Realistic Goal Setting vs. Creative Chaos

Rising in the West

The Chaos

Moments after I published my last post with realistic reading goals that I would put in my planner for January, I went to the library and checked out twenty-five books that were not on that list. I’m glad I did. There’s nothing wrong with my reading gluttony. I should not have imagined I could reign it in.

My approach to submissions is similar. Today, I saw a tweet about the guest editor at Smoke Long wanting story submissions, and from her interview, it sounded like she might like one of my stories, so I spent most of the day completely re-writing it and submitted it. Not in the plan, but I submitted and I think the story is much better today than it was yesterday, so mission accomplished.

As you can see, my ideas for my writer’s planner that I laid out in my last post were an interesting hypothesis for my experiment, but do not hold up to the creative chaos of how I actually work.

Realistic Goals

Deadlines

One aspect of the planner, however, the main one of knowing dates for deadlines in advance, has worked and I did submit to the first two deadlines on my list, on the very last day, but still. Stories submitted. I think the idea of having some specific deadline goals each month will definitely work for me and if I already had these dates in a planner and didn’t spend so much time finding them out in the first place would save me a lot of time for writing new work.  So this will be my main goal for the planner: finding deadlines for magazines and contests that will be predictable for next year.

Knowing all the options

The other aspect of the planner that I think will work is a daily overview of a literary magazine. Though literary magazines appear and disappear, often without warning, I’m still in shock that Tin House closed its doors, I think I can come up with 365 options for writers to think about with links to their websites, so the writer can learn more and submit if it looks like a good fit.

While at the library (checking out all the books) I found The Pushcart Prize XLI: Best of the Small Presses 2017 Edition (2017 Edition) (The Pushcart Prize). This was a great find for this part of the project. In the back of the book it lists all of the small presses, with their addresses, that submitted pieces for consideration. For fun, I went through the list and picked out every listing for Washington State. I was surprised how many there are and how different each small press and magazine is from another. I have already submitted to one of the magazines from that list. The great thing about the Pushcart Prize collection is I can read the stories and see which magazines think which stories represent them the best and which magazines publish the most award-winning stories and poems.

The Design

For the experiment, I wanted to create the planner pages in open office so all of you can play around with it with me. I like the idea of being able to fill in the planner on my computer and/or print it out and have a physical copy.

My initial attempt to create the daily layout was frustrating, so I headed to Youtube and found a couple of videos that clicked with me and got me started.

Jenuine Life

Mariana’s study corner 

The trick was to use shapes and text boxes. Though it was very time consuming, I came up with an initial draft of my idea.

feb one left                                           feb one right

So now the experiment can move into data collection. I hope you will join me. What do you think of this initial idea? How’s the layout? Does it include everything for a motivational daily planner? What types of physical properties would you change: shapes, colors, backgrounds, fonts, etc.?

My next step is to create all of the pages for February and start using them, re-evaluating and incorporating feedback each week.

Happy Reading, Writing, Planning and Submitting Your Work!

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See into the future: No more missed opportunities

Heron in flight

With renewed passion and fresh eyes, my story will take wing.

Happy New Year! I know I’m a week late to the party, but I’m finally feeling like getting started, so better late, right?

A new year, a new project

I have an exciting new project for this year inspired by a tweet from Julie Reeser (@abetterjulie) asking about end of year processing and planning. She got me thinking about planning. I’ve been in survival mode for a very long time and though I’m glad that keeps me in the moment, it has kept me from making plans.

Julie’s tweet got me thinking about the many times I have happened upon a submission that excited me only to find out the deadline had just passed or was hours from closing. I don’t want to live on the edge of submission deadlines anymore. I want to plan ahead and have the time to submit my best work to reach my publication goals. To this end, I am starting a quarterly daily planner with writers who are submitting short stories and poetry while writing novels specifically in mind. As in me and hopefully you.

My original goal was to have the first quarter (January – March) planner available to download already, but that doesn’t make a lot of sense because this is really an experiment in what actually works to motivate me to get stories submitted, rejected, revised, (submitted, rejected, submitted) x infinity, rejected and finally accepted. It’s the multiplication part I appear to have a problem with and hope to overcome.

