Writing Tips: Step-by-Step Story Writing Process

Shout out to da-AL at https://happinessbetweentails.com for saying she would like to read a post about my writing process. Please take some time to read her work! It makes me happy to engage with people like da-AL who takes their time to comment on people’s work. And so, if you are so inclined, what kind of writing-, book-, or literature-related post would you like to see on my site? Comment below with your suggestions, and remember to like this post and follow Writings By Ender.


Writing about the process of writing feels strange, and it makes me feel naked in that by writing about it I am revealing parts of myself to you. Should I feel this way? The answer is, hesitantly, yes. The very nature of writing is an act of vulnerability. So, if by talking about my writing process I am exposing myself to you, then I hope that through what follows you can come to a better understanding of me, as both Austin and the voice of Writings By Ender.

If I were to do a full itemized list of my process we would get to the point where no one would bother reading to the end. I am, therefore, consolidating the steps into four stages that I hope will enlighten you into the decisions I take in each step. The stages of my writing process are: Preparation, Writing/Development, Editing,  and Post-Writing. 

Preparation

This first step is, perhaps, the most difficult to pin down. It is for me, and perhaps to many other writers, the most elusive when it comes time for enumeration, and yet there’s a quality about it that simply makes logical sense. The preparation stage is taking two concepts and smashing them together with as much force as possible to see what remains of those two entities. Stated another way, preparation involves thinking of two concepts, life and death, sickness and health, light and dark, dusk and dawn, fire and water, growth and decay, and/or etc., and combining them by listing their differences and similarities. Within this process I discover content worth writing about. It is this exact process that helped me write many of the short stories on Writings By Ender.

Having an overall feel for the concepts of which I’m dealing, I’m left to convey that in plot structure and characters. This is another point of challenge. How do you go from lofty concept to conveying that same weight within plot and character? It is both never easy, and never perfect. I grasp for a semblance of structure, by choosing what entities portray what parts of my concept, will my character depict decay and the plot structure reflect the growth concept? Or maybe the other way around is more original? Then there are the added layers of supplementary characters and subplots which also serve roles within conveying the concept, if the work is large enough to convey them. On whole, this process is the one that is most frustrating.,

Writing/Developing

Why did I add developing into the same point as writing? No matter how static and certain you think your plotting is, the work will inevitably take a life of its own, and it is the writer’s job help the work take the shape it wants once that has happened. There is no point in sticking to what you had plotted once it’s diverged. Your character will thank you. If you are writing a short work —a short story, or poem— I find that it is often best to work it out all at once than to do it over multiple days. This isn’t to say that if you do it all at once, it will be the best work you’ve produced, but it will often contain, via the nature of its creation, a degree of oneness. Some work, however, will require you to do the opposite, regardless of length. This is the work that gains in its content as you segment the idea more. This is also expected. The goal is to know which method will work best for the story you are telling.

Editing

Editing is a must, and I’m embarrassed to admit I used to be writer who would write and submit on the first draft. I was reluctant to include editing in a separate stage because I now view it as a part of writing rather than something separate. All great works that we’ve read, that have moved or inspired us, are the products of both great writing and great editing. Or, in other words, great writing demands great editing.

I carry out my editing on multiple levels, and they happen to reflect the types of editing in the publishing world. They are: content editing, copy editing, and proofreading. I proud myself in the content editing phase, where I strive to connect with the overall meaning of my work, and to subtract and add material based on that meaning. At this phase of editing I don’t care if I’ve spelled something wrong —even though I often fix it anyway. The focus is making sure each part fits the nature of the story. Copy editing and proofreading are a bit more simple, but not necessarily easy. Copy editing is the fixing of grammar, spelling mistakes, and other such necessities, and the proofreading stage is checking for quality to ensure it is good-to-go for publishing.

Post-Writing

I dealt with post-writing in my last post but I’ll do you the favor of summarizing it here. Post-writing is the process of first relaxing a brief stint — a day or two — and then identifying the shortcomings and strengths of the work you just completed. This is done with the intention of fortifying your weaknesses through practice. This is the analytic and reflective portion of writing that gets ignored often. It is in this process, however, that there is the most room for growth, because the mistakes are still fresh and the path through to the other side of your weakness is much more clear. To reiterate, this is about grappling with your weaknesses, be it with grammar, characterization, determining chronology of your scenes, etc..

My process is not as streamlined as I’m making it sound, of course, and no one’s process is exactly this rigid. Listing my steps this way makes distinct the process that, for me, is much more fluid and interwoven. Does this invalidate the steps above? Not in the least bit. Instead it illuminates a dynamic process which by its essence is hard to pin down, and by the multitude of us writers shining light in this way we will eventually discover something that resembles pure truth.

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17 thoughts on “Writing Tips: Step-by-Step Story Writing Process”

  1. Your blog is intriguing to say the least. I too am a writer of short stories ,Christian/Inspirational poems and writings, children’s stories. I also do my own illustrations.
    I agree that everyone has a unique style and way they write. I also can see the aspects of vulnerability you speak of. It’s almost as though you face rejection of your work if they knew how you did it…or worse…try to copy exactly and become like you. We , as writers, tend to be very possessive when it comes to our individual styles.
    I like what you’re doing here.
    Pardon my lack of editing…I am dyslexic. Spell check is my writing Angel and savior.
    I could only imagine how many blunders in spelling there would be without it.😄 ( Incidentally…have you ever noticed how spell check only works if you know how to spell the word?😉 lol!)
    I’ll see ya around the blog-o-sphere!
    God bless you and your page!
    Andrea.🐈

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your time and reading this post! A way for me to get better and for me to better engage you as a member of my audience is to ask what sort of things would you like to see in my blog in the future? What do you like reading about on the topic of writing?

      Like

      1. Dialog and character description.
        I’m very much into narrative/descriptive essays and short stories. If you read some of my blog you’ll see what I mean.
        I’m at…
        Dreasstories.wordpress.com
        And
        Reflectionsbyexodushouseministries.wordpress
        The Reflections page is my Christian/ Inspirational page.
        The other is centered on my writings and art.
        🙏 Be Blessed.
        Andrea.

        Like

  2. Hey Austin,

    That’s a great post. While I would like to thank you for sharing the stages of your writing process with us, I have a few quick questions. They are mostly around your thought – The very nature of writing is vulnerability. Having said that, don’t you think overcoming that fear of insecurity and vulnerability is the very first stage and at times the very last too (the one right before you post). Also, does not that vulnerability at times affect you to the extent of diverging from your work, putting it aside maybe, cascading a pool of negativity your thought process of – what-ifs and buts.
    Theses remain to be my primary concerns before and after writing and publishing a piece. This can be attributed to the fact that I believe any fiction that I write or create on paper has my reality hidden in it. And if I am talking of facts then those are topics that I feel very strongly about. Even though, I am open to feedback and understand that perception varies with people and situations, the insecurity of being misconstrued and the fear of being read through wholly deters me at times.
    I still have managed to publish a few pieces of my work. Have a look if you can find the time for it at
    https://allinorallout.wordpress.com/blog/

    Stay blessed and keep writing. I would love to read more about your thoughts during, before and after the process of writing.

    Best,
    Sanjana.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Is there ever a post-writing part? Ha. They say great writing is re-writing but I agree with you. Manuscripts NEED a rest and so many ideas come AFTER the manuscript has been written, or even re-written many times. Thanks for the solid points, Austin!

    Liked by 1 person

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