Tests, Allies and Enemies on #NaNoWriMo Day 11

red crank

Image inspiration: This morning I continued my search for things that could be found on an abandoned property that make me say: What is that doing there? And what is it for?

How’s everyone’s writing going? I hope you’re enjoying your story and getting to know your characters no matter what your word count.

I made a lot of progress yesterday and had a lot of fun. I accidentally wandered into a bonus writing exercise: Have your MC wander through each room of a house s/he used to live in. Each room triggers a memory. What triggers it, a site, sound, or smell? Is the memory pleasant or unpleasant?

Day 11 (2017) Tests, Allies and Enemies

This is the perfect theme for my writing today. My MC has had a difficult first interview with the detective and now has agreed to walk the abandoned property with her. Neither character is sure if the other is an ally or enemy, but at the moment, they know they can’t trust each other and the stakes are high. So let’s see how the prompts work with this idea.

#vss365: march

The last few days had felt like one endless march uphill in wet socks with blisters. He was exhausted. Everything ached. He was covered in cuts and scrapes and itched from nettles. He wanted to go home, but the worst was still ahead.

Today’s Simple Task

Something happens that is out of your MC’s control.

→ This is a given since everything is out of his control right now. He’s used to being in control. I’ll need to narrow this down to something very unexpected. And/or think of things he does to feel like he is in control.

Warm-up Exercise

Your MC is having a conversation, in person, with two people. One s/he considers an “ally” and one an “enemy”. Write the dialogue.

→ This is a tricky one. My MC doesn’t feel he has any allies where he is. He did mention that she seemed like two different people during his interrogation. Or the detective could bring someone with her and they’re doing a good cop/bad cop thing. Or there’s the stray dog on the property that he could see as an ally.

Word Of The Day

guisard: n. a person who wears a mask.

At first he believed a silent guisard stared at him from the corner, but it was a half-burnt mannequin. He recognized it now. Oren had brought it home from a going out of business sale and started dressing it up as the characters in his stories.

8 Action Verbs:

He said it aided him when imagining body language.

He chartered  a sea plane, a lake plane really, to fly him over the lake. He had always wanted to see it from above.

She almost had him convinced he was guilty.

Someone had engineered an elaborate warning system, but what did it trigger and who did it alert?

The way the pages suddenly came to life made him think of the old movie The Illustrated Man.

She was always so measured. Did she have any life outside of her job?

He questioned her motivations. She did not appear to be listening anymore. Was she trying to find any other suspects, the real murderer?

He specialized in watching other people physically gather the clues and puzzle them together, so he could make the arrest and take the credit.

Awesome Sentence Challenge

Grab a book by an author you would be proud to be compared to; a book that you think has a similar tone to the writing you are working on. Open to a random page and start reading out loud. Write down your favorite words on the page. Does this author use a lot of sentence variety?

Emulate the sentence structures of one paragraph, using your own words.

For this exercise, instead of looking to the authors I already know well, I decided to check out three books off of my Thrillers to read list. I don’t know what happened to me, but I have not been reading novels like I usually do. I’ve been in pick-em-up and put-em-down mode for too long, but I’ll keep trying. I checked out:

  1. The Red Car by Marcy Dermansky
  2. Gone for Good by Harlan Coben (I didn’t get far last month)
  3. 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

 

Mapping the Hero’s Journey:

Today’s reading, following Mapping the Hero’s Journey With Tarot: 33 Days To Finish Your Book by Arwen Lynch, is a little different. First, you pull three cards: one is the Test card, one is for allies, and one is for enemies. Then you place a card under each of those cards. The one under Test card is the most important thing your MC learns from the test throughout the story. The one under the Allies represents the most important ally in your MC’s world and the card under the enemies shows what motivates his enemies against him.

Test card: Ten of swords
MC learns from test: Three of coins

Allies: The Magician
Most important ally: The World

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

My interpretation: My MC is facing ruin. That is not to say death and destruction exactly, but something that seems like a sudden event which has a history. It is the natural culmination of a series of events that will bring change. This ending clears the way for new possibilities. What he learns from this trial is how to let his talents show to the public.

