The Three Phases of Writing a Book


How do you write a book or a novel? Some people think that they have an idea, start typing and not stop until they can write “end”. It is very difficult to write a novel like that. And more if you’ve never written one before. The idea is to write your books differentiating the different stages of work or phases of writing. In this way, in each of them, you put on a different hat and act according to the character you represent.

What are the three phases of writing a book?

1.      Planning, design, structure

This is the pre-writing phase. You will write a lot but nothing that your readers will read later.

In this phase, you have to design the story you are going to tell, work the characters, and create a story of your novel.

Planning is an essential step and although there are many writers who say they do not plan anything, they actually do it when they think about the story they want to tell, about the characters, about the secondary plots.

Some people prefer to discover the story as they write. I strongly discourage it, since to tell a story well first you have to know about it. Only when you have all the information will it be when you can decide how you use it, or how you tell the story to your readers.

I recommend doing a thorough planning, if you are one of those who sees it as a waste of time, read this article in which I respond to usual objections to planning.

The objective, when I plan, is to obtain a full run of my novel. A list of all the scenes that I have to write. Then, I work with scenes tokens to be clear that they all fulfill their function and what I have to write in them or what narrator and point of view I will use. Choosing narrators is much easier when you have a panoramic view of your novel.

You will use creativity to have ideas and analytics to connect them, organize them and see if they work.

2.      Writing

Writing requires different areas of the brain that you use when you are in the creative phase or when you are in the analytic phase; both aspects will be worked on in the planning phase.

In the writing, the phase is when you can finally narrate everything you’ve been working on for weeks or months. If you have planned well, as you type you will not have any blockages. You will discover new details as you write and, although it seems that you had everything designed, you will know more about your characters so the story will end up being rounded. You can fit without problems the new details that you are discovering thanks to the work of previous planning.

The writing phase also has two stages:

  • Writing
  • Rewrite

I like to write without stopping, without anything stopping me, or misspellings or anything. It is about writing all those scenes that you have designed for your runway. If you have done well, you will die to write them because you will know them thoroughly.

The rewrite begins when the writing is finished. You already have the complete manuscript and all the details that you lacked during the planning.

It is time to enter the analytical phase and rewrite or edit the text of your novel. At this stage, I do not worry (much) about the spelling, yes about the punctuation, the words or the structure of the sentences.

What I’m looking for during rewriting is improving my sentences, my dialogues, descriptions … As I plan quite thoroughly, I usually do not have to touch much (or nothing) of structure but if I have to do it, this is the phase.

Rearrange the scenes and make the necessary changes so that everything fits again.

I close the writing phase when the manuscript leaves me (quite) satisfied when I read the scenes and I think they have a good rhythm, that the dialogues are good and that the descriptions are accurate.

Once I have rewritten everything, I usually check scene by scene that fulfills a function, that it has the effect I wanted or that there are no loose ends.

3.      Correction

The idea is to let a time pass between writing and correction.

I do not recommend editing while writing for several reasons:

It slows down the pace of writing (and does not guarantee that you will not miss anything, due to the lack of perspective).

If you correct, you will never enter the flow of writing, which is what you enjoy writing, when it flows and you cannot stop.

Because it is pending a rewrite and what you correct now you may need to erase it later, so it would be a lost time for nothing.

The correction is always better than a professional, I am a ghostwriter, not a philologist, so I will escape many things. And there is also the problem of not seeing our own mistakes.

In spite of that, I always correct my novels before sending them to the proofreader or to my readers zero. I look at the spelling, but especially in the score because my proofreader does not check the style and I do not want someone to change the commas without asking me. When I put them on, I know why I put them on.

The best thing to correct is to let enough time pass so that what you read sounds new. To me, although it tires a lot, I like to correct out loud

Why separate writing in phases

To work better each of them

Because each of the phases requires a different type of attention, a different work and different areas of the brain are activated to carry them out.

The best thing is to activate only one of these areas and concentrate to do that task in the best possible way.

The area of the brain that we use to correct is not the same area that we use to have ideas and if you are correcting the best is to concentrate on that and not get lost in new ideas.

By separating the three phases of writing you can work each of them much better.

To Be More Productive.

Because you could be working on three projects at once, each in a different phase.

If you dedicate your entire day’s work to writing novels, or non-fiction books, at the end of the day you could end up burned or very tired if you worked alone in one of the phases.

If one of the phases is much more tired than the others, you can spend a shorter time to compensate. Or if you prefer to be creative in the first hour, you can dedicate the last of the day to correct.

Separating the writing of the book in phases allows you to know your work rhythms and your limits so that you can organize yourself to be much more productive without exhausting or burning yourself.

Correct, for example, is a bit heavy. Sometimes we tend to tire and want to finish ahead of time. If correcting is heavy, imagine doing it 8 hours in a row. However, if there are only two, you will face it better and take advantage of the rest of the day to advance the other projects.

To Gain Perspective

If you work in phases, you will have to finish the first one before going to the second and finishing the second before moving on to the first one. By the time you start to correct it will be many days ago that you wrote it and the distance of time will play in your favor.

To Avoid Falling Into the Monotony

Doing the same work all day becomes monotonous and that makes you pay less attention. I like to work on several projects at the same time so I can dedicate a part of my time to each of the projects, which are in different phases. So, part of my day I dedicate to planning and structuring (fiction or nonfiction), another part of my day I dedicate to write (the longest) and spend a day every day to correct or edit what I have written.