The Mentor of #NaNoWriMo Day 7

perfect flame

I woke up this morning and went straight to my manuscript. I had a bad dream, but it made me think of a scene for my story and I didn’t want to miss it. It has been foggy and cold the last few days, so I decided to have a fire in the fireplace. The neighbor’s cat came over to see what I was up to and cuddled with me as I typed for a bit. Gotta say, it has been a great morning.

I’ve already done my morning pages and have half my words for today!! And it’s a good thing too because I have found a major distraction in my fireplace inspired by the high shutter speed photos I took. I could honestly just feed that fire and take pictures all day. But then I selected a couple to illustrate this post and they reminded me of my bokeh filters. I can’t believe I never tried bokeh with fire.

It’s challenging. I’m going to have to play around with my camera setting a lot more. I may need to add some Christmas lights to the front of the fireplace to get some unblurred shapes or shine a light into the fireplace so I can use lower ISO settings, but a new palette has emerged and I’m excited.

a new idea

A new idea by Maria L. Berg bokeh in fire.

Back to NaNoWriMo Day 7 The Mentor

As you may have guessed fire is my mentor today. That would mean I see my mentor as a muse, a giver of creative ideas, a non-corporeal entity. However, the mentor can be many things. I found a good post at Thought Co. The Hero’s Journey: Meeting with the Mentor 

The article mentions Jung, so I thought great, I’ll just grab my copy of The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious and Man and His Symbols, look up mentor in the Index and soon have a complete understanding. No such luck. The word “mentor” wasn’t indexed in either one. Since I have already been distracted by photography today and did not feel like reading hundred of pages to figure out why “mentor” wasn’t index and yet “menstrual blood” was in both. I let that idea go.

The mentor is usually an older, wiser person who helps your hero get past the refusal and get on with the adventure. Thinking about that this morning, I easily came up with a mentor for my detective: her father (memories of) and an instructor from the police academy. I also easily came up with a mentor for my antagonist: an imaginary guide he calls “the oracle” who is actually his memories of his older brother who always looked out for him when he was a kid. But I’m not sure who my protagonist’s mentor is.

He doesn’t for long lasting relationships and is always hiding his true self. Who would he turn to for advice. He wants to direct movies, so maybe he would turn to the films of his favorite director for advice. Or watch interviews with his favorite director. Maybe he would just go see a movie or read a book his favorite director wrote. I like this idea because it parallels or mirrors the imaginary world of the antagonist’s mental state. They both think they are perfectly sane, but neither really relates to the real world.

Happy Writing!

I hope you find some inspiration in these exercises. See you tomorrow.

How to write the point of no return #NaNoWriMo 2019 Day 6

DSC01777

Day 6 (2017) is The Point of No Return

My protagonist definitely wants to refuse his call to adventure. How will he try to wriggle his way out of a request from the police? I highly recommend working through today’s prompts. They inspired me to explore new areas of character development.

#vss365: trim
He had feared this call would come, but trimming the budget wasn’t as bad as losing the job all together. He would have to lose the new hires, but where else could he cut corners? In this business, if he cut the corners too sharply, someone could die.

Today’s Simple Task

Show your Main Character’s greatest weakness. Put him or her in a moral dilemma.

What is Kirk’s biggest weakness? The guilt he feels over his brother’s accident? Or is there something else?

Warm-up Exercise

Set your timer for 10 minutes. Write about the last thing your character would ever want to do. Then write a scene forcing your character to do the last thing they would ever want to do. – inspired by prompt from Josie (NaNo poster)

This is a great prompt for me today. The last thing my character would ever want to do is set foot on the property where he grew up, but that is exactly what he has to do.

 

Word Of The Day

quixotic: adj. extravagantly chivalrous or romantic; visionary, impractical, or impracticable. 2. impulsive and often rashly unpredictable.

His movements appeared quixotic, but he was controlling his world.

8 Action Verbs:

Receiving the coroner’s report, didn’t add much new information, but it finally activated an official murder investigation.

Shawna felt he was telling the truth, but his answers were stilted, calculated. He was leaving something out.

Kirk appeared to have contracted something flu-like on the plane. His throat was burning. Until he could get some throat lozenges, he was sucking down breath mints.

He had often wished life could be edited.

Her questions guided him closer to the dark place he didn’t want to face.

She lobbied for more time, but the sheriff was ready to move on. “Wrap it up,” he said.

She told herself if she could just hold on until he retired, she would finally get promoted.

They shared a history, but their memories of those times couldn’t be more disparate.

Awesome Sentence Challenge

Explore connotations: Choose a word (may I suggest one of the active verbs or the word of the day) and look it up in your thesaurus (thesaurus.com). Pick one synonym that has positive connotations and choose one that has negative connotations and write a sentence for each one. Read the sentences aloud. Do the particular connotations of your chosen word influence how you write the rest of the sentence?