One of the ideas that has inspired me to submit more–work harder toward rejection–is the lovely goal of reaching 100 rejections in a year. On the surface, that sounds pretty crazy: I would have to write 100 stories in a year? No. Having that many drafts by the end of the year would be awesome! But I don’t think I would have time to do anything else, and I have other stuff to do. I wouldn’t send the same story off to be rejected from 100 different editors either. However, in a combination of daily submission goals for stories I have written and stories I will write along with poetry submissions, contest entries and a grant submission or two, I might be able to reach that goal of 100 rejections along with a pile of acceptance letters. That’s the joy of the idea. If you look for 100 rejection letters, you may have to work harder because of the people who start saying yes. It’s a great form of reverse psychology as long as your actual goal is to publish and not to accumulate rejection letters.

I also have a novel manuscript that I am fine-tuning to submit. I want to create a planner that inspires all types of writing submissions, rejections, editing, and re-submitting.

If my planner design helps motivate me, I hope to have created a tried and true planner for 2020 to inspire all writers by the end of the year.

So far, I’m approaching the project (and the design) like organizers say to approach any project: Large goals, broken into smaller goals, broken into small, achievable goals.

Planners don’t work for me if I waste time filling in my planner, so I want the important stuff to take very little time. The point to creating this is to inform. I want to know at the beginning of the quarter of the year what stories I’m submitting and who to send them to, by name. I don’t want to waste days researching them when it should be at my fingertips. It’s aggravating to me when I have to spend an entire day, or a week, trying to figure out who to address my cover letter to. It shouldn’t ever be that hard, especially when you’ve cared to do the research. My idea, is to include a magazine for each day of the planner, as an idea for one of each day’s submission.

An area that I’m still contemplating is contests. I have heard that contests can be important, but looking through the wonderful poets and writers calendar, it turns out most of them cost money. I think I can add one or two contests to my budget each month, especially if the judges provide feedback.

January Submission Goals

These are the submissions I will put on my January 2019 goals:

1/15 Outlook Springs end submission period

1/15  The Dallas Review  end submission period

1/24  Sixfold  contest $5

1/31 Nelson Algren Short Story award

1/31 Dark Regions contest “Possession”

This short list is a great reminder why it’s important to plan ahead. I have stories I can send to Outlook Springs, The Dallas Review and Sixfold, but I need to read past issues and find the story that fits best. For the Nelson Algren award, I want to get familiar with Algren’s work. Because I planned ahead, I was able to put his book, The Neon Wilderness, on hold at my local library and am already becoming familiar with his work. For the Dark Regions contest, I’m writing an original story. Finding the right story to match a call for submissions, and writing a news story all take time, so planning three months in advance is my goal, but one month will have to do for now.

Submission sources

I have also started a list of magazines to write overviews for and add to the daily submissions goals. I’m finding submissions information from:

Poets & Writers

Submittable

New Pages

and interesting things I see on Twitter

Books, Books, Books

Every writer has to read, a lot. Over the last few years I have been reading like a starving monster, consuming anything that gets in my path. Though there’s nothing wrong with that, I noticed that my reading goals list on Goodreads was pretty much ignored last year and I transferred most of it to this year. To remedy this, I’ve decided to add a reading section to my planner that includes at least two fiction novels, fiction short story collections, poetry collections and non-fiction books per month.

Here are January’s reading goals:

Fiction novels: Hawksmoor by Peter Ackroyd, The Outsider: A Novel by Stephen King

Fiction short story: The Neon Wilderness by Nelson Algren, America’s Emerging Writers (I finally got my paperback and I’m enjoying reading everyone else’s stories. Yay!)

Poetry: The Carrying: Poems by Ada Limon, Selected Poems (William Carlos Williams)

Non-Fiction: The Philippines: A Singular And A Plural Place, Fourth Edition (Nations of the Modern World) by David Joel Steinberg, The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller by John Truby

 

If you have suggestions for what I should include in planner, I would love to hear from you. I hope you will join me in my experiment to plan ahead.

