What process do I go through to write a book?

Well, I’ve spent the afternoon undertaking a final edit of the third story in this short story collection, called ‘Keeping our Distance’.  The story is all about finding love during Covid-19 lockdown.  This collection represents my 19th published book, which will be released on Wednesday 29th July. Given I’ve written quite a few books now, I thought you might be interested to understand the process I go through.

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My key stages are:

  1. An idea! Of course, the very first thing you need is an idea from which to create a story. I’ve previously blogged about where I find inspiration for my stories, but the short answer is usually in the most mundane of situations!
  2. Planning. Before I start writing properly, I need to have a rough plot and structure of the book. I’ll also want an understanding of location, how the characters are going to develop and the key scenes due to take place (which includes the start and the end). I will often sketch out some of those key scenes in some detail in note form before I start writing properly.  Finally, I’ll have a short description of each of my characters. All my notes are written in green font.
  3. Writing. Using the MS Word document which holds the planning stage, I start to write the story in black font.  This allows me to distinguish between what are notes and what is completed. Then, as I write a section, I delete the notes I made about it, so by the time the story is complete, all the notes have been removed.  Of course, planning continues during the writing process, as I become aware of sub-plots, or different information that I need to share in different parts of the book.
    I don’t have a typical approach in the way I write the story.  Sometimes I start at the beginning and write chronologically, all the way through to the end.  Other times, I jump about all over the place, making notes where I need to tie different parts of the story together.  Gradually, like sewing together a great patchwork bedspread with disparate parts, I keep pulling everything together until it becomes a single entity.
    It is worth noting here that I am typically writing three or four books at any one time.  For example, at the moment, I am in the planning stages of my sixth book in the Daniel Lawson series, 11% of the way through the sequel to ‘Difficult to Reach’ (Impossible to Leave), 40% of the way through my first reverse harem (Three times moor pleasure) and 70% of the way through ‘Just another Winter’s Tale’.  In addition to that, I write individual commission and have a further 8 or so stories in early development.  So basically, there are a lot of balls that need to be kept in the air, which keeps me out of trouble!
  4. Editing. This is a multi-stage process. I edit heavily during the writing process, sometimes reading (and continually correcting) the entire manuscript before I continue to write the next scene. Once the book has been written, I then undertake various actions, including:
    a) Running the manuscript through a different grammar and spellchecker to MS Word, which typically picks up different corrections.
    b) Searching the entire manuscript for words and phrases I know I use too regularly and replacing most of those, only allowing a few to remain. My own personal list includes moment, immediately, suddenly, seems, desperate, delicious, “couldn’t help but”, etc.
    c) Reading the full electronic version of the manuscript from start to end. Ideally in a single sitting, two at the the most – I basically want to avoid dipping in and out of the story and being distracted. This task needs a clear focus, to ensure the story flows and there aren’t any plot holes or items I meant to mention but didn’t. I’ll also be checking a range of other elements here, including punctuation, grammar, tense, continuity (e.g. making sure the eye colour of a character doesn’t change half way through!), repetition, etc.
    d) I then put the story aside for a good few weeks, during which time I will undoubtedly forget all about it, as I concentrate on writing my next piece. At the start of this period, I order a printed proof of the book from Amazon.
    e) Once the paperback version of the book has been delivered in the post, I once again carve out some time, to undertake my final edit, ideally in one or two sittings only.  With a pen in my hand, I read the entire paperback version of the book, picking out any amendments that need to be made. I personally find errors easier to pick out on the printed page, than on a screen. Sometimes, I read sections out loud, to ensure they flow properly. Once I’ve got to the end of the book, I then make the amendments to the electronic version.
  5. Title!!!!  I’m ashamed to say that selecting the title sometimes happens right at the end of the process. When this is the case, selecting the title is often the most stressful part of the entire book writing process.
  6. Upload. Once the final version of the book has been produced, I just need to upload the manuscript onto Amazon, ready for sale, ensuring it is correctly formatted for the various devices that will access it.  Separately, a paperback version will also be submitted.
    Typically, I’ll already have created an Amazon entry and submitted the book for pre-order by this point, so it should just be as easy as uploading the final version of the manuscript.  But if not, there are a host of administrative tasks associated with creating the entry, contracting the book cover designer, writing the book blurb, selecting categories and keywords, etc.
  7. Celebrate! I don’t ever actually take time to do this, but I should.  More often than not, I’m already fully immersed in my next project… And then, of course, there’s marketing, which is a whole different story!


Fenella Ashworth

Fenella Ashworth is a British author of contemporary erotic fiction.  All of her stories are available from Amazon and free for those with Kindle Unlimited access.  Her bestselling novels are ‘To Love, Honour and Oh Pay’ and the Daniel Lawson series.
Fenella also releases stories on BooksieSilk, Booksie, Lush Stories and Literotica, and is often visible in the Literotica ‘Erotic Couplings’ Hall of Fame (Top Rated).
Please sign up to her newsletter for the latest news, and access to freebies, including a copy of the recently published ‘Bad girls go to Heaven’.

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