Say Goodbye to Make Believe

John Green likes to write about things he knows. His first novel Looking For Alaska is set at a type of boarding school. He attended a similar school where he lived in dorms with a couple classmates. This book also relates to his life based of the fact that he was a misfit in his younger years. He was bullied pretty bad growing up for not being like every body else. The main character of the book Miles moves away from his family to attend Culver Creek High School. He wants nothing more than to get away from his school in town because he feels so alone there. When he arrives at the boarding school he forms friendships with his roommate and a girl named Alaska. They are misfits just like him and give him a sense of camaraderie. They teach him that he doesn’t have to fit the social norm to fit in and have friends.

He got his idea for The Fault In Our Stars when he was working for a children’s hospital as a chaplain. He was working toward becoming a priest but all the sick children inspired him to become a writer. He wanted to write stories about situations that could relate to people. His stories are meant to inspire, and evoke emotion. They challenge your idea of normalcy and challenge you to put yourself into other’s shoes. His books have strong messages of what it means to be a friend. And what a true friend will do for those they care about. All his books that I have read have friends who are extremely selfless and would do anything for their friends. In The Fault In Our Stars Gus uses his make a wish to grant Hazel’s wish. In Looking For Alaska they get into a bit of trouble at school that could potentially get Alaska thrown out of school so Miles takes the fall. It’s storylines like these that could help shape our youth into giving more, and taking less. Today it seems like so many people are so self absorbed they don’t even begin to notice other peoples needs. Even if they do notice, a lot of time people are putting their own needs before everyone else’s. I think it’s important for people to hear uplifting and selfless stories to motivate everyone to be their best self. I hope that more people will start writing novels like John Green’s to inspire the next generation to be kind, and caring.

The Wall Street Journal said, “some credit him with ushering in a new golden era for contemporary, realistic, literary teen fiction, following more than a decade of dominance by books about young wizards, sparkly vampires and dystopia.” He has brought back real life scenarios that every day people have to cope with; things that kids could potentially have to deal with. Giving them the ability to think through how they would handle themselves if they were in a similar situation. Would they handle it the same way the character did? Or would they have handled it completely different? I think there is something to be admired about bringing reality back to novels. It makes reading more relatable, and thought provoking.

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Surprise Endings

Next on my list of inspirational writers is Jodi Picoult she’s actually the reason I wanted to become a writer in the first place. One of her most well known books is called My Sister’s Keeper. It was also made into a film in 2009. She has written 23 novels thus far. I haven’t read all of her novels but one of my favorites is Second Glance. All her novels seem to be so detail oriented. Every time I read her books I wonder how much research she had to do to write such a novel. The bad part about novels these days is I always seem to know what is coming next. I think that is why I like Jodi Picoult’s books so much is because I can’t ever quite tell what the outcome is going to be. It’s refreshing to be surprised at the end of a book these days.

Her writing process goes a little like this. She says she begins with a “what if” question then tries to determine if she was in the same situation what would she do, or how would she react. Then she tries to think through different scenarios that could happen in the storyline and determines what she would do in every situation. And which would make the best story out of all the options. After a while she starts to feel the characters come to life in her mind and they start to kind of speak to her. Finally she does all the research she possibly can, until she has the perfect first sentence for her novel. Then she is able to bring the novel to life.

In one simple sentence she summed up why she is my inspiration, and favorite writer. She said, “You might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.” This was in response to how she deals with writers block. She explained how she doesn’t believe in writers block. Writers block is an excuse for having too much time on your hands. Giving the example of having to write college papers most people say that they have writers block but miraculously the problem always seems to sort itself out the night before a paper is due. With limited amount of time people are able to sit down and jot something down no problem.

Her advice to aspiring writers is to take a workshop class. She believes the best way to develop your writing is learning how to take criticism, and learn to write on demand. If you are interested in writing UVU offers a writers workshop free of charge, and they don’t require you to be enrolled.

