Guest Post: How and Why I Write by Lee Stone

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Guest Post: How and Why I Write by Lee Stone

Post by Lee Stone » 30 Oct 2015, 08:54

How and Why I Write by Lee Stone
(author of Free Fish Friday and Barracuda)

The late author and literary critic Christopher Hitchens once said, “Everyone does have a book inside them, but in most cases that’s where it should stay.” He had only the first half right.

Maybe because I was educated as an English teacher, I’ve been asked to edit first attempts at novels or memoirs by friends and relatives over the years. Their stories were ALWAYS worth sharing, but invariably painful to read. I offered the same suggestion to all: Use half as many words! I would demonstrate that economy on their first few pages and leave the rest up to them. Therefore, I’d amend Hitchens this way: “Everyone does have a book inside them, and others will read it as long as words don’t get in the way.”

In discussing my own writing, I mention economy of language first for one reason: While it’s not a master key to success, its absence can be a kiss of death. I want readers to sail through pages, not wade through them. I think of my novels as “Seattle to Miami” reading. Page one on take-off and done on landing. One and done. A smooth flight.

While light-handed in style and delivery, I strive to be anything but light-hearted with the material. I think of it as “sneaky heavy.” No simple who-done-its from my imagination. No heroes versus villains. No black and white. People are more complex than that. That complexity is what makes us all interesting.

Character growth is the crucial element for me. In my inaugural book, Slacker Mills is a poster boy for arrested development. In his mid-thirties, he finally begins a transition to adulthood when he befriends a proper mentor and experiences adversity for the first time.

Every author probably has somewhat different motivation to spend months hunched over a keyboard. Some aspire to write the most suspenseful thriller or heart-melting romance. Others have conjured up a fairyland or faraway planet that readers need to visit. Still more want to help others journey into the past or future. All have something they want to share.

My motivation is pretty simple. Whenever I visit a beach, which is often fortunately, I pile up some wet sand and create a sand sculpture. A lion. A polar bear. A mermaid playing a violin. Characters from “Wizard of Oz.” Some people walk on by, oblivious to what I have done. Others nod and smile. There are many others, however, who stare in wonder, snap pictures, and declare that the sand image made their day. Imagine that. Made their day!

That’s why I write. There’s that possibility of making someone’s day.


** Editor’s Note: Take a peek at Lee Stone’s sand sculptures at Delray Beach Sand on Facebook.

Free Fish Friday
view on Amazon view on Bookshelves

Barracuda
view on Amazon view on Bookshelves

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Post by gali » 30 Oct 2015, 09:38

Thank you for the interesting and well-written article. I loved "Free Fish Friday" as you know, and I sure felt as I was "sailing thought the pages" (love the expression) while reading it. The sequel is on my kindle and I will get to it in due time. :)
In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you." (Mortimer J. Adler)

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Post by bookowlie » 31 Oct 2015, 08:11

I really enjoyed reading your Guest Post. Your term "sneaky heavy" is so appropriate to describe Free Fish Friday - light-hearted but complex.

Your sand sculptures are unbelievably awesome! What a touching tribute to Cecil the Lion.
As you slide down the bannister of life, may the splinters never point in the wrong direction. - Irish blessing

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Post by bluemel4 » 01 Nov 2015, 11:25

Wonderful and insightful article. I absolutely love your revised Hitchens quote! I could not agree more. I often think that authors use too many words when simplicty is the best policy.
"Life is a journey, not a destination" --Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Post by brenniewinters » 01 Nov 2015, 23:42

I too am an Author and I write about subjects i know about-mostly non fiction. I hold 3 degrees and I love to read and write. Enjoyed your article-
Brenda Kay Winters

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Post by TrishaAnn92 » 02 Nov 2015, 06:37

Awesome and insightful article! I haven't started reading "Free Fish Friday" yet but I am planning on reading it soon.
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Post by Ellen Galecki » 03 Nov 2015, 00:09

Thank you Mister Stone for a most interesting and well written post. Enough so that your books are now on my reading list. I agree with the point you make about words getting in the way of the story being told. As in cooking, with seasonings and ingredients being the words telling the story--oft times, less is more. Thank you for the reminder.
~ Ellen

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Post by Sheronda Barksdale » 03 Nov 2015, 17:34

Thank you for such an awesome article. I believe it takes a lot of guts to be an author. As an author, your thoughts, ideas, grammar, writing structure are all under insurmountable scrutiny. However, I encourage all authors to take the leap.

