Plotting with Tarot: Interpretation for a friend-The Perfect Romance Plot

This is fun! My friend Diana Rose Wilson was having a bout of writer’s block, so I mentioned trying plotting with Tarot to get some ideas. She tried it, said it took her down a rabbit’s hole and gave up, but said I could go ahead and interpret her spread. I decided to give it a try, thinking it might be fun to see if someone else’s spread might inspire a scene for me as well since the cards are interpretive symbols with immeasurable possible interpretations.

awesome notebooks

I decided to make this the first entry in my I Regret Nothing Journal from The Mincing Mockingbird & The Fantic Meerkat (I love these journals) and wrote down each of Diana’s cards and positions. Many of the cards she pulled were reversed which I found interesting. While doing this, I noticed she was missing a card for a Celtic Cross which looked like her intended form, so I pulled out my hand-made Tarot cards and found the cards she had pulled, put them in order she would have pulled her spread and then started shuffling and cutting for her final card.

I shuffled and cut my deck three times while thinking, What would be the last card in Diana’s spread and What would the outcome be for Diana’s story? Believe it or not, the top card after the final shuffle and cut was The Lovers. Perfect.

 

romance plot spread.jpg

I grabbed my copy of Jumpstart Your Novel by Mark Teppo, turned to page 75 (Note: after I published this post, I found out that Mark Teppo’s book is in second edition with significant additions, so that page number may not be the same in your book) and started my plot interpretation. During my first exploration of the Tarot last fall, I found that I liked using Teach Me Tarot for online interpretations, so I went to the site and started with Diana’s first card, The Ten of Pentacles in the search bar. The great thing about Teach Me Tarot is it thoroughly explores the upright and reversed positions for every card. Because I am using this for fiction plotting, I can pick and choose which aspects of the card, in the given position, are exciting to me for a plot-line.

Now that you know the tools I used for my interpretation, I’m going to give you my interpretation of the entire spread as a story plot. If you would like further instruction of how I came up with this interpretation, I highly recommend getting a copy of Jumpstart Your Novel by Mark Teppo, Mapping the Hero’s Journey With Tarot: 33 Days To Finish Your Book by Arwen Lynch, and reading my blog posts from November 2017.

Now. With no further build up . . . Drum roll please . . .

♥ Diana’s Most Amazing And Useful Romance Novel Plot! ♥

Your protagonist is wealthy on many levels: from a wealthy family and a well-known family name, may have old money or be “self-made” through hard work. S/he is from a close-knit, tight family unit and follows family traditions and customs. This protagonist starts out having it all, but something from the past threatens his/her happiness. Something from the past: a person, a document, a memory threatens to destroy this perfect life.

The story begins with the protagonist facing doubts and fears that something isn’t right. S/he wishes to let go and enjoy/reap the good life, but worries it is too good to be true. Whatever threat from the past has come to light (family, business, family secrets, blackmail, old business partner, old school friend, old lover, inheritance, current relationship falling apart, etc.), the protagonist has dug in his/her heels and stubbornly refuses to negotiate or compromise. There is a good chance that s/he is wrong, but pride/ego/family name is in the way. The protagonist becomes awkward and difficult, determined to keep the battle/conflict going. S/he will lose any honesty s/he had, willing to call black white to disagree on almost every item.

The protagonist wishes s/he could walk away, but because of original home/wealth/happiness, can’t. S/he wishes for space and time to think, to come up with a new approach, but is constantly pressured. S/he wants to find a way to be free from blame for every horror s/he is discovering created the wealth s/he enjoyed. And/or wants to know who is causing the unrest (blackmail/threats). And/or wants to come clean about past (family, business, secrets).

The protagonist makes an attempt create distance from the situation; makes a move from turbulent seas to calmer waters where s/he finds belief in self and sense of purpose. This is where the protagonist recognizes/discovers love for another.

No matter what this protagonist does, s/he is still a representative of the family s/he was born into, thus people see a person who: earned a place on the winners podium; earned success because s/he learned vital lessons of life; has balance in life and success that will be long term. This perception feels hypocritical and difficult through his/her changing reality.

