Let’s Talk About Process

Let’s talk about process. I love my iGadgets, cloud storage, wireless keyboard, voice-to-text tools and all the other trappings of living in the future. They make it possible for me to make a good living doing exactly what I love while spending lots of time with my family and other loved ones.

But sometimes you have to bang a couple of rocks together. I had to get old-school between first and second drafts of the first section of my current young adult project Rio Sangre, a story about zombies and high school and quantum mechanics.

I had 20 chapters written, liked the basics, but felt the need to fiddle with structure and make sure all my Chekov guns were appropriately holstered. So I printed them all out, and laid them on my conference table.

Rio Sangre Young Adult Novel
Then I took a few colors of dry erase pen (the surface of my conference table is dry erase paint). I wrote down notes next to each chapter about important things. Stuff like when characters and concepts were introduced, or what goals that chapter met.

Rio Sangre YA novel

Once I had this massive, visual representation of the story and its structure, I was able to identify where I needed to move things from and to. The result was a half-dozen corrections that really improved the novel, including removing two chapters entirely because I noticed other chapters had met all the goals they served.

End result: much better novel because I stepped away from the screen for a while.

Other end result: seriously considering cooking my cat over a fire when she jumped down from her kitty tower into the middle of it about ten seconds after we shot that second photo.

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