Dactyls Dactyls Everywhere: not a ptero in sight.

Edward Okun – Walc Chopina (Wikimedia Commons)

Conviviality

dance to the, dance to the
music of Chopin and
waltz with me, waltz with me
round a nice fantasy
keep up appearances
sentimentalities
backhanded compliments
blacking out promises

dance with me, dance with me
turning me endlessly
waltz to the, waltz to the
mockingbird murmuring
visitors’ vanities
blushing with jealousy
echoing, echoing
over the
wonderful fantasy

At the Moulin Rouge: Two women waltzing by Toulouse-Lautrec (Wikimedia Commons)

Today’s Meet the bar prompt at dVerse Poets Pub is to take a look at the waltz. I took this as inspiration to attempt a poem in dactylic meter. Dactyls are feet that are three syllables with the first syllable stressed, or long short short like a waltz.

Pleasure of Poetry

My previous post, the last in my redrafting demonstration, was about emulating a poem or poet. Today, the Poetics prompt at dVerse Poets Pub takes that to a whole new level. Laura challenges us to write a poem either about one of our favorite poets, or addressing a poet in direct voice. I think I’ll take a look at a couple lessons of the How Writers Write Poetry MOOC and see if one of the poets inspires me to write about or to them.

A Temporary Respite with James Galvin

May I share in your antidote?
I’ll approach with pleasure
pleasure of the somatosensory
alphabet that provides
temporary respite from knowing
we’re going to die

It will be delicious
delighting our senses five
We’ll get to hear beautiful musics
I won’t want just one
I’ll want another one
I’ll bring passion

I’ll drag it, pulling
against a leash
like a dog you don’t
believe knows or fears death
giving us something to survive for
giving us a chance to stay alive better

Great Balls of Fire! A getaway pegacorn happens!

Last week I found two Sunday writing prompts. Let’s see what they have for me today:

Poetic Bloomings‘ PROMPT #334 is “It Happens” and Mindlovesmisery’s Menagerie‘s Sunday Writing Prompt is “Great Balls of Fire”

I thought I would combine the prompts and was mid-freewrite with the ideas, but then something happened. 🙂

A photograph of an inflatable pegacorn, white with rainbow mane, wings, tail and horn on a blue lake.
Pegacorn leashed by Maria L. Berg 2021

Flying Free on the Slightest Breeze

I ran to save a pegacorn. It happens.
I jumped up and ran to my dock
expecting to intercept
but it surprised me

It didn’t stop. It flipped
in a flash, floating
on a slight breeze,
landing halfway

to the neighbor’s dock
It eyed me and its escape
one more flip
then gone

I sprinted through the weeds
ignoring the bushes grown together
I found footing over the sharp
wet rocks and leaped

over the watery gap
to the wobbly planks
in time, just in time
to grab

that mythical horse’s
horn and deliver
it to a thankful mermaid
ready for a flying adventure

An open rose with yellow, orange and red petals
Great Balls of Fire by Maria L. Berg 2021

Here’s the original poem of somewhat combined prompts:

Fireballs Happen

The great ball of fire commands the day
burns up the clouds for full display
brightens the blues, the greens, yellows, and pinks
and heats up the ant invasion

The great ball of firing neurons attenuate
to every black speck, ready to hate
the second it moves, obsessively out for the kill
if only this year it could end

The great ball of fire from ant-filled wood
each crackle a hope lifting my mood
they burned, they burned the entire glorious day
diminished, but never gone

As I admire the great balls of fiery rhododendrons
each tattooed blossom aflame in summer, my neurons
burn with hope that the bomb of toxins I desperately set
in the bathroom will push back

No! Destroy the enemy, so I may some day
bake and bathe undisturbed under the
great ball of fire in the sky

Stream of Consciousness Saturday (#SoCS): Run Yonder

Young boy running on grass.
Go go go photograph by Maria L. Berg 2021

Yesterday morning I happened upon Sammi Cox’s Weekend Writing Prompt. This weekly writing prompt offers a word prompt and a word limit. This weekend it is “Yonder” and the word limit is 44 words which I found familiar as it is the same as the dVerse Quadrille. I thought I would give it a go and remembered that it was Stream of Consciousness Saturday. The prompt was “run.” Those prompts could go well together, so I did some journaling.

I enjoyed the stream of consciousness writing and had some ideas for poetry but wasn’t ready to post yesterday. Today, I gave it another look and came up with a “yonder” poem of 44 words that I like.