The protagonist must overcome the past and transform into a lover. The love interest, met earlier, helps in discovery and realization with a sharp wit and intelligence. S/he sees through the wealth and prestige to her/his heart. This lover helps the protagonist to rise above the conflict and trouble. As lovers, they find the truth.

The protagonist finally finds real love–has changed from being selfish and entitled to someone who listens to needs, desires feelings, likes and dislikes and knows how to communicate his/her own. Through this change the protagonist finds balance and harmony in relationship and life.

The End

And there you have it–a delicious romance plot outline that you can use over and over again–from only one Celtic Cross Tarot Spread. Why do I think this is so fun? Because using this plot I already came up with these elevator pitches:

A young heiress, happily living in the lap of luxury, finds out she has been promised to her father’s business partner. Unless she can find proof that an accidental death that occurred before she was born wasn’t her father’s fault, she will have to marry a man she loathes, or her family will lose everything. With the help of a childhood friend, she delves into her family history finding more than her heart can hold.

A Pop-Star in the middle of a world-wide tour finds out that her manager has stolen all of her money and disappeared. Not able, or willing to return to her hyper-religious family who has “dis-owned” her,  she ends up in a dive-bar in a small southern town where she sings on a bar-stool for tips. When a disgruntled lawyer gets lost and finds her way to her arms, she promises to help her get her life back.

A young developer thinks he has it all: wealth, property, a thriving business and the best name to use as a brand all over the world. When his father dies, he expects everything to smoothly continue into his wonderful future, but the will is cryptic and suddenly he has to face the questions of how his immigrant grandfather made his money. The business runs itself, or at least stays still while he tries to follow his father’s odd clues that lead him to a mysterious woman and a new understanding of himself.

Like I said, this is fun. I came up with those in the last 15 minutes. They’re not great or anything, but they have what you need to start an intriguing romance novel (imho).

Diana mentioned she might read this interpretation and write a companion piece, so keep your eyes on her website.

Happy Reading and Writing!

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#NaNoWriMo Day 10: All About Having Fun

Day 10
Word count: 18,450 words
Word count goal: 20,000 words
Mapping the Hero’s Journey: Crossing The Threshold
Save The Cat: Fun & Games

Today’s focus is on fun! As you can see from the images I chose for inspiration, fun makes me think of childhood and being child-like.  Try doing something fun today-dressing your pterodactyl like a baby duck, for instance. Think about what your characters do for fun. Put a fun scene in your story. Have fun writing today.

#vss very short story

Herman thought Dee Dee would be less homesick if she had a baby duck around. He wrapped himself in yellow feathers and fashioned a bill out of cardboard and fabric. Dee Dee found it offensive.

Plotting with Tarot

Today, I’m doing something different. I’m going to read for my MC and do a Celtic Cross focused on what he does to have fun and how that will influence his story.

Fun Celtic Cross

Following the instructions in Mark Teppo’s book Jumpstart Your Novel, this is how I read the cards:

  1. Protagonist having fun: Temperance- finding the middle ground of two extremes
  2. The opposing factor: Ten of Wands- over-burdened
  3. The root cause: Wheel of Fortune- events out of one’s control
  4. The past: Ace of Swords upside-down – a fresh idea, a new start, a break-through; reversed.
  5. The alternate future (vision): The Fool – faith in its good and bad forms
  6. The immediate future: The Lovers – the calling; allow something to be scary and overwhelming, follow it knowing it will change you.
  7. The mirror (why I’m writing about my MC’s idea of fun): Two of Cups upside-down- an equal relationship that brings goodness to each party; reversed
  8. The eye (how others see my MC when having fun): Ten of Cups-  a happy ending, a promise of prosperity to come. A loving family.
  9. The guide (influences the outcome): Eight of Pentacles- diligence and craft, hard work
  10. The outcome (the result of my MC having fun): Two of Wands upside-down- in a position of power and ready to expand your horizons; reversed.

