B is for Banausic and Bickham – Craft Book Review: Jack M. Bickham Double Feature

banausic beauty

banausic: adjective – relating to or concerned with earning a living; utilitarian; mechanical; practical. Not operating on a refined or elevated level; mundane.

Why Stand By?

I heard a scuffle on the sidewalk below
You put down your glass and walked to the window
She saw a hussy in a public embrace
He saw a man gettin’ his
We heard her scream
They turned back to the TV

I grabbed your glass and brought it to the window
You took a sip and poked your head out
She yelled, “Let that woman go.”
He finally called the police
We watched and waited
They turned off the lights

They were too late
We took one last look at the body
She had bled out
He was never found
You refilled your glass
I contemplated banausic windows

Today’s NaPoWriMo theme was the I, or the speaker of the poem. I thought it tied in well with witness testimony which I am studying in an online forensic psychology class through futurelearn.com

I also found inspiration in National Book Award Winner Lighthead: Poems (Penguin Poets) by Terrance Hayes, especially “Lighthead’s Guide To Addiction” and “Satchmo Returns To New Orleans.”

tools of physical labor

Craft Book Review

I first came across Jack M. Bickham‘s name while reading Crafting Dynamic Dialogue: The Complete Guide to Speaking, Conversing, Arguing, and Thinking in Fiction (Creative Writing Essentials) from the editors of Writer’s Digest. His book Writing novels that sell was mentioned in a section called Parent-Adult-Child which talked about three primary roles people/characters occupy in life.

My local library didn’t have that book, but did have Scene & Structure (Elements of Fiction Writing) and Setting (Elements of Fiction Writing), so I picked them up instead. They are both part of a series called Elements of Fiction Writing 5 Volume Set (Beginnings, Middles & Ends – Description – Setting – Characters & Viewpoint – Scene & Structure)

Setting

My Expectations: A while back in a critique meet-up, I  heard people talking about active setting. I hadn’t read A Writer’s Guide to Active Setting: How to Enhance Your Fiction with More Descriptive, Dynamic Settings by Mary Buckham yet, so I still wasn’t clear what sort of magic made setting active and hoped this book might clear that up.

Intended Audience:
All fiction writers, but it may be a little advanced for early beginners.

What I liked: It was fun to learn about setting from the man who wrote Twister which  has a vibrant setting and uses setting (weather) as a character. Not only did this book answer my questions about active setting, it inspired me, through straight-forward exercises, to think about setting differently in my novel. This book really clicked for me and helped me understand aspects of setting that I hadn’t thought of before.

What I didn’t like: The writing is very dense. Though the book isn’t very thick, it’s a slow read. Definitely worth it because I really felt aha! moments, but it felt like mining through thick stone to get to the gold.

Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ 4/5 I recommend this book.

Scene & Structure

 My Expectations: Because I had such a good experience with Setting (Elements of Fiction Writing), I had high expectations for this book. I looked forward to seeing what sort of clarity Mr. Bickham could bring to my understanding of plot.

Intended Audience: Writers of fiction. Perhaps most useful to someone planning a novel. Though I plan to use his order of component segments of scene and sequel to evaluate my scenes during revision.

What I liked: This book did not disappoint. Mr. Bickham’s presentation and explanation of scene and sequel were eye-opening and gave me lots of ideas to evaluate and improve my draft.

What I didn’t like: This book, even more than setting, felt like a lot of reading for the amount of useful information. However, the information is so useful, that it makes it completely worthwhile.

Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦  4/5  I recommend this book.

 

Happy Reading and Writing!

I’ll see you tomorrow.

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#NaNoWriMo Day 5: The Refusal and the First Week Sunday Summary

Day 5
Word count: 9,270 words
Word count goal: 10,000 words
Mapping the Hero’s Journey: The Refusal
Save The Cat: Debate

Today, I dove into my surreal images folder on Pinterest. Today my character will be convincing himself that his ordinary life is better than the call to adventure. He’ll be considering the structure he has created that constitutes his home and relationships.

