#Writober 2019 Day 10: Touch

soft

#OctPoWriMo

Today’s OctPoWriMo theme is Touch. Today was my first prompt for OctPoWriMo. I hope it inspired. I wrote a post about touch back when I started this blog and did a series on exploring the senses. Here are a couple exercises I created to explore touch, if you’re interested in exploring your senses for this poem:

Exercise 1: Wander though your house and find 3-5 objects with different textures. The objects should have special meaning to you. Put each object in a paper bag or box, so that you can touch it without looking at it, or you could blindfold yourself if you need to. Feel each object. If possible, touch the object with more than just your hands, try your toes or your elbow. Write down everything you think about. Explore texture words, but also emotions and memories. Be as specific as possible.

As with all of our senses, we have to pay attention to the input, or we don’t notice it. If we noticed every bit of sensory information all the time, we wouldn’t be able to think. This is especially true for touch. As long as we are at a comfortable temperature and not in pain, we mostly ignore all of the things we are touching or that are touching us at any one moment. Let’s change that.

Exercise 2: Write down and describe everything you are touching right now. Example: I am touching the keys of my laptop, my small folding table, a cushion, the couch, the table leg, the carpet). What are they touching? Explore those textures. Are any of the things you are touching hot or cold? Do you feel pressure points, or vibration? Does paying attention to the things you are touching change how you interact with them? It made me want to clean my little table and get some tea.

SOFT
silky
cat dander

Neighbor’s roaming pet
Always on my porch chair
His fur a gentle comfort

“A good friend cushions a hard fall.”

HARD
sturdy
unyielding

The cement is cold
Uninviting mornings
I forget my socks again

“Venturing into a new day.”

wood planks

#Writober4

The image for Day 10 on the Pinterest board is a picture of a detailed gargoyle looking down on a city.

My take: I especially like the ribs on this sculpture. It has the horns of a goat, the face of a large cat and the body of a human. I’m jealous of its view.

Micro-fiction: Raissa came up to the roof every lunch break to look over the city like the magnificent gargoyle. She loved to run her fingers over the detailed sculpture to feel its rough divots and scars. She sketched it every day. That was how she was the only one who knew it had an active life when no one was looking.

Writing Process and Tools

Hero’s Journey Plot:

I used Tarot for Beginners: A Practical Guide to Reading the Cards by Barbara Moore to interpret the cards from yesterday’s layout and here’s what I came up with:

A confident, experienced man who listens to his heart and is moved by the heart of others, recently received a material object of greater value to him than is readily perceived. He sees its potential. In his near future, things will not be as they seem.

He sees so many possibilities that he cannot focus until he makes a decision. He is called away from this quandary of possibilities by a need to create, but he is feeling vulnerable and feels he needs refreshment and cleansing after recent trouble. He has put all his passion and belief into something before and that cherished creation was utterly destroyed. However, he realizes that letting that go and learning from his failure can lead to a breakthrough.

He decides to create what he is passionate about, but a bad situation is made worse by a feeling of helplessness. He is tested by a wise advisor and becomes desperate to hold on to his material goods (his creation, his power over his creation).

He comes into conflict with a woman who exposes deceit. She plans to publicly humiliate him and destroy his life’s work. However, he finds that if he stops clinging to his material goods and shares them, they can work together, even find love. But she was only leading him on to get at his creation and now the people she works with are set on destroying him.

He doesn’t give up and comes back with even stronger conviction to do what is right. He realizes he was better off alone, not listening to anyone but himself.

Conclusion: I think it would take a novel to tell that hero’s story, so to answer my own question, I don’t think the entire hero’s journey is the plot form I want for these flash fiction stories. However, a number of these elements did inspire my story. As you might imagine, the conflict with a potential love interest was intriguing, so here’s the plot I came up with:

A scientist who had been discredited and embarrassed in his field, finds the one thing he needs to prove his theory and create something that will change the world. His previous scientific rival hears of his discovery and attempts to steal it, but she sets off a chain of events that leads to catastrophe.

Using the reading I did of the cards, what flash fiction plot would you come up with for our gargoyle?

