#NaNoWriMo Day 18: Frustration and Breaking Through Negative Thinking


Day 18
Word count: 34,783 words
Word count goal: 36,000 words
Mapping the Hero’s Journey: Reaction to Reward
Save The Cat: All Is Lost (old way of thinking dies/ false defeat)

#vss very short story

Quimby munched on his free fry. Every day, he walked to the Monster Burger, hoping he would get there first. They were always polite and nice and handed him a french fry, but they were always fresh out of monsters.

Plotting with Tarot

Today I went off script. I wanted to continue exploring the death of my character’s old way of thinking.

Reaction to Reward

Reaction to Reward: Eight of Pentacles- success through work

Does he feel he deserves the reward and where does that feeling come from: Six of Swords upside-down- Paralyzed by fear. You are trying to distance yourself from your problems and make a fresh start but you do not seem to be making any progress.

What does his Reaction to Reward spur him to do: Five of Swords- he is paralyzed by fear, but will break through negative thinking.

My interpretation: This reading made me laugh out loud. I can see a pretty clear pattern and theme. My MC gets rewarded and his reaction? Now he is free to get back to work! The next card makes me think that he is not sure if he deserves the reward because he has so much on his to-do list that he doesn’t believe he has really accomplished enough, or will ever accomplish enough. Receiving this reward, spurs him to break through his patterns of negative thinking.

Ask Your Character

inspired by The Me Journal: A Questionnaire Keepsake by Shane Windham

  • What things do you wish did not exist?
  • How do you break the ice with strangers?
  • What would you buy with a million dollars?

Word Of The Day

insouciance: n. lack of care or concern: indifference

8 Action Verbs:

applied               coded               debated               executed

informed            named             reported             summarized

Poem prompt

What frustrates you? Do a mind map about frustration. Does your mind map remind you of any of your characters? Use your mind map to guide a poem about frustration from either your POV or a character’s POV.

mind map frustration

Pay Attention

bang, hit, throw
they laugh
why are they laughing?
this is all I know
it worked before

scream, hurt, destroy
they laugh and say
“isn’t that cute?”
“he’s such a boy”
my lungs are sore

cheeks soaked in tears
and red with rage
they now ignore
turning to their peers
I sit in my filth

Awesome Sentence Challenge

Look at a chunk of dialogue from yesterday. Try to pare down 20%. Is it tighter? Does it still sound realistic? More realistic?

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?

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?

Recommended Word Crawl

Howl’s Moving Castle Word Crawl

I admit, I wanted an excuse to watch Howl’s Moving Castle again.

Writer’s Life

Though today’s theme is about your character’s frustration and need to break through negative thinking, you may also want to check in with yourself. How are you feeling? I noticed some negative thinking getting through yesterday. Those stupid meanies in my head that tell me the writing isn’t good enough and I’m not good enough.

Those meanies have to go! They are no good for me or anyone. So how will I combat them? By doing some things that make me feel good. I did the dishes while I waited on the tea kettle and after I finish this, I’m going to get some good exercise; really work those negative thoughts out of my body and mind. Then I’ll wash them away with a relaxing shower.

I hope you can find a fun way to get rid of your frustrations and negative thinking today. And don’t forget to reward yourself for accomplishing all your small goals along the way.

Happy Reading and Writing!

#Writober Day 10: Voyeuristic

writober day ten

by Gregory Crewdson

There is so much story in this image. Why is Dad outside, in a crazy patio garden, looking in on his exhausted family? Is that even Dad?

This image makes me think of the dysfunctional family in Close Encounters Of The Third Kind when Dad is throwing the plants into the kitchen to make his model.

Don’t forget #pessimisticmoustache. The title of this post might give you an idea for an ism you could use in your description.

#vss: very short story

The veil between the heavenly garden and his living-room grew thinner at night, but worked like a one way mirror. They never saw him. (edited to fit 140 char. limit)

(Original) The veil between the heavenly garden of the afterlife and his living-room grew thinner at night, but worked like a one way mirror in an interrogation room. His wife and daughter never saw or heard him.


Theme: Power And Control

Today’s prompt recommends using a mind map which is fun for me because last month I created a mind map graphic (feel free to print it and use it) for Geoffrey Calhoun’s guest post Power through Act 2: Tricks and Tips for finishing your story. 

I printed out my graphic and used the starting words from OctPoWriMo.com. I set my timer for 10 minutes. Here’s how my brainstorming session turned out:

A mind map around the word "power"

Maria L. Berg’s Mind Map of Power

Ha Ha! I can barely read my own handwriting. I liked using my Mind Map graphic. It’s fun how the mind goes in unexpected directions. I think I’ll print a bunch more of those and do them for the #Writober flash fiction stories, and random words, and . . . I’m going to need more printer ink.

