Copyright 2020 Melanie Spiller. All rights reserved.
The Writing Factory
MelanieSpiller and Coloratura Consulting
One of my clients pointed out to me that through the course of encouraging people to write deliberately, I have designed a structured and highly repeatable process—just like a factory! He thought my creative sensibilities would be offended by this sort of business-plan thinking, but instead, I think his point is well taken. I want to take the mystery out of writing well, I want to prepare people for the tasks before them when they’ve got a writing assignment, and I want people to feel like they have the tools to produce reliably good work every time they sit down to write.In these blogs, I’ve documented a clear process to follow for successful writing experiences. Even if you don’t follow all of my recommendations, understanding the various parts of the process should make your work less painful for both you and your readers.Let’s take a quick tour of the factory. First, you learn about the structure of language and punctuation. Then you prepare to write by setting up a time and place, by doing the research, and by creating a plan for the coverage. Next, you do the actual writing, and finally you edit the daylights out of yourself. I’ve addressed all these parts of the process (and then some) in my blog already.Read about the structure of the language itself, the building blocks for expression.Parts of a Sentence (February 2004) talks about where the various bits belong and why.Verb Traffic Control (February 2004) explains a common problem with verbs.Preposition Proposition (April 2004) talks about how these little words can aid or hinder clarity.Me, Myself, and I (March 2004) and Who versus Whom (February 2004) address commonly misconjugated words.Home for an Adverb (June 2004) and Misused and Abused Adverbs (June 2004) talk about how these useful words make a difference in conveying meaning.Next, you can read about the nuances of punctuation.Interruptive Punctuation (February 2004) provides surface-level coverage of all kinds of punctuation and provides a handy one-page reference.Comma Comments, Parts 1 and 2 (May 2004), focus on these little squiggles that have such an enormous affect on how text flows.Parentheses (April 2004) and Colons, Semicolons, and Em-dashes (May 2004) help you decide how to set information apart from the main body of the text.Apostrophe Apostasy (February 2004) provides an escape from abusive overuse of these innocent little marks.Exclamation Points and Question Marks (May 2004) and Periodically Poised (August 2004) provide information on tricky sentence endings.Quotations and Quotation Marks (February 2004) treats these indicators with the respect they deserve.It’s time to sit down and look at the topic you need to cover and prepare to write.A Plan to Write (February 2004) is an overview of the process, from identifying an audience, through outlining, to verifying the details.A Time and Place to Write (July 2004) helps you create an environment that will be the most productive for your writing style.Doing Research (June 2004) helps you decide what information is germane to your topic and eliminate the tangents or impenetrable bits.Identifying Your Audience (April 2004) helps you narrow what you need to write by determining who needs to read it.Outlining (March 2004) is probably the most important topic in the whole collection; once you start to think in terms of an outline, your writing will be clearer whether you actually outline or not.Organizing Principles (February 2004) helps you decide how to present the information so that the reader climbs into the topic effortlessly.Style Sheets (March 2004) points you toward consistency in word usage and compliance with your client’s preferences.Tables, Numbered Lists, and Bullets (March 2004) and Titles and Headings (July 2004) make it easier to determine how to break up text visually and direct your readers’ attention.Lessons from Hemingway (May 2004), Analyzing Good Writing Parts 1 and 2 (May 2004), and Recognizing Good Writing (May 2004) help you see the components of a well-written piece.Writer’s Block (May 2004) and Write What You Know (May 2004) help you get past those blank page blues.Writing Conclusions (April 2004) shows you how to close your discussion with grace and enthusiasm.You’ve done the hard part: the writing. At last, it’s time for the editing passes.Seven Simple Things (January 2004) provides a list of common problems and a summary of four editorial passes to make before you consider your work finished.Bewildering Words (April 2004), Trivial Pursuits (February 2004), and Jargon (March 2004) help to clear up some difficult word choices.Gender-Free Language (April 2004) supplies food for thought about political correctness.Favorite Word Syndrome (February 2004), Using a Thesaurus (July 2004), and Expanding Your Vocabulary (July 2004) point you toward varying your word choices and producing more colorful syntax.Tidying Up (August 2004), Humor (June 2004), Parallelism (June 2004), and Clarity (May 2004) help you stay focused on your audience rather than yourself while you write.I’m a little surprised to find that I have written lots of useful blogs on what to expect when someone hires you to write, the different kinds of editors at a publisher and freelancing, choosing a publisher, and the legalities of the whole project. I have lots of ideas about more blogs to write, but I’ve already provided a pretty good foundation for you. So go out there and write well!(This blog consists primarily of shameless references to my own blogs. There’s a delicious snootiness to doing this, but I hope you find it useful too!)