Know Your History – 21st September – Stephen King born

know your history - writingOn this day… 21st September, 1947 – Stephen King born

Stephen Edwin King (born September 21, 1947) is an American author of contemporary horror, supernatural fiction, suspense, science fiction, and fantasy. His books have sold more than 350 million copies, many of which have been adapted into feature films, miniseries, television shows, and comic books. King has published 54 novels, including seven under the pen name Richard Bachman and six non-fiction books. He has written nearly 200 short stories, most of which have been collected in book collections. Many of his stories are set in his home state of Maine.

Advice On Writing

Mr King has a whole book “On Writing” and for those that haven’t read it, it’s actually really insightful. So here are a few tips of Mr Kings that I thought were quite good.

  1. Stop Watching Television. Instead, Read as Much as Possible. If you’re just starting out as a writer, your television should be the first thing to go. It’s “poisonous to creativity”, he says.
  2. Write Primarily for Yourself. You should write because it brings you happiness and fulfilment. King Says, “I did it for the pure joy of the thing. And if you can do it for the joy, you can do it forever.”s king
  3. When Writing, Disconnect From the Rest of the World. King Advises “Write with the door closed; rewrite with the door open.”
  4. Master the Art of Description. “Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s,” writes King. The important part isn’t writing enough, but limiting how much you say.
  5. When You’re Finished Writing, Take a Long Step Back. King suggests six weeks of “recuperation time” after you’re done writing, so you can have a clear mind to spot any glaring holes in the plot or character development. He asserts that a writer’s original perception of a character could be just as faulty as the reader’s.
    King compares the writing and revision process to nature. “When you write a book, you spend day after day scanning and identifying the trees,” he writes. “When you’re done, you have to step back and look at the forest.” When you do find your mistakes, he says that “you are forbidden to feel depressed about them or to beat up on yourself. Screw-ups happen to the best of us.”

 Did You Know?..

 Stephen King wrote a musical?

 Stephen King doesn’t seem like the type of man that would write a musical, does he? But he did write one with John Mellencamp – an American rock singer-songwriter – which was called The Ghost Brothers of Darkland County. It was based on Mellencamp’s Indiana home, which came with a ghost story about three siblings who were playing in the woods when one was shot. The surviving brother and sister jumped into their car to get help, but, due to their panic, they swerved off the road and were instantly killed. The three siblings are thought to haunt the woods by Mellencamp’s home.

Know Your History – 20th September – George R.R. Martin born

know your history - writingOn this day… 20th September, 1948 – George RR Martin born

George Raymond Richard Martin (born George Raymond Martin; September 20, 1948), often referred to as GRRM, is an American novelist and short story writer in the fantasy, horror, and science fiction genres, a screenwriter, and television producer. He is best known for A Song of Ice and Fire, his international bestselling series of epic fantasy novels that HBO adapted for its dramatic series Game of Thrones.

Martin serves as the series’ co-executive producer, while also scripting four episodes of the series. In 2005, Lev Grossman of Time called Martin “the American Tolkien”.

Advice On Writing

George R.R. Martin divides storytellers into pre-planning Architects and Gardeners. “The Gardener just sort of digs a hole george rr martin - reader - booksand plants a seed, and then he waters it with his blood and sweat before waiting to see what will come up. It’s not totally random, because obviously the Gardener knows what he’s planted; he knows whether it’s an oak tree or a pumpkin. If he’s not taken totally by surprise by further inspiration he has a general idea of what he’s doing … I lean very much to the side of the Gardener.”

Early in his career Martin produced reams of unfinished story fragments. He learned to appreciate Robert Heinlein’s Four Rules for Writing. Martin says “The first one was ‘you must write, but the second one was ‘you must finish what you write. A lot of young writers somehow get stuck, or it goes awry and they don’t finish those stories. Heinlein was right: You have to overcome that.”

 Did You Know?..

Martin was a prolific writer to the letters pages of Marvel Comics, and would regularly pen missives to writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby directly. His first professionally published work is in an issue of Fantastic Four.

Know Your History – 18th September – Samuel Johnson born

know your history - writingOn this day… 18th September, 1709 – Samuel Johnson born

Samuel Johnson (18 September 1709 – 13 December 1784), often referred to as Dr Johnson, was an English writer who made lasting contributions to English literature as a poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer. Johnson was a devout Anglican and committed Tory, and has been described as “arguably the most distinguished man of letters in English history”.

On Writing

After working as a teacher Johnson moved to London, where he began to write for The Gentleman’s Magazine. His early works include the biography Life of Mr Richard Savage, the poems London and The Vanity of Human Wishes, and the play Irene.

