Craft Book Review: Story Fix

Story Fix coverStory Fix: Transform Your Novel from Broken to Brilliant by Larry Brooks is intended to help authors “reinvigorate” rejected novels, but I found it lacking in tangible instruction and full of discouragement.

Why I picked it up: I was looking through Writing Voice: The Complete Guide to Creating a Presence on the Page and Engaging Readers (Creative Writing Essentials) from the editors at Writer’s Digest and started looking up the different authors who had written chapters. Because I am focused on editing and revision, Larry Brooks’s book looked like a good choice.

My Expectations: I was expecting a book on revision and editing with specific guidelines to follow as I revise my draft. With the bold title STORY FIX, I expected a plethora of tools and boxes to check.

Intended Audience: This book is for writers whose manuscripts have been rejected so many times that they are facing a major re-write or abandoning their novel to the drawer of despair, or the locked trunk in the basement. The author also assumes the reader has attended conferences.

What I liked: The examples of Mr. Brooks coaching authors at the end of the book are  worth reading. Before I got to the three case studies, I was having trouble finding anything I liked, but they were interesting. I recommend reading the case studies first and then, if you’re curious about Mr. Brooks’s terminology, going back and reading those sections of the book. I found the questions Mr. Brooks asked the authors during these story coaching sessions to be eye opening while evaluating my own manuscript.

What I didn’t like: Until the coaching examples (and somewhat during), the book comes across as very negative. Mr. Brooks appears to think he’s being honest and frank, 200 pages of tough love, one might say, but it comes across as cynical and impugning. Until I read the case studies, I felt like I had read 150 pages of how to write an elevator pitch and fifty pages telling me I might as well give up trying.

 

Rating:  ♦ ♦   2 out of 5 – only because of the coaching examples at the end.

 

Books on revision and editing I would recommend instead:

The Magic Words: Writing Great Books for Children and Young Adults by Cheryl B. Klein. I reviewed this book as my first Craft Book Review. It is not only for authors of children’s and YA novels.

The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know by Shawn Coyne

Revision And Self-Editing (Write Great Fiction) by James Scott Bell

 

Happy Reading and Writing!

 

 

Advertisements

Craft Book Review: The Magic Words by Cheryl B. Klein

The Magic Words book cover

The Magic Words: Writing Great Books for Children and Young Adults by Cheryl B. Klein is a great book for writers who are ready to take their manuscript to the next level. As an editor for Scholastic, Cheryl has experience that makes her an authority on the subject of revision and editing MG and YA novels. She shares first hand stories about the revision process that bring difficult subjects to life.

Why I picked it up:

It was one of the books recommended by Denise Jaden at the end of Fast Fiction: A Guide to Outlining and Writing a First-Draft Novel in Thirty Days for when you’ve finished your draft and you’re ready to edit.

My Expectations:

Because the book is about writing for children and because Magic is in the title, I expected it to be focused on magical thinking and getting back to the child mind. I expected exercises in discovering stories that appeal to children and using language geared toward different age groups. This book wasn’t like that at all.

Intended Audience:

The ideal reader is a fiction writer who has finished a first draft of a novel fomiddle school, high school or adult readers. To get the most out of the exercises, you will want to have read through your draft and created a “book map.” The book map is a lot like the story grid from The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know by Shawn Coyne that I talked about in the Editing Focus sections of my Final Days of 2017 posts. Cheryl Klein uses a post from Anita Nolan as an example. The book map is also a lot like Susan Dennard’s index card outline.

What I liked:

I liked the examples from her work as an editor working with authors. Her experiences were informative and brought the concepts into the real world. I also liked the extensive exercises in every chapter. The exercises raise poignant questions to get you analyzing your work.

Since I focused on plot last fall, I enjoyed that this book presents a fresh take. I learned yet another plotting structure called Freytag’s pyramid. I hadn’t heard of this one before. Based on Poetics from Aristotle, it describes the five act dramatic structure of classical plays, but also works as a model of rising action.

The Magic Words is thorough, covering every aspect of writing and revising your novel.

For your convenience both the plot chart and the character chart discussed in the book are available on the book’s page of Cheryl’s website.

What I didn’t like:

I got tired of Harry Potter references. If I didn’t write adult fiction as well as children’s fiction, I would have found most of the examples (Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Twilight) to be geared toward older kids and I would not have found this book very useful. However, as a book on the craft of writing, it was excellent.

Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦  5/5 Highly Recommend

 

Writing Reviews

I have a favor to ask. This year, I plan to write a review each week. I’m trying to come up with a format that is both fun and informative so I would appreciate your feedback of this review.

  • Did you like the layout?
  • Was the review helpful?
  • What else would you like to know about the book?
  • What didn’t you like about the review?
  • How could it be better?

Please respond in the comments. Thank you.

Happy Reading and Writing!

 

All The Colors Of Santa And Snowmen: Final Days of 2017 Day 21

All the Colors of Santa and Snowmen

I found these wonderful little light covers yesterday. If I hadn’t been playing with pink flamingos the other day, I wouldn’t have recognized what they were. The rainbow santas and snowmen will probably be riding pink flamingos for Christmas at my house.

#vss very short story

In all the hustle and bustle of the Annual Santa-Snowman Convention, they hadn’t noticed that some of the santas and snowmen weren’t actually supposed to be blue. One santa froze to death and a snowman choked on his own carrot. Was it foul play? They decided to sweep it under the snowbank.

Word Of The Day

I stumbled across a new word this morning and it’s a good one, so I thought I would make it the word of the day.

inanition: noun  1. exhaustion from lack of nourishment; starvation.  2. lack of vigor; lethargy.