Creepy verbs: slander, malign, denigrate, slur, smear

Story Cubes Symbols: house, airplane, key, sheep, monster shadow, book, eye, arrows every direction, cane

Woodland creature: owl

Horror trope: mummy

Oblique Strategies: Retrace your steps

 

Happy Reading and Writing!

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Are You Ready for #Writober?

colorful skulls.jpg

photo by Maria L. Berg

October is almost here and I’m excited. I enjoy many fun writing events in October. And this year I’ve added the planning pages and submissions, and The Writer’s Games. It’s going to be a very busy month here at Experience Writing.

Writing Challenges

Short Stories

The Writer’s Games‘ second session is half over. I just submitted my story for the third event. I recommend joining in when the next session starts in April if you haven’t tried it yet. It is free to participate and you receive feedback from three separate judges on each entry. Each event provides a writing prompt on Friday evening and you have to send in a new story by end of day Monday. Each challenge has stretched my creativity and the feedback is encouraging and thought provoking.

Flash Fiction

I didn’t have time to do #Writober last year, so I’ll go back through the images I collected and choose the best ones to add to this year’s collection #Writober4. For those of you who don’t know, #Writober is a fun writing challenge that was originally organized by J.S. Nagy a.k.a. @BrassGoblin over on Wattpad. The challenge is to write a piece of flash fiction (he wrote 101 word stories, I wrote stories under 1000 words) each day of October inspired by a spooky, creepy image. I enjoyed it so much that first year, I decided to keep it going. I created a collection of images on Pinterest. This year’s collection is #Writober4. I’ve numbered each image for the days of the month. I hope you will join me.

Poetry

It’s also time for #OctPoWriMo,  fall’s event for those who enjoy National Poetry Writing Month. There are great writing prompts every day. This year I’ve taken my participation a step further and volunteered to take on three of the days. I’ll be your host on October 10th for the theme “Touch”, October 20th for the theme “Mountains or Oceans”, and October 27th for the theme “How Did I Get Here?” The overall theme for this year is “Diving into the shadows to mine for gold.” If you haven’t participated before, head over to OctPoWriMo.com and learn all about it.

Reading Challenge

Until I took a look at my post from #Writober2, I had forgotten about Readers Imbibing Peril. It’s a fun reading challenge to get readers in the autumnal mood.

Planning

And as if that’s not enough fun for October, it’s also the beginning of the fourth quarter of the year and I need to catch up if I’m going to meet my goal of 100 rejections this year. During my hiatus, I reformatted the pages in an attempt to use up most of the white space when printing it out as a brochure. I also decided not to use images of the journals, but to add my own photography and art as visual writing prompts instead. These next couple of months will be my final push to finalize my design. Any feedback is greatly appreciated.

If you’re ready to send out stories right now, there are Oct. 1st deadlines at:

See you tomorrow

And so it begins. I hope you’ll join me throughout the month. There will be new posts here every day of October with poetry, micro-fiction, prompts and so much more.

Revising with scene cards

finished scene cards

Hello everyone. It appears my hiatus is over as I’m excited to get back to Experience Writing. But I’m not going to get back to the planner pages quite yet. While I took an extended break from blogging and social media, I finally found the excitement and energy I needed to return to revising my novel.

I will be following Janice Hardy’s “Revise Your Novel in 31 Days.” It looks like exactly what I need to stay motivated and do the work every day until it’s done. With that in mind, I read her workshop prep and set out for the store to pick up colored 3X5 cards. However, my local store had moved their office supplies and by the time I finished shopping, I had forgotten all about them.

Making scene cards – the design

I was positive I had some in the house somewhere, so I began an extensive time-suck search instead of just returning to the store. And I’m glad I did because I found a bag of paper supplies I had stashed and forgotten about. In this fabulous bag I had card stock and resume papers of many colors. They gave me an idea. I could make my own index cards with guiding questions already printed on them. This way I will know exactly what I am trying to do in each scene and be able to evaluate the scenes in the same way each time.

Making scene cards tools

Here’s what I did:

  1. I created a word processing file with the page in landscape and separated the page into four sections.
  2. I used the scene evaluation questions that Janice Hardy proposed in her prepping lesson “How to create an Editorial Map” and fit them with plenty of space to write answers  repeated in the four sections.
  3. I printed onto different colors of the resume paper
  4. I glued the resumed paper onto the card stock
  5. I cut them apart

And voilà! Custom scene cards.

