Why Don’t Stories Help You Anymore?

Remember when you were little how stories enchanted you? Your parents could read or tell the simplest story to you and you could see it all in your imagination. When you were scared, all you had to do was think about the peaceful scene from the story, and you were no longer frightened.

Do you no longer experience this magical imagination with stories? What has changed over the course of the years?

The elements that create good storytelling should not change from childhood to adulthood. They should only mature. This is one of the fundamental problems with storytelling today. Many stories of the day are not imaginative because they’ve forgotten the innocence of imagination. As a child, your imagination was gripped by the way the light looked as it streamed through a window, or the way your shadow lengthened in the evening time, or the sound of your parents’ pens as they scratched on paper, or the noise of a babbling brook as it flowed over the rocks, or the tossing of a horse’s mane. These elements of storytelling should not change when you become an adult. Only now, you can steer that horse all by yourself . . . you can write with pen and paper yourself . . . you can arrange those rocks at the bottom of the stream however you want.

The point I want to get across to you is this: It is the simple innocent things that best awaken the imagination. You do not need to turn even to other worlds to awaken it. All a story needs is imaginative descriptions around characters having adventures and doing ordinary things.

Your fellow writer,

Joshua Reynolds

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Does Anyone Else Want to Reform Literature?

This is my mission: Reform literature to be more imaginative, inspirational, and wholesome. This means returning to older forms of fiction literature. Get rid of this new-fangled narcissistic dark fantasy/sci-fi stuff and return to old forms of fairytale, historical fiction, and adventures of the ordinary daily life. Write stories that give sustenance and redemption and that show what a truly good character is like.

So many prior posts of mine explain why I write the sort of literature that I do and why it matters. Now, the question is, does anyone else share my joy for writing truly good tales that describe imaginatively what conservative Christian living is all about?

The libraries and New York bestseller lists are filled these days with bad stories and poor storytelling. Don’t get me wrong; I think that there are good stories being written, but the bad stories are drowning out the voice of those stories that really matter. Storytelling is important because it is through storytelling that we perceive much of the world around us – stories that are real as well as stories that aren’t real but that could be real.

The question is: What sort of fiction will encourage healthy society, and what sort of fiction encourages an ill society? I have outlined before that the theme of redemption and the theme of sustenance are the two greatest points of storytelling, and these two themes are sown together using imaginative and descriptive scenes.

Literature should help the reader to interpret the world rightly and not how to escape it. If all we want to do in fiction literature is escape the world, then it will only hinder us in our lives. Yet, when you look at Mole from Wind in the Willows; or Mary from The Secret Garden; or Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy from The Chronicles of Narnia; or Hans from Hans Brinker, or the Silver Skates; or Cyril, Anthea, Robert, and Jane from Five Children and It, or Roberta, Peter, and Phyllis from The Railway Children, (the list can go on and on), you can easily see what a good character is like (sometimes how they become a good character) and how they live their lives, and they have all sorts of fun adventures in the process!

If you are interested in learning how to write this sort of literature, then sign up for my class by clicking the below button, watching my free video training, and then sending me an email. If you want to purchase more of this literature, buy my two books!

The Williams House at Amazon

Treasure on the Southern Moor at Amazon

If you are someone with similar interests in literature as me, than you might just be the person I have been looking for to collaborate with. Two voices are better than one. Send me an email!

Your fellow writer,
Joshua Reynolds

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The Top 10 Reasons Why Over 50% of the Novels in Your Local Library Should Not Exist

Over 50% of the novels in your local library either. . .

1.) . . . teach you to escape the world and not how to live in it.

This is problematic because the reader will be discouraged to live life, always wanting something different from what they have. A novel should tell a story that will encourage the reader to understand this world rightly. It serves as a way to interpret the world, not how to escape it.

2.) . . . exhaust you.

One of the best “virtues” touted for storytelling these days is to always keep the reader at the edge of his/her seat. This is a huge mistake. If the reader is always at the edge of his/her seat when reading a novel, they will be far less likely to re-read the story because they will be on to the next adrenaline-pumping novel.

3.) . . . are narcissistic.

Haven’t you noticed that most new novels these days are all about one individual discovering something secret and using it for himself/herself? Either that, or an individual wants something special and obtains it near the end of the story. Many people actually state this is one of the reasons why the Millennial generation is a lot more discouraged. They’ve been taught all their lives that they are special and can have whatever they want.