My interpretation: I thought if was pretty funny to ask the cards about how my main character has fun and how that influences the story and draw Temperance. It’-so perfect for my character. He would think finding the middle of the road was fun. He would like taking extreme things and combining them to be less extreme. So my character normalizes his world for fun. The fun is opposed by the amount of work it takes becoming burdensome. The root cause for this being his form of fun is that he doesn’t like events to be out of his control. Perhaps he finds ridding himself of extremes fun because of habits created in his childhood. Strict structure and repeated expectation in his up-bringing. He imagines a world without extremes where he can adventure without fear. In the immediate future he is finding his calling fun. He is having fun following clues and drawn to the new purpose even though it may cause changes in his routine.

I think the mirror card is telling me that I want to have fun and write fun scenes to balance the relationship between work and play.

When other people observe my MC having fun, thy see someone who has it all, a loving family, a nice home and a prosperous life. They don’t see that for him it is constant work to maintain what he has. He feels like fun takes away from prosperity and future possibilities to expand one’s horizons.

Ask Your Character

  • How would you describe yourself as a child?
  • Do you have any siblings? What were they like growing up?
  • Did you get into trouble? What was the worst thing you did?

Word Of The Day

elysian: adj. blissful, delightful

8 Action Verbs:

advised          changed           conveyed           encouraged

identified           mastered            publicized          solved

Poem prompt

Write an Ottava Rima about what your main character does for fun, or as your main character having fun.

What is fun?

Getting an engine to run
After it refuses to start
Now that’s what I call fun
Taking the pieces apart
Then the diagnosis is done
Which reveals the real art
The roar of success
Brings warm pride to my chest

Note: I ignored the syllable count, so the form ended up being an inspiration. Since I like the poem that came to me, a true Ottava Rima will need to be attempted another day.

Awesome Sentence Challenge

Free write for 5 minutes. Write anything that comes to mind. After 5 minutes, look over the sentences you wrote. Did you write a variety of different sentences; different lengths, different forms? Or were all of the sentences very similar: He did this. He did that. Try re-writing what you wrote with a focus on sentence variation.

Today’s Simple Task

Highlight a symbol, icon or image

Warm-up Exercise

Set your timer for 10 minutes. What is the rock and the hard place that your MC is wedged between? What funny thing can he do to get out of it.

Recommended Word Crawl

Since today is all about fun, I thought today would be a good day for The Princess Bride Word Crawl

Once you’ve reached your writing goal, you may want to celebrate by watching the movie The Princess Bride.

Though writing a novel is hard, writing is fun.

Let yourself have fun today.

Happy Reading and Writing!

Need your next great idea? Try this!

A few years ago, after reading Dufresne’s Is Life Like This?: A Guide to Writing Your First Novel in Six Months, I created my go to story idea generator; my Plot-o-Matic. The Plot-o-Matic is a set of three different colored cards: green = Subject (person or occupation), yellow = Conflict (something the subject wants or needs), and blue = action (something the subject does to achieve that goal or overcome the conflict). When I’m looking for a story idea, I pick three cards, one of each color, and see if the story I want to write comes together. I have used that Plot-o-Matic to come up with many short story and flash fiction ideas. It’s a fun and useful tool and it was free, other than paper and printer ink.

When I became a blogger, I started searching Amazon for fun things to recommend for you, writers and readers, and noticed there were Plot-o-Matic-esque products on the market like The Storymatic and The Writer’s Toolbox: Creative Games and Exercises for Inspiring the ‘Write’ Side of Your Brain. Then, when shopping for a game for my nephew, I noticed Rory’s Story Cubes among the games and bought a set to try them out.

DSC07558

Rory’s Story Cubes

The game and how to play

Rory’s Story Cubes are six-sided cubes with simple images on each side. For a long time I’ve been fascinated by human symbols. They dominate my fabricglass art and my puzzle design. I love looking up symbols in symbol dictionaries and dream dictionaries. How people express so much meaning through a simple shape over eons is exciting to me. So this game is  right up my alley.

