Faithful News & Writer's Journey
Throw it on the wall with abandon. Don't worry if you're the only one who can read it. Let your mind begin to connect the dots.
This is a very detailed outline for an as-of-yet-published historical fiction novel named An American Psalm. Being a historical journey, you will notice great detail in the notes making sure that the novel is as accurate as possible.
"Christian Fiction is any novel that states and illustrates a Christian world view in its plot, its characters, or both."
The fact is, many of us love science fiction and fantasy. However, you might ask, why would I (a Christian) write a sci-fi space novel containing aliens? Nobody has asked me that question yet, but if they've read or heard about Assurity, I'm sure someone might be thinking about it. That's an honest question.
Without giving away spoiler info, let me say this: I don't believe in Aliens—as in beings from outer space. Alien or aliens can mean many different things. Still, I do think this: lots of strange, fascinating, and otherworldly events were going on here on Earth both before the great flood God brought upon the world and even after the flood. There is a fantastical reality beyond science fiction in the biblical records. You just have to dig in and appreciate what it says. Think back on the Tower of Babel . . .Towers make me think of R.R. Tolkien (The Fellowship of the Ring) and C.S. Lewis (Chronicles of Narnia). As a matter of fact, C.S. Lewis wrote several sci-fi space novels. So back to the aliens. Here is a clue if you want to do a little research. The Bible chronicles giants on the Earth.
"There were giants on the Earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came into the daughters of men and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown."(Gen 6:4)
Where did these giants come from? Space? Or another realm of existence? Heaven? These were not nice giants that ravaged the Earth. They caused havoc and almost destroyed the human race. In the N.T.,(Christians) are included in the family of God and referred to as the Sons of God. In the O.T., the Sons of God are not the same type of beings as we are. They are not human. They were created—we are born. Then we are born-again if we decide to accept Christ. Whereby we are transformed into a new being infused with the spirit of God. Christ came to redeem mankind in this age and has made it available for all humanity to join his family, to be born-again Sons of God.
To add to this, the O.T. Hebrews never believed in the very modern idea that Giants were brought into existence by the co-habitation of "daughters of men" and members of Seth's family line.They believed that the biblical record (when properly understood) revealed that the Giants born to human women came by way of an incursion of angels (fallen angels) that left their approved and proper dominion—heaven. They rebelled against God and then perpetrated the following horrendous unlawful acts.
"The sons of God saw the beautiful women and took any they wanted as their wives." (Gen 6:2)
"And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day." (Jude 1:6)
Remember the angels who did not stay within the limits of their proper authority but abandoned their own dwelling place: they are bound with eternal chains in the darkness where God is keeping them for that great Day of judgment.(2 Peter 2:4)
Growing up as a young boy, I wasn't beaten or abused. On the contrary, my parents worked hard and I had plenty to eat; I attended good schools and benefited from involved and caring teachers. My mom always packed an ample lunch, replete with hostess cupcakes. But aside from that, weekends and after school I was left to my own devices: hills and horses, tree-forts and girls—soon to be a recipe for disaster.
More daunting still, as I entered high school the world of drugs was beginning a raging affair with our young sensibilities. The whole earth seemed to be careening out of control. The high school class, one year older than my own (as is more often than not the case) was filled with "cool-dudes"—soon to be drug addicts and pushers. Their clientele were eager-to-please under class-men, trying to fit in. I was one of them.
Tragically though, through that season of life, many perished. While some were “getting high” and “losing their minds” others were getting dead! One was burned in a fire; another ran over two young girls while drunk, killing them both; and several went to prison at young ages (never to return). My school friend Michael became so hooked on heroin that he overdosed at twenty-years-old. My best friend Phil became a mush-mind, believe it or not, and lost himself in transcendental meditation. There were others, too; but you get the idea. Then came the Jesus freaks. One of my closest friends was approached by a small group of Bible toting, long-haired converts.
