#Writetip Frankie’s Writing Process

Sorry this is a little later than usual, it’s been a helluva day!


Whether it’s chores, work, hobbies or general things in every day life, people like routine. Many writers and artists have a process which they follow every time they sit down to work. Today, I will tell you about my writing process.

My Routine consists of the following:

1) Create a Playlist

2) Plot a Map

3) Create Character Sheets and Board.

4) Place Ideas in Order

5) Create a Timeline

6) Create a First Draft

7) Review and Edit

8) Adjust Manuscript to Include New Information

9) Edit -streamline

10) Edit -smooth

11) Edit -enhance

12) Edit – review

13) Proof Draft and Editor

14) Review Edits and Amend Manuscript

15) Edit and Create Final Draft

16) Review Final Draft

17) Cover Art and Synopsis

18) Setting Up for Online Sale

This seems quite an extensive list, so I’ll go through them one at a time

1) Create a Playlist

Like many people, I enjoy writing to music. The music I listen to depends on what I am writing. Sad scenes require sad music, happy ones need upbeat tunes. But mostly, my works have their own soundtracks. I create playlists as ideas come to me, and sometimes music itself can trigger ideas. I’ve seen me standing in a shop, desperately trying to get my music-recognition app to work before a broadcasting song ends because I think it would be a good song for a particular scene. I jot down the title of songs I like and keep for future reference.

Come the time of actual writing, I gather all the music I have jotted down, create a playlist and name it after the working title. Through stages 2-6, the tunes are randomly played to help fire up my imagination. But when it comes to stages 7-12, invariably I play the same song on repeat for hours and days on end for as long as I am writing. This song is the one out of the entire playlist which suits my story the best. It is always instrumental or classical, as lyrical songs can break my concentration. Stages 13-16 are mostly music free as I like to fully concentrate without distraction. Malevolence was predominately written to Chad Lawson’s: The Chopin Variations 😀

2) Plot a Map

My map plotting consists of large bubble charts with all the characters and plot points written on it with lines connecting important parts together. I find this a great way to form a story. It is a visual representation of the ideas in my head, documented so I will not forget anything. A little like an animators storyboard, my charts allow me to visualise my story while figuring out all the little twists and turns I will take. At first they look terribly messy, but by the time I have the story straight in my head, they are ready for stages 4-5. Now that I use MindMaple, my charts are stored on my drive, but the initial mapping out is usually made in a notebook or on A2 paper.

3) Create Character Sheets and Character Board

At this stage I have a pretty good idea of who will be in my story. I write out a sheet for each character with all their information. Name, height, colour of hair and eyes, likes and dislikes, where they are from and what they do, and why they are in the story to begin with. By doing this, the character grows in my mind and I get to know them and understand them a little. Once the sheets are complete I then create a character board. If there is someone I believe is similar to a character, or if there is an actor/actress who I think could play a character, then I print out their photo and place it on a character board with a short bio underneath. This is my character visualization board. I use it to formulate ideas about the characters, and it makes them seem like real people. And yes, I also laminate the final versions and keep them 😀

4) Place Ideas in Order

At this point, everything is more or less figured out, but in a rather messy state. So now, I go through my charts and place them in order. I used to do this in a second notebook, one which I also use for jotting down all my ideas. These days, I use a spreadsheet, which is much easier and neater. Using the spreadsheet allows me to link documents to the main file, whereas my notebook is usually full of sticky notes and clipped on pieces of paper which are easily lost.

5) Create a Timeline.

By this stage, I just want to start writing things! But, in order to get the words down correctly, I need to know exactly when and where things occur in the story. I review everything I have so far then create a timeline for the story which I will then follow to the end. If I change something halfway through writing, I will update the timeline so I don’t get confused. The timeline is saved in its own document and becomes the main file for attaching chapters. Again, using it as part of a spreadsheet, allows for ease of use and input of links to chapter documents.

6) Create a First Draft

The first draft is always the worst to read, but it is also the most exciting part write. This is the time I get to really play with my characters and help them evolve into believable beings. I get to tell my story and theirs as I create an adventure purely from my mind. I don’t always write chapters sequentially. Sometimes I just want to get something important or exciting written down, and sometimes I just can not wait to write a certain part. Therefore, I might write chapter fifteen before I write chapter five. It might seem a little strange, but sometimes I just can’t help myself! By the end of this stage, no matter how long it takes, I have a pretty rough draft of my entire story.

7) Review and Edit

This is the start of the really hard work. The story itself is easy enough to write, but is it easy enough to read? There will be plot holes and missing information. Long-winded sentences and half written paragraphs. Maybe an entire paragraph would be better in a different chapter or further down the page. Maybe I forgot to add a scene which will render a future chapter useless. Perhaps I even forgot a character’s name halfway through writing. I have done this before and could not figure out who the hell Sean was until I re-read and discovered he was actually named Daniel up to chapter nine…. This is the time you will see mistakes and realise, this draft really isn’t good enough to read. This is the first of many editing sessions, but it is the one in which you get the story straight.