There are different ways to play. The instructions page provided with my set provides 3 ideas:

  1. Roll all 9 cubes and look at the face up images. Pick an image that will be the starting point for your story. Beginning with “Once upon a time . . .,” make up a story that somehow links together all 9 face up images.

  2. Think up a title or theme for a story. (Examples: The beach, My fantastic vacation, Dream.) Then roll all 9 cubes and try to tell a story that relates back to the title or theme.

  3. Divide the cubes evenly among the players. (It’s ok if some get more than others.) Starting with one player and continuing in a circle, take turns rolling the cubes and adding to the story based on the face up images. Stop after all 9 cubes have been rolled, or continue rolling for additional rounds.

Rory’s Story cubes also offers more inspiration on their website.

Let’s Play

So let’s test it out. Can these story cubes inspire my writing? How will they compare to the Plot-o-matic?

DSC07559

What story does this roll give us? Hmm. Who’s my protagonist?

A happy man examines a letter that says he has to come home right now, so he jumps out of the plane, but on the way down a bee stings him. While sucking on the sore sting on his hand he does not pay attention to his magnifying glass that sets fire to his parachute. Luckily he lands in a tree, but he walks with a limp from then on and has to use a cane.

How about another one?

DSC07560

The hour was getting late for saving the earth, so the alien came disguised as a rainbow to alter the magnetic poles, but when it did, the water flowed upside down confusing the fishes and killing the bees and now the earth is overrun by scarab beetles.

Here’s one for you. Please leave your stories in the comments.

story cube 5

Now let’s play another way. One cube at a time.

story cube 7

Sasquatch, of course.

story cube 8

took a trip to Egypt to visit the great pyramids.

story cube 9

A freak storm surprised him. Lightning almost hit him, so he found an opening and hid inside the pyramid.

story cube 10

He pulled a flashlight from his backpack and began to look around the small chamber in the pyramid.

story cube 11

While examining an intricate spiderweb, he felt a chilly hand on his shoulder and roared turning around ready to attack.

story cube 12

But it was only a friendly mummified pharaoh who wanted to meet the furry large guest in his home.

story cube 13

The pharaoh asked if the bright light and crashing sound outside had been a meteor or an asteroid. He hoped it was the gods come to join him in the afterlife. Sasquatch hated to disappoint him,  but  told him it was only a bad storm.

story cube 14

Sasquatch pulled his favorite book out of his backpack. It was a book about the pharaohs of Egypt. He gave the pharaoh his flashlight and a sharpie. “Hey, could you find yourself in my book and sign your pic?”

The pharaoh started leafing through the pages. He started laughing. “I’m not in here. They haven’t found my chamber.” He shined the flashlight around the room. “See,” he said, “Not discovered yet.” He held the book and pen out to Sasquatch.

Sasquatch shrugged. “Wanna sign it anyway?” he said. How about right in the front?”

story cube 15

After the pharaoh signed his book, Sasquatch climbed to the very top of the pyramid, waited for a large gust of wind and opened his parachute. The giant wind, helped along by the ancient pharaoh’s good wishes took Sasquatch all the way back to his home in the Cascade Mountains of the Pacific Northwest.

Here’s a video from the Rory’s Story Cubes website showing another story inspired by the story cubes:

Analysis

My stories inspired by story cubes tend toward the silly and ridiculous, but I had a lot of fun and wasn’t using them to work on anything in particular.

The Plot-o-Matic also lends to the silly and ridiculous. I’m seeing a trend here. It may not be the tools, but the user. Hmm.

I like the story cubes. They feel less rigid than the Plot-o-matic, as the different images can symbolize the subject, conflict and/or the action. The story cubes also seem more conducive to group writing and play.

As you can see, like the Plot-o-Matic, story cubes are a fun, playful, idea-conjuring resource with a vast array of outcomes, but what if some of the images don’t work for you and/or you would like something more specific to your story idea?

