The Leviathan In The Fog

This week, I had fun with Chuck Wendig’s flash fiction challenge over at blog. He offered a list of ten titles and challenged writers to choose one and write its story. I tried out a few different titles and story ideas, but “The Leviathan In The Fog” triggered a memory of a personal encounter, so I felt the most connection to this story. And with no further ado . . .


The Leviathan in the Fog

by Maria L. Berg

Moments past dawn and it is already hot. Dew, settled on the long blades of grass during the chill of night, sizzles to steam, creating a thick fog that hovers near the earth. The orchestra of invisible locusts plays a deafening song. The leviathan stirs, alert to an invisible invasion.

Fumes of diesel and rubber, hours old, still linger. A pungent deterrent, narrowing possible paths. The leviathan slowly stretches along the cracks and pebbles, finding every sensation an irritant. Gone are the days of wandering in mindless solitude, tentacles swaying fearlessly in the breeze. With the humans encroaching and the new fad of rampant hermaphroditic reproduction, the once vast world feels confining. Recently, the bumbling masses started eating each others’ shells. Eating each other! That’s what their uncontrolled orgies have gotten them. Terrestrial gastropods have no self-control.

Contracting, toward a leaf, the leviathan smells distinct clues of foreign intrusion: an unfamiliar sweet, rotting fruit; soil of a course mineral make-up; the bark of an unknown tree. Curiosity becomes alarm. The invasion is happening, but where are the invaders? The locusts continue their two-note serenade without pause. No breach could escape their scrutiny. Hunger prevails over alarm, but the leaf is all wrong: rubbery and stringy; each vein leaks a gluey, bitter puss.

Dissatisfied, the leviathan stretches further through the fog and discovers, retracting in horror, a capacious piece of broken shell. The deep mahogany and umber swirls are slashed with jagged white edges where violent pressure transposed it from home to waste. Only two other small pieces remain, the rest are crumbled and trampled to tiny specks and flakes. While tasting one of the smaller pieces of shell, the leviathan worries that the pebble irritants, glided over earlier, are pieces of a trail of snails.

The recognition of self in the smell is difficult to process. A perceptual dilemma like sucking on one’s own eye stalk. The leviathan feels ill and wants to recoil, but the calcium is difficult to come by these days.

The sun rises behind the trees. The fog will soon burn off and the leviathan will need to dig into the soft dirt under the tall grass to hide from predators and the blistering heat, but the second small piece of shell is too tempting. Enraptured in gluttony, the leviathan doesn’t hear the lack of locusts’ song, or the generators’ rising hum as lights are flicked on. Vibrations growing underfoot like a stampede gaining momentum do, finally, reach into the gorge. The click and scrape of heavy doors is the final warning.

The sole of a shoe. An earth shattering crunch.

In the throws of death, the leviathan hears, “Ew. What is that? There’s like slime up to my ankle. Is that a snail? A snail? We must be in hell because a snail that big will eternally haunt my dreams.”

Then a scream of shattering revelation.

“They’re everywhere. Oh, Lord help me, they’re everywhere.”


Craft Book Review: Story Fix

Story Fix coverStory Fix: Transform Your Novel from Broken to Brilliant by Larry Brooks is intended to help authors “reinvigorate” rejected novels, but I found it lacking in tangible instruction and full of discouragement.

Why I picked it up: I was looking through Writing Voice: The Complete Guide to Creating a Presence on the Page and Engaging Readers (Creative Writing Essentials) from the editors at Writer’s Digest and started looking up the different authors who had written chapters. Because I am focused on editing and revision, Larry Brooks’s book looked like a good choice.

My Expectations: I was expecting a book on revision and editing with specific guidelines to follow as I revise my draft. With the bold title STORY FIX, I expected a plethora of tools and boxes to check.

Intended Audience: This book is for writers whose manuscripts have been rejected so many times that they are facing a major re-write or abandoning their novel to the drawer of despair, or the locked trunk in the basement. The author also assumes the reader has attended conferences.

