As noted in one of my comments to a comment, Denise and I have finally decided the following material should be presented as a blog. Should Erin’s little Elves decide it would better serve the site as a FAQ or forum topic or ???? then they have permission to move it to that venue.
During our attempts at recovering Teddi’s manuscripts, we have come across some interesting and some not so interesting tidbits which offer insight as to how Teddi wrote. This short view we offer into her methodology was prompted by, or rather I was prompted by, a comment or two which were made about some past and one recently posted chapter of her stories.
First we wish to offer a small answer to a comment made concerning the release of chapter twelve of Duty Calls, and which leads us into the rest of this glimpse.
The lack of character verbiage or conversation in this chapter (and possibly in others) is likely our fault, that of myself and Denise rather than that of Teddi. Further, in reviewing the chapter outlines and writing notes for the chapters which deal with Lyon/ Lynnette’s time as CO of that special little unit we have found the following innocuous notation ... “maintains distance to avoid the pain of loss”.
This would more or less necessitate a minimizing of conversation with subordinates; and here we must admit that everyone on the base is her subordinate. Thus that is a part of the reason for the lack of conversation.
The second reason would more or less be that Teddi was showing almost everything in this particular story from Lynn/ Lynnette’s point of view and whenever that point of view changed, Teddi usually carefully made it apparent that it had done so.
Thirdly, neither Denise nor myself wished to add conversation to the story at this early date which might counter Teddi’s build of various characters personalities; after all, we don’t go around planting ideas in our neighbors heads in an effort to hold a conversation or guide them into a different personality, at least we hope not. Neither too did Teddi plant such conversational guides into the story characters.
And fourth ... well, that will become more apparent as I try to relate to you that which Denise told to me.
Teddi wrote in a number of revisions. Revision Zero was the story outline and concept. Revision One was the addition of chapter outlines. Once all the chapters had outlines of which she apparently approved, then the story outline was removed to the stories “outlines” folder. Yes, we think we found a couple of exceptions to that general rule which Teddi ‘seemed’ to use, but by revision two the story outline material was gone in all cases.
Revision One could have several sub-revisions which would be labeled a, b, c, etc.. This would mean that eventually Teddi had a story which had been saved as revision 1x, where x was whatever sub-revision she had completed. Remember this is still only outline material although now at the chapters level.
Next she would begin writing revision Two. Revision Two would find the chapter outlines still present at the beginning of each chapter but with story material beginning to follow. This is partially a guess on Denise’s part since we have found only one revision Two story and that is pretty much the way it appears to be. I say pretty much since there were some chapters which had been fairly completely filled out including some conversation on the part of the characters. Those particular chapters already had their outlines removed and deposited into the outline folder under their respective chapter numbers. Thus the outline folder was becoming the “state of the story” guide. One could check that folder and discover quickly which chapters still needed considerable work and which fulfilled the chapters premise outline. If the story chapter followed the outline or was accepted by Teddi as significantly doing so, then the chapter outline could be found in this folder.
On to Revisions Three through ??? wherever she decided to take them.
Revision Three and on become a little more complex. Possibly not to Teddi but to us, for we are unable to discern exactly what Teddi considered to be the cause for a revision number change versus a sub-revision change. ie. a number increase versus a following letter change from that revision onward.
The one thing we were able to learn was that, for the most part, large amounts of dialogue did not begin to creep into the story until revision Four. Yes, there could be dialogue prior to revision Four but, upon reaching Four there was a great difference in the amount of character to character conversation present in the story. This sometimes seemed to exist, hit and miss, in revision three.
By the way while I happen to think of it, each chapter was given its own revision numbering at this stage. Apparently when Teddi felt the story was completed then she would give the entire story the highest revision number which she found after checking the chapters. We can’t prove this is so but it remains a ‘feeling’ for us. So, at this point she seemed to feel some chapters were more complete thus higher revision numbers or sub-numbers than others.
From this point on, we would have thought everything remaining would be a sub-revision change since in general the storyline had been set and embellishments were the order of the day.
We have found stories, such as Duty Calls for example, which have reached revision Five and some of even higher revision numbers which are not yet completed.
Examples: Air Force Sweetheart Volume One (finis)......5c
Tranquility Volume One (finis)........................................5e
Duty Calls (incomplete but good outlines & notes).........5f
(Presently in Denise’s care for edit and completion)
Desperate Times Measures (very incomplete).................6c
A Winsome Lass (incomplete - good notes).....................5b
Desperate Times Measures has only fourteen of it’s thirty-one outlined chapters written. (unless we manage to find more completed material).
We think these high revision numbers indicate Teddi drastically altered the direction in which these story were going for one reason or another. Perhaps not across the entire story but toward the last chapters. All we have as possible confirmation of this is Tranquility Volume One since the material posted on BCTS is revision 3c while the highest revision we have found is noted above. The two are not greatly different in story content but revision 5e holds greater than thirty thousand words more than revision 3c. That is nearly a 15% increase in size.
So, as you can see, Teddi was a complex writer. If this is true of everyone, I cannot say. Denise says she works in a method not too unlike that but even she says that Teddi apparently carried it to an extreme which tends to indicate she felt her stories should present themselves to others in specific ways. Whether those ways were/ are good or bad depends entirely on the reader, for although we have critics who state their preferences concerning a manuscript, the reader is actually the final critic.