Category Archives: Inspirational

Tom Zumwalt: How to Write a Novel in Thirteen Plus Years

How to Write a Novel in Thirteen Plus Years

By Tom Zumwalt

As I wrestle with my inner critic and half a dozen other voices in my head (sure is crowded here—where did all of you come from?), approaching the close of my latest round of edits on my novel, I’ve decided to let my writer readers (reading writers?) in on my secrets. I know you’re all wondering, “How’d he finish it so fast?” and “Gosh, I wish I could write something that easily,” and “Why are there cat toys on his desk?”

Well, here it is, for the first time ever, Tom’s Guide to Writing a Novel in a Mere Ten Plus Years.”

Step One: Get idea. Mull it over a while. Forget to write it down.

Step Two: Get idea back. Write it down. Plink down a few ideas. Go play World of Warcraft.

Step Three: Write in journal, full of excitement about starting a novel. Don’t actually work on the novel, just talk about how excited you are in your journal. Play World of Warcraft.

Step Four: Tell friends and family and all the people at your coffee shops how excited you are to be working on a novel.

Step Five: Play World of Warcraft.

Step Six: Tell wife, husband, life partner, significant other, benign alien, or therapist about your novel.

Step Seven: Play World of Warcraft.

Step Eight: Weekend getaway to work on book. Write a few short, short scenes at the beginning, then perhaps something near the end, then a battle sequence because battle sequences are cool. Write non-sequentially because you have the attention span of a…oh, look, there goes the kitty…

Step Nine: Begin keeping backup files of your work. Make backups of your backups. Count this as writing time because it had to do with your novel.

Step Ten: Fired up, you’re ready to dive in. Unable to remember which copy is the correct copy, spend your writing-session time comparing, copying, and pasting from one file to another. Save on a floppy.

Step Eleven: Find correct copy, reword battle sequence because battle sequences are cool.

Step Twelve: Join critique group. Get positive feedback, but battle sequence needs work. Charged up, you go home, make another copy, save it on another floppy. Play World of Warcraft.

Step Thirteen: Work, work, work on the battle sequence. Reorganize files. Play World of Warcraft.

Step Fourteen: Return to critique group. Have them critique battle sequence again because battle sequences are cool.

Step Fifteen: Wife/husband/life partner, etc., says it’s time to write other parts. Try to write other parts. They all suck. Play World of Warcraft.

Step Sixteen: Try to write other parts again. Writing sucks. Swear you’ll never write another word again, ever.

Step Seventeen: Tell friends, family, etc., you’re never writing again.

Step Eighteen: Take a day, week, month, year, or several years off from writing, but the idea won’t leave you. Keep playing World of Warcraft.

Step Nineteen: Return to writing.

Step Nineteen, part A: Write blog posts instead of novel…oops…

Step Twenty: Repeat steps eight through eighteen numerous times until wife/husband/life partner says, “Just start writing.” “Oh. Okay,” you respond.

Step Twenty-One: Write, write, write as though your hands are on fire.

Step Twenty-Two: Look at the mess of files you have on multiple floppies, CDs, flash drives, emails, scattered papers. Swear you’ll give up writing.

Step Twenty-Three: Wife/husband/life partner dons the muse/editor/hero costume and wades in to all the mess you’ve created, as said wife/husband/life partner is capable of following a sequence of thoughts sequentially in—and here’s the amazing part, because you are not a sequential thinker—chronological fashion, and actually organizes your seemingly random randomness. “What?” you exclaim. “You mean this stuff actually connects together?”

Step Twenty-Four: Renewed, you charge in, astounded that, somehow, there just might be a story here.

Step Twenty-Five: Exhausted after your first dash in, swear you’re going to give up writing forever and ever. Play Angry Birds.

Step Twenty-Six: Wife/husband/life partner says, “Stop playing Angry Birds. Set a timer for half an hour and write. When the timer goes Ding! you can play Angry Birds.” “Oh. Okay,” you say.

Step Twenty-Seven: Using the timer/Angry Birds technique you, somehow, exhausted, neuron-fried, and limping, cross the finish line, walk upstairs and announce that the first draft is complete.

Step Twenty-Eight: Celebrate with a Guinness. A very large Guinness. Draft. Nothing canned or bottled. This is a proper celebration. Guinness is writer fuel.