 

Happy Reading and Writing

Final Days of 2017 Day 24: This Crazy Cat

kitty in a hat box

Yesterday, was the annual family white elephant exchange and after everyone left, this crazy cat was left behind. It is now part of my odd decoration collection and today’s inspiration.

#vss very short story

Jenna thought it was so cute when her new Siamese cat jumped into her hat box where she kept her sewing supplies. She laughed and giggled as Snowy watched her from just under the closed lid and then sprang up like a Jack-in-the-box when she wiggled her fingers. But Jenna’s sewing business took a big hit when Snowy became viciously territorial and Jenna had to replace all of her supplies.

Today’s Poetry Prompt and Poem

Write a poem including the words perceptive, glorious, pernicious, quicksilver, and rock. Joe’s bonus word is quibble, and Sophie’s bonus word is frivolous.

The pernicious rock flashed like quicksilver
None would quibble the act was frivolous
And though childish, had glorious consequence

For the perceptive knew, said rock flew
Through the window, striking a bottle that toppled
Into another which in turn toppled another

The next bottle fell to the floor and smashed
Startling the shop cat asleep in the back
The cat darted out a little cat door and startled a driver

The driver screeched to a halt and hopped out
Searching for the cat in fear it was harmed
She investigated a sound coming from the dumpster

And inside was a crying infant wrapped in a blood-soaked towel
Saved from a terrible fate by the frivolous toss of a
Pernicious rock of glorious consequence.

Editing Focus

Let’s face it, I won’t be getting any editing done today or tomorrow, but that doesn’t mean my subconscious won’t be working on things without me. I found some characters that needed further development while doing my Character Web the other day. I’ll try to think about them during lulls in the festivities.

#FlashFicHive

ff24

graphic by Anjela Curtis

I had a great time with this prompt last time. It led me to the discovery of occult chemists. I’m excited to see where this challenge leads me. Looks like Anjela left the Meaning from Circumlocution. That would be some odd usage of the word Gingerbread.

Berg Reading

The bride grange went to Range Bridge to meet Bigger Daren the binge grader who had spent the day grading beer which brought on the big red anger, the dage bringer.

Don’t Forget To Read!

I may have found a hole in the market. Sewing Cats Christmas, does not appear to be a book category on Amazon. Shocking, right? Ha. Ha. Ha. Here are some books I found to go with today’s theme:

Cattastic Crafts: DIY Project for Cats and Cat People by Mariko Ishikawa

Fashion Cats by Takako Iwasa

Trimmed With Murder (SEASIDE KNITTERS MYSTERY Book 10) by Sally Goldenbaum

I don’t know if that last one has a cat on it, but it kept coming up in my search so, maybe the cat kills all the people.

Happy Reading and Writing!

Christmas In Japan: Final Days of 2017 Day 19

kimono ornament

I still haven’t been to Japan. I hope to visit some day. This pretty, colorful kimono seemed like an odd addition to the tree, so I thought I’d spend the day exploring Christmas traditions in Japan.

You can read about Christmas traditions in Japan at All Things Christmas, The Culture Trip and Why Christmas?

#vss very short story

Hoteiosho wanted to bring all of the presents this year, so he challenged Santa to a sumo match. Santa wasn’t willing to take off his Santa-suit, so he had to forfeit. He got home early from deliveries and took a nice long nap.

Today’s Poetry Prompt and Poem

Today’s theme is Clouds
clouds
light and                                                     mean and
fluffy white                            foreboding dark warning
pareidolia for                      of a storm approaching, blocking
grass-layers in spring                          the sun’s warmth and light
moving              swiftly            swirling      and               roiling overhead
drifting

Editing Focus

I made some progress yesterday. Through meticulously filling in  The Story Grid: What Good Editors Knowspreadsheet, I noticed stronger places to start the story and places where point of view would be stronger from another character.

Today, I will continue the process of finding the Story Event of each scene.

#FlashFicHive

ff19

graphic by Anjela Curtis

Looks like this is a story and poetry prompt.

