Gator McBumpypants Hears a Scary Noise is free to download today and tomorrow.

I saw Jennifer Garner talking to Jimmy Fallon about the charity #SaveWithStories and I wanted to do my part, so my book is free today and tomorrow.

Gator McBumpypants Hears a Scary Noise

Get your free copy of Gator McBumpypants Hears a Scary Noise.

Happy Reading!

100 Million Masks Challenge: A way to help fight the virus.

Hi Everyone! I got a great phone call this morning. My friend called to make me aware of an opportunity to help in the fight against Corona virus.

mask

Providence medical is putting together sewing kits so people who can sew and have a sewing machine can make protective masks for medical professionals in their area.

I’m in Western Washington and the first kit pick-up is on Monday. I’ll let you all know how it goes. If you are in the area and want to participate please sign up!

Here’s to your health. We’re all in this together.

Discovering a New Palette

four ink blots

Sunday morning I was debating whether or not I should order a new little watercolor kit because the one I’ve been using is almost out of paint, but then I remembered an old Gallery art kit in my closet. I was excited to find a whole new palette of colors to play with.

new palette

Gallery separated the palettes into Primary Colors, Earth Tones, and Pastel Shades which makes for nice layers of tones.

The lesson I’ve learned from this discovery is an important lesson even if we weren’t in a pandemic: Look through your supplies before ordering more. You may already have what you need.

The poem

This morning, I took my trash out and went to check my mail. I’m not sure why it surprised me, but kids were playing in the park on the corner and people walked by walking their dogs. Life goes on in my neighborhood. More than normal, I guess, since the kids aren’t in school and people aren’t going to work.

I had to work at it, but I believe I wrote a positive poem for today which was my intention. I used the Sasquatch magnetic poetry kit.

hunt the mysterious at home

Happy Reading and Writing!

Big changes to the pages: December Planner Pages. The end of the experiment.

December pages.jpg

For this final month of the planner experiment, I had a big think. I put way to much work into this to completely abandon the idea, but I also think I went about it backwards, or at least not exactly the right way.

What I have learned thus far

Yes, having a goal of 100 rejections on the year is a good one. It helps get you used to rejection letters which is part of the process of getting your stories published. And it gets you into the practice of resubmitting the story and not giving up. Perseverance is the word that keeps coming up in interviews with published authors, so there is no giving up, no matter how many rejections. So many rejections.

However, every editor of every magazine expects you to subscribe to the magazine, follow their social media, read all of their interviews and pretty much spend all of your time figuring out what they want to read, then write it perfectly and stunningly while being creative, but in the way they want it to be creative then pay a fee to submit it and unless you can read their mind, it still probably won’t fit the upcoming issue and thus will get rejected anyway.

After spending way too much money on literary magazines this year, and reading so many stories online, I learned some interesting things.

  • The majority of literary magazines aren’t magazines at all: they are books.
  • They are expensive books.
  • I liked very few of the stories I read in these expensive books.
  • When trying to read all of these expensive books, I got burned out and barely read any novels. Bummer.
  • Submitting to literary magazines is incredibly time consuming and energy zapping.

But this experiment still has one month left and I’m not completely giving up on it, so what to do?

This month’s changes

I took a look at my shelf of accumulated literary magazines and ended up with enough multiple issues of certain journals to make a study of it. On the pages, I took out the images and journal of the day and turned it into a journal of the week. It makes sense to me that every journal that I put my time into should pay its writers and I should read enough issues of the journal to find out if I would want my story in it.

While frantically trying to learn about all the journals and send my stories to as many as I could, I didn’t think about whether I liked the journals. I forgot to think about myself in the equation. I wanted my stories to find homes so badly that I didn’t think about the homes they might move into and whether or not they would like their roommates.

Instead of feeling rushed to get to know a journal per day which turned out to be a maddening pace. I want to take my time. Yesterday, I found a story in the latest Ploughshares that I liked, “The Caller” by Ian Stansel. Ploughshares is a tough journal to get to know because two of the three journals I have from this year had guest editors. But it’s time to try again.

