#FD2017 Final Days Of 2017 Day 11: Mixed Messages

This is another sticker and ribbon ornament I made like the dragon ball on Day 4. It fits well with a theme of Mixed Messages. From a distance, it is a nice star-shaped ornament with a splash of non-traditional colors. Upon closer inspection, the images this ornament is made out of are a depiction of The Battle Of Hamza.

#vss very short story

Carmen stared at her quaking and shaking tree. When the elves emerged brandishing Shotels and sickle blades, she feared they focused on the Herod part of the Christmas story.

Today’s Poetry Prompt and Poem

Today, I received a photo prompt:

poetry photo prompt by Joseph Anthony

photo by Modesto artist Joseph Anthony

 

The Golden Food Mart In The Night

The blinding lights reveal temptation
A golden oasis in the night
A beckoning promise of satiation
Bars on the windows and locked up tight

The light polluter sends mixed messages
Offering warmth and welcome from afar
When the real message is “someone will see you”
Everyone is a thief in the dark

Editing Focus

Though we are in a rush to dive in to those details, let’s stick with the big picture for a while.

Genre and obligatory scenes

In The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know by Shawn Coyne, he says:

A Genre is a label that tells the reader/audience what to expect. Genres simply manage audience expectations.

There are five primary expectations of the audience

  1. to know how long the story will last
  2. to know how far to suspend disbelief
  3. to know the style, the particular experience of the story
  4. to know how the story will be structured
  5. to know what the general content of the story will be

Mr. Coyne contends that your story’s genre is made up of five parts that form to these five expectations: Time, Reality, Style, Structure and Content

The first three are easy: 1. What is the physical length of your story? Did you write Flash (under 1,000 words), a short story, a novella or a novel? Is it short, medium or long? 2. Is your story based on real events (biography/factualism), complete fiction but could happen in the real world (realism), so far fetched it could not happen in the real world (Absurdism) or Fantasy? 3. In what form are you presenting your story? Is it a cartoon, dance, musical, documentary, drama, comedy, or is it literary?

Coyne breaks Structure into Arch-Plot, Mini-plot (passive protagonist contending with internal struggle) and Anti-plot (inspired randomness; Waiting for Godot) where Arch-Plot is the most common structure that most closely follows The Hero’s Journey.

He breaks Content into External Content Genres (action, horror, crime, thriller, love, performance, society, war and western) and Internal Content Genres (worldview, morality and status).

Today’s challenge: Define your genre for the five expectations.

My novel is: A long, realistic drama following the Arch-Plot structure and should follow the conventions of a Thriller which is an External Content genre.

The Obligatory Scenes for a Thriller

Now that I’ve identified and specified my genre, what does that mean to me? Coyne kept talking about the obligatory scenes of your genre and I’m glad he started with Thriller since that is what I’m writing. Let’s see if I have covered the “obligatory scenes.”

Coyne says the Thriller genre comes from a mash-up of Action, Horror and Crime and share many obligatory scenes and conventions. Here are the obligatory scenes for the thriller:

  1. An Inciting crime
  2. A MacGuffin- In fiction, a MacGuffin (sometimes McGuffin or maguffin) is a plot device in the form of some goal, desired object, or other motivator that the protagonist pursues, often with little or no narrative explanation. -Wikipedia
  3. Red herrings
  4. A Speech in praise of the villain
  5. The stakes must become personal for the hero. If he fails to stop the villain, he will suffer severe consequences. The hero must become the victim.
  6. There must be a hero at the mercy of the villain scene
  7. False ending. There must be two endings.

Also, the often used convention of the ticking clock.

So, looking at this, I need to think about 4 and 7. Since we wrote new endings yesterday, I guess I was a bit prescient, or we’re on the right track. Let’s go with the latter.

I was disappointed to see that there weren’t more lists like that in the book, but there are on the website StoryGrid.com.

You’ll need to search around and piece the lists together, but you can also do that from reading and watching films in your genre. Coyle recommends that everyone master the elements of The Love Story because it makes an appearance in many other genres. Here are the obligatory scenes and conventions he outlines for The Love Story.

