Write Focus: 6 Stages to Publish

From Seed to Harvest

The Write Focus podcast presents the 6 Stages to Publish, two brief presentations to introduce how you convert a seed of an idea into a tangible book in a reader’s hands.

On October 21 we had the first 3 Stages, under the heading Write the Novel.

Follow the podcast it here on podbean, or here on youtube, or click this link for the episode transcript.

Here’s the link to the podcast, where you can find “Write the Novel” for the 1st 3 Stages podcast. This episode aired October 21.

On November 4 we have the last 3 Stages, Edit / Proof / Publish. Use the link above to reach this podcast.

We offer the podbean podcast here, or a simple youtube link, or the episode transcript clicking.

Remember, episodes usually run less than 15 minutes, long enough to prep a quick dinner or for to/from commute or a simple fresh-air walk.


Hand Typing Retro Typewriter Machine Work Writer


Types of Poetry

Poetry is SOUND before it is SIGHT.

This rule is especially true of songs. Notice how Dolly Parton carefully uses elements of her voice to convey the meaning of the words in her famous “I Will Always Love You”. This is one of the earliest versions of the song.

In special cases, however, Poetry is SIGHT before it is SOUND.

SIGHT becomes an important element when the poet decides to play with the position of the words on the page.

Shifting the position of the words is one of the hallmarks of free verse. When a single word is placed on a line, with other lines presenting longer phrases or sentence elements, then that single word carries a gravitas far greater than its mere meaning and connotation.

The typography of the words *can* capture us visually before the ideas capture us. If the *shape* of the letter ensnares us, we will stay to read the ideas.

One of the earliest poems (that I am aware of) which plays with the typography is George Herbert’s “Easter Wings”

The soul is in flight to Heaven, and wings help us understand this. Then we start to realize Herbert’s hidden point: on Earth we are like caterpillars, inching along. We enter a cocoon state (death) prior to our soul’s in Heaven being transformed into something new and gloriously wonderful—just like with butterflies.

Lewis Carroll does not have such a deeper image in his Mouse Tail (Tale), yet he plays just as strongly with the typography.

With free verse, it is the SIGHT, the typography, that captures our attention.

Divide to Conquer

The realm of poetry can be divided in two different ways:

1st, the purpose of the poem.

  • Lyric (songs of emotion, virtually everything we hear in music)
  • Narrative (story songs, lot of the hits by the Eagles: “Lying Eyes” and “Hotel California”).
  • Dramatic (story without exposition, folk ballads like “Lord Randall”).

2nd, the method of the poetic structure.

  • Pure Verse
  • Blank Verse
  • Free Verse

These three methods are our focus in this season of blogs.

Pure Verse

This is the poetry we are conditioned to accept. It is controlled by Rhyme and Rhythm. The poems of childhood and the songs of our everyday life fall into this method. Even rap music has an expected rhythm (beat, cadence, meter) as well as rhyme. This is Dolly Parton’s “I will always Love You” or George Harrison’s “What is Life”.

Blank Verse

This is Rhythm WithOut Rhyme.

Blank Verse is usually intellectual. Think Shakespeare, especially the major dramatic speeches: Macbeth’s “Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow” and Hamlet’s “What a piece of work man is” or “To Be or Not” soliloquy. Think Robert Frost at his best and most unexpected, in “Out, Out—” or “Once by the Pacific”.

Free Verse

Poetry which is Neither Rhyme Nor Rhythm (but plenty of reason). The poet controls the line in other ways than the expected.

A Word on Line Structures

Songs become memorable when key elements are emphasized. Emphasis through unusual punctuation and capitalization are not acceptable means for our minds unless our minds truly love puzzles.

*Emily Dickinson and e.e.cummings break the punctuation and caps “rule”, but they are purposeful with their rule-breaking. It’s not communication anarchy.

Come back on the 15th for a closer look at the MMO of Free Verse.


Writers Ink is on a much-needed vacation.

This blog post contains generic information about symbols and their use in two modern poems. Archetype questions are also included.

Print this document and use it when crafting poems (or even prose, since symbols and archetypes can be guides for story and for nonfiction).