I chose contracted because it has a lot of different, interesting meanings.

As they tore down all of the trees and developed every acre of land, they forgot to widen the roads.
His thoughts were disordered. He had trouble putting events in a timeline that worked with  his reality.

Mapping the Hero’s Journey:

I didn’t get to my refusal scene yesterday, so I’m going to explore the refusal again.

The refusal card: Strength
MC’s biggest fear about the Call to Adventure: Five of swords
The responsibilities that can’t be abandoned. It is why he can’t refuse: Six of wands

My interpretation: My MC’s refusal is rooted in his idea that he has overcome his inner challenges and obstacles and found his inner strength. He fears facing what he left behind and worries he will find conflict, hostility and aggression awaiting him. But he can’t refuse his call to adventure because he has found strength and is confident and proud of what he has become. He needs to face where he came from to completely win his battles.

Because my example from 2017 went off-book, I went back to the book and took a look at the Refusal section. There, I took a look at the Story Template and decided to fill it in. Here’s what I have so far:

My hero, Kirk Bumke, started out in a world represented by the four of coins. Now he has been called to adventure by the five of wands. But he refuses because he doesn’t want his fortunes to change. He has finally overcome his challenges and found his inner strength. The worst thing that could happen if he goes is he could lose the natural gifts he has used to tame his world . The worst thing that could happen if he doesn’t go is his past could come back to bite him.

Happy Writing!

I hope you find some inspiration in these exercises. See you tomorrow.

#NaNoWriMo 2019 Day 5 – The Refusal

lamp ring

Continuing yesterday’s exploration of things that make me say, “What is that and what is it for?” I’m going to go with part of a lampshade? There’s gotta be a story as to why it’s in the lake, right? I hadn’t thought much about stagnant water on my abandoned property, but in this area, I can picture this image somewhere on the property in a low-lying area.

Day 5 (2017) is The Refusal

My protagonist definitely wants to refuse his call to adventure. How will he try to wriggle his way out of a request from the police?

#vss365: haze

He squinted, trying to cut through the haze. Movement caught his attention. A dark figure, growing larger, coming right at him, burst through the fog.

Today’s Simple Task

Think of your favorite scene from any movie or TV show. What makes it so great? Try to incorporate its strengths into a scene you write today.

This is a tough one for me. I’m not one of those people that has a favorite scene and memorizes it or anything. Hopefully something will come to me as I do my morning pages.

I took a look at Hot Fuzz and realized that the scenes I like the most are because of interesting edits and sound choices. I’ll be thinking about how I can use quick cuts, or stylized breaks to make my scenes more exciting.

Warm-up Exercise

Have your MC write his or her will or manifesto.

I think my antagonist would have some sort of manifesto, but my MC? Maybe when his mom died, he decided to write a will. I’ll play around with that.

Word Of The Day

eldritch: adj. eerie, other worldly, weird, spooky

Kirk hadn’t remembered a well on the property.  He pulled back the heavy, fir wood lid. Warm air rushed his face with an eldritch wail.

8 Action Verbs:

How they acquired the deed was never explained.

He could see now why they never built here. They only put things on top of this uninviting land.

She continued to stare directly into his eyes without blinking until he felt like he owed her something.

They earned it. They all did for taking away her boys.

He grouped the wrappers by color and only burned like colors at the same time. He imagined it made for less pollution from the smoke.  When he saw a rainbow, he thought that was because of his attention to detail.

It was never litigated in the courts because no one ever responded to the notices. No one bothered to even find out if the owners were still alive.

The art he had produced would have disgusted his parents, though as they aged they had probably discovered legal pharmaceuticals to add to their concoctions.

He had noticed the dung heaps upon his first visit, but had dismissed them as part of an abandoned property overtaken by nature. This, however, smelled fresh and was shaped like a cross. Kirk meant church, and because his Mom was always yelling random scripture about damnation, when he was younger mean kids called him church boy. Could this be a coincidence, his imagination?

Awesome Sentence Challenge

noun (or noun phrase) + verb (or verb phrase)

Write a page full of two word sentences. Try to convey as much information as possible with only two words by using specific nouns and strong, active verbs.

I really like this challenge. One of my goals for this draft is to use very specific nouns and verbs. I wrote a short story last year that was about an ornithologist and used specific names of birds, including the Latin names, to describe his world.

Since this novel takes place in Pierce County, WA, I want to use specific plant, flower and tree nouns that are in the area.  I also want to use specific anatomy nouns, specific tool and machinery nouns. A cat can be a Siamese or a Persian, a hat can be a beret to a fedora. So let’s see how I can use this to create interesting two word sentences that I can put in today’s scenes.

