Q: How much time do you devote to writing? Rita M. What’s your process of writing like: Do you set a daily “this many pages” or “write for this long” goal? Do you send chapters to editors/beta readers along the way or wait until the end? Do you outline the story arc ahead of time or wait for the characters to tell you what happens next? Anna.
I thought I would answer this question next since a similar question came up twice. For the most part, I try to write something every day. I generally start around 10am and write for 4-6 hours, depending on my mood. Remember, for some of us, writing is a job and there must be a certain amount of time every day that you devote to work. I aim for one thousand words each day; sometimes I get out 500 words and I have to stop; sometimes I keep going and do 2500 words – that’s a good day. There are days I don’t write at all, days when I need to clear my mind and have a real life, not an imaginary one.
I have an idea what I want to happen in a story, so I do a basic outline, but I allow the characters the freedom to tell me when, where, and how that happens, or even if it doesn’t. I have found that if I allow that, the story is much more realistic and believable.
I use three Beta readers and they each offer me something different. One is “Sherry”: she loves my stories and gives me a different female view of how the story is progressing. I will give her a file of the book every 15k to 20k words, with all the changes from the last time; this is to check the new flow. The second one is my son Eric, who checks anything military or involving weapons; He’s not afraid to criticize his mother and to tell me ‘that sucks’; I give him a file halfway done and then the complete story. The final one is my older brother, Tom, who can be critical of his little sister – and that’s good. I don’t want a “yes” person as a beta reader I want someone who can help me to make the story better. Tom doesn’t want to see anything until I’m done and can give him a printed copy to read. He has been very helpful in getting me past writer-block at times, since he lives across the street from me, we can sit down, face to face and talk about it.
The publisher I use doesn’t offer editorial service until the manuscript is complete. The first editor I was assigned is a ‘content’ editor. She offered suggestions and structure and we would pass the manuscript back and forth several times, we even talked on the phone; she edited ten of my twelve books. The next editor I got is a ‘line’ editor. He fixed punctuation, spelling, paragraph structure and it was one pass. The publisher said that I had grown so much and was an experienced writer now, that I didn’t need a content editor anymore. This last editor did Time Shadows, and will likely do EMPulse2.