The Copy Cat

Coming March 2020

The Writing Process


Every book I write is different.

My writing process, for good or bad, is not.

Since I am in the throes of revising to meet a December deadline, thought I would share the exact process I go through to write a book.

Granted, I’ve only written nine books in the last three years (only three of which will likely ever see the light of day) but the following list is a somewhat humorous and oh-so-accurate depiction of my writing life:

  1. Struggle with idea (multiply this by 10)
  2. Run idea by agent.
  3. Agent points out the wonderful bits, kindly calls horrible bits “problematic”, suggests new bits, sends me back
  4. I write a synopsis
  5. Rinse, Repeat
  6. Final synopsis
  7. I do an outline, write character sketches, think of backstory that I will forget in about one week, realize my synopsis is so vague as to be almost incoherent, and promptly begin to write and throw away half of synopsis by the end of the first quarter
  8. Characters run amok
  9. Plot turns out to be plotless
  10. Someone who I’ve not been expecting shows up and decides they want to be in my book. I ask them to leave, but it turns out they are more interesting than half the characters I drafted sketches for and allow them to stay, at which point they completely bugger up the plot some more
  11. Finish first draft. Allow self one hour of solid jubilation then switch into a shame spiral, where I decide I really ought to call my agent and explain what a mistake she has made and then call my editor and give her money back.
  12. I do neither of these things because I am inherently selfish
  13. Begin draft two. Realize draft one must be set on fire. Characters taunt me. Plot holes are so deep I fall int them and take days to dig out. I soldier on, because I am Capricorn, and frankly, that’s what we do
  14. Finish draft two. Have some moments of jubilation. Come to shocking conclusion that my unmatched brilliance is unmatched because there is no brilliance. Somehow, dreams of writing like Neil Gaiman has given way to writing like the wanted ads or a bad Saturday Night Live sketch
  15. Send to critique partners
  16. Receive their feedback
  17. Move to fetal position. Check want ads. Wonder if my fifties is too late to become a plumber. Don’t care; plumbing is a noble art
  18. Crawl out of hole
  19. Take what is useful from critique partners and beta readers and my own understanding after doing first two horrible drafts
  20. Rewrite
  21. Discover there is a book there
  22. Finish third draft – there is no jubilation, but there may be alcohol and chocolate
  23. Send to agent
  24. There is a book there, but it is hidden under bad writing and ill-conceived plot and characterization
  25. Start fourth draft. Wait – there may be themes. Actually have decent descriptions. Characters more fully created and less likely to taunt me because they want to make the cut
  26. Finish 4th draft.
  27. Agent blesses me or sends me for counselling

Do it all again with editor


Am I alone in my misery????




Author of Children's Literature