I wasn’t into Jesus, but I had become convinced that there surely was a battle for life raging all around me. Friends, schoolmates and even hated enemies were succumbing to death, falling left and right. Mind you, this was middle America, not the ghetto. No one was shooting anybody, they were killing themselves. I’d been raised Catholic. The best I could make out from my catechism lessons was: as long as I made it to confession before I actually died, I could be as rotten as I wanted (and I was) and then, I would confess my sins to God right before death. Although I would have to spend an extended time in purgatory—it would still allow me access to heaven. Made sense to me.
I made it through my young life without sticking a needle in my arm (which seemed to be the quickest and deadliest of killers, and if it didn't kill you, it certainly deposited a residue of moral tarnish upon the soul). Miraculously, a young kid, from out of somewhere, shared something very different with me, and ultimately, the love of God prevailed. "There is life," he preached, "and power, and reality in faith. Peace like you've never known, Tony; come and taste it for yourself." Greater and worse grew the cataclysmic war, evil being carried out, leaving many young men and women bloodied or even slaughtered; lives strewn upon the battlefield of life. Without question, a fight for the souls of men was aflame. Even then, I could see that. One day I was sitting upon the iconic Mount Tamalpais, in Marin County California overlooking the ocean and practicing studiously upon my Gibson guitar.
Seriously, this was the home of some of the country's greatest bands. Above me, meandering down the hillside strolled a different kind of "cool and older" boys and girls. By now, I was about twenty. They gathered around and asked me to play for them a bit on my Gibson hollow-body guitar, which I did—and then—sitting there with me, they had the daring to ask if I was, "born-again?"
Looking back, my response was honest: “I have no idea what-in-the-heck you mean,” I answered. 'Someone told me about Jesus, but that's it." Exuberant, the boys and girls shared with me from the scriptures, explaining these wonders to me, and then,—asked pointedly: “Do you want to do it? Do you want to be born-again, man?”
My expression was probably notable. Blank. “What—?" I answered. "If I’m going to perform this life-changing act—I think it best I do it alone, with the master of the universe…don’t you think?” I responded, looking about at the smiling faces of these young people.
“Understood, man” one of the guys said. (His name was David.) “Hey, here’s a card and my address is right there…if you want to fellowship with us sometime. You’re invited!”
“Thank you.” I nodded to them as they all meandered back up the hill, smiling. I watched as they left me with myself. That very hour I accepted Christ as my Lord. It seemed perfectly logical and right. It fit. There was no reason not to—I mean, I had nothing to lose; and I was lost.
To this day I thank God for his mercy and grace. I rejoice in Jesus Christ for saving my life from certain destruction.
In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And [that] they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will. (2Ti 2:25-26 KJV)
So am I a writer who is a Christian, or, a Christian Writer? My novels are written with the defeated and beaten-down in mind, even the arrogant and self-assured. I am not a judge, simply a messenger of “good news!” It’s been said, that as writers we are not supposed to have an opinion, or at the very least, we must allow our characters to have their own ideas, which aren't predisposed to be just like our own. I get that. "Let them come to their own realizations." And yet, almost every writer, when it comes to God, creation, and religion, has belief. I assure you, that whether the writer believes in God, or doesn't, those ideas permeate almost every aspect of his or her writing. A simple example: In sci-fi writer Frederick Pohl’s “The Voices of Heaven” the author begins by declaring that the evil religious fanatics of the future are standing in the way of progress. Mark Twain made no bones about his disdain for everything Biblical, and he did it in a very convincing way. (I’ve always maintained that Mark Twain was at war with God—a terrifying proposition I might add.) Barbara Kingsolver masks very little of her presupposition against missionaries in the “Poisonwood Bible.” Of course, the world raved about that book. "A literary masterpiece," they proclaimed. For the greatest part, the modern literary world has no interest in the truly Christian world of the spirit, and will do its best to quench everything Godly. The war I knew as a young man still rages, it simply travels all about the battle field for its own end. Further, it grieves me to say, if you really believe Oprah Winfrey is promoting the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ—you are most deluded. She promotes spiritualism, which just like “Harry Potter” is a lie parading as the truth. Once again, the great acclaim of the world is showered upon these great people. The truth and the counterfeit can only be clearly discerned through spiritual eyes.