The other problem I have with the journal of the day concept, other than fees and no pay, is the volatility. The information I provide can be incorrect by the time you get the file. However, if I only introduce four or five journals per month, the reader will have time to research the journal themselves and really get to know the journal before submitting. Along with this change, I’ve put only one spot for three submissions per week which feels much saner and doable.

Something I hadn’t included before which I have made the first focus this month if editing. I need to spend more time using what I’m learning from reading all of these short stories to improve my own stories, so I added a daily focus and daily editing goals. I hope we’ll find this change useful and inspiring.

The pages

So here are the last of the free daily planner pages of 2019. I hope you have had a productive and successful writing year. Were you published this year? Please leave links in the comments so I can read your successful stories and poems and promote them here on Experience Writing.

Fourth Quarter 2019 Planner Pages December new style

I had some fun with some fonts. I used Morris Roman and Deutch Gothic. Both are free to download and install.

I would love to hear what you think of the new pages. What do you find useful? What would you change? Do you like the new idea of one journal per week? Let me know in the comments. Thank you to everyone who tried out the pages and followed along with the experiment. I’ll have a wrap-up with my numbers and experiences submitting my stories this year.

Happy Holidays!

and Happy Reading and Writing!!

Approach to the moment of truth on #NaNoWriMo 2019 Day 19

abandoned in the rain

Image prompt: I imagined my main character revisiting the abandoned property on a rainy day, so I spent a little time taking pictures in the rain.

I like the title from Day 19 2017: Approach to the moment of truth. I’m feeling this on many levels. This week is going to be tough. I’ve already lost my momentum and I’m going to be completely distracted by the impeachment hearings, so I’m going to need to try some new things. I’ve cued up a Virtual Write-In for the break in the hearing. Virtual Write-ins have helped my word count in the past.

But it may also be that these prompts aren’t working for me every day. It was a good experiment and worked pretty well in the beginning, but this week I may need other inspiration. So if you don’t see these posts from me this week, I will hopefully find other inspiration to share.

#vss365: bust

He remembered small plastic busts of famous composers on the piano. Mama would play with them and arrange them. They became a clue into her mood. Kirk learned the connection and often consulted them as augurs.

Today’s Simple Task

MC micro-focused on today: What can s/he do in this moment? It’s time for arain in the bushes new and better plan.

→ This is a good exercise for me today. My MC is always hyper-observant and really exploring that will help develop his relationship with his environment. I also need to explore his plan before he left home and how it changes over time.

Warm-up Exercise

Set your timer for 5 minutes. Brainstorm all of your MC’s traits. Sort them into strengths and weaknesses.

Choose the trait you see as the main weakness. Set your timer for 5 minutes again and Cluster or Mind Map around that word.

Set your timer for another 5 minutes. Write a scene where this weakness becomes a strength.

→ This is a good exercise. Actually writing down traits and whether they are strengths or weaknesses and how, in certain situations, they can switch, helps add depth to the character and guide how he will act in unexpected situations. Doing this exercise helped me connect some of my MC’s backstory to his current perceptions and actions.

Word Of The Day

augur: v. to give promise of something to come later

I looked up this word again and am not quite sure why I chose the definition I did in 2017. Augur has all sorts of interesting definitions as both a noun and a verb (from dictionary.com):

noun

one of a group of ancient Roman officials charged with observing and interpreting omens for guidance in public affairs.
soothsayer; prophet.

verb (used with object)

to divine or predict, as from omens; prognosticate.
to serve as an omen or promise of; foreshadow; betoken: Mounting sales augur a profitable year.

verb (used without object)

to conjecture from signs or omens; predict.
to be a sign; bode: The movement of troops augurs ill for the peace of the area.

verb (used without object)

to argue, talk, or converse.

noun

an excessively talkative person.

British dictionary definitions

noun

Also called: auspex (in ancient Rome) a religious official who observed and interpreted omens and signs to help guide the making of public decisions
any prophet or soothsayer

verb

to predict (some future event), as from signs or omens
(tr; may take a clause as object) to be an omen (of); presage
(intr) to foreshadow future events to be as specified; bode this augurs well for us

My sentences using augur:

It was possible that the break-in was an attempted robbery, but the missing picture augured more personal attacks.