After nine years of work, Johnson’s A Dictionary of the Samuel johnson - a writer begins a book - a reader finishesEnglish Language was published in 1755. It had a far-reaching effect on Modern English and has been described as “one of the greatest single achievements of scholarship”. This work brought Johnson popularity and success. Until the completion of the Oxford English Dictionary 150 years later, Johnson’s was viewed as the pre-eminent British dictionary.

In 1763, he befriended James Boswell, with whom he later travelled to Scotland; Johnson described their travels in A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland. Towards the end of his life, he produced the massive and influential Lives of the Most Eminent English Poets, a collection of biographies and evaluations of 17th- and 18th-century poets.

 Did You Know?..

Johnson’s heir was his servant (a former slave) Francis Barber

Barber joined Johnson’s household as a servant. He lived with Johnson for more than 30 years, as did his wife and children, and became Johnson’s heir.

For other interesting facts about Samuel Johnsons dictionary head over to: http://interestingliterature.com/2015/04/15/interesting-facts-about-samuel-johnsons-dictionary/

Know Your History – 16th September – James Alan McPherson born

know your history - writingOn this day… 16th September, 1934 – James Alan McPherson born

James Alan McPherson (born September 16, 1943) is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American short story writer and essayist. He has been a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and a MacArthur Fellowship. McPherson is a member of the permanent faculty of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa.

Advice On Writing

 What makes for a compelling history volume?

  • First and foremost, it has to be readable. If the writing is awkward, jargon ridden, narrow, if the prose is dull or dead, then people aren’t going to read it.
  • Second, it has to be accurate. It has to be based on thorough research and on an honest effort to present the story as objectively as possible. Nobody can be 100 percent objective, but it has to be fair-minded.
  • Third, I think it does have to be a story. It has to have dramatic tension. It can’t merely be about large economic or social or cultural forces without real people in there with whom the reader can identify. These are some of the important things that will engage the reader and keep him from saying, ‘This is dull, this is uninteresting. I’m not going to waste my time on this book.’

James Alan McPherson - Love

Did You Know?..

McPherson is heavily influenced by Ralph Ellison and actually co-wrote with him on “Indivisible Man”.

McPherson believes “that the United States is complex enough to induce that sort of despair that begets heroic hope. I believe that if one can experience its diversity, touch a variety of its people, laugh at its craziness, distill wisdom from its tragedies, and attempt to synthesize all this inside oneself without going crazy, one will have earned the right to call oneself citizen of the United States.”

Like Ellison, McPherson is a moral historian. Recognizing the American territory as an ideal always pursued, always there but never reached, he holds his fiction to a high standard by virtue of his identity as a black American writer: “Those of us who are black and who have to defend our humanity should be obliged to continue defending it, on higher and higher levels—not of power, which is a kind of tragic trap, but on higher levels of consciousness.”

Know Your History – 15th September – Lolita published

know your history - writingOn this day… 15th September, 1955 – LOLITA was published

Today is the 60th Anniversary of the publication of Lolita, one of the most controversial novels of the twentieth century. Lolita is a novel by Vladimir Nabokov, written in English and published in 1955 in Paris, in 1958 in New York, and in 1959 in London. It was later translated by its Russian-native author into Russian and published by Phaedra Publishers in New York in 1967. The novel is notable for its controversial subject: the protagonist and unreliable narrator, a 37-to-38-year-old literature professor called Humbert Humbert, who is obsessed with the 12-year-old Dolores Haze, with whom he becomes sexually involved after he becomes her stepfather. “Lolita” is his private nickname for Dolores.

Lolita quickly attained a classic status; it is today regarded as Lolita - Vladimir Nabokovone of the prime achievements in 20th century literature, though is also among the most controversial. The novel was adapted to film by Stanley Kubrick in 1962, and again in 1997 by Adrian Lyne. It has also been adapted several times for stage and has been the subject of two operas, two ballets, and an acclaimed but commercially unsuccessful Broadway musical.

Lolita is included on TIME magazine’s list of the 100 best English-language novels to have been published from 1923 to 2005. It is also fourth on the Modern Library’s 1998 list of the 100 best novels of the 20th century, and holds a place in the Bokklubben World Library, a 2002 collection of the most celebrated books in history.

 Did You Know?..

French officials banned Lolita for being “obscene,” as did England, Argentina, New Zealand and South Africa.