Here is an excerpt of yesterday’s stream of consciousness:

. . . I used to love to run, through the woods around the lake, lil sjön in Sweden. Now, I run a few steps and I feel like I’ll die. So what “run” do I want to talk about? Colors run, mascara runs, people have the runs, a run in stockings, fingers run up and down scales, a keyboard, race to the finish, the rat race, sprint to the finish, flee from fear, run from a bad memory, from the past, run from the truth, run to love and hope, an embrace, someone’s arms, a familiar face, race to a banquet table, an all-you-can-eat buffet, “do you know where you’re running to? Do you like the things that life is showing you?” Run in place, on a treadmill, in a hamster wheel, run for the ball, run from the police, scatter, only have to run faster than the person behind you . . .

And here is the yonder quadrille poem I wrote this morning:

Ever Yonder

Beyond the hives filling with honey
and the rolling hills where we would roll too
through the soft, sweet grass that held us watching dawn
to the lapping waves against damp sand
we traveled so far to be here
where nothing became any clearer

Writer In Motion: A five week writing and revising challenge

Levi at work

Summer is here. The weather is gorgeous, but sweaty-hot. Levi and I are adjusting though motivationally-challenged. He gets away with napping and bathing all day, but my stories won’t write themselves. So, I found a challenge to keep me working through August.

For the next five weeks, starting August 1st, I will be participating in the Writer In Motion blog project. I’m excited to give it a try.

The Challenge

I will receive a prompt on August 1st and write a first draft of a story. Then I will revise it to a piece of flash (up to 1000 words) and read and provide feedback with other participants.

I will be posting each version here as I revise and talk about my revision process, so you can join in the experience.

By the end of the five weeks, I hope we’ll have learned how to turn a draft into an amazing story and be able to apply what we learn to our other work.

Anyone and everyone can participate. I hope you’ll join me.

 

Big changes to the pages: December Planner Pages. The end of the experiment.

December pages.jpg

For this final month of the planner experiment, I had a big think. I put way to much work into this to completely abandon the idea, but I also think I went about it backwards, or at least not exactly the right way.

What I have learned thus far

Yes, having a goal of 100 rejections on the year is a good one. It helps get you used to rejection letters which is part of the process of getting your stories published. And it gets you into the practice of resubmitting the story and not giving up. Perseverance is the word that keeps coming up in interviews with published authors, so there is no giving up, no matter how many rejections. So many rejections.

However, every editor of every magazine expects you to subscribe to the magazine, follow their social media, read all of their interviews and pretty much spend all of your time figuring out what they want to read, then write it perfectly and stunningly while being creative, but in the way they want it to be creative then pay a fee to submit it and unless you can read their mind, it still probably won’t fit the upcoming issue and thus will get rejected anyway.

After spending way too much money on literary magazines this year, and reading so many stories online, I learned some interesting things.

  • The majority of literary magazines aren’t magazines at all: they are books.
  • They are expensive books.
  • I liked very few of the stories I read in these expensive books.
  • When trying to read all of these expensive books, I got burned out and barely read any novels. Bummer.
  • Submitting to literary magazines is incredibly time consuming and energy zapping.

But this experiment still has one month left and I’m not completely giving up on it, so what to do?

This month’s changes

I took a look at my shelf of accumulated literary magazines and ended up with enough multiple issues of certain journals to make a study of it. On the pages, I took out the images and journal of the day and turned it into a journal of the week. It makes sense to me that every journal that I put my time into should pay its writers and I should read enough issues of the journal to find out if I would want my story in it.

While frantically trying to learn about all the journals and send my stories to as many as I could, I didn’t think about whether I liked the journals. I forgot to think about myself in the equation. I wanted my stories to find homes so badly that I didn’t think about the homes they might move into and whether or not they would like their roommates.

Instead of feeling rushed to get to know a journal per day which turned out to be a maddening pace. I want to take my time. Yesterday, I found a story in the latest Ploughshares that I liked, “The Caller” by Ian Stansel. Ploughshares is a tough journal to get to know because two of the three journals I have from this year had guest editors. But it’s time to try again.

The other problem I have with the journal of the day concept, other than fees and no pay, is the volatility. The information I provide can be incorrect by the time you get the file. However, if I only introduce four or five journals per month, the reader will have time to research the journal themselves and really get to know the journal before submitting. Along with this change, I’ve put only one spot for three submissions per week which feels much saner and doable.

