Natalie Bright


Tired, worn out cliché’s that we see over and over can be made new again. An overused expression or idea can become unique by reviving it with your own personal style.

Pretty as a picture.

You say: Pretty as a _______________.

Dig deeper: Pretty as a flower. What kind of flower? What color? Size? Shape?

The red roan filly was as pretty as a bed of wildflowers and about as hard to tame.

Writing Exercise

Peaches and cream complexion.

In a wink of an eye.

Green-eyed monster.

Like the pot calling the kettle black.

Fell flat on his face.

Eyes in the back of her head.

Chip off the old block.

Time will tell.

As bright as a new penny.

Knee high to a grasshopper.


The Birth of a Muse



The Birth of a Muse

By Nandy Ekle


Once upon a time a little girl played with a thing called a glass thermometer. This was not a toy and she knew better to play with it because it could break and get glass everywhere. When she didn’t feel good her mother would put it under her tongue or in her armpit to see of she was sick. So if she broke it, her mother would have no way of knowing if she or her brother got sick.

But it was a very interesting thing. It was a glass tube with a bulb on the end that went in her mouth. The bulb had a bunch of silver stuff in it that would go up in the tube after it stayed in her mouth for a while. Her mom had shown her what it looked like and she thought it was pretty.

So on this day, her mother was busy cooking supper and her brother was asleep. She couldn’t think of anything at all to do so she just walked around the house looking at the ceiling in a mirror, pretending the ceiling was the floor and trying to walk from one room to the next without bumping into anything. As she walked by the open bathroom door she thought she saw the sparkle of something shiny. She turned on the light, proud that she was finally big enough to reach it by herself.

There on the counter was the glass thermometer. The little girl picked it up and tried to see if any of the silver stuff was up in the tube. It wasn’t, so she put it in her mouth, under her tongue just like her mother always made her do. She stood there for about two hours, then took it out of her mouth and checked to see if the silver had moved any. It hadn’t. So she did the next thing her mother always did, she started shaking it to make sure all the silver stuff was in the bulb.

And that’s when it happened. The thermometer flew out of her hand and hit the floor.

“Oh no,” she said. She knelt down on the floor carefully so she wouldn’t get stuck in and began picking up all the little pieces of glass. After dropping the shards in the trash can she noticed little silver balls on the floor. The looked like the silver beads on her mother’s favorite necklace. She knew she hadn’t played with Mom’s necklace, but she wanted to pick up the beads so Mom could fix her necklace.

She tried to pick one up but it rolled away. She tried again and the little ball split into two balls. She could see the little balls, but no matter how hard she tried, she could not put her finger on one.

Years later, after she grew up and discovered how fun it was to write stories, she realized that the little silver balls she could never quite pick up that day so long ago, each one was a new muse.

Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.



Who Am I?

Outtakes 155


Who Am I?

By Cait Collins


How well do you know your characters? Are they living, breathing people or a piece of cardboard? Do they dare to argue with you? Do you converse with them? If not, why not? Some of my best scenes were the result of a frank conversation with the protagonist.

Some of the best advice I’ve received regarding character development came from Pulitzer Prize winning author, Michael Cunningham. He assigned our creative writing seminar group to make a list of 20 physical characteristics of our protagonist. The basics were easy: tall, brown hair, blue eyes, medium build. But that’s not enough. Your list must be more descriptive. How tall; six foot or six foot four? His hair is what shade of brown? Are the eyes Paul Newman blue?

Use your senses in creating the list. “The scent of apple wood tobacco clings to his tweed jacket” creates a more vivid image than “he smokes a pipe.” She spoke with a faint Irish brogue not only describes the speaking voice, it also tells her birth origin. He had piano player’s hands indicates long, slender, manicured fingers.

When your list is complete, write the opening paragraph of your story using a minimum of six of the physical characteristics. Read the paragraph aloud. What do you know about the hero that you didn’t know before you made the list?

This suggestion is my addition to Michael’s list. Once the physical is established and we can visualize the character, let’s add his emotional attributes. Make a list of ten emotional attributes. Remember heroes are flawed human beings Do not try to make him perfect. He will not thank you. Now rewrite the paragraph using three of the emotional characteristics. Read the paragraph aloud. Is the character balanced? .How does he deal with his flaws. Are the two of you in communication with one another? If not, rewrite the paragraph.

Taking the time to define your characters before beginning the work creates a better relationship between the characters and the writer. It allows you to anticipate his reactions to situations and better craft the scenes. The more you know about each main actor in the story, the more believable the work.

Reading and Writing

Reading and Writing

Rory C. Keel

A few things that can help you become a better writer and reader.

  1. Practice – Writing makes you a better writer and reading makes you a better reader.
  2. Read, think, read, write, ponder, write – and read some more.
  3. Learn a new word everyday.
  4. Read lots of books.
  5. Write. And then write some more.
  6. Get the pen and fingers moving, or use a computer.
  7. Read what you have written aloud to anyone who will listen – including the cat.
  8. Keep a journal to keep the writing juices flowing.
  9. Read what you’ve written over and over, until you can’t find any more problems.
  10. Before you take a trip, read any information you can find and then write about your experience.



Natalie Bright

A summary of the novel’s events and a cataloging of character development in narrative form.

Writing Assignment:

Write a two page Synopsis for your current work in progress. Keep it tight, concise and try to let your own “voice” and writing style shine through.

Elements of a Synopsis

The opening hook: what makes your story stand out from the rest?