 

Using the scene cards – they work!

Using the scene cards has helped me see my draft differently. I’m finally understanding the big picture edit process more clearly. As of today, I’m half way through my draft and I’ve already found:

  • Unintended POV shifts
  • Chapters that do not move the story along  (completely removed)
  • Places to split a chapter to increase suspense
  • Places to rearrange chapters
  • Places to add character development and tie plot lines together
  • An unnecessary character and a character that is necessary that needs more development

Here’s an example of a scene card I filled in:

filled in scene card

Things to remember when using scene cards

Chapters may and often do have more than one scene. Fill out a card for each scene. You may have many cards for one chapter.

I’m filling my cards out in pencil and it’s freeing. My original answers to my POV character’s goals and motivations are often not the correct answers after I think about it for a while. Also, I like to number the cards in the top right corner and as I cut scenes and rearrange scenes, I can easily renumber them.

Having several different color cards can be used as a great organizational tool. Because the novel I’m working on has different POV characters in different chapters, I’m using different colors to represent my POV characters. That way when I’m done, it will be easy to look at each of the different narratives by putting same color cards together. You may want to use different colors to represent your main plots and subplots, or different settings if you’re writing a story that takes place in three different countries for instance. There are a bunch of fun possibilities, but remember that the color of the cards is also a tool, so be consistent in whichever plan you choose.

Other Uses

I’m going to try using these scene cards to plan and outline my idea for NaNoWriMo this year. In the past, I haven’t been great with outlines, but that could change. Knowing my POV characters goals, motivations and conflicts for each scene ahead of time should make writing that draft a lot easier.

I also had some star-shaped paper, brads and stickers I look forward to adding to the cards in some way. If I have an epiphany, I’ll let you know.

I hope you find using scene cards as helpful and motivating as I do.

Happy Reading and Writing!

“Are You Guilty of Isms?” inspires a new game of Pessimistic Moustache

While reading the article “Are You Guilty of Isms” at Psychology Today, I realized I hadn’t played Pessimistic Moustache in a while. Pessimistic Moustache is a game I made up inspired by the wonderfully descriptive phrase penned by Agatha Christie. The idea is to use an ism (like pessimism, thus pessimistic) to describe things. Diana Rose Wilson and I pretty much stuck to mustaches (moustache being the way Agatha Christie spelled it) when we were playing.

The way we used to play was Diana or I would post a picture or gif of a mustache and then we would come up with isms to describe it. While reading the article on Psychology Today this morning, I thought the opposite might be fun: Come up with the description first, then send pictures of mustaches that fit the description. For instance:

What does a speciesist mustache look like?

Who has an ageist mustache?

baby stache

What shape is a nationalist mustache?

french mustache strike

Find pictures of a sexist mustache.

girl with mustache

If you would like to play along, feel free to post your pictures and descriptions in the comments, or head over to #pessimisticmoustache on twitter.

I hope you’ll join me in some fun when you need a distraction from your writing. You might find the perfect description for your character’s mustache.

The Planner Experiment: Final Week of May and Finding Poetry

Fifth Week of May

I prepared the pages early this week and then spaced posting them yesterday, sorry.

2019 Planner May Week Five

Last Week

I finally typed up the ten unpublished poems from NaPoWriMo. I’m letting them sit a bit before I edit them. At the moment I’m not as excited about them as I had hoped to be.

In the meantime, I tried some collage poetry which was a fun and inspiring experiment. I chose two very different books:The Devil’s Teeth: A True Story of Obsession and Survival Among America’s Great White Sharks by Susan Casey and Women and the Law (University Casebook Series) by Mary Joe Frug. I photocopied some pages from each book and highlighted phrased that interested me, creating a highlighter color code as I went. When I had highlighted all of the pages, I cut out the selected phrases and put them in a bowl.

I found a small book I had made from scrap paper and magazine pages in my art supply bin. It was a perfect size. I started selecting phrases and gluing them into the book. Over two days, I turned those phrases into five poems.

This Week

I enjoyed my word collage experiment so much that I’ve decided to continue it this week. I have pulled out seven of my morning pages notebooks and have started photocopying random pages from them. I plan to use the same color-coding I used before while highlighting phrases that grab my attention. I’m excited to see if the creation of the poems and the finished products feel more or less personal when using words from my notebooks instead of from books.

