Tag Archives: Book

Writing Advice

I haven’t gotten a lot of writing advice in person. Technically, I haven’t gotten any writing advice in person. Actually, nobody’s ever given me writing advice. At least, not without my asking or having to go looking for it. I’ve searched the internet for writing advice. Most of the advice I’ve gotten from the internet was something along the lines of “Sign up for my email list and I’ll tell you how to fix (insert problem with writing here)”. The problems were usually writer’s block or finding time to write or something else like that. Due to searching for writing help online, my email inbox was full of emails from various writing help email lists that I could never seem to unsubscribe from no matter how many times I hit the button. Sometimes the emails were useful, other times they were advertisements. Eventually, I noticed that the email lists I was unable to unsubscribe from were sending me the same useful emails that I had received when I first signed up. I assumed they had run out of new helpful content to give me, so they sent out the same old stuff. At that point, it didn’t matter what emails they sent to me because I couldn’t unsubscribe anyway. That was when I decided I would be done searching for writing advice online.

Unfortunately, to this day those emails continue to flood my inbox.

Fortunately, I have found writing advice elsewhere. My English teacher! If I said I got writing advice from my English teacher (which I didn’t say), that would be a lie. My English teachers were all wonderful people and taught me many great things, but nothing about creative writing (besides in seventh grade when we wrote children’s books). Which wasn’t entirely their fault. Most of the problem was that the only curriculum my teachers were given had to do with nonfiction writing. At least, that’s what I’m going to assume. I would hate to think that my teachers have been keeping me from learning how to write about something besides persuasive essays and memoirs. Up until this point, I haven’t been completely honest. At school, I was able to write some fiction, but it wasn’t taught. We had this thing called “Free Write Time”. It was a class period (usually on Fridays) where we were able to write whatever we wanted (I bet you figured that out from the name). So, technically, I was able to write fiction. The problem was I didn’t only want to write fiction; I wanted to know how to write fiction. I wanted to know how to make it good. My English teachers (thus far) have failed to teach me how to do that.

(Before I go on, I want to let everyone know that I respect every single one of my English teachers and what they have taught me. Also, I believe that the most important things my English teachers taught me were grammar and spelling.)

If you’re still reading and have gotten past my ramblings about bad online writing advice and boring English teachers, then I am about to tell you about the best writing advice I have ever received. Are you ready? The best writing advice I have ever received is from Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. It’s a terrific book that answered all the questions I had about writing as well as the ones I didn’t know I had. Once I picked the book up, I couldn’t put it down. I’m sad to say this was the first book I’ve ever read by Stephen King. I always imagined the first book I would read by him to be It, Carrie, The Shining, or one of his other horror novels, but I’m not disappointed by the content in On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft even though it didn’t keep me awake at night. Overall, it was a great book that I will read several more times. I recommend it to any aspiring writer.

Here are some short notes that I took from the book:

  • Read a lot, write a lot
  • Form a habit of writing at the same time and in the same place every day
  • Be honest in your writing
  • Write your first draft with the door closed
  • Don’t edit or read your first draft, just keep writing it
  • Listen to the critiques of your first and ideal readers
  • You don’t have to be an English major
  • 2nd Draft = 1st Draft – 10%
  • The second draft is with the door open
  • Have the first readers be people you trust
  • Edit a minimum of six weeks after you finish your first draft
  • Writer’s groups/retreats/camps/whatever-you-want-to-call-them are mostly useless
  • Don’t over-describe
  • Don’t tell something when you can show it
  • Adverbs are the death of your writing
  • Use the first words that come to your mind no matter how simple
  • It’s not about the money

How Bungle, The Monkey, Came To Be

Sometimes when bad things happen, good things can come from it. That was case when I found the perfect name for the monkey in my book.

Benjamin, my younger brother, was struck with an awful cold that made him miserable. He was around one and half at the time, so a simple cold hit him harder than it would an older person. Although, there was one thing that filled him with joy: watching Curious George on television.

As I walked to my local library from school one day, I racked my brain for some way to make Ben’s day a little bit better. I decided to think through all the things that made me happy when I was his age (or as much as one is normally able to remember from when they were a one year old). I thought for a while, until I finally came to the perfect idea: a stuffed animal. In my opinion, stuffed animals are the best thing to comfort a young kid.

I made a detour from my course to the library and made a quick visit to a pharmacy, that I knew for a fact had stuffed animals, to buy Benjamin the perfect thing to comfort him during his time of distress. Once I arrived, I made my way to a set of revolving shelves filled with a variety of stuffed animals. There were many to choose from, but I knew there was one that he would love more than the rest. In a few short minutes, I bought the stuffed animal and left the store.

This particular stuffed animal happened to be a Beanie Baby. That meant that the stuffed animal came with a name. So, as I sat at the library and waited for my Dad to pick me up to take me home, I peeked at the tag on the stuffed animal. Bungle. “What a good name,” I thought to myself.

And that’s how Bungle, the monkey, came to be.

The stuffed animal that Bungle, the monkey, was based off.

First Drafts of No Monkeys in the Library

I was thinking to myself over the past couple of weeks and noticed that my first drafts for No Monkeys in the Library are quite different from the published book. I thought that the readers might also enjoy seeing the differences, so below are pictures of the drafts and final version. Also, note that the pictures in the first draft were drawn by me, not Kim. I’m a better author than I am an artist.

Left: First Draft. Middle: Second Draft. Right: Published Copy
Pages 1 and 2 – First Draft
Pages 1 and 2 – Second Draft
Pages 1 and 2 – Published Copy
Pages 3 and 4 – First Draft
Pages 3 and 4 – Second Draft
Pages 3 and 4 – Published Copy

If there’s any other pages you want to see, let me know!