How Chapters Come to Be

On Chapters.jpg

How Chapters Come to Be

So what does it take for a chapter of After Moses to hit my website? For fun today I thought I’d talk about the process from start to end.

As to where the idea for a chapter comes from and its place surrounding it, a lot of daydreaming goes into that. I don’t tend to write many notes on a specific chapter (though I do have a master outline detailing the gist of what needs to happen in every chapter till the end), but I do have a good memory for what I’m working on. I’ll usually have the entire chapter fully formed by the time I sit down to write, including scenes, conversations, and plot. Things, of course, shift a little bit in the writing process, but I don’t tend to be surprised by changes.

Chapters usually take me about a week to write, with most of the work being on the front third of a chapter. One side effect of the serial is that there is a bit of set up in each chapter. That can be a bit more work than when I’m actually in the main part of the chapter. Once I get through that, I’ll usually write the rest of the chapter in a single sitting. Sometimes that’s five to seven thousand words at once. (Like I said, I have it all mapped out in my head)

Then comes editing. I’ll do a couple of rereads first, catching broken sentences, grammar flubs, and improving bad bits of writing. I’ll follow this up by running it through software to catch misspellings and more grammar errors.

Then comes the human editors. My friend David, from an online writing group, is usually first. He’s a content editor. His questions and suggestions often hinge around characters, their voice, and the story itself. The most significant rewrites have come from his criticism.

Next up are my wife and mother. Their first read pass is usually to get the story, though if there are serious problems they will mark them, and I’ll deal with them.

Then the chapter is laid to rest for several weeks. This is super important because otherwise, it’s hard for a writer to look at their own writing objectively. The human brain is marvelous and good at automatically fixing errors in the text, especially when it’s our own. When we know what it is supposed to be, we often correct it mentally and gloss over it. Giving time allows the brain to forget the original intention and will let you approach it with fresh eyes.

After several weeks, I’ll go through the chapter again, making more small improvements and corrections.

Then comes the big one. I’ll sit down and do a serious edit with my mother. My mother is a better writer technically than I am, and if I can ever get her to finish it, has a wonderful novel in the works. For several hours we’ll hammer out the chapter until it’s in almost finished shape. This is the grueling edit. Edits aren’t substantive in nature, but tend to be widespread. Lots of improved sentences. Fixes for clarity. Sometimes slight shifts in sentence order to make sure the logic of a paragraph is sound.

The final edit goes to my wife. She’ll go over it with a fine-toothed comb, looking for any final typos or new errors introduced by later edits. She’s got a great attention to detail and can usually swat the last of the bugs. Usually. Anyone that’s ever read a book knows that even professional editors have things slip past them.

At this point, a chapter is text complete, but I still have some more work to do to put it up on the website. I’ll use photoshop to create a graphic theme for each chapter. This usually involves trolling various websites with free stock photography until I find imagery I need to cut down into the silhouette, as well as a starry background.

Finally, on Thursday night before a chapter release, I assemble it all on the website. That’s right. It actually goes up Thursday night. I think I may have a reader that has even figured that out at this point too. You don’t HAVE to wait on the emails to go out if you don’t want…

So there you have it. That’s the basic schedule I’ve stuck to for the last MANY months. The cool thing is that it’s going to be coming to an end here shortly. After Moses is manuscript complete and soon I’ll be finishing the editing process of the final chapters. So what happens after that? Well, I’m going to do a little bit of rework on the first chapter. Nothing substantive will change. As in the outcomes will be the same, so if you don’t reread it, it will be of no consequence. However, I am going to rework some stakes and include some bigger hooks now that everything else is done. I’ll let everyone know when that new version is live.

After that, I’ll be getting After Moses ready for kindle.

Have no fear. It WILL be available for free on my website. But the plan is to get it on kindle so that anyone that wants will be able to spend a few bucks to read the rest early. This whole process has been an experiment for me, and I’d like to fiddle around with self-publishing as well. I will not punish anyone that started reading After Moses by tricking them into buying it to read the ending. The whole story will be available for free by the end of the year.

I think that about covers it. If that was rather boring, well, the nuts and bolts of writing can be precisely that. It’s work. Hard work.

But I’ve learned a lot during this experience, and I hope you’ve had a great time reading!

Michael Kane2 Comments