dVerse Monday Haibun: Take a walk

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

black crust on stump

 

Self and Setting

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

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

 

curlinglording over

little white pills

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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.

#NaNoWriMo Day 8: Crossing The Threshold

Day 8
Word count: 14,783 words
Word count goal: 16,000 words
Mapping the Hero’s Journey: Crossing The Threshold
Save The Cat: Fun & Games

These images from different excursions I’ve taken, make me think of leaving the ordinary world, having to cross the threshold and embark on a physical and existential adventure. Where will your characters wander today?

#vss very short story

The brisk morning encouraged her to turn back to her comfy bed, but the slanted sunlight beckoned her to adventure. She pulled her scarf up around her nose and ears and trudged on.

Plotting with Tarot

Crossing the Threshold

Crossing the Threshold Card: Four of Swords upside-down –

Introduction: When the 4 of Swords reversed appears in a reading, you or someone very close to you is exhausted, on every level. This is not a time to push yourself beyond your limits, to do so now is to risk all that you have worked so hard for: your health, your work, your relationships. It’s more than okay to take a break. It’s critical now.

General: Generally, the reversed 4 of Swords means that in addition to feeling tired, you may be feeling a bit isolated. Do not look at this as a permanent situation. Allow yourself to rest, and know that the relationships and friendships that you need are coming. Take one step at a time. – from Psychic Revelation

What MC risks losing by Crossing the Threshold: Nine of Pentacles upside-down –

In its reversed position, the Nine of Pentacles suggests that you may be suffering from financial setbacks or you have experienced a loss due to unwise decisions or foolish actions. Your foundations may be about to give way. If they do, learn from your mistakes and build a more solid and secure foundation next time. – from biddytarot.com

Most compelling reason to cross the threshold: Queen of Wands – Desire. If she wants something, she draws it into her life. If she wants information, she’d go out and get it.

My interpretation:

I’m having a little trouble with The Four of Swords reversed for a Crossing The Threshold card. Since it’s reversed, maybe it means this is not a time for rest, that my character needs to take action. When he does take action, he risks losing his foundation. He may experience loss do to unwise decisions and foolish actions. The third card, The Queen of Wands makes total sense for this reading because my character has a mystery on his hands and is driven to find answers.

Ask Your Character

  • What is your worst memory from grade school?
  • Are you still friends with anyone from that time?
  • Was there a teacher or teachers who had a particularly strong influence on your life?

Word Of The Day

sanguine: adj. cheerfully optimistic, hopeful, or confident 2. reddish; ruddy (complexion)

8 Action Verbs:

adjusted            caused           convened           effected

helped           managed           protected           simplified

Poem prompt

Run around your house and grab 5 items that all begin with the same letter. Write a poem as an ode to one of these items or that includes these items. – from Kelli Russell Agodon agodon.com
poetry prompt
I found the letter p: purse, pickles, paring knife, pot and pincushion. I think I’ll pair them with some action verbs like protected, produced, processed and play.  I’ll also add some emotions like passion, pride and patience.
Ode to a Pincushion
This is the pincushion that belonged to my mother
Its dangling strawberry escaped long ago
The pins in its flesh protected with pride
A motley collection of proof of trade plied
A hand-me-down tomato filled with love
Memories filled with patient instruction
Needles of creation, processed reflection
Holding textiles in place to be molded perfection
This is my pincushion, I won’t use another
It somehow stayed with me when all was lost
Holding together the edges that fray
I return to it daily, my passion at play

Awesome Sentence Challenge

Free Play with Phrases:

In separate lists, collect some noun phrases,some adjective phrases, some verb phrases and some adverb phrases. From each list, pick a phrase and put them together to make a sentence.

