What Happened to Detective Dougan?


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

What Happened to Detective Dougan?

By Nandy Ekle

 

Detective Jeremy Dougan headed to the station for his first day on the job in the city. After finishing the academy and putting in his time as a patrol officer, he had returned to his home town. He finally had the career he had worked and planned for: working on the police force in his hometown as a detective. He walked into the office with a whistle on his lips and noticed a new case waiting on his rough wooden desk. Setting down his coffee, he opened the folder.

The police report told about a missing person, Anton Easley, last seen getting into his car on July 20 on the Texas A & M University campus. He had told friends standing near that he planned to return to his residence to prepare for an upcoming chemistry exam. Jeremy had seen it before—an irresponsible college student suddenly decides he’s not bound to anyone and takes off without letting a soul know his plans. The last known residence of the uncaring boy sent shivers of surprise through his memory: 924 Ginger Street.

To find out why the address gave Jeremy such a surprise, go to amazon.com/The Least He Could Do. It’s $6.99, and Miss Bitsy is the second story in the book.

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

 

Literary Terms


Literary Terms

by Adam Huddleston

 

Many weeks, the subject of my blog involves literary terms or devices. You may wonder, “Does Adam possess that great of an inventory of knowledge that he can spout out definitions and examples of these topics?”

I say, “Nay.” Allow me to impart the sources of my weekly knowledge.

Two excellent websites: www.literarydevices.net and www.literary-devices.com are full of excellent definitions and examples. Although the lists may not be exhaustive, for my intents and purposes, they definitely suffice. I hope these resources will help you in your craft.

Happy writing!

Take Out the Trash


Outtakes 300

Take Out the Trash

By Cait Collins

 

Our office is about to undergo some serious renovations. In an effort to reduce work stoppage, we are being moved to another campus in town. As our new space is limited, we have been instructed to remove our personal items and go through our files and storage and eliminate as much paper as possible. I took personal items home the first week. As I order supplies for our team, I helped sort the supply storage. It just needs to be packed. Now I’m in the process of cleaning out my files.

I appalled at the “stuff” I’ve held on to. For example, I retained copies of every performance evaluation since I was hired. Every course completion certificate was safely stored in a series of file folders. Old faxes also took up space in the two file drawers. Needless to say, I’m taking out the trash before I move this week.

Editing is probably the most difficult step in the writing process. Editing is more than checking spelling and punctuation. It’s also taking out the trash in the story. Do you have a minor character that’s just a talking head? One that really provides no substance for the story? Get rid of him. You have a beautiful scene, but it doesn’t help move the story. No problem. Paste it into your file of “do not lose” scenes and move on. Every character, every scene, all dialogue must support and build the story. We have no room for place holding in our work. Nothing should remain that doesn’t move the story to the climax and resolution.

Words are important. Scenes are important. Characters are essential. Just make sure they are an asset to the work. Non-essentials go out with the trash.

Agents of Evil


Agents of Evil

Natalie Bright

Every great story has a villain. A character who drives your main character crazy and prevents him/her from reaching their goal.

A great novel has tension on every page, and the antagonists’ strengths are stronger than the protagonist. There’s no fun in reading a story with a stupid criminal. Ramp up the conflict, create tension in every scene.

Below is a thought-provoking list of the types of antagonists, based on my notes from a writing workshop I attended at the WTAMU Writers Academy several years ago:

Accidental Villian–fatal flaw, does not set out to be bad, bitterly regrets the act of villainy, the evil acts keep snowballing.

Examined Villian–intends to sin, plans crime carefully and meticulously, criminals always have a good reason, criminals rationalize their behavior because what they do makes perfect sense to them.

Surprise Villian– introduced sympathetically and later it is revealed that this person is evil.

Over the Top Villian — untextured bad guy, not realistic as found in the form of comic book characters, their sole purpose is to make things difficult for the good guys, quircky, different, extreme.

Mundane Criminal — not larger than life, but wrong for their own advantage.

Now go write a character profile about a very bad person for your next story.

The Saturday Morning Blogger – Truth vs. Fiction


The Saturday Morning Blogger – Truth vs. Fiction

James Barrington

Tom Clancy has been quoted as saying that fiction is harder to write than non-fiction, because fiction has to be believable. I don’t know about you, but I think he is onto something.

I do believe that well-written fiction can have enough unexpected twists and turns that it makes it almost unbelievable, but in the literary world that tends to push it into fantasy or science fiction.

The 2001-2002 NFL season that began with the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon ended with the New England Patriots turning around a lackluster season with a second-string quarterback and winning their first Super Bowl. If that had been a work of fiction, people would have dismissed it as being trite. Many wartime clichés were born in real life experiences of World War II veterans.

All that is to say, verging on the unbelievable in works of fiction does not automatically make a scene or passage unbelievable or cliché. Often such passages just need some extra work to make them fit into the mold of the believable. I further defend that statement with the evidence of supernatural or miraculous events that we scratch our heads about as we try to make explanations fit into a category with which we are more comfortable.

There are miracles in this world. Sometimes we just need to open our spiritual eyes to see them.

A Little R and R


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

A Little R and R
By Nandy Ekle

It’s been more than two years. When the invitation came for a grand vacation with our closest friends, we asked no questions. Just jumped right in, credit card in one hand, telephone in the other, and joined the party.

I set the count down ticker on my count down app and watched the days tick by. I continued with my day job, I continued planning my stories, and I shopped for vacation clothes. My excitement was building higher and higher.