Shawna balked.
Oren spun.
Kirk paced.
Shawna bit.
Oren scratched.
Kirk lied.
Shawna stewed.
Oren left.
Kirk acquiesced.

Nature overcomes.
Ivy survives.
Nettles encroach.
Dandelions multiply.

Plums squished.
Pits stuck.
Robins feasted.
Crickets chirped.
Grasshoppers flit.

This is a great exercise. I could do this for hours. Short, precise sentences can help with pacing and emotion. The ones with my character’s names are the easiest to come up with, but I’m also enjoying the others. I think I’ll have some fun with my dictionary and other reference books.

Mapping the Hero’s Journey:

The refusal card: Wheel of Fortune
MC’s biggest fear about the Call to Adventure: Seven of coins
The responsibilities that can’t be abandoned. It is why he can’t refuse: Temperance

My interpretation: My MC’s refusal is rooted in his idea that his past was bad and by escaping it, he could change his fortunes. He fears that going back to where he grew up will turn all the good things he’s been able to build back to bad, that people may discover he’s a fraud and though he may be able to claw himself out again, just facing his past would be a big set-back. The reason he can’t refuse in the long run is because he knows he can’t avoid the truth anymore if he wants to find balance in his life he needs to recognize that what he sees as the opposing forces do not need to be at war with him. He will need to tread carefully.

Word Crawl

I found the Welcome to Nightvale crawl on the wrimo wiki. I remember enjoying it in the past. I thin I’ll do it today.

Preparing for editing along the way:

Inspired by Pat Verducci’s post Break Your Story- Index Card Style, I decided on how to color-code my scene cards. They are now color-coded by Story arc.

Blue: Main story line of my main character and his family present and past.

Red: My detective as she is working on the case.

Purple: Oren’s story

Yellow: My detective’s distractions in her personal life

Green: Other (& red herrings)- so far I used this for the opening scene because it establishes the setting, and the inciting incident, but the MC isn’t in the story yet.

Now that I’ve got my color-coding, I started my Story Grid using the same colors for the rows. I was very excited when I started doing this today. It feels good to be organized this year.

Master Class NaNoWriMo Group

Yesterday, after I finished my words, I thought I would head over to Master Class and watch some thriller writer videos while I worked on December’s planner pages. When I got there I was happily surprised to see that Danny Elfman has a Master Class. I was so excited that I started wandering around looking for the promo link to share it with everyone. While I was unsuccessfully doing that, I found that Master Class has created a NaNoWriMo Group. If you’re already enjoying classes on Master Class, you can cheer on other NaNo writers while you’re there. If you haven’t joined Master Class yet, I highly recommend it. It’s worth it for the Neil Gaiman class alone, but there are so many great classes to enjoy.

Happy Writing!

I hope you find some inspiration in these exercises. See you tomorrow.

#NaNoWriMo 2019 Day 4: Exploring the antagonist

What is that shiny liquid

This morning, because my story is about an abandoned property, I had some fun taking pictures of settings and things that make me say: What is that and what is that for? Like above: What is that pan for and what is that shiny liquid and what is that random hose for? If these objects were described in my story, how could they be used by my characters later on?

Changing things up

Yesterday, I enjoyed doing all the sentence exercises. I put them straight into my draft and figured I would write around them. That did not go exactly as I thought it would. It actually took extra time to reorganize things, extra time that took away from writing, so I’m going to approach this a little differently.

First, I’m reorganizing the prompts. I know me, I get started and then get side-tracked, so I’m going to start with the main prompts: Today’s simple task and the Warm-up Exercise.

I try to do Morning Pages (inspired by The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron)  in my journal every day, and I tend to come up with new ideas more readily when I’m writing by hand, so I’ll combine these prompts and my morning pages to use my time efficiently. Then, with my scenes for the day already started, I can move on to the sentence exercises and hopefully focus them toward today’s efforts instead of all over the story like I did yesterday.

Mapping the Hero’s Journey isn’t as interesting to me this year because I already have a pretty good outline, so I’ll move it down to the bottom of the list. I may still find unexpected ideas in the cards.

So here’s day 4, starting with another exploratory image:

What is that chicken soup can for

What is that can? Chicken soup? What is it doing there hanging out with a short piece of PVC and some great gnarly branches?

Day 4 2017 is the antagonist’s call to adventure. Set-up, catalyst, debate.

My antagonist’s call to adventure is the discovery, but also that his brother has come back to town.

I like the idea that my antagonist would keep a detailed journal and that his brother finds it.

#vss365: crop

He was startled by voices and gravel-kicking footsteps. He hid behind the shed. A new crop of the morbidly curious had arrived, phones out, talking, but not to each other.

Today’s Simple Task

Show antagonist’s goals, needs and desires.