8) Adjust Manuscript to include new information

By the time I finish stage 7, I’ve scribbled notes on my notebook with updated information. Things like missing data, or an adjustment to the plot. If I’ve found anything wrong in the first draft, or discovered information I think is missing and should be included, this is the stage in which I make those adjustments. It is technically a re-write, but not a full change of story. All the adjustments are placed on the timeline so that as I re-write, I don’t forget anything.

9) – 12 or more…) Edit – Streamline, Smooth, Enhance.

The second edit of many, I’m afraid. Anything which does not read correctly, run smoothly or just looks wrong, should be picked up during these edits. I edit my manuscript as many times as I feel it needs until it reads smoothly. Grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, badly formed sentences, incorrect pauses and breaks. These are things I wont notice until the editing stages as–up until this time–all I’ve done is spill out all of my ideas into a story form, but not taken much care.

13) Proof draft and Editor.

If I have my story in a somewhat decent state, this is the time I will pass it to Sam for editing. I could edit and edit for a year and still miss things which Sam will see in one reading. There are times you become blind to your words and it takes a second point of view to see the mistakes and point them out. Sam is my editor, and I am hers. Together we get our manuscripts into a better state. Of course, if you go the traditional publishing route, you will be assigned an editor. If you wish to self-publish, you can hire an editor. Between Sam and I, we are quite happy with what we do together.

14) Review Edits and Amend Manuscript

Here is when I place all of Sam’s edits into my manuscript. Anything she has pointed out or suggested, will be added or deleted.

15) Edit and Create Final Draft

Once I have finished with Sam’s edits, I will then edit the manuscript again to create my final draft. When Sam has the manuscript, I take a back seat. This gives me time to forget what I’ve written in order to see it again with fresh eyes. I read the edited manuscript and often find there are corrections I wish to make, even though I have already edited it umpteen times. This is the reason editing is so important and why I do it so often. Even after Malevolence was published, as I read the pdf file for print version, there were parts I might have fixed if I had edited one last time. Perhaps if I had taken a step back for longer, I might have seen those problems before publishing. They are not terrible mistakes, but I might have worded things a little differently in places.

16) Review Final Draft

A very important stage as this should be the final edit prior to publishing. I want to make sure everything is absolutely spot on and perfect before I submit the manuscript. I take my time, read things over and over until I am sure they are right. Even though I have read the manuscript a hundred times and know it off by heart, I will read every single word to make sure I have it written to the best of my abilities. I find this the hardest stage, as all I want to do it get the story out there and on sale! As I’ve said before, I am very impatient person when it comes to my writing and art.

17) Cover Art and Synopsis

I’ve already got a good idea what I want as cover art by the time the manuscript is ready to go. I sketch it out on paper a few times before I then draw it out on my laptop as a digital illustration. For Malevolence, I wanted a clean cover. One with an eye-catching design but simple. I went through five designs before I decided on the right one. After that, I drew it all up, changed the colours and resized it until I was happy.

The synopsis for the back cover and blurb for sites was difficult for me. I’ve never been good at writing synopsis and in the end I asked Sam what she thought. We decide that we would write each other’s book synopsis and I found it easier to write one for her book than I did my own! I think the reason I have problems is because the synopsis is vital to attract readers. If it is badly written, chances are no one will look at the book.

This, is the proof copy of Malevolence in print! I only have three chapters to read before I amend the pdf and put it out for sale 😉

18) Setting Up for Online Sale.

This stage needs a full post of its own. Therefore, I will leave stage 18 until my next writing tip blog day.

F.R. Donaldson lives in scenic Scotland. She is the author of the psychological sci-fi MALEVOLENCE


About oneofthedragons

Samantha K. Balk and F. R. Donaldson met on An Archive of Our Own, one of the many fanfiction sites online, when Sam asked Frankie to illustrate the fanfiction that would one day lead to Sam's first novel. They've been friends ever since! This blog was created as a way to share the oftentimes difficult journey any new author experiences on the uncomfortable quest of an introvert for attention to his or her most personal work. It is meant to remind you that authors don't just appear fully fledged like a George R. R. Martin, that all of us start out unsure and feeling inadequate. Feel free to ask us anything. Sam: sammykaye9@gmail.com Frankie: reluctant.fraggle@gmail.com

Posted on June 10, 2016, in #WriteTip, Frankeh Updates, Updates and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Holy crap! You have it all figure it out and down to a T after all this time working on Malevolence. It’s amazing to see this post about your process.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Frankie here! Since my memory is so bad, I follow this routine all the time XD I wondered if anyone would be interested in it as I have no idea how other authors write–except for Sam. But Sam can write in her sleep and beat me in word count in less than a day XD I find the structure of routine helps me a great deal, whereas I think Sam might find it a little constrictive. It is amazing how differently we do the same thing 😀 😀 Thank you for your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Pingback: #FrankieWIP Emergence at the Starting Line! |

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