The 5 Step Writing Process – How to Plan Your Novel the Right Way

The 5 Step Writing Process – How to Plan Your Novel the Right Way

The writing process is unique and different for every writer. The way they plan, brainstorming, and how they structure their novels to be written varies from author to author.

When it comes to editing, that’s a whole other process by itself, and then there’s revising, proofreading, rewriting and the list goes on and on. Writers may write down their steps to writing or keep it mentally.

Whatever the case, writing has a process and in this article, you are going to learn the basic writing process to help you write your book. You will also learn what your fellow writers have to say about their favorite part of the writing process.

What is meant by the writing process?

The writing process are the steps and methods used in order to finish a piece of writing. Generally, the writing process can be broken into three main parts: pre-writing, writing, and revising, or pre-writing, composing, and post-writing.

The three parts can be broken down further into 5 steps:

  • Planning
  • Organizing
  • Drafting
  • Editing
  • Proofreading

Why is the writing process important?

The writing process allows a writer to work through each step to ensure a completed piece of writing. If one step is missed this can result in a poor piece of writing and wasted time on revising and editing.

Thus many writers claim that the most difficult step in the writing process is outlining. Many writers skip this step hoping for a great desired result but find themselves stuck and disappointed in their work.

In order to have a polished literacy piece, you need to follow each step of the writing process and in most cases repeat those steps.

Let’s discuss the 5 basic writing process steps and what your writer friends have to say about them.

The Pre-writing Process

prewriting process

The first step of the writing process is pre-writing. This includes brainstorming, researching, planning, outlining, and structuring.

While many will argue that brainstorming and researching are separate processes they can be still categorized under the pre-writing process because it’s part of organizing your thoughts to write.

So you’re ready to write, then why is the blank page staring back at you, mocking you? I’ll tell you why!

You haven’t thought up an idea for what you want to write. In the pre-writing process finding your idea is the first and foremost thing to writing your novel. You need to know what you are going to write about.

Find your Idea

Inspiration is all around you. From your everyday morning routine to a happy/sad childhood memory, from something you heard your siblings say to the way someone eats, you can derive ideas from literally everything.

Your imagination is your limit.

Your imagination is your limit.

Sometimes you may experience what persons call writer’s block. If that’s the case head over to this article to see how you can deal with writer’s block and spark inspiration.

When you get the ideas going you will need to jot them down in a journal to keep them handy.

Build on your Idea

Now that we know exactly what we want to write about, let’s do some brainstorming. Write your idea at the center of the page. (I’m assuming you manually write during this stage). You want to branch out your ideas according to how you want your story to go.

When building on an idea you want to pick every possible scenario for your story. Don’t limit yourself to inside the box. Think outside of it. This way you can clarify all your thoughts and ideas.

If you’re more of a free writer, then every idea that comes to your head you start writing it down. You don’t edit your mistakes. Allow the ideas to flow.


It’s time to sort through the tons of ideas you have to know how you want your story to develop. This requires a lot of planning and asking yourself some very important questions.

I’m assuming you already know what genre you want to write in and so this helps you to determine which ideas you can include in your novel.

Part of this process is creating your characters and their worlds, which takes up an insane amount of time if done properly.


This part is all about what comes first, second, and third. You have to piece the puzzle together in order to know what will form your story and how it will be formed.


Now that you have your ideas down in a planned structural process, which is easy to read and understand, you can then research places, items, people, geography, and more to make your story more realistic and believable.

Researching allows you to create a story that your readers would love instead of making them more confused.

For example, where I live we have something called Pitch Lake. Now everyone knows that a lake is usually filled with water. So then a pitch lake is filled will pitch.

Without proper research, a writer may assume that it’s possible to sail on the pitch lake or they may figure that the reason it’s called the Pitch Lake is because of how black it is.

Now if I read a book where the writer states that it’s possible to sail on the Pitch Lake, instantly I will be turned off. I would recognize that you didn’t do proper research and thus missed a vital key to the writing process.

When it comes to pre-writing, which part do you enjoy the most?

A few writers weighed in on this question and here’s what they had to say.

J.T says that he enjoys “the creating process, thinking of ideas, picturing them in his head and getting them to a presentable state to hit word form.” Sonia agrees with him adding that, “Creating is wonderful and research is fun.” She adds that she loves character creation as well.

Crystal agrees with Sonia about character creation and stated she loved coming up with the backstories. Patrick added his piece saying, “I love working on new characters and story ideas.”

Dave stated that he enjoys world-building while Emily enjoys outlining. She states, “Just let me hide in the creative part of the game.”

It’s very evident that your favorite writers enjoy all aspects of the pre-writing process. But now it’s your turn.

Tell us in the comment section, which part of the pre-writing process do you love?

The Writing Process

writing process

This moves us to the second step of the writing process which is the actual writing part. This includes drafting and may include minor research.

During this stage, you don’t think about word count, grammar, and all the other mistakes you are going to make. Just write and when ideas come to you, include them in.

You are going to have multiple drafts before your finished piece and that’s great. The idea of this process is to get the words down on paper.

In order to get the best from this writing process, you need to find the best time and place to write, avoid all distractions if possible, and make writing a regular part of your routine.

Here’s what your colleagues had to say about the writing process.

Emily mentioned earlier who loves writing stated that she also loves the writing process. And everyone can agree with this author who stated and I quote, “I love the first draft because I have no idea where the story will go.”

I think we could add this to the writing process where one author stated that her favorite part is escaping into her own world and letting her imagination run wild.

And many writers said that first drafts are their favorite part of the writing process. Cat agreed with her writers stating, “I love making sense of the intertwined stories and understanding why characters make various choices.”