And then this week began. Nothing unusual, same old, same old. And finally today. I mailed/fax’d my letters, researched new letters, then mailed those. And the last few minutes of the work day.

Rest-and-Relaxation has arrived, at least for the next several days. And I must say, not one single solitary moment too soon.

I love my job, I love the company I work for, and I love the people I work with. But sometimes, you just need some R and R.

Write me a comment below and tell me about your favorite type of vacation.
Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.

Diction


Diction

by Adam Huddleston

 

This week’s literary term is: diction. It can be roughly defined as an author’s word usage. Over time, a writer’s choice to use shorter or longer words, specific dialects, or even certain phrases, can distinguish them from their peers. For example, when attempting to affect a Shakespearian sound, an author may utilize familiar words from Old English such as thee, thy, and thou.

When analyzing my word usage, it seems that I prefer a mix of word length, southern dialects (surprise, surprise), and a lot of description regarding the setting’s temperature. I’m looking forward to honing my craft by altering my diction from time to time.

Happy writing!

If You Dream It, You Can Build It


Outtakes 289

If You Dream It, You Can Build It

By Cait Collins

 

My sisters and I attended the Parade of Homes this past weekend. The homes are a chance for local builders to showcase their work. Some of the homes were extraordinary, and others were a little cookie cutter. The ones that stood out had the builder’s stamp. Something that made the dwelling stand out from the others. For example an entryway. The house was set on a hill with a long cement staircase leading to the front door. It was beautiful, but I was exhausted by the time I walked in the door.

The next house was built by a friend. It well built and well staged. I could be comfortable living in that house. The next one had an impressive kitchen. I loved the gray color and white accents. My favorite was a totally modern home. The front door was not a rectangle, but the edge was a series of curves that fit into the door frame. Chandeliers were not traditional crystal styles. And one room had rhinestone drawer pulls. Loved the unique styling, but I wouldn’t want to live there. I kept going back to beautifully crafted home a friend built.

Writers have something in common with a builder. We begin with a concept. Then lay the foundation. Partition off the rooms. And then fill the rooms with our unique style. We add the color to the story with vivid details, emotion, drama, and resolution. We are architects of storytelling. Our words build worlds, and people. We are craftsmen and should be proud of the work we do.

Basic Social Media for Writers


Basic Social Media for Writers 

By Rory C. Keel

 

After mountains of research, hours of keeping my rear end in the chair and wearing out the keyboard, they expect me to do what?

Yes, that’s right, as a writer you need to have an internet presence on social media.

Recently, I was asked to present some basic materials about social media, to the Ranch House writers, a group of writers who occasionally gather for a meal and encouragement from others in the writing community.

This blog will be the first in a series of four, dealing with the basics of social media for writers.

What is Social Media

Simply put, social media is a varied group of internet based applications that allow YOU to create and share content.

Early in the development of the internet, most websites were static. In other words, much like a billboard on the highway, it was costly to change and no had ability to interact with consumers.

Today, social media platforms give writers the ability to create, share, discuss ideas, and publish user-generated materials.

These applications are often categorized into groups such as networking sites, blog sites, video Sharing sites and even photo sharing sites. There are hundreds of applications and Facebook, Twitter, Google +, YouTube and Flickr are just a few examples.

Will Social Media benefit me as a writer?

While there are many reasons an individual might use social media, for the writer it’s as simple as Business 101.

Writing is a business

Have you ever read the reviews of a restaurant before going out to dinner? Have you ever researched someone on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIN, before meeting for an appointment?

It is estimated that in 2015, 93 percent of all businesses will use some form of social media. For both consumers and businesses it has become the norm and is expected.

Using Social Media

Using social media as a writer allows easy communication between you and your readers. It is a medium that allows the ability to develop relationships by having accessibility to groups where individual time is not possible.

And finally, social media allows you multiple mediums to develop your brand as a writer. By blogging, posting, tweeting, google plus-ing, you can establish yourself as a writer and build a large readership.

Next Tuesday we will discuss which social media platform to use. See ya’ then!

roryckeel.com

Cardboard Characters


Cardboard Characters

Natalie Bright

One of the most difficult tasks for a writer is to create fictional characters that seem real and believable to the reader. I love books in which characters seem to jump off the page and ones that remains in my head long after the book is closed.

Much Like Cardboard

Are your characters more like cardboard; stiff, emotionless, without personality? They have names and faces, but they are just on the surface of your story and nothing more. The solution: dig deeper into your character’s motivation.

As an author, you must torture your characters. It is impossible to reveal deep character feelings and personalities without applying deep, intense pressure. The ways in which they react to that pressue reveals their temperament and psyche.

Using Character Profiles

Complete character profiles on both your protagonist and your antagonist. There are many great example forms available online.

Don’t stop at the name. Create a birthdate, a history of where they were born, family description, dominate characteristics, weaknesses, and physical limitations. Create historical events for your character that might have happened in their life such as school’s name, college, children’s names, etc.

Write A Letter

Many of my author friends write a letter in first person POV from their character. Don’t think; just free write. Let them reveal their secrets, desires, fears, self-image.

This trick worked great for me on the story I am working on now. My main characters are a young mule-skinner and a Comanche brave. I am alternating chapters between their points of view. I want to show the contrast between how very different their worlds are, yet they are both sixteen-year-old boys. They each wrote me a letter about their different worlds. One holds a great hatred for his father, and the other resents the physical limitations he has to live with. Now I have something to build upon and add the conflict. At this point, writing is more fun than work.

Keep moving forward and thanks for following WordsmithSix!