Something I hadn’t included before which I have made the first focus this month if editing. I need to spend more time using what I’m learning from reading all of these short stories to improve my own stories, so I added a daily focus and daily editing goals. I hope we’ll find this change useful and inspiring.

The pages

So here are the last of the free daily planner pages of 2019. I hope you have had a productive and successful writing year. Were you published this year? Please leave links in the comments so I can read your successful stories and poems and promote them here on Experience Writing.

Fourth Quarter 2019 Planner Pages December new style

I had some fun with some fonts. I used Morris Roman and Deutch Gothic. Both are free to download and install.

I would love to hear what you think of the new pages. What do you find useful? What would you change? Do you like the new idea of one journal per week? Let me know in the comments. Thank you to everyone who tried out the pages and followed along with the experiment. I’ll have a wrap-up with my numbers and experiences submitting my stories this year.

Happy Holidays!

and Happy Reading and Writing!!

Approach to the moment of truth on #NaNoWriMo 2019 Day 19

abandoned in the rain

Image prompt: I imagined my main character revisiting the abandoned property on a rainy day, so I spent a little time taking pictures in the rain.

I like the title from Day 19 2017: Approach to the moment of truth. I’m feeling this on many levels. This week is going to be tough. I’ve already lost my momentum and I’m going to be completely distracted by the impeachment hearings, so I’m going to need to try some new things. I’ve cued up a Virtual Write-In for the break in the hearing. Virtual Write-ins have helped my word count in the past.

But it may also be that these prompts aren’t working for me every day. It was a good experiment and worked pretty well in the beginning, but this week I may need other inspiration. So if you don’t see these posts from me this week, I will hopefully find other inspiration to share.

#vss365: bust

He remembered small plastic busts of famous composers on the piano. Mama would play with them and arrange them. They became a clue into her mood. Kirk learned the connection and often consulted them as augurs.

Today’s Simple Task

MC micro-focused on today: What can s/he do in this moment? It’s time for arain in the bushes new and better plan.

→ This is a good exercise for me today. My MC is always hyper-observant and really exploring that will help develop his relationship with his environment. I also need to explore his plan before he left home and how it changes over time.

Warm-up Exercise

Set your timer for 5 minutes. Brainstorm all of your MC’s traits. Sort them into strengths and weaknesses.

Choose the trait you see as the main weakness. Set your timer for 5 minutes again and Cluster or Mind Map around that word.

Set your timer for another 5 minutes. Write a scene where this weakness becomes a strength.

→ This is a good exercise. Actually writing down traits and whether they are strengths or weaknesses and how, in certain situations, they can switch, helps add depth to the character and guide how he will act in unexpected situations. Doing this exercise helped me connect some of my MC’s backstory to his current perceptions and actions.

Word Of The Day

augur: v. to give promise of something to come later

I looked up this word again and am not quite sure why I chose the definition I did in 2017. Augur has all sorts of interesting definitions as both a noun and a verb (from dictionary.com):

noun

one of a group of ancient Roman officials charged with observing and interpreting omens for guidance in public affairs.
soothsayer; prophet.

verb (used with object)

to divine or predict, as from omens; prognosticate.
to serve as an omen or promise of; foreshadow; betoken: Mounting sales augur a profitable year.

verb (used without object)

to conjecture from signs or omens; predict.
to be a sign; bode: The movement of troops augurs ill for the peace of the area.

verb (used without object)

to argue, talk, or converse.

noun

an excessively talkative person.

British dictionary definitions

noun

Also called: auspex (in ancient Rome) a religious official who observed and interpreted omens and signs to help guide the making of public decisions
any prophet or soothsayer

verb

to predict (some future event), as from signs or omens
(tr; may take a clause as object) to be an omen (of); presage
(intr) to foreshadow future events to be as specified; bode this augurs well for us

My sentences using augur:

It was possible that the break-in was an attempted robbery, but the missing picture augured more personal attacks.

He felt the runny yolks augured coming disappointments.

He hadn’t imagined her as an augur during the first time they met, but this morning she wouldn’t let him get a word in. Maybe she had had too much coffee.

They augured in a style that implied an inside joke. It made him uncomfortable.

8 Action Verbs:

He felt like the appointed translator. He wished Oren would snap out of it, talk like a normal person, but that was impatience. He would have to slow down to make this work.

When in the tree house, they had collaborated on many stories. Kirk needed to remember them now, but he felt like that part of his memory was locked.