Here are the lists I collected:

Noun phrase Adjective phrase Verb phrase Adverb phrase
The sight of his face Very pricey but really beautiful Crossing boarders With ease
His roiling emotions Quite small but cheap Seducing and performing In a minute
The foolishness of her actions Covered in mud Running yourself ragged After the game
A person of passion Cowering in the corner Take it easy Every day
A pause in the battle Older than dirt Get some rest On the count of three
The agony and the ecstasy Exquisitely graceful Mastering the beast Over the lake
The headline entertainer Heaviest of all Conquering fear Under the sea
The grunting of the engines Neatly pressed Marshalling your forces Through the window
The noises of the tires High overhead Pick up the reins and drive After the sun set/ before sunset
The clock on the mantelpiece So low only she could hear Pulled one way or another Only two days ago
The belt of her robe Rattled like loose teeth Leveled at my temple As if he understood
Her father’s eyes Dotted with strip malls and gas stations Tripping an alarm system Down the road
The back of her neck Open all the way Considering the situation In the forest
The glass creatures Facing the light Developing a rapport Whenever he remembered
Old people Pressed tight Deployed about the room Through the garden
A piece of trash Floating in the air Gone out for a walk With needle and thread
The neighborhood that bordered the park Like kings Wasn’t parked Back and forth
The darkened room Like a motorcade Read the article and cursed Under his breath
The grandmother Ashleigh never knew The color of the margins of the Declaration of Independence Folded her arms Across her chest

So let’s see what kind of amazing sentences come out of this mess:

  1. His roiling emotions, so low only she could hear, picked up the reigns and drove across her chest.
  2. The agony and the ecstasy, rattling like loose teeth, tripped an alarm system under his breath.
  3. The back of her neck, the color of the margins of the Declaration of Independence, pulled one way or another with ease.
  4. The belt of her robe, open all the way, leveled at my temple after the sunset.
  5. The clock on the mantelpiece, quite small but cheap, considered the situation on the count of three.

I can see how this could be a great tool for coming up with some interesting sentences. My collection appears to be leading me toward the naughty. Maybe my character has other plans than the ones I intended.

Today’s Simple Task

Have your MC observe something from a different perspective physically (from above, from below, through a filter) and/or emotionally.

I was inspired to write this prompt by a Wednesdays Visual Writing Prompt on Mundus Media Ink by Michelle Rene Goodhew

Warm-up Exercise

Set your timer for 10 minutes. Write in first person from your MC’s perspective in your MC’s voice. Your character has been grossly betrayed by a close friend or family member.

Recommended Word Crawl

Bookshelf Word Crawl A little extra encouragement to explore your TBR (to be read) pile.

Don’t Forget To Read!

For today’s Awesome Sentence Challenge, I collected phrases from:

Mapping the Hero’s Journey With Tarot: 33 Days To Finish Your Book by Arwen Lynch

Lunatics by Dave Barry and Alan Zweibel. I am loving this novel. It’s a fun read about two people who are thrown into one crazy misunderstanding after another.

The Creative Tarot: A Modern Guide to an Inspired Life by Jessa Crispin

The Hiding Place by David Bell. I found this one when I started research for this year’s NaNoWriMo novel. I’m hoping it will be a good comp (comparison novel) when I finish and start to query.

Extra Challenge

Write a scene that demonstrates a flaw your main character has.

Today’s an exciting day. Today, the adventure begins!

Happy Reading and Writing!

#NaNoWriMo Day 3: Call To Adventure

Day 3
Word count: 4,393 words
Word count goal: 6,000 words
Mapping the Hero’s Journey: Call To Adventure
Save The Cat: Set-up, Catalyst, Debate

I love these images. The one on the left makes me think of the fool card from the tarot, jumping into his new adventure without worry of what’s ahead. The other two images make me think of going on a group quest. Each character’s strengths adding to the others’ to conquer every conflict thrown their way.

#vss very short story

The hinges creaked as he opened the door a crack. There was a whole world of unknowns out there. A gust of wind forced the doorknob from his hand and flung the door wide. He stepped.

Plotting with Tarot

nov 3.jpg

For today’s reading, I’m back to focusing on my main character. Today he gets a call to adventure. Something happens to draw him out of his Ordinary World.