My biggest concern when publishing a book is its length. My most recent series of books are novellas. People seem to have a shorter attention span than they did in previous years. So on top of developing the characters, I try to be mindful of being economic with words. This way I can brilliantly paint a picture in the quickest way possible.

Does anyone else run into the problem of people lacking the desire to read novels? Or is it just me?

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Post by TrishaAnn92 » 03 Nov 2015, 19:28

Sheronda Barksdale wrote:Thank you for such an awesome article. I believe it takes a lot of guts to be an author. As an author, your thoughts, ideas, grammar, writing structure are all under insurmountable scrutiny. However, I encourage all authors to take the leap.

My biggest concern when publishing a book is its length. My most recent series of books are novellas. People seem to have a shorter attention span than they did in previous years. So on top of developing the characters, I try to be mindful of being economic with words. This way I can brilliantly paint a picture in the quickest way possible.

Does anyone else run into the problem of people lacking the desire to read novels? Or is it just me?

I will say this, I may be an odd ball but I'm fairly most people in this forum would share the same sentiment. I absolutely love long books! Novellas are good but the really good ones I always end up wanting to read more! And then I find out they have a series but are $2.99 a book, this was for novellas of around 24 pages. To me that just isn't worth it I would rather spend my money on long books. But to each their own. :)
‘A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies,’ said Jojen. ‘The man who never reads lives only one.’

– George R. R. Martin



"I solemnly swear I am up to no good."
-Harry Potter

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Post by Sheronda Barksdale » 03 Nov 2015, 19:54

TrishaAnn92 wrote:
Sheronda Barksdale wrote:Thank you for such an awesome article. I believe it takes a lot of guts to be an author. As an author, your thoughts, ideas, grammar, writing structure are all under insurmountable scrutiny. However, I encourage all authors to take the leap.

My biggest concern when publishing a book is its length. My most recent series of books are novellas. People seem to have a shorter attention span than they did in previous years. So on top of developing the characters, I try to be mindful of being economic with words. This way I can brilliantly paint a picture in the quickest way possible.

Does anyone else run into the problem of people lacking the desire to read novels? Or is it just me?

I will say this, I may be an odd ball but I'm fairly most people in this forum would share the same sentiment. I absolutely love long books! Novellas are good but the really good ones I always end up wanting to read more! And then I find out they have a series but are $2.99 a book, this was for novellas of around 24 pages. To me that just isn't worth it I would rather spend my money on long books. But to each their own. :)

I love long books as well! My research has reflected people like something they can pick up, get to the point, and complete quickly. My novellas are around 88-100 pages, which I didn't consider a novella, but once again, research shows it is. Thank you so much for your response!!!

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Post by TrishaAnn92 » 03 Nov 2015, 20:31

No problem! I am a writer, hoping to publish my first novel soon. Most likely won't be a novella but I have thought about trying my hand at attempting one! 88-100 pages isn't bad at all. I usually read books with lengths like that in about a day. People are in a rush all the time anymore, they rush even the simplest of pleasures like reading. I think I will check your Novellas out!
‘A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies,’ said Jojen. ‘The man who never reads lives only one.’

– George R. R. Martin



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Post by j p gilbert » 04 Nov 2015, 12:35

I firmly believe that a book should be able to expand my horizons. If an author can do that, then I am a fan. From wordy war and peace or Churchill's History of English speaking people, to Jeffrey's Feel the fear and do it anyway, if the author has explored their craft and I have grown, then great. I look forward to dipping into your world, once my once I set up my bookshelves.

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Post by alanrobyn » 04 Nov 2015, 13:15

Your post was very interesting to me. I enjoyed thinking about what you called using an economy of words. I guess that is one area where I struggle. I will be paying more attention to it because of what you wrote. And, you reason for writing..."That’s why I write. There’s that possibility of making someone’s day." was so wonderfully put. Thanks! Take Care

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Post by joanofarc2015 » 06 Nov 2015, 17:28

i like how u said everyone has a story but sometimes words get in the way of writing.
i think people are just too busy to invest in time for writing their stories and they dont know their stories are worth millions
it takes patience to be a true writer
rock on

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Post by Kaya » 09 Nov 2015, 17:44

I always love seeing why authors write. It seems that each one has a slightly different reason

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