When I originally wrote the series of 10 articles comprising Quest for the Golden Quill of Storytelling, I had no idea what to expect. As a result, I was amazed at the response I received, which was several hundred emails praising the series and asking me to keep going.
The following are typical of the types of emails I received, which is why they are included here.
Dear Mr. Bush:
Thank you so much for your Quest for the Golden Quill of Storytelling articles. They are my Bible for writing.
I paid $1200 for a course in New Zealand on Creative Writing at the University, and I learned more from you than I ever did from the school. I have completed my novel using your series as a guide. I have it being edited at this point, and am ready to send out the first three chapters, synopsis and query to Agents listed in the 2001 Writer's Market.
I hope this time I hit upon an honest one. The last time I was not aware that you didn't give money up front, and it cost me $1,000 before I realized nothing was being done with it. God was smiling on me because at that point the novel was still not as polished as it should have been. This time it will be as smooth as silk.
Again, thank you very much for your answers. I was looking forward to buying this series in hard-book style, rather than my worn printouts in a loose leaf book. Sorry for the trouble.
P.S. Sweet Dreams Forever is the title of my novel if you ever get to see it in a bookstore
Mr. Hampton Bush,
I just finished reading your Quest for the Golden Quill article entitled In Search of a Hero. I found the points you mentioned about generations and how they affect writing markets and heroes in fiction fascinating.
I'm looking forward to hearing more. I do have one quick question, should you have time to answer. I wondered, as I read your article, if it is possible to write a period piece with a setting during the rise in power of one generation (say, maybe the civics) with a hero from another generation that has more power today (such as the Generation X-ers)?
Is it possible to mix and match past settings with heroes that would appeal in today's market? I enjoy writing historical fiction, but I fear my heroes won't appeal to my generation. Can I place a modern hero in a historical background? If you have any brief thoughts on this subject it will be of great use to me.
Alison H. Livingston
P.S. Other Golden Quill articles I've read of yours have been so helpful. Thank-you for sharing them. They've improved my writing immensely.
Note from Hampton Bush: The article on heroes
is on my blog. Just click on the Blog line and look for In Search of
Note from Hampton Bush: The article on heroes is on my blog. Just click on the Blog line and look for In Search of Heroes.
My name is Deanna, and I'm a fellow writer. Over a year ago I came across your online article Quest For the Golden Quill: In Search of Suspense, which I saved and occasionally reread. Thank you for a wonderful learning experience.
My question: Do you have a list of craft books/articles on suspense? I'd love to follow up on your research and learn more about the topic myself.
Thanks for any lead!
Note from Hampton Bush: As far as I know, The Golden Quill articles are the only detailed source of information on how to deliberately build suspense into your work. It took me forever to dig up and classify the information.
Dear Mr. Bush:
I followed your work faithfully while you were writing the Golden Quill articles. My book after all this time has been published, and I owe most of it to you and your wonderful lessons. Of course, I did all the rewrites, rewrites and rewrites. But, I understand that goes with the territory. Now that this has been published, and is on its way, I can get on invading the lives of some new characters.
Again many heartfelt thanks, and if you were here now, I would have lots of hugs for you. I am very thankful for all that I learned from you.
Your most ardent admirer,
I hope this e-mail finds you happy, healthy and deadline free. It is past the beginning of the month and long before the end, so I figured this would be a good time to contact you. I had to let you know that today the pieces finally fell in place and suddenly “it” makes sense.
I gave serious thought to your advice after you e-mailed me the parts of The Quest for the Golden Quill that I was missing. Hopefully you remember.
I also reread your words until I couldn’t stall any longer. I started writing my novel out of what I thought was an interesting idea surrounding a place I had wondered about for a long time. It’s probably a psychological thriller or horror (GASP) novel. Nothing is ever as itseems, is it?
I started with a “scene outline page” [as recommended by the Golden Quill] where I asked questions and answered them in order to build the scene. I did quite a few scenes, and then started writing. When I followed the outline pages that were complete and heavy with information the writing was fast and hot.
Then (as it always has) it started to get slower and colder as I got farther in. Now I know it was because the outline pages became weaker. I had serious doubts about the plot being strong enough to carry the story. I stopped writing. I was paralyzed with fear for a couple of months, and reminded myself daily during that time that I was blowing it…..again!
I have managed (fate intervening) to start a medical transcription business at home while working part time. Not my passion but it pays the bills. Now I try to put my most productive and alive hours into my real work. (Of course this means I am spending ridiculously long hours at the computer). About 85 well-written story pages have risen out of “scene outline pages” since the last time we corresponded and before my panic attack. I haven’t been too happy about the number of pages because I felt like I had reached a dead end again.
The good news is that my “scene outline pages” have grown tremendously (doubled) in the last week. Today, a day I hope to remember for a long time as THE day, the characters and their purpose in the story became as clear as my mother’s personality. I give credit to the outline and your words of wisdom, as they were the missing pieces of the puzzle. I know where I am going before I get there. The idea is sound. The characters are coming to life. I sincerely believe I have hurdled the fear of meaningless pages.
I have also been keeping a journal, and it has been my best friend. It never laughs at the pipe dream, never criticizes me like my thoughts do when I am feeling empty without the “right” ideas flowing. My thoughts tumble out onto the journal pages and really great ideas and solutions scramble out of the pages within moments.
Fortunately, after I have the idea the writing is the easy part for me. Just wanted you to know that I finally get it. I can go on as planned without the distracting thought in my head that it is pointless and a waste of time.
The hours I spend writing fly by like the wind. It makes me incredibly happy to feel like I am doing what I was put on this earth to do. I could lock myself into a room and write every day up until the day I die, and I would be perfectly content. The only scary phenomenon left is this really odd feeling in the pit of my stomach. Like I know that this is the one.
Anyway, I’ve managed to go off on one of my tangents, and I almost forgot why I was writing to you.
Thanks AGAIN for all of your help and knowledge. I just wanted you to know that your passion for the craft has touched me in places where many books and people could not.
Note from Hampton Bush: Susan mentions two things here that might be helpful to you. One is keeping a journal. This is discussed on this site as Brainstorming for Writers. The second is outlining. Outlining is discussed on this site at:
My name is Leo. I remember you as the author of The Quest For The Golden Quill of Storytelling.
I enjoyed it immensely and wonder what happened to it. Is it still somewhere on line, did it get published, or did you abandon it?
All the best,
Quest for the Golden Quill of Storytelling began years ago as a series of ten articles I wrote at the request of a start-up writing website.
I can't recall the website's name, now, but the articles —based on the research I had done to that time—were so popular I received about 600 emails asking me to write a book about the Golden Quill.
Frankly, I was astonished at the hunger for what the writer's called real, useable information. As a result, I've toyed with the notion off and on over the years, but time and the feeling it wasn't quite ready for bigtime kept me from going forward.
Finally, however, I believe I have the material under control enough to stick it out for the world to see.
A lot of writers tell me, "Oh, another writing book, eh? Just what the world needs." I just grin and say, "Yeah, but you've never see one like this before. Ever!
I'm happy and relieved to say GQ is now finished and in revision. God willing and the crick don't rise, as they say, it will be available in January 2012.