What I liked: The examples of Mr. Brooks coaching authors at the end of the book are  worth reading. Before I got to the three case studies, I was having trouble finding anything I liked, but they were interesting. I recommend reading the case studies first and then, if you’re curious about Mr. Brooks’s terminology, going back and reading those sections of the book. I found the questions Mr. Brooks asked the authors during these story coaching sessions to be eye opening while evaluating my own manuscript.

What I didn’t like: Until the coaching examples (and somewhat during), the book comes across as very negative. Mr. Brooks appears to think he’s being honest and frank, 200 pages of tough love, one might say, but it comes across as cynical and impugning. Until I read the case studies, I felt like I had read 150 pages of how to write an elevator pitch and fifty pages telling me I might as well give up trying.


Rating:  ♦ ♦   2 out of 5 – only because of the coaching examples at the end.


Books on revision and editing I would recommend instead:

The Magic Words: Writing Great Books for Children and Young Adults by Cheryl B. Klein. I reviewed this book as my first Craft Book Review. It is not only for authors of children’s and YA novels.

The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know by Shawn Coyne

Revision And Self-Editing (Write Great Fiction) by James Scott Bell


Happy Reading and Writing!



Review: A Compendium Of Collective Nouns

Over the weekend, I went to West Seattle and had brunch with an old friend. After we ate, we walked around the shops. In a home furnishings store, I noticed a beautiful book and had to have it. So I am now the proud owner of: A Compendium Of Collective Nouns

A Compendium of Collective Nouns: From an Armory of Aardvarks to a Zeal of Zebras from Woop Studios.

The collective nouns in this book were researched from The Book of Saint Albans, An Exaltation of Larks: The Ultimate Edition by James Lipton which I talked about in my post Exploring: Collective Nouns, and other historic examples of collective nouns.

A collection of collective nouns is fun for anyone and everyone who enjoys playing with words, and this book is beautiful as well.

A Disguising of Tailors

This is the page I turned to in the store that turned this book from, Oh, I want this, to I’m taking this home with me. As a person who worked many years as a seamstress and tailor, I absolutely love the idea of being part of a Disguising. I’m going to extend that to A disguising of costumers because it’s just perfect. As you can see, the full page graphic designs are also eye-candy.

A Duplicity of Spies

This page is full of fun collective nouns. I especially like:

  • A venom of spiders
  • A duplicity of spies
  • A scurry of squirrels
  • and A galaxy of starfish

I highly recommend treating yourself to a copy of A Compendium of Collective Nouns: From an Armory of Aardvarks to a Zeal of Zebras from Woop Studios.

Also from Woop Studios:

A Raft of Otters: Collective Nouns Flash Cards from A to Z

A Zeal of Zebras: An Alphabet of Collective Nouns


How can you use collective nouns in your writing?

Happy Reading and Writing


Craft Book Review: The Magic Words by Cheryl B. Klein

The Magic Words book cover

The Magic Words: Writing Great Books for Children and Young Adults by Cheryl B. Klein is a great book for writers who are ready to take their manuscript to the next level. As an editor for Scholastic, Cheryl has experience that makes her an authority on the subject of revision and editing MG and YA novels. She shares first hand stories about the revision process that bring difficult subjects to life.

Why I picked it up:

It was one of the books recommended by Denise Jaden at the end of Fast Fiction: A Guide to Outlining and Writing a First-Draft Novel in Thirty Days for when you’ve finished your draft and you’re ready to edit.

My Expectations:

Because the book is about writing for children and because Magic is in the title, I expected it to be focused on magical thinking and getting back to the child mind. I expected exercises in discovering stories that appeal to children and using language geared toward different age groups. This book wasn’t like that at all.

Intended Audience:

The ideal reader is a fiction writer who has finished a first draft of a novel fomiddle school, high school or adult readers. To get the most out of the exercises, you will want to have read through your draft and created a “book map.” The book map is a lot like the story grid from The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know by Shawn Coyne that I talked about in the Editing Focus sections of my Final Days of 2017 posts. Cheryl Klein uses a post from Anita Nolan as an example. The book map is also a lot like Susan Dennard’s index card outline.

