#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?

 

 

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.

#FD2017 Final Days Of 2017 Day 10: Arrivals and Departures

Christmas candy collector

In Sweden, where I lived for a year at 13, they have a sweet tradition for the Christmas tree. They weave little heart-shaped paper baskets and put them on the tree. Tomten comes  and fills the baskets in the days between Santa Lucia and Christmas. This little bag seemed like a good little twist on that tradition. It’s thematic and has a much larger candy capacity.

#vss very short story

Charlotte loved the little chocolates she found every morning hidden in her bag on the tree. They tasted extra sweet and creamy like Santa had put his love and joy into every little pressed shape. But those chocolates became bitter-sweet when she realized they were the chocolates that had been in her advent calendar. She thought she was hoarding them to eat all at once on Christmas day. Santa must have found her stash.

Word Of The Day

Today’s word over at thesaurus.com was brachylogy which, at first glance, I was sure had to do with the lungs, but it doesn’t. It has to do with language, so here it is.

brachylogy: noun, plural bachylogies

brevity of diction; concise or abridged form of expression

1. a concise style in speech or writing
2. a colloquial shortened form of expression that is not the result of a regular grammatical process: the omission of “good” in the expression “Afternoon” is a brachylogy

Today’s Poetry Prompt and Poem

Today’s theme is arrivals and departures. Write about one or the other, or both.

Arrivals And Departures

In every hour’s breathing
Around the mortal world there are
Multitudes of arrivals and departures
Many welcomed openly
Some faced with dread
Others not noticed at all

Editing Focus

In the first fiction class I took, we wrote the opening scene then wrote the end. Only after we had written the ending did we turn to the middle of the story.

Last night, my online writing partner told me she was writing the end before finishing the steps leading to it. I told her I had done the same.

Planning the ending when you start, even if you end up changing it, helps guide your writing through out the story.

With that in mind, it makes sense to focus on the ending early in the editing process as well. I thought about this yesterday while reading Plot & Structure: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting a Plot That Grips Readers from Start to Finish by James Scott Bell. His first line of his chapter on endings is,

A weak ending can ruin an otherwise wonderful book.

There are three basic types of endings:

  1. A positive ending- The Main Character gets her objective
  2. An ambiguous ending- We don’t know if the Lead will get his desire
  3. A negative ending- The Main Character loses his objective

For today’s editing challenge create new endings. Brainstorm at least ten one-line ideas for alternate endings to your story. Pick the three you find most interesting. Write three different endings than the one you’ve already written. You can use the three different types or you can stick with the type you already wrote, but write three very different endings. Do you like one of the new endings better? Perhaps you can incorporate the old ending into a twist.

#FlashFicHive

FF10

graphic by Anjela Curtis

Oblique Strategy:

Don’t stress one thing more than another

Since I woke up feeling irritable–stupid hormone fluctuations–I think I’ll work on a story about an avenging Christmas spirit. I’m not sure how the oblique strategy will come into play. Perhaps the smallest bad deed is the same as the largest to Christmas spirit, and the reverse as well: the smallest good deed is as great as the largest. Or, maybe it means, because it’s a flash story to not dive into one aspect of the story more than the next but to stress each aspect equally.

Don’t Forget To Read!

Don’t forget to read Non-Fiction:

Today I’m going to finish up some books I started last month:
Plot & Structure: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting a Plot That Grips Readers from Start to Finish by James Scott Bell
Crafting Dynamic Dialogue: The Complete Guide to Speaking, Conversing, Arguing, and Thinking in Fiction (Creative Writing Essentials) from the Editors at Writer’s Digest
Mary K. Greer’s 21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card by Maria K. Greer

Each of these books, though I did not finish them last month, was helpful in its own way during NaNoWriMo and I recommend them for your continued learning in your writing journey.

Happy Reading and Writing!

#NaNoWriMo Recap and December Writing Plans

 

We did it! We survived National Novel Writing Month. It’s time to put away that draft, but not time to give up the daily practice. So what’s next?

For me, it means continuing this momentum into editing. This month, I’m going to dive back into last year’s NaNoWriMo draft and work through revisions to a finished second draft.

This month I will continue my daily poems, #vss very short stories and will participate in December’s FlashFicHive, but the main focus will be inspiration for a daily editing practice.

Here’s the bibliography of books I plan on working through this month of editing:

Revision And Self-Editing (Write Great Fiction)

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Second Edition: How to Edit Yourself Into Print

Manuscript Makeover: Revision Techniques No Fiction Writer Can Afford to Ignore

The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know

Getting the Words Right: 39 Ways to Improve Your Writing

To keep the poetry going, I looked up December poetry challenges and found the MoSt (Modesto-Stanislaus Poetry Center) 10th Annual New Year’s Poetry Challenge.

December Flash Fic Hive

graphic by Anjela Curtis

It starts on December 8th and runs through the new year to January 6th. For this challenge, I had to sign up with my e-mail and they will send me the daily prompts.

Anjela Curtis who graciously runs #FlashFicHive has pre-posted the daily Flash Fiction prompts, so everyone participating can plan around social obligations.