Today, the term Lolita has come to imply an oversexed teenage siren, although Vladimir Nabokov, for his part, never intended to create the association. In fact, he nearly burned the manuscript in disgust, and fought with his publishers over whether an image of a girl should be included on the book’s cover.

Know Your History – 14th September – Kate Millett born

know your history - writingOn this day… 14th September, 1934 – Kate Millett born.

Katherine Murray “Kate” Millett (born September 14, 1934) is an American feminist writer, educator, artist, and activist. She has been described as “a seminal influence on second-wave feminism”, and is best known for her 1970 book Sexual Politics, which was her doctoral dissertation at Columbia University. Journalist Liza Featherstone attributes previously unimaginable “legal abortion, greater professional equality between the sexes and a sexual freedom” being made possible partially due to Millett’s efforts.

About Writing

Her books were motivated by her activism, such as woman’s Kate Millett - Love is deadrights and mental health reform, and several were autobiographical memoirs that explored her sexuality, mental health, and relationships. Mother Millett and The Loony Bin Trip, for instance, dealt with family issues and the times when she was involuntarily committed. Besides appearing in a number of documentaries, she produced Three Lives and wrote Not a Love Story: A Film About Pornography.

Did You Know?..

Kate attended Oxford University and was the first American woman to be awarded a postgraduate degree with first-class honors by St. Hilda’s.

Know Your History – 13th September – Roald Dahl born

know your history - writingOn this day… 13th September, 1916 – Roald Dahl born.

Roald Dahl (13 September 1916 – 23 November 1990) was a British novelist, short story writer, poet, screenwriter, and fighter pilot. Dahl’s short stories are known for their unexpected endings and his children’s books for their unsentimental, often very dark humour. His works for children include James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, The Witches, Fantastic Mr Fox, The BFG, George’s Marvellous Medicine, and The Twits. Adult works include Tales of the Unexpected and My Uncle Oswald.

About Writing

Roald Dahl wrote all of his stories in a shed at the end of his garden. roald dahl quote - secrets & magicEvery day from 10.00-12.00 and 16.00-18.00, Roald Dahl would write stories whilst sitting in a shed at the end of his garden. All of his stories were written using an HB pencil on yellow legal notepads.

Seven tips from Roald Dahl

The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More features a short extract called Lucky Break, in which Roald Dahl explains how he came to be a writer. It also includes seven tips from Roald on the qualities he thought necessary to anyone wanting to make a living out of writing fiction. They were:

  1. “You should have a lively imagination.”
  2. “You should be able to write well. By that I mean you should be able to make a scene come alive in the reader’s mind. Not everybody has this ability. It is a gift and you either have it or you don’t.”
  3. “You must have stamina. In other words, you must be able to stick to what you are doing and never give up, for hour after hour, day after day, week after week and month after month.”
  4. “You must be a perfectionist. That means you must never be satisfied with what you have written until you have rewritten it again and again, making it as good as you possibly can.”
  5. “You must have strong self-discipline. You are working alone. No one is employing you. No one is around to give you the sack if you don’t turn up for work, or to tick you off if you start slacking.”
  6. “It helps a lot if you have a keen sense of humour. This is not essential when writing for grown-ups, but for children, it’s vital.”
  7. “You must have a degree of humility. The writer who thinks that his work is marvellous is heading for trouble.”

 Did You Know?..

“Roald Dahl created more than 250 words”

Chiddler, frobscottle, swishwiffingly scrumdiddlyumptious — okay so they’re not exactly in the OED, nor are they commonly used, but to create a register of 283 words is still quite impressive. The collection of words is called Gobblefunk and it’s mainly used in The BFG, although it does also make an appearance in Dahl’s other works, such as ‘Oompa Loompa’ in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Know Your History – 12th September – James Frey born

know your history - writingJames Christopher Frey (born September 12, 1969) is an American writer and the founder and CEO of Full Fathom Five, a transmedia production company responsible for the young adult series “The Lorien Legacies”, the first book of which I Am Number Four (2010) was made into a feature film by DreamWorks Studios.

His two first books A Million Little Pieces (2003) and My Friend Leonard (2005), were marketed as memoirs, but large parts of the stories were later found to be exaggerated or fabricated. His 2008 novel Bright Shiny Morning was also a bestseller.

