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  • Writer's pictureStefanie Barnfather

The Creative Process

Hello! Happy May, my friends! Before we dive into my bloggity bloo, know that this month is a bit of a... space filler. I'm in the middle of final revisions for the release of my upcoming novel, WE CALL HER ROSE, so finding the creative capacity to do my typical blog is a stretch. However, this month's info is still helpful -- so, if you are an independent author, or creative, and are looking for tips, keep reading. I've put together visual aides -- with accompanying lists of process definitions -- to take writers from a blank page to a finished book.

Warning: The title of this blog should say, A Creative Process. Friendly reminder that I only share tools that I've tried and like, or have it on good authority they work. If you don't want to learn about someone else's process, go away. If you want to learn, but start reading and think I'm full of poop, go away. If you want to learn, are conflicted about what I'm advising, and don't have time to test my methodologies, bookmark and come back later. If you are new, or looking for someone else's creative experience to give your own an infusion of life, enjoy!

Second Warning: Please don't be scared when you see, Writing Rules. I use that heading for my Type-A brain, not my artistic soul. My creative self says, THERE ARE NO RULES, and I stand by that -- but my business self likes labels, and titles, and absolutes, and deadlines, and all that choking-the-life-out-of-life stuff. Wheeeeee!


...that's us diving in.

Like I said, this month has been busy, so I've cut my typical instructional embellishments in this blog. BUT! -- feel free to download these step-by-step process pics, and use the definition lists to support your creative journey. I'll be devoting entire blogs to a few of these points later in the year, so keep coming back for updates.


Think about these before you pen the next great tome.

Hook: a single statement that summaries your story -- the heart of what you'd like to say

Visual: What does your story world look like? Use it to inspire your book cover and marketing imagery.

Aesthetic: appearance -- colour, shape, size, tone, feel

Author Intention: Why are you writing this story? FYI -- "I want to make money," is totally valid. So is, "I want to change the world," and, "Because writing is fun."

Plotting: Are you a plotter? If yes, what plotting method will you use? Hero's Journey? Quest? Comedy? Tragedy? Three Act? Progressive? The Disney Storytelling Formula? (check this out -- it's cool)


Cover: the picture in front of your book

Palette: the different colours you're using in your visual aesthetic -- I recommend three to six

Intro Page: your title, name, hook, and publishing brand

Info Page: your title, name, hook, ISBN, disclaimers, copyright, and land acknowledgement

Dedication: Who is this book to/for?

TOC: this can include your chapter, map, or supplementary material page numbers


Font: What size and type is your font? I use 12 points in Times New Roman or Garamond.

Spacing: How much room are you leaving between lines of text? I use 1.5.

Margins: this varies, depending on your print type -- don't worry about it until you're ready to upload to your publishing platforms

Header/Footer: page number, your name, the book's title, chapter title

Indents: How much space are you leaving at the beginning of a new paragraph or line of dialogue? I use 0.63 cm.


Notes: a statement to your readers about the piece

References: source material that inspired your story

Acknowledgements: thank yous to the people who helped you write

Biography: a short paragraph about you -- can include a headshot

Follow: information about where your readers can find you -- online, or in person

Other Books: What else have you written that people might want to check out?

What's Next: What are you publishing next?

Theme: this is a single statement that defines the big-picture, encapsulating conflict within your story, and it's often tied to your title -- I use _________ vs ________ (Stefanie vs Pug, or Stefanie vs the homeowner's association, or Stefanie vs her fear of failure *eeeeep! it just turned real o'clock*)

Plot: the order in which stuff happens

MC: your main character -- give them flaws, please!

Character Dynamics: What does your MC and/or other characters want? What is preventing them from getting what they want? What will they do to get what they want?

Genre Rules: learn the rules of your genre -- so you can break the rules of your genre *evil laugh*

World: History? Technology? Governance? Nature? Animals? Religion? Community? Topography? Architecture? Clothing? Food? Currency? Language? Art? Entertainment? Sport? Conflict? Figure this out.


Also referred to as, "revisions." Finish your first draft, then go through your work with these in mind.

*before you send to Beta Readers, I recommend having an Alpha Reader check out your story

Draft 1 Dailies: I write a little bit every day and follow a consistent routine

Non-Judgement Exercise: this is a warm-up exercise to get the creative juices flowing (no longer than 10 minutes) -- can include writing a poem, short story, sketching, building media, dancing, singing, etc.

