5 (Well, 6) Thoughts: How I Write

(THE FOLLOWING IS A BRIEF account of how the Prosatio Silban tales are conceived and written. It’s mostly meant for fans of those works, but if you’re interested in the writing process in general, read on — if not, I won’t be offended.)

0. Before anything happens on the screen, the idea is generated. I can’t quite tell you how that manifests, since I don’t understand it myself; sometimes a premise bursts into my consciousness, sometimes I will think of a theme (or scan my “50+ ideas” file) and let my mind wander.

1. Next, I open a fresh new Word document and type in the title (or at least the “working title”), my byline, that day’s date, a space for the approximate word count, and a reminder: “Bold means change it.” After that comes the lede sentence/s, under which I do the plot-points in a red font, erasing each one as I write it — “Done this, next comes that.” On occasion the characters or situation will surprise me (!!!), and I’ll adjust the points as needed.

2. The most challenging part for me is what Anne Lamott calls the “Sh*tty First Draft.” I just let the words come, dropping bolded placeholders as I go so as not to interrupt the flow (“NAME,” “DESCRIPTION,” “DISH,” “VILLAGE,” are the most common ones). I spend a daily hour-plus doing this, then edit the result the next day, repeating this process until the SFD is complete.

3. At this step, I substitute actual values (read: details) for the placeholders. That’s a good deal of fun, and often takes at least as long as the SFD.

4. A crucial part of the work is my editor’s perusal. I am blessed to have the help of a good friend and #1 fan who reads with a critical eye, offering written suggestions as necessary.

5. Tighten! I look for repetitive words and phrases that are repetitive; conduct the Great Adverb Hunt (in Word, that looks like “Ctrl-F ly”); and check for consistency with other stories and the world in general. Then I read the completed tale all over again, “just to make sure.”

6. The last step involves some recordkeeping and other administrivia — synopsizing, adding the title to my narrative and chronological/publishing indices, that sort of thing. The finished product is then edited, uploaded and scheduled for blog-posting; at this writing (7/28/21), the stories will end on September 23 or environs. After that … ?

2 comments for “5 (Well, 6) Thoughts: How I Write

  1. Kathryn L Hildebrandt
    2021.08.27 at 2244

    Ain’t gonna read this. Because, ya know, it’s like making sausage. I don’t want to know. 😉

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