Tuesday, September 23, 2014

An Author's Writing Process **Guest Post by Lawrence BoarerPitchford**

Lawrence BoarerPitchford shares with us his writing process. Go on...enjoy the magic!

Authors are awash with writing processes. Those who teach creative writing teach “the process” of writing, and those who write articles advise the reader on “the process” of writing, and in particular writing fiction. There are those who advocate the use of outlines, and those who discuss free-writing; those who write using chronological order, and those who write out-of-order chapters as they come to them. There’s processes for short stories, and novels, screenplays, plays, and television scripts. My “process” for writing fiction you may identify with, but I’ll wager that yours is as unique to you as mine is to me.

As an author I write fiction because I love telling stories. I’m no genius, and certainly won’t be remembered for my groundbreaking prose, but hopefully my audience will remember that they had one hell of a rollicking good time reading my adventure stories. As I’ve matured in my style of writing, I’ve grown aware that I have a “process”. My way of composing a story, be it a novel, novella, short story, screenplay, or other, is relatively the same; it starts with an idea. I have ideas all the time for stories. As I reflect on my past, I’ve done this all my life. Perhaps it’s related to true delusion, or just an overactive imagination, who knows, but it is constant and pervasive within me. So, an idea comes to me, and I sit down at my computer and begin. I begin putting down what I see in my imagination. I, for lack of a better term, spew out the raw thoughts in as coherent a foundation of sentences as I can. Oh, it’s flawed alright; misspellings, character confusions, lack of continuity, corny or anachronistic phrasing. I write a few pages, or even a chapter, then I step away. I take some time to think about the protagonist, and what direction I want the story to flow in. I grapple with plotting – plotting the course of the story to a logical and pleasing end. When I say pleasing, I don’t mean pleasant. I mean that the ending fits the story, characters, and resolves in a way that lets the reader feel that the climax of the tale has terminated without contradiction. So, there I am with a page (or chapter) and a head full of thoughts. I try and envision the ending of my story; who gets what, why, when, and where? For me, without this wrap-up figured out, I will stall, virtually hung up in the process.

Once the end is known to me, I set to filling in the middle, but in a chronological order. I write chapter one, two, three, four… well you get the idea. Each chapter is like a mini novel. Each chapter has a beginning, middle, and end. Each chapter ending leads into the next chapter. If the book is part of a series, then the last chapter will lead into the next book. If not a serial, the last chapter is only the tie-up of the story. Once I’ve come to the end, I stop. I take a break for a while. I work on other projects. After a month or so, I begin the arduous part of reading what I created. This is very laborious, and as I go along I make changes to the draft. I wade into the work hacking this out, changing this, rewording that. As I do, I find the broken bits of logic, lack of continuity, misspellings, clich├ęs, and bad phrases. I hack with impunity. I may junk an entire chapter, half the book, or completely rewrite the whole thing. This part takes months of painstaking effort. When I come to the end, I stop. I put the work away for a little while. I work on another project. Eventually, I come back, and read it again. If it seems relatively coherent, I’ll send it out to some beta-readers to get their take on it. If they tell me it’s a good read, I’ll then put it out on www.absolutewrite.com (The Absolute Write Water Cooler web site) on the share your work forum, and see what those who don’t know me and are free of favoritism have to say. Sometimes it’s very constructive, sometimes it’s down-right ego-neutering. 

Depending on the un-bias reviews compared to the potentially bias review by my beta readers, I decide if the project needs an overhaul or is good to go onto the first phase of editing. This first phase is just the cleanup, the seek-and-destroy of as many spelling and grammatical errors as possible. Once done, it goes under the microscope again. I then reread it again. Correct any errors I notice, improve any rough sentence structures for easier reading, and see if the story is matching with the plot correctly. At this point I’m ready for independent editing to take over. Editing can take a while depending how fast the editors can do the copy edit, the content edit, and the final edit. I make the correction as they come, and only if they make good business sense to me. After the editing, it’s off to the formatting. The book is formatted into e-book and paperback formats. After formatting, comes the cover art. I do my own, and make several mockups of what I am thinking would capture the essence of the book, and be appealing to the perspective buyer. After I get feedback on the covers, I go with the one that is the most appealing, and I’m at an end of the Lawrence BoarerPitchford creative writing process, and onto the creative marketing process.

I’m sure that there are some of you out there that read this and said – “That dude is crazy,” or “Hey, that’s like what I do,” or even “Why did I read this?” Nonetheless, the fore mentioned “process” is what I do, and if you’re a writer of fiction, or thinking of doing so, or an avid reader of the type of fiction I write, I hope that you found it illuminating. Buy a Lawrence BoarerPitchford novel/novella and reap the benefits of going on a raucous adventure while never leaving the comfort of your living room – if indeed you have a living room.    

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