THE RIGHT WAY TO WRITE
There is no right way to write. There are probably as many different ways of writing as there are authors—published and unpublished. However, I will share my writing process or what works for me.
I have broken down the procedure into six steps. They are:
1. Topic--The first step begins with an idea or topic. Many times I let the idea roll around in my head for weeks before I sit down to write. Is it an original idea? If not, what can I do to make it different? As an example I am currently working on a book about the Civil War. This is a topic so vast that if I read every book ever written about the war and viewed every movie and TV show I doubt I would finish in this life time.
2. Research--The next step is research—tons and tons of research. My general rule is I begin reading as much as I can about a topic and, when I begin finding the same information in several publications, I then feel I have covered the subject adequately. Along with this research it is important to take accurate notes including where the information came from and, if it is taken from a periodical or the internet, it should include the date as data changes rapidly in today’s world.
3. Organize-- Now, what do I do with this research? The next step is organization. A rough outline is helpful. It will probably change a lot by the time you reach the finished product but this is a good beginning step. From this outline you may want to start naming and organizing your chapters. Now, consolidate your notes according to your outline.
4. Write--The hard part is the actual writing. Most authors and artists will tell you that facing a blank page or canvas is somewhat intimidating. By this time there are usually so many ideas in your head that knowing where and how to start is difficult. That is why I have developed what I call my “Shot Gun” style of writing. I put every idea on paper as fast as I can without worrying about spelling or grammar. I want to get the ideas and wording down before I forget it.
5. Review--Reviewing for any mistakes is the next step. Once I finish the essay, news article, or book chapter I then go back to read for spelling, grammar, and continuity. Merriam-Webster defines continuity as: con·ti·nu·i·ty : uninterrupted connection, succession, or union. Does the subject matter flow or do ideas jump around? Is each paragraph a complete unit or is another subject introduced? Are there any vague or unintelligible sentences? Do I need to elaborate on a topic? Have I been too wordy or repeated myself and need to delete? Do I need to move sentences or paragraphs around for a better understanding of the topic? Does the writing flow? Is it easy to read? Does it communicate?
6. Edit--Once the writing is finished the most crucial step is edit, edit, edit! Nothing turns off a discerning reader faster than misspelled words, poor grammar, and sloppy work. The author instantly loses credibility if he/she cannot express himself properly. Anyone who turns in a piece to a publisher without first editing it is a fool. Even the pros review and revise their work before turning it into their publisher. Many times it will then be turned over to a professional editor for more polishing. Think of it not as someone critiquing and criticizing your work but someone polishing it so all your prose and ideas will shine. This is the icing on the cake for all your hard work.
My attitude is if my name is on it I want it to be right!
Sheila Dobbie, Author
Peach Cobbler for Breakfast;
Surviving a Life Altering Event