Group Writing: 7 Heads Are Better than One
by Mary Ellen Stepanich
Editor’s Note: The following article was writen by the seven authors indicated and originally published in the Ventana Lakes (Peoria, Ariz.) community newsletter.
Five years ago, seven unique ladies formed a writers critique group called the Scribblettes to share ideas and improve their individual writing skills. The group produced a fictional novel called North of the Border, a modern day Romeo-and-Juliet tale of intrigue, with international terrorists, sinister drug gangs, and dedicated law enforcement heroes. This was no easy task, meshing raw and spontaneously written chapters by seven different personalities into an organized and believable story line. It’s an adventure that will captivate you and leave you wanting more. The author name, L.S. McFan, is an anagram of the initials of the seven writers’ last names.
Lester, worked for a variety of moving companies under the motto, “across the street and around the world, we meet your needs.”
Stepanich, a retired Purdue University professor of organizational behavior, confesses, “I’m very organized, but my behavior is a bit wonky.” Stepanich has published two books, D is for Dysfunctional and Doo-Wops, and Doo-Wops and the B-Flat Murders, A Lilac Crazy Quartet Novel, with a sequel already in the works.
Mounsey, a retired educator with an added degree in art, loves listening to conversations in public places in the hopes of finding the perfect character for her next short story. Mounsey has published three poetry books; Leaning Forward and Lying Back, Postcards Between Homer and Phoenix, and The Irish Side of It All. Her most recent book is Living in the Shadows: Amanda’s Journal 1927-1948.
Cushing, worked for the FAA and retired as a program manager/contracting officer in the airway facilities, and traveled the world married to an army man.
Feyrer, a retired registered nurse, still works as a caregiver to those in need. Feyrer has published a children’s book, Hard Town, a whimsical story about overcoming prejudicial beliefs.
Alandar, a retired administrative manager with the Arizona State Game & Fish Department and an investigator with the State Racing Department, wrote and published Behind the Starting Gate in memory of her best friend and their love of horses.
Norris, a retired police officer, provided the law enforcement background. Currently she’s writing about her adventures as an HOA board member.
Writers spend a lot of time dreaming about their ideal story. Eventually they have to face reality and analyze whether or not the story is believable. Usually a writer builds a story from the inside out – in other words, they know what they want at the heart of their story and they build around that. North of the Border was not written this way. It was created when one writer wrote an idea and six other writers expanded the initial idea into a novel-length story.
L.S. McFan woke up to the reality of publishing a book after analyzing several chapters that had been written and then deciding the story line was plausible. Think it can’t be done? How else are you going to know, unless you try?
Dr. Mary Ellen Stepanich is a retired professor of organizational behavior. She told her students at Purdue, “I’m very organized, but my behavior’s a bit wonky.” Her publications include academic journal articles; stories in Good Old Days magazine; a memoir, D is for Dysfunctional … and Doo-Wop; a novel, The Doo-Wops and the B-Flat Murder; and an award-winning radio play, Voices From the Front. Mary Ellen blogs on her website at MaryEllenStepanich.com, and can be reached via e-mail at DrStep@cox.net.