Call to Adventure: King of Cups – an intellectual approach to love

What is happening when the call comes or your MC’s goal before the Call to Adventure: Ace of Pentacles – a new sense of security found through work and determination

Why your MC would consider the Call to Adventure: Nine of Cups – self-sufficiency, doesn’t need an outside source to tell him his work is good

My interpretation: My character’s Call to Adventure is a need for answers. He worries that his family is in danger and has a driving need to protect them. He is working on fixing a fence when the call came in the form of a piece of paper found in his garage. He considers answering the call because he is self-sufficient and feels responsible for everything that happens on his property.

Ask Your Character

  • What are the funniest stories your family tells about you?
  • What are the most embarrassing stories your family tells about you?
  • What’s a story your family tells about you that you hate?
  • What’s a story your family tells about you that isn’t true?

 

Word Of The Day

susurrus: n. whispering, rustling

The susurrus of dry leaves was like writhing snakes.

8 Action Verbs:

accounted for          brought           consulted          documented

governed                  licensed           printed              selected

Poem prompt

Write an ode to change. The change can be a change of scenery as in going on an adventure, an adventure into a new life, or any kind of change.

Twists of Fate

Our stories are but arrays of change
The joys and suffering these turns have brought
Hills and valleys as fate will arrange
Deliver conflict and suspense to every plot
Jealous hearts may wish to exchange
But they fill their minds with tortured thought
Fantasies malign to derange
When contrasts to one’s reality is sought
Happiness and self-worth may estrange
When forced revisions are wrought
Metamorphosis may feel strange
Along the path with dangers fraught

Awesome Sentence Challenge

Nominative Absolutes (also known as absolutes): is a noun phrase used as a sentence modifier. Try these five different ways of constructing nominative absolutes:

  1. noun or noun phrase + adjective: He sang, his voice low, while he pushed Billy on the swing.
  2. noun or noun phrase + present participle: He jumped, his jacket billowing like a parachute, into the mud.
  3. noun or noun phrase + past participle: The window, glass fogged from the heat of his breath, rattled in the wind.
  4. noun or noun phrase + prepositional phrase: Hands reaching out, Billy said, “up.”
  5. noun or noun phrase + noun or noun phrase: The woman, her grin a menacing rack of knives, motioned for him to join her.

Today’s Simple Task

Write a scene where your Main Character acts selflessly to help someone else (saves the cat, or dog or hamster).

Warm-up Exercise

Set your timer for 10 minutes. What was the last lie your Main Character told? Who did he tell it to? Why did he lie? How did he feel about telling it? Would he tell it again?

Today’s Recommended Word Crawl

Edgar Allan Poe’s Murder Mystery Dinner Party crawl

This crawl is based on a really cute show on YouTube featuring many classic authors. Each episode is about 10 min. long.

 

Other Blogs With Daily Writing Prompts

Putting My Feet In The Dirt:a list of prompts for each day

5 Fun and Useful Books of Writing Prompts from Rachel Poli

Day-by-Day NaNoWriMo Outline: Your 30-Day Cheatsheet from Christine Frazier at Better Novel Project

30 Daily NanoWriMo Prompts from K.L. Whightman

Wednesday Writing Prompt Challenge from TA Writes

Weekend Writing Prompts from Dave Farmer

Happy Reading and Writing!

National Novel Writing Month (#NaNoWriMo) Day 1: The Ordinary World

Day 1
Word count: 0 words
Word count goal: 2,000 words
Mapping the Hero’s Journey: The Ordinary World
Save The Cat: Opening image / Theme stated

Welcome to the first day of your new novel. Today is all about that opening scene. What is your protagonist up to when first introduced? What is her daily life like before the conflict of your story happens? What is the call to action of your story? What happens that creates conflict and makes your protagonist break from the monotony of routine?

Don’t forget to draw the reader in with rich sensory information. I’ll be focusing on smell and texture in my opening scene.

#vss very short story

After the crash, he spent days wandering the forest. His mind began playing tricks on him. He smelled Ivory soap everywhere, bringing the panic of being locked in that horrible bathroom.