And that, my friends, is how to complete a rough draft in a mere ten-plus years. Easy, right?

Y’know what, though? Once this first one’s out the door I’m gonna do it again. And maybe this next time I can shave it down to just five years….

Tom Zumwalt Bio:

Tom Zumwalt is a writer from Lexington, Kentucky. He lives a writerly life with his wife and two cats, and has completed his first novel, DragonFox. Tom writes a blog (http://writefromthegitgo.blogspot.com/), and has written articles for Kentucky Monthly magazine, Collecting Toys magazine, and movie reviews for the Georgetown News-Graphic. Also, he was a finalist in the Licking River Writers Writing Competition. He loves reading the Arthurian legends, anything by Poe, and comic books. He likes dragons as long as they don’t pursue him.

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Michele Sayre: WRITING INSPIRATION BULLOCKS

I’m sure there is someone out in this world who would love to slap my mouth shut for putting those three words together in today’s blog title. But sometimes I feel like all I see when it comes to writing is finding the motivation and inspiration to write instead of complete works of writing instead.

So in response to all that glorious writing motivation and inspiration I say this:

You don’t have to write.

I know you may feel like if you don’t write your brain is going to explode or all your wonderful ideas and stories will just die with you and take a few million years to regroup from the stardust of your demise. But that’s not going to happen because you felt like you had to write, but because you went out and wrote then edited the crap out of what you wrote till it shined like a clean toilet.

I write despite all the bullshit that comes along with it. But I refuse to be all high-and-mighty and lofty and say ‘I have to write’. No, for me it is a conscious choice to park my butt and write the words and edit the crap out of them before I share them with the rest of the world.

For me it’s never been about having the need to write, but wanting to do it. It’s wanting to see the words hit the page, wanting to push myself to sharpen them to the brightest points, and hearing their truth not just inside my head, but with my own ears, too.

I know I don’t have to be in the perfect mood to write. I know my mind can be a mess and most of all, I know it doesn’t have to be set in a certain way. I can write in a flying-hot good mood, or in a dark and cold pisser of a mood. And I can always edit until I get it to where it flows the way I want it to. I don’t have to kill my darlings but instead keep at them until they make it out of the jungle of my mind.

I don’t need a room of my own, or a lot of time, either. And as for the thoughts that question the worth of my words and whether they’re good enough for others to see, bullocks to them. I know someone out in the world won’t like me and what I write, but I’ve kept on going despite being told that in more variations than I care to admit to. Every day I feel like I’m learning more and more how to kick that crap out of my way even when it keeps coming into my path.

So if you’re looking for any writing inspiration from me I’ll tell you one thing: write because you want to, and never mind the bullocks that comes along with it.

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Please visit Michele Sayre’s website:
https://tinyurl.com/yb42gyt2

Authors’ Words: Charles Dickens

Dickens’s A Christmas Carol has become an iconic fixture in our celebration of the holiday. Everyone has their favorite movie version of this story of goodwill to all men and redemption for one man. However, to read the novel is to experience the true depth of character and spirit that Dickens intended.


“And it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One!” 
― Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Charles Dickens, in full Charles John Huffam Dickens, (born February 7, 1812, Portsmouth, Hampshire, England—died June 9, 1870, Gad’s Hill, near Chatham, Kent), English novelist, generally considered the greatest of the Victorian era. His many volumes include such works as A Christmas CarolDavid CopperfieldBleak HouseA Tale of Two CitiesGreat Expectations, and Our Mutual Friend.

Dickens enjoyed a wider popularity during his lifetime than had any previous author. Much in his work could appeal to the simple and the sophisticated, to the poor and to the queen, and technological developments as well as the qualities of his work enabled his fame to spread worldwide very quickly. His long career saw fluctuations in the reception and sales of individual novels, but none of them was negligible or uncharacteristic or disregarded, and, though he is now admired for aspects and phases of his work that were given less weight by his contemporaries, his popularity has never ceased. The most abundantly comic of English authors, he was much more than a great entertainer. The range, compassion, and intelligence of his apprehension of his society and its shortcomings enriched his novels and made him both one of the great forces in 19th-century literature and an influential spokesman of the conscience of his age.