The Love Story -obligatory scenes

  1. The lovers meet
  2. Confession of love (a bit premature by one character) causes conflict
  3. First kiss scene (moment of intimacy not necessarily physical)
  4. The lovers break-up
  5. Proof of love scene
  6. Lovers reunite

#FlashFicHive

ff11

graphic by Anjela Curtis

Two brothers break into parishioners’ cars during Christmas Eve Service and steal everyone’s presents. The Christmas Spirit,  arrives to avenge as they examine their loot.

Don’t Forget To Read!

Now that you’ve defined your genre along the five expectations outlined by Shawn Coyne in The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know take another look at the six books you chose on day one. Are they still good examples of books in your genre? If not, try to find some better examples. As The Hiding Place by David Bell is not turning out to be a good genre comparison, I think I’ll pick up A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny

Happy Reading and Writing!

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

Christmas candy collector

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

#vss very short story

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

Word Of The Day

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

brachylogy: noun, plural bachylogies

brevity of diction; concise or abridged form of expression

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

Today’s Poetry Prompt and Poem

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

Arrivals And Departures

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

Editing Focus

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

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

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

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

A weak ending can ruin an otherwise wonderful book.

There are three basic types of endings:

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

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

#FlashFicHive

FF10

graphic by Anjela Curtis

Oblique Strategy:

Don’t stress one thing more than another

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

Don’t Forget To Read!

Don’t forget to read Non-Fiction:

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

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

Happy Reading and Writing!

Final Days Of 2017 Day 9: Chapter Endings To Keep Readers Turning Pages

#vss very short story

Paisley’s Christmas wish had come true. Shoes, just her size, growing in the trees. Her boyfriend died when a particularly sharp pump was allowed to over-ripen on the branch and fell into his head. But shoes!

Today’s Poetry Prompt and Poem

MoSt (Modesto-Stanislaus Poetry Center) 10th Annual New Year’s Poetry Challenge has begun. You can still sign up if you are interested. The first poem to write is a haiku of a minor holiday.

Today’s prompt is to choose a piece of furniture and write a poem of appreciation or an ode to it.

The Reading Chair

Fading seat with a center crease
Wooden handle for the footrest release
Rocking comfort as tensions cease
In the corner next to the lamp

Faded turquoise of ’80s whim
Corduroy softened by friction with skin
Protective guard cloths for head or limb
Never stay in position

Weighted in place in blankets and snuggy
Sated by a steaming cup of spiced tea
Safe to travel where the words will take me
A world of my fantasy

 

Editing Focus

Now that we got rid of any chapters and large chunks of text that don’t move the story along, let’s take a look at chapter endings.

My friend Christopher Bailey, author of The Crystal Key (Starjumper Legacy, Book 1), The Vanishing Sun (Starjumper Legacy, Book 2), The Plague of Dawn: The Plague of Dawn (Starjumper Legacy, Book 3), Without Chance and Whisper knows how to keep me turning pages. When I read one of his books, I cannot put it down until the last page. When I asked him how he does it. He told me to take a look at my chapter endings. How do I leave my reader hanging, so they’ll have to keep reading?
In James Scott Bell’s Revision And Self-Editing (Write Great Fiction) he says there are innumerable possibilities to end a scene, but offers these ideas to prompt the reader to read on:

  • a mysterious line of dialogue
  • an image that’s full of foreboding (like the fog rolling in)
  • a secret suddenly revealed
  • a major decision or vow
  • announcement of a shattering event
  • reversal or surprise–new information that suddenly turns the story around
  • a question left hanging in the air

In Manuscript Makeover: Revision Techniques No Fiction Writer Can Afford to Ignore by Elizabeth Lyon she says to:

  • End with the unexpected
  • End with an interruption
  • End sections and chapters at high points of uncompleted drama.
  • End with questions still raised.

 

Christopher Bailey wrote a post for Experience Writing last fall called Carving Through Writer’s Block. Give it a read for more of his good advice.

#FlashFicHive

ffhD9

sat hashtag games

 

The #satlines theme is Cracks or Breaks. The #SuperheroSat optional theme is Energy.

Don’t Forget To Read!

Don’t forget to read author interviews. They can be inspiring and full of information about the craft.

There are some great ones here on Experience Writing:

Christopher Bailey

Geoffrey Calhoun (Screenwriting)

Bree Moore (Nanowrimo feature)

Diana Rose Wilson

You can read more author interviews all over the internet. Here are some places to get started:

Author Interviews: NPR

Author Interviews: Writer’s Digest

Author Interviews: Goodreads

Author Interviews: HuffPost

Author Interviews: New York Times (audio archive list)

Happy Reading and Writing!

