Guest Post: The Story Behind ‘Shiloh’s True Nature’ by D.W. Raleigh
Becoming an author was something I always hoped would happen, but I never dreamt of being a fiction writer. Many years ago, when I was an undergraduate at the University of Delaware, I discovered that works of philosophy didn’t have to be strictly boring dissertations, like something Kant or Wittgenstein might write. It was acceptable to convey philosophical ideas through storytelling, like Sartre or Kierkegaard. Still, I saw myself constructing the former and not the latter.
For the longest time, I believed I would earn a PhD in Philosophy, teach at some university, and go on to write groundbreaking works that would change the field. That would be my life and it would be sensational. However, when reality hit and it became clear that teaching was not my destiny, I began contemplating a future as an author.
My first attempt at fiction began with no plan, nor anything resembling an outline. I just sat down and tried to put something together. Upon completion, I tried to tell myself the finished product wasn’t so bad, but that wasn’t true. The story was weak and the writing was dreadful.
Once I accepted the truth, I realized I had a lot to learn. Never one for doing things the easy way, I decided to jump in and give it another shot without actually addressing all the things that made the first story crumby. The result was slightly better, but slightly terrible is still terrible.
It was at that point I realized I needed to read more fiction to help myself become a better writer. After all, how do you create a fantastic fairy-tale if you’ve never really read one? So, I studied every book I picked up that didn’t completely turn me off by the end of the first chapter; how the stories were constructed, the writing styles, etc.
Oddly enough, it was two non-fiction books on mythology by the late Joseph Campbell that helped me the most. The Power Of Myth and The Hero With A Thousand Faces became my blueprints to create something wonderful. While they provided no specific subject matter, the books explained thousands of years of successful storytelling.
Motivated by Campbell’s works, I began sorting through my notes, deciding which story ideas I thought readers would appreciate the most. I then took those ideas and began constructing the mythological framework that would become my novel. That process took place over the course of a couple years as the story grew and evolved.
Having a meticulously constructed outline was the most important component of the whole process for me. People will forgive mediocre writing if they’re reading a great story, but all the flowery articulation in the world won’t save a bad one. So, once I had the story outline completed, the next task was to convert that outline into a novel.
I found the transition from outline to novel a little difficult. I’m a daydreamer by nature, so, while the outlining process took a while, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The actual writing was more of a rollercoaster ride. I frequently agonized over how to properly convey what was in the outline. However, there was great satisfaction when I could clear a linguistic hurdle and move on to the next challenge.
When I finished the first draft, I remember having a sense of elation. My future as an author went from highly unlikely to possible. Even though I didn’t realize how much more work I had ahead of me, perpetual editing, finding a publisher, etc, I felt good because I had finally accomplished what I set out to…and that’s how Shiloh’s True Nature was born.
About the Book
Title: Shiloh’s True Nature
Author: D.W. Raleigh
Publisher: Hobbes End Publishing
When 12 year-old farm boy Shiloh Williams is sent to stay with his estranged grandfather, he discovers a mysterious new world inhabited by ‘Movers’. The Movers live in symbiotic harmony with one another, except one extremely powerful Mover who has stolen the town’s most precious artifact, the Eternal Flame. Shiloh investigates his supernatural surroundings, makes new friends, and begins to think of the town as home. However, just as soon as he starts to fit in, he realizes his newfound happiness is about to come to an abrupt end. One decision and one extreme consequence are all that remain.
D.W. Raleigh was born in the Delaware Valley and has spent most of his life in that region. He has attended multiple colleges and universities collecting several degrees, including an M.A. in Philosophy. After toiling away for many years in various unfulfilling jobs, he began to realize that what he really wanted to do was write. Scribbling down ideas and little short stories he eventually came up with something he wanted to share with the world. Thus, Shiloh’s True Nature was born. D.W. currently resides in Newark, Delaware with his longtime love, Judy, and their two cats, Lovie and Cheepie.