Her first name is __________. Her hair is the color of __________ and her eyes look like __________. Her favorite hobby is __________. Her passion is __________, but more than anything in the world she wants __________, and she would be willing to give up __________ to get it.
His first name is __________. His hair is the color of __________ and his eyes look like __________. His favorite hobby is __________. His passion is __________, but more than anything in the world he wants __________, and he would be willing to give up __________ to get it.
One day they meet at __________ and they both know __________. They decide they should __________, each one thinking about that one thing they want so desperately. But when they begin to _________ they realize _________ all along. In the end they have __________ their goals to __________.
Congratulations. You have jus received a post card from the muse.
It’s that time of year when our calendars are filled with social engagements, shopping, holiday meal planning, cooking, gift wrapping. The list seems endless. In my line of work, tax season begins and the work load increases. Time to write seems limited. That does not mean we shut down our writing and pick it up again after the first of the year. We are writers, and we have a job that requires attention.
In the past, I have been guilty of neglecting my writing, but this year I plan to change that practice. Each day, I will write something. This does not include what I write at my day job. I promise to write something new and different daily. The activity may be an update on a query letter, or a character sketch for a new story. I may spend an hour editing my novel, or adding a chapter to my current work. I have holiday letters to write, grocery lists to make. There is no limit to the opportunities.
Making this pledge will help me focus on my writing career so that I can jump back into full production after the first of the year. I will not be playing catch up. I will not have a total interruption of the creative process. It will keep me from relegating my writing to the hobby status. Realizing my creative writing is as important as my day job will force me to keep this commitment.
Here’s another way to look at things. When progress is made on a writing project during this hectic season, we can give ourselves a treat. I think I’ll have another red velvet cookie.
Have you ever felt the need to write every minute detail in order to transition between a situation, image or scene? You know, the insignificant information that ends up getting cut during rewrites? The words that took so much of your precious time, because you felt you had to “fill in the gap” to get to the next idea?
Too much filler can diminish the impact of the previous idea, or bog the reader down so they lose interest going into the next scene.
Here are a few simple fixes that can help.
First, you could start a new Chapter.
Secondly, Skip a line and start a new paragraph. The extra space indicates the start of a new scene. Simply leave the filler out.
Thirdly, use a transitional word or phrase, such as “Meanwhile…” or “the next day…” or even “when he opened his eyes, everything had changed…”
Fourthly, Use common traits in two different objects, for example, “The frost on the window reminded him of the ice that ran through her veins. She was cold, but not because of the weather.”
Remember, transitions should be simple, direct and crisp advancing the reader to the next scene or idea.
I have written about writing prompts before, but I’m going to write a new blog here about them because sometimes they can really give us that jump start we need. I once ran across a prompt that was to write a short flash fiction story backwards and to start with the words, “Finally he (she) heaved a sigh of relief.” I guess that was exactly what I needed because I quickly wrote a story less than 1,000 words. It had a beginning (which was really the end), a middle, and an end (yeah, the beginning). And I had a ball writing it. (You can find it on flahesinthedark.com – search for author Nandy Ekle and it will pop right up for you to enjoy *shamless plug*)
Another prompt I stumbled on was to write a story using exactly 50 words. It had to contain people dressed formally and a fatal action had to happen. My words poured out and my fingers flew and I had a 50 word (exactly) story that soon became an idea for a great novel. Well, we’ll talk about finishing a novel some day in the future.
However, there are a few prompt sites and generators that really do the opposite. These are the ones that are like slot machines. You give each wheel a spin and they all land on topics that could not possibly go together or make any sense whatsoever. I try to stay away from those.
There is one other prompt that I enjoy and it is sitting in a time waste with a pad of paper and a pen. This would be like a doctor’s office, or some other type of dead time space. One time I found myself waiting for an appointment in an office full of other people just sitting around staring at the wall. I decided to describe the room. I started with the gray walls and described them down to the bumps in the sheet rock. I went into great detail with the carpet, the furniture, and finally some of the people sitting in the chairs. I could see all the emotion in their faces: the desperation, the fear, the frustration, fatigue, anger and hope. Before my name was called I had a discovered some characters, a conflict, and a story started.
Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.
Intergalactic warp drives, transporter stations or a portal in a time continuum that can teleport us back to the future. The desire to travel through time is largely based on the desire to see the future and to know where life is going; or return to the past, perhaps to change the course of life, or simply for a sentimental remembrance of days past.
In writing there are two basic ways to travel through time: vertical and horizontal. Within each of these, several vehicles can be used to accomplish movement through time.
Vertical time is thought of as climbing a ladder. While in a particular moment of time in the story — flashbacks, flash-forwards, grabbers, bookends and brackets — move the reader up or down in that moment of time. Think of it this way, the reader doesn’t move forward in time but has a deeper understanding with the knowledge gained.
Horizontal time is the movement of the story in a linear direction. It differs from vertical in that the moment or events actually move forward in time.
To accomplish this, techniques such as stretching, condensing, leaps, bridges, foreshadowing, cliffhangers and suspense are used to move the reader forward.
When you write, incorporate these methods to make your story richer and move the reader through time.
It started with a tractor book. After an endless search I thought I had purchased the perfect one, but my five-year-old son informed me the book had flaws.
“A tractor would never park in a garage,” he said. My description of a giant, garage-like-barn-like-shed did not fly. I asked his opinion of what might be in the ideal tractor book. He told me and then suggested, “You should just write it.”
The spark of desire to write something besides work related pieces was flamed by my son. Armed with a purple gel pen and a blue spiral notebook I found myself sitting in a creative writing class taught by university Writer-in-Residence and New York Times bestselling author, Jodi Thomas. Her comment on the first night of class shocked me to the core. “You are all writers, or you wouldn’t be here,” she said.
A writer! Me? Personnel policies, ad copy, business correspondence and scrapbook journaling doesn’t make a person a writer, or maybe it does.
That six week, intensive course changed my life, as have all of the writer’s conferences I’ve attended since. And Jodi’s one piece of advice on the last night of her class still remains; “Always write from the heart.”
Beginning with a search for the perfect book for my son and ending with a passion to learn everything I can about the craft of writing, I realized this journey has just begun.
All the best to you on your writing journey, and thanks for following us on WordsmithSix!