The information in  this post and the previous post on archetypes formed a very, very rough basis for a chapter in Discovering Sentence Craft, covering concepts of figurative language. Yes, symbols and archetypes are types of figurative language.

Symbols assist you with crafting your writing, much as we discussed at the Three Unities post, on August. 25.

color number symbol poems

Celebrate *Discovering Characters*!

Celebrate with Writers Ink! Discovering Characters is 1.

One of the hardest things to do in writing is to create characters that readers  will care about, that will make them have to read on. ~ Noah Luke

Discovering Characters is like investigating a house we want to buy.

No, I’m serious. Characters have an exterior façade that we comment upon as we drive past. Through the windows we catch glimpses of interior lives.

Even in cookie-cutter boxy cliques, characters have individual characteristics, just as the suburbia ranch houses have their garden plantings and the urban row houses have their painted doorways. These small touches create individual homes in neighborhoods.

Some characters enjoy the bright city lights. Some are loners, nestled against a national forest.  Characters, houses—each have individual personalities. Some are blingie, with the latest décor while others enjoy the comfort of yoga pants and old sneakers.

As writers, we capture these individual characters and save them from the cookie-cutter boxy stereotypes. We delve into interior rooms for glimpses of formative baggage. Finding their backstory is a search through attics and cellars, storage closets and garages. Characters hide their pain and fears, painting them over and adding distracting artwork.

Our job as writers is to find every detail of our characters then use snippets so our readers will see our characters as they drive through our books. We hint at the foundations while opening doors to their plans and purposes.

Discovering Characters is designed to help writers find the exteriors and interiors, public and private. We’ll dig around the foundations and climb to the roof. We’ll explore the open rooms and the storage closets. We’ll peek into rooms inhabited by such characters as diverse as Elizabeth and Darcy, the Iron Man, Aragorn and Frodo, Travis McGee, Medea, Macbeth, and Nanny McPhee.

Five areas comprise this guidebook. Just as characters—and houses—are individual, this info is individual. You won’t need every bit. Dip in and out, skim around. When you reach locked rooms, come back and explore to discover the keys to your characters.

  1. Starting Points ~ offering templates and character interviews
  2. Classifications ~ common and uncommon ways of discovering characters
  3. Relationships ~ couples, teams, allies, enemies, mentors, etc.
  4. Special Touches ~ progressions, transgressions, and transitions for character arcs
  5. Significant Lists ~ archetypal characters and much more

Discovering Characters, with 44,000-plus words, is the second book in the Discovering set, part of the Think like a Pro Writer series for writers new to the game as well as those wanting to up their game.

Click this link to take advantage of special summer savings.

Writer M.A. Lee has been indie-publishing fiction and non-fiction since 2015. She has over 25 books published under her pseudonyms. Visit www.writersinkbooks.com to discover more information.


Writers Ink is on a much-needed vacation. This blog post contains generic information about archetypes.

Archetypes work like symbols in your writing. They are unconscious triggers for your readers. Use them as touches of details.

Print this document and use it when crafting poems (or even prose, since an archetype could be a guiding symbol for story and for nonfiction).

Archetypes assist you with crafting your writing, much as we discussed at the Three Unities post, on August. 25.

Archetype Notes


Newbie Writer: Epic Writer Journey

It’s a series on Advice to Newbie Writers. This will last a while. Enjoy.

Advice to Newbies ~ Live and Learn

Herewith is the next part of my response to a Newbie Writer’s concerns. (See the 9/1 post to read her email. Names are changed to protect the innocent.) In the 9/5 post, I started with my FIRST and SECOND guidance based on her first paragraph of her email, offered in an abridged version as the 9/1 post.

My response has four major sections. Here’s the THIRD. (And I probably should have divided this one–it is close to 1,000 words, but every part is so connected to the whole body that it is a crime to slash and dissect.)


Plotting can be difficult.

No, I am not talking about the process (plotter / pantster / puzzler.

I am talking about NOVEL STRUCTURE.

And finding a novel structure that works for you will be your own Epic Writer Journey.

About 15 years ago I discovered Christopher Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey (you can pick up a new or used copy, both relatively inexpensively) $4.00 at this site https://www.abebooks.com/book-search/isbn/0941188132/).