His ally turns out to be The Magician. I had already associated the Magician with his brother, so this is an interesting turn. I’m thinking that his most important ally lies within his brother’s world and remembering the world they had together. His enemies are his choices and confusion. At the moment it’s not clear what is feasible and what is fantasy and everything is up in the air.

His enemies are his circumstances and insecurities. However, this enemies card can also show the beginning stages of a new project. I could also interpret this as the detective is his enemy because she doesn’t know what is feasible and what is fantasy.

The enemies’ motivation is harmony, peace, partnership and love, so that could be why the detective wants to solve the case, something to do with harmony and peace in her life or it could be my protagonist’s motivation to get over his internal enemies to find harmony and peace, perhaps to finally be able to create fulfilling relationships.

Word Crawls

Since today’s Save The Cat beat is Fun & Games, I think I’ll do a Word Crawl. I found a really cute Bob Ross themed one on the NaNo site The Joy of Painting Crawl, so I’m going to get my words in while painting some imaginary puffy little clouds and happy little trees.

Happy Writing!

I hope you find some inspiration in these exercises.

Crossing The Threshold on #NaNoWriMo Day 8

Happy Writing!

I hope you find some inspiration in these exercises. Have a great weekend writing!!

These posts are a lot and I still have the planner pages and Gator McBumpypants to get to, so I may not post again until Monday. See you then.

The Mentor of #NaNoWriMo Day 7

perfect flame

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

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

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

a new idea

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

Back to NaNoWriMo Day 7 The Mentor

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

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

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

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

Happy Writing!

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

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.

Happy May! A recap of my April adventures and what’s next

galluping purple flowersI want to start by saying thank you to all of the organizers of NaPoWriMo and A to Z Challenge and the poets of dVerse. And the poets that included my poems in their lists, especially David Ellis at Too Full To Write.

I also want to thank everyone who read my poems and left such lovely comments. Everyone was encouraging and made me feel my efforts are worthwhile.

This was a long month for me  with some very high points and some low points.Signed by Anne Lamott

The high points were: my birthday evening seeing Anne Lamott at Benroya Hall; scrolling up some of my poems for Poem in your pocket day and having them on the counter at A Good Book Bookstore; and, of course, completing the challenges while learning so many interesting new words and facts.

The low points all had to do with short story rejections, but I think my very negative feelings had to do with a bout of the flu, so actually, the low points should have been seen as high points, as in, “I have new stories to shop around.”

This month hit some milestones for Experience Writing:

♦ Most views ever: April 30
♦ Most likes ever: April 16

Thank you for the comments, likes and follows!

Now to the recap.

NaPoWriMo

I found all of the different prompts inspiring. I learned so much from the resources and examples, the great interviews and unique ways to approach the page. This was a great experience and I’m glad I did it. To my readers who didn’t participate this year, I recommend giving it a try next year. And you can dive in sooner with OctPoWriMo this fall.

My favorite prompt: I think the haibun prompt was my favorite. First, because I had never heard of haibuns before. Second, it adds another element to haiku that I really enjoy, and third, because it opened up participation in dVerse’s Haibun Monday. I wrote three haibuns during the month:Contemplating the Other

Summer Comes Too Soon

The Lingering, Long Spring Day

Self and Setting

My favorite poems I wrote:

Why Stand By? This poem, inspired by a forensic psychology course I’m taking online, really seemed to resonate with readers and spur discussion.

Contemplating The Other This poem, inspired by the Polish poems from Here by Wislawa Szymborska, is one of my favorites and my sister liked it and wants a copy for my nephew’s baby book which makes me very happy.

Then I think it’s a tie between the poems I did the most factual research for :

An Apple Is An Apple – noosphere

The Next Pasquinade – Pasquino

Flawed Reflection – Pulitzer winner Frank Bidart

The Reliquary for the Miraculous -Saint Sidonius

I really enjoy learning new and interesting things.

A to Z Challenge

I think doing the A to Z Challenge as part of my NaPoWriMo experience was a great idea. As I learned last fall, I like to use multiple prompts to enhance my creative efforts, and the word of the day often lead to more interesting poetry challenges.

