Give Yourself 30 Minutes and Change Your Life

Did you know that the average person spends about an hour and forty minutes on social media every . . . single . . . day? I looked up several articles and found this to be the most CONSERVATIVE estimate. When I think of that statistic, I’m overwhelmed by how that time could be cultivated to do more for the betterment of a society. Maybe, you are not like the average person. Maybe, you spend less time (or none at all, like me) on social media.

However, what if you took 30 of those minutes and began reading stories with redemptive themes? Think for a moment of the impact it could have.

1. You could have a much deeper love of the world around you, including nature and the outdoors.
2. Your imagination would become virtuous and focus around how you could aid society.
3. Your mind wouldn’t be cluttered with so much of the junk floating around the internet, television, and the other major media venues of the day.
4. You would understand better what makes healthy society.

You don’t have to just read fiction. Find stories that are real as well as stories that aren’t real but that have the same virtues. Read stories that have stood the test of time, and measure it up with stories told today that have the same virtues.

See for yourself how it will impact your life.

I have purposefully written The Williams House and Treasure on the Southern Moor to demonstrate this sort of writing. Don’t want to spend money, yet? I understand! Then check out some of the below books from the library. Some are a little eccentric with the imaginative flare, yet it will definitely take you away from most of the Hollywood-ish tales being told today, which is the objective.

Frances Burnett’s The Secret Garden
E. Nesbit’s The Railway Children / Five Children and It
Kenneth Graham’s The Wind in the Willows
Kate Wiggin’s Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm
Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Mary Dodge’s Hans Brinker, or the Silver Skates
Laura Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie

Your fellow writer,
Joshua Reynolds

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How to Stop Destroying Your Story and Write With Imagination

Here’s a secret: You can get rid of your boring novel and write something that exceeds your own imagination. Yes, you can. I know you have a story. And you can tell that story in a jaw-dropping, heart-gripping, endearing way.

First, let me describe what many people face in the modern world.

They get up in the morning, and their minds are still lingering on the movie they watched last night. Its dismal view of the world lingers in their heads as they attempt to find inspiration for another day. Yet, every day seems to become harder. The more Hollywood films they watch and the more dime-a-dozen fictional books they read, the less motivation they have to walk through another day. In fact, they find that most modern stories only want them to walk away from the world, as though there was some other place where they could avoid everything in life.

1.    Their minds are constantly plagued by stories they find exhausting.
2.    Living in these stories ruins their family relationships.
3.    They find themselves lonely in these stories.
4.    The world was a place they remember being nice when they were children, but now, they strangely do not find it so.

If you suffer from any of the above… if your mind is reeling with a desire for a different story… if you are not completely satisfied with the way Hollywood portrays the world…If you suffer from a lack of inspiration… if you cannot seem to get through the first draft of your story… if you are daily frustrated by your writing and your book isn’t measuring up to the way you imagined it to be… if you want your story to be more imaginative, inspirational, and wholesome…

then Writing Imagination Academy is just for you. Here’s why…

In Writing Imagination Academy, I take you through a step by step process on how to write a good novel from beginning to end, and this process works! Not only do I get you past all the levels and layers of writer’s block and how to find your story from inspiration, but I also show you what a truly good novel entails and how to give your story a redeeming theme that will last a lifetime in the hearts of your readers.

And you need to realize, there is a cost to not writing stories with proper imagination. If you continue struggling through your novel with no sense of direction, it just gets worse.

What most beginner writers do when facing Writer’s Block or a lack of inspiration and imagination is write a page here or there – or even shelve the project for a while. But for most people, none of that works.

1. They drag their first draft out until they finally quit.
2. Their book sounds disjointed because they only write now and then.
3. In the end, their story doesn’t match up with how they envisioned it and so they are dissatisfied with it.

And what happens if you just do nothing? If you just keep doing what you’ve been doing? Your novel will lie in tatters, and you will be embarrassed to show it to any of your friends. Worse, if you ever do complete your story without realizing what a good novel actually is, you will exhaust your readers, your ratings on Amazon and Goodreads will all be negative, and you will be known as a low-grade author whose books are second or third rate.