What I liked:

I liked the examples from her work as an editor working with authors. Her experiences were informative and brought the concepts into the real world. I also liked the extensive exercises in every chapter. The exercises raise poignant questions to get you analyzing your work.

Since I focused on plot last fall, I enjoyed that this book presents a fresh take. I learned yet another plotting structure called Freytag’s pyramid. I hadn’t heard of this one before. Based on Poetics from Aristotle, it describes the five act dramatic structure of classical plays, but also works as a model of rising action.

The Magic Words is thorough, covering every aspect of writing and revising your novel.

For your convenience both the plot chart and the character chart discussed in the book are available on the book’s page of Cheryl’s website.

What I didn’t like:

I got tired of Harry Potter references. If I didn’t write adult fiction as well as children’s fiction, I would have found most of the examples (Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Twilight) to be geared toward older kids and I would not have found this book very useful. However, as a book on the craft of writing, it was excellent.

Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦  5/5 Highly Recommend


Writing Reviews

I have a favor to ask. This year, I plan to write a review each week. I’m trying to come up with a format that is both fun and informative so I would appreciate your feedback of this review.

  • Did you like the layout?
  • Was the review helpful?
  • What else would you like to know about the book?
  • What didn’t you like about the review?
  • How could it be better?

Please respond in the comments. Thank you.

Happy Reading and Writing!


Gobolinks and Blottentots

You may recognize these inkblots from my last post. The image on the left looked to me like two teddy bears playing with a ball from the moment I made it. The image on the right, however, originally looked like an angelic figure or winged creature (turned 180°), but when I looked at it again, I saw a canyon carved by water flow. Because the original inkblots were made with glitter-glue, the blue watercolor flowed like water and did not soak into the paper, so it even acted like mountain lakes flowing into a river in a canyon. It was very fun to make.

More Fun With Klecksography

Gobolinks and Blottentots

At the turn of the 19th to 20th century,  people expanded on Justin Kerner’s ideas of Klecksography, the art of using inkblots in illustration and created works of their own. Ruth McEnery Stuart turned the creations of inkblots and verse into a game called Gobolinks and John Prosper called the inkblot creatures he created and described in verse, Blottentots. Both of these books of inkblots and verse are now available online through Project Gutenberg.

Project Gutenberg ebooks:

gobolinks coverGobolinks or Shadow Pictures For Young and Old by Ruth The Blottentots coverMcEnery Stuart and Albert Bigelow Paine 1896

Blottentots and How To Make Them by John Prosper Carmel 1907

Inkblots As Story Inspiration

I had a lot of fun creating a bunch of inkblots the other day. One of the great things about inkblots is they are a super-cheap, if not free (you can make them with things you already have in your house) art form and you can make them very quickly.

I did a little experimenting and found porous paper, like regular typing or printing paper works better than thicker paper. So any scrap paper you have lying about is the perfect canvas, and any drippable liquid will do. I used a cheap, hard-disc watercolor set with a lot of water. If you don’t have watercolors, you could use acrylics, or left over house paint. If you don’t have any paint, use mustard and ketchup. Use coffee or tea. Try mud. Why not? Make sure to protect your work area. I rolled out a bunch of butcher paper.

As I made more and more inkblots, my scrap paper got smaller and smaller. I found joy in the black and white blots that were about 2″ X 2″.  Many of them looked as if they could combine to become more detailed creatures, so I got out a metal board and some magnets and had some fun.

metal board and magnets play area

Looking at all these unique beauties made me ponder the stories they could tell. For those of you who have read Jumpstart Your Novel by Mark Teppo, what about using inkblots to inspire or illustrate your nine boxes?

Nine Box Plot

Or how about using your inkblots to access your subconscious ideas about your hero’s journey? Perhaps in a similar way to, or along with Mapping the Hero’s Journey With Tarot.  The hero's journey in inkblots

You could also use inkblots to inspire setting and character:

spring garden

A spring garden

mantiss gnome

A garden gnome spinning on a spike

Character development: Use your inkblots with your characters like Rorschach tests to explore their psyches.