I thought the #Writober image and #OctPoWriMo prompt paired well today. Here’s my poem:

The Voyeur

He held her

Controlling her with his eyes

He saw everything she did

Power soared with his every shallow breath

In anticipation

Of the moment

She would recognize

The violation

His eyes held her

Pronouns – power and gender rolls

This theme and my poem made me think about the problems with power and gender-inequality, so I decided to change the pronouns in my poem.


She held him

Controlling him with her eyes

She saw everything he did

Power soared with her every shallow breath

In anticipation

Of the moment

He would recognize

The violation

Her eyes held him

Contrast and Compare

What do you think? Does the meaning change? Or is equal representation, equally creepy?


Where do you post your flash stories?

I have been posting my #Writober microstories on twitter at #vss. I hope you’ll join me.

flash fic day 10

graphic by Anjela Curtis

This last spring I wrote about the great online magazines I found a good fit with in #LitMag+ and LitMag+ the sequel. They even published some of last year’s flash from #Writober. I’m always looking for more flash fiction magazines. Which ones are your favorites? Please leave links in the comments.

I am finding these prompts very inspiring and I hope you have too. It’s never too late to join in all the fun #Writober challenges.

Any words on the page are words that weren’t there before.

Happy Writing and Reading!



Power through Act 2: Tricks and Tips for finishing your story.

Today we have a special treat, a guest post from award winning script writer and founder of WeFixYourScript.com, Geoffrey Calhoun. His advice applies to all writers milling about in the middle of their stories.


Finishing Your Script by Defeating Act Two

We’ve all been there. Stuck. Not sure where to go. Our lead characters milling about as they are lost in act two. Suffering in their own purgatory, begging us to usher them to act three. Do we cheat and jump a few sharks or dig some plot holes to get them there? NO! We will not allow that. We know better (cue rousing war speech soundtrack). We shall not stoop to that level. We shall not let our script be damned by desperation and deadlines. We shall not save the cat…because WE ARE SPARTA! (sorry, got a little excited) WE ARE SCREENWRITERS!!!

Then what do we do? Give up? Hell no! We get creative, and use a few tricks. Let’s get started. Everyone gets stuck. It’s normal. If you are a writer and don’t get stuck during your work then I’m going to pray for you. Because one, you’re not human (possibly a robot overlord) and two, your work is probably overly outlined which can result in a work that lacks a special spark.

Getting stuck is the worst, most annoying, terrible, frustrating, anxiety inducing, best, amazing, and euphoric thing that can happen to a writer. Many writers do extensive outlines to avoid getting stuck. This does work, but can end up giving you a story that is stale and lacks a certain creativity to it. We are not those people. We write from the heart. We pour ourselves onto the page. I’m a firm believer in writing a mini-outline, which is no more than 15 lines and minimally filled out. Then I begin my script and practically throw the outline away (I ignore it). I have a general idea of where I want to go and I let myself get there by allowing my inner creative spark to flourish. Inevitably it creates something amazing and beautiful. But eventually you can get stuck. Which happens around act two. That’s where everyone gets stuck btw. Writing through act two and not giving up is what separates a Youngling from a Jedi (I went there).

Mind Map

So, we’re stuck in act two. No biggie. Time for some free-form thought. I mind map. It’s fun. You put an idea (plot) into a bubble then branch out from those ideas which in turn have branches from those ideas and soon you’ve filled a page in twenty minutes with some pretty killer stuff. See the great thing about this is that my mini-outline gives me a general idea of where I need to go. Having that thought in my head while I mind map gives me direction. This approach forces you to creatively go to different places than you expected it. Which brings out that inner spark and makes your script more original and less predictable. So basically better.


Now that we’ve learned a nice trick on how to get out of a creative slump, let’s discuss a mysterious and ancient technique that we are already using. Many writers don’t realize what this technique is really used for. Are you ready…wait for it…SUBPLOTS. Yep. The big mystery is solved. You’re already using these. I’m not just talking about your B-plot which has tragically been downgraded to love stories (it’s actually the heartbeat of your script) but actual subplots. These are the added meat that get you through act two. Which is why they come in late act one and are resolved in early act three. Use your subplots with your supporting character. It does double duty this way. The supporting character gets developed more and we beef up our act two. You can even use a subplot that focuses on your antagonist as well. Oh man! Now we’ve got our main plot/the B-plot/a subplot with our supporting character/ and another subplot with our antagonist. 4 plots! Holy crap! We are going to be chewing through the pages of act two!

Now do your mini-outline, bust out some mind maps, throw in some killer subplots, and get out there.

Act two is the death star (oh no he’s going full star wars mode) you are Luke as he barrels down that narrow trench, your nav computer is your outline that you have to let go of, your mind map is the force…fire away. BOOM!

Great shot kid, now don’t get cocky

-Geoffrey D. Calhoun

Geoffrey is listed as a top 100 indie-writer Geoffrey Calhounin the world. He is a multi award winning and produced writer that is the founder or wefixyourscript.com.

You can find more information at:

Twitter: @wefixyourscript

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Email: info@wefixyourscript.com