I started listing my antagonist’s goals, needs and desires and ended up writing a very important scene that defines my antagonist’s behavior. This was a great exercise.

Warm-up Exercise

Set your timer to 20 minutes. Write a scene where your protagonist and antagonist share a meal. – from Anna C. (NaNoWriMo poster)

I’ve written this scene in all of my novels which makes sense because my protagonists and antagonists tend to be in the same family unit. Today’s meal is going to be different, however. I’m thinking fast food in a car.

Word of the day: After the accident, his temperament completely changed. He became bellicose, angry at the smallest perceived slights.

Action verbs:

What had he truly achieved by running away? He could have made commercials here. He might have even found real director’s work across the border. No he had achieved stability, sanity, the bit of normalcy he had always longed for.

Kirk hadn’t budgeted for an over-priced plane ticket and an extended stay, but he would have the pay for the last commercial when he got back, so a little debt wouldn’t hurt.

The last time Oren had contacted him, he had begged him to come home. He had said something about finally defeating the shadow man, so now he could come back. Kirk had blocked the number even though it was probably not Oren’s phone.

Oren had documented everything. Kirk could see that now, but it was some sort of visual, personal language he couldn’t decipher. He would need Oren for that.

He governed his temper, but Kirk could see anger boiling behind his eyes.

He listened. This time, he listened. But he didn’t hear anything new.

She processed his story like an inspector on a factory floor, diving in to pull out the flaws before they passed by on the conveyor belt.

He could see now that he had served a purpose in the family and when he left, he broke it. It couldn’t work anymore. Not even for one day.

Awesome sentence challenge: Sentences do four things

  1. Make a statement:declarative sentences
  2. Ask a question: interrogative sentences
  3. Make a command:imperative sentences
  4. Make an exclamation: exclamatory sentences!

Let’s explore this a bit. I’m going to start simply then try to expand on the idea. A basic statement: The water was shut off while they still lived there. His parents didn’t seem to care. They sent him to the lake to fill the tubs twice a day. First, simple.

  1. The water company shut off the water.
  2. Did the water company shut off the water?
  3. Pay your bill or we’ll shut off the water.
  4. Shut it off!

Now, instead of using the same sentence concept, let’s try them in a series to get the whole idea across.

  1. Oren was used to not having running water.
  2. How did he get water to drink and bathe?
  3. Stop prying into our business.
  4. Answer the question!

I’m finding the difference between the command and the exclamation a bit thin. So I went over to Grammar Revolution and did a refresher. So I think my exclamations were actually commands. The noun is the understood you. In the first set I could exclaim, “I want hot water!” and in the second example I could exclaim, “How rude!”

Let’s try one more in a series:

  1. His parents didn’t care that the water was shut off.
  2. Were they insane?
  3. Go fill up the tubs in the lake.
  4. I hate cold water in the morning!

Though I would need more declarative sentences to turn those into paragraphs, it is a good exercise in varying ways of getting an idea across. Using commands and exclamations is also a good way to show emotion instead of telling it.

Word Crawls

Today I thought I would do a Word Crawl. Sadly, when I clicked on my link to Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Crawl, it went to an error page. The new NaNoWriMo site did not preserve the old forum topics, and that particular one does not appear to have made it to the wiki either. That got me thinking about creating personal word crawls. I need crawls that get me moving during breaks and crawls that get me practicing and working on my sewing projects, so I may try my hand at creating a couple word crawls this month.

Until then, I chose a new one to try: The Hunt for your Muse

Mapping the Hero’s Journey:

Call to Adventure: Judgement

What is happening when the call comes or your MC’s goal before the Call to Adventure:  Nine of cups

Why your MC would consider the Call to Adventure: The Hierophant

My interpretation: This reading works for my antagonist’s call to adventure. He thought he had conquered his demons and moved on, but then the family secret is found and he believes he will face final judgement. He considers his call to adventure as a sacred quest to defeat an evil presence that has resurfaced. He may have a confused history with religious symbolism that could come up in his journals.

Preparing for editing along the way:

I mentioned filling out the scene cards as we go. Today, I thought about filling in the Story Grid (by Shawn Coyne) as we go as well. I already have a Story Grid spreadsheet. I can take a minute to fill in each scene I finish. How great will it be to have a finished spreadsheet to glance over at the end? I can make sure I hit the mandatory scenes for my genre as well.

Happy Writing!

I hope you find some inspiration in these exercises. See you tomorrow.

 

#NaNoWriMo 2019 Day 3: Playing with my prompts

mermaids

Day 3 2017 is the call to adventure. Set-up, catalyst, debate.

My main character has to decide if he’s going to run and hide, or head back to his childhood home.