As writers we stand, amidst a new age (partly in thanks to, yes, Amazon and the Internet), where the writer may rise up out of the ash-heap of the world’s systems and constraints and is finally able to write what he is inspired to write. No longer shackled by the current school of thought; no longer having to “fit in” with this publisher or that agent; no longer at the whim of some individual, who will do their best to suppress writing that glorifies God, in favor of the “moment-by-moment” fantasies of the world.
Now without question, to be successful you have to write what your audience wishes to read. They’re your only publicity—their word-of-mouth is your reward for a job well done. They can let you know when they don't like where a character or story has veered, even before it's completed. If they're not engaged in your work, they won't review you on Amazon, or tell their friends—which is critical. Your audience can now share in the writing adventure with you, together. And make their voices heard as well. It's a fresh way of looking at your job as a writer. So when the question arises: Are you a Christian writer, or are you a writer who is a Christian? My answer in unequivocal. I am a Christian first and foremost. I am a Christian Writer, not a writer who is a Christian.
What is Theme?
Then there was "theme,” a most important element in writing your first novel, yet it's elusive to many. Most of us recognize the theme or theme song in a musical work, especially in film and television.
Easily remembered is the musical theme to Star Wars, or Jaws, or Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The “main musical theme” may reoccur throughout the work, in different permutations, variations. Even if we don’t consciously think about it while the film is playing—when we hear it (even a variation of the theme), it enhances our experience and keeps us immersed within the story being told (or in this case, in the film shown).
Sometimes the theme is not easy to perceive in a literary work. In a fable, the theme is pointedly the moral of the story. One could say, in its simplest form, theme in a literary work is the main point conveyed. Yet there are as many definitions for this word as there are writers.
A theme is the central idea or ideas explored by a literary work.
Expanding it a little, theme is about how we should live or act or be—according to the author. Usually, it is relevant to a particular situation that reflects upon the entire life of an individual, or two. Unfortunately, the theme may be an example of what we shouldn't act or be like, as well.
Themes are the fundamental and often universal ideas explored in a literary work.
Theme, plot and structure band together. At their best they coalesce, providing an interwoven tapestry of ideas, feeling, and most importantly, moral choices impacting the hero. This is the means by which we tell a story, and hopefully we leave the reader with a different point of view. A call to action, an inspiring thoughtful desire to be a better kind of person, or, a call to change from being evil to becoming good. Or at least descent.
In my novel The First Rains of October the antagonist, Bane O'Camp actually changes from evil to descent. Surprising, really. He's probably never going to be a saint, but he does change.
The typical definition of theme is usually something like this:
A central theme is the common thread or repeated idea that is incorporated throughout a literary work.
Not very imaginative is it. Consider just a few themes that are prevalent today:
- Example: “Afraid of making a lasting commitment to fall in love” is the main theme of As Good As It Gets
- Example: One man or woman can make a difference is the main theme of the book “Team of Rivals” which was adapted for the big screen as Lincoln.
- Example: “Societies expectation for your life, are not your own” is the main theme of Ender’s Game.
- Example: “The empty pursuit of pleasure leads to corruption” is the main theme of The great Gatsby.
- Example: “True love conquers all” is the main theme of Sleeping Beauty.
- Example: “Revenge” is the theme of Double Jeopardy.
There are as many definitions of the element theme as can be imagined, implicit is that it is a bit hard to define. Remember that the plot is simply the series of events that transpire within the story that move the story from the beginning to the end. Your theme, truly, is the heart of the matter. The very essence of what your hero, or heroes, should value by the end of the story.
From ancient Greek thema we derive this word theme, who’s many related uses all have to do with the idea of "the main subject of something," or “the heart of the matter.”
Webster’s definition of theme:
: the main subject that is being discussed or described in a piece of writing, a movie, etc.
: a particular subject or issue that is discussed often or repeatedly
: the particular subject or idea on which the style of something (such as a party or room) is based
Even the dictionary definition leaves one with a sense of what?Let’s look at Someone Like You for a moment; the theme is clearly defined in the movie, if we take a few moments to analyze what happens.
