Thursday, October 27, 2011

Guest blog by Kathleen S. Allen

Thanks for asking me to do a guest blog about the writing process. My latest book release, IF IT’S MONDAY, IT MUST BE MURDER!  is available from Gypsy Shadow Publishing.

Murder mystery from Gypsy Shadow Publishing!

Mel, a former cop shot in the back now lives in constant pain. When her best friend's daughter is missing, Mel is asked to help find her. When the girl is found dead at the bottom of a tall building, the cops believe she jumped. Did she? Or was it murder?

Able to “sign” it on

Released on 9-25-22

I wanted to write about the writing process. I know that some of you who are writers or who want to be writers may be wondering how to get started writing. The answer is simple: Write. Many people talk about what they want to write about or talk about wanting to be a writer but few actually do it. Take ten minutes out of your day and start writing. If you can’t think of anything to write about do a stream-of-consciousness writing, this is where you write down anything that comes to your mind without thinking. Or try your hand at fan fiction first. Write an episode of your favourite TV show or write a story about your favourite fictional or TV character. Above all, write. After you finish writing, show your work to someone you trust who will give you honest feedback (not your cat) about what needs to be done to improve it. Many writers take a creative writing class for this purpose. Find a critique group either online or in person and workshop your ideas/words. When I first started writing I wanted to write Young Adult but I couldn’t find a critique group in my area, so I started one. At first there were only two of us but eventually we grew to be six, which is a good size for a critique group. The six of us met once a week and workshopped one story from a member. It helped me to develop my first novel, WITCH HUNTER.

Here is my process:

Step 1: Ideas: Where Do They Come From?

Sometimes ideas fly into your brain with no conscious thought process behind them and others need a little nudging. I keep an idea file with snatches of conversation, pictures I like, news stories that interest me, whatever catches my attention at that moment. If I am stuck for an idea, I go to the file for inspiration. I did this much more at the beginning but I still have it as a back up if I need it.

Step 2: Marinate Your Idea (not your chicken, although you can do that, too)

This step can take days, weeks or months to happen. Once I have an idea, I let it sit before I start writing. I may write down the idea especially if I am working on something else but I don’t start it just yet. How do I know when an idea is an actual story? Yeah, beats me.

Step 3: Writing the First Draft

Once I decide to write my story, I write it in a few days/weeks. I don’t worry too much about timelines/scenes or word count. I get the story down, it has a beginning, middle and end. Once the first draft is done, again I let it sit before revising/editing. This is assuming it is a viable story, if it isn’t I start over.

Step 4: First Edit

I read through the first draft with a critical eye, does the story make sense? Do the characters? I look at plot first then I look at each scene or chapter individually. If it makes sense then I do a line-by-line edit to correct grammar, take out passive words like was, were, have, had; look at number of times I used a certain word and try to find others that best fit the scene. I also look at dialogue making sure it’s how people talk. I look at each chapter and ask myself: “Is this needed here? Or is it fluff?” I also make sure the beginning chapter is where I want the story to begin.

Step 5: Second Edit

This edit is done more in depth. Here is where I make sure the Point-of-View (POV) is consistent throughout along with the setting. I cut out any clichés unless it’s a character trait to use them and make sure I am not using too many adverbs.

Step 6: Repeat, Repeat, Repeat

This step is where I can get sick of looking at the story. And I may set it aside for a few days before tackling it again. I usually take one item and go through for example just looking at the main character, or just looking at setting. To me this is the most grueling step.

Step 7: Final Edit

In this edit I go through the story again trying to read it with fresh eyes, I will often use a different font/size. I use a narrative voice on my computer to listen to the story (I use Natural Reader but there are others out there). I do tend to edit online but I know some writers prefer to print out the pages before editing.

At this point I send the first few chapters to beta readers. Once I get the story back I will edit again (if I need to). The one consistent comment I used to get from my beta readers is that my readers have trouble connecting to my main character (MC), so now when I write I am aware of my tendency to “hold back” and not let the reader see the emotions driving my MC.

Step 8: The Finish Line

After I finish the final edit (I say that in my head that this is the final one but it rarely is, LOL) I read it through again. By now the story should be concise, clean, and ready to go. If not, I start over!

So, there you have it. Some writers prefer to do a detailed plot line, storyboard or outline. I prefer not to work with an outline until the end when I plot it all out from beginning to end.

Be sure to check out the rest of my books on Amazon/Kindle/Nook/Smashwords. Feel free to follow me on Twitter and Facebook page and be sure to check out my website, it has the latest book news.

Take care,
Kathleen A.

Find Kathleen on Twitter: @kathleea
Guest blogger every Wednesday on

1 comment:

  1. Enjoyed reading this, Kathleen. It's nice to know I'm not the only writer who lets ideas sit for a while or who goes through a process for writing and editing. Good luck with your book!