Wednesday, July 27, 2022

How do I learn to write?


Another question.

What's the most important part of writing?

I get asked this question from time to time and people are amazed at my answer. Some would think the outline. Others would say just to write what you're thinking. Still others would say, write whatever comes to mind and edit it later. Someone else would say to take a writing course. They would all be wrong, in my opinion.

Does that shock you? It does most people. While those things are helpful in their own way, none of them, in my opinion, are the most important part of writing. You see, writing is the art of using language to communicate an idea or paint a picture in the mind of another person. Now that I have made you think, I will tell you what the most important part of writing is to me.

Reading. That's right! Reading grows your vocabulary. Nobody wants to read a story, nor even a textbook, which is repetitive. A strong vocabulary helps to paint a much more vibrant picture for your readers. I have to check myself, at times, to make sure I don't use the same word or phrase too often.

Reading increases your imagination. The art of storytelling is more than information. It is elaborating on an idea and making it come alive. Have you ever read a book and thought, “What a battle that was?”, or “That must have been exciting”. That means the book you read was more than just words on a page. It was an adventure that you participated in. If you did not join in the experience, the writer missed the mark. Our job is to make you want to share the exploits. For that we need to grow our own imagination.

Reading the stories written by others, introduces us to different styles and helps us to develop our own, unique way of spinning a windy. (Telling a story) They also give you insight into what makes a story interesting, not just to yourself, but to other readers as well.

Let's not think on reading as simply a learning experience though. Reading is fun, relaxing and exhilarating! I've traveled through time into a strange future with H.G. Wells. I've ridden the western trails with men like Louis L'Amour, William Johnstone and Zane Grey, enjoying every escapade. As the reader I participated in every gun-battle, fantastic voyage and plot twist, never knowing what comes next, but wanting to turn the page and find out. I want to take my readers on adventures of their own, with the characters I create.

If you truly want to learn how to write, read some books in your genre and take some adventures for yourself. Then, you can be a better guide for your reader's treks through the stories you create.

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Friday, July 22, 2022

My father, my inspiration.

My dad and me, 1981.

 A lot of people ask me how I got started writing and why I write what I write. I started writing when I was in the Army and discovered that I enjoyed helping people see, through words, what I saw with my eyes. Alaska, where I was stationed, has some of the most beautiful scenery known to man. From the rugged mountains and clear streams loaded with fish, there was too much to keep it to myself. I decided to show it to my family, but words were the only thing I knew how to paint a picture with. Using words, I took my family through mountain passes, across glaciers, feeding eagles, fishing for salmon in the Russian River, whale watching and watching the Northern Lights dance in the frigid Arctic night skies. 

That's where I got started, but why do I write westerns? That's another question all together. You see, my dad was my hero. He never bragged about things, but I never doubted that he was capable of doing anything he set his mind to. He was never scared to get his hands dirty, nor to help others. He raised us boys to stand on our own two feet, and that our integrity was more important than money. I remember him "rescuing" me from a lion in our dining room one night. I guess we had watched too much Tarzan that day, and that shadow sure looked like a lion sitting in the corner. Dad calmly walked out, turned on the light and showed me that there was nothing to fear. He was there, the "lion" had fled.

He liked westerns. The old ones, and we would watch them together on the weekends. He got me into reading Louis L'Amour and Zane Grey. It stuck. When I started writing, naturally, it was westerns. I think the stories I have written are something my father could be proud of. He's still my hero, and I hope to keep writing stories that would make him proud.

  I lost my dad in 2019. While I will never be able to call him for advice, laugh with him, or watch John Wayne with him again, I will have those precious memories for as long as I live.

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Radio Interview

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