful for me because I have a learning disability in written language.
The first time I tried to write a book I went in and rewrote each chapter over and over again until it was perfect before moving on to the next chapter. Then I got frustrated when I wanted to add story elements later on that changed previous perfect chapters. This was a huge mistake for me.
When I write articles I do a sloppy copy so sloppy sometimes I’ll just have a note that says A DICK JOKE GOES HERE. With my Novella I did write an outline first which was so essential for me. I feel like a real idiot for hating outlines before. I had this weird, hippy, idea that the story needed to just shape it’s self as I wrote it and, yeah that’s not a thing, at least not for me.
After the sloppy copy of my Novella was complete I printed it out and read it. This helped me figure out that I had some pretty wild pacing issues that needed to be addressed. Pacing is something I don’t feel like a lot of young authors think about and it’s so important especially in writing something spooky/suspenseful. I moved a few chapters around, add more character detail at the beginning of the book to better highlight their growth at the end and I have my official rough draft!
This is the hardest part for me. Letting my precious shiny baby out into the world. The first person I sent my Novella to was my Dad and he caught a lot of the spelling mistakes, grammar issues, and left out words, that are the signature of a Lydia Bugg piece. When I was born my Dad became both a father and a copy editor on the same day and he didn’t even know it!
After my Dad caught the really bad stuff I sent it to trusted friends and family members who agreed to beta read it for me. I also asked a few of my colleagues whose opinions I highly value to take a look at it. As I’ve gotten their feedback I’m making changes and polishing it up once again before I move on to the next step.
Publishing Process TBD
I know nothing about publishing. I was thinking of self-publishing this just as a fun short piece for ninety nine cents on Amazon or something. My Aunt made me a lovely cover (pictured up top) and I figured if I put it up around Halloween I could get some people interested in a quick spooky read to pick it up. However, since I was writing this partially as an experiment to teach me about writing a full book I think I’m going to shop it around a little to some small publishers. Even if it gets turned down by everyone I’ll still learn a lot from the process.
So I might have some more updates for you eventually, who knows! Until then keep an eye out for my first published short story in the Eclectically Magical series from Inklings press in November! Yeah I’m still exclaiming. I’ll exclaim all fuckin day if I want!