Into the Woods

Outtakes 178

Into the Woods

By Cait Collins


I enjoy movies and stage plays. The ingenuity of set designers for the two mediums, special effects, and costume designer along with the actors’ interpretations of the characters and the directors’ visions make for interesting entertainment. When a story is presented as both a play and a movie, you can have a real treat.

I saw Into the Woods on stage several years ago at the Amarillo Little Theater. ALT has a reputation for presenting both family friendly and more adventurous plays. I have never been disappointed in a production by the ALT team. Into the Woods falls into the more adult realm. It is a fractured fairy tale with themes not necessarily suitable for young children. The director and his cast broke the darkness with humor. In one scene, the two princes were a bit over the top in their duet, which was fine. That fit the directors’ interpretation of the playwright’s words.

The new Disney version is equally interesting. The cast is top notch, the music fantastic, the scene and set design amazing, and the photography out of this world. While special effects were involved, they did not overwhelm the production. I enjoyed the movie version every bit as much as the stage play.

The Disney Studios are masters of animation and live action entertainment. As a child I cheered when Cinderella married the prince. Both characters were perfect. They had no flaws. On the other hand, the stepmother and stepsisters had no redeeming qualities. Into the Woods also presents the stepsisters and stepmother as void of good. However, both the Prince and Cinderella are allowed flaws. In so doing, they are more believable. Even Red Riding Hood is more than a cardboard character. While the animated version is great for kids, it’s not satisfying for adults. Grown-ups know people have both good and bad qualities.

Writers must use this knowledge to craft characters that are real and multi-dimensional. Even the most evil character has at least one redeeming quality. Maybe he loves and cares for his kids. Perhaps it’s a soft spot for his mother. The author must employ all the character’s traits to make him or her grounded and alive. As I learned from Into the Woods, even Prince Charming had his weakness. And I liked him better for the flaw.



By Rory C. Keel

“Okay, somebody write a quick blog on trying to find a name for your blog!”

                                                                                             –Natalie Bright

Choosing the one specific term that describes six different writers with very different styles and genres, can be a daunting task. One would think that such an imaginative group could quickly produce a name so extraordinary, so remarkable that the mere mention of it would describe each individual and their genres perfectly. We settled on something a little less complicated.

What about Tuesday?

Welcome to our blog. My name is Rory and every Tuesday I will be sharing with you some of the ideas and lessons that I’ve learned, and will learn along the way to publication. I’m excited to be a part of a group of writers ranging from beginners to the experienced, from the unpublished to multiple publications, and that has the motivation to move forward in their writing. I write Christian fiction and non-fiction, Historical western, short stories, and creative nonfiction. I have published several Christian devotionals, and I have song lyrics published on a CD, “Alabaster Box.”

Choosing the Name

So, how did we choose the name? We tossed words onto a dry erase board, and then the six of us wrestled them around until one stood up and screamed, “Pick Me!” And what is the name that captures the essence of our critique group?

Wordsmith Six

Wordsmith Six consists of six writers who cover the spectrum in genres—a group of a half-dozen close friends who love words, whether we’re reading, writing or researching them. We have individuals who write Women’s Fiction, Historical, Inspirational and Screenplay. Others love Romance, Western, Christian fiction and Middle grade children’s books. Included are authors with published Fiction and Nonfiction books, TV Documentaries, Song Lyrics, Humor and yes, even HORROR.

We have lots of stories to tell and you’re invited to follow along.

Click on the author page above to connect with Rory.

Rory C. Keel


By Natalie Bright

To start your New Year of writing, I ran across this list of story fundamentals.

  • memorable characters
  • a theme that entertains & enlightens
  • conflict
  • structure – beginning and middle and end
  • point of view
  • plot
  • resolution, great ending, satisfying

During January, WordsmithSix members will meet to work on our goals list for the next year. Hope you have a wonderful and productive 2015!