4.) . . . are not imaginative.

Read the below example and see how much you can envision the scene.

So saying, he stopped his horse and let the reins fall on its neck: then, slowly beating time with one hand, and with a faint smile lighting up his gentle foolish face, as if he enjoyed the music of his song, he began.

Of all the strange things that Alice saw in her journey Through The Looking-Glass, this was the one that she always remembered most clearly. Years afterwards she could bring the whole scene back again, as if it had been only yesterday — the mild blue eyes and kindly smile of the Knight — the setting sun gleaming through his hair, and shining on his armour in a blaze of light that quite dazzled her — the horse quietly moving about, with the reins hanging loose on his neck, cropping the grass at her feet — and the black shadows of the forest behind — all this she took in like a picture, as, with one hand shading her eyes, she leant against a tree, watching the strange pair, and listening, in a half-dream, to the melancholy music of the song.”  ~Lewis Carrol’s Through the Looking Glass

This sort of imagination you cannot obtain through the new-fangled fantasy genre that has popped up in the modern world. I am not opposed to fairytale, but stories full of witch-dogs, magic incantations, wizards battling sorcery, etc. do not aid imagination. They only hinder it because they are not things we can (or should try) to grasp. Such stories end up leaving the reader empty.

5.) . . . do not sustain the reader.

A book must have places of respite, very much like the example I gave in the point above. Such places are points the reader can go back to and re-read again and again – places of great descriptions and imaginative scenes.

6.) . . . have a theme of despair.

Too many stories these days end in sorrow or poorly made decisions by the hero. I understand if an authors doesn’t want a story to end with the old cliché, “and they lived happily ever after” (though I also think this is a nice ending!). There can be a moment of sadness even in a last chapter, but the overarching theme of a story should be one of redemption/joy instead of despair/sadness. If a plot gives a message of despair to its main characters, then it gives a message of despair to its reader.

7.) . . . are dumbed down for the youth.

I love children’s stories. In fact, stories about children having adventures or living ordinary life, stories that families could read together so they desire, are some of my favorite stories. Yet, these stories are not being told much today. Instead, we have a genre where everyone is trying to be “teenager-ish”. In the “good old days”, adolescence was the stage where a boy started growing into manhood and a girl into womanhood. They learned from their elders what adulthood is about. Now, we are dealing with youth rebellions, and our literature is encouraging it. Instead of appealing to youth immaturity, literature should be appealing to values and virtues that apply to all ages, young and old alike.

8.) . . . have too much magic in them.

I wanted to further explain point four with this point. Imagination I think is key to writing a good story. Without imagination, a reader cannot see the story themselves. Yet, tales of dark sorcery that are all about magical powers beating out other magical powers without any real conclusion are pointless and only corrupt imagination. A society indoctrinated with such stories become ignorant because they do not understand the simple wholesomeness of everyday life. Where are all of the great ordinary adventure stories and historical fiction books of the day? Reforming literature is key to reforming society.

9.) . . . run from moral truth.

Let’s be honest, the “subjective moral reasoning” of today has greatly affected storytelling. Heroes are no longer heroes, and villains are no longer villains. Yet, this does not change the fact that moral truth still exists. A good story never twists what moral truth really is because if it did, that would be the message given to the reader. Since that message is false (that morality is subjective), it would be portraying falsity to the reader.

10.) . . . are unintelligent and disorderly.

So many people do not understand these days what a good character really is because they do not have many examples of what a good character is. Instead of constantly writing turmoil in our stories, we need to show what truly good characters are like and how they would live.

Your fellow writer,
Joshua Reynolds

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Podcast #2 of the week: Storytelling

Interested in storytelling? Want to know fundamental steps to constructing good stories? What makes a good story from a bad one? I discuss these issues in this podcast!

Welcome to my second podcast of the week – free-form style, fifteen minutes long. I hope you enjoy!

Click here to download

Your fellow writer,

Joshua Reynolds

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Why Doesn’t Your Story Write Itself

I want to take you for a moment back to the first moment you thought of writing a story. In terms of your story’s evolution, this is probably the best and most exciting moment you can think of (since your book remains unpublished). Do you remember how elated you were with the idea of writing this story?

Weeks passed. You started your story several times, all at different points. You took some notes about your story and still had many high hopes.

