A Few Tips and Techniques for Writing Drafts

> Hi I am not a professional writer; however, I have a class project in
> which I am suppose to interview a professional writer and was wondering
> if some one would be willing to answer the following questions:
>
> * What kind of planning do you do before you write? do you make a list?
> Formal or informal outlines?
>
> *How do you compose your drafts? do you dictate? Draft with a pen and
> paper? Compose on screen?
>
> * when you want advice about style. grammer, and spelling what
> source (s) do you consult?
>
> * Do you ever work with other writers to produce a single document?
> If so describe the process you use
>
> Thanks

Simple answers:

*How do you compose your drafts? do you dictate? Draft with a pen and paper? Compose on screen?

Dictation is for doctors and dentists. Speaking your thoughts into a digital recorder is a different thing entirely. With the professional writers that I associate with, a pen and paper doesn’t play much of a role in the drafting process beyond taking down journalist-style notes when away from a computer. Matter of fact, outside of an occasionally meeting a writer born between the late 30s and early 60s, drafting with a pen and paper is typically reserved to poets/spoken word artists/lyricists.

* when you want advice about style. grammar, and spelling what source (s) do you consult?

(1) The Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition. (this is a must)
(2) The Copyeditor’s Handbook
(3) Dictionary.com
(4) Webster’s Pocket Style Guide (I keep this in my laptop backpack)

* Do you ever work with other writers to produce a single document? If so describe the process you use

I’ve only participated in one collaborative writing effort and, even then, it was only because I was hired to come in after two other writers had been taking turns writing installments for a piece of serial fiction. I took on the project because I wanted a simple part-time challenge and I believe in what this brotha has put together (I write for the online drama the site is Jamal Washington:CEO, a feature on Blackmoneymatters.com. Admittedly, getting started with it was a huge pain because Paige and Sonja, the two writers that handled it before I took over, had completely different styles. One was pretty consistent, the other was all over the map like she was transcribing conversations from that show “The View”. Neither did that good of a job at maintaining consistency with what the other wrote. What I ended up doing was spending a few weeks actually studying everything that was written beforehand so I could get a fix on what the main character had been through, who was in his life, and where to possibly take it from there. I also had to deal with taking care of all the continuity errors, factual errors and anything with the plot that didn’t drive the story forward — all while building a solid foundation that I could conceivably hand-off to another writer someday and eliminate their need to go through the same process. Collaborative writing efforts seem to only work best for non-fiction; for anything else it’s just a pipe dream.

Hope that helps… good luck.