“Writing the first draft,” said one author, “can be daunting but the feeling of language coming out of your lips and fingertips makes you feel like you’re wielding the most beautiful weapon ever made. Not design to kill but to show the beauty of language.”

I don’t think we could have said that better. Yet while this author favorite part is the actual writing stages, going on adventures with his characters and seeing where they take him, Stefan says, “The second draft is my favorite part of the writing process. After I get the bulk of ideas down in the first draft, I like to be able to expand on them in the second and I’m still fresh enough that the whole process isn’t overwhelming.”

So while many writers enjoy the pre-writing process, as you can see from the tremendous responses it’s safe to say a lot of writers also enjoy the actual writing process, probably even more.

Now it’s your turn. Let us know if you enjoy the actual writing process.

The Editing Process

editing process

Moving on to the third stage in the writing process comes editing. Some love it and others dread it and yet if this step is skipped, it will definitely break your writing piece.

The editing process includes revising, researching, rearranging, and even proofreading. It also involves adding, removing, and replacing.


Now that you’ve completed your first draft, you need to focus on bringing your story together. During the editing stage, you look for plot holes that can greatly damage the flow of the story.

Place your focus on issues of style, clarity, and redundancy and critically evaluating the ideas, structure, and support, and then making the necessary changes.

Asking yourself questions such as:

  1. Does my book have enough words to be considered a novel?
  2. Have I given my readers all they need to makes sense of the story?


Rearranging allows you to consider the flow and pace of the story. You can evaluate the sequence to ensure the timelines make sense.

Would your plot be better served if events took place in a different order? Now that you’ve made these additions how does your word count look? Can you remove passages that don’t quite fit in?

Go back to your notebook and look for additional scenes and details. Can those scenes replace the ones in the story to convey the right idea?

Ensure you’re not contradicting yourself throughout the novel and that you clarify vivid scenes so readers can picture them when they read.


Further in the editing process is the proofreading side. This is where you fine-tune your manuscript by checking for grammar and spelling errors.

During this process you want to check for:

  • Repetition
  • Clarity
  • Grammar
  • Spelling
  • Punctuation

No one wants to read a book riddled with grammatical errors and mistakes. They don’t even want to purchase one with them.

This part of the process can get very in-depth and thus should be done by a professional editor and proofreader.

Let’s turn our attention to what our writer friends had to say about the entire editing process.

“Editing can be painful sometimes,” said Dawn, and Sonia agreed with her adding that it isn’t easy but it’s definitely rewarding.

Other authors actually enjoy the editing process claiming that this the chance to mold your raw draft into something satisfying. One author who thought she would hate the editing said that surprisingly she was really enjoying it.

Helen found that first drafts are pure torture and thoroughly enjoy the revising stages while Christian says he enjoys the editing process because that’s where the draft becomes a story for him.

While revising the first draft into something good is loved and adored by some writers, many find editing a slog and they hate it.

Yet I think we can all express the same sentiments as Joel who said, “The final edit, when you turn the good parts into great parts, tighten sentences, and cut the fat that weighs it down.”

So my fellow writers, when it comes to editing are you for it or against it?

The Rewriting Process

rewriting process

In the fourth stage of the writing process comes the rewriting step. This may include a bit of editing as you write over everything that has been added, revised, replaced, and proofread.

During this step, you polish your novel even more to the desired book that you envisioned. This step is usually repeated many times and bounces around as the third and fourth step.

At the end of the countless number of drafts, additional proofreading will be required to check for grammatical and mechanical errors.

As was mentioned before, before you publish your novel ensure you hire a professional editor and proofreader to make final edits on your novel.

What do you have to say? Do you enjoy rewriting your novel after all the necessary edits are made?

The Publishing Process

publishing process

The most exciting step of the writing process is the day you finally hit publish. This step includes countless smiles, joy, champagne, and a night out on the town.

Congratulations! You are now a published author. With your completed book in hand already published, it’s time to celebrate all that hard work and effort to put in to reach your goal.

Many writers would never make it this far. Usually, within the writing process, they give up for various reasons. It may be a lack of inspiration, distractions, or personal circumstances.

Whatever the case may be to ensure you don’t give up in the middle of the writing process follow these steps closely. And to do just that I have created a wall frame to hand right over your desk with editable features.

Grab yours for FREE right here.


There are 5 basic steps in the writing process. These steps can be done in order and repeat until you get the desired result.

These five steps are:

  • The Pre-writing Process – brainstorming, researching, planning, outlining, and structuring
  • The Writing Process – drafting and minor research
  • The Revising Process  – revising, researching, rearranging, proofreading, adding, removing, and replacing
  • The Rewriting Process – editing and proofreading
  • The Publishing Process – completed manuscript, joy, and accomplishment

But wait, there’s more…

writing process

I know you’re excited that you are a published author but guess what?

No one knows!

If you plan to reach readers and sell books then it’s time to start the invisible six-step of the writing process.

I can hear persons groaning right about now. You think editing is difficult, then marketing takes the icing on the cake, well at least that what many of your writing buddies say.

So why not educate yourself on the marketing side of the writing process by checking out my book marketing tips. I promise to help you overcome the fear of marketing.

Let us know in the comment section which part of the writing process you enjoy the most and what’s your least favorite part.

Then share this article with your writing buddies so they can join the conversation.

Helpful Resources

The Writing Process Wall Art

The Genre Specific Novel Planner

47 Ways to Overcome Writers Block



Book blogger and indie author with a passion for sewing, thinking thoughts about writing with playing with my little baby, Sponk.

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