#FD2017 Final Days Of 2017 Day 8: Time For The Axe

Christmas book cover

I went through a stage where I was very excited about making hard-covers for my paperback books. I must have made this one around this time of year because it definitely isn’t reflective of the book it covered, The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. The covers fell off of the books and I got rid of most of them. This one, however, has stayed with me in my box of craft supplies because I love the cover image, so I put some ribbon on the spine and hung it on the tree.

#vss very short story

Heidi ran downstairs in her nightdress. Her nose wrinkled reflexively, irritated by a smokey-rotten-cherry smell. She followed the smell out into the snow. She was shocked to see Santa with a ski pole, trudging to the next house. She tugged on the sleeve of his robe.

“Ho.Ho. You caught me,” said Santa. “Do you like your present, Heidi?”

“Santa,” she said, “you shouldn’t smoke. It’s rude to stink up people’s houses with your pipe tobacco.”

Today’s Poetry Prompt and Poem

I think the prompt from Day 21 of last month’s Poem of the Day Chapbook Challenge is appropriate for today:

It’s time for our third Two-for-Tuesday prompt. If you’re new to these challenges, you can pick either one prompt or the other. Or decide to do both. Your choice.

For today’s Two-for-Tuesday prompt:

  1. Write a construction poem. Construction paper, construction hats, and so on.
  2. Write a deconstruction poem. Opposite of construction poem.

Remember, the deadline for submitting your Chapbook manuscript in January

Her Destruction

Destruction

15th. There’s still time.

Give It The Axe

snacks relax slacks
sax backs ax
stacks packs climax
earwax syntax cracks
wax max galax parallax

Word Of The Day

I hadn’t planned to continue the word of the day this month, but I love words and I just read the word lambent. I had to look it up and it’s wonderful, so:

Lambent- adjective

  1. running or moving lightly over a surface: lambent tongues of flame.
  2. dealing lightly and gracefully with a subject; brilliantly playful: lambent wit.
  3. softly bright or radiant: a lambent light.

Editing Focus

So we’ve read through our draft and what do we do first? Grab an axe and kill our darlings. I wish I had done this with my first novel; it would have saved me a lot of time.

The first step in our editing process, after reading the draft, is removing everything that isn’t essential to the story. Make a new file for saving everything you’re about to cut and let’s get to work.

The first question to ask is, does the story start in the right place?
Many authors find that their story really gets going in the second chapter. Can you delete the first chapter? Perhaps put the most important part of Chapter One in as a flashback, memory or dialogue?

Next, is there a subplot, or secondary/tertiary character that doesn’t add to the main plot?
In one of my novels, I have a secondary character who a friend of mine likes so much, he wants to include him in his novel, like a cross-over. However, if I don’t tie him into the main plot better, he’ll be getting the axe.

Where did the story lag?
Where were the parts of your story that, if you weren’t the author, you would have put the book down? Get rid of them. Off they go to the chopped folder.

After you’ve found chapters to chop, take that axe, or sledge hammer or excavator if you prefer, to any scenes, dialogue or other large chunks of text that are not essential. Enjoy your demolition! Soon comes the remodel.

#FlashFicHive

FFH day 8

graphic Anjela Curtis

I own copies of Elf and Gremlins, so for today’s flash fiction challenge, I’m going to take the first line and a line or event from the middle of each film to come up with my story idea. I’ll most likely add an axe to stay with today’s theme. This should be fun!

Don’t Forget To Read!

Poetry! Poetry is important reading for all writers. Are you reading from a poetry site, or do you have some poetry books you’re reading right now? Who is your favorite poet and why?

In The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know by Shawn Coyne, he mentioned Chilean author Roberto Bolaño as an example of a literary author a publisher would be searching for. I haven’t read any of his work. I’m looking forward to diving into The Unknown University, one of his books of poetry.
I also look forward to reading his novel The Savage Detectives: A Novel when I have finished the stack next to the bed.

Happy Reading and Writing!