I have a Christmas story I wrote a while back that needs a re-write. Hopefully, I will find some Christmas flash fiction inspiration.

 

 

Conflict & Suspense

One thing you’ll be thinking about during revision of your novel is how you can increase the conflict and suspense. It’s how you keep the reader turning pages. I did a lot of study in this area and created a guide based on what I learned. I’ve made it available, for free, when you sign up for the Experience Writing Newsletter.

The monthly (or quarterly) Experience Writing Newsletter is just that: News from Experience Writing. You’ll get a quick overview of what’s going on here at Experience Writing including book reviews, great links, and writing challenges.

I hope you’ll take advantage of this FREE opportunity!

People walking in a rocky sky

November Review

How was your month? If you participated in NaNoWriMo, I would enjoy hearing about your experience. What was your favorite thing that happened during the month? What was your least favorite? Please let me know in the comments.

My favorite part of my NaNoWriMo experience this year was  including a poem and a very short story in my daily writing practice. Writing the daily posts here helped me focus my intentions for the day’s writing. For the first time, I reached my word goal early and did not feel rushed.

My least favorite part was not finishing the complete draft. I still have some scenes to write and I will try to finish those this weekend, but it’s hard not to want to take a break. I feel like I worked hard and met the challenge, but I also want to have a complete draft. Thus I write on.

I’m excited to take a look back at all the poems and very short stories I’ve written over the last two months. I will be looking over the Poem A Day prompts and putting together my Chapbook for the Chapbook Challenge. I’m also planning to upload my very short stories to Hit Record in hopes to inspire collaborations and find projects for them.

I hope you’ll continue to join me this month for daily poems and very short stories along with prompts and inspiration.

Welcome to the last month of 2017.

Let’s end this year with great Writing and Reading!

 

 

 

 

 

 

#NaNoWriMo Day 30: The Final Image

Congratulations! You made it to the last day of the challenge! Did you finish your draft? Did you get your 50,000 words? Either way, you still have today, and tomorrow, and all the days after that. Push hard today, but remember, this is only the beginning of the writing adventure. The adventure of finishing, editing and publishing your novel is still ahead.

Day 30
Word count:55,001 words
Word count goal: 60,000 words
Mapping the Hero’s Journey: Overview
Save The Cat: Final Image

Sunset Aug 09

#vss very short story

Ben sat on the dock watching the sunset, finally at peace. The odd cloud formation over the mountain was growing at an alarming rate. Then the edge of the ship emerged. “Not again,” Ben yelled.

Plotting with Tarot

Final reading: Celtic Cross

final celtic cross

Following the guide in Jumpstart Your Novel by Mark Teppo this reads as:

  1. The Heart of the Matter (protagonist): Ten of Pentacles – physical prosperity
  2. The Opposing Force: Five of Pentacles- physical concern, anxiety
  3. The Root Cause: Two of Swords- unification of dualities; resolution of two issues
  4. The Past: Temperance- taking the middle road, avoiding extremes
  5. The Alternate Future (vision): Justice- ability to to see what can be made whole
  6. The Immediate Future: King of Swords- judgement, command, leadership
  7. The Mirror: Ten of Swords- fear of ruin (financial)
  8. The Eye: Seven of Pentacles- fear of failure; feeling of having failed
  9. The Guide: The Lovers- relationships are an issue
  10. The Outcome: Queen of Swords- cut through roles, masks, or defenses

My interpretation:My main character has worked hard his whole life and has recently retired to enjoy the fruits of his labor. However, a strange object crosses his path which when he asks about it brings people into his life that threaten to take away the security he has created for himself and his family. He has always lived within societal norms, but he feels he must take justice into his own hands. He feels that he must take matters into his own hands and confront the people threatening his way of life. People see the changes he makes as failure, but he sees more value in strengthening his relationships and letting down his defenses.

I thought the mirror card, which represents why I’m writing this story, was exactly correct. I commented recently in a twitter writers’ chat, that my biggest fear as a writer is becoming destitute and homeless. However, the way to combat that fear is to write great stories; then to finish those stories, edit those stories and sell those stories.

 

Ask Your Character

  • Are you glad you followed the call to adventure?
  • What have you learned along your journey?
  • Do you feel you have changed from your experience?

Word Of The Day

fulsome: adj. 1. of large size or quantity; generous or abundant 2. insincere or excessively lavish; flattery to an excess degree

8 Action Verbs:

assumed           conceptualized          devised           formed

justified             performed                 rewrote           wrote

Poem prompt

Today’s prompt is inspired by the PAD Chapbook Challenge prompt for today:

For today’s prompt, write a “back in the day” poem. You might also call this a “good old days” poem or a “bad old days” poem. To me, back in the day is synonymous with history–but a kind of personal history (even if shared among a community).

Have your MC reminisce about the ordinary world from the beginning of your story. Does s/he recognize how much s/he has changed? Does s/he look longingly back to before the adventure or is s/he glad for the change and hopeful for this new life?

A Life Well Lived

What happened to The American Dream?
Why does it feel like a rich man’s scheme?
Work hard. Buy a house. Carve out your piece.
You were the cog. I was cheap grease.
Meet a girl in college. Get married. Have kids.
We built a better product while he made bets and bids.
Wasn’t that the human condition, what every red-blooded American did?