He felt the runny yolks augured coming disappointments.

He hadn’t imagined her as an augur during the first time they met, but this morning she wouldn’t let him get a word in. Maybe she had had too much coffee.

They augured in a style that implied an inside joke. It made him uncomfortable.

8 Action Verbs:

He felt like the appointed translator. He wished Oren would snap out of it, talk like a normal person, but that was impatience. He would have to slow down to make this work.

When in the tree house, they had collaborated on many stories. Kirk needed to remember them now, but he felt like that part of his memory was locked.

Everything felt decided without him. These were his decisions. Who was pulling the strings?

He exhibited signs of anxiety. Kirk wished he knew how to calm him. What had he done when they were young. Stories, Oren needed to tell a story. Kirk needed to listen.

Oren inspected the page. Kirk thought maybe he was getting through, making a connection. Oren ate it.

Kirk negotiated a sit down by bringing the dog a bone. Oren sat with him and they both watched the dog gnaw on it. It was a start.

The drawings represented his reality. Kirk had to adapt his perception. He needed to learn the rules of how Oren translated three dimensions to two. Each of the symbols was drawn over. Each symbol had more than one meaning.

It often felt like she wasn’t supervised. Kirk wondered if the sheriff was paying attention to his case at all.

Awesome Sentence Challenge

Connotations: I love this quote from Barbara Baig in Spellbinding Sentences: A Writer’s Guide to Achieving Excellence and Captivating Readers

If you imagine that putting a word into the mind of your reader is like casting a stone in a pond, then the denotation is the splash the stone makes as it hits the water, while the connotations of the word are like the ripples that follow the splash.

We did the first connotations exercise on Day 6, but exploiting the connotations of words to create ripples of meaning in the mind takes practice and skill, so lets do another one. Read your favorite author paying attention to words chosen for positive and negative connotations. Collect these words in a notebook and practice using them in your own writing.

Since today is full of impeachment hearings, I thought I would collect words from what I hear today and use the political partisanship as an exercise in the connotations and denotation of these words.

Collected words: hope, stakes, assistance, linkage, alarmed, investigations, inappropriate, sharp, rejected, credible, competent, professional, accusations, power, sometimes, full-throated, parallel process, relay, correct, accurate, separate process, understanding, receive-mode

I could do this all day and probably should, but receive-mode felt like a great ending. You can imagine how I’ll be playing with these words, their connotations and denotation.

 

raindrops

Happy Reading and Writing!

The hero is frustrated on #NaNoWriMo 2019 Day 18

Ex

#NaNoWriMo Day 18 (2017): Frustration and Breaking Through Negative Thinking

This is the perfect theme for both my MC and for me. My MC is stuck in a town he no longer recognizes and doesn’t know what’s going on with the case. And I would like the words and ideas to flow faster and with less effort.

#vss365: jive

When Mama wasn’t performing, she really liked jive music. She tried to teach Kirk to dance to it when he was big enough, but he never got the hang of it. She would pull on Daddy’s arm, but he wouldn’t get up from the couch.

Today’s Simple Task

MC’s frustration: Another character breaks his or her trust. How will your main character overcome his or her mounting frustration?

The only person who kind of has my MC’s trust is the detective. How would she break that trust? She could get him to come into the station under false pretenses. She could come onto him to get him to let down his guard. She could say they found something on the property when they hadn’t, just to get his reaction.

His partner back home could break his trust and take his job out from under him. Or Oren could break his trust once they re-establish their relationship.

Warm-up Exercise

Set your timer for 10 minutes. You have taken a picture of your Main Character. You hand it to him or her. Have your MC respond to the picture in their own words. Do they feel it is a good likeness? How do they feel about how they look?

This is a good exercise for today. I could have Kirk see his mug shot. I also have a photograph that Kirk brought with him that I don’t think I’ve described yet, so he could be thinking about that picture and compare it to the mug shot.