#FD2017 Final Days Of 2017 Day 7: A House Full Of Water

clear angel

#vss very short story

Barbara trusted the angel on the porch. When her stomach glowed turquoise, it meant the holy spirit had impregnated her, again. This morning, she had expected it. The strange lights in the sky last night and the strange, uncomfortable dream were almost exactly the same as last time. She only hoped that this time she had a baby, instead of that octopus-praying-mantis-like creature that had slithered out of her and crawled away without so much as a second look.

Writing Prompts

I want to thank Colette Coen for her blog post informing about Creative Writing Ink Writing Prompts. Creative Writing Ink provides beautiful photo-prompts weekly and invites you to link your stories to their page to enter a free monthly contest.

They also have listings for other writing competitions!

Today’s Poetry Prompt and Poem

I’m beginning to think my house is trying to drown me. It is determined to fill up with water. Last week (it is hard to believe I was still doing NaNoWriMo just last week) the bottom of my hot water tank started pouring water all over the place filling the utility room floor and pouring into the carpet in the hallway. Yesterday, I walked into standing water in my bathroom. The hose behind the toilet ruptured and was spraying a stream of water sideways with a curious hissing sound. If I had gone on vacation, starting last week, I would have come home to a house full of water. Thus, today’s theme.

Today’s prompt: The image from Creative Writing Ink prompt from October 5th goes well with today’s theme. Write a poem inspired by the image or the theme A House Full Of Water.

A House Full Of Water

When it rains it pours
Around the windows and under doors
Pooling in carpets and on linoleum floors
Finding the vacuum that nature abhors.

Streams and trickles becoming a flood
Clusters of dust turning to mud
Protection from elements the home’s life-blood
Now my  charge with towels I scud

The offenders replaced, I find a reprieve
The water’s back on, all is well, I believe
But every pipe and connector is out to deceive
A house full of water is a house I can’t leave

 

Editing Focus

Today, I will finish reading through my draft. I also have a few books on editing to pick up from the library, so there should be a lot to work with tomorrow.

#FlashFicHive

FFD7

graphic by Anjela Curtis

■ Day 7 TIP ■ from Anjela Curtis-Today is a day to share any one or several flash fic ideas or premises you have been pondering. Post perspective lines, dialogue, etc…or as always, post an entire flash tale. But, no pressure! 🐝

Today’s Oblique Strategy:

Go to an extreme, move back to a more comfortable place

Happy Reading and Writing!

 

Butterflies For Christmas #FD2017 Day 6

Butterflies for Christmas

Yesterday morning there was a full frost and my neighbor went water-skiing in a puffy winter jacket. This gold-glitter butterfly is the representative of a similar dichotomy. Butterflies are usually the symbol of Spring, renewal and Easter, but here we are at Christmas ornament.

This ornament  reminds me of deep-fried rosette cookies. My mom bought me a set of irons when I was a kid and would let me make the delicate, powdered-sugar-covered delicacies. It was a sad day when I realized they didn’t taste good and I just liked the sizzling bubbles making a 3-D shape.

#vss very short story

Dana’s left index finger traced the scars on her right forearm. She could almost feel the butterfly from her rosette cookie iron about to emerge.

Today’s Poetry Prompt and Poem

Today’s prompt is from Morgan Dragonwillow’s Wild and Juicy Writing prompts

Read. Dance. Write. Repeat. #365RDWR

Enjoy a moment of whimsy

Words to inspire your poem:

  • whimsical
  • fun
  • spontaneous
  • mischievous

 

Whimsical, Mischievous and Spontaneous

Hi, why shy wish him his
Calm caws lash ash as awls

Miss his chums vices, she chimes
Mouse house hive homes chives
Voices issue ice moves coves

Stone spots span sane tones
Notes snap no one naps
Soups on tap, use anon
Atone spent spoons upon ten

 

Editing Focus

Today, I will attempt the hardest thing: I will read through my finished draft for fun. And this time, unlike any time I have read through a draft, I will not stop until I am done. I will not think of myself while I read through the story. I will not stop to take notes. I will not get frustrated. I will read through the whole thing without judgement. That all comes after.

#FlashFicHive

Today’s challenge is to tweet  “Should the MC of my next or current flash story be an ex-con with magic powers?” to @8BallTweets. Here’s my tweet:

Ask the magic 8 ball

So I guess we know who I’ll be writing about. Let’s see if magic 8 ball can tell me what my MC is up to:

Uses his powers to help

Don’t Forget To Read!