To keep with today’s theme, I looked for a Japanese Christmas song and found some Christmas songs in Japanese matched with anime images:

Then I found this gem:

A cover of Christmas Eve by Chemistry. Definitely what I was looking for.

Here’s a translation of the lyrics. I cannot attest to the accuracy.

Christmas Eve

All alone I watch the quiet rain
Wonder if it’s gonna snow again
Silent night holy night

I was praying
You’d be here with me
What it used to be
Silent night holy night
For Christmas

Somewhere far away
The sleigh bells ring
I remember
When we used to sing
Silent night holy night

I keep you inside me
Oh the truth is unspoken
So my heart won’t be broken
On Christmas

They lit the trees
Along the avenue
Twinkling silver with a touch of blue
Silent night holy night

Don’t Forget To Read!

To go with today’s theme, I found a couple of books about Christmas in Japan:

Tree of Cranes by Allen Say
The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya (light novel) (The Haruhi Suzumiya Series) by Nagaru Tanigawa

Happy Reading and Writing!

#FD2017 Final Days Of 2017 Day 16: Joy To The World!

Ocarina

Many people put fake, plastic instruments on their Christmas trees. I like real ones. I received this Ocarina in a basket of world instruments as a Christmas gift. It adds gorgeous color to the tree and when the spirit moves, I can grab it and play along with my favorite carol. Or, in all honesty, make horrible noises in a joyful manner.

#vss very short story

Pepito wore his ocarina everywhere he went. His grandmother had told him it would protect him from harm and he would be a great savior to his village. One day, while he was skipping along the mountain trail, the ground shook and a generation of vipers slithered from the rocks toward the village.

Pepito pulled his ocarina from his neck and showed it to the snakes, but they were not deterred. He prayed that its power would flow through him as his grandmother had promised, but he did not feel any power come.

Finally, as the snakes were about to reach him, he brought the ocarina to his mouth and blew a loud and ugly note. The snakes stopped, confused by the sound waves. They licked at the sound in the air. Pepito fluttered his fingers over the holes blowing as hard as he could. The song he played was a terrible noise; the vipers fled and hid.

Today’s Poetry Prompt and Poem

Though some reports say the HHS word ban is a misunderstanding, just the idea of a government agency telling people that they can’t use certain words is an affront to any wordsmith. So, though I think it will be difficult and I will have to update this post with the drafted poem, I am happy to take on the challenge proposed by MoSt Poetry:

Use the words vulnerable, fetus, diversity, entitlement, transgender, science-based, and evidence-based in a poem.

Health And Human Services

All humans are endowed by their Creator
Human health is All inclusive

With the Rights to Life, Liberty and The Pursuit of Happiness
The Center for Disease Control is tasked to help with this

Their scientists prevent the spread of disease
Using science-based data they fight the good fight

Against microbes on the hunt for human hosts
All life is vulnerable from fetus ’til lost to death

The evidence-based bias is skewed
Correlation is Not equivalent to causation

Gender identity and biological sex assignments
Do not change those entitlements

Transgender humans are part of our diversity
Diversity is necessary for genetic survival
Survival being that entitlement
Entitlement to Life

Editing Focus

Today and tomorrow, actually for as long as it takes, I’ll be separating out each scene in my draft and attempting to analyze it down to its essence, one sentence that captures the scene. As I mentioned yesterday, I’ll be creating a spread sheet for a Story Grid. While I do this, I’ll also be following The Ultimate Revision Checklist.

The first thing on the Revision Checklist is to take a good look at your Main Character (Lead Character on the checklist). As I read through my scenes, I’ll ask myself:

  • Is my MC worth following for a whole novel? Why?
  • How can I make my MC “jump off the page” more?
  • Do my characters sufficiently contrast?
  • Will readers bond to my MC?

I’ll also make a physical diagram of my character arc using the Kubler-Ross Change Curve For Story like I talked about on Day 14 Stages Of Change.