Months passed. You knew you needed to really plow into that first draft, but you still weren’t too worried about it. After all, you were still in the first year of the idea, and you’d written many snippets from various scenes. You just didn’t know how they would come together.

A year passes. Now you are beginning to get worried. You told a few people about it in the first few weeks, and they’ve been asking questions. You laugh them off, saying it was a silly idea while still secretly hoping to write your story.

Another year passes. Now, you wonder whether or not you will ever complete your tale. Life has become so busy, and you’re not really certain of how to get the original idea you had – one that you knew was a great idea – down onto paper.

The sad truth about writing is that your book doesn’t write itself.

The wonderful truth about writing is that your book doesn’t write itself! You’re in control of it.

Writing a story is all about building the inspiration you had when you first thought of your story. What sort of image did you have in your head? What sort of character did you imagine? How did you think of this image?

Storytellers are inspired to write stories because of things they come across in the real world, whether they find it in a story they read, a place they journey to, a picture they see, or a friend they meet. I call these objects of inspiration “reference images”. They help build your inspiration for your own imagined images, something I call your “inspired images”. These imagined images create the scenes of your story.

Don’t give up hope! All you need to do is change your writing habits and remember your inspiration.

So, why doesn’t your story write itself? It’s because you’ve forgotten your inspired image! Rethink of that image that first inspired you to write a story, create more images based upon what inspires you about that image, and then create an outline of your story.

Your fellow writer,

Joshua Reynolds

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Podcast #1 of the week: Images of Inspiration

In the below podcast, I talk about what your “inspired image” for your story is and why it is of all importance if you are trying to write a story. Anyone with a story idea should listen to this podcast!

This is free-form podcast #1 of the week – fifteen minutes long. Listen as I talk casually about storytelling.

Click here to download

Your fellow writer,

Joshua Reynolds

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The Five Points of Creating a Story

The five bends in the road to creating a story are as follows:

  1. You gather information: Reference images/places/stories/paintings/ect.
  2. You build your inspired/imagined images based from your reference material – this is where your unique story develops.
  3. Construct an outline of your story: Remember to incorporate what ordinary life would be like in your story, and keep your message a theme of redemption. Provide places of sustenance where your reader can rest. These scenes are the memorable ones that your reader will want to return to the rest of his/her life.
  4. Write your first draft – quickly! Your first draft is your “junk draft”.
  5. Revise.

The steps are simple, and if you follow them one step at a time, your story will be completed before you know it! So many times, people try to begin with the last step. That is, they’ll begin writing their first draft and try to constantly revise along the way. This is similar to trying to eat a meal all in one bite. The writer quickly becomes overwhelmed, and soon, the first draft is shelved and rarely returned to. Publication is something always dreamed of but never attained.

Don’t do this with your manuscript! If you don’t know all the scenes to put in your story, then stop writing your story. Gather reference material. Learn what your inspired image truly is (that’s what made you want to write your story in the first place – remember that image you imagined that made you say, “Ah! I want to write a story!”?) Create the scenes of your story and put them into an outline.

Then, write your first draft quickly without editing! Only after the last word of draft one is complete should you begin step five: Revising your story.

Your fellow writer,

Joshua Reynolds

P.S. If you want more help writing, then click the below button and fill out the following form. I’d be happy to help!

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The Secret of Writing That You Have But Do Not Know

Remember days when you’ve sat down to write a story, and you can never think of anything to write? In order for your story to come to completion, you need to understand what your story is all about.

No, I’m not talking about plot. I’m talking about imagination.

You have a story that you want to tell right now in your head. The problem is that you cannot seem to get it down on paper. This is largely due to the fact that you are not writing the story that you want to tell. The story that you want to tell comes from an imagined image in your head that first inspired you to write a story. In order to transfer that onto paper, you need to understand all the elements that you like about your inspired image. These elements can be parsed out to form hundreds of other images as you use reference photos/stories/places to springboard your imagination.

The good news is that you already have your story in your head! My guess is that since you are reading this post, you have an idea for a story. This comes from some picture you have imagined – some scene – some moment of your story.

All you have to do now is learn why you like that image and how to create more images like it. And, if you are a storyteller, that will be easy. Understand the mood of your inspired image. Figure out what you like about it. Write out all of the elements of your image that draws you – maybe, it’s the look of the lighting in the scene, or maybe, it’s the textures of the furniture/nature outdoors. Write out as many of these elements as you can on a piece of paper. This is your story in a nutshell.

