Outtakes 329


By Cait Collins


I can’t believe it’s almost Christmas and I’m not ready. I have bags of gifts to wrap, parties, family dinners, and a few more days to work before taking a few days off. My plan is to finish the last three chapters in my short story during my break. But this time of the year my writing plans are often sidelined. Instead of sweating it, I’m going to work with it. If an hour a day is all I can manage, I’ll devote all my energy to that hour. I’ll make sure I use that time wisely. At the same time, I will not sacrifice the season’s joys. I want to enjoy my family and friends. So I will find a way to balance the work and the fun.

I hope that all my fellow writers are able to find that balance for themselves. Enjoy the holidays and write well.




It started as a dirt path connecting neighbors, communities, states and finally a nation.

Route 66 was an overland route traveled by pioneers, migrant farmers and anyone going west looking for the American dream. From wagon ruts to an asphalt highway, it has connected generations of people.

Join us as we travel through time from the early days and well into the future on the Mother Road.

OUR TIME ON ROUTE 66 is full of stories that tell of good times and bad, love and heartache, from the past to beyond tomorrow, and all of them connected by one stop, the Tower Station, and U-Drop Inn.


Is Your Story Original?

Is Your Story Original?

by Adam Huddleston


Perusing the discussions on r/writing (a subreddit for writers), I came across a basic question one redditor asked: How do I know if my idea is original or if it’s been done before? There were several excellent responses, which is comforting since I myself have wondered the same thing before.

To summarize the best responses, I would say that you can attempt to read as much as possible in your particular genre. See what works and what doesn’t, what similarities and differences your work has with others’ work, and what changes you could make that would make your story better.

Most importantly, relax! There are really only a handful of plots that have been used throughout history. Your details are what makes your story unique! Don’t be afraid to write it!


Outtakes 328


By Cait Collins


Sometimes I have trouble getting into my characters heads. I just don’t understand why they don’t respond as I think they should. To correct the problem, I try to recall a similar incident in my own life and recall my emotions and responses. How did my reactions differ from those of the character? How did I express my feelings? How do my character traits compare to those of the character?

Here’s the situation. Cara has been dating Mark for several months. She thinks everything is fine until she sees him with her best friend, Barbie. There is nothing suggesting the encounter is casual. In fact, it’s a steamy public display of affection or lust. The lip-lock speaks volumes.

Cara is devastated. Instead of confronting the couple, she breaks into tears and runs off. Once she gets home, she calls a couple of her friends and tearfully tells the story to them. Soon Barbie is no longer welcome in the friends circle and Mark is getting the cold shoulder from everyone. It’s a pretty typical response. And boring.

What if Cara pretended she wasn’t bothered by the events? Why not do the stiff upper-lip bit and shrug it off in public. Then when she’s alone, she breaks down and cries her eyes out. No tears in public. No angry displays. No name calling. After all, no self-respecting woman wants a man to think he can’t be replaced.

Instead Cara begins to write that novel she claimed she always wanted to write. She kills Mark and Barbie off in the book. The book is picked up by a big publishing house and it becomes a best seller. Cara finds happiness in a new career and in a new relationship. She maintains her self-respect and doesn’t have to apologize for making a scene and making everyone’s lives miserable.

Have I ever used this method to get over a bad situation? Absolutely. Writing is the best therapy.

Plot Structure

Plot Structure

by Adam Huddleston


I can’t recall exactly where I got this from (could have been on this Wordsmith Six site for all I know) but I found it to be very useful.

Plot Structure


Inciting incident:

First plot point:

First pinch point:


Second pinch point:


Second plot point:



Show protagonist in “normal” (current) world- Protagonist is incomplete (reveal flaw/insecurity/secret want)

Inciting incident that forces protagonist from normal world- Increased awareness of need for change

Introduce key secondary characters; establish setting & tone- fear/resistance to change — comfortable in current life

Protagonist must make a choice/decision- Overcomes fear/resistance to change

Plot point #1: Journey begins as result of decision Mental/emotional commitment to change

Protagonist begins “living” in the new world Protagonist is disorganized (imagine the feeling of first day in new school)

New complications arise Protagonist is tested and begins adapting to new ways/questioning the old

Complications grow –Complications escalate to new crisis Protagonist is slowly growing, but still inauthentic–not committed to changed self

Mid-point: crisis forces new decision/direction Protagonist is confronted with their flaw/desire (often is the antagonist who holds up this “mirror”)

Protagonist catches breath (even if complications are brewing behind the scenes) Reward scene: protagonist has accomplished something and has brief moment of victory

Complications develop new level of complexity Begins accepting consequences of new life


Outtakes 327


By Cait Collins


I have a favorite Christmas story… How The Grinch Stole Christmas. You see, I have my Grinch moments. There are days when I want it all to go away. I don’t want to shop at the local stores, nor do I plan to spend hours on-line trying to find gifts for my nieces and nephews, especially now that most of them are teens and pre-teens. That’s why I go to the bank and get cash to give to the kids. At least I know money fits and it’s the right color.

Then there are the days when I get lucky and hit the mall and find everything I need. On those days I’m Cindy Lou Who. The characters in the Grinch’s story are so memorable. I can easily picture the Grinch, his dog, and Cindy Lou. I especially like the Grinch in his Santa suit. If I had to use one word to describe each one it would go something like this. Max-faithful. Cindy Lou Who-trusting. The Grinch-lost.

The Grinch may be lost and a little bitter at the beginning of the story, but he learns something about the season. Christmas is about hearts, and when he begins to understand that the season is about love, his own heart grows.

All the characters in our stories have the potential for growth and change. As the story develops, the reader should see the characters grow. The playboy becomes a faithful husband and father. A thief restores his ill-gotten gains to his victims. The ugly duckling becomes a swan. And the woman who has been physically and emotionally battered learns to love and be loved. It is the writer’s job to craft his characters so that their transformations are real and not shallow and cookie-cutter. After all, who would have thought the Grinch would go from zero to hero?

Better Blogging

Better Blogging

Rory C. Keel

Tonight I have worked on my blogs. I’m trying to be a better blogger.

Here are some tips i’ve been trying to follow. Try them yourself


Here are ten tips that help me with my blog writing.

  1. Make your opinion known
  2. Link like crazy
  3. Write less
  4. 250 Words is enough
  5. Make Headlines snappy
  6. Write with passion
  7. Include Bullet point lists
  8. Edit your post
  9. Make your posts easy to scan
  10. Be consistent with your style
  11. Litter the post with keywords

How is your NaNoWriMo going? 

How is your NaNoWriMo going? 

Natalie Bright
I didn’t start anything new, but I am making great progress on finishing my short story for our Route 66 Anthology. We were on the road during the holidays so I took pen and paper to stay on track for NaNoWriMo. Sometimes it helps to get a completely different perspective from a computer screen. A bumpy highway prevented me from writing legibly, so I began to make a list of major scenes, character thoughts, and plot points. The story came to me fast. It was completely in my head, each scene clearly visible and the list went fast because I wasn’t taking the time to make complete sentences. And now I have a full outline to THE END. During the last week of November I can begin fleshing out the scenes and adding sensory details.
Hope you had a productive November !