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Reflections of a working writer and reader



Getting Started – a recipe

Take a good selection – two to three million – phonetic symbols. You may not need them all but if you run short make sure you have more to hand.

A few thousand of your favourite punctuation marks, mainly stops and commas. A rather more meagre batch of secondary punctuation marks, question marks, colons, hyphens, etc. Include one or two apostrophes, but don’t use them unless absolutely necessary.

An adequate amount of white space. Don’t stint on this.

A large waste-basket.

Some kind of writing implement, preferably a computer with a keyboard. Quills are traditional and OK if you can relax with them but may lead to later problems.

Plenty of time and concentration and quiet.

From your phonetic symbols sift out approximately two-hundred-thousand vowels. Stir well and put to one side.

Isolate the numbers from the remaining symbols, and put them to another side.

What you are left with will be a good selection of consonants. Stir.

With the consonants in a large bowl and the vowels in another, smaller container, clear a space on the worktop and combine consonants with vowels until words begin to appear on the white space.

The best way to do this within an ambient temperature is to form ideas and let them ferment within you until meaningful word-clusters begin to clamber to the surface of your mind. What we’re after here are basically strong nouns and active verbs; any descriptive words that attempt to modify your nouns and verbs should be discarded.

Although this stage of the creative process is concerned with the manufacture of single words, you may well find that you are producing whole phrases, or in some cases, sentences already formed.

If phrases and sentences don’t come of their own accord, you will have to do this manually by combining selections of words together. These should approximate to your ideas but don’t get stuck on exactness here, it is quite all right, in fact often essential that your phrases and sentences describe one thing in terms of another.

When you have enough sentences and paragraphs you can combine them with some thematic or plot-based material and title them as chapters.

Finally, take your chapters and make absolutely sure that each one works as intended and combine together until smooth.

The result is called a book, and all that remains is for you to give it a nice title, carefully sprinkle in a few adjectives and adverbs where necessary, spell-check, and serve to a waiting and hungry world.

3 Responses to “Getting Started – a recipe”

  1. Brilliant, John – you’re definitely cooking on gas.

    jb says: And drinking as well, Bill, which isn’t a good idea when you’re playing with real flames.

  2. Steve Clackson says:

    _h sh_t _ll my v_w_ls _r_ st_ck t_ th_ s_d_s _f th_ b_wl 🙂

    jb says: A little olive oil (extra virgin-cold pressed, preferably) should fix it, Steve. Strange, though, isn’t it, how the vowels by themselves stick while, when moulded with consonants to make up adjectives, they seem to slide about all over the place. . . ?

  3. Elias Chaves says:

    Dear MrJohn Baker,

    My mind is always working even when I don’t feel like
    it! I have got so many ideas for stories,short stories,noir fiction,etc… But everytime I sit in front of my pc keyboard to a kick off I feel so devastated lost,
    so that the inspiration vanishes in a flash.I remember now
    that about three years ago I decided that I had flair,that
    I coulde be a writer.I wrote some lines of a detective
    story which I named “Kiss me ,Goodnight”.Then,I gave it up
    because I was too busy and hadn’t much time free for the
    writing thing.
    After that, a new idea came out of nowhere and again
    the same bloody thing happened – a few pages were written
    but nothing more interesting ocurred.Maybe things should
    be like in the Raymond Chandler’s example , he started his career at the age of 48 I suppose or I’m just too lazy
    for this hard stuff .
    If you want to get bored I can send you a sample of what I had penned.



    jb says: Hi Elias, Thanks for the info. I hope you get it together one day and write your novel. However, with regard to your offer, thank you very much but I don’t want to get bored.