Today, I'd like to share a guest post The Process of Writing a Novel by Laury A. Egan author of The Psychologist's Shadow. This post is sponsored by iRead Book Tours. Check out the post below!
The Process of Writing a Novel
By Laury A. Egan
A question that frequently arises during my readings: how long did it take you to write The Psychologist’s Shadow (or another of my books)? This reminds me of what my mother would ask: Did you study enough to get an “A” on the test? Being a sassy kid, I would reply, “And how long is that?” Well, the time it takes to write a first draft varies enormously, from eight or nine months, in the case of this current novel, the project was begun in 1992 (my second adult manuscript) and then shelved off and on for years. As I became more proficient at my craft (I hope this is true), I kept returning to the novel until finally I blew off the dust, sharpened my red pencil, and attacked it with fervor, completing a serious draft in 2021. However, a first draft—even a polished one—is only the beginning of the process.
Another popular question: how many drafts do you do? Again, this varies. From 30 to 45 rounds, though for The Psychologist’s Shadow, it was closer to the latter, including early rounds after a developmental edit by a former Random House executive. Perhaps I miss more things than other writers, but several mistakes make me crazy and are often overlooked unless I relentlessly search for them:
1. Repetitive words. Oh, boy, does this bug me. I use Word’s “Find” function frequently as well as its “Thesaurus” to replace overused words. When I first began writing, I participated in a group and a member circled all the instances of “though” on one of my pages. Yikes! And then there are words with a paucity of synonyms, such as “kiss.” Try creating a romantic scene and not overusing that verb or noun.
2. Misplaced modifiers. These groan-worthy blunders often lurk undetected as we fail to see them because we know what we mean.
3. POV goofs. POV = point-of-view, the character’s perspective from which the story is told. If, for example, the tale is narrated in first person by the protagonist, he or she cannot know what is in another character’s mind or make assumptions about his or her feelings unless deduced from physical behavior or dialogue. Or switching back and forth from third-person intimate (like first-person) to omniscient (“It was the best of times…”) can really scramble a reader’s brain. Surprisingly, some respected authors commit these amateur lapses. In a book I recently reviewed, POV drifted from paragraph to paragraph.
4. Sentences out of order. As we read lines over and over on screen, like an endless Rolodex, we don’t always notice that the logic or physical action requires rearrangement of the text within a paragraph. And then, perhaps on round 32, the error jumps out and we slap our foreheads.
No one ever eradicates every typo or mistake even with the assistance of a professional editor, but the tendency to rush and publish is affecting many of us.
So, how long does it take to write an excellent manuscript? A long time.
Thank you Laury for these wonderful tips on writing a novel. I know all about using repetitive words in my novels, it JUST happens way too often. Learn more about Laury A. Egan below and be sure to pick up a copy of The Psychologist's Shadow today!