Extra Prompt

I really like a prompt from November 16th 2017. I think it goes well with today’s theme and will help with my story.

 Setting through your character’s perspective
Consider the room you’re sitting in right now. Take 5 minutes to describe that room from the point of view of someone who is blissfully happy. Now, take another 5 minutes and describe the room from the point of view of someone who is frustrated and angry. Notice how the descriptions are different?
Now, think of a setting in your book. How does your character feel while they’re there? Nervous? Relaxed? In a hurry? Take 10 minutes to describe that setting from the perspective of your character, taking into account their emotional state.

Word Of The Day

importune: v. to plead or beg for persistently

Oren importuned to accompany him, but then when he acquiesced, Oren appeared bored and wanted to go home.

8 Action Verbs:

Kirk anticipated that she would be in a hurry to finish interviewing him, but she didn’t call.

The area had been cleared. The clothes and the sleeping bag were gone.

His lawyer counseled him to stop answering their questions, but it was a little late for that.

He examined the page. He recognized their secret language they had used as kids. He compared it to the journal. There were similarities. Things were starting to make sense.

He increased the zoom. He was right. There was someone over there.

She monitored his reaction carefully. He really didn’t appear to know her. She pulled the sheet back from the second body. This time he reacted.

He rendered an impressive almost photo-realistic likeness of her face.

She usually structured her time. Spending two days in bed was something she hadn’t done since college.

Awesome Sentence Challenge

I also liked the Sentence Challenge from the 16th better than today’s so I’m doing it.

Inspired by Crafting Dynamic Dialogue: The Complete Guide to Speaking, Conversing, Arguing, and Thinking in Fiction (Creative Writing Essentials) by The editors of writer’s digest.

Create a dialogue exchange in which information is being revealed. Try adding an interruption to the scene so the most important information is delayed, perhaps even to another scene.

I’m trying to think of which of today’s scenes this will work well with. I think it would most likely be a conversation between Shawna and Kirk. Perhaps the scene when Shawna has identified the body and thinks the identity will be a  real shocker for Kirk, so she tries to break down his defenses before the big reveal.

 

Happy Writing!

I hope you find some inspiration in these exercises.

The Midpoint #NaNoWriMo 2019 Day 15

inmost-cave

Truth is I’m not into this today

I set my alarm for 6 am so I could watch Marie Yovanovitch’s testimony and to be honest, I don’t give a crap about writing fiction today. I have tried to keep this site a-political, but I cried on Wednesday when Ambassador Taylor talked about being on the front lines, knowing the aid was being withheld and being thanked for assistance and then today, I cried when Ms. Yovanovitch thanked for the question, but refused to talk about how it affected her family.

I was a Washington State senate page in high school. I thought I was going to be a leader and believed I could be president if I wanted to. I learned too much about process and politics in a very short time, but still believed things could change. I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in West Africa– I had that green passport. They made me swear that oath.– and almost died there. I cannot stand the idiocy of the Republicans on display. I feel sorry for everyone that believed traditions and norms could withstand one bad TV president (including me because I had faith in the Republican Senators to respect their oaths to the Constitution at least!).  It took me all day to come up with my very short story and that’s the best I’m gonna do. Have a great weekend. I’ll see you on Monday.

#vss365: pound

This time, she #pounded her water, wiped her lips, crumpled the plastic bottle, tossed it across her body, and hit the trash can in the corner without ever shifting her gaze from his. Last time, she was intimidating. This time, he was scared.

Today’s Simple Task

Imagery: The most shocking or devastating thing that could happen to a symbol, icon, or thing.

I was thinking yesterday about what would happen if Oren’s journal was destroyed. I still need to discover my protagonist’s symbols so that I can explore what the most shocking or devastating thing that could happen to that symbol. I’m going to journal about this and I think I’d like to do some arts and crafts/ painting and drawing around these symbol ideas to see what comes through. Especially since Oren communicates symbolically.

Warm-up Exercise

Have your protagonist write his or her will or manifesto.