Natalie Bright




By Nandy Ekle

Shopping, cooking, eating, decorating, partying, wrapping, mailing, planning, eating, cleaning, making up extra beds, staying up late hours, hugging, kissing, laughing, crying, eating, re-cleaning, unwrapping, redecorating, good-bying, and re-cleaning again. From the beginning of November through the beginning of January, life is nonstop chaos. And for those of us whose comfort is routine and order, The Holidays are exhausting. Add to that a full-time job, unfinished stories and a cruel conscience, and, well, no wonder the muse vanishes every time we boot up the computer.

Now, it’s over. The time has come to put things back in order and continue on with your life. But you’re tired. No, that’s not right. You’re EXHAUSTED. You put your hands on the keys and watch them just sit there. Ideas bounce around in your head with characters and scenes.

What you really need is rest. Give yourself permission to take one week off. Heal, rest, relax.

But don’t forget that while you’re resting and relaxing, your characters are frozen exactly where you left them, which, depending on where they are and what they’re doing, can be very awkward.

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

Taking a Break

Outtakes 177

Taking a Break

By Cait Collins


Normally I’m very careful with my holiday social schedule, but this year things got out of hand. With my expanded work hours at my job and social commitments, I found myself coming home, sitting down on the couch and falling asleep. No matter how hard I tried, I could not stay awake long enough to write. I’m so thankful I have a two week vacation.

I’ve decided to take the first week off to recharge. There’s something refreshing about sleeping late, catching up on my reading, and reviewing the returned manuscripts from my beta readers. I have no schedule, no got-to-get-this done task list. I work at my pace, and when my brain starts shutting down, I take a nap. Next week I’ll do the final edits on my manuscript, put the finishing touches on my query letter, and email the letter to an agent.

Don’t get me wrong, I do believe in writing something every day. However, there are times when restoring our physical well being is more important. No one works at peak level when the body is exhausted. So during this busy season, enjoy time with friends and family, but remember to take care of yourself.

May your holiday be happy and your new year successful.



At some point between starting a story or novel and publishing, you will need to write a synopsis. It can be a great tool in keeping you on track with your writing. Most literary agents, publishers and even writing contests will require a synopsis along with a few sample chapters of your writing with your submission.

A synopsis is a brief outline of the basic plotline of your story. It differs from your story or novel in that it covers the brief and precise outline of the characters and major plot points of the story, and not all the small details.

When writing a story or novel, a writer is taught to “show don’t tell.” However, when writing the synopsis the reverse is true, “tell don’t show.”

When starting a synopsis, write a theme statement to help guide your thoughts. What is the main theme that defines your story?

Next, answer the following questions telling the reader the answers. Remember “tell don’t show” in the synopsis.

1. Who is the protagonist in the story?

2. What are his or her personality traits? List strengths or weaknesses.

3. What other characters surround the protagonist?

4. What is protagonist’s major conflict?

5. How does he or she solve the conflict?

6. What hindrances stand in the way of accomplishing the goal?

7. How is each obstacle conquered, or is it?

8. What is the climax of the story?

9. How does the story end?

10. What change takes place in your protagonist?

Rory C. Keel

Flittering Sparks

Flittering Sparks

By Natalie Bright

This one’s a biggey: I wish someone had told me about story sparks. How they come out of nowhere, at the worst possible times, when there’s not a pen and pencil to be found anywhere.

These elusive visions flit into your mind and disappear with a poof, never to return. It might be a character sporting a wide-faced grin taunting “Catch me if you can.” Sometimes it’s a fantastical place, one that’s so vibrant and alive in your mind. You just know it’s filled with fascinating characters. Other times, this new creation comes to you without a moment’s notice in vivid detail. It might be a crucial scene for your work in progress, no matter if you’re ready for that scene or not.

An Orderly World

As an office manager during the day, I like things orderly. Certain things have specific deadlines. This pile of bills must be paid by the 30th, for example. One particular process is done on the 10th of every month; always. In my mind as a newbie, that’s how I thought writing should be. You start with chapter one and you move forward through your masterpiece until you type THE END.