Yesterday, I opened up some documents I have been collecting in a file called Writing. I found gems in there:

For today’s reading challenge, take a look through your writing files. What gems have you been collecting? Read some of them.

Happy Reading and Writing!

Final Days Of 2017 Day 5: Eye For A Lie

jingle bell

This single jingle bell isn’t exactly funny on its own. It depends who is wearing it and how, or where you put it, or what song you try to play with it. Use your imagination. I bet you can turn this single jingle bell into a very odd decoration indeed.

I know the photo’s a little blurry, but I love how the shadow looks like earbuds. Imagine it’s moving because it’s jingling.

#vss very short story

Sarah heard the jingle of the bell and froze. She didn’t know why she kept trying to steal Santa’s cookies. His elf caught her every year. She was perpetually on the naughty list.

Today’s Poetry Prompt and Poem

Today’s prompt was inspired by last year’s Christmas Eve prompt on Poems for the Writing. Their prompt came from a submissions call from Three Rooms Press’ Maintenant, a dadaist magazine, Issue 11.

Dada rejected reason and logic, prizing nonsense, irrationality and intuition.

Today’s prompt: Make a collage using images and words to create a Dadaist poem with the theme EYE FOR A LIE.

Eye For A Lie

EYE FOR A LIE

But now,
Shouldn’t be doing those things,
but that’s OK.
I could ask you people–
you know, is it the worst you’ve seen
once it’s done–it was my original theory

Once you’ve won, once you’ve done it,
and they’ve done it, once you’ve done it,
there’s a lot less pressure.
It’s like a surreal experience,
in a certain way,
but you have to get over it,

This is actually the heart, though.
a good–he’s a good boy.
We keep it interesting.
But so we’ll see what that’s all about.

But once you get that motion, it’s in
It’s hard to get in, but once you get in
So we’re going to see.
Once you’re there, you can, you
know, Gerard–
oh, say hello.

 

Editing Focus

from Revision And Self-Editing (Write Great Fiction) by James Scott Bell
Scenes- look at your scenes and try to find ways you can ratchet up the tension a few degrees. Can you:

  • Make the stakes more important?
  • Make the incidents more challenging?
  • Bring in a surprise character?
  • Have the setting or weather provide an obstacle?
  • Make the odds greater?
  • Make the characters care more?

#FlashFicHive

flashficday5

graphic by Anjela Curtis

It’s time to put some of my ideas to work. I think I’ll story cube, writer’s emergency pack and oblique strategies again. Let’s see what I’ll be writing today.

Oblique strategy: “from nothing to more than nothing”

 

Today I rolled the story cubes one at a time from right to left starting with the fish. It looks like my story is about a fish asking a turtle about a bridge getting struck by lightning and catching on fire and according to the Writer Emergency Pack it’s the end of the world!

Don’t Forget To Read!

Another reading challenge from Revision And Self-Editing (Write Great Fiction) by James Scott Bell:

Reread a favorite novel and analyze:

  • how the author establishes a bond between you and the Lead (MC)
  • how the author establishes the objective and makes it super important to the Lead
  • how the author creates confrontation and opposition that is stronger than the Lead, thus creating tension
  • the elements that go into making the ending a satisfying one

Are any of those four elements weak? How would you do things differently and better?

I’ll be thinking about these elements while I reread Tourist Seasonand Bad Monkey by Carl Hiaasen.

bad monkey

Happy Reading and Writing!

Final Days Of 2017 Day 4: Two Of One Or One Of Two

dragon sticker ornament

This is an ornament I made myself. If you look closely, you may recognize the Victor Bilibin image I used for the back of my handmade Tarot cards.Koscej Nesmrtni by Ivan Bilibin

This ornament was made as an example of a simple craft one could do with stickers. For this one, I took 5 rectangular stickers and placed a piece of Seahawks ribbon in the center. Each sticker is folded in half and attached to two other stickers. When the stickers are all stuck together, the outer edge can be cut into a desired shape. In this example, a ball.

Though this example is not very Christmasy and was hastily (and shabbily) constructed. The concept is sound and a fun craft to do with kids. Maybe I’ll make some nicer ones for the tree this year.