This has come up before and I still haven’t done it, so looking at what Kirk values that he would put in a will would be a good exercise. Also, having him write a manifesto about his views of the world and his beliefs might also be a good exercise. However, I don’t think these exercises will help with today’s scenes, so I may save this one for another time.

Word Of The Day

opprobrium: n.  1. something that brings disgrace or reproach; 2. public disgrace from conduct considered outrageous or shameful.

8 Action Verbs:

answered

classified

corresponded

evaluated

incorporated

modified

reduced

stimulated

Awesome Sentence Challenge

From The Longman Handbook for Writers and Readers (6th Edition) by Chris M. Anson.

Avoid unnecessary Nominalizations: When you create a noun from some other kind of word. Example: the verb complete becomes the noun completion, or the adjective happy becomes the noun happiness.

As you write, pay special attention to nominalizations that:

  • Draw readers’ attention away from a sentence’s proper focus
  • Lead to vague sentence subjects or objects
  • Cause you to leave important information out of a sentence

Examples: Using the action verbs above I made the nominalizations: classification, correspondence, evaluation, incorporation, modification, reduction, stimulation. Now I need to come up with when these would be “unnecessary nominalizations” to avoid.

I went back to The Longman Handbook and found some examples:

Vague: Dissatisfaction among employees often leads to shoddiness in products. (nominations: dissatisfaction and shoddiness)

Revised: Dissatisfied employees often make shoddy products.

Those were nominalizations of adjectives. Here’s an example with verbs:

The committee held a discussion of the new regulations for airplane safety. A limitation on flammable seat materials ow is necessary.

Revised: The committee discussed the new regulations for airplane safety. Airlines now must limit flammable seat materials.

So let’s try it:

She created a classification system for an evaluation of the evidence. This modification produced a reduction of necessary labor and a stimulation of connections.

Revised: She classified and evaluated the evidence. Her method reduced labor hours and stimulated connections.

Mapping the Hero’s Journey:

Approach To The Inmost Cave (The emotion your MC feels as he has to traverse this last corridor to the cave): Eight of swords

Leap of faith your MC must take: Two of wands

Old angst that MC revisits: Four of cups

Already almost halfway through: #NaNoWriMo Day 14

useful things

I can’t believe we’re already almost halfway through. I hope you’re NaNoWriMo writing is going great! If you have any questions about any of these prompts or my writing process, please let me know in the comments. It would be nice to hear what kinds of prompts and exercises you use to keep your ideas flowing. What is your writing process (during NaNoWriMo or anytime)?

Day 14 (2017)

My MC is about to face the inmost cave. What about himself is he afraid to face? What and who will make him face it?

Today, I wandered about exploring some new things. The #vss365 word led to an entire exciting scene. The Amazing Sentence Challenge led me to explore Parallels in fiction which led me to explore Coincidence in fiction. So today is an exploring and filling the well of creativity kind of day today. Recognizing that this is also an important part of my writing process, I’m going to hurry up and finish my words for NaNoWriMo today and see where the whimsy of today takes me.

#vss365: drill

The long drill bit burst through the wall spraying drywall dust over the pillows and bedspread. If he hadn’t run to the door, thinking the creep from last night was trying to get in by taking the door off its hinges, it could have gone through the back of his head.

 

Today’s Simple Task

Your MC feels self-doubt and abandons his/her main objective for a lesser goal. S/he explores some regrets.

→ When I left my MC yesterday, he needed to go shopping because exploring the property had ruined both pairs of pants he brought. Is that what he will abandon for a lesser goal? Or will I be looking at his main objective which is not being convicted of murder and going home. I don’t think he’ll be abandoning that main objective for a lesser goal, or will he?

Warm-up Exercise

Set your timer for 15 minutes. What will your hero do to resist change? What will your hero do to fight the biggest battle he must overcome – himself? – from SavetheCat.com

→ This exercise really helped me get to some points in my MC’s character arc. It always amazes me how the ticking of a cheap kitchen timer helps me break through my inner editor and get words on the page.

Word Of The Day

spendthrift: noun- a person who spends possessions or money extravagantly or wastefully; prodigal. adjective- wastefully extravagant; prodigal.

