Ray Bradbury – Tips for Writing

Ray Bradbury – Tips for Writers

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

 

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

Stephen King wrote “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft” about his learning and living the craft of writing. The informal conversational style makes the book enjoyable. King organized the book in three sections.

Section One

Autobiographical describes the book’s first section. It centers the content on his early exposure to fiction. His first attempts at writing began in elementary school. The journey begins in the family basement with the story of his writing for his brother’s mimeographed newspaper. King was next editor of his high school paper in his sophomore year in high school. The high school administration tells him to accept a job at the local newspaper by the school faculty after he wrote a satire newsletter about the school faculty.

A nail on his bedroom wall holds his rejection slips. He shares how and what he learned from the rejections as he recalls the tales of his early tries to get published.

The adventure continues to the University of Maine, where he majors in English, meets his wife, and transitions to adulthood. We learn how his teaching high school English and his summer jobs played a role in his breakthrough success with the novel Carrie ($2,500 advance on the hardcover release and $400,000 for the paperback rights), and his later development as an author.

King also discusses his problems with drugs and alcohol. He shares how his wife has played a major role in his personal and writing life. From the book, you can tell he loves and respects her very much. She plays a key role in his life.

Section Two

No-nonsense instruction on writing describes section two. It covers everything from tips on grammar to ideas about developing plot and character. King uses this section as a guide for “how a competent writer can become a good one.” Stresses his beliefs that a writer should edit out unnecessary details, he also points out words how one should avoid words ending in “ly” and adverbs. We learn how he writes first drafts and second drafts.

Section Three

Epilog describes section three. Recalling the 1999 accident where a van struck and injured him during his afternoon has you as an eyewitness to the event. We learn the van driver was trying to keep his Rottweiler dog out of an ice chest of raw meat while not paying attention to his driving. King describes his brush with death. We learn about his painful recovery. He tells of his struggle to write again.

I recommend purchasing and reading the book. It is also available on audiobook.

Weekly Update on My Writing Life

Podcasts I Listened To This Week:

  1. The Christian Publishing Show with Thomas Umstattd, Jr,
  2. The Creative Penn Podcast for Writers with Joanna Penn,
  3. Shipping and Handling Podcast with Jennifer Udden and Bridget Smith,
    • Episode 69 (February 27, 2020), Nice :), Two literary agents talk books, fandom, writing, and beyond. Hosts: Bridget Smith of Dunham Literary Inc. & Jennifer Udden of Barry Goldblatt Literary. In this episode, Bridget and Jen do an all-questions-all-the-time deep dive into their Tumblr inbox. Among other things they discuss are sex in Young Adult fiction, the relative value of an MFA, and disclosure of advances. http://shippingandhandling.libsyn.com/episode-69-nice
  4. Writers, Ink with J.D. Barker and J. Thorn. It is a podcast about the business of writing.
    • Episode 14, Becoming a Successful Author as a Stay-at-Home Mom with Mercedes Yardley. Mercedes Yardley knows how to become a successful author as a stay-at-home mom. With a husband working and a child requiring special needs, Yardley took up writing as an emotional outlet, and her thrilling style soon became recognized. She won the Bram Stoker Award in 2015 for her psychological horror novella, Little Dead Red, and wrote the Stabby Award-winning Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu: A Tale of Atomic Love. She is also a member of the Horror Writers Association and co-chair of the Las Vegas HWA Chapter. Mercedes currently lives in Las Vegas with her family and rescue animals. https://writersinkpodcast.com/becoming-a-successful-author-as-a-stay-at-home-mom-with-mercedes-yardley/

Audio Books I’m Listening To:

I came currently listening to “It” by Stephen King. I listened to the opening credits, dedication, Part 1: The Shadow Before, Chapter 1: After the Flood (1957), Chapter 2: After the Festival (1984) and am currently in Chapter 3: Six Phone Calls. Chapter 3 is 2 hours thirty-six minutes, and 27 seconds long.

Writing Completed By Me:

  1. I reviewed the book, “Gabe and His Hero” by A.J. Chilson. The review can be read at https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R318ML4TQ6YUKW/. The book can be purchased at https://www.amazon.com/Gabe-His-Hero-J-Chilson/dp/1705526756/.
  2. I wrote the article Quiet Time With God. It is available at https://jimmiekepler.com/2020/02/28/quiet-time-with-god/.
  3. I published the article Resting in the Lord. It is available at https://jimmiekepler.com/2020/02/27/resting/.

Books I Purchased This Week:

I bought and started reading two books this week. I am enjoying both. They are:

  1. Sinister Magic: An Urban Fantasy Dragon Series (Death Before Dragons Book 1) Kindle Edition by Lindsay Buroker. It is available at https://www.amazon.com/Sinister-Magic-Fantasy-Dragon-Dragons-ebook/dp/B084TVCCK2
  2. I Cry Unto You, O Lord: Poems of Lament Kindle Edition by Sarah Suzanne Noble. It is available at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B084YXFW34/.