Everything felt decided without him. These were his decisions. Who was pulling the strings?

He exhibited signs of anxiety. Kirk wished he knew how to calm him. What had he done when they were young. Stories, Oren needed to tell a story. Kirk needed to listen.

Oren inspected the page. Kirk thought maybe he was getting through, making a connection. Oren ate it.

Kirk negotiated a sit down by bringing the dog a bone. Oren sat with him and they both watched the dog gnaw on it. It was a start.

The drawings represented his reality. Kirk had to adapt his perception. He needed to learn the rules of how Oren translated three dimensions to two. Each of the symbols was drawn over. Each symbol had more than one meaning.

It often felt like she wasn’t supervised. Kirk wondered if the sheriff was paying attention to his case at all.

Awesome Sentence Challenge

Connotations: I love this quote from Barbara Baig in Spellbinding Sentences: A Writer’s Guide to Achieving Excellence and Captivating Readers

If you imagine that putting a word into the mind of your reader is like casting a stone in a pond, then the denotation is the splash the stone makes as it hits the water, while the connotations of the word are like the ripples that follow the splash.

We did the first connotations exercise on Day 6, but exploiting the connotations of words to create ripples of meaning in the mind takes practice and skill, so lets do another one. Read your favorite author paying attention to words chosen for positive and negative connotations. Collect these words in a notebook and practice using them in your own writing.

Since today is full of impeachment hearings, I thought I would collect words from what I hear today and use the political partisanship as an exercise in the connotations and denotation of these words.

Collected words: hope, stakes, assistance, linkage, alarmed, investigations, inappropriate, sharp, rejected, credible, competent, professional, accusations, power, sometimes, full-throated, parallel process, relay, correct, accurate, separate process, understanding, receive-mode

I could do this all day and probably should, but receive-mode felt like a great ending. You can imagine how I’ll be playing with these words, their connotations and denotation.

 

raindrops

Happy Reading and Writing!

How to write the point of no return #NaNoWriMo 2019 Day 6

DSC01777

Day 6 (2017) is The Point of No Return

My protagonist definitely wants to refuse his call to adventure. How will he try to wriggle his way out of a request from the police? I highly recommend working through today’s prompts. They inspired me to explore new areas of character development.

#vss365: trim
He had feared this call would come, but trimming the budget wasn’t as bad as losing the job all together. He would have to lose the new hires, but where else could he cut corners? In this business, if he cut the corners too sharply, someone could die.

Today’s Simple Task

Show your Main Character’s greatest weakness. Put him or her in a moral dilemma.

What is Kirk’s biggest weakness? The guilt he feels over his brother’s accident? Or is there something else?

Warm-up Exercise

Set your timer for 10 minutes. Write about the last thing your character would ever want to do. Then write a scene forcing your character to do the last thing they would ever want to do. – inspired by prompt from Josie (NaNo poster)

This is a great prompt for me today. The last thing my character would ever want to do is set foot on the property where he grew up, but that is exactly what he has to do.

 

Word Of The Day

quixotic: adj. extravagantly chivalrous or romantic; visionary, impractical, or impracticable. 2. impulsive and often rashly unpredictable.

His movements appeared quixotic, but he was controlling his world.

8 Action Verbs:

Receiving the coroner’s report, didn’t add much new information, but it finally activated an official murder investigation.

Shawna felt he was telling the truth, but his answers were stilted, calculated. He was leaving something out.

Kirk appeared to have contracted something flu-like on the plane. His throat was burning. Until he could get some throat lozenges, he was sucking down breath mints.

He had often wished life could be edited.

Her questions guided him closer to the dark place he didn’t want to face.

She lobbied for more time, but the sheriff was ready to move on. “Wrap it up,” he said.

She told herself if she could just hold on until he retired, she would finally get promoted.

They shared a history, but their memories of those times couldn’t be more disparate.

Awesome Sentence Challenge

Explore connotations: Choose a word (may I suggest one of the active verbs or the word of the day) and look it up in your thesaurus (thesaurus.com). Pick one synonym that has positive connotations and choose one that has negative connotations and write a sentence for each one. Read the sentences aloud. Do the particular connotations of your chosen word influence how you write the rest of the sentence?

I chose contracted because it has a lot of different, interesting meanings.

As they tore down all of the trees and developed every acre of land, they forgot to widen the roads.
His thoughts were disordered. He had trouble putting events in a timeline that worked with  his reality.

