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Reflections of a working writer and reader



Creating a Text – Susan Helene Gottfried

What phases are involved in the creation of a text?

When creating what I hope will be a new book, or a fictional outtake for my blog, or a new character to straddle both worlds — novel or blog star — there are stages involved. I’ll focus on writing books here, as the process for outtakes is very different.

For me, I have to first be inspired. Inspiration comes in many places, often somehow related to music — a lyric, a picture, maybe an interview — but it can also come from my friends, who pose questions about the fictional world I’ve created.

From there, I move into getting to know the character. Not just name and physical characteristics, but I need to know what makes this person tick. How they fit into my fictional world is an important consideration, too; having some connection to the fictional band ShapeShifter is still important to me, even if the connection is a tenuous one.

Many times, I discover this information by sitting down and starting to write. I pick a random jump-off point and go from there, letting the story evolve as I get to know the characters and/or situations. I am what many of my friends call a “pantster” — I don’t plot. I just write and let the story evolve. Once I’m at the end, I have figured out where I’m going and what the story is about.

Then begins every writer’s bane: revision and editing. I both love editing and loathe it; I’m sure most of us feel this way. There’s a rush involved in watching the story take shape and the beginning begin to match up and point to the end. There’s misery when a sentence, chapter, paragraph has to come out despite it being particularly good writing. And there’s the grind of going over ground that’s already been trodden upon. It is everything good and everything bad. I suspect I like this part of the process most, as I get to lay in bed and envision the framework I’ve created and try to figure out how to layer muscle, fat, and tissue over it. Then, I have to sit and write it and no matter how clearly my vision, what gets typed on the screen somehow always differs. Always.

Yet the end result works. It sparkles.

Susan Helene Gottfried is a writer, the author of Trevor’s Song; she blogs at:

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