Local author publishes book about writing

| March 10, 2015

COSHOCTON – Coshocton resident, Dal Donovan recently published “Brush Strokes,” a how-to-do-it book for aspiring writers.

“Brush Strokes” is an instructional book with 12 short stories that exemplify 34 different techniques used to improve writing such as “the right word,” alliteration, imagery, idiom, hyperbole, simile, sarcasm, metaphor, change of pace, surprise ending, and adding humor. Donovan says that using these writing techniques is like adding color to a black and white painting. Therefore, he titled the book “Brush Strokes.”

The book is designed for the beginning writer, high school and college students, bloggers, speech writers, marketing professionals, and anyone else who wants to learn to improve their understanding of creative writing. This book is also great for writers groups.

According to Donovan, this book concept has been in his mind for decades.

“I was in college at UCLA right after coming home from WWII in the late 1940s,” recalled Donovan. “At that time I really wanted to be a screenwriter, but they didn’t have any courses on screenwriting there, so I switched my major to English. I eventually transferred to Ohio State, and my English professors at both universities taught budding authors like myself to learn by reading ‘concrete examples’. I complied, but quickly found I could not learn to write well simply by reading Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Henry James, etc., no matter how hard I tried.”

Donovan says it was the frustration that the instructors never actually explained how to improve his writing that planted the seed in his mind for a book like Brush Strokes.

“There wasn’t anything like this when I was in school, and as far as I know there still isn’t anything quite like it,” he added.

Even though this book idea has been in Donovan’s head since his college days, he actually only began to develop it about three years ago.

“I began with writing some of the short stories that are included in the book,” Donovan said. “There’s a certain amount of truth in each of the stories. For example, ‘Five Little Indians,’ is a true childhood story from when I was 6-years-old. It’s about us five neighborhood kids who often played cowboys and Indians throughout the summer and how on the last summer evening before school started, I didn’t show up to play.”

Donovan says there are two ways to begin writing a story: Either sit down and start writing or begin with an outline.

“Strunk and White’s Elements of Style says to ‘always begin with an outline,’” said Donovan, “but I don’t use that method. It never worked well for me, but many others find that an outline works best for them.”

The story “Wake Up Sleepyheads!” in the book took the most time for Donovan to write.

“I worked on that story longer than any of the others,” he said. “I must have rewritten it 20 times before it came out the way I wanted it.”

Donovan worked with Mary and Bob Closson at Closson Press to publish “Brush Strokes.”

“They were extremely helpful to me and I am so very grateful for their assistance in this endeavor,” Donovan said. “I’ve always wanted to have a book published and this is my last hurrah, since I am nearly 92-years-old!”

“You want to read this book if you want to express yourself in such a way that you are satisfied with what you’ve written,” added Donovan. “Plus, it can help you appreciate reading great pieces once you understand the writing techniques explained in the book.”

And Donovan adds jokingly that the stories in the book can also be used as a “soporific” (to induce sleep).

“Brush Strokes” is $24.95 plus shipping and is available from Closson Press (www.clossonpress.com) or by calling 724-337-4482, and will soon be available on Amazon.com.

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Article contributed to The Beacon.

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