#vss very short story

Harper couldn’t figure out why her mother kept saying decapitated dragons didn’t belong on the Christmas tree. Ever since she learned the story of St. George and the dragon, she was pretty sure decapitated dragons belonged everywhere.

Today’s Poetry Prompt and Poem

Today, I’m between examining my poems from the PAD Chapbook Challenge and getting my prompts for MoSt New Year’s Poetry Challenge, so I chose a prompt from Poets on the Page. This prompt from Morgan Dragonwillow felt appropriate for today:

What inspires you?

What keeps me going, keeps me writing poetry? It is to understand life, to see it through the lens of my words, to see where they will lead.

What keeps you going?

Prompts:

What was the last photo you captured? Write for ten minutes about the photo. What emotion does it convey? What draws you in?

Word Prompts:

Inspiring
flow
capture
camera

This prompt inspired me to go out and take some pictures and I am so glad I did. The light was perfect!

Two Of One Or One Of Two

Inspiring reflection
Attempts to capture light
Ever changing in natures flow

I stand at the horizon
Neither above nor below
Feeling the vast distance the light travels

Water and sky meet in light
Mirroring mountains, clouds and trees
I see soundscapes in the patterns

Frequencies imagined by my inner ear
To hear the music of the mountain and the trees
Joined by the light on the water through clouds formed by water in the sky

Editing Focus

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

Take a look at each of your minor characters. Make sure they are each unique with their own voice and visual distinction.

For each minor character, ask:

  • What is his purpose in the story?
  • What audio-visual markers can I attach to her?
  • How can I make each marker more unique or memorable?
  • What plot possibilities–a twist, a revelation of my protagonist, a setup, a premonition, a mood–does the character offer?
  • How can the character irritate my protagonist? Or help her in a unique fashion?

#FlashFicHive

For yesterday’s challenge, I worked on a couple of ideas for the 53-Word Story Contest over at Prime Number Magazine. The theme for the month is: A story about a box. I will be brainstorming more stories around this idea. And will post the best lines from the non-entrants for the retweet swarm today.

FlashFIC day4

graphic by Anjela Curtis

Today’s themes are:

SICK ✨ RUN ✨ STRONG ✨ TWINKLE ✨ FED UP ✨ PROTAG’S BIGGEST FEAR

monday writing events

graphic by Mica Scotti Kole

Don’t Forget To Read!

Reading short stories is a great way to get some reading in when you’re feeling short on time. I’m enjoying a couple different short story collections this month:
Five-Carat Soul by James McBride
and
The Best of Talebones edited by Patrick Swenson

What short story collections are you reading? Do you like a short story collection you would like to recommend?

Happy Reading and Writing!

#FD2017 Final Days Of 2017 Day 3: Pretty, Naughty Pig

pig decoration

This little piggy was not created as an ornament, but has been donned by many of my “Christmas Trees” (in quotes because instead of a tree, I have used a hat rack, or gathered fallen branches).  A festive and naughty pig, note the Mardi Gras beads and dirty feet, perhaps she represents the greed, gluttony and commercialism that threaten the true meaning of the season. Or maybe, she’s just a very fun pig.

#vss very short story

When she finished decorating the tree, Martha enjoyed a well deserved moment to herself. She put on some Christmas music and plugged in the lights. Blowing  steam from her fresh cup of cocoa, she felt warm in the joy of the season. She was pulled from her Christmas cocoon by a whisper of snorts and giggles. She followed the noise to her tree. She should have known better than to put Mardi Gras pig by boa-sparkle-pants Santa.

Today’s Poetry Prompt and Poem

Today’s prompt is from PAD Chapbook Challenge Day 4

For today’s prompt, take the phrase “Whosoever (blank),” replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then, write your poem. Possible titles include: “Whosoever Objects to This Union,” “Whosoever Wants to Eat My Candy,” or “Whosoever Doesn’t Wash Their Hands After Flushing.”