#vss365: grate

Kirk saw something sparkle under the grate. He got down on his knees and pulled aside the rusted metal. He recognized the pendant. It had belonged to his high school girlfriend. He hadn’t heard from her since the night before he left. He had always believed she had moved on.

Mapping the Hero’s Journey:

Call to Adventure: Five of wands – a miscommunication or misunderstanding will pose obstacles.

What is happening when the call comes or your MC’s goal before the Call to Adventure:  Three of wands – moving forward, growth and expansion

Why your MC would consider the Call to Adventure: Two of coins – there will be challenges, but the best outcome is one that can be reached through careful planning.

Word of the day: The susurrus of the tall grass was like whispers from his past.

Action verbs:

She thought of the 558 other missing in this county alone. She hadn’t accounted for bodies hiding in plain sight in quiet neighborhoods just like this one. This changed everything.

He brought the picture. The only one he had of the four of them together.

She consulted her timeline. Something wasn’t adding up.

The sale was documented and legal, but the overgrowth and decay made it look like it had been abandoned long ago. Why had the original owners waited so long to sell?

She also couldn’t understand how the money-grubbers who governed this area would let the property taxes on such a large lot pass them by for so many years. How had they not looked into this place?

The dog wasn’t licensed. He wondered who it belonged to.

He printed his name carefully. It didn’t look right today.

He selected an overly-ripe banana, covered in dark spots. He didn’t know why. He didn’t like them mushy. It was like he was punishing himself.

Awesome sentence challenge: nominative absolutes

  1. He approached, his stride stilted, down the long hallway.
  2. She typed, her fingers pounding loudly on the keys, her notes into the form.
  3. The broken pane, jagged pieces held in the wood frames, glinted in the light.
  4. Pencil held hovering over the page, she said, “Your name?”
  5. The man, his fingers gnarled like winter branches, beckoned him to come closer.

Today’s Simple task.

I need to come up with “save the cat” moments for both my protagonist and antagonist, I think I’ll do this as a timed exercise in my journal before I tackle the 10 minute Warm-up about my MC’s last lie.

This was a good warm-up for today’s writing. I like the sentence challenges because I can write around each of these sentences and have a lot to write about today. Already almost 300 words for today!

I hope you find some inspiration in these exercises. Happy writing. See you tomorrow.

 

#NaNoWriMo 2019 Day 2: Playing with all my prompts

fairy flying in the garden

Photo by Maria L. Berg              Fall is the perfect time for photographing fairies

Happy National Novel Writing Month! How did your first day go? Unlike last year, I’m healthy, relaxed and in a quiet state for writing.

Until this morning, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do here at Experience Writing during this NaNoWriMo. I took a look back at what I’ve done over the years and realized that I want to follow my 2017 prompts. I did so much work and research to create all of those prompts, I figure I might as well benefit from it.

This year, I’ll be posting every day with my own responses and ideas inspired by 2017s daily prompts. And, of course all my new discoveries as I wander through my writing experience.

Since I didn’t do this yesterday and Saturday’s a good day for a double dose of prompts, let’s take a look at both Day 1 and Day 2. They also go together because they are about the characters’ ordinary world.

Day 1 prompts:

Opening Image/ theme: My prep really helped me with this. I had already filled out a save the cat beat sheet, so I had an image in my head of what my opening scene would look like and I had notes about who would state my theme. I hadn’t done this in my previous novels, but this one worked in the opening scene when my detective was speaking to the county sheriff.

Sensory information: I brought in some distinct smells and plan to have smell bring up a memory in today’s scene, but I think I’ll go back to my opening scene and bring in some textures. It will be more of an observed visual texture, instead of a feeling of texture. Oh, I could also bring in how a disgusting smell becomes a taste. Ick.

#vss (very short story):  I looked at #vss365 lead this month by JD Stoxx @banjomediocrity on twitter. The prompt yesterday was fuse. My construction foreman in the first scene has a bit of a short fuse, I could emphasize that more.

Mapping the Hero’s Journey

Protagonist’s Ordinary World: Four of coins
What he loves about it: Four of swords
What he believes is lacking: Six of wands

My interpretation: This works for both the protagonist in my opening scene and the protagonist of the whole novel. He knows what it’s like to be poor both physically and emotionally and is holding on tight to what he feels he has earned through hard work. He likes that the battle is over and he can rest, but he feels that he is not given enough praise and appreciation for what he does.

Ask Your Character

These are great questions, but I worry answering them here, could give away something that becomes important later, so I’ll answer these in my notebook each day as part of my character’s backstory.

Word of the day:

The sheriff appeared to be an autodidact. Bill was finding him hard to respect.

8 Action Verbs:

Time accelerated. He wanted to hold onto the seconds, but they kept flying by.

Nothing felt balanced. Everything was off-kilter as if any moment something would fall and smash.