My favorite words were: xanthic (xanthodont), wayzgoose, wazzock, and atresia. All of them really.

Flash! cover

Reading

Favorite poetry books: Here by Wislawa Szymborska

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Favorite writing book: FLASH!: Writing the Very Short Story by John Dufresne

May Plans

So what comes next? It’s time to turn my attention back to my novel. I have scenes to draft and then another full edit. While I work, I will hopefully find inspiration from:

Between the Lines: Master the Subtle Elements of Fiction Writing by Jessica Page Morrell

Writing 21st Century Fiction: High Impact Techniques for Exceptional Storytelling by Donald Maass

The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing by Evan Marshall

How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method (Advanced Fiction Writing) (Volume 1) by Randy Ingermanson

I also have a great stack of fiction and poetry to inspire me as well.

monster dancer

I’m hoping to continue to blog three posts weekly:

  1. a writing and editing post
  2. a poem
  3. a book review

Site stats tell me that my most popular day and time is Thursday at 1pm. What would you like to read most on a Thursday at 1pm: a poem, some insight on the craft of writing, or a book review?

Or is there something else you would like me to share this May?

I have decided that the photography focus for the next Gator McBumpypants picture book will be using filters. I’ll be studying an old KODAK Workshop Series book called Using Filters, so you may see some odd photos to illustrate my posts.

If you have a poem, a micro-story, a book review, or a guest-post you would like to share on Experience Writing let me know in the comments or head over to MBer Creations and write to me on the Contact page.

 

Happy Reading and Writing!

Here’s to an abundant and prolific May.

dVerse Monday Haibun: Take a walk

And as a treat for finishing NaPoWriMo and the A to Z Challenge, I took the advice of the prompt at dVerse Poets Pub and took a walk.

black crust on stump

 

Self and Setting

For this respite, my reward for diligence, I grab my lens, aspiring to share my view. I find myself not walking, but squatting, twisting, turning and reaching for the space and light. Pushing buttons, twirling knobs, zooming in and out to capture contrasting colors in secondary stewardship. Wings flit seconds before the click. I debate if taking a walk had to mean wandering the neighborhood. A pedestrian coming toward me, a man in a red jacket, whom I would have to pass, answers my question for me. I do not have to wander to break a sweat and hear my muscles sing their discordant threnody.

Am I of this place
A loop of known origin
The last or the next?

 

curlinglording over

little white pills

New Gator McBumpypants Picture Book Now Available!

Gator McBumpypants in Shelley Comes Out Of Her Shell is a sweet story about the challenges of making new friends. It also covers themes such as empathy and knowing when to ask for help.

Last year, I designed and made a little box turtle. I had an online contest to name the turtle and the winning name, contributed by Amy Chesler–Thank you again, Amy–was Shelley. Shelley first appears at the very end of Gator McBumpypants Doesn’t Say Goodbye. If you haven’t read it yet, it is a story about Dee Dee the duck flying south for the winter and having to part with her friends.

In this new book, Shelley gets her own story. She is finally convinced to go on an adventure with Gator McBumpypants and Herman, but she gets a sliver and then is stuck in her shell! Shelley was very fun to work with. Her fabric has a little shimmer when the light is just right. I also designed her so that she tucks into her shell.

For those of you who have been following along with my writer’s journey here at Experience Writing (and Maria Berg’s Writing Life before that), you may recall that Gator McBumpypants was inspired by a photography assignment. I needed models and didn’t have anyone readily available. I grabbed a couple of my stuffed animals and took them outside. While I posed them and photographed them, the story of how they met and became friends came to me. That was the birth of Gator McBumpypants Hears A Scary Noise.

Since publishing that first picture book, I have designed and made two new characters, Dee Dee the duck and Shelley the box turtle. Creating the characters and stories is fun and challenging, but I also continue to use these books as photography projects.

Each year I focus on a specific technique. Last year I tried out colored filters, a wide angle/fish-eye lens and a difficult setting. Though the images using the colored filters and fish-eye lens did not make it into last year’s book, the techniques may be incorporated in the future. The setting was too beautiful to distort and the fall colors did not need a bit of enhancement.