Submissions

I still have not been able to re-invigorate my interest in submitting, even though I get excited about the journals as I learn about them and often think one or more of my stories will be a good fit. Hopefully, my original excitement will come around again. Starting tomorrow morning, I will attempt to make my three submissions my morning priority.

Welcome to Summer

Happy Memorial Day to those of you celebrating. It’s beautiful weather here. I jumped in the lake for the first time this year (late for me). It was tingly and brisk. It’s going to get harder and harder to self-motivate and get work done. I hope these planner pages help keep us motivated and on track to meet our publishing goals.

Happy Reading, Writing, Planning and Submitting!

 

The Planner Experiment: May Week Three – New idea for writing prompts

May week three

Finding writing prompts in old movies

The other day, while thinking about which classic monster I wanted to put in space for the Monsters in Space anthology, I remembered I have a copy of Little Shop of Horrors, the black and white, non-musical with Jack Nicholson. I also needed to come up with some writing prompts for this week’s pages, so I started the movie and sat down with a notebook and pen to jot down any writing prompts that came to mine, or any Audrey Jr. in space ideas, whichever came first.

To my surprise, every little thing began to trigger writing prompt ideas. First, I was inspired by the setting of a flower shop, then by the characters, then by getting ideas from films, then odd and fun dialogue. While I was writing the prompts, I noticed that a couple of them could, perhaps build off of one another.

A new idea for the planner

After writing twenty-eight unique prompts, I looked back through and grouped them into four weeks of prompts that could possibly work together to inspire work on the same story throughout the week.

Since I began this project, I’ve had fun making up the prompts, but not used many of them. I think this new idea of using each prompt to build a story through the week will be more useful. As I learned last month, I can write a story a week, so if I use the prompts to inspire a small section of a story each day, then I’ll be more likely to reach that goal of a finished draft each week.

So many prompts

After Little Shop of Horrors, I put in the original Night of the Living Dead and the writing prompt ideas just kept coming (mostly from dialogue). Now that I’ve discovered this technique, I doubt I’ll ever need to worry about coming up with prompts. I have collections of old black and white, even silent, Alfred Hitchcock and black and white Sherlock Holmes. I’m not sure the black and white is necessary for my prompt writing technique, but I’m going to stick with it for a while.

This week’s pages

Last week, I only got two submissions out. But I did get two submissions out, so that’s movement in the right direction. One of my submissions was a photography submission, an exciting first.

This week we’re hitting many of the month’s deadlines, especially for poetry. I’ve been telling myself I’m going to type up my poems that I have not published on this site and send them out, so this week is the week for my new poetry submissions.

This week’s goal, again, is to fill in the daily planner pages and hit those three submissions a day. I hope you’ll join me.

2019 Planner May Week Three

Reading poetry with a twist

I’m reading a lot of poetry. I’m still reading through all of the books I found to inspire my poetry last month. Last week, I tried something new and found it moving and enjoyable. I was reading Taking the Arrow Out of the Heart by Alice Walker, but not getting very far with it, so I downloaded the audio book, read by the author and listened to it while I worked for a while. Then I picked up the book and read along while I listened. I really enjoyed it, having her voice in my head instead of my own. I highly recommend this experience.

This week I’ll also be reading the poetry of

Diane Seuss
Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl: Poems
Four-Legged Girl: Poems

Alberto Rios
A Small Story about the Sky
The Dangerous Shirt

and

Louis Jenkins
Winter Road

Happy Reading, Writing, Planning and Submitting!

Creative Writing for the WWE

Last month, during NaPoWriMo and A to Z Challenge, my word for the letter k was kayfabe. Kayfabe is a word used in professional wrestling for presenting staged performances as genuine or authentic. Imagine my surprise when I found this great video introducing people to the lives of the creative writers working for the WWE. The article that I read about it said it may be a recruiting video.

There you have it, the exciting, jet-setting, action-filled life of writing for wrestlers.

Happy Reading and Writing!

F is for fainéant- Poem: After the Rain

cut wood between trees

Today’s new word:

fainéant n. an idler. adj. idle; indolent.