Rory’s Story Cubes has created a variety of different cube sets to address that issue. You can choose from:

Rory’s Story Cubes Actions

Rory’s Story Cubes – Voyages

Rory’s Story Cubes Bundle with Original, Actions, Voyages, Prehistoria, Enchanted, Clues, Intergalactic, Medic & Score 

But what if you want something very specific to your story that all those almost infinite possibilities didn’t symbolize?

How to personalize your Story Cubes

I came up with a quick DIY project for you to get the most out of your Story Cubes.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A pen
  • White label stickers
  • Scissors
  • OR for those who cannot read their own drawing
  • A printer
  • ink
  • printer paper and tape (double-sided preferred)
  • or printable sticker paper

I’m pretty sure you get where I’m going with this, but since I want to draw little symbols for my cubes . . .

Instructions:

  1. Measure one side of a cube (height and width to cover image)

three story cubes, a ruler, a pen and some white stickers

 

I don’t think I need an abacus, a teepee, or an L in a box (?) so I’ve chosen to replace these three symbols with symbols more pertinent to my story.

 

2. Take the sheet of labels and draw out a square that matches those measurements

3. Draw your preferred symbol within the square you drew

Drawings on sticker paper. A goatman has been placed over the teepee.

To be more specific to my stories, I’ve drawn a volcano, an alligator and a goatman. I’ve already cut out the goatman and placed him over the teepee.

My symbols may not curb the silliness of my stories, but they are more specific to what I’m writing.

4. Cut out the square and stick it over the side of the square you want to replace

5. Repeat until all unwanted symbols have been replaced

Three story cubes with hand-drawn symbols

6. Roll cubes

And there you have it. Three unique and fun stories to write. I would love to see what you come up with in the comments.

I found that when I rolled with my story-specific tiles, the game changed for me. The symbols became more of a What If game. What if the alligator is afraid of his own shadow? What would happen if the goatman got a bee sting? Do I want to bring magic into my volcano story?

I may be onto something. Adding personal symbols to the story cubes may be a more powerful writing tool than I thought.

I look forward to reading your interpretations of the story cube rolls.

Happy Reading and Writing!

 

Book Spine Poems: Happy #NationalPoetryMonth

This morning, I came across an article in School Library Journal called

Here’s How You Make a Book Spine Poem with Your Students/Patrons by Travis Jonker

The concept is simple, fun and it inspired me. Here are my poems, created from my bookshelf in celebration of National Poetry Month. I hope you will join me and link to your poems in the comments.

Blind Sided: a short poem made of stacked books

Blind Sided

Beyond good and evil

Back roads inside the criminal mind

Blind side our kind

Mothers Talk: a poem in three books

Mothers Talk

In the company of cheerful ladies

The devil’s teeth serving up the harvest

Paper and Fire Don't Mix: a poem in three books

Paper And Fire Don’t Mix

The people of paper

Civilization and its discontents

The girl who played with fire

The Happy Evening News: a poem in four books

The Happy Evening News

Who’s writing this

furiously happy

evening news?

Bad monkey!

Stained Glass Death Switch: a poem in five books

Stained Glass Death Switch

The book of illusion’s stained glass death switch

Crowns what the dead know

The Unforgettable Photograph: a poem in eight books

The Unforgettable Photograph

The unforgettable photograph:

point zero; nowhere wild.

Chop wood, carry water

where there is no doctor.

When you are engulfed in flames,

teach yourself to dream the dream of Scipio.

Creativity For The Fun Of It!

The Diva Pest Repeller

I have begun so many blog posts lately only to feel uninspired and forced, like it was pure drudgery. After starting yet another one this morning, I gave up and asked myself, how can I make this fun for me? Then I heard cheers of laughter from next door.

I went out to witness the joys of snow engineering. My neighbors were creating a sledding ramp with a jump at the bottom. The kids weren’t getting air off of the jump, so the ramp had to be steeper. This was achieved by turning two garbage cans upside down as a launch platform and then building the ramp to the top of them. The project was a ton of fun for everyone, especially Riot the dog.