Kirk had never that himself a spendthrift, but after meeting that man who had nothing, he couldn’t pay these prices for a pair of pants. He decided to find a charity store.

8 Action Verbs:

To clear his head and make sure he could still read words, he grabbed the Bible from the bedside drawer. Guests had annotated the pages in the margins, sometimes all over the page with their names and dates of stay, weird things that had happened in this room. After flipping through a few pages, he shut it and put it in the back corner of the bottom drawer of the dresser where he would not have the chance to see it again.

She clarified her position by handing him his keys and walking away.

They correlated his arrival in town with every bad thing that happened in the area.

He estimated he now had hours, not days to prove he couldn’t have done it.

Their ability to communicate improved after a couple of days.

He moderated his emotions by counting backward in his head.

He recorded sounds of the lake, waves against the bulkhead, burps and pops of water under a dock, splashes of fish jumping.

He started. He was so jumpy these days.

Awesome Sentence Challenge

As you develop your antagonist and your secondary characters, you want to show parallels between them and your protagonist. Parallelism is also important in your sentences.

If two or more ideas are parallel, they are easier to grasp when expressed in parallel grammatical form. -from A Writer’s Reference by Diana Hacker and Robert A. Schwegler

a. Balance parallel ideas in a series: Hooked on thriller novels, I learned that there is nothing more important than being rich, typing code, and to have having more than one gun.

→Watching Ida Lupina, he felt he needed to harden his heart, sharpen his wit, and tighten his belt.

b. Balance parallel ideas presented as pairs- these ideas are usually connected with a coordinating conjunction (and, but, or); a pair of correlative conjunctions (either . . . or, not only . . . but also); with a word introducing a comparison (than, as): It is easier to speak in abstractions than grounding to ground one’s thoughts in reality.

→He found it harder to ignore the house than to enter it.

→Not only was he finding his footing but also enjoying his evening.

c. Repeat function words to clarify parallels- Function words such as prepositions (by, to) and subordinating conjunctions (that, because) signal the grammatical nature of the word groups that follow: In an attempt to stop her thumb-sucking habit, her parents tried painting a noxious substance on her thumb to change the taste or making her wear gloves changing to change the texture.

→He thought he could distract her by changing the subject, by pointing at something, or, if he had to, by touching her hand.

While you write today, look out for places to use parallelism for clarity in your sentences.

Extra Exercise for today

I’m going to take a look at that first part of the Awesome sentence challenge and make it a prompt. To do that, I thought I would look at how other authors approach parallelism in their writing and found some different takes on the idea.

The prompt: What does parallel mean to you in your writing? Look for parallels between your protagonist, antagonist, and secondary characters (traits, backgrounds, interests, events). Look for parallels for foreshadowing. Look for parallel and perpendicular character development.

Research

Speaking of parallels, I decided to start diving into the work of Ida Lupino since I made her my hero’s mentor. She was the only woman to direct an episode of the original Twilight Zone and since I like that show I decided to start there before diving into her movies. The first episode I watched was one that she acted in called the 16 Millimeter Shrine. The story is about an aging actress that cuts herself off from the world. The parallel’s to Ida’s real life were incredibly apparent, perhaps the cliche of the aging actress, it also, in a way predicted her future, like an episode of the Twilight Zone. Ah, the circle of life.

The second episode I watched was the one she directed. Episode 25 from season 5 called The Masks. It takes place in New Orleans during Mardi Gras of course (because in the cinematic universe it is always Mardi Gras in New Orleans). I almost didn’t watch it. The coincidence of her episode being in New Orleans was a bit too much, but I went ahead and put it on while I wrote.

This made me think of coincidences. How do coincidences affect my MC?

Coincidences

I don’t think I’ve really explored this topic, so I found some interesting articles.

Now I’ll be scouring my reading and writing for coincidences.

Recommended Word Crawl

Alice in Wonderland Word Crawl

Need a break from all this writing, but still want to be working on your hero’s journey? You could watch Alice In Wonderland and compare her Hero’s Journey to your Hero’s Journey or plot out the Save the Cat Story Beats and compare them to yours. Have fun with it!