The “King” of Horror

Stephen King and his brother started their own newspaper when he was just twelve years old. They called the paper “Dave’s Rag.” They used a mimeograph machine to create the paper and sold it for five cents a paper. About four years later he and his friend Chris Chesley published a collection of eighteen short stories called “People, Places, and Things—Volume I”, “The Dimension Warp”, “The thing at the Bottom of the Well”, “The Stranger”, “I’m Falling”, “The Cursed Expedition”, and “The Other Side of the Fog.” From a young age he liked writing and was writing whenever he could. These attempts were just seen locally at the time.

When he was about eighteen years old the magazine Comics Review ran his story “I Was a Teenage Grave Robber.” It wasn’t terribly long only about 6,000 words. But when he graduated from high school he received a scholarship and attended the University of Maine. King claims that he didn’t excel in school nor did he necessarily fail. He was more in the middle rankings of his classmates. Over the summer he began working on his first novel. It was called “Getting It On.” But it wasn’t until his first year at college that he completed his first full-length novel entitled “The Long Walk.” He sent it into Bennett Cerf/Random House hoping to get it published but was rejected. He felt badly about being rejected and didn’t attempt publishing that book again.

After college he started teaching high school when he was inspired by Robert Browning’s poem “Childe Roland to the Dark Came.” He started writing a saga called “The Dark Tower”, but didn’t have enough money and was unable to finish it. Stephen King started selling his short stories to men’s magazines such as Cavalier to make some money.

Carrie is one of Stephen King’s most famous books that he started writing while he was teaching high school around 1971. It was a story about a teenage girl named Carietta White he had only completed a few pages when he was frustrated and decided the story wasn’t worthwhile. So he crumbled it up into a ball and threw it away. Lucky for him his wife pulled it out of the garbage and read through it and really liked what she saw. She handed it back to him and encouraged him to finish the story, and so he did. In January of 1973 he submitted this book called “Carrie” to Doubleday, who purchased the book in March. They published the book on May 12, 1973. After his book was published he quit his teaching job and went to writing full time.

Stephen King’s story was inspirational, because I always have this completely irrational thought in my mind that if you aren’t successful the first time it’s all down hill from there. He stopped and started so many different novels and short stories before he was successful. He isn’t good with rejection, which I’m also bad with. He let it stop him temporarily, but he never let it fully stop his writing. I just need to remember that perseverance is the most important part of writing.

Advice From The King of Romance

As I was nearing the end of my high school career I knew it was time to start contemplating what I aspired to be in life. There wasn’t anything I was especially good at. So I tried thinking about what I liked doing in my spare time and the answer was reading. I had always enjoyed my English classes and nearly all my electives included some sort of English or creative writing class. I was a Senior in high school when I decided to try to become a novelist.

I don’t write nearly as much as I should. I always find some sort of excuse as to why I’m too busy. Even if that excuse is that there are new episodes of my favorite TV shows on Hulu. Although the saying goes practice makes perfect I can’t ever bring myself to practice.

So I decided to look into one of the most successful fiction writers of this decade Nicholas Sparks. He has written over seventeen novels, and nine of those novels have been adapted to movies. I was curious to see how he came up with his ideas, and how he got started in his career. I was surprised to find out that he hadn’t really planned a career in writing. He worked a lot of odd jobs his last job before becoming a writer was in Pharmaceutical sales. He knew that wasn’t something he wanted to do his whole life so he decided to start writing again to see if he could make it into a career. At this point he was 28 years old. He had previously written a book when he was 19, and another at 22 neither of which was published. He told himself he would write three books and if none of them were successful he would give it up. That is when he had the idea for The Notebook. This book launched his career and gave him the opportunity to make writing a career.

Nicholas Sparks says that he sets aside 3-8 hours a day to focus on writing. He tries to write a minimum of 2,000 words per day. Which means it takes him an average of 4-5 months to write a book. He chooses to write about things he knows. He says he writes stories based on people and personalities of people he knows. He always bases his stories off of the city his family lives in or cities around his home. That is why most commonly his books talk about beaches.

Sounds the best way to achieve a writing career in his case was to set a goal to write for however long he needed. Sticking to that goal has helped launch his career and helped him to generate a consistent income. As much as I love to procrastinate and use excuses; I suppose to be successful I’ll have to follow his footsteps and set aside some daily time to make my dreams come true.