Thursday, April 19, 2012

From Draft to Manuscript

I always wondered about the writing process of other writers.  How long does it take for them to complete a picture book, a magazine article, or a novel?  What steps do they take to get their manuscript submission-ready?  I am especially interested in learning about this process from published writers, because apparently, the steps they've taken have proven successful. 

I thought I'd share with you my writing process.  Here is my journey on turning my draft to a submission-ready manuscript.

1) Write.  Write.  Write.
I like to participate in writing challenges because it encourages me to write daily.  It is through these challenges that I get to write several drafts.  The more stories I write, the better my chances are at finding THE ONE story that’ll be publishable.  Here are a few challenges I have participated in:

2) Revise Draft
Once my challenge is complete, I work on the stories “I” think have potential to be a great picture book and work on revisions and edits.

3) Critique Group
When I’m done with the revisions and edits on my drafts, I send it off one-by-one to my critique group to get a feel of which stories are worth pursuing.  You see, what “I think” may not be congruent with what others think.  I may think that all my stories are great, but it may not be so.  Think American Idol rejects-  the horrible singers who insist that the judges don’t know what they are talking about and are missing on the next big star!

4) Pick and Choose
When I receive great feedback on any of my stories, I spend the time to work on these pieces only and make it the best I can.  I put away the others for future consideration or toss it all together. 

5) Repeat 2 & 3
Steps 2 & 3 are very important.  I can easily take a year or more going through the process of revisions. I’ll even utilize several critique groups and participate in manuscript exchanges. The more feedback I get, the better.  I like to take my time on this process until I know my story is as best as it can be. 

6) Let it Simmer
After I think my story is as best as it can be, I’ll let it sit for a while.  After a week or more, I will go back to it and read it with fresh eyes.  If needed, I'll revise it again.  If I feel there is nothing more I can do to make it better, then I will consider it submission-ready!

So there you have it—my 6-step process to turning my draft into a manuscript.  I’d like to know what process you go through to get your manuscript submission-ready.  Please comment below.

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  1. That's strikingly similar to my own process!

    1. I love it. Makes me feel like I'm doing something right!

  2. That's about it. Why does it sound so simple when you say it? I'm at the simmering stage, which I need pretty badly at this point:)

    1. Come to think of it, sometimes I'll let a story simmer even in it's early stages. Simmering is like a vacation for the mind.

  3. I like this process for picture books, especially due to the length. For my memoir manuscript, I'm about to begin the revision process after being away for two months. Last week, I opened the file to print the first chapter for a revision workshiop at a conference. I'm still looking for a crit group for the memoir. It's been easier to find crit partner for the picture book work.

  4. Nice post Romelle. Matches my process, except I need to write more regularly. My hardest problem is writing the first draft.

    I have simmering after step 1, and before step 4. None of my stories have reached Step 6 yet.

  5. As good as the cookie dough's best to wait until it is fully baked before sharing. Slow, but thoughtful and more enjoyable at that. Love your process.



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