Mapping the Hero’s Journey:

I didn’t get to my refusal scene yesterday, so I’m going to explore the refusal again.

The refusal card: Strength
MC’s biggest fear about the Call to Adventure: Five of swords
The responsibilities that can’t be abandoned. It is why he can’t refuse: Six of wands

My interpretation: My MC’s refusal is rooted in his idea that he has overcome his inner challenges and obstacles and found his inner strength. He fears facing what he left behind and worries he will find conflict, hostility and aggression awaiting him. But he can’t refuse his call to adventure because he has found strength and is confident and proud of what he has become. He needs to face where he came from to completely win his battles.

Because my example from 2017 went off-book, I went back to the book and took a look at the Refusal section. There, I took a look at the Story Template and decided to fill it in. Here’s what I have so far:

My hero, Kirk Bumke, started out in a world represented by the four of coins. Now he has been called to adventure by the five of wands. But he refuses because he doesn’t want his fortunes to change. He has finally overcome his challenges and found his inner strength. The worst thing that could happen if he goes is he could lose the natural gifts he has used to tame his world . The worst thing that could happen if he doesn’t go is his past could come back to bite him.

Happy Writing!

I hope you find some inspiration in these exercises. See you tomorrow.

#NaNoWriMo 2019 Day 5 – The Refusal

lamp ring

Continuing yesterday’s exploration of things that make me say, “What is that and what is it for?” I’m going to go with part of a lampshade? There’s gotta be a story as to why it’s in the lake, right? I hadn’t thought much about stagnant water on my abandoned property, but in this area, I can picture this image somewhere on the property in a low-lying area.

Day 5 (2017) is The Refusal

My protagonist definitely wants to refuse his call to adventure. How will he try to wriggle his way out of a request from the police?

#vss365: haze

He squinted, trying to cut through the haze. Movement caught his attention. A dark figure, growing larger, coming right at him, burst through the fog.

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.

This is a tough one for me. I’m not one of those people that has a favorite scene and memorizes it or anything. Hopefully something will come to me as I do my morning pages.

I took a look at Hot Fuzz and realized that the scenes I like the most are because of interesting edits and sound choices. I’ll be thinking about how I can use quick cuts, or stylized breaks to make my scenes more exciting.

Warm-up Exercise

Have your MC write his or her will or manifesto.

I think my antagonist would have some sort of manifesto, but my MC? Maybe when his mom died, he decided to write a will. I’ll play around with that.

Word Of The Day

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

Kirk hadn’t remembered a well on the property.  He pulled back the heavy, fir wood lid. Warm air rushed his face with an eldritch wail.

8 Action Verbs:

How they acquired the deed was never explained.

He could see now why they never built here. They only put things on top of this uninviting land.

She continued to stare directly into his eyes without blinking until he felt like he owed her something.

They earned it. They all did for taking away her boys.

He grouped the wrappers by color and only burned like colors at the same time. He imagined it made for less pollution from the smoke.  When he saw a rainbow, he thought that was because of his attention to detail.

It was never litigated in the courts because no one ever responded to the notices. No one bothered to even find out if the owners were still alive.

The art he had produced would have disgusted his parents, though as they aged they had probably discovered legal pharmaceuticals to add to their concoctions.

He had noticed the dung heaps upon his first visit, but had dismissed them as part of an abandoned property overtaken by nature. This, however, smelled fresh and was shaped like a cross. Kirk meant church, and because his Mom was always yelling random scripture about damnation, when he was younger mean kids called him church boy. Could this be a coincidence, his imagination?

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.

I really like this challenge. One of my goals for this draft is to use very specific nouns and verbs. I wrote a short story last year that was about an ornithologist and used specific names of birds, including the Latin names, to describe his world.

Since this novel takes place in Pierce County, WA, I want to use specific plant, flower and tree nouns that are in the area.  I also want to use specific anatomy nouns, specific tool and machinery nouns. A cat can be a Siamese or a Persian, a hat can be a beret to a fedora. So let’s see how I can use this to create interesting two word sentences that I can put in today’s scenes.

Shawna balked.
Oren spun.
Kirk paced.
Shawna bit.
Oren scratched.
Kirk lied.
Shawna stewed.
Oren left.
Kirk acquiesced.

Nature overcomes.
Ivy survives.
Nettles encroach.
Dandelions multiply.

Plums squished.
Pits stuck.
Robins feasted.
Crickets chirped.
Grasshoppers flit.

