Behind the scenes of Yesterday's Gone: Season FourWe’re in the home stretch now of writing Yesterday’s Gone: Season Four.

I wanted to write some daily behind-the-scenes sort of stuff here as we go through the process, for fellow writers or readers who want to follow along.

I’ll avoid spoilers, but will talk a bit about some things going on, some of the challenges of coming back this season, etc…

I’ll also be revealing the publication date and the cover soon.

Let me know if there’s anything you’d like me to talk about, questions you have about the process or the story, etc… and I’ll post my responses later this week.

Yesterday’s Gone: Season Four is our biggest book to date in terms of expectations. It is our most popular series, and Season Three was our most challenging book to write to date.

I’ll avoid spoilers, but the ending of Season Three changed left us in an interesting place to start this season. I’ll talk a bit more about that in another post.

At any rate, we’ve spent countless hours carefully planning this season to make it our best yet.

So I wanted to document this season in the weeks leading up to, and following, the release of Season Four.

THIS WEEK — EDITING

Right now we’re putting finishing touches on the season.

For those who haven’t heard us talk about our process to date, this is roughly how it goes, though we do change things up depending on time and story needs.

PHASE ONE

  1. Sean and I meet for story meetings to discuss the overall season and rough out some ideas we want to explore.
  2. We meet for individual episode story meetings. These are typically a few hours as we map out a particular episode. Sometimes, we’ll discuss two episodes, but usually it’s just one.
  3. We come up with “story beats” which I will write based on our story meetings. These can range from simple to complex, depending on several things. Beats are divided into two — ones Sean will write and ones I will write. Usually I’ll write a few hundred to a thousand words on a chapter for Sean’s chapters. I’ll do the same for my own.
  4. Sean and I then write our chapters in Scrivener, a great piece of writing software! Sean will edit his stuff a few times to get to what he wants. I’ll do the same.
  5. I then put my chapters into Sean’s Scrivener file, and he’ll go over my stuff to edit it, to pretty it up, etc…
  6. We meet for the next episode’s story meeting.
  7. I write new beats, repeat process.

Now we’re about to start Phase Two.

PHASE TWO

  1. I get the entire season and see everything Sean has written and what he’s done with my stuff. I’ll de-pretty some of the stuff Sean made too pretty, and make sure everything works and fix any errors I see, make sure the style is more or less uniform, and that POV chapters adhere to each character. For instance, Boricio chapters read VERY differently from Luca chapters. Some characters internally refer to guns in generic terms like guns or rifles, while someone more acquainted with guns would refer to them by their proper names. Younger characters think in different ways than older ones, etc… We try and keep things real within the framework of the story.
  2. I go through and make sure everything flows, see if we need to reorganize anything or write new material to better bridge scenes.
  3. I’ll write new stuff, if necessary.
  4. More story meetings to make sure we like everything and determine if we need to do anything else.
  5. I send my final edits to Sean to go over and make sure I didn’t wreck stuff. I think here he will re-insert some of the pretty, too. Sneaky bastard.
  6. We send to our new editor, Jason, who will make all kinds of awesome suggestions, catch most of our screw-ups, etc…

FINAL PHASE

  1. I go through and make sure Jason and I are on the same page as far as the edits are concerned. I’ll make needed changes, in my final edits.
  2. I’ll design the cover, write the author notes (with Sean) and get the book ready for publication. Usually I do this while Jason is doing his edits, time pending.
  3. We upload it into the stores.
  4. You buy the book, read it, and love it/hate it.

Phase Two, this time around, is only going to be a week, which means I need to hustle. We’ve got to start writing Z 2134’s second season next week. It should be enough time considering how much back-and-forth Sean and I have already had this season, and I feel like we’re on the same page more closely than any other project we’ve done. This is the fourth season, after all, and the 11th book we’ve co-written.

Shit, that’s a lot of writing in less than two years. And we’re not even including the 15 or so short stories we’ve written for Dark Crossings.

Anyway, that’s a look behind the scenes and giving you a general overview of how we write.

Come back tomorrow and I’ll talk about about the tone this season, the challenges of coming back, and whatever else I’m thinking about.

Again, let me know in the comments below (or email me) if there’s anything you’d like me to talk about, questions you have about the process or the story, etc… and I’ll post my responses later this week.

Join the conversation! 10 Comments

  1. I’m exhausted just reading that! Man you guys have to go through alot, but fortunately for us, you’re both good at it! Can’t thank you (and Sean) for bringing all these stories to us, they’re ALL magnificent! Kudos to you both!

    Reply
  2. Very interesting. I’ve always wondered how you guys worked together. Thanks for the update. I now appreciate more so how you guys keep us Goners happy. Love you both. You’ve got a fan for life!

    Reply
  3. You guys need a nice long vacation but not until I have Season 4 in my gruby hands.
    Keep up the good work.

    Reply
  4. That’s awesome! I love the look behind the scenes, thank you for the transparency . Seriously, really good stuff.

    I’m kind of surprised that Sean still tries to crowbar that pretty stuff into your stories. I figured the pink smoke, rainbow farting unicorn fairytales he’s writing with Johnny would be enough of a release.

    No disrespect, I actually enjoyed UW1, but you and Sean have a magical dark quality in your writing that is addictive and completely unique. You guys are definitely a gift to the genre. Or should I say cross genre or is it multi genre? Either way, you guys kick-ass!

    Love this post, really looking forward to more of the same.

    Reply
    • Thank you.

      When I said Sean’s flowery stuff, I meant prose, not necessarily content. In my roughs, I’ll usually use rather simple words to get the story across. A very get to the point sort of style. Sean will step in and add some more literary type prettiness to the words, make the language a bit more playful at times. Sometimes, too playful and too fancy, and I cut it back because it’s not quite what I had in mind, and it winds up being somewhere in between our styles. For the record, I tend to leave Boricio chapters more or less alone, at least in the dialogue. And people seem to love Boricio the most, so maybe I should just let Sean go hog wild and flower all over the place!

      As for Sean and Johnny, I think they’re great writers, on their own, and individually. I didn’t yet finish Unicorn Western, but I know that I loved what I read, especially for something with such a goody premise.

      I think when they start doing darker, serious stuff, like The Beam, we’ll see them kick even more ass.

      As for mine and Sean’s dark stuff, I think it’s unique because Sean is so opposite me. He’s a happy, go lucky optimist, whereas I am … well, not.

      But there is an inner happy soul in me, and I think it comes through a bit in this odd marriage of talents.

      Reply
  5. Great stuff, always helpful for us new authors to learn about your process! Does your editor deal in Scrivener files too, or do you have to export to a different format for him?

    Reply
    • No, he’s using Word at the moment. Now that we’re working together more often, though, we may just try and convert him, though!

      To be honest, though, I’ve not even used Scrivener’s track changes stuff, so I’m not sure if it works as easily as it does in Word. If not, then we might stick to Word. Have you used it? It is easy to see and approve changes people make?

      Reply
      • Scrivener doesn’t appear to have a full-blown track changes feature. You can’t accept/reject changes like in Word, but you can organize revisions in different colors. Not sure how useful that would be. Looks like Word is the way to go for editing. I don’t know if you can import the edited Word file back into Scrivener and keep your original files/folders, etc.

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About David W. Wright

Writer, cartoonist, one of the Kings of the Serial with co-author, Sean Platt. Together we've written the #1 horror and #1 sci-fi bestselling post-apocalyptic series, Yesterday's Gone, the sci-fi horror series, WhiteSpace, and the dark fantasy series, ForNevermore. Check out our stuff at http://collectiveinkwell.com

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Behind The Scenes, Yesterday's Gone