Happy Writing!

I hope you find some inspiration in these exercises.

Building toward the midpoint on #NaNoWriMo 2019 Day 13

buckets

Image prompt: I love this idea that rusted and broken useless buckets gather together and still collect things. Where do buckets gather in my story? What do they collect?

On Day 13 in 2017 I was ambitious and already at the midpoint, looking at the Inmost Cave. This year, I feel like I’m still very much at the beginning. So today, I decided to make a day to hit the scenes I need, to build toward that midpoint.

Brainstorming Exercise: There are a few ways for me to do this. I’m going to create four checklists that all overlap.

  1. Save the Cat beat sheet
  2. The hero’s journey
  3. Three act structure
  4. Story Grid essential scenes

I’m going to check off each of the scenes I’ve written so far for each of these plot/scene checklists and brainstorm what scenes need to happen to build to my mid-point.

This exercise was great!! Seeing my scenes in the different plot structures helped me see where things have already changed from my original beat sheet and where I would like to made changes. It opened my eyes to areas that will need higher stakes and more conflict, and I was able to see where my essential scenes are. I was excited to see I’ve already planned all of them. I’m feeling good that I’m on track to hit the important scenes and building tension and intrigue as I approach my midpoint.

#vss365: Wind

I love the quote used in this prompt:

If you reveal your secrets to the wind, you should not blame the wind for revealing them to the trees. -Khalil Gibran

She liked to #wind her up. She flushed and her eyes lit up when she defended her opinions. Sadly, she caught on and stopped taking the bait.

Today’s Simple Task

Reversal of yesterday. Show that whatever your MC discovered yesterday, the opposite is actually true.

→ I love this prompt, especially for this WIP (work in progress). This could happen almost every day for my protagonist and antagonist. Where to begin?

Warm-up Exercise

Try this prompt from Is Life Like This?: A Guide to Writing Your First Novel in Six Months by John Dufresne.

Answering Machine: Your character is troubled as usual. What is today’s specific problem? Write about it. Now, he has a voice mail message and is surprised to learn that the message solves his problem, alleviates his trouble. Play (write) the message.

→This is kind of funny: When I first looked at the exercise and saw Answering Machine, I imagined that the message would cause a conflict. I imagined that if my MC received a message from home, it would be something he couldn’t solve because he was so far away and would make things very difficult for him. Then I read the prompt and the message is supposed to alleviate his trouble. Do I want to write both ideas?

Word Of The Day

sonorous: adj. loud, deep or resonant as a sound.

His anger exploded as a sonorous boom.

8 Action Verbs:

She analyzed her notes. What hadn’t he said? What was he avoiding?

He chose to change direction while they walked. She hadn’t noticed at the time because he said he thought he had seen something, but now she wondered if he had done it on purpose.

She corrected her timeline. They may not have abandoned the property when she thought. If true, that would be even more disturbing.

His established routine needed to stay intact.

He implemented his plan. It had to work.

He modeled his plan after one of Oren’s stories.

He received a package at the front desk.

The man spoke strangely, as if within one sentence some words were meant for you and some were not.

Awesome Sentence Challenge

Identifying Independent and Dependent Clauses

Using serial descriptive clauses, try to write the longest sentence you can.

Each of her questions felt like a trick, leading yet digging, boiled down to yes or no but expecting so much more, asking for subliminal clues, triggering micro-expressions, an eye movement, a nostril flare.

Happy Reading and Writing!

I hope you find some of these exercises inspiring. I’ll see you tomorrow.

The Antagonist’s Tests, Allies & Enemies on #NaNoWriMo Day 12

abandoned ball

Day 12 (2017) The Antagonist’s Tests, Allies & Enemies

The antagonist is on his or her own hero’s journey. Thus, he or she would also have people who help and hinder along the way. Today, I’ll be taking a closer look at how my antagonist(s) are seeing and responding to the story events.