This is a great exercise. I could do this for hours. Short, precise sentences can help with pacing and emotion. The ones with my character’s names are the easiest to come up with, but I’m also enjoying the others. I think I’ll have some fun with my dictionary and other reference books.

Mapping the Hero’s Journey:

The refusal card: Wheel of Fortune
MC’s biggest fear about the Call to Adventure: Seven of coins
The responsibilities that can’t be abandoned. It is why he can’t refuse: Temperance

My interpretation: My MC’s refusal is rooted in his idea that his past was bad and by escaping it, he could change his fortunes. He fears that going back to where he grew up will turn all the good things he’s been able to build back to bad, that people may discover he’s a fraud and though he may be able to claw himself out again, just facing his past would be a big set-back. The reason he can’t refuse in the long run is because he knows he can’t avoid the truth anymore if he wants to find balance in his life he needs to recognize that what he sees as the opposing forces do not need to be at war with him. He will need to tread carefully.

Word Crawl

I found the Welcome to Nightvale crawl on the wrimo wiki. I remember enjoying it in the past. I thin I’ll do it today.

Preparing for editing along the way:

Inspired by Pat Verducci’s post Break Your Story- Index Card Style, I decided on how to color-code my scene cards. They are now color-coded by Story arc.

Blue: Main story line of my main character and his family present and past.

Red: My detective as she is working on the case.

Purple: Oren’s story

Yellow: My detective’s distractions in her personal life

Green: Other (& red herrings)- so far I used this for the opening scene because it establishes the setting, and the inciting incident, but the MC isn’t in the story yet.

Now that I’ve got my color-coding, I started my Story Grid using the same colors for the rows. I was very excited when I started doing this today. It feels good to be organized this year.

Master Class NaNoWriMo Group

Yesterday, after I finished my words, I thought I would head over to Master Class and watch some thriller writer videos while I worked on December’s planner pages. When I got there I was happily surprised to see that Danny Elfman has a Master Class. I was so excited that I started wandering around looking for the promo link to share it with everyone. While I was unsuccessfully doing that, I found that Master Class has created a NaNoWriMo Group. If you’re already enjoying classes on Master Class, you can cheer on other NaNo writers while you’re there. If you haven’t joined Master Class yet, I highly recommend it. It’s worth it for the Neil Gaiman class alone, but there are so many great classes to enjoy.

Happy Writing!

I hope you find some inspiration in these exercises. See you tomorrow.

#NaNoWriMo 2019 Day 4: Exploring the antagonist

What is that shiny liquid

This morning, because my story is about an abandoned property, I had some fun taking pictures of settings and things that make me say: What is that and what is that for? Like above: What is that pan for and what is that shiny liquid and what is that random hose for? If these objects were described in my story, how could they be used by my characters later on?

Changing things up

Yesterday, I enjoyed doing all the sentence exercises. I put them straight into my draft and figured I would write around them. That did not go exactly as I thought it would. It actually took extra time to reorganize things, extra time that took away from writing, so I’m going to approach this a little differently.

First, I’m reorganizing the prompts. I know me, I get started and then get side-tracked, so I’m going to start with the main prompts: Today’s simple task and the Warm-up Exercise.

I try to do Morning Pages (inspired by The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron)  in my journal every day, and I tend to come up with new ideas more readily when I’m writing by hand, so I’ll combine these prompts and my morning pages to use my time efficiently. Then, with my scenes for the day already started, I can move on to the sentence exercises and hopefully focus them toward today’s efforts instead of all over the story like I did yesterday.

Mapping the Hero’s Journey isn’t as interesting to me this year because I already have a pretty good outline, so I’ll move it down to the bottom of the list. I may still find unexpected ideas in the cards.

So here’s day 4, starting with another exploratory image:

What is that chicken soup can for

What is that can? Chicken soup? What is it doing there hanging out with a short piece of PVC and some great gnarly branches?

Day 4 2017 is the antagonist’s call to adventure. Set-up, catalyst, debate.

My antagonist’s call to adventure is the discovery, but also that his brother has come back to town.

I like the idea that my antagonist would keep a detailed journal and that his brother finds it.

#vss365: crop

He was startled by voices and gravel-kicking footsteps. He hid behind the shed. A new crop of the morbidly curious had arrived, phones out, talking, but not to each other.

Today’s Simple Task

Show antagonist’s goals, needs and desires.