He consolidated everything in had left of his childhood in a small shoe-box that he had tucked in the back of his highest closet shelf. He looked up at the shelf. He couldn’t see the box. That was how he liked it.

They discovered the body on a Wednesday. The news had spread across the country by early Thursday.

A murder of crows had gathered on the rim of the huge, blue dumpster. They cawed angrily as he approached.

He didn’t need to be lectured about how bad this looked.

He presented himself to the county sheriff’s department as had been requested. They made him wait in a cold tiled lobby on a hard plastic chair.

He scheduled the earliest flight. He wanted to get to the site around dusk and no matter when he got in, traffic would be a nightmare.

Poetry Prompt:

I like that there are poem prompts and plan to write a poem each day, but because most literary magazines won’t take poems that have been published on a blog, and I can’t seem to write more than one poem a day, I’ll go ahead and write my poem in my notebook.

Awesome Sentence Challenge

My main character had a difficult childhood. His parents weren’t educated past high school and were crass and violent. So when he escaped and left his past behind, he wanted to disguise his upbringing. I think he over-compensates and tries to speak like he thinks really smart, wealthy people talk. But when he gets panicked or angry, he slips into crass, bullying language. He threatens and digs into others like the words in his head he can’t forget from his childhood.

Today’s Simple Task

I definitely described an important object in the opening scene, but maybe I can come up with another one or two. I forgot to bring in the press.  I could have the news van drive up in the first scene and have that be why my character leaves.

Warm-up Exercise: My character wants to put his past behind him. The first thing he will do to get that is to ignore the news reports and pretend he is not connected to his old family home.

Day 2 prompts

The ordinary world for the antagonist: Though I am mostly focusing on my protagonist today, my antagonist is in his thoughts, so thinking about and making notes about the antagonist’s ordinary world is a good idea for today as well. My antagonist is unstable, living in his truck, but returning to his childhood home often, so his ordinary world is constantly in flux. It’s about daily survival. A reactionary existence.

“My definition of my own art is experience. I think the scariest thing for an artist to do is stare at a blank canvas and think about what they’re going to say in their work. ” – Alex Rubio

The #vss365 prompt for today is cuff. This is definitely my antagonist. For him, everything is off the cuff, and since he wears all of his dad’s old clothes and his dad was much bigger than him, he is always rolling cuffs on his sleeves and his pant legs.

Mapping the Hero’s Journey

My antagonist’s ordinary world: Page of coins
What he likes about his world: The Lovers
What he doesn’t like: Judgement

My interpretation: I’m not quite sure what I think of that yet. I get that he is always looking for ways to meet his human needs, and that he’s sick of earthly judgement and is focused on spiritual judgement, but I’m not sure how the Lovers card fits. I’ll have to think on that.

Word of the day:

Oren always seemed to be in the middle of an imbroglio. He kinda wished he knew why.

8 Action Verbs:

Kirk was an accomplished director, of pharmaceutical advertisements. Not exactly the glamorous life in pictures he had imagined, but it paid the bills.

He believed he was there to be briefed by the sheriff, but he ended up in an interrogation room with a female detective answering questions for hours.

The manufactured home had been poorly constructed to begin with, but he hadn’t expected so much deterioration.

They hadn’t even distributed missing person posters.

The find had generated a lot of interest in the property.  Ghost hunters were flocking in from as far as Alaska.

The footpath led him behind the mobile home which on the far side looked like it had burned, and to an area of trees. He saw a fire pit and a torn sleeping bag. It looked like someone may have been sleeping here.

The way she presided over the questioning, he got the impression that she was really the person in charge.

She said they had thoroughly searched the property, but there was so much overgrowth, he doubted that was true.

Symbols:

The poetry prompt was about symbols. I need to think about symbols for each of my characters and how to use them.

Awesome Sentence Challenge:

Similes and Metaphors: I’m surprised I hadn’t really thought about this during my prep. I love good similes. This goes well with thinking about symbols. I’m definitely going to be using animals like rats, vultures, jackals and other animals that survive on death and carnage. I’ll also be thinking about the blind and naive, the symbols of a community that ignores the truth of what they let exist when they pretend they are too busy to see, like an ostrich with its head in the sand, like a horse with blinders on, like a person who can’t walk because he refuses to use a cane.

Today’s Simple Task:

I’ve been trying to figure out how to start today’s scene. I want my protagonist to be in mid-action when he gets the news. Maybe I can make it thrilling and scary. He is doing something dangerous and becomes distracted. This could still be so many things, but I have a better idea of how I want to introduce him.

Warm-up Exercise:

My protagonist wants with every bit of his being to not be who he was born. He wants to be the self that he created, but now his past has found him. He is choosing to continue as if nothing has happened as long as he can, but he has a couple of things he knows he has to do before they find him.