From there, all you have to do is develop these images and scenes into an outline of your story.

Your fellow writer,

Joshua Reynolds

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How to Write Like a Pro

Professional story writers do not have a magic secret that no one else has. Rather, professional writers merely understand that in order to be a writer, you have to write every . . . single . . . day. Some days, this means trying to begin again, only now beginning where you last left off. Some days, you will not have inspiration at all. Yet, if you do the right preparation and you keep writing a daily habit, then writing will be fun.

Do you brush your teeth every day? Do you eat every day? Do you sleep every night? Do you walk outside – even if it’s just to your car – every day? Do you change every day?

These questions should be equal to a writer with the question: Do you write every day? Granted, there will be those erroneous day when you will not have time to put any words onto paper. Yet, this should be rare. In order to be a great storyteller with the written word, you need to write every day.

There’s a lot more that separates good storytelling from bad storytelling. But the first principal point is: Writer’s write.

So, how do you begin a story?

There are many things you have to do to prepare yourself for storytelling. One of them, though, is to figure out a schedule of days you will be able to dedicate more time and days you will be able to dedicate less time to writing. The point is to write every single day six days a week. Some days, you will only be able to spend ten minutes writing. Some days, you will only be able to write a few lines of dialogue. That’s okay. The trick is then to force yourself to write for an hour or so on other days.

Your fellow writer,

Joshua Reynolds

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An Encouragement: Who Else Wants Free Writing Tips and Resources?

“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” ~Louis L’Amour

I want to encourage you today to write. No, I’m not asking you to sign up for my Writing Imagination Academy. Hopefully, you already have. If not, you know you can always do so at your discretion. As Ernest Hemingway once said, “The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” And I trust your decisions.

Setting aside my desire to personally guide you through your story, I want to provide you with as many resources as I can – completely free. That’s one of the main focuses of this blog!

To start off, I want to Re-blog the top ten reasons of why the first draft of your story isn’t complete:

1. You began without preparation.

Before you begin writing your story, minimal preparation that should be done is: Research your story for accuracy (even if you’re creating a world yourself, you should be well aware of what other people are doing); Obtain reference images for your own inspiration; write about the images you have imagined; gain information like character names, places your story will take place in, and so on; and from your inspired and imagined images, create an outline.

2. You haven’t made writing a habit.

In order for your first draft to be written, you need to make writing a daily habit in your life. If you don’t, then you are not a writer but a dabbler.

3. Fear.

You’re too afraid of how your book will be received. For your first draft, it’s best to not think about such things at all. Think of it this way: Your writing is just you and your writing instrument.

4. Editing.

Something I learned years ago, if you want to get through a first draft, don’t edit!!! Write all the way through, and then you can go back and edit. That’s what drafts two and three are for.

5. Discouragement.

You become discouraged when you don’t see your book living up to your expectations. Don’t worry! Rarely, if at all, will a first draft live up to one’s expectations. Remember the quotes at the top of this email. The first draft is a stepping stone.

6. You’re writing too slow.

The longer a first draft drags out, the less chance you have of ever completing it. Why? Because we all have busy lives! Things come up, and soon, it can be easy to shelve your book project. Don’t do this! Write your first draft quickly.

7. Distractions.

Distractions are easy when you have picked the wrong writing environment. Try writing in a different sort of environment and see what happens.

8. Not knowing where to begin.

It is hard to begin some days. You sit down with your writing instrument in hand and don’t know how to get moving. At such a stall, go back to some of the material you collected before you began writing Draft One and look it over. Remember all your inspiration, and try to write about that on your page. After all, that’s supposed to be your story.

9. Having a dis-joint plot.

Sometimes, after writing for a while, you can realize the plot-line you came up with wasn’t the best and should have been tweaked in your outline stage. If this happens, don’t panic. Tweak the plot, but don’t go back to make everything match. Finish the draft. Then you can go back and revise.

10. Not enough words.

Vocabulary is something that can occasionally run dry. You find yourself repeating the same words. Sometimes, this is okay, but make sure that every scene is unique. Even if you mention the word “sunshine” in every chapter twenty times, talk about it in different ways: It’s spilling through limbs and boughs, shooting across the field, rising in the morning, gleaming through the window, beaming behind the mountain.

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You have completed all of my on-boarding blog posts of my products to date. Congrats!

Your fellow writer,
Joshua Reynolds

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