Stop Lying to Yourself

Don’t believe for one second that writing is a logical process. These glorious sparks of genius come at you day and night, with no rhyme or reason. Snatch them up, greedily, without hesitation. Write that ending to your book, no matter if you’re still struggling through chapter one. When that image appears in your mind, stop everything and put it to words.

Idea Notebooks

Do you carry an idea notebook? In addition to the notepads I carry in my car and purse, I’ve written story ideas on restaurant napkins, band concert programs, and bank deposit slips. In the short time someone can ask, “What’s for dinner?” the idea can be gone, and you’ll be left a weeping, pitiful writer of nothing.

JUST BE during this holiday season. Listen, taste, take a deep breathe–LIVE and fill up your idea notebooks. Merry Christmas everybody!


Yes, I’m Going There


Yes, I’m Going There

By Nandy Ekle


Of course there are always at least two sides to everything. One rule I’ve heard is to branch out and try new things, to research and learn, let the imagination run. The other side of that rule is to write what you know.

I’ve thought about that for a while. I love to pretend I’m someone else and go through their adventures, even the most painful kind. I love to learn new facts and see how things work, what other places look and smell like. In short, I’m a person who enjoys new experiences.

But one day the thought occurred to me, who better to write about arachnophobia than a bona fide anrachnophobe? Who can describe the terror better than someone who breaks out in the proverbial cold sweat, someone whose muscles clench up and freeze when an eight-legged monster creeps across the floor? No one who has never suddenly realized their arms and legs have crawled back into their body will ever be able to accurately describe the way the air leaves the room and their eyes glue themselves to the creature as it runs to hide in a corner until you’re not looking so it can jump on your head and tangle in your hair, laying egg sacs in your skin . . .

Yes, well—now you see how writing what you know can be a definite advantage.

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

Basics to Entering a Writing Contest

Basics to Entering a Writing Contest

 Writing contests can offer great benefits to a writer, however they can also be intimidating. To help you wade through the process, let’s look at some of the basics of entering a Writing Contest.

1. Choose the right contest – Do the research to find the best contest for your writing. Contest entry fees can vary greatly from free to extremely high. The rewards can be just as varied from a simple recognition and critique of your writing, to rewards of money prizes and publication. Beware of contests that require you to purchase the published work of your “Winning” writing. More information can be found in my article Writing Contest Benefits.

2. Choose the correct Genre – To avoid poor critiques or placement, choose the correct genre for your work. While some pieces may cross over into another classification, you will have better results if you focus your writing to one specific genre.

3. Follow Submission Guidelines – When entering a contest pay close attention to the submission guidelines. These rules may vary greatly with different organizations and contests. Be diligent to have the correct word count while using the proper page format, font, and cover page identification requirements. Don’t expect contest officials to overlook the rules just for you, it’s their contest and it’s their rules.

4. Pay attention to Postage – If you are sending an entry by mail it will require the correct postage, so does the return of your entry. Read carefully any instructions regarding postage and the return mailing requirements of your entry or prizes. If you are using metered mail, postage from a meter or computer, understand that it expires on the date stamped. If you stamp the return envelope with the current date, and the contest results are not given for several months, postage may be expired and could result in your entry not being returned.

By following these few steps, entering a writing contest can be fun and successful!

Rory C. Keel



By Natalie Bright

#1 A kind-hearted girl is tricked by an evil, hungry wolf

#2 A lovable beagle who doesn’t talk, but conveys philosophy on life with flamboyant imagination through thought bubbles in a comic strip.

What’s your story in one sentence?

The idea is that your story is so compelling and your characters so unique, that you can convey your brilliant plot in one sentence.

The situation becomes your one sentence story description. The problem becomes the questions that arise from your characters motivation and difficulties.

Situation: A kind-hearted girl is tricked by an evil, hungry wolf.

Problem: Should she trust her instincts?

Solution: Little Red Riding Hood outsmarts the wolf.

Natalie Bright