Group dynamic/ character interaction: Have your characters play a game of Gobolinks.

Since I am having so much fun with inkblots, I hope to find ways that they will help me enjoy my editing and revision process as well. I’ll let you know as soon as I do.

Further Reading

Inkblot: Drip, Splat, and Squish Your Way to Creativity by Margaret Peot

The Inkblots: Hermann Rorschach, His Iconic Test, and the Power of Seeing by Damion Searls

The Inkblot Pack: Includes the 10 Classic Inkblots for you to interpret & a beautifully designed journal with thought provoking quotes

And Just For Fun

Rorschach mask

As a photographer and a costumer, I imagine many possibilities for The Original Moving Rorschach Inkblot Mask, so I bought one. I should have it in about 10 days and will definitely write a review.


Happy Reading and Writing!

The Final Days of 2017 Day 26: Fun With Klecksography (and glitter glue)!

glitter glue inkblot gold  glitter glue inkblot blue

Now that Christmas is over–and we survived; deep sigh of relief–odd ornaments no longer fit the bill for visual prompts. I woke up asking, what should guide us into the new year? My brain said, “Rorschach tests.” Why? You may ask my brain. Because inkblots stimulate creative imagery and Klecksography could enhance our poems. The true answer, I think, is I want an excuse to make a mess with art supplies.

So please have fun with them. Feel free to copy my pictures. I would love it if you would turn my glitter glue inkblots into illustrations and put links to your creations in the comments. Then we can all check back tomorrow with what we came up with.

Klecksography, pioneered by Justinus Kerner in the 1850’s, is the art of using inkblots in illustration. He used his klecksographs to illustrate his poetry.

Here are some great articles about Klecksography:

Atlas Obscura



#vss very short story

Herman became obsessed with inkblots. He dripped ink on, then folded, everything. He was always covered in ink, no matter how many times a day his mother scrubbed him. His cat had an inkblot that looked like a moth. His dog had an inkblot that his father thought was suggestive. His father didn’t know it, but while he was napping, Herman had made an inkblot on the back of his leg. Herman thought it looked like crossed swords through a heart dripping blood.

Today’s Poetry Prompt and Poem

Today we have a visual prompt: Antony Gormley’s sculpture “Quantum Cloud VIII” (1999) from SF MOMA’s Fisher Collection. Write a poem using this sculpture as your inspiration.


Extending beyond form

          Mostly empty space

Perceived construction                                                                                       of the familiar
The body radiates

E             x            p                a                   n                       d                         s

                    p                     d

E                               l                      e

          x                o                         s

Editing Focus

This week, I’m taking a little mini-vacation. I have a bunch of books I want to read and I don’t want to feel rushed. While I read, however, I will keep a notebook at my side and look for things I would like to emulate. I’ll pay attention to:

  • plot structures,
  • character development,
  • character arc,
  • metaphor and simile,
  • sentence structure and variety,
  • dialogue,
  • word selection
  • and every other great thing that I like about what I read.



graphic by Anjela Curtis

Now that the holidays are over, I think I want to start a new flash story. I haven’t hit the Plot-o-Matic in a while. Let’s see what we get.

plot-o-matic flash

As you can see, I’ve added more than one option to each card. I may want to redo my cards so that each card only has one option. Some days, like today, choices aren’t a great tool. I’m going to go with:

A helicopter pilot wants to hide out for a while so he puts 10,000 dollars in a church plate.

And from the Writer Emergency Pack Talk it out

and let’s add an oblique strategy:

Twist the spine

I’m guessing my antagonist is whoever my helicopter pilot took the money from. Perhaps he puts the 10,000 dollars in the church plate because he came to meet and talk to the antagonist at the church and the money is a sign of good faith.

For today’s #FlashFicHive challenge, I’ll need to write a backstory for my helicopter pilot.

