Story Formation and Polishing
I go through a definite process to make a finished story. There is the initial writing - I might write the beginning and ending, or some intermediate scene, that the story works towards. Sometimes stories start with a single great scene, a beautiful beginning, that drives the plot for a while, a good long while. But eventually that impetus runs out, and other things are needed to keep the story moving forward. A great ending can help, for it gives the story the goal to strive toward, but I have found that not even that can completely fill a story out.
I world-build - I set up the world and the rules, and keep a little library of them for each story that i consult as I am filling in the details. This can also help drive the story, because the plot and the people must obey the rules, and that can help inform the actions that they need to take, and what must come next.
When I write, the initial manuscript is full of holes - places where i skip words when i cannot think of exactly the right word, so I put a space-holder, or entire scenes where I can't or don't want to try to come up with the next logical scene, but work on the juicy ones, the dramatic ones that are easy to write.
Once all the juicy parts have been written, I try to find a good ending place. It might not be the ending I originally wrote, in fact, most times it is not. As I write, it may be that my original ending needs to come later, or too many things are happening, and the story would be too long to reach that ending. Things get rushed, details get glossed over, so I push that scene back and look for another ending.
Ending in place, (possibly), I screw around for a while, reading and chewing over what I have, but then I knuckle down and get serious about filling in all the holes. I make sure that the story is self-consistent, that I have gotten all the plot threads, and if it is not the first book in a series, but the second or third, I reread the preceding books to make sure I have everything right.
Then comes the polish - making sure that I don't repeat a descriptive word too many times, replacing all y place-holders with just the word I want, adding descriptions, making sure the transitions are just right.
Last is the error and spell-checking - this is the hardest part, and some errors do get past me and my editors (my family members pressed into service). But once they give the green light, I copyright, and put the story up as soon as the copyright payment is confirmed. If your next question is: do i wait for the copyright certificate before I post the book, the answer is no. I post it as soon as I finish the online copyright form. Why? Because works are actually copyrighted as soon as you create them - registering a copyright is just your back-up legal defense if someone tries to claim it as theirs. Once the file is uploaded to the Library of Congress, I feel safe enough to put it on amazon.