Skip to content


Last updated on January 29, 2024

The Author’s Writing Process and the Discovery of New Books
May 19, 2014 Stop
When Emma Right asked if I’d be interested in following her on the World Book Blog Tour, I thought this would be a fun way to share how different authors write. I am thankful for her invitation and hope you enjoy my few comments. Perhaps I might inspire you to write or curl up with a good novel and enjoy the world of reading and writing books—of which there are never enough.
I’m Lorilyn Roberts. My closest friends would probably describe me as a brave woman who went around the world and adopted two beautiful daughters as a single mother. Now that one daughter is almost raised, and the other one thinks she’s raised (and I won’t say which is which), I have more time to write. I went back to school at an old age (but still young at heart) and received my Master of Arts in Creative Writing last year.
I am 55,000 words into the first draft of the second book in my YA Christian Fantasy Series, Seventh DimensionThe King. The total length will be 65,000 words, and I should finish The King in about a week.
First, I research. Second, I think. Third, I come up with the plot points – the beginning (problem), the middle (the process), and the end (the crescendo and the resolution).
After I do the above, I am assured I have a skeleton for a future book. Then I will use an online program called Hiveword Online Fiction Organizer and James Scott Bell’s Knockout Novel aid. The two programs work in tandem and help me to organize my thoughts and begin writing. I think in terms of scenes and outline all my scenes first.
The Hiveword Organizer allows me to move the scenes around. It also has other features, options for multiple plotlines, character development, writing prompts (even suggestions for names if I can’t come up with one), and scene summaries that can be stored for future reference.
After my scenes are titled and loosely described, then I do more research for those I’m less sure about. I keep an Excel file with a link to all the sites I visit that I might want to revisit when I write the scene. I will insert notes from the website into the scene organizer for quick reference.
Once I have developed all the characters, scenes, and plot lines, I write each scene. This is when I add the spiritual component, foreshadowing, symbolism, emotion, et cetera. In other words, I give the scene life. A love scene is not like a rose by any other name. It’s my unique love scene. The protagonist is not just facing life or death—he must face other issues that will worry the reader, like honor, truth, and sacrifice. I raise the stakes. If I’m not engaged in the scene, I rethink it or I remove the scene entirely.
I allow myself the option to change things, but more often than not, each scene I’ve outlined grows and becomes even more than what I meant it to be. Since I know where I’m going, I can work on the boundaries of the scene—how far can I go with this idea? I let my mind create, create, create. This is my favorite part of writing. I put no limitations on where my mind takes me.
Real change happens at the boundaries of life; therefore, it should be that way in books. As God our Creator chisels away on our rough edges and refines us into the person He created us to be, I refine each scene (even in the first draft because I love to edit) and hopefully make each scene unique and memorable.
As an aside, I could never do the Nano Challenge. I can’t think in terms of the outcome so early in the process—or worry about a word count. I enjoy the process of writing too much to rush it.
I do the actual writing in one of two ways, depending on my mood. I either type the words directly into Microsoft Word on my laptop or if I want to write a lot of words in one day, I type the words directly on my stenograph machine and then make a text file and copy and paste it into Microsoft Word later.
I provide closed captioning for television and if I’m on the air several hours at a time, it would not be unusual to write close to 200,000 words in one day. Perhaps that sounds grueling, but it’s not. When you are writing 200 to 250 words per minute, the words add up quickly. 
The stenograph machine works well for writing a lot of words in a short span of time, but if I have the time and luxury, I’d rather sit on the sofa in the living room and type on my laptop, drinking coffee. I enjoy the process of writing, particularly if I’m writing a difficult description or an emotional scene. The stenograph machine is very mechanical,  too much like work, but it’s a nice way to get a lot of words written that I can edit later if I feel like I’m getting behind in my word count—those days when I set one, which is not every day.
After the first draft, I will take a break for at least a few days to two weeks and then come back and edit. I love the editing process. I am surprised that most writers don’t, but my first draft of anything is so beneath what I’m capable of when it’s polished that I can’t wait to edit. I also belong to Word Weavers and will frequently take in scenes for critiquing.
The editing process takes longer for me than the first draft. After I’ve reached the point where I can no longer be objective, I’ll submit the manuscript to beta readers. 