As for our oblique strategy, I could take it literally–one of my characters could have a twisted spine–or figuratively–throw a twist into the story. Maybe the real antagonist is the preacher, or maybe the 10,000 dollars wasn’t stolen at all. Now, how to condense all of these ideas into a flash fiction story.

Don’t Forget To Read!

I have a couple of books to recommend today. I finished Tunnels by Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams and The Best of Talebones edited by Patrick Swenson.

Tunnels cover I gave Tunnels and the sequel Deeper to my niece. I would recommend this book for pre-teens to early teens (the main character is 14) who are fascinated by archaeology, underground cities, and caves. Kids who liked City of Ember will most likely enjoy this book.  4 out of 5 (a little heavy on the doom and gloom).talebones book cover

I gave The Best of Talebones to my sweetie’s brother. These stories, selected from years of Talebones Magazine, are great reads. Though the magazine was specifically focused on science fiction, there is a lot of variety of style and subject matter between the stories. I highly recommend this book.  5 out of 5 stars.5 stars


Happy Reading and Writing!

Final Days of 2017 #FD2017 Day 25: Surviving The Rare White Christmas!

For our final odd ornament visual prompt I found a gift from 1996 still in its box. The box had some interesting info. I’m loving the name Grzegorz. I think the ball is painted with drums, but that’s a guess. From this view, it could be stylized black holes.

#vss very short story

While her family continued to open gifts, Carrie’s attention was drawn to the black spot on the painted, glass ornament. She could swear it was growing. Mom must have spiked the Christmas punch because she saw snow falling inside the black spot which was definitely growing.

Carrie stood on wobbly legs and touched the now floating void in the room. She felt cold air whoosh past her and closed her eyes to protect them from the burning cold. When she opened then again, a spritely crone with a thick pile of white hair neatly wrapped in a bun on the top of her head said, “Oh, Carrie. Good. You’re here. Santa’s in trouble.”

Today’s Poetry Prompt and Poem

Today’s prompt from MoSt Poetry is a form prompt. Fun! Write a tanka, a Japanese five-line, 5/7/5/7/7 syllable count form, concerning an emotion associated with this holiday season — positive or negative, neighborly or not, infused with eggnoggyness or something else.

Smiling at the snow
Voices travel over lake
Love this; it’s Christmas
This winter wonderland is
A perfect morning present

Extra Writing prompts

I found a couple writing prompts @writerswrite on twitter for today.




Graphic by Anjela Curtis

Anjela informed me yesterday that when #FlashFicHive comes around again in February, it will only be weekly prompts. Sad, but understandable. I’m trying to figure out how to approach my posts in 2018. Though I love the inspiration I find in theses daily posts, they are very time consuming. I may scale back to my previous bi-weekly posts in January and see how it goes.

Don’t Forget To Read!

Today is all about reading the books you got for Christmas! Yay New Books! Believe it or not, I did not receive a single book for Christmas, however, I still have one book to hurry through this morning before I gift it. And there’s still one more gathering that has book promise.

Today is also a great day to build your reading wish list. You can start buying those books with the money you get from gift returns and gift cards (fingers crossed).


Happy Reading and Writing!

Final Days of 2017 Day 24: This Crazy Cat

kitty in a hat box

Yesterday, was the annual family white elephant exchange and after everyone left, this crazy cat was left behind. It is now part of my odd decoration collection and today’s inspiration.

#vss very short story

Jenna thought it was so cute when her new Siamese cat jumped into her hat box where she kept her sewing supplies. She laughed and giggled as Snowy watched her from just under the closed lid and then sprang up like a Jack-in-the-box when she wiggled her fingers. But Jenna’s sewing business took a big hit when Snowy became viciously territorial and Jenna had to replace all of her supplies.

Today’s Poetry Prompt and Poem

Write a poem including the words perceptive, glorious, pernicious, quicksilver, and rock. Joe’s bonus word is quibble, and Sophie’s bonus word is frivolous.