#vss365: crank

(odd coincidence: I took a picture of a crank and put that crank in my novel yesterday)

He understood it now, the crank, the chain. That sound, that horrible sound, clanking and grinding in his head. It had been there all this time and it had a terrible purpose.

Today’s Simple Task

MC compares self to other characters in story – false sense of achieving goal

→  I like this prompt for my scene today. As Kirk walks the property with Shawna and she tries to get him to give her clues, he constantly talks about how he was different from the rest of the family, trying to portray himself in a good light, but over-doing it. Turning himself into a saint in contrast to the devils. Then he catches himself and tries to make them not look guilty either.

Warm-up Exercise

Set your timer for 15 minutes. What problems are coming for your protagonist that s/he is not aware of yet?

→ Since this is very similar to how I looked at the simple task yesterday, I’m going to change it to “What problems are coming for your antagonist?”

Word Of The Day

recidivist: n. repeat offender

He was becoming a recidivist. He had heard it was a slippery slope. One lie leads to another lie to another lie until you can’t keep track anymore. He was sliding quickly now.

8 Action Verbs:

She had done her research. They allocated one percent of the budget to missing persons and only one percent of that budget went to persons that were missing more than a year. No wonder he wanted this case closed now.

When last he checked, no one had noticed he was gone.

She coordinated a surprise birthday party for the sheriff. It would give her one more afternoon, maybe even the weekend before he noticed she hadn’t stopped her investigation.

She enlarged the image. She had been right.

She had long immunized against chauvinism. She almost didn’t hear it anymore.

She would have mediated the argument between the two brothers if she could understand them at all. She knew Kirk was speaking English, but it still didn’t make any sense.

She snagged the book and raised it above her head. That got their attention.

She hadn’t specified the details for which she searched.

Awesome Sentence Challenge

Look at the last paragraph you wrote yesterday, or a paragraph you wrote this morning. For each sentence in the paragraph, write ten different sentences to say the same thing. You can use different words, but don’t change the meaning. Choose your favorites of the new sentences and combine them to reform the paragraph. Compare and contrast.

Before paragraph: He didn’t need any of this. He wanted to take white out to everything he had thought and seen today. He had often wished life could be edited. He looked around for the dog, thought he would give it a good thank you head scratch or belly-rub, but it was gone.

Example of ten ways to write first sentence:

  1. This visit was unnecessary.
  2. He found these emotions extraneous.
  3. Facing his past was non-essential.
  4. Kirk’s psyche was too fragile to dive into his past.
  5. This house had no claim on him.
  6. He was committed to moving on.
  7. Visiting his past was a frivolous activity.
  8. The memories this visit dug up were not what he needed.
  9. He felt overwhelmed by the burden of this place.
  10. He wished he had found a way out of coming here.

After paragraph: The memories this visit dug up were not what he needed. He craved the ignorance of yesterday. He had often seen life as a bad movie that needed a good edit. He thought he would give the dog a good scratch as a thank you. The dog was gone.

Compare and contrast: Without the context of what came before, the second paragraph is clearer. The first sentence was too vague before. I like the visual of erasing or blotting out what he had seen and felt in the first paragraph, so I might go back to something like that. I really like the third sentence in the after paragraph, but then had a bunch of trouble with the dog sentence out of context. I would need to add something to make it smoother, I think.

Overall this is a great exercise and something I plan to bring to my editing.

Mapping the Hero’s Journey:

Today is about the tests, allies and enemies of the antagonist.

Test card: Judgement
MC learns from test: The Empress

Allies: Eight of coins
Most important ally: Queen of cups

Enemies: Seven of cups
What motivates the enemies: Two of cups

My interpretation: It’s very interesting that I pulled the same enemies cards as yesterday.  So let’s see. My antagonist’s test is about trusting her judgement and whether she can reconcile with her past (interesting parallel to the protagonist). Through this test she will learn resourcefulness, generosity, and creativity. She finds allies in her apprentices, people who are learning her trade. Her most important ally is an intuitive woman. Her enemy could be her own indecision, or the protagonist.

 

Happy Writing!

I hope you find some inspiration in these exercises.