But, it doesn’t have to be this way. In another post, I would like to outline for you how I teach writing. For now, let me provide you with some more free information:

What makes a story exhausting and dismal is twofold: (1) Places are not described well and in a compelling way. That is, the story’s characters do not have the right level of interaction with the place/scene, and the reader cannot imagine the place his/herself. (2) There isn’t a theme of redemption. The truth is, if you leave no hope to the reader – no refreshing scenes that they can turn back to at any time day or night, then soon, they will abandon your story. Or if they read through it, they won’t want to linger in it long.

Lesson: When you write a story that encourages healthy society, the chances increase for it being a long-lasting classic.

Right now, you have an idea of where you want to go, but do you have the road map? What does the schematic look like in your mind? In Writing Imagination Academy, I open up to you the schematic you have inside your head. Your story. Your destination. You’re the hero. I’m only here to help. Apply today!

Your fellow writer,
Joshua Reynolds

P.S. Want some heavy, hard-reading, deep words on what I think healthy society entails? Read this post (warning, it’s thick reading!)!

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A Further Insider’s Look

I wanted to share something with you today.

If you’ve read any of my former posts, you may be interested in stories that captivate your imagination. Below, I would like to give you a further insider’s peek to the stories that I have written.

This is a story about eight children whose names are Lilly, Ann, Will, Johnathon, Timothy, Margaret, Susan, and Maria. They live in a very large and mysterious house where they have all sorts of adventures. It is a stone house on an old country lane, and it is not only the place where they explore, imagine, tell stories, sing, and play musical instruments, but it is also the place where they do school and study, and so you see, between the work and play, they became very familiar with the house indeed. Yet it never ceases to surprise them, how it can look in the moonlight, or on a rainy day, or with morning beams of sunlight flowing through its windows. Join them in the attic for a story on a stormy night, or find them in a park on a summer afternoon with the warm wind in their faces, or see them bent over candles as they look at old rooms and dusty shelves.

Friends of theirs are the Bentley family, who are allowed a peek into many of their family adventures. Find them all listening to birds sing while they look for buried treasure, or listening to bassets howl on an autumn night. Though there is a sad moment between them, it is also strangely filled with joy and contentment, as those who are filled with light cannot be anything else.

Perhaps the most exciting moment of all is when the Williams’ children find something on the basement landing of their home. The basement is not a place they are allowed to go to often, and the children have called it the cellar among their whispered stories, yet the discovery makes the cellar stairs a more easily traveled lane. . .

~Back Cover of The Williams House

The thrill of the sea – the song of the ocean winds – out sails and up anchor! – guided by the compass and stars – as a poet once said, “to the lonely sea and sky”. It is the eighteenth century, and the sailing vessel is the only way to travel the raging seas. The Southern Moor sets sails from England to Africa with a crew of forty-two persons, guided by a captain with his son and daughter, where those of the trusted crew hope to find treasure with only the guidance of a map an old friend of the captain’s had given him and a handful of the treasure itself, brought back from the African shoreline. With the smell of cooking from the galley, you may find them about on the weather decks reefing the sails or lashing down the ship’s boats, or listen to the captain play on his fipple flute with the accompaniment of the cello and violin. Hear the ocean waves lap against the bows, or have cataracts of sea water come flooding over the main deck in the midst of a raging storm.

In Plymouth, England, there are those few friends of the captain who wonder if he will ever return. Is the Southern Moor, newly finished vessel and never before tested in the ocean waters, strong enough to sail through storms and cannon fire to reach the warm lands of the African shoreline and make the same journey back? With all of its rectangular sails billowing in the wind, bowsprit brass tip of heather shining in the sunlight, and the polish of the wood shining without a fingerprint to be seen, the Southern Moor leaves the harbor of Sutton Pool to test itself in the ocean and plough the stormy seas. . .

~Back Cover of Treasure on the Southern Moor

Both of these stories are meant to do the same thing: Captivate the imagination while awakening the reader to good storytelling. You can look up my books at my bookstore, or purchase them from Amazon below.

The Williams House
Treasure on the Southern Moor

Your fellow writer,
Joshua Reynolds

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The Top Ten Reasons Why Your First Draft Isn’t Complete

“I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so later I can build castles.” ~Shannon Hale.

