The Word: David Johnson shares tips on Writing and what he’s learned so far in publishing
I am from north east Arkansas. After college and moving around many years I returned to the area. My career was in music and music education. It remains a major interest for me. Science fiction and some fantasy tales held my interests from childhood. I got to view many of the 50’s grade B sci-fi flicks as they first came out. As a teen I enjoyed several of the genre’s short stories.
My writing experience is regarding graduate schools and career needs. My preference is the Chicago Manual style. So, I would certainly urge all aspiring authors to learn the fundamentals of writing/language usage.
Next, writers should expose themselves to the wide variety of styles that exist. I think that, as in my chosen field of music, the more styles you can be versed in the better your chances of success. It hurts nobody to read a poem or two, some old/new style novels and short stories, and folk tales of various cultures. I believe everyone should read some of the Psalms in the Bible. David and Asaph were great in that style and knew how to write expressively.
I told myself the stories I have published several times in my head before I wrote them. Inspiration comes from different places for all of us. I have composed two novels that need revising, of course! The first began with a scene that came to mind while on a long walk during a winter night. Colors and sound often grab my attention. I envisioned a snowy scene of a bright blue flag, the image panned downward to a line of people with a primitive and brassy fanfare sounding. Then I began wondering: who were they, why were they there, where were they, and why? The second book built on the first.
Most places and characters I use are based on who/what I know. My first story, “The Night at Amos James’ Cabin”, is rooted in a family story passed to me by my maternal grandmother.
The second one. “Glork”, reflects my interest in what would happen if alien visitors desired to become Christian. Something would surely go wrong, and it does.
Write so that you show what is happening, rather than just telling it.
Study some history like the events you wish to write about. I can’t imagine writing on warfare without knowing about the World Wars and the Civil War, etc.
Write a lot. Consider it as practice, which everyone needs.
Finally, find an editor you trust, as well as accurate beta readers. Edd Sowder of Burning Willow Press has been such an editor for me, and one of our sons, Ben, is a creative writing graduate and helps when needed. My wife, Cindy, is also a valuable “sounding board”. It is often mentioned to not use family in
such projects, but since mine have the credentials, I do not mind doing so.
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