About Writing

There is a lot of Controversy about Frey online, about his “memoir” called A Million Little Pieces. On January 8, 2006, The Smoking Gun website published an article called “A Million Little Lies: Exposing James Frey’s Fiction Addiction”, alleging that Frey fabricated large parts of his memoirs, including details about his criminal record. One incident in the book that came under particular scrutiny was a 1986 train-automobile collision in St. Joseph Township, Michigan.james frey

The website alleged that Frey had never been incarcerated and that he greatly exaggerated the circumstances of a key arrest detailed in the memoir: hitting a police officer with his car, while high on crack, which led to a violent melee with multiple officers and an 87-day jail sentence. In the police report that TSG uncovered, Frey was held at a police station for no more than five hours before posting a bond of a few hundred dollars for some minor offenses. The arresting officer, according to TSG, recalled Frey as having been polite and cooperative.

On November 2, 2007, the Associated Press published a story about a judgment in favour of readers who felt deceived by Frey’s claims of A Million Little Pieces being a memoir. Although the publisher, Random House, had set aside $2.35 million for lawsuits, only 1,729 readers came forward to receive a refund for the book. However since the incident Frey’s work still continues to sell well.

Did You Know?..

Another Controversy Surrounds Frey and the Full Fathom Five fiction series.

In 2009, Frey formed Full Fathom Five, a young adult novel publishing company that aimed to create highly commercial novels like Twilight. In November 2010, controversy arose when an MFA student who had been in talks to create content for the company released her extremely limiting contract online. The contract allows Frey license to remove an author from a project at any time, does not require him to give the author credit for their work, and only pays a standard advance of $250. A New York magazine article entitled “James Frey’s Fiction Factory” gave more details about the company, including information about the highly successful “Lorien Legacies” series, a collaboration between MFA student Jobie Hughes and Frey. The article details how Frey removed Hughes from the project, allegedly during a screaming match between the two authors. In the article, Frey is accused of abusing and using MFA students as cheap labour to churn out commercial young adult books.

Know Your History – 11th September – D.H. Lawrence born.

know your history - writingOn this day… 11th September, 1885 – D.H. Lawrence born.

David Herbert Richards Lawrence (11 September 1885 – 2 March 1930) was an English novelist, poet, playwright, essayist, literary critic and painter who published as D. H. Lawrence. His collected works, among other things, represent an extended reflection upon the dehumanising effects of modernity and industrialisation. In them, some of the issues Lawrence explores are emotional health, vitality, spontaneity and instinct.

About Writing

Lawrence’s idealistic theories about sexual relations, interestd h lawrence dream in mysticism and primitive religions, resulted in some of the most famous of the 20th Century’s censorship cases. The explicit sexual content of Lady Chatterley’s Lover became infamous in the late fifties / early sixties and led to this famous book being banned for many years.

Did You Know?..

At the time of his death, Lawrence’s public reputation was that of a pornographer who had wasted his considerable talents.

M. Forster, in an obituary notice, challenged this widely held view, describing him as, “The greatest imaginative novelist of our generation”.

Know Your History – 10th September – Marian Keyes born

know your history - writingOn this day 10th September, 1963 – Marian Keyes born

Marian Keyes (born 10 September 1963) is an Irish novelist and non-fiction writer, best known for her work in women’s literature. She is an Irish Book Awards winner. Over 22 million copies of her novels have been sold worldwide and her books have been translated into 32 languages. She became known worldwide for the best-sellers, Watermelon, Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married, and This Charming Man, with themes including domestic violence and alcoholism.

On Writing

In an interview with glamour magazine Marian says the following on writing:

“I’d rather never write again than not have a happy ending,” she says. “I might be bleak, but I’m hopeful. Where there’s life, there’s hope – it might not be the way we fantasise it as looking, but it’s there. Humans are amazing, so adaptations – we’re heroic. For some of us, it’s a victory to even get out of bed. We’re triumphing every day by every Marian Keyessingle thing we do.”

For those who want to be a writer, Keyes has plenty of advice. She reads writers she considers “better” than she is (“Like they say, dress for the job you want, not for the one you have”), but her big tip is simply – just stick at it.

“It’s very mundane to be a writer,” she admits. “It means sitting in front of a blank screen or page and writing. If there’s a character in your head, then write they’re story. It doesn’t have to be fully formed yet. Just write the first word, then the second. Writing is ONE percent inspiration, 99 percent perspiration. It’s work and you have to go over it again and again until it’s right.”

Did You Know?

Marian had no intention of ever writing a novel.

On her webpage biography she says she started writing short stories in 1993 “out of the blue.” Though she had no intention of ever writing a novel (“It would take too long”) she sent her short stories to a publisher, with a letter saying she’d started work on a novel. The publishers replied, asking to see the novel, and once her panic had subsided, she began to write what subsequently became her first book Watermelon.