SOMEONE LIKE YOU
Opened March 30, 2001 Genres: Romantic Comedy, Comedy, Romance
Jane Goodale (Ashley Judd) has everything going for her. She's a producer on a popular daytime talk show, and is in a hot romance with the show's dashing executive producer Ray (Greg Kinnear). But when the relationship goes terribly awry, Jane begins an extensive study of the male animal, including her womanizing roommate Eddie (Hugh Jackman). Jane puts her studies and romantic misadventure to use as a pseudonymous sex columnist -- and becomes a sensation.
Now actually, Jane gets dumped by Ray, not once, but twice. Terribly hurt, she becomes fixated on the idea that men actually act just like bulls on a farm needing to “have” one cow after another until all of the cows been conquered. After that, the bull must be shipped off to a new farm with new cows. Why? because the bull will never go back to the same cow. Eventually Jane is comforted by Eddie, who is the perfect example of the womanizing male. Through it all, she comes to realize that Eddie too, has been deeply wounded, actually by a woman, and that is the reason why his relationships, short-lived, proceed from conquest to conquest. As it turns out, he’s given up on relationships, until he sees Jane dancing in her underwear. Actually, though, it must have been when she weakened and became fragile and cried. Of course when they cuddle and don’t have sex as he comforts her, that changes everything, and Jane realizes that men aren’t all bovines, and falls madly in love with Eddy. Cute. It’s romantic comedy, what do you expect.
Theme: Never Give Up On Love; Out There Somewhere Is The One Just For You.
As I ponder the theme in a novel, I dwell on this: What ideal, moral, or way of life, even deeply felt sentiment, does the writer wish to leave with the reader? Careful now, character should grow from within each character, as they truly are. If they become preachy (on any subject) they become one dimensional. On the other hand, if they change, from within, that’s another thing all together. I can tell when a writer has a particular bent. Especially religious or political. As a novel writer, I don't want you to believe what I believe, instead, what my character believes is the essence. It can be a bit tricky, can't it? And yet, indisputably, we all have our world (or human) opinions. Writers probably more so than most. That is where theme lies, at the core of what ideal is being expressed.
Therefore, I envision theme a bit like a great wave. I live in California; the beginnings of this wave begins in Japan. It is always undulating the seas beneath, a tectonic power coupled with a force pushed forward by the winds of plot. Characters rising and falling along its journey, culminating in a climactic end, when it will finally crash against the shore—sometimes forcefully and sometimes gently, crackling against the smooth stony beach.
So I ask myself, is the theme really the "main thing" being discussed, or rather, the understated, sometimes hidden truth that lies below the surface. Your main theme, truly, is the heart of the matter, the very essence of what your hero, or heroes, value by the end of the story.
WHAT IS MY PURPOSE?
Hello and greetings to you. My purpose within is two-fold: To bring you literature (in the form of novels and screenplays) that exhibits hope in a thought-provoking and inspiring manner. Secondly, biblical writing: It is designed to assist in bringing a Godly perspective from the Bible to those interested in what Ihave been able to glean from myjourney along the way. Words that deliver hope, love and wisdom to men and women of all ages and outlooks — today and into the future. Certainly, stories, novels in particular, as in life, don't always begin, nor end for that matter, in a pleasing fashion; characters, who are sometimes profane, may be unpredictable and nasty. I don't write sickly-sweet "religious novels;" I'm more concerned with characters who are trying to overcome real-life situations in their lives. A reflection of real life. , overbearing obstacles almost always appear along the way. In life not every person will act, speak, or change in a manner you or I may find agreeable. After all, each person makes decisions in ways that are personal to them, their world view. My stories reflect that reality; so do my characters. Beyondthat, my outlook is that through Christ, victory is ultimately assuredRest assured, my greatest desire is to engage and inspire. To pen a moving story that you will remember.
I hope you enjoy my work!
What's it Like to Spend Years on a Screenplay?