When the sledding had exhausted the kids and they headed in for cocoa, I decided to continue my happy snow day by attempting the mini-masterpiece assignment for the coursera.org online course Ignite Your Everyday Creativity from SUNY (The State University of New York).

The assignment was to turn a household item, they used a light-switch plate as an example, and decorate it any way you would like. I didn’t have a spare light-switch plate, but I did find an old ultrasonic spider repeller.

Ultrasonic Pest Repeller

Large, black, monstrous wolf spiders think my house is the greatest. I, however, do not enjoy their company. After much debate, I thought we had come to a truce, when I agreed they could live in the shop, but they don’t respect boundaries. So a while back I invested in a few of these supposed wonder-gadgets. When plugged into the wall, they make a noise  humans don’t hear that repels “pests.” Obviously, my wolf spiders did not consider themselves pests because they weren’t bothered at all.

My creative idea was that perhaps the spiders aren’t drawn close enough to the gadget to hear its lovely song. This inspired my “mini-masterpiece.” Using a few odds and ends I had in my art supply bin, I got to work.

Art supplies

As I worked, my mind happily wandered to my writing projects, and as I waited for the glue to dry, I jotted down some notes. Right here is the real purpose of this post. While I was making my spider diva, I was having fun while my mind continued to work. It’s important to enjoy other creative outlets instead of solely focusing on your writing, or its possible to suck all the fun out of it. This fun, silly project made me want to write a blog post, plus I am pretty pleased with my results.

I wanted my spider  to be reminiscent of the wolf spider to draw them in, so I looked up some close-up images and replicated the three-rowed eye configuration, the long, scary arms and the furry looking body. As you can see from this close-up of the finished product:

Close-up of the finished spider diva.

The finished Spider Diva still fits in the socket and the light came on, so it still “works.” I haven’t seen any wolf spiders approach it, but it’s supposed to repel them, so I’ll assume I’ve fixed the product.

Happy Creating!

A Quick #Movember Update and a game of #pessimisticmoustache

To raise money for Prostate Cancer Research, people all over the world are growing mustaches this month. If you haven’t seen Adam Garone (the founder of Movember)’s Ted Talk, I recommend watching it. It’s a fun story.

To create Movember awareness, Diana Rose Wilson and I have turned my game Pessimistic Moustache into a twitter hashtag game only about mustaches. We would absolutely love you to jump over to twitter and join us at #pessimisticmoustache. The rules and background of the game are found in my original post:

The Pessimistic Moustache Game: Avoiding cliche description

How to play #pessimisticmoustache for #Movember: The quick and dirty version:

1. Look at a picture or GIF of a mustache

2. Pick an ism that you think would describe said mustache

3. Warp that ism into a descriptive sentence and tweet your sentence using the hashtag #pessimisticmoustache

4. (optional but greatly appreciated) Add your own picture of your, or your friend’s Movember mustache

5. Invite your friends to play #pessimisticmoustache and shout out your favorites

Based on a great description in an Agatha Christie novel, the game challenges you to match an ism to a body part. For the month of November, it’s all about mustaches. Having a list of isms at your fingertips makes the game easy. I enjoy the list of Philisophical Isms at Phrontistery. Phrontistery is a wonderful site for word lovers. I highly recommend spending some time exploring.

So Let’s Play!

Here’s an example:

Andrick is participating in Movember. He let me take a picture of his mustache growth.

Man looking at camera with small amount of mustach growth

One Week’s Growth – I see a lot of potential

When I look at this mustache, I see future possibilities: It could go Tom Selleck; It could go Snidely Whiplash. So, in that sense, this is a futuristic mustache. I could write: A futuristic mustache betrayed his grim smile.

Or it could be a euhemeristic mustache, meaning that his mustache explains mythology as growing out of history (I go for the sophisticated, layered mustache meanings). In this case I might Tweet: The man with the euhemeristic mustache walked as if he had wings on his heals.

