- Family and Parenting
Inspirations to write a novel
I Was Inspired To Write A Fiction Novel
Have you ever wanted to write a story? Did you ever want to get your story published? If you answered yes to either of these questions then please read on. Many people would like to write a story, and some actually do, but what is involved in the process? As a new author I can tell you a lot!
I have an imagination, but sometimes the best material for your story can be your own backyard. Literally you have lived the best story to tell.
This is not about writing an autobiography, no instead its about how to take the events, and people you know and turn out a work of fiction!
Sounds strange? An old saying states that TRUTH is stranger than FICTION. My journey to a finished novel may surprise and inspire you.
An Artist Turned Writer
Why Write If You Can Draw?
Yep, that is a picture of me standing next to the knight. I built it 19 years ago for a commission. You see I started out as an artist, and then turned to writing. The full story about the knight including pictures of the building process will be published sometime in the future.
The future, what a cool name for a time coming. We all look forward to the future, yet it often arrives before we know it. Some of us would like to put the future off as long as possible, such as a student taking a test, or maybe a condemned man eating his last meal. Whatever your goals in the future are, I urge you to start now!
My story of writing a novel started 5 years ago, when I was working as a salesman and looking for a creative outlet for my story ideas. At the time adding more work to an already hectic day, meant using valuable time to get my thoughts down on paper. My wife was confused by my announcement to write, write anything! We were married about ninteen years already, and she watched me construct dozens of projects from scratch.
Most of the time I contracted with people to create one of a kind pieces of art, or some crazy display for a client. She was used to me drilling, sawing, spray painting, sometimes in the house, but writing? "What are you going to write?" was her reply. I smiled broadly and said: "A short story." She looked at me confused and said: "Don't stay up too late." What was funny about her comment was not her concern for me, but that I could write a story in one night! The idea, of writing was crazy right? I could easily get another art project, or sell a policy to a client. I never have figured out why I wanted to write, I just did. To make a man do something is work, to convince a man to do something is smart. All those years of school with a teacher breathing down my neck forcing me to write a theme. Yes, just like Ralphy in "Christmas Story" I wrote AGAINST MY WILL! Now I was volunteering to write? Get hold of yourself man! What are you thinking? What road are you now treading upon? This is very different and weird.
Where Inspirations Come From
In my life there have been many events to write about. The hard part is making those events exciting to a reader. We all have moments that we live that seem as if they were from a movie or in a novel. Well guess what? They could be part of your story.
What crazy thing happened to you today? Take a few moments to remember it in a notebook. Your life is exiting, so write about it. After you have gathered little snippets of your adventures, create a character that can live those moments. How? You may ask. It is as easy as putting a name on another person.
We all give nicknames to our family and friends, why not a fiction character. Then build up their personality by using the notes you actually have lived. Your daily life could be divided up into several characters. Think of something dumb that happened to you, and make that event a defining moment for one of your "paper people". It does not have to be earth shattering, just interesting. You could observe the neighbors activities and take notes. You could sit in an airport and watch the flow of people in and out. Whatever you choose to study, make it fun.
Writing It Down
Thinking of a good character is great, but writing out your thoughts is better. I speak from experience here, I have a very inventive mind, but I forget my ideas sometimes as fast as I think of them.
I know that sounds odd, but ideas come from everywhere, and sometimes I have to lasso them in writing to keep them! What would the world be today if Mark Twain just forgot who Tom Sawyer was? He wrote out a discription of Tom before he forgot.
I have another novel in the works, and I wrote part of it in a day! Starting at 4:30 am! If I did not start writing it out it would be lost in dream land.
Since I have trained myself to buy lots of $1.00 store Composition notebooks I always have a pen ready, even in the middle of the night. What a relief! Now as I gaze at the hand written notes from my early morning muses, I am shocked at how much of it I already forgot! It is a good thing that I wrote it all down.
Settings For Your Story
Where do you want your story to take place? What are some of the places you have visited in your life? Think about some of the interesting locations you have been to.
When I was very young my parents took our family out west to an old historic town. We heard the wind whistle thru the trees that stood next to an old jail house. The atmosphere was erie, and the air was warm. I could almost imagine a time long past. I pictured in my mind the horses breathing on my neck as I stood next to the hitching post. I stood on the sun scorched wooden planks that were the deck of the jailhouse porch. All my senses came alive as I heard the distant clanging of the iron cell doors.
In that split second of imagination I felt as if I was actually living in the 1880's and was a prisoner about to be led to my jail cell. How wonderful a sensation! Could you feel the same thing through my words? Did you imagine the scene as I described it? What places have you been in your life? Think back, and then put it down in words. Ready...Go!
Getting The Story Moving!
Once I had my characters, I needed to give them something to do. I spent many months thinking of activities, and trials that would sound real to the reader. As a boy growing up in the Midwest, I spent many hot summer days walking in forests, and climbing trees.
The idea for one of my " paper people" to do these things came naturally. When I was bored as a child, I would gather up materials and build a project. The main character in my story, "Secret Of The Fortress: A Dalton Family Mystery" has a summertime vacation from school, and convinces his brother to build a go-cart with him. My real life was always filled with looking for anything I could get my hands on to build a project, so in the story I have the brothers make friends with an elderly gentleman who owns a junkyard! This solved the problem of where the materials to build the go-cart comes from, and it moves the story along. The Summer break during the hottest months of the year was the climate to tell my story. All this came from living out the fictional life for real! I had no trouble giving my character siblings, since I actually had a brother, and two sisters. The dialog for their conversations is being played out in my memory, and I have three of my own children so the talk never gets old. I had characters, a climate, a setting? Where does the novel take place? Well, as a youth I lived in a few small towns, so guess what? Yep! the novel is in an unnamed town. If you read "Secret Of The Fortress" you will discover the secret, and realize that I never name the town.