I started listing my antagonist’s goals, needs and desires and ended up writing a very important scene that defines my antagonist’s behavior. This was a great exercise.

Warm-up Exercise

Set your timer to 20 minutes. Write a scene where your protagonist and antagonist share a meal. – from Anna C. (NaNoWriMo poster)

I’ve written this scene in all of my novels which makes sense because my protagonists and antagonists tend to be in the same family unit. Today’s meal is going to be different, however. I’m thinking fast food in a car.

Word of the day: After the accident, his temperament completely changed. He became bellicose, angry at the smallest perceived slights.

Action verbs:

What had he truly achieved by running away? He could have made commercials here. He might have even found real director’s work across the border. No he had achieved stability, sanity, the bit of normalcy he had always longed for.

Kirk hadn’t budgeted for an over-priced plane ticket and an extended stay, but he would have the pay for the last commercial when he got back, so a little debt wouldn’t hurt.

The last time Oren had contacted him, he had begged him to come home. He had said something about finally defeating the shadow man, so now he could come back. Kirk had blocked the number even though it was probably not Oren’s phone.

Oren had documented everything. Kirk could see that now, but it was some sort of visual, personal language he couldn’t decipher. He would need Oren for that.

He governed his temper, but Kirk could see anger boiling behind his eyes.

He listened. This time, he listened. But he didn’t hear anything new.

She processed his story like an inspector on a factory floor, diving in to pull out the flaws before they passed by on the conveyor belt.

He could see now that he had served a purpose in the family and when he left, he broke it. It couldn’t work anymore. Not even for one day.

Awesome sentence challenge: Sentences do four things

  1. Make a statement:declarative sentences
  2. Ask a question: interrogative sentences
  3. Make a command:imperative sentences
  4. Make an exclamation: exclamatory sentences!

Let’s explore this a bit. I’m going to start simply then try to expand on the idea. A basic statement: The water was shut off while they still lived there. His parents didn’t seem to care. They sent him to the lake to fill the tubs twice a day. First, simple.

  1. The water company shut off the water.
  2. Did the water company shut off the water?
  3. Pay your bill or we’ll shut off the water.
  4. Shut it off!

Now, instead of using the same sentence concept, let’s try them in a series to get the whole idea across.

  1. Oren was used to not having running water.
  2. How did he get water to drink and bathe?
  3. Stop prying into our business.
  4. Answer the question!

I’m finding the difference between the command and the exclamation a bit thin. So I went over to Grammar Revolution and did a refresher. So I think my exclamations were actually commands. The noun is the understood you. In the first set I could exclaim, “I want hot water!” and in the second example I could exclaim, “How rude!”

Let’s try one more in a series:

  1. His parents didn’t care that the water was shut off.
  2. Were they insane?
  3. Go fill up the tubs in the lake.
  4. I hate cold water in the morning!

Though I would need more declarative sentences to turn those into paragraphs, it is a good exercise in varying ways of getting an idea across. Using commands and exclamations is also a good way to show emotion instead of telling it.

Word Crawls

Today I thought I would do a Word Crawl. Sadly, when I clicked on my link to Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Crawl, it went to an error page. The new NaNoWriMo site did not preserve the old forum topics, and that particular one does not appear to have made it to the wiki either. That got me thinking about creating personal word crawls. I need crawls that get me moving during breaks and crawls that get me practicing and working on my sewing projects, so I may try my hand at creating a couple word crawls this month.

Until then, I chose a new one to try: The Hunt for your Muse

Mapping the Hero’s Journey:

Call to Adventure: Judgement

What is happening when the call comes or your MC’s goal before the Call to Adventure:  Nine of cups

Why your MC would consider the Call to Adventure: The Hierophant

My interpretation: This reading works for my antagonist’s call to adventure. He thought he had conquered his demons and moved on, but then the family secret is found and he believes he will face final judgement. He considers his call to adventure as a sacred quest to defeat an evil presence that has resurfaced. He may have a confused history with religious symbolism that could come up in his journals.

Preparing for editing along the way:

I mentioned filling out the scene cards as we go. Today, I thought about filling in the Story Grid (by Shawn Coyne) as we go as well. I already have a Story Grid spreadsheet. I can take a minute to fill in each scene I finish. How great will it be to have a finished spreadsheet to glance over at the end? I can make sure I hit the mandatory scenes for my genre as well.

Happy Writing!

I hope you find some inspiration in these exercises. See you tomorrow.