FIRST, let me say that writing a screenplay is a very collaborative art form. Unlike a novel, a screenplay, if it's ever made into a major motion picture, will change in diverse ways by the time it is completed. Along with writing the screenplay Assuity, which is set in the future (2107), I was required to learn multiple facets of space travel mechanics, not to mention genetics which plays such a prominent part of the story. That's one of the inspiring things about writing — learning "new things" about the life around us. So before I delve into some of the particulars, let me thank some people who have assisted me along the way.
Jeanne Veillette Bowerman read my first unwieldy script and led me to Eric Bork who for almost a year was instrumental in helping me hone the screenplay into a workable story. Tough, he was understanding and patient with my digressions and forced me to conform to the norms of screenplay format that are necessary. Then Jennifer Grisanti assisted with my desire to make Assurity as much a people drama as a space adventure. My point of view is and always has been: If you don't care about these people no one else will, either. Finally, Tammy of Proof My Script did the amazing in assisting me in getting from 158 pages to 120 (which is max for a spec screenplay). Not to mention her other insights. Last and of unending assistance was Jim Bickford who works on many projects for NASA and is an expert on antimatter and space travel. He not only assisted in my technical challenges but loves sci-fi, has a similar worldview and came up with some brilliant ideas that made the story even better. To all of you, I say, from the bottom of my heart, thank you. I will continue these notes about screenwriting Assurity as I can. Now onto the novel version.
When you're characters come alive, writing is exhilarating! My labor of love lately has been new characters and plots! It's an aspect of life that I really enjoy. Beginning a new story. They say that a writer's life can be solitary. Most writers say that, and probably even their companions. Still, sharing all these developing and sometimes far-flung ideas about character and plots with your friends or spouse, it's just a hoot. Isaac Newton, when asked how he came up with the law of universal gravitation, answered, "By thinking on it continually." So you contemplate a character deeply, then it's fun to share them. See what the reaction is.
IT'S A LONG HAUL
A couple of years back I began planning a new novel. After 45 days I decided to bury it in the desert where the story began. I'd plotted a great deal and initiated the development of characters and storylines. That's quite a bit of time to spend on a job, then, to not write the book. Not every idea works. For me, it's got to happen in a fantastic way: the storyline, the characters, and the fusion of how all of this intersects and interacts. It just wasn't happening. If I'm to spend upwards of two years writing a book or screenplay I'd better love the story and the characters! The dots must begin to connect with new surprises popping up as you think and ponder and talk about the story.
LOOKING FOR THE GODLINESS TO ARISE
Ultimately, I am looking for the goodness which will arise and impact a character, and hopefully the audience as well. But that is initiated by awful situations to begin with, usually, or that arise quickly. Otherwise, for me as a writer, there is no reason to write a story. After-all—a major character in a novel should be as perplexing and fascinating as your best friend or worst enemy. The characters must be real. Ideally, I'm looking for realism akin to life—eventually, someone will be enlightened. A hero will arise from the ashes.
For the most part, people of a literary bent do not like Christian ideals. That's what they've been taught for the last 75 years. (See Mystery and Manners by Flannery O'Conner). And to make matters even more difficult, many Christians don't read fiction, especially if it's not from a "Christian" source. Isn't puzzling it? What's to be done. Well, I decided to go ahead and write a screenplay (which I had been pondering for a great while) set on a starship traveling through interstellar space. Yep! I love science fiction, and I know that a number of Christians do so as well. They just won't admit it. But how, might you ask, will God find his way into a story concerned with interstellar space travel? Well, that is the greatest of adventures, which began with this theme: "Even in deepest space, God is as near as your very breath."
Fun, Fun Fun...
More to follow: Who are these characters? Why did you choose them...and what is the plot?
Historical novelizations can require extended time to complete. In my case, "Jonah In the Time of the Kings" needed three years to research, edit, and finally complete. Both my wife and I traveled to remote locations to gain access to the most accurate information we could obtain: historical, geographical and Biblical, not to mention the military and cultural aspects required for the novel.