 

Whosoever Is Trespassing Here

Whosoever is trespassing here
Be ye thief or hunter, or even reindeer
Let it be known that you’re in the wrong
This be the place you do not belong
And hear ye this, my solemn vow
Thy presence I will not allow
Away with thee, run quick with fear
Whosoever trespasseth here

 

Editing Focus

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

To deepen the character during revision try: The Pull-Back Technique

  1. Brainstorm a list of your Main Character’s (MC) traits.
  2. What is an absolutely extreme action your MC could take because of or guided by this trait. List at least five for each trait.
  3. Are these actions too extreme? Would your MC taking this action impact the plot too much? Try to find some you could incorporate into the story without impacting the plot.
  4. For the actions that were too extreme, try pulling back 25%. Now can you use them?

Example: My MC is a perfectionist. Extreme actions could include:

  1. Missing his grandson’s soccer game because he spent an entire day trying to remove every piece of clover from the lawn.
  2. Yelling at his son because he returned the screwdriver to the wrong hook in the garage.
  3. Missing his daughter’s wedding because he didn’t like the crease in his pants and had to return them to the rental.
  4. Leaf-blowing fir-needles off of the driveway in the rain until every single one is off of the pavement.
  5. Laying out his clothes for the next morning even though he is retired.

In this example, I could probably use 1, 4 and 5 as they are to show his extreme behavior. Number 2 could fit, if I use the Pull-Back Technique. He could notice the screwdriver out of place and use it as a “teaching moment.” He could call his son into the garage and ask him what was wrong with the screwdriver, or what he was thinking when he put the screwdriver where he did. This would give the reader insight into the MC’s mindset and also show his relationship with his son. I’m guessing his son does not appreciate his father’s need for perfect placement.

#FlashFicHive

flashfic3

graphic by Anjela Curtis

Today’s a great day to write a flash fiction story. I am going to start loading my very short stories to Hit Record. As I do, I’ll look for one to develop into a longer piece today.  Look for my favorite lines at #FlashFicHive on Twitter later this evening.

Don’t Forget To Read!

I have a friend who has recently finished his first story that he is interested in publishing. He asked me how to submit his story and my response was READ! He needs to read as many literary magazines as he can find. He needs to read tons of short stories. He needs to read his favorite literary magazines’ submission pages, carefully. He needs to read interviews with the editors of those magazines.

Because I’m writing poetry and flash fiction this month, I need to read magazines that feature these forms. I’ve written about some great flash fiction magazines this year:

New LitMag+

LitMag+ The Sequel

More flash fiction magazines:

24 Magazines for Flash Fiction

Daily Science Fiction

Advice for writing flash fiction:

Flash Fiction: What’s It All About

Flash Fiction/The New Yorker

I found a list of literary magazines recommended for poetry. I plan to read them extensively: Best Places to Submit Poetry

Happy Reading and Writing!

#FD2017 Final Days Of 2017 Day 2: Explore Your Preface

safari angel

safari angel back

I know what you’re thinking. Why is that a silly ornament? It’s a pretty angel. A nice silver ornament. But take a closer look. What’s she wearing that hat for? Is she going on safari? And what is she doing? Smashing some vines into a crescent moon? And what’s going on with her neck on the back there? And with the robe hanging down, that back is hilarious. It looks like a swan stuck in a tablecloth trying to fly through the letter O.

#vss very short story

Stacy’s prom took an odd turn when a swan, the opposing team’s stolen mascot, got loose and during its chaotic attempt to escape became entangled in the buffet table’s skirting. After pulling the snacks and punch bowl smashing to the ground, it flew through the large letter O of the Ooh La La lettering of the photo-booth. The motion-censored camera took a series of haunting photos of an angel that night–blurred by the light of her aura, of course–that made the rounds on the internet. At least if was a prom to remember.

Today’s Poetry Prompt and Poem

Today’s prompt is from the PAD Chapbook Challenge Day 23

For today’s prompt, write a preface poem. A preface is a super literary term as the term typically relates to books–usually as the opening statement or introductory remarks of a book. So I’m mildly surprised I haven’t used this prompt previously. However, I think it’s perfect for the chapbook challenge, because poets who are writing to a theme have an opportunity to write a poetic preface. Of course, stand alone preface poems are just as interesting.

I decided on my theme for my Chapbook last night, so I thought I’d tackle the preface poem today.

