Polishing is the fun part. I’m myself having a hoot and a holler with a new book.

It all starts when an idea seizes you in a dream, in your morning shower, after reading an article or a book, after a life-changing experience, after searching for inspiration.

The result is the same–you have to write a book.

Notes, research, sketches of scenes, choosing characters’ names and personalities follow. This is usually fun because you are (or should be) playing with and exploring the material. You’re not doing any heavy lifting. Not yet.

I love doing research. If I’m not careful, I can research for days and days without getting any actual writing done. There’s a word for delighting overmuch in research–procrastination. At some point, enough research is enough. You can always dip back into your resources to clarify a detail.

Then come plot and structure. You probably intuitively know the story you want to tell, but the time has come to nail down the particulars. Consider your outline your blueprint, the book your completed house. Some writers prefer to work up a detailed outline of the plot from start to finish. Some work up a general outline and work out details as they proceed, reworking earlier material as a twist or turn emerges. Then, too, some work up a general outline and draft a detailed outline for each chapter as it comes (my preference). Some prefer to work organically, letting the material flow and reshaping it when the tracks are laid down. Letting material flow is good; having no direction in which to flow is not recommended. Onerous and intimidating as outlining is, you’re much better off if you do it.

Plotting and structuring is hard.

Then comes writing the first draft. Some writers like to barrel through the first draft from start to finish so they’ve got the material in hand. Some writers need to edit first draft, day by day, as they go along. After years of writing, I’ve reached a compromise between these two methods. The temptation to revise daily is often irresistible; I like to see coherent material before I proceed. But I’ve finished enough drafts to know that material I labored over sometimes needs substantial revision anyway. Sometimes gets tossed entirely. (Sigh.) So your time, I think, is more productively spent if you don’t worry too much about perfection. This is your first draft, after all.

Writing first draft is really hard.

Now you must remove your cool black poet’s beret and don an industrial hardhat because you must edit your first draft. When I say “edit,” I don’t merely mean revising draft language, though that’s certainly part of the process. You must look at the overall book and figure out what works structurally, what doesn’t. Your characters may have revealed aspects of themselves you didn’t realize at first (the best characters often do because in your fictional world, they’ve literally come alive.) You must be brutal with your writer self. If a lovely, lyrical passage is unnecessary backstory that slows the action, you must kiss it goodbye.

Editing is really, really hard. Editing often continues over many drafts. There’s a lot of wasted ink and paper to recycle. (Double sigh.)

At some happy point, you look at your book and declare, “It’s done! Off to a publisher, oh you who have consumed precious hours of my life! Go forth and prosper!”

But, wait. Before you uncork the champagne, you must polish. I started out by saying this is the fun part. Why? Because the nearly finished piece is in place. All there in all its glory and brilliance. You did it!

Don’t take off the hardhat quite yet. You should read the material aloud. Scrutinize the language one more time. Scrub out unnecessary words, even sentences.

Trust me, there’s always something.

From the author of The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series, on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle, Summer of Love, A Time Travel (a Philip K. Dick Award Finalist and San Francisco Chronicle Recommended Book) on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle, and The Gilded Age, A Time Travel (a New York Times Notable Book and New York Public Library Recommended Book) on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle.

Visit me at Lisa Mason’s Official Website for books, ebooks, stories, and screenplays, forthcoming projects and more. And on my Facebook Author Page, on Amazon, on my Facebook Profile Page, on Goodreads, on LinkedIn, on Twitter at @lisaSmason, and at Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

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More affordable titles for your reading enjoyment:

New Romantic Suspense! Celestial Girl, Book 1: The Heartland (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) is on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle! Lily flees Toledo on the Overland train. She must share a seat with Jackson Tremaine and befriends the Celestial Girl, the daughter of a Chinese dignitary. But appearances are not what they seem.

New! Celestial Girl, Book 2: Jewel of the Golden West (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) is on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle! Lily and Jackson arrive in San Francisco and discover the murder of an immigration official connected with the Celestial Girl. She and Jackson are compelled into a dangerous murder investigation. Meanwhile, as they begin a hot affair, a contract for murder is taken out on Lily’s life.

Coming soon! Celestial Girl, Book 3: The Celestial Kingdom, which will include Book 3: The Celestial Kingdom, and Book 4: Terminus. The Omnibus Edition will include all three books.

Of The Gilded Age, the New York Times Book Review said, “A winning mixture of intelligence and passion.”

New Urban fantasy! The Garden of Abracadabra is available in three affordable installments. Begin with Book 1: Life’s Journey on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle.

The Bantam classic, Summer of Love is available in seven affordable installments. Begin at the beginning on Nook, Kindle, or UK Kindle

Suspense! Don’t miss SHAKEN, my sexy thriller, an ebook adaptation of “Deus Ex Machina” published in Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, republished in Transcendental Tales (Donning Press), and translated and republished worldwide. On Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle.

Literary science fiction! And don’t miss TOMORROW’S CHILD, The Story That Sold To The Movies. This began as a medical documentary, then got published in Omni Magazine as a lead story, and finally sold to Universal Pictures, where the project is now in development. On Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle.

Thank you for your readership!