A great deal was discovered concerning the Assyrian culture and their mighty military within the British Museum. Biblical texts were available for examination, both there and in the library in Edinburgh, Scotland. Below are a few of the most often asked questions about Jonah, with a short synopsis.
"What I really like about "Jonah In the Time of the Kings" is the parallels with our society today. It brings to life a Bible story that most Christians have read and know, perhaps from Sunday school or home fellowship, but so few of us realize its relevance to our modern-day United States or the world. This is not just about a prophet's disobedience to God, but the failure of God's people as a whole to give God the place He deserves and to fight for it..." Youla Overby
Of all the great men and women of the Bible, why did you choose Jonah as the subject of your historical novel Jonah In the Time of the Kings? After all, he lived almost 2700 years ago?I believe that Jonah is more like you and I than we dare to believe. Also, he was a man of incredible bravery, conflict, and character. Most of all, he had a unique and personal relationship with God, which is to be admired, and which I try to bring out in my novel. Here is a short Synopsis: The year is 762 BC. Jonah has committed himself to work on God’s behalf as a prophet of the Lord (in Northern Israel). Jonah is sent to the world’s most wicked and violent country, Assyria. The city that Jonah is asked to enter is Nineveh, the largest city in Assyria and over 500 miles away from his home in Gath-Hepher. Remember, the army of Nineveh is a systematized war machine, crushing every city in its path, enslaving every nation it conquers. Assyria lives by slavery and conquest. Israel is next in its path. Nineveh is a violent a wicked place—so horrendous that God is about to destroy it and remove it from the face of the earth.
Jonah is personally asked by God to deliver His message to the people of Nineveh: “Your violence is in my face God says. If you don’t turn from your wickedness—I will destroy your great city of Nineveh and all of you within it.” Jonah decides it’s not for him. He will travel as far away from the Lord as he can, to avoid preaching to the Ninevites, not out of fear, but out of love for his own country. Jonah gets on a ship and heads in the opposite direction from Nineveh. He has decided that if he preaches to the Ninevites and he is successful, God may change his mind and let them live. Jonah wants them all to be consumed because they are wicked beyond belief and they are a great threat to Israel. But Jonah has another problem, even greater: Israel is becoming wicked herself, and has turned away from Yahweh to worship the idols of the pagans. Jonah reasons that if the Ninevites are allowed to live by way of Jonah’s preaching, then they may very well overrun all of Israel and enslave all her people.
Unimaginably, Jonah escapes Israel, running from God; books passage on a ship, most-likely to Spain. God's not amused, Yahweh sends a great storm, threatening the ship and all on board. Jonah is elected as the cause of this disaster and is hurled into the sea. Of course, as we know, a great fish swallows him whole. Jonah is swallowed by the whale and three days later vomited back into the surf of a beach. God tells Jonah to get moving to Nineveh; preach what I tell you too, He demands. Jonah agrees, travels the great distance and preaches what God has asked him to preach. The people of Nineveh repent, as Jonah thought they would, and God spares the city.
- Many people don't believe that anyone could be swallowed by a whale and survive.
"For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so will the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. Matt 12:10"
- How could an entire city, not to mention an entire nation turn to God from being one of the most violent in history? It seems impossible.
It's miraculous and without a doubt happened. There was a recorded time within the Assyrian records (which they meticulously notated) that there was peace between Assyria and its neighboring nations. That time corresponds to the biblical record of Jonah. You may read Jonah-In the Time of the Kings to see further how that may have happened.
The Book of Jonah is certainly an example of God’s love for all mankind. He thought he knew what the outcome should be better than God.
- How was Israel similar to the United States today?
