The Process

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After writing three manuscripts with Frank Cullotta, we have developed a process that allows us to write efficiently although we are 2,500 miles apart. Our primary tool is Free Conference Call (FCC). It’s a free program with many features, but I only use it for calls with more than three participants or if I want the call recorded, which is the case with Frank.

The way it works is that Frank makes notes of what he wants to talk about in a particular chapter. When he finishes putting his ideas on paper we schedule a day and time to get together on FCC and I activate the recorder. We go through his notes item by item. He lays out the bones and I ask him questions that will put the flesh on them.

When we’ve completed Frank’s list and I’ve elicited all the information I can from him, the ball is in my park. I do the necessary research to verify Frank’s information, such as finding newspaper articles or TV news clips that verify dates and the correct spelling of the names of persons involved with the specific incidents. As part of the process I replay our recording several times to make sure I haven’t missed anything and run any questions past Frank via phone or email.

When I’m satisfied I have sufficient and accurate information I begin the writing. I do a first draft and email it to Frank for his review. We go back and forth until he is satisfied that each event has been described as he remembers it; and I’m satisfied that I have ample corroboration.

However, there are times when available corroboration is lacking or it doesn’t precisely match Frank’s memory. When that happens we talk it over and decide what to do. If it is a minor detail that is not critical to the story, we will likely simply omit it. If it is something that needs to be included I’ll insert wording such as “approximately,” “around that time,” or “to the best of my recollection.”

When the first draft is completed we do a read through via telephone. Frank focuses primarily on the accuracy of the information while I look for organization, grammar, typos, etc. Depending on how many problems we find, the read through may take two or three sessions.

After that process is over I do a solo read through and then send the manuscript to one or more proofreaders I have confidence in. Upon making any suggested corrections or changes they find, it’s time to start submitting to a publisher.

 

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