I like fortuitism for this mustache. Fortuitism is the belief in evolution by chance variation. See, it ties into the idea that at this point the mustache is in a formative stage. Could a gust of wind, or some jam on the lip steer it from a Tom Selleck to a Snidely Whiplash?

Now, I need to change my chosen ism into a description. Fortuitistic- this may not actually be a word, but it is closer to my meaning that fortuitous, so I’m going with fortuitistic -artistic license and all that. So, my tweet will be: The fortuitistic mustache skipping across his lip expressed his whimsy, or was it loose morals?

Need a break from #NaNoWriMo? Hop over to #pessimisticmoustache for some fun and to show your support for Men’s health, then do some word mining at Phrontistery.info. There you have it, my simple formula for happiness.

 

Happy Halloween!

happy-halloween

This is the first year Gator McBumpypants and his friends decided to get dressed up for Halloween. You can tell it was all Dee Dee’s idea, but I think Herman’s going to have the most fun.

happy-halloween1

This year’s jack-o-lantern won “Best in Show” and “Most Creative” at the annual pumpkin carving party. I won this adorable Witch’s Brew glass.

Feel free to share these Halloween greetings with friends and family.

I hope you get more treats than tricks.

 

 

A great tool for research, inspiration and hours of fun

Cover of Roswell Daily Record from 1947

Sadly, I wasn’t able to lift images from Google News Archives. Here’s a pic of the original 1947 report of the Roswell Flying Saucer.

I recently received an email from nanowrimo nudging me to start preparing for this year’s novel. I have had my idea since April and decided to start doing some research. After coming up with very little on the internet, I found myself longing for easy access to world newspapers.

At my local library’s website, in the digital library section, I clicked on magazines and newspapers. In that list I found Google News Archive .  You do not need to be logged into the library to access the archive.

If you type a topic into the search bar at the top of the page, you get a list of related articles from their thousands of scanned newspapers.

This morning, I asked a friend what he wanted to read about and he wanted to see the original article about the flying disc found in Roswell, NM in 1947. I typed in 1947 flying disc and got a bunch of recent articles about debunking the Roswell find, so I tried again.

This time I only typed flying disc which brought up The Independent, St. Petersburg, Florida, Wednesday,  July 9, 1947. The headline read “‘Flying Disc’ in New Mexico Turns Out To Be Army Weather Device.”

After reading the article, my friend said, “After all these years, now I’m finally convinced.” Wink. Wink.

And the fun did not stop there. Just one column over, there was a small article about how UFO fever spread to Iran. Bright lights were seen in the sky that then exploded (secret weapons test?).

A blurb next to that said “Pennsylvanians Here” and went on to give the names of a couple and their children that came into town on the train and included the address where they would be staying. Next to that was another blurb entitled “No General Name” which informed me that the Tunguses of Siberia do not have a word for reindeer, but like the Eskimos and snow, have many words for specific types of reindeer like tame reindeer, wild reindeer and young reindeer.

I continued exploring this one day in 1947 and found:

  • Instructions on how to iron three different kinds of rayon
  • A wedding announcement for a couple married in Seattle
  • Lists of names of people staying at hotels and resorts
  • More announcements with names and addresses of people visiting
  • A picture of two girls at the piano with the headline “Cousins Enjoying Visit Together”
  • A fraternal order I had never heard of: the Knights of Pythias
  • the vitamins in cantaloupe are A and C
  • sauerkraut juice is good with dinner
  • The schedule for radio shows
  • Movie ads

Then I found “Husband Held in Los Angeles Silk Stocking Murder” that after talking about Mrs. Mondragon being strangled with a silk stocking lumps in the fact that she is the eighth woman brutally murdered in six months in LA including The Black Dalia. Honestly, this day in 1947 has everything.

I foraged only one day of one newspaper. Imagine what you can do with thousands of days of tens of thousands of newspapers. I hope you find this resource as exciting as I do.

Happy reading, writing and exploring!

