Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Long and the Short of It

When it comes to writing, we all tackle things different ways.  We outline or don’t outline.  We focus mainly on plot or mainly on character.  We revise as we go or wait till we’re done.  We watch our word count closely or worry about it later.

Our process is different, but we all end up with the same result—a finished manuscript.  But how long did we spend on each part of it?  What took us the longest during the process?

So I’m curious—out of the list below, what takes you the longest? Or is there something else that takes longer?  What’s the easiest for you?

Coming up with the original idea
Brainstorming the original idea
Outlining (if you do it)
Organizing the story
Creating individual characters
Character development
The beginning of the book
The ending of the book
Developing the conflicts…internal and external
Revising the first draft
Revising subsequent drafts

For me, character development takes the longest. I think that’s because I change so much of it through the revision process—a character will start out one way, and end up being completely different by the end of the book.  So I have to go back and do quality control.  :)  Also, I have a pretty difficult time with book endings.

The easiest thing for me is coming up with the original idea, followed closely by organizing the book (mine tend to follow a particular format.)

Your turn!


Jan Morrison said...

My biggest challenge is setting up the external conflicts and the overall structure of the piece. I work with lots of ways to push me through this but it is still a problem. My easiest is coming up with ideas - damn they are driving me mad! Also, developing characters is pretty good for me. Listening to them is good too but they boss me around so and mess with the structure!

Lisa Bork said...

Coming up with the idea is the hardest for me. I have to really love it. I wait for it to come to me, instead of stressing about it.

Jess Lourey said...

I love when the idea emerges and outlining the structure of the book. What takes the longest for me, however, no matter the book, is the first 50 pages. It's a head game. Once I hammer out those painful first 50 pages, I get to stop pulling the car up the hill and am allowed to ride in it instead.

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

The easiest thing for me is coming up with the original idea - I got a million of them! The most time consuming is character development. I'm obsessive about making my characters as real as possible, in feelings, background and action. I like to crawl inside each one's head and see things through their eyes before I write about them.

Jess - you're spot on about the first 50 pages, but for me it takes the first 100 before I can hitch a ride.

G.M. Malliet said...

With Sue Ann here. I have a zillion ideas. The problem is choosing one. Then getting the characters just so...

Beth Groundwater said...

The task that takes me the longest is writing the first draft, from start to finish. What I find the most difficult, brainpower-wise, is plotting the mystery before I start writing, trying to hold up that sagging middle and stuff enough emotion and conflict into every scene to hold the reader's interest.

Mary said...

Great post, gets me thinking.

Keith Raffel said...

What takes me the longest is waiting for comments! I wait for three weeks for a reader/editor and then revise three days. And on to the next one. I guess I should be working on two books at once to do away with the downtime.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Jan--Rebellious characters are the worst! And they're the best, too, but only after the first draft is over! External conflicts is tough (except in a murder mystery, where it's easier!)

Lisa--Well, you're right--we may GET a lot of ideas, but getting the RIGHT idea is something completely different!

Jess--Those first 50 pages are really an experiment, aren't they? I always feel like I could just junk the whole thing at any point during the beginning of the book!

Sue Ann--I'm right with you on that! Those characters take forever to tweak....actually, do we ever stop tweaking? Because then we're still developing the main ones for each book in the series.

G.M.--The characters do take a ton of time, don't they?

Beth--Good point! Making sure the book is exciting and full of conflict is really time consuming.


Keith--That is a pain, isn't it? I try to work on another project in the downtime. I'm an impatient person, so it's not easy for me!

Tamika: said...

Hi Elizabeth! I'm commenting here because it wouldn't let me at your home site. My Blogger doesn't isn't jiving.

For the hardest is making it through the first draft, silencing my interal editor enough to write down the bones.

I love coming up with ideas the most!

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Tamika--That internal editor is rough, isn't she?

I'm going to take the comments off, I think...too many problems for my fellow Blogger friends!


M Pax said...

The first draft is hard for me and takes longest. I'm a perfectionist. I'm getting over it. I change my mind a lot. I've learned to make notes and move on.

I can usually do the revisions / editing in much less time.

I love making the characters and developing the ideas. It is the most fun.

I've developed a more organized system for tracking story threads, but it's flexible [so I can change my mind].

Alan Orloff said...

What's "research"?

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

M Pax--I like to change my mind, too. :) That's what's nice about making it up as we go along!

Alan--Yeah, I'm not sure what it is, either! I hear a lot about about it, though...

Darrell James said...

Elizabeth- For me, it's anytime the story dives into a deeply emotional valley. I can sometimes spend days on a single scene, trying to find the etrue motional connection between the character and the plot.