Is the Book Writing Process Different for a Christian Author?
Writing a book is the same for a Christian writers as it is for anyone else.
We may think we’re inspired by God, but we know from the kinds of Christian books that are published that this is not always true.
Yet, we do know that God has given us unique life experiences, and the power of prayers and a Spirit empowered mind, and that should be enough to do God’s writing will.
Writing a book is more than thinking up an idea and putting it on paper. It is a series of actions. Here are the 5 steps in the writing process.
Ideas for book, either fiction or nonfiction do not do not materialize all at once. The concept may appear, but not the details. I offer free a course on this topic if you need input about how to write about a profitable topic, or refine your idea if you already have one.
That’s why pre-writing is important.
Pre-writing is a simple concept that embraces a wide range of preparatory activities.
It often starts with a few ideas scrawled on the back of an envelope. It graduates to a mind-map, which is an engine that can multiply your ideas. If you’re not creating mind-maps as part of your pre-writing process, you’re missing a big step in thinking through your book before you write it.
The mind-map evolves into an outline. An outline is your road map that provides direction to your writing project.
You enhance your outline by doing research. All books, fiction and nonfiction, require research.
There is one often overlooked stage in pre-writing. That’s when you write snippets of your book. It may be scenes or character studies for fiction, or it may be writing chapter introductions or fleshing out certain points in your outline.
Use these pre-writing snippets in your book. It accelerates the writing stage which comes next.
When people think of writing a book, this is the phase they think of. They sit down and write one sentence after another.
Notice, however, that’s just one part of a five step process.
An outline is a road map. To continue the metaphor, when you write, you’re taking in the scenery at the speed limit. The landscape flows and you capture as much of it as you can in prose.
And this is where most writers make a big mistake. Rather than let the story flow, they get bogged down with adding layers of detail in their first draft. Rather than talk about the trip, as I mentioned, they write every detail they see at the gas station or curio store where they stop along the way.
But this stage is writing is not about adding nuance. It is about getting the first draft written as rapidly as possible.
Once you have your first draft completed, you have something of value. It is not your complete book, but something of substance you can revise.
The revision phase is the heart and soul of all good writing. When you do your second draft (and maybe the third and fourth drafts), you refine what you have written. That may mean you enhance the plot or reshape characters in fiction or expand certain parts of your nonfiction work. This is the stage where you add the nuance.
In both types of writing, revision gives you the opportunity to move sentence and paragraphs around. To cut unnecessary material. To add more relevant content. It is your chance to “go deep” and enhance your work in ways not possible, or desirable, to do when you did your first draft.
The rule of experienced writers is this: Write your first draft as rapidly as possible using your creative “right brain.” When you revise, be slower and more methodical using your analytical “left brain.”
After you are satisfied with you final draft, whether it is the second, third or fourth revision, you book is ready for copy editing.
There are many different kinds of editing, but most people tend to think of copy editing when it comes to completing a book and they are right about that.
Copy editing is when you go through your book and verify that it conforms to a standard you have chosen. You can’t rely on what you learned about grammar in high school or college; language is in a constant state of change.
That’s why you want to use a recent copy of the Chicago Manual of Style, or other popular standard. Personally, I use the Associated Press Stylebook because it supports a consistent contemporary style, not a stodgy academic style.
Grammar-checking is also important part of copy editing. A good copy editor will check basic sentence and paragraph construction, spelling correctness and consistence, reduce adverb usage and reduce passive voice and redundancies. A good copy editor does much more, of course. In short, a good copy editor adds clarity to your final draft.
Can you copy edit your own book? It is possible, especially when you let it rest for a week or so after you finish your final draft. It takes real effort for a writer to copy edit his or her own manuscript. Most want to revise again, not focus on copy editing, and that’s counter-productive.
It is better to pay a competent professional copy editor to edit your book. They are worth the expense because they have one quality you don’t have as the author. An editor has objectivity and sees your work though fresh eyes. An editor can help improve your work in ways you never imagined.
Is publishing a part of the writing process? Well, it is if you self-publish.
After your book has been edited, it is ready to be published. Publishing involves many tasks; most self-published authors are not aware of them all. In a nutshell, publishing is the business side of the game. It’s creating a book from a manuscript and distributing and promoting the finished product.
For many self-publishers, this is making a Kindle file so sending off a properly formatted PDF to a Print on Demand (POD) printer.
A publisher does one important thing that most self-publishers skip. When a manuscript is turned into a book a galley or “proof” is created. This is the stage for what is known as proofreading. Proofreading a book is not the time to edit the book. That time has ended. It is correcting the proof, thus the name “proofreading.” Proofreading is when the publisher confirms that no mistakes were introduced in the transition between manuscript and book.
One of the most foolish mistakes anyone can make is to think of proofreading as a “final edit.” Only non-professionals offer their services as “editor/proofreader.” Professionals understand the distinction and don’t try to merge the two very different tasks.
Another major self-publishing error is the belief that you can adequately promote a book by publicizing it only upon release. Promoting a book is an ongoing, never-ending task.
Writing is not just writing. It is part of a 5-step process. A better book results when an author sees it in that more holistic light. A Christian writer gets better results when he or she follow this pattern and is also dependent upon guidance from the Lord.