#FlashFicHive

With all those happy words it could be a challenge to create conflict in my story. Ha Ha. Just Kidding. It’s the holidays. However, let’s see what Oblique Strategies says:

Accretion

And suddenly we have a

Word Of The Day

I love when that happens!

accretion – noun
1. an increase by natural growth or by gradual external addition; growth in size or extent.
2. the result of this process.
3. an added part; addition: The last part of the legend is a later accretion.
4. the growing together of separate parts into a single whole.
5. Law. increase of property by gradual natural additions, as of land by alluvion.
There’s another word for today!

alluvion – noun

1. Law. a gradual increase of land on a shore or a river bank by the action of water, whether from natural or artificial causes.
2. overflow; flood.
Now I see many possibilities for conflict.

Don’t Forget To Read!

I thought for today’s theme it would be fun to look up books on instruments around the world.
The World Atlas of Musical Instruments by Bozhidar Abrashev and Vladimir Gadjev
Musical Instruments: From Flutes Carved of Bone, to Lutes, to Modern Electric Guitars from Scholastic
And I need this one! Play The World: The 101 Instrument Primer from Mel Bay.

Happy Reading and Writing!

Pink Flamingos: Final Days Of 2017 Day 17

I received these at a white elephant gift exchange. I think every tree needs some thoughtful pink flamingos.

#vss very short story

The reindeer became skittish as they got closer to Florida. A crew of pink flamingos were vying for their jobs and were always trying to show off for Santa. Trying not to kick a flamingo had become a hazard of delivering presents.

Today’s Poetry and Poem

Write about inheritances. The real, the imagined, the wished for, the cursed…

Her Mother’s Pink Flamingos

Her mother’s pink flamingos
Were all she ever wanted
She spent hours playing with them
As a child while she waited
For her mother to get home
Day or night, in the heat or cold
She imagined the flamingos hopping
And flying around the trailer park
She imagined them lifting her up
On a multitude of soft feathers
And landing on candy-floss clouds
Where they watched the sunset
But when her mother kicked her out
She took a bat to those flamingos
They had left her there to rot
Now she had nothing and nowhere to go
She instantly regretted her actions
But she couldn’t bring back
Her mother’s flamingos.

Editing Focus

Chapter 16 of Revision And Self-Editing (Write Great Fiction) by James Scott Bell is The Ultimate Revision Checklist. Starting tomorrow, I plan to begin following the checklist on my draft for Throwing Stones while also creating a Story Grid following the guidelines in The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know by Shawn Coyne.

To prepare for this intense editing practice, today I’m going to follow Mr. Coyne’s suggestion and separate my novel into each scene, print out the scenes and staple each one into a short piece of writing. Then I’ll start a spreadsheet for Throwing Stones with a SCENE column, WORD COUNT column and a STORY EVENT column. Then I’ll be ready to dive in, first thing tomorrow.

#FlashFicHive

Since I didn’t find the prompt for #FlashFicHive yesterday, I thought I would combine it with the prompt for today. And that means, there will be pink flamingos. Oh yes, there will be pink flamingos.

I have two options for my pink flamingos in the fill in the blanks sentence:

  1. The pink flamingos lived in a bright place with cryptids.
  2. The dogs lived in a hairy place with pink flamingos.

I used this as a short mad libs game with a friend and those are the words I got. Let’s try a couple more to fill out the idea:

1. The pink flamingos lived in a dark place with helicopters.
2. The tree lived in a fiery place with pink flamingos.

So this place, with at least of tree, full of pink flamingos, dogs and cryptids could be dark and hairy but becomes bright when set on fire. Luckily the helicopters were already there, so they put out the fires quickly.

Don’t Forget To Read!

I thought I would keep with today’s theme and look for some books on Pink Flamingos.

There is a surprisingly small selection of books to choose from. There are exactly two books in the King County Library System with the words “Pink Flamingos” in the title:
The Pink Flamingo Murders by Elaine Viets and Pink Flamingos by Carlo Mari.

I had a little more luck on Goodreads and Amazon finding such gems as:
Pink Flamingos All Aroundby Michael J. Andersen
What Makes Flamingos Pink?: A Colorful Collection of Q & A’s for the Unquenchably Curious by Bill McClain
BUGS BUNNY AND THE PINK FLAMINGOS (A Little Golden Book, 110-63)by Gina Inogoglia.

