I almost always open with the magic system or something related to the magic system.
I like to write a sample scene with two random characters using the magic system to fight each other. This generally gives me a hint of who my characters will turn out to be, but at this point, they still have no faces.
From there I define the magic system, give it rules and costs. I work on redefining the magic system and turning it.
I do another sample fight scene with the magic system, using the faceless characters and have them have a dialogue during the fight.
This gives me an idea of who the characters are and what they want as well as how the magic system affects their lives.
I then write out the characters' basic information, kind of like a character sheet. Try and write a few paragraphs of dialogue between the main characters.
Then, I rework the magic system.
I name each chapter after a major event, so my next step is basically to name all the chapters in what I think needs to happen. Basically, just start by going chapter 1 jerked into trouble, chapter 2 unable to confess, and so forth. When I get to the point I think should be the end of the book, I review the chapters and go over them one more time.
After that, I use the One Page Synopsis to write a synopsis of the story and get a good idea of what is happening with the story and all the major points.
Then, I rework the chapter outline and write about a paragraph for each scene to take place within that chapter. This also makes me rework the synopsis, character sheets and magic system one more time.
After that, I just start, adding notes about scenes or things I need to research or things I need to add in previous chapters or things I need to foreshadow as I go.
Between the first and second draft, I make sure to fill in all the details within the earlier chapters and make sure I do some research and what not. I rework the magic system to make sure it fits and the synopsis, as well. I try to add a bit more history to the world before jumping into the second draft.
The second draft is to mostly make sure everything matches and the voices come together in my head.
Before starting the third draft, I post the first 3 or 4 chapters on CC or give them to other readers as well as the synopsis and whatever chapter I think is a major turning point.
Based off of the reviews and corrections, I go through the third draft. During this draft, I take notes about character voice and make a list of the words that the character will use as well as the words they won't use. I make a list for dialogue, description and body language. I also try to make a list of verbs that that character uses based on his previous life before the story began.
I work on something else after that draft is finished. Maybe two projects. I put at least a month or two between that draft and the fourth one.
For the fourth draft, I review all my notes and go through the synopsis and what not. Then I post it all for some readers to review, changing things that need to be changed as they go.
Once the readers have finished, I'll go over my notes and do one final draft. (I'd probably have to do more drafts if I ever get an agent lol)
Mind that one draft is from start, to finish plus the first 5ish chapters again.
I hope this helps, though, everyone writes differently.
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