Write Missing Scenes
- Make a list of missing scenes. (Luckily, I already have easy-to-spot placeholders throughout the document, so this step should be pretty mechanical.)
- Calculate how long it should take me to write these scenes. Set goals.
- Write the scenes! Same "quality" bar as for NaNo; just get the remaining scenes written.
- Annotate the document with where characters appear in the scenes.
- Evaluate this character-appearances list: Who just disappears after chapter 4? Who randomly appears in chapter 8 as a major character (eg, the real antagonist; oops!) Decide whether to cut a character, combine multiple characters, or give a character a larger role so that their removal is unnecessary.
- Make a list of "missed opportunities" that I might want to work into the story. (For example, no one important ever wrestles with whether to Sacrifice themselves. There's potential for good conflict/drama there, but the plot would have to be altered for it to be necessary.)
- Make a list of scenes to add, modify, cut, or move.
Let both lists stew while going through the next two phases...
Research and World-Building
- Read books about relevant Earth history: guilds, non-monarchy governments, coups (successful or not), dictators (especially their motivations), etc. Take notes.
- Outline my territory's history, based on research. (How did they end up with their semi-representative High Council system of government? What have flesh/spirit relations been like before the current Guild system? What are the neighboring territories, and how have they influenced this territory's history and culture? Etc.)
- Write character bios (including basic ones for "scenery" characters).
(done concurrently with the researching step above)
- Read books on writing. Take notes.
- Do writing exercises (not on my NaNo story, though).
- Critique other people's writing to practice what to look for in my own writing.
- Read other authors. Note how they handle characterization, magic (especially mental battles, which I had trouble writing), government-taking-over intrigue, romantic subplots that aren't lame...
Refine Plot and Characters
- While referring to the world-building notes and character bios, re-read the story and take notes about scenes and subplots to add or modify.
- Write the scenes! At the end of the next step, I should feel ready for beta readers...
Here there be beta readers! By the time I get to here, the plot and characters should actually be fleshed out the way I like. From this point on, I'll be working on the smaller parts of the story: word choice, tone, etc. I'll figure out in more detail what needs to be worked on once I get to here.