The Journey

In his ordinary world
Vines cover the arbor around the garden gate
He finds security in laboring from early to late
He is practical and thrifty, on the minimal he’ll skate
Thus never in a state of want

Then adventure calls
A discovery of surprise found at his feet
Questions so exciting they cause his heart to leap
Curiosity tears from scheduled promises to keep
Fear focusing his approach to love

And he would like to refuse
Ignore the nagging pull to find the answers
Turning people that he speaks to into dancers
Causing both parties to suddenly forget their manners
Making him a fish out of water

He listens to a friend
A trusted sounding board and mirror
Hoping he can make his actions clearer
As opposing forces begin to grow nearer
But he tells him it is his decision

Now there’s no turning back
He found a thief in the garage
The threat to his safety was not a mirage
He imagines a gearing up montage
His pocket knife returns to his pocket

Those he must oppose
All think he knows of their secret grave
They won’t all get the satisfaction they crave
To hold his ground he’ll have to be brave
Even as his family betrays him

He feels the darkness closing in
The lies and family secrets all laid bare
He begins to wonder if he should even care
Falsely believing his had a true love so rare
Why protect an illusion

He’s standing in rough seas
But the killers don’t know he’s lost his way
They still believe he has more to pay
They’re here to make him rue this day
He will have to fight

The mystery is finally uncovered
The meaning of the map and its origins revealed
A body to be recovered from an unmarked field
The threat of revelation no longer his to wield
The cost is death

Through sacrifice, survival
The enemies of his unknown enemies now friends
His lawn strewn with blood of lives lost to foul ends
The truth here set free forges time for amends
The physical pain will subside

He feels a need to resist
Like he should be angry at a life so unfair
But he can’t ignore that God answered his prayer
And had brought an end to this terrible nightmare
He will have to adapt and forgive

The healing waters flow
He has a new appreciation for other people’s trouble
No longer caught up in his perfect-life bubble
He feels new love; it burst through the rubble
Nothing can be the same

Editing Focus

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

The Character Voice Journal– Write stream-of-consciousness in the voice of your character. Mr. Bell suggests these questions to have your character talk about:

  • What do you care most about in the world?
  • What really ticks you off?
  • If you could do one thing, and succeed at it, what would it be?
  • What people do you most admire, and why?
  • What was your childhood like?
  • What’s the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you?

To continue this practice, there are three questions to ask your character in the Ask Your Character section of each of the Experience Writing daily posts in November.

#FlashFicHive

Flash Fic Hive Day 2

graphic by Anjela Curtis http://anjelacurtis.com/

Looking at these options, I still needed some inspiration. I rolled my Story Cubes:

And picked a card from my Writer Emergency Packand I chose a couple of Oblique Strategies (Creativity ideas from Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt): 1. Infinitesimal gradations 2. Decorate, decorate.

So what have I got for a flash fiction story idea?

The cashier from the dollar store promises to get the decorations and plastic instruments to her hair-dresser girlfriend’s house in time for her son’s birthday party. The clock is ticking and she has to get across town. As she’s locking up, she waves to the man staring at her from the car lot across the street. He comes right at her as if drawn like a magnet and picks the flowers out of the bank along the sidewalk and gives them to her. He tells her he has admired her from afar for almost a year. Yesterday, he found out he only has a month to live and he wants to know if she will go to dinner with him to bring some joy to his final days. She feels like she has been thrown into a game of Scruples. Does she tell him the truth, that she is attracted to women and in a loving relationship, or does she bring some joy to a dying man by spending a little time with him. What could it hurt? But there is a bee in the flowers and when she politely says thank you and goes to smell them, the bee stings her right in the eye. She thinks it’s the end of the world because she is allergic and she’s going to miss the birthday party. But the man, knowing she’s allergic to bees because he watches her every day and has made it his hobby to know everything about her, has an epinephrine auto-injector and stabs her right in the leg.

Don’t Forget To Read!

In Revision And Self-Editing (Write Great Fiction) by James Scott Bell, he recommends taking notes while you read. After you’ve read the book for pleasure and thought about it, got back and make index cards for each scene. Number the cards, give the setting, what the scene is about, and what, if anything, makes you want to read on. This exercise helps burn plot and structure into your mind.

He also recommends recording your observations. Jotting down any technique you appreciate or insight you have while you read. When you see a technique, or find one in a writing book, practice it. Incorporate it into your own writing.

If you’re interested in using this technique of reading to improve your writing, grab a copy of my study guide-Read to Write: Conflict and Suspense.

What book are you reading today?

Happy Reading and Writing!