M.D. Neu is an award-winning queer Fiction Author with a love for writing and travel. Living in the heart of Silicon Valley (San Jose, California, USA) and growing up around technology, he’s always been fascinated with what could be. Needless to say, he was specifically drawn to Science Fiction and Paranormal stories growing up.
He releases his new novel, The Called, on April 19 (or April 20 for Aussies and New Zealanders) but you can pre-order now from NineStar Press HERE.
Today, I’d like to welcome him for the second time to my blog as he explains his own creative process, which at times, sound a little like mine.
As authors we all have different ways to approach the writing, revising and editing process.
Some, will write out their complete first draft then go back through the book, after letting it sit for a while. Others, will write a chapter, or scene, flesh it out, edit it, rework it until the section is what they want then move on. Still, others will write, revise, and edit all at the same time. Most of the time, I’m the latter.
When I write I sit down with an idea in mind, or outline in hand and go from there. I will typically write a chapter at a time, sometimes more then one depending on how much time I have. But as I write I read. The story goes from my mind to the page. In essence, I write what my minds eye shows me. This has it pluses and minuses. The plus is getting to see the pictures in my head come to life on the page. The minus is missing the details and nuances. I often have to stop my writing to go back and reread and edit what I’ve written to clean it up and ensure I have all the details that I want to include in that given section.
Often, once I finish the chapter I’m working on, I will reread it and make sure it’s good to go.
But the revising and editing doesn’t stop there. When I sit down to write, I will start my writing journey, by reading the former chapter or two. I will use that time to go in and edit, clean up, modify, address missing information, etc. Once I’ve finished my read-through and clean up I’m fully ensconced in the characters and start writing again. The process continues until I’ve finished the first draft.
During these editing moments I will address character traits, plot points, inconsistency that come up (which there are often many), and I will take this time to address any factual information.
For example, in The Calling and my new book The Called (which wraps up the story) the Roman Empire and the history of San Jose and the Santa Clara County (in California, USA) were all extremely important to the stories. I needed to ensure all my historical plot points were as accurate as possible. Yes, I took some artist license, but I would say 90% of the facts presented in these books are correct.
You might think by this time I have everything worked out, but I don’t.
The writing up to this point was me extracting the story from my brain. Typically, at that point I will let the story sit, however, that hasn’t been the case lately. With The Called, and my later manuscripts I’ve started the task of going through the story at that point and editing out my overused words, filtering words, and other words such as (was, that, and it) that need to be addressed.
By taking the time to go through and address all these issues it makes me think about why I used the words I did. Typically, this can be one of two things, either fast and easy, or drawn-out and painful. Staying with The Called as the example I used the word ‘could’ 479 times (yes that’s a lot). I also used the word ‘was’ over 2000 times. And let’s not even get started with the word ‘it’. However, once I got to the end of my clean up I had this: could – 164; was – 179; and it – 611. Believe it or not this improved the readability of the story greatly.
Even though I go through and wean out words, and do all the clean-up there are some words that I don’t change or edit as they go to define the character.
I will often associate certain words with certain characters. Again, in The Called, the character Chris, uses certain phases and words that are not grammatically correct, no one speaks perfect proper English, we all use slang and phases that are not correct, and with Chris, as he is a representation of all of us, I ensured to keep this word ticks. Chris isn’t the only one. Juliet, Victor, Amanda and Kirtus all have them. As do some of the new characters that were introduced in this novel.
After doing this round of editing, next I go back and read the manuscript from start to finish.
I ensure that the story is what I want it to be. What I saw in my head. Does the story change? Yes. But the novel still holds true to what I started with, which I’m always pleased with.
When it comes to my writing process especially around; writing, revising, and editing I have multiple steps before I ever say I have a completed first draft. Once I’ve made the story as good as I possibly can, in the case of The Called, my process took about nine months to get the story ready for Beta Readers. And that’s where the real work begins.
Thanks for that insight into your writing process, Mr Neu. I’m curious about how much more work happens after the Beta Readers have finished with your manuscripts.
To find out more about M.D. Neu and his works, check out his website HERE.