This is the fifth post is a series outlining how the Austin Stone Story Team produces written stories. You can read the first four posts Background and Introduction, Leads and Assignments, Interviewing, and Photography to catch up to today’s post.
Once the interview is completed, the drafting stage begins for the writer. A writer has three weeks between receiving the assignment and their initial due date for the first draft.
Some of our writers like to sit on the story for a while after the interview, while other prefer to sit down soon after to get their ideas on paper. No matter how long the wait time before the draft, all of our writers prayerfully enter this time of writing, asking the Lord to tell the story through their pens.
Once the first draft is complete, the writer uploads it onto Basecamp, our project management tool. This begins a two week time period of back and forth between the writer and an editor. I will outline the required steps in this time period, but there is often more conversation and more back and forth than the minimum requirement.
The editor downloads the draft from Basecamp and begins the Content Edit. During this phase, the editor is not touching the draft or making any changes; rather, the editor’s role here is to prayerfully read the draft and offer content, structure, style, sequence and theological suggestions. These suggestions are communicated back to the writer either through a letter or using the Track Changes function in Microsoft Word to leave notes in the margins of the draft. Once the editor is finishes, they upload their suggestions to Basecamp.
Now the writer needs to revise. They will look at the suggestions from the editor, pray and consider them, and begin to make changes. Depending on the story, this could mean a few changes, or it could be a complete overhaul of the story. Sometimes there is a great deal of communication in this stage between the writer and the editor, as they both strive to create the most honest and beautiful version of the subject’s story. When the writer is finished with the second draft, they upload it to Basecamp.
The editor now downloads the revised draft, but this time, they are making changes to it. The editor now corrects grammar and aligns the style of the work to our in-house style guide. The editor is encouraged to make changes for readability and for theological correctness, as well. The editor is also charged with getting the draft between 800-850 words. When the editor is finished, they upload the edited draft to Basecamp.
Additionally, the editor provides written feedback to the writer on the story. Feedback includes praise, encouragement and suggestions on how to continue to improve in their craft. The feedback takes the form of a letter or is included in the Track Changes on the edited draft, and is uploaded to Basecamp. This is the final step in the two week back and forth period between the writer and the editor.
Now the second editor downloads the edited draft. The second editor has a week to get the draft completely finalized and uploaded again as a final draft. The second editor’s role is to prayerfully consider the story, and to make any final tweaks or edits for grammar, style, readability, length and theological correctness. The second editor also provides feedback to the editor on how they handled their writer feedback, their content and copy edits, and provides encouragement and suggestions to the editor in the form of a letter.
Once this is completed, the final draft and editor feedback are uploaded to Basecamp, where The Austin Stone Story Team staff take over the process and handles the approvals and publishing.