My writing process goes like this:
1. Idea! Have a random plot bunny idea, claim a prompt for a fest, or be given a set of prompts to choose from.
2. Refine idea! If a set of prompts, decide on pairing and prompts to use.
3. Create a google doc for the fic, and slap a header at the top. I update the headers as I write with tags/WC/etc. and even though I often don't come up with a tite/summary until after the fic has been written, sometimes I am hit with inspiration early on and I put that in there too!
4. Outline! I do this for pretty much everything I write, even single-scene PWPs. For shorter stuff, it might just be a few lines, but generally I outline sort of stream-of-consciousness style with the overall content of the scene, sometimes with snippets of dialogue if they come to me.
As an example, here is what I outlined for the first chapter of my Advent!Fic this year:
1. Monday, December 1: Draco POV; IMAGE: bigben with snowman phonebooth
10 years since the war, haven't seen each other since. Veela inheritance, shame. Everybody found out, lots of serves him right, moved to France, worked there as an Auror. Thinking of coming home, reached out to creatures department, was told of pilot program, having issues recruiting creatures, Draco hesitant, but volunteers. Bound to be awkward, but maybe it's a chance to redeem himself? Ends with them meeting? Floos are disconnected at Manor, so needs to get to Ministry other way via phonebooth in London
Some of this changed once I actually started writing. France became Italy, because it's warmer (which is relevant to a sub-plot) and instead of Draco reaching out to the Ministry, the Ministry reaches out to him. This is actually a pretty brief version of these outlines though--oftentimes they get a lot more detailed, depending on how clearly I see the scene. Since the above fic was put together really quickly, but outline was a little more barebones.
5. Start writing! I usually write chronologically through scenes, with the occasional skipping of sections that are blocking me. Often with long!fic, there is a particular scene/conversation that I see very clearly that sort of inspired the entire fic, so sometimes I'll start with that scene and then go back and write from the beginning. I also generally research as I write/sporadically throughout the process. If, as I'm writing, there is something I was to confirm in canon, or that I need to brit-pick, or that requires a small amount of research to double check, I'll make a note, and then come back when I'm editing, or on a day when words aren't coming but I want to be productive. I often use XX as a placeholder for names I need to come back and figure out etc. I prefer writing in the late morning/early afternoon in more-or-less silence.
6. Edit! I generally like to completely finish with my draft before I start editing. If I take a long break from writing something, I'll usually read-through what I've written and edit as I go as a way to get back into the story, but usually I write something through to the end, then go through and do my initial round of editing.
7. Send to alpha/beta/brit-picker(s)! I very rarely will send something to be looked over until I've completely finished the first draft and done my initial edits. There are occasional exceptions, like with my Advent!Fic where I needed to start posting before I had finished writing, or if I really am stuck and need feedback, but usually I like to send along a finished product. I also generally prefer to have at least two people look at my writing, as I appreciate multiple perspectives on my fics. For shorter stuff, this is less important, but for my longer fic is it pretty much mandatory that at least two people look it over and provide feedback. I prefer alphas/betas who are more involved and not shy about offering concrit beyond simple SpaG fixes, mixed in, of course, with some squee.
8. Go though alpha/beta/brit-picker edits! Depending on how substantial these are, these can involve some additional back and forth with to confirm my changes make sense!
9. Once I've made all the edits I plan to make, do a final read-through of the fic. I definitely do make some line edits at this stage, but rarely anything substantial.
10. Review header. Update tags/tag order if necessary, come up with summary and title if I haven't already.
11. Submit/Upload to AO3. It's pretty rare that I am not uploading to AO3 before I plan to actually post. If it's not for a formal fest where I'm posting to an anon collection, I generally save in drafts less than a month before my planned posting date so that it is all ready to go when I need it.
12. If not for a fest, post on AO3 with a header on tumblr & DW!
13. Try not to obsess over stats.
14. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Aaaand, I think that's everything, LOL. If any of y'all are interesting in sharing your process, I'd definitely love to read them!
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