What I am Working On:

  1. Editing a collection of my poems to be published later this year by Poetry and Prayer Press. It will be my second published book of poetry.
  2. I have a science fiction book that I’m still working on writing the first draft.
  3. I have two books that were published last fall for which I am working on a marketing plan. They came out at the same time I had cataract surgery and tested positive for A&B flu. There has been no marketing of the books or book launches as of yet.

Image by StartupStockPhotos from Pixabay

Quiet Time With God

Time With God

“I rise before the dawning of the morning, And cry for help; I hope in Your word.” Psalm 119:147 NKJV

1. Set a Regular Time

Psalm 119:147a – “I rise before the dawning of the morning, …”

The Psalmist has a regular time designated for meeting God. He rises early in the morning. While rising early in the morning is good the key is to have a regular time.

While the implication is the Psalmist does it every day, that isn’t stated. What is important is to do it consistently. Don’t let Satan get you down when you miss a day by hearing a voice criticizing you or telling you you can’t do it since you missed a day.

I like the term regular as opposed to daily. Surprisingly I find Sunday the most difficult day of the week to spend personal alone time with God. I don’t let Satan defeat me when I don’t read and reflect on the word of God on the day I go to church and participate in Bible study and corporate worship.

Don’t let Satan focus on the one or two days in seven you miss. Instead, rejoice in the time you spend with God.

Also, you don’t have to get up before sunrise to meet God. I recommend a regular place and time. I have joked with friends saying God knows where I am going to be and when I am going to be there for my regular time with Him.

2. Share Your Heart

Psalm 119:147b – “…And cry for help;”

Part of my time with God is reading His word. I remember when I was younger the minister would suggest we read the Bible through each year. We would be given plans that told us what we should be reading each day. For years I failed miserably.

My late mother suggested I don’t put so much pressure on myself to check off reading three or more chapters a day. She told me the first time she read the Bible through took her five years. She started at Genesis and read sometimes a few verses and other times a few pages.

Each day, she would leave a bookmark where she had finished reading. She did this for days, then weeks, then months, and finally five years later she had finished reading the entire Bible. She started over the next day and this time it was only two years before she finished making it through. By the time she was 80 years old, she was reading the Bible through a couple of times a year.

She said God honored her feeble efforts over the years by having the word she needed for each time she approached His throne of grace.

She taught me how to tell God how I loved Him, to cry out and confess my sin. She taught me 1 John 1:9 (author’s paraphrase) – “If I confess my sin He is faithful and just to forgive me and cleanse me from all unrighteousness.” She also taught me to thank God for all He did for me and my family as well as to pray for others.

3. Hope in God

Psalm 119:147c – “I hope in Your word.”

My pastor and the late Dr. Calvin Miller taught me how to have hope.

I remember worrying about getting a church and having a ministry when I first attended seminary over four decades ago. My pastor had the word I needed to hear. He said God doesn’t call a person to ministry without having a place for them to serve. He shared Genesis 12:1 (NKJV) – “Now the LORD had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, From your family And from your father’s house To a land that I will show you.”

My pastor said, “God told Abraham to go before He told Him where the journey would take him. God will be as faithful to you.” Later when I began writing the same pastor told me, “When God tells you to write, write. He’ll take care of the audience. He may be having you write for your personal growth or to influence the masses. Sometimes it is just for one or two people who need to hear the word you are sharing. He told me to give equal attention to writing a column in a church newsletter as you would to writing a book with a million-dollar advance.”

Later, the wisdom of his words found an example when I was attending a writing conference in the Blue Ridge Mountains in the late 1980s. I was in a session with the late Dr. Calvin Miller. He shared how his book The Phillipian Fragment began as a series of weekly pastor’s columns in the church newsletter. An editor who was on the mailing list read them and approached him about turning them into a book.

I believe the bottom line is when we spend regular time with God, God honors us for honoring Him.

Image by Cara Shelton from Pixabay

Defeating Giants In Your Christian Writing Life

1 Samuel 17:40 English Standard Version (ESV), “Then he took his staff in his hand and chose five smooth stones from the brook and put them in his shepherd’s pouch. His sling was in his hand, and he approached the Philistine.”

If You Are Going to Defeat The Giants In Your Christian Writing Life You Need To Use The Five Stones:

Stone One: Check You Purpose

Is it worthy enough to consume your time, energy, etc.? 

Why are you writing what you’re writing? We all know it is better to write a book or article that touches one life for Christ than to write smut that sells hundreds of thousands of copies. Is there an audience for your work?

Jeremiah 33:3 (ESV), “Call to me, and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.”

As Believers, we pray more when challenged with a cause.

John 14:13-14 (ESV), “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.”

Being used by God and working in the Holy Spirit’s power is a privilege. 

Mark 11:24 (ESV), “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

Stone Two: Count the Cost

To defeat Goliath, David had to:

1. Pay the price of criticism. 

We get that as writers from family members who say we need a real job or writing is a hobby and from reviewers and our writing group who don’t like or get our work.

2. Pay the price in loneliness. 

Admit it; there is a lot of loneliness and solitude in writing. Are you willing to spend the time with your behind in the chair?