Vogler’s work is based on Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero’s Journey”. Here is an explanatory LINK ~  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hero_with_a_Thousand_Faces

Frankly—and I am totally serious—the character arc of the Hero’s Journey is what the Beats formula and everything else is based upon.

I found that this story arc offers the best “plotting” method for me. I view this structure as both literal and figurative and make it mesh with other writing elements that I have learned. This is what I now use.

When I explore other structures now (see 7/15 blog), I see their weaknesses based on this Hero’s Journey as well as where those structures actually follow this rather than inventing something new.

The glory of the 12-Stage Writer’s Journey is that it fits every genre out there. That’s because it is “mythic” in that it follows the story structures our human brains are conditioned to accept after thousands of years of stories. I will admit that I constantly encounter people I consider “hide-bound writers” who say tat it doesn’t work. I think they are blind.

All I know about the 12-Stage Writer’s Journey is that I can apply it to Jane Austen’s novels and films, Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare, Dorothy Sayers, Georgette Heyer, virtually anything on current and past fiction bestseller lists, Finding Nemo, Shrek, Up, Last of the Mohicans (film with Daniel Day Lewis), anything action-adventure, anything romantic, anything mystery and suspense. I might have to view the stages “figuratively”, but it does work.

Here it is in brief.

1] Ordinary World – present the character in daily life. This is to show how the character will change through the course of the book. My struggle is to keep this stage extremely short!

This step meshes with writing advice from ages ago about “starting at the first moment things are no longer normal,” meaning that the character encounters something that changes the ordinary progression of life.

Of course, we have to show the character in that ordinary progression before we explode it.

2] Call to Adventure – this is the event that starts the conflict.

3] Refusal of the Call – Most people don’t want to change their life. They try to return to things as they were. This stage shows that attempt as well as how the change cannot be stopped. More action. More angst.

4] Meeting with the Mentor – this can be a friend or an actual wise person. I once had a taxi driver speak the words of wisdom to the protagonist. This can be the character thinking words of wisdom while on a phone call to a sister or brother who tries to convince them not to go down a path. The mentor’s advice doesn’t have to be followed.

5] Crossing the First Threshold – whatever event occurs here, the protagonist cannot return to the Ordinary World from this point. Pure action or pure internal revelation.

6] Tests, Allies, and Enemies – this seems like a single short stage. Nope. It can turn into a series of chapters. This will form the bulk of the middle third of your novel. You can drop back and add in a new mentor or two, cross another threshold then restart the TAE as many times as you need. It’s up to you.

7] Approach to the Inmost Cave – nearing the crisis point. The bad part is coming. The angst in deciding to risk everything to achieve the goal is all that matters here.

8] The Ordeal, the Dark Moment, the crisis point. It’s about the 65-75% point of the story.

9] The Reward – the moment when the protagonist realizes that yes, this journey is changing, is life-threatening or emotionally threatening. BUT—and it is a powerful BUT—the reward makes all the hardships mentally and emotionally and physically worth everything.

10] The Road Back – things are settling, but hardships still occur.

11] The Resurrection – Evil resurrects and nearly kills the protagonist (either nearly killing a relationship or nearly killing the dream or nearly killing the person). AND the protagonist resurrects (relationship / dream / healing of the physical body somehow).

12] Return with the Elixir – which is pretty much self-explanatory.

Next Up

So, that’s the third part of my response to the first paragraph from that second email from the newbie writer. On the 25th will be the fourth part of my response, and October will follow with my answers to her specific questions (see the 9/1 post for her email).

If you have more questions about this 12-stage arc of the Hero’s Journey, Christopher Vogler’s book is a quick and easy read. Campbell’s hero’s journey itself is 17 stages and is found in his The Hero has a 1,000 Faces, which he should have considered his doctoral dissertation—but the man didn’t pursue such titles.

Smart man.

In my book Discovering Your Plot, I go into great detail about the purpose and necessary requirements for each of the 12 stages. For example, I break the Tests / Allies / Enemies stage into three explanations. You can find DiscPlot at this LINK  https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0838PTN49/

Come back on 9/25 for the FOURTH part, on REVISION.

Creating Emphasis

For poetry lovers, we have a series of blogs, Poetry Lessons, guest-hosted by M.A. Lee of Writers Ink Books. Visit our page on every 5th  (5th, 15th, and 25th) to see which poem has inspired a lesson in thinking and writing.