All the characters have their own personalities, and quirks. Living in this particular town has it's benefits and you will discover what they are in the story. The setting was easy for me to write about because I could walk around my own town and describe what I saw. A fiction tale never ties anyone real to the story, but we all know some pretty interesting people don't we? I have character traits from people I know mixed in here and there. No one could say just exactly who they are inspired from, but I changed a lot of features to protect the innocent, namely the writer. You have an entire world as your source material, yet sometimes your best sources are in your own hometown.
From Notebook To Bookstore
The Not So Quick Way To Write A Novel
As I think back to the hours I spent writing a fiction novel, I'm reminded of the reams of paper that now surround my desk. Some people might decide to type the first draft, but I didn't. I hate typing because I am terrible at it. I use two fingers to type everything. I just couldn't get the basics down in my High School class. My teacher even covered the keys with paper, so I couldn't look!
I regret being so inept in the typing arena to this day. So instead I write in notebooks. I understand the mechanics of loose leaf paper much better than copy, and paste on a computer. After writing for years in notebooks, I did finally convert all of my thoughts onto a typed page. Want to know how? I had my very good friend named Kelly type my first draft. She was very fast and typed as fast as I could handwrite my thoughts. She even helped me edit along the way. Thank God for Kelly! She worked with me a year ago on the first draft, and since then I had to learn to edit pages on the computer.
The publisher requires one document to send to the printer, so I spent a year compiling all these individual page files, and did a lot of editing into a fifth draft. Learning the computer has been tough, but very important. Being over 40 I embraced technology slower than my teens did so everything took longer. Now I can say the journey was the important part. So Why the reams of pages even if I typed everything? The reason is that I don't trust the computer to save it for me, so I print everthing out! Since starting this book, I have gone through three harddrives, and now, I'm working on a laptop. I gave my poor failing Pentium 3 desk top computer a rest.
While I was writing this blog, my first novel was published. Many hours of writing, editing, and crying, finally paid off! I was so busy with the story that I ignored new movie releases, television shows, and even some social gatherings. Writing can become an obsession, and for me it did. My wife knew enough to let me hole up in the den and write. She knew my silence in many cases was due to running plot lines through my head, and acting out story details. Countless scribblings and chicken scratchings would show up on napkins, and edges of newspapers through out the townhouse. As I began revising the first typed draft, my family often would hear strange sounds coming from the den because of mistakes made while I combined files into pages. So much had to be revised and re-edited that I began memorizing every little revision and paragraph, to be able to get copy and pasting right. One file ultimately emerged as the manuscript. After years of labor, the entire manuscript would eventually be e-mailed to the publisher!
I Have Not Yet Begun To Write!
Dang Those Torpedoes!
If you have been patiently reading my blog, you know that one novel is complete, and now I am trying to market that work. I have walked into grocery stores and asked for the Manager, then they give me a tiny slip of paper with a phone number on it. "Call these guys, they do the buying." I'm told. I follow up with the lead and call. "You need to call our corporate office." I'm told next. So I do. transferring you to purchasing now." So I wait. After listening to the muzak version of "We will Rock You," I find out that someone is really alive, and she is very helpful with my questions. I asked about locations and costs, and tell her I'm a new author.... "Oh you're the author?" Yes... I reply. "Send me a book."
OK, now we are getting somewhere. Then she asks for my ISBN number. The barcode on the back cover is all she needs to look up the novel. Wow! I just saved myself the cost of the book! Now get this.. since my package allows for internet sales, the book is already listed in their database. How cool is that?! Now I wait for her to decide if my work will be acceptable for the 100 or so stores in our area. This could take a while.
Yep! I'm a geek.
Library, library, more than a book...
If you spent anytime watching TV as a kid in the 70's you remember the library jingle. I LOVE libraries. TWO of my characters in the story Secret Of The Fortress: A Dalton Family Mystery, Use the library to research their projects. As a young person, I went to our local library everyday during the Summer. I found sooo much to read and look at there, that I began the idea of having my own book at some point. Well, after 30 some years of enjoying other people's stories, I finally get to contribute my own story to mankind. As of this week, June 15th 2011, the West Bend library in West Bend, Wisconsin has ordered my novel for their shelves!!!! Geek alert! I love this. The library even invited this author to appear and meet the public in meet and greet the author event. I am still stunned! Plus a local bookstore has booked this author to the same kind of event to sign copies of the book for their customers! Somebody pinch me. So write, or write not, there is no place to hide. If you love to read, then try writing. Hey! I think libraries are great.
Lazy days to read.
I think that if you enjoy reading, then you will enjoy writing. How many times have you read a book, and felt that the ending just didn't satisfy you? The story was good but the ending let you down? Why not come up with your own ending?! This is a great example of editing. You become the writer, and edit the author's story. It is a great way to test your skills. Many stories need another reader to help edit the flow of action. In my own work, I rely on a group of close friends to read and comment on my story. If I only used my own grey matter, the story could miss something. The extra readers during the creative process give me an edge to the story. I ask for my friends input after I have written a first draft. They give me their comments and I decide on the final outcome. It is the extra step of asking advice that sweetens the action, plot and characters, that I alone may have missed. A good author seeks many advisers, to paraphrase a proverb.
Do your part, write the 1st draft, then ask for input.