The Pessimistic Moustache Game: Avoiding cliche description

 

 The idea and tools

I recently read The Hollow by Agatha Christie and one simple but unique description jumped out at me.

“He came in accompanied by Inspector Grange, who was a large, heavy built man with a down-drooping, pessimistic moustache.”

I love the idea of pessimistic facial hair and it really got me thinking. What other isms could be paired with body parts to make unique descriptions? I started a list of isms to join pessimism: optimism, skepticism, nihilism, liberalism, etc. I also wrote a list of often described body parts: cheeks, eyes, lips and so on.Once I exhausted my own ideas, I did a little hunting on line and found some useful sites for more ideas. For isms check out The Phrontistery. I printed out their amazing list of philosophical isms and their definitions. For a list of cliché body part descriptions head over to obsidian bookshelf.

The game

So how do you play The Pessimistic Moustache Game? To start, one player has a list of body parts or other physical descriptions (e.g. gait, scar, laugh, etc.) and the other player(s) has the list of isms. The person with the body part list chooses a body part and says it out loud. Then the other player(s) has to match it with an ism to use as a descriptor. The person who chooses the best ism for the body part gets to choose the next ism and the other player(s) matches it with a corresponding body part.

You can add another dimension to the game by printing out pictures of people to inspire the descriptions though that might limit the responses.

My experiences

To date, this game amuses me to no end. I find the exercise challenging and every match makes me laugh. Has it improved my writing? Have I found the perfect new way to create unique descriptions? Maybe not, but I’ve only played with one other person so far and the possibilities are endless. It sure does make me laugh.

Further development

A couple days ago, I was reading In the Beauty of the Lillies by John Updike and found another very interesting phrase.

“. . . its heavy sweet smell rose around him possessively . . .”

I hadn’t thought of a smell being possessive before. And if a smell can be possessive, why not someone’s fingernails, or lips? The list of isms could definitely be expanded to include other conceptual adjectives that one would not usually attribute to body parts.

Then there is also descriptions of sensations (like smell) and perceptions. The Pessimistic Moustache Game could include matching senses to isms. What is the smell of materialism? What is the texture of postmodern feminism?

I hope you enjoy playing Pessimistic Moustache and it gets the neurons churning while you laugh and laugh. Please send me your favorite matches in the comments, so all my readers can play along.

Happy Reading and Writing!

Great News for Writers and Anyone Who Wants to Write!

No longer CohesiveSometimes things just go right. And when that happens, I get excited and want to share.

I got struck by the spring cleaning bug and in my sorting and tossing, I found a copy of Writer’s Digest that was part of the swag from an author meet I went to last year. Inside was an interesting article on planning your own writing retreat. I liked Steve Holt’s ideas, especially his daily schedule that broke up writing around meditation and exercise.

Believing that I can convince myself that I live in an ideal setting for a writing retreat, I started my retreat this morning and what did I see when I checked my email? Future Learn’s free eight-week fiction course started today. The timing couldn’t be better (except for the fact that I was so excited, I’ve already started week two).

The trouble I’m having in my writing has nothing to do with writer’s block. It is more about bringing new ideas to my table. I know what I want to accomplish with my novel, but an interesting story isn’t enough. Now, I have to make every page interesting, every sentence interesting, every word exactly what I want. And a lot of me wants to run. But I can’t. I have a deadline.

So, why would I take on a fiction class during my retreat? Because within just a few hours, I was inspired to write some interesting paragraphs I wouldn’t have written otherwise. The exercises were harder than I expected them to be. I over-thought them, but that was the thought I needed to write a section of a short story I’ve been thinking about for a couple of years. And I invented three unique character sketches.

What does this have to do with finishing my novel? Each thing I wrote today helped me stretch my imagination and improve my observational skills. You can always build on a strong foundation, so I want everyone to give themselves the gift of free education. The course is self-paced and you don’t have to do it as an eight week course though I personally am going to try to make it last so I can keep the inspiration going over my Spring Retreat.

Happy Reading and Writing!