This is the way ‘I’ do things. I’m not saying it’s the right way or the wrong way. It’s the way that works for me. YMMV, etc.
I guess my philosophy is do the best I can, but don’t be afraid to fail. And I’ve been told I’m more of a ‘storyteller’ than a writer…
Which is one of the reasons I do the amount of research I do. I want the story to be ‘right’…
For example, even thought I know a pretty good bit about guns, if I’m going to write one into a story, I do the research to make sure I get it right. Sometimes, the research takes me down some rat holes that I really don’t need, especially when the ‘good idea fairy’ gets in cahoots with the muse and goes, “Hey, this would be a neat addition to the story.” Ummm… No, it wouldn’t. And it’s going to be one sentence, maybe two, in the novel.
I don’t do infodumps even with the research, because I like to let the reader build the character visualization and descriptions of the ‘world’ they inhabit in their own minds. To me, that gets the reader more involved with the story and vested in the story line.
And speaking of story lines, I have had characters take off in directions that leave me going WTF? Where did that come from… Sigh. I’ve also had ‘minor’ characters that won’t go away, moving up the story hierarchy, or ‘demanding’ a supporting story line of their own. Sometimes that has some interesting impacts… sigh
We had a discussion last night after dinner about beginnings, endings, and the great swampy middle… The beginning is usually pretty easy, the ending can be easy, if you already know where the character(s) are going to end up.
BUT… How they get from the beginning to the end can be ‘interesting’, to put it mildly. More than once, I’ve rearranged chapters, or rewritten them after I moved them in the order of appearance and had to ‘fix’ issues that created, but it (at least to me) made the story better.
Which brings me to another point, I can’t just churn stuff out to ‘get something out there’. And I don’t write linearly, I jump around in my writing, depending on what the muse is giving me that day. And if I get hung up on one story, I have others that I’m also doing, although there is one ‘primary’ story at any given time.
The other thing I try to do is listen to my readers. Sometimes that ends up being a novella, or a short story, like the Rimworld- JACE story, or the one I’m currently working on for John Cronin’s backstory.
Which brings me back around to research. There are significant differences between writing current fiction and military science fiction. Current fiction is easier to research, since you’re looking up things that exist. Science fiction is predicated on ‘guesses’ or extrapolations of what potentially can exist and be useful in the future.
The other thing is looking at existing or newer technology and extrapolating from research being done in those fields. As an example, I’ve never read a novel where there is a good description of ‘how’ all the people on a colony ship are supposed to survive once they get to their planet, (Not saying they aren’t out there, I just haven’t run across them). So I looked at emerging tech and came up with containerized housing, unfold the ‘container’ multiple times and tab ‘A’ goes in slot ‘A’, etc. the second container would contain essentials that don’t fold flat, e.g. kitchen, bathroom/fresher, furniture, etc. Those containers would be tractored onto the colony ship, stacked how ever high it would be necessary, since those ships will probably be assembled in space, etc. Once at the planet, the pair would be tractored down and (some assembly required) become a functional, furnished housing unit.
Lastly, I rely on my alpha and beta readers, along with my commenters to keep me on the straight and narrow, so to speak. They don’t sugarcoat their comments, tell me truthfully when things work, and when they don’t. I would say they are the ‘unsung heroes’, laboring in the background, and all they get is a free book for their trouble. But John Q. Public reaps the reward for their work.
The other thing is conversations with other writers, both informally and through panels and breakouts at Cons. The ability to bounce ideas off other writers is a great help, and it does help you keep your sanity… more or less… 🙂