This year, I learned bokeh shape photography. The word bokeh comes from Japanese and literally translates as “blur”. Using a hand-cut filter, I am able to create shapes with every point of light in the unfocused area of my photograph. I incorporated some of the bokeh images into the book and I think it brings another dimension of magical fantasy to the already fun mix of photography and play.

As the characters and stories progress and grow through the series, I, as a photographer, grow as well. Each year is a new adventure. I hope you will think about bringing the joy and play of Gator McBumpypants books to your family this year.

Happy Gator McBumpypants Day!

#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.

#OctPoWriMo

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.

Voyeur

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?

#FlashFicHive

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!

 

 

#Writober Day 7: The Upside-down

People walking in a rocky sky

photograph by Maria L. Berg

What would life be like if gravity worked backwards somehow? Or there was no gravity as we understand it? Or a race of people whose heads pulled downward created an earth in the sky? What story does this image say to you?

#vss

Last night, I had fun writing a very short story (a story in one tweet of 140 characters or less) for each of the #Writober images so far. I hope you’ll go back through the posts to read them or look for them on Twitter.

Here’s today’s: I loved the idea of dancing on the ceiling, but now my anti-gravity ray’s stuck and I can’t get down.

#OctPoWriMo

Today’s prompt: Then I went too far.

This prompt brings up the idea of a line that can be crossed. Who defines that line? Do I define it? Is it defined for me?

I tend to toe along those lines, like Douglas Baldwin of the Seattle Seahawks making his ballerina catches, pointed toes somehow magically in bounds while the rest of him is flying outside the line.

So at what point is far, too far? And is too far a bad thing as it tends to connote?

The Point Of No Return

Exhaustion overwhelms my limbs

Past the point of no return

As waves of hope, the light dims

Once seen, cannot be unseen

Proof of life in humming hymns

There is no raising dead

Why am I compelled by whims?

Breaking through the barrier

Chance of rescue by minute slims

There is no going back

Balancing poorly on earthly rims

This time I’ve gone too far

 

#Slam Words

Last night I discovered another poetry challenge on Twitter. Here’s I prompt that is up there now:

slam words

Great for #Writober, don’t you think?

I don’t know the rules of the game yet, but last night, I ran across a one word prompt. It was the archaic word gleed, meaning: a glowing coal. Here is the poem it inspired me to write:

A gleed, Swept by the wind,Settled in my cuff,Penetrated my favorite shirtPressed against my skin,Irritated then burned,Sizzled and scarredMy rapt smile In your gazeWas the only pain fel

#FlashFicHive

Share Lines or a Premise

flash fic day 7

graphic by Anjela Curtis

Premise for today’s flash fiction: There is a pocket of civilization near the center of the earth where gravity works backwards. Where people walk with their heads pointed down toward a sea of molten lava.

#JustCreateChallenge

justcreate day 7

Is there a silver lining after your character has gone too far? Can they find the bright side of no longer walking on the ground? I think this could work with today’s prompts.

Happy Reading and Writing!

Another First: McKenzie’s New Boyfriend

bokeh photography experiment with a wide angle attachment on a zoom lens

Galactic Unions                                                                                                    photo by Maria L. Berg

McKenzie’s New Boyfriend is my second story published by Fictional Pairings. They paired my story with a song called Recover by Second Still. I’m listening to it while I write this. It feels perfect for my story–spacey road trip–and on Second Still’s site it says the album was released on my birthday this year (coincidence?).

This is another first in my writer’s journey because this is the first time I have published twice in the same magazine.

When building a publication history, why the same magazine?

When I first submitted to Fictional Pairings, I had two stories that I thought might work. I chose the shorter and more obviously sci-fi because I thought it was a best fit. The moment I received my acceptance letter from Fictional Pairings for BAM-AG Home, I shot off an email saying that I thought I had another piece that would be a good fit. I asked if they might be interested and how long I should wait before submitting again.

Why did I do this? Because I love the musical pairings with flash fiction. It is a great fit for me and I think it will grow. It also shows a growing readership that your first piece was so good that the magazine wanted another.

Like I said in New #LitMag+, finding the right place for your stories can feel elusive, so once you find a good match, I recommend submitting more than one best fit.