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The process of Parallax

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LJ Cohen

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The novels of Halcyone Space





One of the questions I'm frequently asked by writers and non-writers alike is what does my process look like.

So I thought I'd do a quick overview, using PARALLAX as an example. The way I do this is by no means the only way or the best way; it's what I've settled on after writing more than a million words of fiction over the past 13 years. As always, YMMV. (Your Mileage May Vary)


July 2016:  Begin drafting during a week long retreat at a friend's summer home in Vermont.

This is the phase where I take a cheap Staples brand single subject spiral bound notebook and start brainstorming. Since this is book 4 of an ongoing series, it also means creating a document that outlines who knows what when at the end of book 3. It also includes reviewing the private wiki I have for my series bible.

August - December 2016 : Focus on drafting the story, including the goal of 1,000 words a day, for an average of 5,000 words a week. In any given week, I may not reach this goal, but I complete an approximate 100,000 word draft in 5 months.

December 2016 : After a 2 week hiatus after completing the draft, return to the story and complete a rough outline of the 4 quartiles of the book( This step is roughly based on Larry Brooks' Story Engineering and is particularly helpful in assessing the pacing of the story) as well as a chapter by chapter precis of each separate storyline. (Ro & Nomi, Barre, Micah & Dev, Jem & Gutierrez)

Because this book contains 4 storylines that must intersect, it is a more complex task than in other of my novels. I used a large white board. Across the top were the characters, down the side were the days, so I could see at a glance where everyone was at any given point in time as the story moved forward.
Initial 'alpha' read feedback received from several intrepid readers. First revision completed incorporating their story-level (big picture) feedback.

January 2017 : The completed 1st revision is sent to a cadre of beta readers, some who have read all of the series to this point, others for whom this is their first story in the series. This is a deliberate strategy because I want each story to be able to stand alone as well as work well together.
At this point, I solicited a back cover blurb from a writer in my genre.

February 2017 : Beta feedback comes in. It is read, assessed, and correlated. What I look for is patterns and consistency. If more than 1 reader has feedback on the same issue, it's flagged to review. If a single reader has a strong piece of feedback, it's flagged for review. Other issues - especially ones where it's what one reader has an issue with, but another notes it's what they love - are typically looked at as individual taste.
Several readers give me fairly substantiate critical feedback which requires careful assessment and consideration. I make changes to the story as a result.
March 2017 : As a result of the beta feedback, the 2nd revision is completed. After another few week hiatus, I print the manuscript out and do a 3rd revision.
Cover artist provides the initial draft of what will by month's end become the final cover.
Draft manuscript is sent (marked as such) to the author who agreed to read in order to provide a blurb.

April 2017 : Manuscript is sent to the editor. Continuity edits, copyedits, and proofing is done. The manuscript is returned.

May 2017 :  Editor's edits/suggestions are reviewed, considered, and incorporated in what is now the 4th and final revision. The manuscript enters the production phase.
Front and back matter is generated, beta readers are contacted for permission to thank them in the acknowledgments.
eBook formatting is done (using Sigil, an epub editor), print typography is done. Both take about 20 - 25 hours inclusive, as I have created templates and an efficient workflow for both.
Cover typography is created to echo the look/feel of the other books in the series. Files uploaded to CreateSpace and physical proof ordered. 
June 2017 : Publication. Final novel is approximately 110,000 words. During multiple revisions, approximately 15,000 words were excised, 25,000 words written/rewritten.


As the author/publisher, I:
write the draft
revise the draft
code the ebook
format the print book
give notes to the cover artist

I outsource:
the editing
cover art
cover typography/design

The key is to know your strengths and play to them. Hire what you are not comfortable and skilled in doing. Set a schedule if that helps you keep on track. Having been through this process multiple times now, I can reasonably and reliably hit this production schedule.

If you are working with an external publisher or publishing multiple books a year, your timeline will look different.

Feel free to ask me anything about the process, or describe how yours is either similar or different.

#SFWApro







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This is such a good breakdown of the actual writing process. I've been spinning  my wheels on a first draft forever (I know - just like everyone else!), and just need to buckle down and crank it out with a word count goal each week. It's amazing how the words pile up after a few weeks. It's like compounding interest in my retirement account (i wish!) 

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