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Resources:

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Charles-Dickens-British-novelist

Writers Unite! Tips on Writing: Grammar

WT- Improve Grammar

Words Of Ernest Hemingway

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Nobel Prize winner Ernest Hemingway is seen as one of the great American 20th century novelists, and is known for works like ‘A Farewell to Arms’ and ‘The Old Man and the Sea.’
Born on July 21, 1899, in Cicero (now in Oak Park), Illinois, Ernest Hemingway served in World War I and worked in journalism before publishing his story collection In Our Time. He was renowned for novels like The Sun Also RisesA Farewell to ArmsFor Whom the Bell Tolls, and The Old Man and the Sea, which won the 1953 Pulitzer. In 1954, Hemingway won the Nobel Prize. He committed suicide on July 2, 1961, in Ketchum, Idaho.

Hemingway left behind an impressive body of work and an iconic style that still influences writers today. His personality and constant pursuit of adventure loomed almost as large as his creative talent.

When asked by George Plimpton about the function of his art, Hemingway proved once again to be a master of the “one true sentence”: “From things that have happened and from things as they exist and from all things that you know and all those you cannot know, you make something through your invention that is not a representation but a whole new thing truer than anything true and alive, and you make it alive, and if you make it well enough, you give it immortality.”

In August 2018, a 62-year-old short story by Hemingway, “A Room on the Garden Side,” was published for the first time in The Strand Magazine. Set in Paris shortly after the liberation of the city from Nazi forces in 1944, the story was one of five composed by the writer in 1956 about his World War II experiences. It became the second story from the series to earn posthumous publication, following “Black Ass at the Crossroads.”

 

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Resources:

Image: https://medium.com/@Reedsy/30-inspiring-writing-quotes-from-famous-authors-ca601bfa5915

https://www.biography.com/people/ernest-hemingway-9334498

Words of Hunter S. Thompson

 

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Hunter S. Thompson was born in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1937. He showed a knack for writing at a young age, and after high school began his career in journalism while serving in the United States Air Force. Following his military service, Thompson traveled the country to cover a wide array of topics for numerous magazines and developed an immersive, highly personal style of reporting that would become known as “Gonzo journalism.” He would employ the style in the 1972 book for which he is best known, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, which was an instant and lasting success. For the remainder of his life, Thompson’s hard-driving lifestyle—which included the steady use of illicit drugs and an ongoing love affair with firearms—and his relentlessly antiauthoritarian work made him a perpetual counterculture icon. However, his fondness for substances also contributed to several bouts of poor health, and in 2005 Thompson committed suicide at the age of 67.

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https://www.biography.com/people/hunter-s-thompson-9506260

A Look Back….

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Today marks the two-year anniversary of the Writers Unite! blog, and we want to share a bit about how the blog came to be and why.

Writers Unite! was created as a haven for all writers to share their writing for critique without fear of ridicule and where novice and experienced writers could learn from each other. We were fortunate to enjoy very steady growth and to gain exposure by appearing on Paul Reeves’s radio program, Dr. Paul’s Family Talk. As our outreach broadened, we began to grow at a staggering rate.

In the late summer of 2016, the admins decided that we needed to take the Facebook group, Writers Unite! to the internet to increase the exposure of the group and expand the content we could provide. On October 12, 2016, Writers Unite!’s blog on WordPress launched.

Building a blog is a slow process, but we have labored to bring a quality blog to our members. Included in the content available are series about writing your first novel, self-editing, marketing, as well as guest articles and podcasts of interviews from Dr. Paul’s Family Talk of authors (many who are members of WU!) and the group administrators. You will also find writing tips and writing advice from famous authors.

We are a global community and this is your blog. The admins want it to reflect the information you want to see. Please let us know what content you would like to see posted.

Thank you for the support all of our members have shown for the Facebook site and the blog. We couldn’t do this without you!  Happy Anniversary to YOUR blog!

The Admins of Writers Unite.

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Follow the WU! blog or enroll using your email address.

Words of Ray Bradbury

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Ray Bradbury was an American fantasy and horror author who rejected being categorized as a science fiction author, claiming that his work was based on the fantastical and unreal. His best-known novel is Fahrenheit 451, a dystopian study of future American society in which critical thought is outlawed. He is also remembered for several other popular works, including The Martian Chronicles and Something Wicked This Way Comes. Bradbury won the Pulitzer in 2004, and is one of the most celebrated authors of the 21st century. He died in Los Angeles on June 5, 2012, at the age of 91.