Stone Three: Chart Your Course

Know your target audience. Who are you writing for and why?

1 Samuel 17:34-36 (ESV), “But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him. Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.”

Stone Four: Consider Your Christ

Remember, David didn’t confront and kill Goliath alone. He gives us an example of positive faith that we can apply to our writing.

1 Samuel 17:45 (ESV), “Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.”

Do you include prayer in your writing preparation? Do you ask God to show you what you should be writing and to let His thoughts be your thoughts as you put words on paper?

Philippians 4:13 (ESV), “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

This verse includes four positives things:
  1. I can – is positive thinking.
  2. I can do – is a positive action.
  3. I can do all things – is positive faith.
  4. I can do all things through Christ – is a positive power.

Stone Five: Charge Your Challenge

Now get after it! Get your behind in the chair and write!

1 Samuel 17:51-52 (ESV), “Then David ran and stood over the Philistine and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him and cut off his head with it. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled. And the men of Israel and Judah rose with a shout and pursued the Philistines as far as Gath and the gates of Ekron, so that the wounded Philistines fell on the way from Shaaraim as far as Gath and Ekron.”

Conclusion:

We kill the giants in our own writing lives because those needing to read what God has placed on our hearts will never see the words in print or kill the giants in their lives until we do it in our lives.


Photo Credit: Image by Ralf Kunze from Pixabay

My Coffeehouse Writing Habit

Where I Write

I’m doing my morning writing at one of my favorite Starbucks. I like the location on Preston Road just north of Lorimar in Plano, Texas. I write here most mornings.

The photo is of my writing-table. I usually sit at the same table each morning. From left to right in the picture, you see my laptop bar, my personal porcelain Starbucks coffee cup. Using the cup not only helps the environment by decreasing the number of paper cups in landfills but it saves me 10 cents a purchase.

My Writing Tools

You can see the MacBook Air I use for writing. It has a 1TB solid-state hard drive as well as 16GB of RAM. It never crashes and is a high-speed computer. I have an external, wireless Bluetooth mouse that I use.

I use some writing specific software like Scrivener and Vellum as well as Microsoft Word for Macintosh.

When I Write

I’m usually at my Starbuck table between 6 to 6:30 AM. The Muse knows where to meet me. Working for years as a US Army officer and later for decades in the information technology field, I learned the power of habit and repeatable processes.
In the Army, we had standard operations procedures. It allowed us to work faster, safer, and more efficiently — and to save lives. In the IT field, we had repeatable procedures. They did the same thing.
Writing at the same place and the same time is kind of the same thing. My brain knows it is time to put fingers to the keyboard and input words into the computer. I also usually listen to the same instrumental music. When it starts, my brain says, “Time to be creative.”
Note: I am not saying you have to follow my routine. You need to find what works for you, to develop your own habit.

Photo Source: The picture was taken by the Author

Wanted: More Christians Writing Good Literature

Why Christian Writers Write

Meet the Poets: Carl Sandburg – 1919 and 1951 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, 1940 Pulitzer Prize for History

“I make it clear why I write as I do and why other poets write as they do. After hundreds of experiments, I decided to go my own way in style and see what would happen.” – Carl Sandburg

Carl Sandburg (January 6, 1878 – July 22, 1967) was an American writer and editor, best known for his poetry. He received three Pulitzer Prizes: two for his poetry and another for his history, a biography of Abraham Lincoln.

Sandburg was almost unknown to the literary world when, in 1914, a group of his poems appeared in the nationally circulated Poetry magazine.

Two years later his book Chicago Poems was published, and the thirty-eight-year-old author found himself on the brink of a career that would bring him international acclaim.

Sandburg published another volume of poems, Cornhuskers, in 1918, and wrote a searching analysis of the 1919 Chicago race riots.

More poetry followed, along with Rootabaga Stories (1922), a book of fanciful children’s tales. That book prompted Sandburg’s publisher, Alfred Harcourt, to suggest a biography of Abraham Lincoln for children. Sandburg researched and wrote for three years, producing not a children’s book, but a two-volume biography for adults. His Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years, published in 1926, was Sandburg’s first financial success.

With the financial success, he moved to a new home on the Michigan dunes and devoted the next several years to completing four more volumes, Abraham Lincoln: The War Years, for which he won the Pulitzer Prize in 1940.

Sandburg continued his prolific writing, publishing more poems, a novel, Remembrance Rock, a second volume of folk songs, and an autobiography, Always the Young Strangers.

In 1945 the Sandburg family moved with their herd of prize-winning goats and thousands of books to Flat Rock, North Carolina.

Sandburg’s Complete Poems won him a second Pulitzer Prize in 1951. Sandburg died at his North Carolina home July 22, 1967. His ashes were returned, as he had requested, to his Galesburg birthplace. In the small Carl Sandburg Park behind the house, his ashes were placed beneath Remembrance Rock, a red granite boulder. Ten years later the ashes of his wife were placed there.

Source:  Pulitzer Awards 1919, Pulitzer Awards 1940, and Pulitzer Awards 1951

For more on Carl Sandburg see: http://carl-sandburg.com/biography.htm