The pernicious rock flashed like quicksilver
None would quibble the act was frivolous
And though childish, had glorious consequence

For the perceptive knew, said rock flew
Through the window, striking a bottle that toppled
Into another which in turn toppled another

The next bottle fell to the floor and smashed
Startling the shop cat asleep in the back
The cat darted out a little cat door and startled a driver

The driver screeched to a halt and hopped out
Searching for the cat in fear it was harmed
She investigated a sound coming from the dumpster

And inside was a crying infant wrapped in a blood-soaked towel
Saved from a terrible fate by the frivolous toss of a
Pernicious rock of glorious consequence.

Editing Focus

Let’s face it, I won’t be getting any editing done today or tomorrow, but that doesn’t mean my subconscious won’t be working on things without me. I found some characters that needed further development while doing my Character Web the other day. I’ll try to think about them during lulls in the festivities.



graphic by Anjela Curtis

I had a great time with this prompt last time. It led me to the discovery of occult chemists. I’m excited to see where this challenge leads me. Looks like Anjela left the Meaning from Circumlocution. That would be some odd usage of the word Gingerbread.

Berg Reading

The bride grange went to Range Bridge to meet Bigger Daren the binge grader who had spent the day grading beer which brought on the big red anger, the dage bringer.

Don’t Forget To Read!

I may have found a hole in the market. Sewing Cats Christmas, does not appear to be a book category on Amazon. Shocking, right? Ha. Ha. Ha. Here are some books I found to go with today’s theme:

Cattastic Crafts: DIY Project for Cats and Cat People by Mariko Ishikawa

Fashion Cats by Takako Iwasa

Trimmed With Murder (SEASIDE KNITTERS MYSTERY Book 10) by Sally Goldenbaum

I don’t know if that last one has a cat on it, but it kept coming up in my search so, maybe the cat kills all the people.

Happy Reading and Writing!

Final Days of 2017 Day 23: Yeti Paws

This has been hanging on the inside doorknob of my bedroom door ever since I received it from my Swedish “sister”. God Jul means Merry Christmas in Swedish. I am not sure what the fur is, but I’m going to go ahead and say it was made from Yeti paws.

#vss very short story

Hannah thought the furry Christmas decoration looked like a fluffy bone, so she put it around her dog’s neck. She loved how it bounced as he frolicked in the fresh snow-drifts. She heard a yelp and her little Prince didn’t emerge. She tromped through the thick snow, her heavy steps crunching on the top layer and then quickly sinking up past her knee. It was exhausting work to walk the few steps to see behind the hillock. She gasped. Her eyes traveled up the white fur to the blood dripping from the Yeti’s mouth. The strand of string still holding the fluffy bone was stuck around a huge, sharp tooth. Hannah screamed.

Today’s Poetry Prompt and Poem

Today’s prompt is a tough one:

Write your own memoir in 10 lines. No more, no less.

A Creative Life

Abject antecedent agonizes an allimentation allowance
Circumspect creature charily content
Rapacious reader reaching recalcitrant
Timely travel tunes tenacious talent
Educated egocentric eagerly endeavors
Antiestablishmentarian acts autarkically
Tumbling terrifically toward the twilight
Impossible issues invert imagined ills
Voracious verbiage vanquishes vile visions
Erasing exasperation eases endangered existence




I really like Ask the 8 Ball prompts. This one was fun. I asked the question as written and got:

replay hazy

So I tried a different question. I asked: Should I start my story with an onomatopoeia?

outlook good

Don’t Forget To Read!

To fit with today’s theme, I thought I would find some books about the Snow Beast.

Yeti – The Ecology of a Mystery by Daniel C. Taylor

My Quest for Yeti: Confronting the Himalayas’ Deepest Mystery by Reinhold Messner

The Abominable Snowman (Choose Your Own Adventure 1) by R. A. Montgomery

GAMAGO Yeti Journal I have this journal. I really like it. I bought it at the Seattle MoPop when it was the EMP (Experience Music Project). I write my ideas for kids stories in it.

Yeti Rescue Kit

And there are many kids books that look cute:

Yeti, Turn Out the Light! by Greg Long, Chris Edmundson and Wednesday Kirwan

No Yeti Yet by Mary Ann Fraser

Yeti and the Bird by Nadia Shireen

Happy Reading and Writing!