Happy Reading and Writing!

Final Days Of 2017 Day 16: Aloha Santa

aloha santa

In the mood for a Hawaiian Christmas? This Santa is. My sweetie and I agree he would know the words to Mele Kalikimaka, so we’re not sure what he’s looking at in this book. If you’d like to listen to the song here’s some Bing Crosby.

#vss very short story

Santa let his elf take the reins while he thumbed through his Hawaiian translations. He was pretty sure the man with the red face, shaking his fist and pointing at his broken chimney, wasn’t saying “Merry Christmas.”.

Today’s Poetry Prompt and Poem

Write a poem about/for/against/including Pantone’s color of the year for 2018: Ultra Violet.

https://www.pantone.com/color-of-the-year-2018

UltraViolet

A light beyond the spectrum of sight
A flower with super-powers
A girl who summons all her might
A field full of wild-flowers

Happy Reading and Writing!

Stages Of Change – #FD2017 Final Days Of 2017 Day 14

tigger ornament

#vss very short story

“Now Chris Kringle, what happened to your neck?” asked Mrs. Claus when her husband came in after his package deliveries wearing a thick brace.
Santa moaned and stiffly bent into his chair. “I thought it would be fun to let Tigger lead my sleigh last night.”

Today’s Poetry Prompt and Poem

“A man carrying a rifle approaches . . .”
Write a poem.

Curiosity mixed with trepidation
Approaching friend or foe?
Setting and scene
If distant and serene
Would have pleasantly
Let you know
To get out of harms way
For someone was hunting today
But here that is not rightly so
The cues all around
Make you yell, Get Down!
And panic quickly ensues
Peering into dead eyes
You hope for reprise
Not ready to meet your due.

Editing Focus

The Kubler-Ross Change Curve For Story

KublerRoss_112514-copy-2-1024x791

This section of The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know by Shawn Coyne resonated with me. I wish I had read this earlier and added it to last month’s study of the Hero’s Journey. There is also an article on the Story Grid website called Stories Are About Change that covers this idea of examining The Kubler-Ross Change Curve in relation to your character arc.

As you think about your Main Character going through these stages, do specific scenes come to mind? Is your main character’s psychological turmoil dramatic enough to create  change in your character? Does your main character go through each of these eight stages? Could you add some scenes to show the progression through each stage more clearly?

#FlashFicHive

ff 14

graphic by Anjela Curtis

I certainly would like to finish a recent flash draft! Maybe I’ll tackle my convict with powers story.

Don’t Forget To Read

Don’t forget to read newspaper articles. Not just politics and world news, but the odd stories and obituaries.

Throwing Stones was inspired by a news story. I was looking up facts about South Africa and came across a story about people throwing stones at fire fighters, stopping them from putting out a fire. This fascinated me. I wanted to know why anyone would do that, so I continued looking for stories about people throwing stones at fire fighters. I found examples all over the world. Then I widened my search to people throwing stones. There’s a history, a mythology, and a deep symbolism for throwing stones.

I also found an idea for a science-fiction short story in the obituaries. The mysterious death of a hacker just before he was supposed to speak at a convention.

There is a great resource on the web called The Google New Archive where you can see actual scans of old newspapers from around the world. It’s a treasure trove of stories. I talked about it last year in my post A great tool for research, inspiration and hours of fun. Give yourself a present and check it out.

Happy Reading and Writing!

Feeling Groovy – #FD2017 Final Days Of 2017 Day 13

Today, I took pictures of funny ornaments on my Mother’s Christmas tree. Many of them were mine, or ones I had played with as a child. This rosy-cheeked dandy was totally getting his groove on.

#vss very short story

Harry put on his bow-tie and his best top hat. He grabbed his dancing cane, ready for a night on the town. Sadly, he had mistakenly put jumping beans in his stew and they kicked in at the same moment he arrived to meet his date. He jumped until his face was flushed and he was covered with sweat. He kept jumping when he was exhausted and had a stitch in his side and cramps in his legs. He only stopped jumping when he passed out and crumpled to the sidewalk. The beans kept jumping, making it look like something was trying to burst from Harry’s gut.