Plotting with Tarot

reading nov 1

So let’s see what the cards have to say about my protagonist’s ordinary world. Thinking about my character, I draw a card. This represents his Ordinary World. Then I draw two more cards and place one to the left and one to the right. The card to the left is what my character loves about his Ordinary World; the one to the right is what my hero believes is lacking about the Ordinary World. It’s what bothers him.

Ace of Pentacles – a new sense of security found through work and determination

The Magician – represents a new beginning- creativity and productivity and a connection to the divine.

Queen of Pentacles – practical and thrifty; knows how to make much with very little; as such is never in a state of want

My interpretation:

I hope this reading gives you some insight into the Ordinary World of your main character. Here is how I interpret this for mine. Please keep in mind that I am brand new to this and only using it as a plotting tool.

My main character has recently retired, but has strictly scheduled his time, volunteering and working at his investment properties. He was an engineer and now spends most of his time fixing things. The Ordinary World card, Ace of Pentacles, speaks to his new retired life and his new self-imposed rigid work schedule.

What he likes about his Ordinary World, The Magician, represents the projects he’s working on and the joy he finds working with his hands. He also finds community in his church and does not respect idleness.

What he doesn’t like, Queen of Pentacles, represents frustration that the things he fixes keep breaking. Something is always in need of repair. He feels like he is never making headway on his to-do list. It also upsets him that his investments of time and money don’t pan out for him. Sometimes he feels like the world is out to steal away every penny he has earned.

This is all great fodder for introducing my character. Now, I have to find ways to bring it into today’s scenes.

Ask Your Character

  • What are you proudest of in your life?
  • When have you felt most alone?
  • What are your hopes and dreams for the future?

Word Of The Day

autodidact: n. a person who has learned a subject without a teacher or formal training; a self-taught person.

8 Action Verbs:

One thing I’m constantly working on is using stronger and more precise language. Try to use at least one of these action verbs in your story today.

accelerated         balanced          consolidated          discovered

gathered             lectured            presented               scheduled

Poem prompt

In his book, This Year You Write Your Novel by Mosley, Walter (2009) Paperback, Walter Mosley said,

“Poetry is the fount of all writing. Without a deep understanding of poetry and its practices, any power the writer might have is greatly diminished.”

I ended up using some poems I wrote in my first novel. I recently read Mogens and Other Stories by Jens Peter Jacobsen and he included  a poem (in the form of a song) in every story. You never know what writing a poem will inspire. Throughout #Writober, my poems inspired my story ideas, so I hope poetry prompts with do the same for you.

I also found that combining many different prompts made for more creative poems. Can you combine one of the visual images with the word of the day, or something in the tarot reading and/or the action verbs?

Shadowpoetry.com has great explanations and examples of different poetry forms. I recommend trying a different one each day.

Today’s poetry prompt: Have your main character write a poem about his or her ordinary life. Let them express their current emotional state in a present tense free verse.

I Don’t Write Poetry

I would not write a poem, but
If I gathered up some words for today
And presented them in that kind of way
I might say my time is not meant for wordplay

I would not write a poem, but
I hear a loud squawking jay
Lazy bird stealing others’ eggs
Nature’s archetype of foul play

I would not write a poem, but
Let petals fall where they may
Life is a state of constant decay
But hard work helps the end’s delay

 

Awesome Sentence Challenge

Writing a novel is not only about writing an engaging story, it’s also about writing exciting and interesting sentences. So with the help of Spellbinding Sentences: A Writer’s Guide to Achieving Excellence and Captivating Readers by Barbara Baig, I hope to improve my sentences with a daily challenge.

Because today is about getting to know our protagonists, today’s challenge is about collecting language.

Sentence Challenge: Find your character’s voice – Imagine your character speaking. Make a long list of words s/he uses. Use the words to come up with sentences and phrases your character uses often. Discover a catch phrase or two.