“It is better to write a bad first draft than to write no first draft at all.” ~Will Shetterly

“Writing the last page of the first draft is the most enjoyable moment in writing. ~Nicholas Sparks

Below, I delve into the meat and potatoes of the top ten most common mistakes that result in a first draft of a story never being completed. However . . . I have a promise to keep, first!

In a previous post, I said that I would talk a little more about my Writing Imagination Academy course. I’m going to begin by making a shocking statement: Over 50% of the novels in your local library should not exist. Have you ever picked up a book, began reading it, and promptly set it down to never return to it? Or have you ever enjoyed a story the first read-through to find that afterward you were exhausted? You don’t want to go back to it because since you know everything that happened, it can no longer keep you at the edge of your seat.

Both of these sorts of stories are examples of poor storytelling. There are so many stories being told today that give dismal views of life, takes away a reader’s imagination, have poorly described places, and altogether shouldn’t exist. Don’t get me wrong! I think there are a lot of good stories as well. Personally, I usually like stories that have stood the test of time, though there are some good treasures being written today. The trick is in finding them.

In Writing Imagination Academy, I show what an imaginative, inspirational, and wholesome story is and how to write one. It starts by understanding what inspired you to write your story and continues by describing how your imagination should flow onto the page so your story exceeds your own expectations! You’re driving and I’m navigating. Tell me where you want to go, and I’ll help you! Go to my home page to find when my next class is, and apply today!

And now, onto your first draft – after all, you’re probably saying right now, “But Joshua, I need help this minute with my writing!”

Here are the top ten mistakes people make with Draft One:

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.

Your fellow writer,
Joshua Reynolds

P.S. In my Writing Imagination Academy course, you will receive five modules full of videos with invaluable information that can aid you in your writing. I plan to delve more into this course in subsequent posts. Want to know more now? Sign up to my email list and find out (button below)!

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The Amazing Secrets of My Stories

Does the following story snippet perk your curiosity, interest, or imagination?

Evening rays of sunlight cast long shadows of trees on the little house. It was not a small house, but it was fairly snug to the number of people that lived there. The Williamses owned it, and it had many long windows and four stories, including the attic and the basement (though the attic and basement were smaller than the first and second floors). The Williams children called the basement “the cellar” and were normally not allowed to go there because it was filled with plumbing pipes, wiring, a water heater, and other house necessities. Yet they were allowed to play on the stairs to the cellar and the short landing at the bottom that extended six and a half feet out (they had measured it once). The Williamses had eight children, totaling a house of ten people, and the children’s names from oldest to youngest were: Lilly, Ann, William, Johnathon, Timothy, Margaret, Susan, and Maria. Everyone called William “Will” so as not to confuse him with their last name. Lilly was fifteen years old, and Maria was four.

The house was in the country in Northern New York, and the Williamses had lived there for three years. They had formerly lived in England, but Mr. Williams had a job change (which had to do with matters relating to “higher demands” and “eighty-hour work weeks”), and so they wound up in America. Susan and Maria could not remember living anywhere else. Their old English habits were not diminished, and some thought their eating habits slightly strange, and sometimes elaborate.

No one was currently in the house. All its doors were locked up tight and its lights were out. There were no vehicles in the driveway. If one peeked into the dark windows, they would be able to catch glimpses of smooth wooden and polished stone walls (though mostly wood), thick carpets, and great rooms. As for the outside, it looked simple enough. The house stood on a slope, the back door lower than the front, and the outside was made of stone. It had one long chimney that poked out of the roof, and a couple of pillars that supported an overhang at the front door.

Thus begins the first chapter of my first published book, The Williams House.

The secret of my stories is that I actually apply the ten points of healthy reading that I gave in a previous post. What’s more, I hadn’t even come up with them when I wrote my book. Yet, I was influenced by such stories that carried these principles of imaginative, inspirational, and wholesome storytelling.

For free, you can find PDFs of whole chapters of my books on my Free Resources tab on my website. Please check them out. However, snippets of a good story are generally not enough. You can purchase my books on Amazon as well! Check them out below.

The Williams House
Treasure on the Southern Moor

Your fellow writer,
Joshua Reynolds

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