Targets: determine how many words you'll write that day, or chapters, or beats, or for how long

Revisions: I do light tidies at the end of each writing day -- checking basic grammar, sentence structure, flow, idea/character clarity

Voice Check: Do your characters talk like people? Or text books?

Characters: Are they who you want them to be? Or who they want to be?

Plotting/Arch: Is the action heading where you want it to, or unfurling in a different direction? It's okay if your plot changes as you write, just make sure you're happy with it.

Conflict: If you write like me, I add in WAY TOO MANY DIFFERENT TYPES OF CONFLICT. Keep it simple, sweetie, or your readers won't be able to follow the layers of hell you're putting your people through.

Pacing: Is the story progressing too quickly? Too slow? Just right?

Continuity: Are your characters, places, world details consistent throughout? (ie. if Johnny says he hates oranges on the first page, don't have him eating an orange in the final chapter -- without a reason [maybe Johnny learns to love vitamin C])

Relationships: I'm going to dedicate an entire blog to this. I've got years of info to share on this topic.

Plagiarism: Yeah, don't copy other writer's shit. Do a quick Google search after Draft 1 to make sure you're not accidentally writing WAR AND PEACE: the tale of Napoleon's 1812 invasion of Russia.

CUT: Yesterday, I deleted a page from my book. A page. Why? It contained bonus world content that had nothing to do with the story. Be merciless.

World Documents: Update these if you're writing multiple books about the same world. TRUST ME. I have timeline docs, and location docs, and family trees that span centuries. It'll save you a world of time. Hee hee. World building pun. Ish.

Full Read: read your book, beginning to end, with notes -- but no big revisions until afterwards

Tidies: spot check for spelling, grammar, continuity, etc

SS: "short stories" -- are they in the order you want if you're releasing an anthology? Check out my blog to learn more.

Noting the Positives: THIS IS SUPER IMPORTANT -- if you don't know why your book is amazing, nobody else will (unless you really doubt your abilities, but that's a different therapy session)

Alpha Reader: the person who reads your book after your first round of revisions -- it's helpful if they're a cheerleader

Beta Reader: the people who read your book after many rounds of revisions -- it's helpful to vary the personality types of your team

Reader Questionnaire: check out my blog

Finalize Title: a new theme or conflict might arise during the writing process -- adapt your title accordingly

Reading Manuscripts: check out my blog

WALK AWAY: This is important, too -- give your heart, soul, brain, and fears space before you finish your book. Step back for a few weeks, or months. Your work will thank you for it; objectivity is needed in the final publication push, otherwise you'll make ego-serving choices, not story-serving decisions.


Your book is back from your readers -- what next? Why, prepare your story for publication, of course! If you can afford an editor, send it off. If you can't, don't stress -- take your time with your manuscript, be thoughtful, and keep going.

Beta Follow Up: after your readers have read your book, meet with them to chat about your story, freely

Story Goals: Make sure your story works the way you want. For example, if you're writing a mystery and your readers figure out the 'twist' on page two, you might need to make some changes (I'm being sarcastic -- make those changes).

Thank Yous/Written Agreements: Why? What? Here's why. And what.

Proofreaders: people who check for nitpicky problems in your final manuscript, like wandering periods .

TikTok: or any social platform -- get your videos, pictures, and tweets ready for marketing

Polishing: make sure your formatting is *chef's kiss*

ePub: digital publication

KDP: Kindle Direct Publishing on Amazon -- a digital publication format that's different from ePub

Print: paper publication(s) -- paperback and hardcover

Author Proofs: a physical or digital copy for you to review before publication

ARC copies: Advanced Reader Copies -- free books to send to friends/family/fans, so they read and review before your release

ePub Cover: a single image on the front of your book

Print Cover: a single image spanning the front, spine, and back of your book (platforms require different imaging requirements -- read their fine print)

Launch Plan: your book selling plan

Marketing: your marketing plan -- I recommend throwing copies of your book at the neighbourhood children, especially if you write erotica

Landing Page: your main hub where readers can find all your book info in one place -- like this!

Bonus Content: supplementary story material connected to your book -- music playlists, book club questions, an audiobook, read-a-loud videos, character mockups, etc

Public Check (RED FLAGS): Before you publish, I really recommend that you check for human-rights red flags in your story. Trust me -- it would stink if you found out a group of bad dudes turned your book into their bible because of content that's easy to misinterpret and manipulate. Unless you are a bad dude. If that's the case, go away.

Thanks, y'all! Chuck your comments below -- and have a great rest of the month.

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