Israel was divided, much, as the United States is today. Israel was divided in such a way that physically, the north was separate from the south: Israel in the north and Judah in the south. Even more dreadful, they were divided spiritually. Many of the Israelite s had turned from God in the north to the worship of idols, forsaking their God and their protector. When Israel stood with God, they were victorious and unstoppable. When they turned away from Jehovah and cleaved unto the worship of the idols of the pagans, after many warnings, the country was finally overrun, and the people enslaved; first in the north and then in the south. What is chillingly real is that the Ninevites of that wicked Assyrian country were more willing to listen to Jonah than his countrymen in Israel were. Nineveh repented, and God withheld his threat upon them. Israel never turned again to God and was overrun and enslaved. Also of note: Israel, at the time, was as prosperous as during the reigns of David and Solomon. Unfortunately, the governing abandoned the principals of a Godly rule. They became greedy, and their wealth became only a temporary illusion. The end of them and their way of life came swiftly. How does the whale fit into this story, and do you think it is a mere fable, or that it assuredly happened? The Bible, as well as the Talmud, never says that Jonah was swallowed by a whale, but by a great fish. Could it have been a whale? Yes, it most likely was, however, it does not say that it was a whale. People seem to assume that a man could not be swallowed by a whale and live for three days in the whale's belly. Nevertheless, if God says that Jonah was swallowed by a whale and was spit up on the beach, that pretty much settles it for me.
- Another question which is debated with regularity is, did he die in the belly of the whale? And did God raise him from the dead?
There is no clear, definitive answer to that question. I have my opinion but have kept it to myself.
- How does your novel, Jonah in the Time of the Kings differ from the Book of Jonah in the Bible?
For one, God had the Book of Jonah written by a Holy man of God as it states in 2 Peter 1:21. I wrote Jonah In the Time of the Kings to inspire anyone who read my book, to read “The Book of Jonah” in the Bible. After all, it is only 48 verses. I tried to stay accurate regarding what we do know, and yet, make it real as if it were happening today. I utilized many of the Biblical facts and truths and then asked God to inspire and help me with the rest, and then, I prayed. A lot.
- Who are some of the other created or developed characters in your novel?
Well, to begin with, there is a King and Queen of Nineveh who were alive in 762 BC. After Jonah left the county, historically there were some years of peace with its neighbors. Also, there is the prophet Amos, King Jeroboam; as well as Naomi, Jonah’s fiance, and her mother, Bashe.
To View the Video "The Jonah Chronicles" on YouTube where I discuss many of the choices made in the research and writing of Jonah, please click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bUBneH0WezI or, you may purchase Jonah In the Time of the Kings on Amazon as a paperback or eBook.
Well, heck; here we go again—it's your first draft. Careful though. How do you make the final decision about your next book? It may take you one, two, or even three years of intense labor to complete, as it took me in writing Jonah. Is it sellable? Does it fit the genre that you are expected to write within? Even more importantly, is it the type of book your readers expect you to write for them? How about your publisher, or lack of one? I'm pretty sure that cuts to the heart of the matter for you as a writer too. Hey, if your work doesn't sell, why are you writing? No one cares—right? You're a failed writer, I guess . . .
Now, I'm going to ask you a question: Did Ken Follett believe that after writing all those detective novels, The Pillars of the Earth (the story centered on the building of cathedrals in the 12th century) was going to be his most successful book to date? And almost 1000 pages? I doubt it. What a marvelous work of imagination—and one of my favorites.
So here I go. I've set one year for my newest work: For me, with this goal, I start not with a plot, or, character development but with the table of contents. Therefore, how do we go about planning any work? Are you a plotter, a designer, a character developer in advance, or do you just go for it? Inspiration is a many faceted parts of our inner selves. I've learned that each book requires a different approach. More on that next time. But here is the important point for me. What is the best way to get through a first draft? JUST GET THROUGH IT AS FAST AS YOU CAN! I dare say, if you are one of those irascible fellas or gals, who just have to have every word correct on the first run through, then you are in the same league with Steinbeck. It ain't my style, that's for sure. In fact, rewriting the first page 30 times before you get to page ten can be a real hindrance. I know, for I've done it hundreds of times. Learning to push ahead without correction, now that takes guts. And then to read it—unequivocally, that takes a stiff drink.