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Resources:

https://www.biography.com/people/ray-bradbury-9223240

Words of Neil Gaiman

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While this is very true for writers, it is also true in life.

Adam J. Johnson: Channeling your Muse

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Writer’s block is a topic we like to frequently touch on because it’s something that plagues us all! No matter what type of writer you may be, whether it’s technical writing, blogging, journalism, or you’re purely an author, you have done battle with this daunting foe. It rears its head at the most inconvenient times and makes you feel powerless. It’s seemingly a random occurrence that shows up and leaves as it pleases. This however, is not the case. There are several reasons that we suffer from writer’s block and several reasons why some are less plagued by it than others. Our muse or personal source of inspiration is one of the tools in our arsenal against writer’s block. Sadly, we often view our muse in the same way that we do writer’s block. We think it’s random. How many times have you felt the rush of inspiration striking and urging you to take action? How many times have you thought, “I just don’t feel inspired,” or “I wish my muse would speak to me?” Let me tell you, your muse is like that old friend you haven’t spoken to in awhile. You really miss them and want to talk to them, but you aren’t sure how to approach it. The answer is always as simple as reaching out and connecting with them.

The first step is identifying your muse. Now, I know this may seem pretty basic, but there are several of us who go completely by feel and haven’t put much thought into where their inspiration comes from. Your muse is, at its simplest, what motivates you. Let’s dive into that, shall we? Naturally, this will be different for everyone, but the core ideas are the same. Your muse speaks to you. You just have to stop, cut out the noise and distraction of everyday life, and listen. For authors, I find that your muse is often tied to the genre you are writing in. When you search for her using that filter, it will be much easier to identify your muse. For example, I love Fantasy. I love reading it, and I love writing it! So, I look at what inspires me most about Fantasy and I surround myself with those things while I’m writing. Which brings me to the second step of channeling your muse. Keeping your inspiration consistent throughout your day!

I am a visual person, so Fantasy imagery strikes me hard and inspires me without fail! Since I primarily write Fantasy, I will keep posters with Fantasy themes in my writing space, and I will change the lock screens of my phone and laptop to mirror the ideas of my current project. This is me channeling my muse, keeping in contact with my old friend inspiration. I also love music, as most of us do, so let your muse speak through the music you listen to as well. I personally love metal music, but not all of it is really inspiring for Fantasy, but I find some that is. When in the middle of a project, I listen to a lot of symphonic metal bands like Epica and Nightwish. The orchestral elements submerge me in a feel of the old world and put me in the Fantasy writing mood. If i’m feeling something a little lighter, I will listen to bands like Flogging Molly. The old Irish culture flows through the lyrics while the fiddles transport me to that medieval state of mind. A few common enemies to inspiration are distractions like TV and the internet, so I try to find creative ways to turn distractions into inspiration. Don’t get me wrong, even if you execute this part well, they are still distractions and too much of it will lead to excuses to not get your work done.

So, what do I mean by turning distractions into inspiration? I’m going to continue with writing Fantasy as an example. If I feel like binge watching TV, I try to keep the themes of what I’m watching within the realm of Fantasy. I will watch shows like The Magicians or movies like Lord of the Rings. The internet, particularly Facebook and social media, seems to be a huge source of distraction for us these days. In order to combat that, I try to follow a lot of pages that are Fantasy themed or engage in Fantasy discussions within the writers’ groups. Also, if I find myself staring at my phone or the computer, I will search through Pinterest boards. Just shuffling through Fantasy images usually helps send a shockwave of inspiration through my brain.

Obviously, you won’t be able to spend your whole day totally immersed in themes and elements from your genre. That could even be counterproductive. However, these are just some ways that you can channel your muse throughout your day to keep your inspiration flowing strong. Don’t Look at inspiration as some random phenomenon that strikes as it feels. Remember that your muse is as much a part of you as your willpower or your sense of humor. She is always there waiting to inspire you. It just depends on how much you feed her and nurture the relationship. When you combine steps 1 and 2, you are not only channeling your muse, but you are feeding her. Making her grow stronger and giving her a more prominent voice in your mind. So, instead of it being a step-by-step process, it’s more of an equation to bolster your personal investment.

As always, the team at WU! wishes you happy writing, urges you to stay inspired, and insists that you live limitless!!

Adam J Johnson

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(Illustration: Apollo and the Muses)