Today’s Poetry Prompt and Poem

Today’s prompt is from #dVerse poets. Write a poem that includes the word “groove” or a form of the word. The word must be within the body of the poem.

The Groove

Get into the groove,
But don’t get stuck.
Feelin’ groovy
‘Til the sun comes up.
Groove is in the heart,
And in the rump.
A groovy kind of love,
When suddenly moonstruck.
Addams groove,
For the darker odd duck.
Movin’ and groovin’
To make your own luck.

 

Editing Focus

More mandatory scenes to identify. Scenes for the Beginning, Middle and End from The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know by Shawn Coyne

  1. The inciting incident of the beginning of your story.
  2. The inciting incident of the middle of your story.
  3. The inciting incident of the end of your story.
  4. A scene that progressively complicates the beginning of your story.
  5. A scene that progressively complicates the middle of your story.
  6. A scene that progressively complicates the end of your story.
  7. A scene that creates a crisis question at the beginning of your story.
  8. A scene that creates a crisis question in the middle of your story.
  9. A scene that creates a crisis question at the end of your story.
  10. A scene that climaxes the beginning of your story.
  11. A scene that climaxes the middle of your story.
  12. A scene that climaxes the end of your story.
  13. A scene that resolves the beginning of your story.
  14. A scene that resolves the middle of your story.
  15. A scene that resolves the end of your story.

#FlashFicHive

FF13

Anjela Curtis

Don’t Forget To Read!

Today I went to a Christmas party where everyone read a Christmas poem or a verse. I printed out the very short stories and poems I’ve written so far this month and gave them to everyone. I read a couple of short stories and got some laughs. It felt good to look at the writing I’ve done so far this month compiled together.

Don’t forget to read through your own writing. Review all the great work you’ve done so far this month.

 

Happy Reading and Writing!

A Little Extra Luck – Final Days Of 2017 (#FD2017) Day 12

lucky charm

Green clovers aren’t traditionally symbols of the yuletide, but they fit the color scheme well enough. Who couldn’t use a little extra luck this time of year?

#vss very short story

Ashley bounced with glee when she saw the little man in a green tux coat and top hat crawling around looking for something by her Christmas tree. Wow, she thought, presents and wishes, this is going to be the best Christmas ever. But her situation quickly turned  when the angry leprechaun asked her where she had hidden his gold. This leprechaun was the keeper of the gold, chocolate-filled coins she had already pulled from her stocking and eaten.

Word Of The Day

I came across a great word while reading Alec Nevala-Lee‘s post this morning: Thinking on the page. Today’s topic was the work of Chris Ware. In the middle of a long quote from an interview with Ira Glass, Mr. Ware says:

It ended up lasting for seven years, which is why when you read the book, the first hundred pages or so are completely insensate.

The second I read the word insensate, I had to stop reading and look it up. I’m glad I did. It’s the kind of word that could cause some confusion if you don’t know all of its meanings. It’s also a great word for poetry and creating subtext because of its different meanings.

insensate adjective
1. not endowed with sensation; inanimate:insensate stone.
2. without human feeling or sensitivity; cold; cruel; brutal.
3. without sense, understanding, or judgment; foolish.

As you can see, with only one adjective you can say someone is inanimate, cruel and foolish! What a word.

Today’s Poetry Prompt and Poem

In case you didn’t read #NaNoWriMo Recap And December Writing Plans, the poetry prompts I’ll be using this month and through the new year are part of MoSt (Modesto-Stanislaus Poetry Center) 10th Annual New Year’s Poetry Challenge. This is the first time I’ve participated and I’m enjoying the prompts. You can still sign up to participate and it’s FREE!

Prompt: Write a poem about the disappearance of things.

This is one of four contest topics for the 6th annual Modesto Poetry Festival. The deadline to enter your poems is Jan. 11, 2018. You don’t need to be present at the festival to win, but we sure hope you come anyway. Here’s a link to the festival flyer on our website.
http://www.mostpoetry.org/event/6th-annual-modesto-poetry-festival/

I love this prompt! Especially since I can’t find my all-purpose tool right now and I really need it since my industrial sewing machine stopped working in the middle of a project yesterday. Why do things always disappear when I need them most?

