Marie Force is the New York Times bestselling author of over 50 contemporary romances, including the Gansett Island Series, which has sold more than 2.3 million books, and the Fatal Series from Harlequin Books, which has sold more than 1.2 million books. In addition, she is the author of the Green Mountain Series as well as the new erotic romance Quantum Series, written under the slightly modified name of M.S. Force. For more intriguing insights, pop over to Marie’s website and read her full bio to learn about her experiences as an author who works with traditional publishers while also self-publishing to great success. The tenth book in Marie’s Fatal Series, Fatal Identity, comes out July 26.
Marie’s interview follows the Rafflecopter form/entry link for today’s Free Full Edit by the Editor giveaway. Scroll down for her full interview.
You’ve told me you work toward a publishable first draft. How does being a “pantser” affect your efforts to reach “publishable” in a one draft? I write from the beginning and go straight through, going back repeatedly to the beginning to edit, tweak, refresh, update, and remind myself of what I need to get done in the remaining pages. Re-reading is a huge part of my process and usually sparks new plot ideas. I just did a re-read on my work in progress today to get back in the writing groove after the weekend.
At what point will you typically stop to re-read? I stop to re-read whenever I feel the need to remind myself of where I started. Sometimes I do it frequently during the writing of a book and other times I only do it once or twice. It’s always a good reminder of where I’ve been and where I’m intending to go with the story.
What role do critique partners, beta readers, or professional editors play in your process? I’ve never had critique partners. I don’t want another writer’s voice inside my head when I’m writing. I have three longtime beta readers and one of my team members acts as a front-line reader, too. They are helpful in identifying missing words (my specialty), questions that need to be answered, and any plot holes that might need to be addressed. I have a copy editor and proofreader for my indie books. My traditionally edited books get some minor developmental edits and line edits, but they are never much.
Your first book took you three years to write. Can you share a key insight or change in your process that have contributed to your current ability to write books in weeks and months? I learned all the biggest and hardest lessons with my first book, Treading Water, which I massively overwrote. I ended the first draft with a bloated 155,000-word manuscript in which I was highly indulgent of my muse. I’ve roped her into submission since then, and that’s never happened again. My second book, the follow-on to the first one, was written in 90 days and came in at 90,000 words. I’ve hardly touched a single word of it in the nearly ten years since I finished it. Whereas I continued to tweak and fine-tune the first one until I published it six years after writing The End. By then, it was a much leaner, meaner 92,000 words, and it was the same exact story. Those are the kind of lessons I didn’t need to learn twice. Now if a scene I want to write doesn’t move character X’s story forward in a meaningful way, it doesn’t get written. I’m pretty ruthless when it comes to getting rid of the bloat and keeping my story zipping forward.
How do you know you’ve got the final draft? The last thing I do is read the manuscript on my Kindle, the way a reader would. By the time I get to The End, I’ve already edited the first half numerous times, so final edits tend to focus on the second half. Once I am able to read the book all the way through without stopping for any reason, it’s done. That usually happens fairly close to actually finishing the writing, because I’ve been fine-tuning all along. That’s how my first draft becomes a finished book.
Thank you, Marie!
You can follow Marie on Facebook, Twitter @marieforce and on Instagram, join one of her many reader groups, and get on her mailing list for news about new books and upcoming appearances in your area. Contact Marie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy to announce the winner of yesterday’s Free Partial Manuscript Edit: Sara Gentry. Congratulations, Sara! I just sent you an email with details.
Very interesting that she can write a book in 90 days. Something to aspire to. Thanks for a great week filled with information and inspiration!!
I understand much better now how reading the beginning of your manuscript gives the writer ideas for the ending. Interesting interview, again! Thanks very much!
What a great week! Much gratitude to Marie for today’s inspiration!
Good interview. I’m learning there are as many processes as there are writers. I’d love to now how you get over “review fatigue” and focus on the second half.
I don’t ever feel like I have “review fatigue.” I’m not a ditherer. If something is working, I let it do its thing and move on. I don’t feel the need to constantly rewrite. I try to get it right the first time through and then focus only on tightening and addressing typos in subsequent reads–not rewriting. I don’t have time to write a book more than once and keep up with my schedule, so I don’t wallow. I just push through it.
Marie’s words are certainly worth reading. Wish I could say I only write once and then only do corrections. I think I write about five books for every one I finish. Hence I only have four done. Would that make me the author of 20 books if I worked like Marie?
Yes it would! Try focusing on nailing a scene the first time so you don’t have to rewrite so many times. Sometimes we have to get out of our own way to get things done and it sounds like you might be tripping over your own process and it’s holding you back.
So interesting to read about Marie’s process. She’s very productive in a short time. Thank you
Thanks for Revision Week!
Thanks for this interview. Hadn’t thought about it, but when I can read through my work without stopping to make notes, I’m ready to send it on too.
“if a scene doesn’t move the story forward… it doesn’t get written” – great advice. And something I need to write on my wall.
I keep seeing advice to dump the whole first draft before going back to revise and edit so I’m glad to hear that Marie revises while writing and that it works well for her because I tend to do that (the first chapter of my YA WIP must have been rewritten 10 times already).
Thanks for another fun Revision Week, Dear Editor! 🙂
Thank you for sharing. I keep being told I need critique partners, I’m glad to see not everyone uses them! It’s fascinating to see how different authors work. Thank you!
This is so informative and helpful, especially your tip on skipping scenes that won’t move the character forward. Thanks for a great post!
I like that she “push[es] forward. I’m going to keep that as my philosophy!