Plotting with Tarot

Today’s Hero’s Journey reading is The Refusal. The center card is The Refusal card, the one to the left is your MC’s biggest fear about the Call to Adventure. The card to the right the responsibilities that can’t be abandoned. It is why he can’t refuse.

The refusal.jpg

Page Of Cups – Deep personal relationships

Six of Cups Upside-Down – represents a relationship you’ve had since very young or a soulmate connection

King of Wands Upside-Down – Inspired creativity

My interpretation – This reading makes sense for my Main Character. He does not want to answer the call because he wants to stay home with his family and enjoy his retirement. The Six of Cups in the reverse position represents his fear of hurting or losing these relationships. The King of Wands in the reverse represents his daily responsibilities to others, not wandering into creative solutions, but the repetitive and expected behaviors that create trust in these relationships. His refusal has to do with maintaining what is expected of him, but he will have to respond to the call of adventure to maintain this daily life and protect his relationships.

Ask Your Character

  • What words of wisdom would you like to pass on?
  • Is there something you’ve always wanted to know, but never asked?
  • Is there something you’ve never told anyone, but want to?

Word Of The Day

eldritch: adj. eerie, other worldly, weird, spooky

8 Action Verbs:

acquired          built          continued          earned

grouped          litigated          produced            shaped

Poem prompt

Write a Constanza about doubt.

Threats to Fear

I sit and ponder deepest doubt
To lose the ones that I hold dear
For them to turn from me, my fear

I protect them, day in day out
If I should go who will fix things
Resist decay and loss time brings

And who will tend the little sprout
A stranger’s hand won’t be the same
A different voice his rage to tame

What if the soil dries up from drought
Wells of wishes not to be found
Who will tend the fertile ground

Too far away to hear the shout
I will not know when dangers near
Impossible these threats to clear

I linger here and ponder doubt
But know I have no choice to stay
I hope my heart will know the way

Awesome Sentence Challenge

noun (or noun phrase) + verb (or verb phrase)
Write a page full of two word sentences. Try to convey as much information as possible with only two words by using specific nouns and strong, active verbs.

Today’s Simple Task

Think of your favorite scene from any movie or TV show. What makes it so great? Try to incorporate its strengths into a scene you write today.

Warm-up Exercise

Have your MC write his or her will or manifesto.

Recommended Word Crawl

Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy crawl.

Sunday Summary

This was a short week. Hard to believe we’ve only been at this since Wednesday. How’s it going so far?  I hope everyone got a good start, but if you didn’t, there is no time like the present. Grab a prompt and write a scene.

Have you found any of these prompts particularly helpful? Is there something you would like me to add? What do you think of plotting with the Tarot?

For me, I’m finding that doing the reading and writing my daily poem, get me focused on the day’s scene(s). They help me focus on the characters I’ll be writing about, really diving into their feelings and motivations. Then, when I open up my story and start writing, the words flow. I feel more prepared and organized than I have in the past.

This week, in The Hero’s Journey, we’ll be hitting The Inciting Incident and heading into Act II. We’ll meet mentors, allies and enemies. Exciting! So many fun things to explore.

I hope you’ll continue to join me in 2017’s National Novel Writing Month adventure.

Happy Reading and Writing!

NaNoWriMo Tools

Novel in 30 Days Worksheet Index

The Character Name Generator

Mood Fuse

Cliche Finder

Free Writing Workbook

Random number generator

Virtual dice & coin flip

Pound-O-Dice

Waterproof PVC Playing Cards Set Pure Color Black Poker Card Classic Magic Tricks Tool ,54pcs/Deck

Oxford Extreme Index Cards, 3 x 5 Inches, Assorted Colors, 100 per pack (04736)

Post-it Super Sticky Notes, 3 x 3 Inches (Blue Monster)