Who is the main character?

Trigger Event.

What your main character learns.






By Nandy Ekle

Same old thing, day in, day out. Nothing ever changes, always the same.

Or does it . . .

When you wake up in the morning, what’s the first thing you think? Does the same thought roll across your mind every single day? If you do, try to consciously think something different. Here’s an example. Instead of jabbing the alarm clock and thinking gloomily that you have to get up, try changing the sound of your alarm. I’ve chosen a piece of music to remind me of a fantastic trip coming up later this year. So the first thing i think in the morning is about the ocean. You could change your alarm to dogs barking or babies laughing, or even a typewriter clacking away.

How about getting dressed? Well, where I work the dress code is business casual, except on Fridays. Our company uses the “casual Friday” option allowing blue jeans. So, during the week, find a way to spice up your outfit. Try playing with colors. And what do these colors do for you when you wear them?

Changing your routines can stimulate creativity. And, as we all know, a stimulated sense of creativity invites the muse to visit you — and she always brings gifts.

Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.




New Programs, New Possibilities

Outtakes 154


New Programs, New Possibilities

By Cait Collins


I still admit to being a dinosaur when it comes to accepting new tech toys and programs. Some of them just don’t appear to fit in my neat legal pad mind. I’m trying to convince myself to keep an open mind concerning some updates that are about to appear on my computer at work. As we are testing the new programs, I will try to figure out ways to use the technology on my writer’s laptop. In some instances, the programs are currently installed on my systems. Right now, I’m experimenting with Microsoft OneNote.

I like the idea of having a notebook for each project. One notebook could be titled Outtakes. I could move all my archived blogs to the book with tabs for each blog. The tabs would be labeled with the Outtakes number and title. Not only would this arrangement be an excellent filing system, it would also act as a subject reminder to prevent repeating topics.

Notebooks bearing the title of my current works would keep the individual chapters better organized. Deleted scenes could be filed under a tab for easy recovery. Notes, ideas, and photographs regarding the work have an accessible place.

My ideas sound good, but will they work? That’s a question that can’t be answered at this point. However, rejecting the possibilities without even testing them is short sighted. Any program that saves time and keeps me organized is worth the learning curve. I wonder if using OneNote will allow me to get rid of at least half of my manuscript storage boxes?

Better Critiques

Better Critiques

By Rory C. Keel


Recently I re-examined a few rules on critiquing other writers’ works. Occasionally I have to do this because I tend to get caught up in the stories. There’s nothing better than someone reading a story to you, right?

First, when you give a critique, start with praise. The most fearful thing about having your work judged is the fear of mean spirited criticism. Find something that you like about the piece, whether it is the overall story idea, plot, character or phrase in the writing that touched a cord with you.

Second, examine the overall piece. Does it make sense? Will it fit within the stated genre or purpose for the writing? What is the plot or premise? Does it have a reasonable conclusion? Does it read smoothly? Does it show rather than tell?

Third, check the details. This is the time to check the facts, note any phrases that seem to be odd or out of place. Mark grammar, misspelled words and punctuation errors.

Finally, critique another writer’s work with respect. Have an attitude of helping them improve their skills, not tearing them down.

Follow these simple rules and you will give and get better critiques.

Punography: 10 More!

Punography: 10 More!

                                                  Submitted by Natalie Bright


·  I didn’t like my beard at first. Then it grew on me.

·  A cross-eyed teacher lost her job because she couldn’t control her pupils?
·  What does a clock do when it’s hungry?  It goes back four seconds..

·  Broken pencils are pointless.

·  What do you call a dinosaur with an extensive vocabulary?  A thesaurus.

·  England has no kidney bank, but it does have a Liverpool .

·  I used to be a banker, but then I lost interest.

·  All the toilets in London police stations have been stolen.
Police say they have nothing to go on.

·  I took the job at a bakery because I kneaded dough.

·  Velcro – what a rip off!


These Dreams



These Dreams

By Nandy Ekle

I’m standing in a dark room. I can’t see anything, but I feel people around me. Something I had is missing and I’m looking for it. I walk slowly in what feels like a straight line, thinking I will get to the other side of the room. I hold my hands out in front of me, and I feel breezes pass in front of me as if I have just missed bumping into someone. I reach the other side of the room and discover a door knob. A phone begins to ring, but I can’t tell where the it is.

As I open the door air and light rush in. This room is full of people who appear to be frozen in the middle of an action. There’s no noise except the ringing phone. I walk through the room weaving my way around the frozen bodies. People are hanging in mid air, mid conversation, or mid action. They’re waiting for something, and I know that when I find wha’s missing, they will started to move again.

The phone rings louder and I know I’m close. I reach the other end of this new room and put my hand on the door, ready to push it open. A scrap of paper falls from my mouth and I pick it up. The words on the paper spell out, “Answer the phone.” I reach in my pocket and find the source of the ringing.

“Hello?” I say into the speaker.

“Ms. Ekle?”

“Yes?” The voice sounds familiar.

“I’ve wanted to meet you for a while.” A face representing the voice begins to materialize in my head.

“Thank you,” I answer.

“Write.” He says.

“Excuse me?”

“The people in the first room are new characters who would give anything in the world for you to write their stories. The frozen people in the light room are stuck until you finish telling their story. I’m simply telling you to write.”

“Yes, sir.” I say. “Who is this?”

“Stephen King.”

My eyes pop open and I realize I’ve been dreaming again.