Guide Dog Books, March 2012

ISBN: 978-1-935738-19-0

252 pages | $15.95 Paper | $7.99 Kindle

Purchase: RDSP | Amazon

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Many moons ago you told me you tried to barrel through a first draft, get anything down you could, and then go back and craft.  Is that still how you go about things?


Yes, pretty much.  Rather than do a detailed outline, I prefer to let the characters and situations develop organically within a very rough structure.  From this "finished" product I can finally figure out what the story's really about and who the people really are.  The second draft then involves digging a lot more deeply into motivation and moment-to-moment events. That leaves the third (and subsequent) drafts to work on the language.


Have you ever tried outlining?  If so, what did you discover?


I did a lot of outlining early on, but really it's too left-brained an activity for me.  It tends to lead me more toward contrivance than toward honesty.


What sort of advice would you give a young writer about the actual writing process?


Retype.  It's the best advice I know.  I write on a computer, but when I finish a draft I go back and retype the entire thing, then (in the case of novels) retype it again.  It gives me a chance to get tired of the sound of my own voice, and forces me to keep the writing as fresh as I can to keep my own interest alive. When people tell me it sounds like too much work, I wonder what they think writing is supposed to be.


LEWIS SHINER's novels include Glimpses, which won the World Fantasy Award, and Slam. This interview first appeared in Rebel Yell (1998).