Young writers get visit from author

Published 4:23 pm Monday, March 18, 2013

Author Robert Inman, a native Alabamian, talks with Calera High School students about key components of the writing process. (contributed)

Author Robert Inman, a native Alabamian, talks with Calera High School students about key components of the writing process. (contributed)

By MOLLIE BROWN / Community Columnist

Calera High students in The Write Club and Dr. Mary Rees’ English Class explored their writing careers with novelist, screenwriter and playright Robert Inman. Inman, a native of Elba, began his writing career in seventh grade with his hometown paper.

“I’ve always been fascinated with words,” Inman said. “I worked at the newspaper through high school and disc jockeyed at the radio station. I went to Alabama and studied broadcast journalism and spent most of my journalism career in TV. I left that 17 years ago after publishing a couple of book to write fulltime.”

Inman’s genre is mainstream southern literary fiction. He has four published novels — three received the Outstanding Fiction Award from the Alabama Literary Association. He’s written seven stage plays, two musical productions and has written screenplays for six motion pictures for television. His latest novel, “The Governor’s Lady,” will be published September 2013.

Prior to speaking to the students, Inman read some of their work. He shared principles for writing. One is a story wheel depicting the central character surrounded by five elements — setting, dialogue, voice, plot and other characters. He said the most important factor to plot in developing the character and telling his or her story is dilemma.

“Character plus dilemma equals story,” Inman said. “If there’s some dilemma a character has to face and deal with, or not, then that’s going to be the crux of the story, the plot and everything that goes on internally and externally.”

Inman was in Shelby County to lead a writing workshop held at the Pelham Public Library. The workshop, a partnership between the Pelham Public Library and the Shelby County Arts Council, was obtained through grants from South Arts and the Alabama Humanities Foundation. Pelham Public Library Director Barbara Roberts hopes more workshops will be offered.

“Grants aren’t continually handed out. You have to become self-sustaining,” Roberts said. “We’re looking for aspiring writers who are interested in establishing an ongoing writers workshop.”

Roberts said the group will be paired up with professional writers who will critique their writing and help foster their love for writing. Contact Roberts at 620-6419 for workshop information.


Mollie Brown is a business columnist for the Shelby County Reporter. She can be reached at