National Poetry Writing Month prompt:

Write a poem that emphasizes the power of “if,” of the woulds and coulds and shoulds of the world.

Writer’s Digest April PAD (poem a day) challenge:

“After (blank),” replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then, write your poem. Possible titles include: “After Dinner,” “After You,” “After Hours,” and/or “After I Finish Writing This Poem.”

My poem

After the Rain

if the clouds break and spread
releasing blue sky, the sun bursting,
glistening droplets on glass and bush
the blue-green waves pumping rhythmically
then saws and motors fill the air as if
men and women held them still
as long as they could, but the first ray of sun
set them free

if the sun breaks free and turns
the glistening raindrops to steam
rising up to join the receding clouds
let the growling, whining, revving, gnarling
inform the fainéants of their indolence
there is no rest against nature’s encroachment
no peace for those who live
among the virulent trees

if the rain ceases and the droplets are greeted
by the warm sun, spring has sprung
and there is growth, nature encroaches
and the peace of winter, the silent void of winter
is filled with revving and whining and gnarling and growling
if the fainéant sit, their heads soon split

Reading

Today’s poetry book for inspiration is Night Sky with Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong

Happy Reading and Writing!

C is for cathect- Poem:Call of the King Fisher

800px-Houghton_MS_Am_21_(50)_-_John_James_Audubon,_belted_kingfisher

Today’s new word:

cathect vt. to invest with mental or emotional energy

National Poetry Writing Month prompt:

Write something that involves a story or action that unfolds over an appreciable length of time.

Writer’s Digest April PAD (poem a day) challenge:

Write an animal poem. The poem could be about an animal. Or it could just mention an animal in passing. Or include an animal in your title and fail to mention the animal once in your poem.

My poem

Call of the King Fisher

Surrounded by tall fir and cedar,
wizened rhododendron and cherry plum
She chooses a plastic pole (for securing a boat)
Perched atop, only room for one

Squat, blue and white, protruding needle
Her song, unique among the chatter,
cathected call commands my attention
She used to fly off when I came to the window

Day after day
The pole closer to the house
Not the other one
Year after year
Beak parallel to the windows
Not pointing in at me

This spring there is another
They chase each other
flirting through the skies
The farther pole stays vacant

 

Reading

Today’s poetry book for inspiration is Wade in the Water: Poems by Tracy K. Smith.

Happy Reading and Writing!

B is for Brobdingnagian-Poem: Before Work

Today’s new word:

Brobdingnagian adj. of huge size; gigantic; tremendous  n. 1. a giant; a being of tremendous size 2. an inhabitant of Brobdingnag

I came across this word in a book by Roy Peter Clark. It was fun to find out it comes from the fictional land of Brobdingnag from Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift. It’s funny how you don’t recognize things sometimes, when they are out of context.

National Poetry Writing Month prompt:

Write a poem that resists closure by ending in a question.

Writer’s Digest April PAD (poem a day) challenge:

Today is Two for Tuesday. Choose one or both prompts.

  1. Write a worst case poem. What’s the worst that could happen?
  2. Write a best case poem. Take the worst and reverse it!

My poem

Before Work

I could not return to dreaming of lovers
And so the day has begun, I roll over
and push my legs from under the covers
Aches, stiff joints and pulsing veins
A few tempered steps before toe meets metal frame
Ignore the shooting pain
Tell me that’s the end

Drag that heavy ass up the stairs
There’s coffee to be made, but I glare
into an empty bag. I start the tea pot
In the haze of brainless morning I gulp,
The boiling liquid sears my tongue and throat
burning in my chest as if singeing my lungs
How will I know the end when it comes?

I relax in my chair and flip on the tube
I can’t seem to stop myself and turn to the news
Another shooting and so many lies
scandals, celebrities, murder and suicides
A Brobdingnagian pile of hubris and greed
putrid stupidity repackaged as need
I do not know when the end is coming

The shower runs cold, the water won’t heat
My clothes from the dryer smell bitter-sweet
I rush to the car, my hair worse than bad
The key does nothing, the damned thing is dead
I look up at the sky, all cloudless and blue
And instead of why? ask
Is the end coming soon?

Reading

Today’s poetry book for inspiration is When My Brother Was an Aztec by Natalie Diaz.

Happy Reading and Writing!