Today’s Simple Task

End with hope and forward momentum.

Warm-up Exercise

Set your timer for 10 minutes. Where is your character’s safe space. What specifically makes him or her feel safe in this space.

Recommended Word Crawl

Git ‘Er Done Crawl

Happy Reading and Writing!

#NaNoWriMo Day 29: Tie Up All The Lose Ends-Don’t Leave Any Danglers

Day 29
Word count:52,758 words
Word count goal: 58,000 words
Mapping the Hero’s Journey: Overview
Save The Cat: Finale

#vss very short story

Trying desperately to finish her draft, Tatiana’s hand fluttered across the page. The flutter turned to a buzz, which became a blur. She never finished, but her story took flight.

Plotting with Tarot

Tie up lose ends. Shuffle and pull a card for each of your story questions (plot and subplots). This is your story solution card.

Tie Up Loose Ends

This exercise was good for me. I needed to map out all of my subplots and connections between my primary, secondary and tertiary characters. In the image above you can see the card I drew for my MC, my secondary characters’ story lines and my tertiary characters’ stories.

Ask Your Character

  • What are you thinking about right now?
  • In what part of the world do you imagine being happiest?
  • What one thing do you hope people will remember about you?

 

Word Of The Day

expatiate: v. 1. to speak or write at length or in considerable detail 2. to move about freely; to wander

8 Action Verbs:

assisted          conceived           developed           foresaw

judged           perceived          revised          verified

Poem prompt

I like the prompt from Day 24 of the PAD Chapbook Challenge for today:

Write a “how I’ll be remembered” poem. It’s an interesting question: How will I be remembered? My amazing looks? My incredible personality? My charitable nature? My goofy jokes? The cranky guy who’s always telling people to stay off his lawn? Dive into this introspection today.

I wrote it as my MC.

Remember Me

I always thought I wanted to be remembered
For my works
For my contributions to aeronautics
My daily contributions to safe travel
Through mechanical engineering

I always thought I would be remembered
As a provider
My labor exchanged for a paycheck
Exchanged for food and clothing
For shelter, warmed into home

Sometimes I panic I won’t be remembered
When I am gone
That nothing I did mattered
To ungrateful children
And a self-involved community

I want to be remembered
As a good person
A loving family member
An honest promoter of truth
And someone who contributed to the betterment of the lives of others.

Today’s Simple Task

MC is a new person: gained skills, understanding and insight about the world. The MC uses this to enhance another character’s life.

Warm-up Exercise

Set your timer for 10 minutes. List all of your story points and sub-plots. How does each story arc end? Look for any plot holes or danglers. Brainstorm how to tie up all your lose ends.

Recommended Word Crawl

Pick your favorite word crawl that you attempted this month. If you’re behind on your word-count, pick the one that made you write the most words.

Happy Reading and Writing!

#NaNoWriMo Day 28: Clear Themes

 

Day 28
Word count:51,225 words
Word count goal: 56,000 words
Mapping the Hero’s Journey: Overview
Save The Cat: Finale

#vss very short story

The notes whispered in on a chill breeze. Hanna shivered. The hair on her neck stood up as if death himself had blown her a kiss.

Plotting with Tarot

Before this NaNoWriMo adventure started, when I decided to explore plotting with Tarot, I imagined spending time getting to know the cards and decorating the cards I made as I went. Surprise, surprise, I did not get around to putting much time into really exploring the cards.

Yesterday, when there were moments of waiting during my whole hot water tank leak clean-up and tank replacement, I started looking at Mary K. Greer’s 21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card.

For my story’s theme cards I chose:

Justice and the Seven of Cups. My goal for my Plotting with Tarot today is to decorated and study these cards in the 21 different ways outlined in Mary Greer’s book.

Ask Your Character

  • When was the last time you visited your childhood home? Have you ever?
  • Who was your favorite babysitter and why?
  • What do you not miss about childhood?

Word Of The Day

quondam: adj. having been formerly; former; sometime or one-time

8 Action Verbs:

assigned           computed            determined         filed

joined               participated         reviews               used

Poem prompt

Take a look at a map. Randomly select a town or city you have never been to. Write a poem about what you think it might be like visiting that place for the first time. – from litbridge.com

Chefchaouen

Morocco’s blue city
In the Rif mountains, so pretty
Near one of the deepest caves in Africa

Blue washed walls
The tourist calls
Representing the sky and heaven

Stunning contrasts of color and light
Orange cats on blue steps against stucco white
Visually drawing the heart to yearning

 

Awesome Sentence Challenge

Write dialogue between two people with very different agendas. Think about your themes. Use dialogue to make these themes clear. In my story, I would have one character talking about justice while the other is focused on not being able to achiever his/her desires.

Today’s Simple Task

Clarify your themes: Make sure your themes are clear. Express them in as many ways as possible.

Warm-up Exercise

What does your story say about human nature?  Set your timer for 10 minutes. Try to sum up how your story expresses universal themes of the human condition.

Recommended Word Crawl

Pirate Adventure Crawl

Happy Reading and Writing!