I have a friend who started to do impressions of my family members. Whenever he voices my brother, he says, “Always a pleasure.” I hadn’t noticed my brother said that phrase, but now I can’t not notice it, and he says it a lot.

Since then, I’ve noticed my friend says, “I see,” and I say, “No problem,” way too much.

Do you know what your catch phrase is? Listen for it (Or not. Once you discover it, it’ll probably drive you nuts).

Today’s Simple Task

Today is not only about introducing your main character, you need to put that character in a setting; his or her ordinary world.  While describing the setting, describe an object you know will be important later in the story.

Warm-up Exercise

Set a timer to 15 minutes. What does your main character want and why? What’s the first thing they will do to get it? – prompt  by Diana Gabaldon (Nano poster)

Recommended Word Crawl

Something I have found fun and motivational about NaNoWriMo are the word crawls. They are story, or task related games that challenge you to reach your word goals. On the NaNoWriMo website go to the forums and find Word Wars, Prompts, & Sprints. There you will find different crawls that writers have created. Nice NaNoer CJ Grace put together a google doc with a bunch of crawls you can download and do offline if you like to unplug while you work. There is also a great list of crawls at wikiwrimo.org.

Today, I recommend Write Your Way to a Clean House word crawl. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to meet your word goals and have a clean house to start the week?

Final Challenge

Keep a notebook and pen on the nightstand, or somewhere you will grab it the second you wake up tomorrow. The moment you open your eyes, try to describe the last dream image of the night. Write everything that pops into your head for at least one page. And yes, I mean before your first cup of coffee.

So there it all is. A ton of fun ways to stay motivated today. All of these prompts are meant to get your ideas flowing and words on the page. Pick and choose what works for you. I hope you have the best NaNoWriMo ever. Check back tomorrow for more inspiration, prompts and fun. Now to the writing!

Happy Reading and Writing

#Writober Day 4: It was a dark and scary night

 

I love the eerie silence of today’s image. It screams, “Something nefarious is about to happen!” If you look very carefully, you are not alone. A person and a dog are up ahead. Are they walking toward you or away from you? Do they scare you, or will they come to your aid? I can’t wait to hear about the stories this image inspires.

#vss: very short story

The neon sign pulled me along the dark, silent sidewalk with its promise: Come Get That Action. However, the sign wasn’t meant for me. Hungry, pale lurkers awaited my arrival.

#OctPoWriMo

Today’s prompt: Between Clouds & The Water

Over at the OctPoWriMo website, today’s post poses a great question: Where does poetry hide? I think this works well with our visual prompt.

The Great Escape

Late at night on the glowing screen

Deep in cryptically labeled folders in folders

Tempests of swirling, spilled passions

Words that escaped frontal lobe prisons

Tunneling and burrowing through sewers

Risking life to leap walls

Razor-wired barriers of rules and fears

To be squirreled away for private eyes

This is where poetry hides.

 

#FlashFicHive

Retweet Storm: Post lines at a hashtag & quote-RT to #FlashFicHive

When I’m on twitter, I head over to Free Writing Events @writevent to find out about the day’s hashtag games for writers. They are a great editing exercise.

day 4 fic hive

Note: There’s a typo in the “Visit” honeycomb. It should say @writevent like my link above.

wed write events.jpg

Themes:

#WackyWed – make us laugh

#1LineWed – Light

#WFWed – Amusing

#WhyIWriteWed – Thanks

#TalesNoir – Horror/Genre mashup week

#WineWords – Smooth/Soft

#WeirdWriters – Vacation

So, there are a ton of options for publishing a line from today’s great #Writober story. Have fun sharing your lines!

While you’re on twitter, don’t forget to head over to #pessimisticmoustache and to share your isms to describe that street.

#JustCreateChallenge

Today’s image also works well with the #justcreatechallenge over at authorapril.com. Yes, I have found yet another great event for #Writober. April L. Taylor offers two prompts each day; one for writing, and one for an art project. Today’s prompts are about Setting and Perspective! Perfect, right?

 

I hope you find today’s prompts inspiring.

Happy Reading and Writing!