My process for writing EVERFOUND was a little different than usual. Because I had a very tight deadline, and because I didn’t want to compromise the quality of the work, I sped up the process by having my assistant, Wendy Doyle, transcribe material for me. I would write my first draft in a notebook—I always do it that way. Technology is great, but there’s something important to me about getting my ideas down on paper first. Then I would dictate what I wrote into my iPhone, digital recording app after I was done for the day. Usually I had lots of trouble reading my own handwriting, so I’d be revising the whole thing as I dictated. (See image of a handwritten page. Can you read my handwriting? Didn’t think so.)
This page, by the way, includes “place holder spaces” for two characters which I offered to name after my facebook fans. Hundreds of kids suggested their names, and I chose twelve to use — six first names, and six last names. I use multiple colors when I’m writing for four reasons 1) To mark where I stopped writing, and started dictating 2) to mark chapter breaks; 3) To add variety so I’m not always looking at one dull color; 4) because I can’t find the last pen I was using.
Once I’m done dictating the segment I’d just written, I would e-mail the file to Wendy, and while I was working on the next section, she would transcribe it, send it back to me, and I would do a major revision of the transcription. (By the way, I’ve never actually met Wendy— we’ve been working for more than six months together but all by mail and internet!)
The stuff that Wendy gets is so random, so disjointed, it barely resembles a book. It’s really in the next revision that it comes together. That’s when I add the “connective tissue,” bridging the various sections, and making sure that the characters are behaving like real people. That’s crucial. I’ve learned that if the characters are real, you’ll take the wildest journeys with them — but it all rests on you believing those characters. So I built the book, handwritten, dictated, transcribed, rewritten, revised, then polished, and then did another revision of everything before writing the last fifty pages. Once I reworked it, and made sure the whole book was working, I dove into the last fifty pages…. Which turned out to be 100 pages instead of 50! More next week – some teasers about what to expect in EVERFOUND!