Disappearing Things

Something is gone.
It’s not gradual.
You have it; then you don’t.
Often it comes back,
But only if you’re not looking,
Or you don’t need it,
Or you don’t want it anymore.

When something is taken,
Violently ripped away,
It leaves a hole, an empty dark space
That feels like it can’t be filled.
But sometimes,
With enough time,
And love,
And support,
And understanding,
And more time,
Because the process started over,
And then, when you thought it was better,
The hole was there again,
Something better,
Or at least as good,
Can take its place.

Editing Focus

Since we’ve been looking at the big picture and obligatory scenes, I thought it would be fun to use what I learned last month with Mapping the Hero’s Journey by Arwen Lynch and Jumpstart Your Novel by Mark Teppo.

Since I hadn’t yet discovered the use of tarot cards when I wrote my draft for Throwing Stones, I decided to see what it would be like to use the cards, not as a pre-plotting tool, but as a strengthen-the-plot revision tool.

Here are the cards I pulled for Tshepo’s Hero’s Journey. Keep in mind I shuffled and cut, focusing on an aspect of the hero’s journey, between every card.

Hero's Journey with Tarot for Throwing Stones

The Hanged Man reversed in the center is the theme card I pulled. I’m not going to Theme for Throwing Stonesinterpret this at the moment, but will use it while examining my scene progression later.

I also used the number addition method for theme like I did on #NaNoWriMo Day 25. The total is 66: 6+6=12 which is The Hanged Man. I also continued to add to one digit: 1+2=3 which is The Empress, who I noted flew out while I was shuffling. I’ll keep her in mind as  a secondary theme.

I also did a Celtic Cross for my Main Character:

Tshepo's story Celtic Cross

I am happy to see that the reason for me writing this story is my connection to the spiritual/knowledge of the universe instead of fear of ending up destitute and homeless (like my nanowrimo draft Celtic Cross).

The Magician card sees you creating success in everything that you do. This is a Tarot card about manifesting your goals by utilizing the skills, tools and resources that are available to you. The Magician suggests that you will come up with creative ways to solve problems and you will be able to use your existing knowledge and networks to arrive at solutions. – Biddytarot.com

That sounds incredibly encouraging.

I’m glad I did this. As I drew the cards through the hero’s journey, I thought of the representative scenes in my draft. The story, as is, isn’t a perfect fit, but it follows more closely than I expected. I think these new tools, using the tarot cards for plot and scene, are already helping me focus on what areas need to be tightened up. There’s also a multitude of symbolic information for me to work with here. Exciting!

#FlashFicHive

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graphic by Anjela Curtis

Though speech tags aren’t usually a problem for me, this challenge is inspiring me to try something new. I’m thinking my MC has a chat with an inanimate object. That would be insensate. Or my MC could be chatting with someone who can’t talk: a mute, or someone who is gagged, or someone whose mouth has been magically removed.If I wanted to make this a real challenge, however, I would have my MC speaking to two other people and make each person clear to the reader through vocabulary and word usage alone. I think I’ll work on this today, or for the rest of the week (or month).

With today’s prompt, Anjela Curtis included a link to 5 Rules for Rocking Flash Fiction by Alicia Audrey, a guest post on diyMFA.

It’s a quick, informative read. I recommend reading it and then exploring the site further. They have articles on many of the topics I talk about here on Experience Writing like building tension in your scenes. They also have an author interview series.

Don’t Forget To Read!

gift books

Talking about reading author interviews made me think of a couple of great books I have and recommend. They were both given to me as gifts by people very close to me.

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott – This book, a hybrid of memoir and instruction, is inspiring and informative.

Who’s Writing This?: Notations on the Authorial I With Self Portraits edited by Daniel Halpern- This book is an interesting study into an author’s vision of him or herself. Fifty-six authors share their thoughts on the self and self-portraits (some impressive, some not).

Happy Reading and Writing!