Writers Ink is on a much-needed vacation. This blog post is the first and very rough draft on Emphasis, part of the Repetitions chapter in Discovering Sentence Craft. 

Poets will find Discovering Sentence Craft very helpful in improving their craft at the words and phrases and sentence levels. (The previous blog on the Three Unities is an example of the whole-concept craft.) Find DiscSentCraft here. 

Creating Emphasis ~ More than the Subject Position

Fun with words?

Yes, it’s possible. And practical. Especially practice-able when we want to create emphasis. (Yes, “practicable” is a word. It means “able to put into practice”, which is what we do in our writing with literary and rhetorical devices.)

Easiest is simple repetition.

“And the highwayman came riding–riding–riding / Up to the old inn-door.” (Noyes, “The Highwayman”)

Pick a key word, and it becomes the key element.

Be careful, though, for repetition becomes a key gimmick, as we know from reading “The Highwayman”: “A red-coat troop came marching—marching—marching”. From mid-point on, the repetition is too much.

Play with Incremental Repetition.

An increment is a small amount. Incremental Repetition is a small change at the next repeat of the word or phrase.

Again, from “The Highwayman”: “And they shot him down on the highway / Down like a dog on the highway.”

The slight change miraculously adds strength.

For a clever version of incremental repetition, check out Judy Collins’ version of Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now”, (We also covered Mitchell’s song on April 15. You can head back there to read our analysis.)

Grow for Emphasis.

Once we start considering how repetition increase emphasis, we encounter a clever Greek word auxesis, which means “growth” or “increase”, but is really a fancy way to say climactic ordering.

In Robinson Jeffers’ translation of Euripides’ Medea, our main character contemplates the murders of those who have wronged her: “Grind. Crush. Burn.” She, of course, chooses the last method, the one most painful and enduring. No quick deaths for Medea.

“Both Sides Now” uses auxesis to present ascending significance. The first stanzas discuss clouds (innocent, childlike naïveté), the next discuss love (the focus of our teens and twenties), and the last discuss life (maturity in considering our world).

We can take power away by descending in importance. Remember the lesson of the trolls? Removing power can be a useful technique. [The lesson of the trolls is also in DiscSentCraft, part of chapter on “Sequentials”.)

Work in Threes.

Once is not remarkable. Twice seems coincidence. Thrice is serendipity.

Look above at how many times threes are used. In “The Highwayman” who is “riding — riding — riding.” In Mitchell’s three stanzas and three life progressions. In Medea’s contemplation of three methods of death, each more torturous than the one before.

And watch for all the repetition by threes that are coming up as examples.

Set the Right Pace.

We can slow down the speed of our repetition and auxesis by adding conjunctions: “Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow / Creeps in this petty pace from day to day” (Macbeth’s famous speech by Shakespeare). This is called a polysyndeton.

We speed up by removing conjunctions: “Out, out, brief candle” is the asyndeton from the same speech by Macbeth.

Front and Back.

Repetition can occur at the beginning of a series of sentences, which creates an anaphora:

From Winston Churchill’s June 1940 speech: “We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight … in the air, we shall defend our island … we shall fight on the beaches … we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”

Opposite to the anaphora is the epistrophe.

From Sam’l Beckett: “Where now? Who now? When now?” (The Unnamable)

From Shakespeare’s J.Caesar: “Who is here so base that would be a bondman? If any, speak; for him have I offended. Who is here so rude that would not be a Roman? If any, speak; for him have I offended. Who is here so vile that will not love his country? If any, speak; for him have I offended.” (Brutus)

This example comes from Jeffers’ Medea: “They were full of cold pride, they ruled all this country–they are down in the ashes, crying like dogs, cowering in the ashes, in their own ashes.”

Keep a light touch.

Don’t overwork the repetition. With a light touch, its simple occurrence creates power on the page.

Use it to remind of elements of character. This is often called a character tag.

Use it to develop setting with a quick glance or a lingering view >> setting tag.

Crime scene images. Events in a mano-y-mano battle. Workings of a spell. Effects of a kiss.

Repetition creates emphasis.