What is your writing process?

by Marie-Claude Bourque

A little while ago I answered the following questions on my writing process for a writer’s blog and I thought I’d share it with you, so that you could in turn share yours with us!

Please describe your current writing process from story idea to final draft in as much detail as possible.


I usually start with my hero and heroine and try to find a couple that would be a good match in terms of both conflict and attraction.

I try to be as clear as I can on both characters goals, motivations and conflicts (external and internal). My style of writing focuses more on the characters internal conflicts due their background and how they come together to resolve the external conflict which comes in the form of a threat to their world, usually a villain.  My general writing theme is that unity conquers.

I try to lay out the main story in a classical 3 acts set-up.

Once I have the core of the story, I daydream scenes that fit my writing style: gritty, sensual and mystical and that arise from the conflicts between all the characters.  I use music a lot to brainstorm.I also like to fill up Donald Maass workbook to think up more intense scenes.


Once I have a good list of scenes (maybe 20), I write them one at a time longhand in first person for each POV character. Meanwhile I list all the plots and plot layers to make sure I advance at least one or more plot in each scene. I come up with new scenes as I write for a total of around 75.

Typing all the scenes in the appropriate third person gives me my first draft. I don’t pause to edit during that phase but write real fast and fill the blanks later.

Yes, I'm a dying breed, I write longhand!


The second stage is when I do the deep editing. I use my own version of Margie Lawson’s method to add the missing bits such as settings and emotions and research accuracy and I also look at a balance in my scenes between emotions, inner thoughts, dialog, action and setting. I add about 20% more material at this stage. Sometimes, I see that I need to add or cut scenes.

This draft goes to my writing partners (i.e. Mustrackers John, Candi and Jenn)

If I can, I leave this draft aside for a while and later do a one sitting read as a reader to see what is missing.


In the third draft, I start by fixing my own comment and my writing partners comments. I may again add or cut scenes then do a style edit, scene by scene, which is a 10-15 checklist I use to look at such as word overuse, tension on every page, using 5 senses, varying length sentences, using active strong verbs, hooks, ect. I also like to read each scenes 3 times with different fonts. Then I cut into chapters where natural breaks occur.

What do you feel are the pros & cons of your current writing process?

The only problem I can see with my writing process is that it takes time to type my work. Almost the same time to type as it take to write. I wish I was faster, but I need the deep connection I feel by writing longhand. Somehow, I can’t do it straight to the computer.


Find out about Stephen King's writing process in ON WRITING, his excellent book for writers!

What details can you share about the process of writing your very first published work? How has it changed from then to now?

The process I described was for my first published work which was my first manuscript (ANCIENT WHISPERS) and I still use this now that I am writing my fifth. I tried before to fill characters charts and index cards but I found it was pretty useless.

What advice would you give newly aspiring authors on finding their process?

Just try to find your own process by listening to what works for you but do learn different technique. I am a very obsessive plotter but I have been trying to learn how pansters do it. Never feel like you are stuck into one way of doing thing and try to work extra hard on your weaknesses.

It’s your turn now! If you have a minute, please share your process with us. I love learning new tricks from others!

3 Responses to What is your writing process?

  1. jbrayweber says:

    My writing process differs wildly from yours. I’m a by-the-seat-of-my-pants writer. I have the hero and heroine, an overall plot, a good idea of certain scenes, and a beginning. The rest is a journey for me.

    Sometimes I will write notes, but I find that if I try to plot, everything bogs down and I never really color within my plot lines.

    I’ll write a chapter and then edit it. Once I have completed the manuscript, it goes to my critique partners. I’ll go through the editing process and again again until I feel its ready.

    So far this method works for me and my available time.

    BTW – I write long hand when I’m away from my computer. Often, because I don’t have the distraction of the internet, I get lots of writing down this way.

    Great blog, MC!



  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jennifer Bray Weber, Marie-Claude Bourque. Marie-Claude Bourque said: What is your writing process?: http://wp.me/plfG2-Uo […]


  3. Interesting to read your post. I basically start off with a character and let the character or characters dictate the plot according to their personalities. That’s what I did with my latest novel Streets on a Map. I started with the character of Abby based on someone I saw once sit down to sing at a tavern. Then I started to imagine what if? And started to write.
    The negative is I often have to cut things that may not work or advance the plot but it seems to be the only way I can work. If I plan, I lose interest in writing the story.


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