It’s different from writer to writer and from novel to novel. The Bull Spec blog has a series called the “The Hardest Part” in which writers confess what was most difficult about scribbling out their books. Samuel Montgomery-Blinn generously invited me to share what made The Black Fire Concerto hard to finish. Check it out here.
There was little time for longhand drafting like I normally do, and hardly any time to plot and plan — it was either sprint to the finish or miss the deadline. Not that anyone was going to punish me if I did miss the deadline, but as a newspaper writer I take deadlines very seriously. So I plunged ahead, basically running on sheer storytelling instinct. I knew there would be walking dead and other monsters, apocalyptic magic, hidden cities, fox people, surprise family connections, flying horses and epic battles, but I was connecting these dots on the fly. Naturally the story went longer than I originally shot for, which didn’t help that deadline problem. When I reached the end, I didn’t have a complete grasp of what I’d written, because so much of that first draft was made up on the go.