Scene Cards:

I have something to add that I didn’t have in 2017. I made scene cards for my editing process. This time I can fill out my scene cards as I write my draft. They will be ready for the editing process the moment I’m ready to start my re-write. I’m ready to fill out my first two scene cards, but I’m not sure how I want to color-code them. I have five colors. I have two or three POVs; I have two or three major settings; I don’t know. Any thoughts?

Read:

Something happened to me this year. I don’t know if it was all the journal reading for The Planner Project or all the rejections because of The Planner Project, but I haven’t been reading novels or any books like I usually do. It could also be that I don’t trust a book anymore because I overdosed on not-so-great novels and recommended novels. It could be that I’ve tried to learn from everything I read that makes it not fun anymore, but I don’t think so. My passion for writing came from the advice–Write the book that you want to read, but can’t find. That is what I do, but it also brings me back to my original dilemma of genre. I can’t find books in my genre that I want to emulate. Why? Because I want literary fiction with the fun characters and excitement of thrillers and mysteries. Will I finally get there? I can only hope.

Do you have suggestions that aren’t on the Best Thrillers/ Best Suspense lists?

 

 

#Writober Day 31: Happy Halloween!

Tentacles crop on side

#OctPoWriMo

Today’s OctPoWriMo theme is Finding peace. There were a couple of new-to-me forms this OctPoWriMo that I really enjoyed. On this final day and with the theme Finding Peace, I decided to revisit the Clarity Pyramid.

PEACE
at rest
no conflict

uncomplicated
not searching anymore
no need or want while writing

“Stay in the moment and find joy.”

PEACE
no pain
quiet breath

no expectations
left alone to my thoughts
Creating new images

“I imagine a playful world.”

PEACE
cool breeze
bright morning

accepting each bump
physical reaction
is but chemical exchange

“I try to be true to myself.”

As a Halloween treat, here are a couple of my favorite Halloween themed poems I’ve written during past OctPoWriMos:

T.M.I.
The Horned Flying Monkey In The Room

#Writober4

It’s our last day! Did you write a bunch of short, scary stories? I hope so. If not, you have a ton of prompts for when you do want to sit down and write a creepy story. And you still have today to catch up. What could be better than writing some creepy flash while waiting for trick-or-treaters?

As a treat, here’s my creepy contest-winning flash story The Wilson’s Old Place.

The image for Day 31 on the Pinterest board shows a lit jack-o-lantern in a glowing forest.

My take: Though at first this looks like a serene autumn scene, at closer look it is quite sinister. How did this jack-o-lantern get deep in the forest? Who lit it? What is that ominous orange glow in the distance? And why are we here, deep in a dark forest, stumbling upon a lit jack-o-lantern?

Micro-fiction: When I couldn’t run anymore, my breaths burning, my heart pounding so my head would burst, I found myself deep in the forest. I listened and only heard the small brook gurgling. I had escaped. But then I saw the lit jack-lantern and knew that there was no escape.

Writing Process and Tools

I have enjoyed that during the course of the month, through writing these stories, I’ve discovered some new tools to incorporate into my approach to drafting flash.

Emotion: excitement

Creepy verbs: slink, lurk, prowl, skitter, skulk, slither, undulate

Story Cubes Symbols: castle, clock (1:45), apple, cane, magic wand, drama masks, die, magnet, tepee

Woodland creature: cicada

Collective noun: a drunkenship of cobblers, a load of cobblers

Horror trope: Psychokinesis

Oblique Strategies: Decorate, decorate

All of these prompts and exercises are to inspire better writing and I feel like flash is a great way to sharpen our skills. There are many literary magazines that are looking for experimental writing. Flash fiction is a great place to dance along the line between prose poetry and prose, to discover new plot forms and inventive story techniques. Now that you have so many story ideas to explore, play with how you want to tell that story to readers.

If you are interested in submitting your stories to literary magazines, get your free November Daily Planner. Each day features one literary magazine to help you explore and find the best fit for your work.

 

Happy Reading and Writing!

#Writober Day 30: Who am I?

last year's costume.jpg

#OctPoWriMo

Today’s OctPoWriMo theme is Who am I?

An artist in creation

creator of tales
alchemist of thoughts and words
vivid life afire

#Writober4

The image for Day 30 on the Pinterest board is a painting I did on my friends’ house. It shows three creepy little boys. The theme of their party was strange brood.

My take: These triplets are definitely up to no goods. Are they demon babies? Were they born evil or were they possessed or cursed after birth?

Micro-fiction: At first she thought one of them had fallen and skinned his knee, but when she got close to see if she could help she saw it had been a trap to lure her in.