Final Days of 2017 Day 22: Skeletons In The Christmas Tree

Dead Fairy's Christmas

During #StoryDam chat on Twitter last night, Tui Snider (@TuiSnider) mentioned having a black Xmas tree with skeletons on it. She inspired me to pull this beauty out of her box and let her fly. Thank you Tui. And she’s posable!

#vss very short story

When Horace hiked through the snowy forest and chopped down the perfect fir, he had no idea it had grown on the bloody lands of the fairy wars. The tree had grown so full and desirable feeding on the rotting fairy corpses.

The next morning, when he saw the tree lit up and covered in decorations, he thought Janice had gotten up in the night to surprise him. Upon closer inspection, the decorations were quite morbid. They looked like little human skeletons dressed up like fairies. He also discovered there were no lights on the tree, the lights came from their eyes.

He backed up in fear as the room filled with the sound of fluttering wings. The awakened fairy spirits flew from the tree, hungry for revenge.

Today’s Poetry Prompt and Poem

For some reason, I really like today’s prompt:

Write a poem including three modes of transportation and a bird.

Mr. Screamy and I

Majestic eagle in the tree above my room.
Alerts me that the day in all its gloom
Has arrived and he is in it.

The jets rumble overhead
Computer-coordinated flight-paths
Overwhelmed with Christmas travelers.

Mr. Screamy and I celebrate not being among them
Encompassed in our cloud, today I won’t join
The screaming masses in car traffic and parking lots.

Today, Mr. Screamy and I are content to be
Big, bold, loud and not stranded far from home.
I’ll use imagination transportation while he takes flight.

Editing Focus

Back to The Story Grid Spreadsheet. Today I’m adding the last six columns that concern story continuity. They are:

Point of View – the vantage point from which the reader sees the fictional world.

Period/Time –  Be specific. Know exactly when, time/day, the scene takes place in the story.

Duration – The approximate length of time it took for the scene to take place. Was it two minutes of action or did it last a few days or years?

Location – Where does the scene take place? Be specific.

Onstage Characters – list the names of the characters present in the scene

Offstage Characters – characters referred to by the active characters, but not part of the scene.

While I work on finishing up the spreadsheet, I’ll also look at another section of The Ultimate Revision Checklist from Revision And Self-Editing (Write Great Fiction) by James Scott Bell.

Since I’ll be listing all the onstage and offstage characters for every scene, this will be a good time to make a Character Web. Mr. Bell shows the web as a page with the Lead Character in the center and the other characters in a circle around, I think I would do it a little differently. I would put the lead in the center, the secondary characters around the lead and the tertiary in an outside circle, like this:

Throwing Stones Character Web

I made this in Adobe Illustrator, so it will be easy to add or delete characters and change where they fit in the relationships.

Then draw lines to show the connections between the different characters.

Throwing Stones Character Connections

I took it a step farther and created a color-code for my MC’s Mentors, Allies and Enemies. I also color-coded the connections as whether they were positive or negative relationships.

This was a great exercise! In a short time, I got a deeper feel for all of my characters and their importance to my MC’s character arc and the story development. I already found  characters that need more development and could strengthen the plot.

Mr. Scott recommends using this diagram to see if I can combine two or more characters to fulfill the same function. So far, I see Hanya and Mr. Graves as perhaps having the same purpose, and Seba may not be necessary as he only introduces Tshepo to The Shark, though he may be a character that needs further development.



graphic by Anjela Curtis

Today’s writing hashtag themes:


Don’t Forget To Read!

The skeletons theme made me think of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, so I thought it would be fun if there were any books based on the movie. And wowie were there. Here’s a fun selection of what I found:nbc picturebook

The Nightmare Before Christmas: 20th Anniversary Edition

nbc comic

Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas Cinestory Comic: Collector’s Edition


Nightmare Before Christmas: The 13 Days of Christmas (Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas)coloringnbc

Art of Coloring: Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas: 100 Images to Inspire Creativity

Happy Reading and Writing!