When you spend years on writing a novel or screenplay—you'd better fall in love with your characters, especially your main character. He or she may not be someone you'd choose as a friend, maybe not even a very nice person, but they must be dynamically interesting. So for Assurity—a big story spanning a great deal of time and travel—the structure of the acts had to be configured properly first. In a screenplay, this is a very formal arrangement of timing and events. The viewer expects certain events to take place, although they may not know it consciously. Most space sci-fi is not character-driven—it is action and event-driven first. I wanted to make Assurity as much of a character drama as a space piece so that each character, each in their own way would contribute to the theme:
"Even in deepest space, He's as close as your very breath."
Thank's for reading!
You've talked about writing a book for years. Well, let's stop procrastinating and get to work, shall we? Would you like some help writing your first novel?
Writing your first novel—here are some ideas that might help. Having completed four novels and a couple of screenplays, I'm sure that I can provide some assistance. Glad to do so. Here is a bit of insight: I've started and not completed as many novels as I've written. Hmm? Perhaps I can first enlighten you in that particular aspect of the writing process. After all, it's going to become a big part of your life for some time.
Planning your novel - Practical Tips and Pointers
What is this story about?
People grapple over this for years. If you know the answer to this question already, you're well ahead of the game. If you don't, here is a modicum of insight: Make certain that your main character is a person with whom you can remain assuredly interested. That the world situation, you place him within is of interest to you.
Does the story have to be something you've experienced personally, or that know something about before you begin your novel?
I don't think so. One of the most exciting aspects of writing is learning as you go. Example: I'm writing my fourth novel, a dramatic sci-fi adventure called Assurity IS9. When I began, I knew very little of the science and genetics of my story. However, it is exhilarating to learn about space and space travel. I enjoy astronomy; I'm by no means an expert. Your story is the important part; where you set your story may change. You may have to learn a great deal about the setting or the technology, any number of things. That you're interested in the subject matter is vital. Otherwise, you get bored and so does the reader. On the other hand, you may need to do absolutely no research. It may come flowing right out of your head; it's right where you live.
Most successful authors write in one genre. They meander out of that genre very little. Here are some simple genre examples. Maybe you'd like to write legal thrillers, like John Grisham. Some authors write mostly horror, Steven King, and Dean Koontz. Fredrick Pohl writes space sci-fi. And Alice Hoffman writes family drama—mostly. I could go on and on. The point is must you pick a genre to write in all of the time? Of course not. However, it's worth considering.
I choose not to write in one genre; I love to explore. Meaning: I may wish to write a "family drama," or a "coming of age" novel. "The First Rains of October was "suspense and family drama." However, this does make it more difficult as a writer. Why? Publishers want to be able to plug you into a niche. Regardless, some rules are made to be broken, Jane Smiley (one of my favorites), and a Pulitzer prize winner, writes in multiple genres.
So, how about your first novel. You should have an idea of what genre your novel will fit within. And if having understood that, certainly, you might wish to read about special kinds of styles and techniques those type of novels require—and more importantly, what readers expect, when they read a book written in that genre. Example: detective novels and mysteries have very particular requirements; as does horror. If there is nothing scary about a horror novel and it's a love story—you're in trouble.
Wait a minute. What if you have no idea what you want your novel to be about, but you wish to write a novel. That's tough. Will it be character driven? (All about the main character, or an ensemble of characters within a group.) Is it going to be story driven? (The story comes first and the characters fit within that framework.) Or, perhaps, it's all about the location, which is how I began to write Catching Baby Moses. It can all begin in your mind at a place you know well: What if something happened here, in this place.
To conclude this first little essay, let's remember this: A good "full-time" writer takes at the very minimum one year to complete a novel. If you are working a full-time job, you might figure two-three years. That's a long time. Of course, some writers don't care about the quality of their work. I'm sure you are not going to be one of them.
You should love your concept at some point; preferably before you begin, rather than later. I like to tell my close friends a little about my story first, to see if they seem excited about what I'm thinking of writing. Beyond that, the story should gel after a time, and you should feel exhilaration and excitement, and you just can't wait to get back to it. If that is not happening for me within about a month, I begin to question my original concept. You can always shelve it and come back later.
Hopefully, that's helpful.
Let's carry on,
Writing Your First Novel