I’ll give the readers some general questions to answer based on what I feel might be weaknesses, confusing scenes, or some other point that’s important to me.
After I receive their responses, I’ll make changes. This can be quite time-consuming, but this process is critical, especially for indie authors. Beta readers can take your “average” book and make it a “good” book or even a great book. I can’t imagine publishing a book and not having beta readers critique it first and tell me what needs to be fixed. At this point, I cannot be objective. I need readers to help me see any weaknesses, and I want that to happen before my book is published. One and two-star reviews can hurt a book’s future popularity. I don’t want those kinds of negative reviews because I was too much in a hurry and published my book before it was ready.
After I’ve gone through the beta process, I give a copy of my manuscript to my first editor who reads my book for content. After I make her suggested corrections, I then submit my book to a second editor who goes through the manuscript again. This editor also reads for content, but she focuses more on copyediting that has been missed. Things like leaving off a quote or having two periods at the end of a sentence.
Once I’ve finished this final edit (hopefully), I upload my specially formatted Mobi file to Amazon, but I don’t tell anyone. I want to download my book on my Kindle before anyone else. Sometimes I’ll find weird things, like a formatting error on the copyright page. You don’t want an error on that page screaming “amateur.”
Sometimes when I fix one thing, I inadvertently mess up something else. After all the work that’s gone into my book at this point, I want it perfect. I might do several uploads to Amazon before I announce my book’s availability. I usually raise the price when I first publish it, like to $9.99 – no one will buy my Kindle book at that price. Once I feel like everything is fixed that has been missed, then I will reduce the price to $2.99 and promote my newly published book. Then the real work begins. Marketing a book is much harder than writing it.
I don’t know. I try not to compare myself with others. How similar or different my writing is from other authors is very subjective. Contemporary fantasy authors I like to read are Randy Alcorn and Lois Lowry. An undiscovered Christian fantasy author who I like and predict someday will be well known is Janalyn Voigt. Classical fantasy authors I enjoy are C.S. Lewis and JRR Tolkien. My favorite book of all time is Pilgrim’s Progress. After reading books by these authors, I find myself admiring their talent—and inspired. I hope someday to write a book that will touch others the way their books have touched me.
I have a story to tell. The Bible says in Luke 19:37-40, as Jesus neared Jerusalem, the multitude of disciples rejoiced and praised God with a loud voice. When the Pharisees asked Jesus to rebuke His disciples, He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”
If I don’t write, I will go to my grave with regret. I know God made me to write and writing draws me near to His presence. I must write or I’ll feel like I missed out on God’s perfect will for my life.
He has redeemed too much of my past not to share it—either through fiction or nonfiction. When God blesses us, He expects us to give those blessings away. If we don’t use the talents He gives us, He might take our gift or gifts and give them to someone else. I would hate to stand before my Savior and see His scarred wrists and confess, “God, it was too hard. It was too heavy a burden to bear.” Never! As long as I am breathing and not demented, I will write and share what God has done—through whatever story or means He imparts on my heart. Whether anyone reads my books is an outcome I don’t control. I can only control the process—writing, and that’s what I love doing most.

Please visit Robin Johns Grant and Katherine Harms on May 26, 2014, for the next stop on the tour. Meet Katherine Harms:  Katherine and her husband Larry live aboard a bluewater cruising sailboat and cruise the East Coast and the Bahamas. It is the perfect writing environment. In 2008, she published Oceans of Love, a collection of meditations based on biblical texts that refer to oceans and water. That same year she wrote her first blog post. She experimented with a variety of blogging topics and blog hosting options. Currently, she writes four blogs, of which Living on Tilt is the flagship.

Katherine has published articles in several magazines, including The Lutheran, Christ in Our Home, Cruising World, and Living Aboard. Her only novel, Hannah’s Journal, won third place in the Christian Writers Guild’s First Novel Contest in 2004. Since that time, she has focused primarily on nonfiction. She also writes materials for worship and faith formation, such as guides for worship, prayer vigils, and Bible study. 

In addition, she edits book-length manuscripts and provides mentoring for writers. Internet and phone services maintain her availability to her clients in most locations.
Katherine’s current work in progress is Thrive! Don’t Just Survive: a Guide for Christian Interaction with a Secular Culture.

Meet Robin Johns Grant: Robin Johns Grant has been writing for most of her life. She’s been following her publishing dream for so long that she crowned herself the Queen of Perseverance on her blog, where she encourages other weary dreamers. While waiting for her writing to pay off, she wrote and edited university publications, managed an office for a firm of private investigators, and worked as a university financial aid counselor. She also did a lot of crazy fan stuff and developed a fascination with books and movies like Harry Potter and Star Wars, which helped her dream up Jeanine and Jamie for Summer’s Winter. With a degree in English and a mid-life crisis coming on, she returned to school and earned a master’s degree in library and information science in 2005. She now has her best day job ever as a college librarian, which keeps her young by allowing her to hang out with students. Robin lives in Georgia with her wonderful husband, Dave, and formerly feral feline, Mini Pearl. She is also surprised to find herself the part owner of a wonderful pit bull puppy named Pete, who showed up as a stray at her mom’s house.
Published inCreative Writing


  1. Kara Howell Kara Howell

    Could you post a picture or two of your stenograph machine? I'm curious to see what it looks like.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Lorilyn Roberts