Great article. I just spent 2 hours editing the second chapter of my novel after an idea came to me late in the night. Similar to what Marie Force mentioned, I sent the file to my e-reader and read it as I’d read the final manuscript and now I’m smiling because the changes work and got rid of my pace concern for that chapter.
Thanks for sharing your process! I love the idea of reading the book on your Kindle as the last step.
Thank you for the tips. I, too, sometimes overwrite. For a person who thinks she has trouble plotting, I’ve realized I tend to “over-plot” manuscripts.
I’d like to hear more about having beta readers instead of critique partners. How does one go about finding readers who will know what they should be looking for?
Judith, my beta readers were all regular readers first who sort of evolved into the beta role after a period of time. Long before they were ever given an advance look at my books, I knew I could trust them as friends. I knew them all online before I ever met them in person, and one of them I have still never met in person, but we have been friends for 8 years. Just be careful who you give your books to. Once that digital file is out of your hands, it’s gone forever.
Your process fascinates me. I’ve never even considered revising as I go along; in fact it’s usually highly discouraged. Do you think that’s a major difference between novel writing and picture book writing?
Highly discouraged by whom? All I can tell you is it works for me, and I don’t spend too much time letting other people tell me “how” to write or what I “should” be doing. I focus on getting the books done the best way I know how. And I know nothing about writing picture books, so I can’t speak to the differences between that and novel writing.
Where’s the “Like” button?!!! I’m with you, Marie. A main reason I host Revision Week is to show that there are MANY ways to go about writing and revising, and that the only “right way” is the way that works for you and for each of your projects.
Marie, your self-awareness as a writer seems key to your success. Congrats and I hope to learn more lessons the first time through and trust my writerly instincts more.
I like Ms Force’s use of beta readers. I would like to have beta readers if I ever get to that stage. It’s amazing how prolific a writer she is. Thx for taking the time to share.
Brilliant week, as usual. Thanks for choosing such a variety of writers and giving us a peek into how they produce.
I really enjoyed revision week – it made me feel less alone as I scramble to meet my next editorial deadline. Thanks!
Thanks for a great week! I feel encouraged by the interviews. A common theme was that the authors revised as they went and trusted themselves as well as outside feedback. Thank you!
Enjoying getting a sense of your process Marie. Thank you! And thanks to Deborah for all these great opportunities!
Great overview of your process. I do it much the same except I add an auditory read using Natural Reader as my final step.
Thanks for sharing your process! I re-read and lightly edit the previous day’s work before I move forward–nice to get support for that process, since others draft straight through and insist it’s the “right way.” Whatever works, works–and obviously you’ve made it work well for you!
I like what Marie said about not wanting another writer’s voice inside her head when she’s writing. It’s been so interesting this week to get a glimpse of the variety of successful revision processes. Thanks, Dear Editor!
Great Revision Week, Dear Editor! I love the insight into dumping scenes that don’t move forward to avoid bloating the manuscript. You do have to kill the darlings, as much as it hurts. I have seen others say they read their manuscript on their kindles as the last thing to determine if it’s a final manuscript. I haven’t done that, but I am going to do so now!
I try to shoot for a second-draft the first time writing. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I’m not a punster, so having a plan helps me. Took Marie’s Self-Publishing class and learned so much. Highly suggest it. Thanks for the insight.
A full manuscript edit would be amazing!
I wish I could write like that, without having to do massive amounts of re-writing, but I find I always do because my characters don’t always do the things I think they’re going to.
I love the reminder to cut out the bloat, and anything that doesn’t move the story forward. So important! Thank you for this interview 🙂
I consider myself a “pantser,” too, and hearing that Marie eventually got to a point where she can get a book done so quickly was very encouraging! I somehow doubt I’ll ever get as fast as she is – weeks and months! – but hopefully I can eventually trim off a few years. Thanks for the post Dear Editor.
I feel like I’m on the 3 year path with my YA novel right now. Thank you for sharing your thoughts 🙂
Great interview! Your revision week is the best!
It’s comforting to know that although Maria spent three years on her first book, she was able to learn from that arduous process to hone her craft and be strategic in writing subsequent novels (and so prolifically!). Learning to be “ruthless” and have a more systematic approach would really help me, as I’m sure is the case for other writers too out there.
Amazing to think that someone can write a book in 90 days. I aspire to that talent. Thanks for this great interview!
This has been a great week of insights on revision.And I learned there’s a name for the way I write, I’m a recursive! Thanks!
I can’t write this way. My books have to be plotted out but I do re-read and sometimes change the plot but then re-plot before continuing. I use Michael Hauge’s Six Act Story structure which I find brilliant as it works on % so can be used for any length book.
I tried writing as a patser but need taking to long and too much overwriting, which sucks if you are a slow writer like me.
Wonderful interview! I often find myself re-reading a draft when I get stuck or feel like I’m losing a character’s voice. It’s reassuring to know more experienced authors do this as well.
Another great interview! Hearing all the different ways these writers approach their work is inspiring.
“Now if a scene I want to write doesn’t move character X’s story forward in a meaningful way, it doesn’t get written.” This was exactly what I need to be told today. Great advice. I am off to create a different scene now. Thank you for giving the interview. I enjoyed it.
I’ve never tried revising on the fly, but I’ll do it for my next book. Maybe it’ll work for me. Thanks for the peek into your writing process.
Another great and informative interview. Thanks, Dear Editor!
I read this and shared yesterday, but I never got to comment or enter to win. My loss!
It’s been an interesting week hearing about each author’s writing and revising process.