May you never know inanition.

Today’s Poetry Prompt and Poem

Prompt: Write a poem about a place that you do not like.

MoSt included some great suggestions for this poem:

Use a crazy number of metaphors and similes. Give that place a costume, a cliche, a smell, a bon mot, an emotion, an inner life, a bunch of lies that lead to a truth, a bunch of truths that lead to a memory that isn’t quite true after all, give it a persona, a breath, a sound — what music would be in that place? what sounds would be just outside? What person comes in and goes out and what do they say? And…you can totally make something up. Remember, you have little obligation to truth. Go wild.

The Office

It doesn’t matter the proprietor
Or even the town, state or country
This room is my living hell

A life of recurring, compelled visits
Empty of answers
though full of testing instruments

The horror-show of the human machine,
Laid bare, completely bare
With the opening at the back

Tortures and fears all created here
Weapons of “health” line the wall
Posters threatening death for non-compliance

And the joke in on me, this torture’s not free
The poking and prodding’s expensive
I pay with my innermost secrets.

 

Editing Focus

As I continue to go through my scenes looking at value changes, I’m also going to highlight all the passages that show my MC’s inner life as recommended by James Scott Bell in Revision And Self-Editing (Write Great Fiction)‘s Ultimate Revision Checklist.

When I’m done highlighting, I’ll read through all the highlighted sections in order and ask myself:

  • Is the flow of the interior life understandable and believable?
  • Are there places that seem inconsistent?
  • Are there gaps that need to be filled with other interior insights?

#FlashFicHive

ff21

graphic by Anjela Curtis

Sharing lines will be fun today because I wrote a lot of Creepy Christmas flash fiction over the last few days.

Don’t Forget To Read!

Great news! Gator McBumpypants in Shelley Comes Out Of Her Shell is now available for Kindle!

Happy Reading and Writing!

Final Days Of 2017 Day 20: Fight For Your Right To Party!

Santa in a box

This glittery Santa ornament still lives in its box. I thought about taking it out for the picture, but then he reminded me of The Prospector from Toy Story 2, so I left him in his box.

#vss very short story

Tears pushed at the corners of the collector’s eyes as he lifted Formalwear Santa to his place of honor on the center of the clear latex boxes that lined the wall. One specifically crafted staging area for each of the Waterforce ornaments.

He stepped back and admired his work, his life’s work, now completed. Overwhelmed with conflicting emotions, he let the tears flow down his cheeks, no longer able to fight them back. He dropped to his knees.

At first he thought his legs had given under the weight of his accomplishment, but then the ornaments began to jump and dance along the wall. Dust fell from the ceiling in larger and larger pieces. The floor shifted beneath his knees. The wall cracked and splintered behind his display. A roar like a freight train filled his head and the last thing he saw was Formalwear Santa shattering in his box as the room collapsed.

Today’s Poetry Prompt and Poem

Prompt: Write a poem about an action or event you were directly involved in that makes you proud. Consider writing this poem in quatrains, rhymed or unrhymed, but as many four-lined stanzas as you’d like.

The Royal Bear

As we moved my belongings to my new abode
We passed a club on the side of the road called the Royal Bear
Now that’s a great dive, I thought to myself
If I find a band here, I want a show there.

So far from the city, it was hard to find gigs
I tried to fit with heavy metal, but who was I trying to kid
I gave up for a while and poured my all into work
But I missed the music and decided to renew my search

An announcement on Craigslist made my heart skip a beat
A group needed a bassist and practiced right down the street
I had promised myself college was the end of playing covers
But location was key and I had no luck with the others.

I had a huge list of songs to learn in a hurry,
A gig in two weeks at a motorcycle rally
Learning not only bass lines but an alternative world
Of chapters and rides, rodeos and leathers.

We played The Royal Bear on a semi-regular basis
I recall one show of which I’m particularly proud
My whole family came and had drinks together
My mother didn’t even complain it was loud.

Then came the moment when my life was complete
My mother and father got up from their seats
Joining their kids on the dance floor, they danced
As I played Fight For Your Right To Party!

Editing Focus

Today, I’ll expand the Story Grid spreadsheet.  According to The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know by Shawn Coyle, the next step is to evaluate each scene for Value Shift, Polarity Shift and Turning Point.

Value Shift – Human experiences that can shift in quality from positive to negative or negative to positive. (e.g. happy/sad, love/hate, innocence/experience). Every scene must turn a story value.

Polarity Shift – Is the visual representation of  the value change in the scene: +/- or -/+. There may be some scenes that move from good to great or bed to worse, +/++ or -/–.

Turning Point – The precise moment/beat in the scene when the value shifts. Turning points either occur through action or revelation. It is important to track your turning points to make sure there is variation.

#FlashFicHive

fff20

graphic by Anjela Curtis

Oblique Strategy:

Look at a very small object, look at its center.

I like this idea. For today’s story, I’ll practice starting in a universal perspective and then quickly diving in to tighter and tighter view until I get to the center of a small object. Oh, I think I have an idea! Following today’s theme, I’ll use this technique at a party.

Don’t Forget To Read!

Don’t forget to read Christmas gift books: I don’t always have the time, but I like to try to read the books I give as gifts, so I can discuss them with the people I give them to. I especially like to read the books I give to my nieces and nephews to make sure they’re appropriate.

For the next few days, I’ll be evaluating–

The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut

Five Star Billionaire by Tash Aw

Five-Carat Soul by James McBride

The Best of Talebones edited by Patrick Swenson

–as possible Christmas gifts.

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 of 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

ffd12

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!