Writing Process and Tools

Emotion: amazement

Creepy verbs: distress, harass, pain, strain, stress, trouble, grieve

Story Cubes Symbols: light bulb, building, fountain, crescent moon, volcano, postcard, fish, scarab, cane

Woodland creature: bat -cauldron of bats, a cloud of bats, a colony of bats, a hanger of bats

Collective noun: a bank of circuits

Horror trope: cockroaches

Oblique Strategies: disconnect from desire

 

Happy Reading and Writing!

Planning for #NaNoWriMo? Here’s a FREE Daily Planner for November!

NaNoWriMo 2019

November is almost here and for a lot of the writing community that means it’s time for National Novel Writing Month. Since I’ve been trying to focus on revisions and actually finishing a novel, I told myself I wasn’t going to do it this year unless an exciting story that I couldn’t refuse fell in my lap. Well, the universe threw me a story idea and I’ve already come up with my characters, my setting and a story beat outline, so I guess I’m doing NaNoWriMo 2019. I’ll be working on another thriller, yet again inspired by real events.

The Planner Pages

I started the Planner Experiment at the beginning of this year to create the daily planner that will inspire writers to write, submit and get published. For me, this experiment has been about getting to know all the opportunities available to get my stories out into the world. After ten months of designing and making changes, the planner is really coming together and I think the pages I created for November can be of use for NaNo writers as well as people submitting short fiction.

The month-long daily planner includes:

  • A page for your weekly goals and an action plan
  • Daily writing prompts
  • Daily image prompts
  • An hourly plan for finding every minute of writing time
  • A literary journal of the day – many literary journals accept stand-alone novel excerpts. You can start a list of journals to look at when your novel is done.

Success with NaNoWriMo is all about finding time and staying inspired. The Writer’s Daily Planner isn’t just a calendar; it can help you with every aspect of daily time management and is full of original writing prompts in case you get stuck.

You can use it to:

  • create checklists for daily writing goals
  • keep track of your word count
  • remind yourself to do some journaling
  • keep track of your best story ideas for later
  • make sure to read each day
  • plan healthy, easy meals
  • make sure you exercise
  • evaluate what’s working and what isn’t
  • and more

So without further ado . . . Here it is!

Fourth Quarter 2019 Planner Pages November

I designed these pages in open office, a free use word processor, so everyone can use them for free. They are designed to be printed as a booklet, or typed in using open office, so you can manipulate the file to fit your personal needs.

All I ask is that you Follow Experience Writing (this site) and either let me know what you think in the comments, or send your thoughts and ideas about the planner to mariaberg@experiencewriting.com.

Thank you so much and enjoy.

Have a great NaNoWriMo! Let your story into the world.

#Writober Day 29: Lightness of Being

eagle in the light close up

photo by Maria L. Berg                     The eagles were out playing in the wind this morning, providing the perfect illustration for today’s theme.

 

 

#OctPoWriMo

Today’s OctPoWriMo theme is Lightness of being.

Playing in the morning light

Heady
The burden gone
No expectation, judgement
No pain

Ready
For the next adventure
Open to suggestion, surprises
No shame

Unsteady
The tethers loosened
Ground shifting, tilting
No blame

Eddy
Swirling in light
Vibrating energy, electric
Not tame

Excitement
In a moment of discovery
Defies gravity’s hold

 

#Writober4

The image for Day 11 on the Pinterest board is a watercolor painting by Indonesian artist Dinan Hadyan. It shows two people with multiple animal masks around their necks.

My take: I imagine these masks having the power to turn the wearer into the animals they represent, or at least pass on an aspect of that animal when the mask is on.

Micro-fiction: After the fire, Suho and Woojin sneaked past the crime-scene tape and sifted through the rubble by the light of their headlamps. Suho found the masks unscathed under a pile of broken sheet-rock. The depictions of the different animal heads were so realistic, he thought they might bite. Woojin grabbed the fox mask from Suho’s hand and put it on. He transformed into a small, red fox and scurried away. Suho collected all of the masks and hung them around his neck. His mind raced with possibilities.

Writing Process and Tools

Let’s look at one more Celtic Cross Plot  for our creepy flash fiction:

  1. The hanged man  2. Seven of coins 3. The Devil 4. Queen of coins   5.Knight of swords 6. The Lovers 7. The Sun 8. The Hierophant 9. Eight of cups 10. Nine of wands

Emotion: Conflicted

Creepy verbs: condemn, doom, frame, judge, reprehend

Story Cubes Symbols: cell phone, airplane, parachuting, tree, light bulb, fountain, magnet, scarab, bridge

Woodland creature: wolf – a herd of wolves, a pack of wolves, a rout of wolves

Collective noun: a mob of wombats, a wisdom of wombats

Horror trope: power-outage

Oblique Strategies: Go slowly all the way round the outside

 

Happy Reading and Writing!