Catch Up


Outtakes 357

Catch Up

By Cait Collins

Ten days of vacation really put me behind.  I’m behind at work and with my writing. While I was relaxing on the beach, I started my next Route 66 story.  I like the idea, and I’m bringing back Ian Thornton from Showdown at U Drop Inn.  I figured he deserved his own story, but will he get the girl in the end? I really don’t know as he hasn’t told me yet.

Yes, I’m one of those people who have conversations with my characters.  It’s really unnerving to feel “the Presence” looking over my shoulder and saying, “Cait, I wouldn’t do that.  And just so you know, I hate broccoli. “

Ian’s a pain when I’m at work.  I have a list of letters to review before mailing and suddenly this magnificent Irishman starts telling me I need to be researching vintage pottery and china. “And by the way, you need to visit a potter’s workroom.  Your’ description of the process is a little weak.”

I start arguing.  “Really, Ian? When do I have time?  I’m working overtime.  I have commitments.  Give me a break and let me catch-up.”

Good heavens.  I’m arguing with a figment of my imagination!  Maybe I should go back to the beach.

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Snowflake Method Step 6 (cont.) -e


Snowflake Method Step 6 (cont.) -e

by Adam Huddleston

This week, I am continuing Step 6 of the Snowflake Method.  See my previous blogs for explanation on the process. Here is the second paragraph of the one-page plot summary:

Before each game, Dwight Lara, the Yellowjackets’ possible savior, performs a ritual of dark magic.  In order for the spell to work, a human life must be sacrificed, resulting in the death of a fan sometime during the game.  The deaths occur in a variety of ways, and while the public begins to view the Yellowjackets as an “unlucky” team to watch in person, no one suspects their new player.

Dwight Lara, all one-hundred seventy pounds of him, slid into the locker room like a cold shadow.  His smile was infectious. He nodded to each of his new teammates in turn, then quietly set about placing his new gear in the small locker assigned to him.  

 

THESAURUS


THESAURUS

Natalie Bright

One well-known author is quoted saying that if you have to look up words in a thesaurus, then it’s the wrong word. As a writer juggling a day-job and family, as many of you are, I think having word lists handy are a life-saver. Sometimes I know the word, but it’s late at night and the right word just doesn’t come. The only option is to reach for help.

Here are two of my favorite that I’ve found extremely helpful.

THE EMOTION THESAURUS by Angela Ackerman & Becca Pugllisi.

“A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression” is an alphabetical list by emotion. The term is defined by physical signals, internal sensations, mental responses, and signs of acute cases. I kept writing that my character feels nervous, but I wanted to show her nervousness. The list of physical signals is lengthy and can be used throughout the scene. This is a comprehensive tool that writers of every genre would find useful.

CHILDREN’S WRITER’S WORD BOOK by Alijandra Magilner & Tayopa Mogilner

If you write for children, a grade-leveled word thesaurus is particularly handy. This one has word list groups by grade and reading levels for synonyms.

Happy writing!

Snowflake Method (cont.) -D


Snowflake Method (cont.)

by Adam Huddleston

This week continues Step 5 of the snowflake method for writing created by Randy Ingermanson.  For more details, see my previously submitted blogs.

 

Stephen Craight-

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been in love with the game of baseball.  My father made sure I had a bat (crochet) in my hand as I lay babbling in the crib.  Once I turned three, I was pushed into a toddler’s league where the coach was thrilled just to have one of his players not stagger away with the ball in his mouth.

I played every year, watching as my skills improved to the point where I was eventually offered a scholarship to play at Louisiana State University.  From there I was drafted by the Cleveland Indians and placed in their farm system. Although my time in the majors was short, I made a strong enough impression that the White Sox gave me an assistant coaching job once my playing career was over.

The first time I met Dwight Lara, I was skipping the Amarillo Yellow Jackets, a small but talented semi-pro team in the Texas Panhandle.  I remember him being a tall, lanky kid. From the Bahamas with skin as dark as midnight. Not a bad outfielder and the kid could hit.

We were at the halfway point of the season, the time of year the majors play their all-star game.  The Jax weren’t even sniffing contention. We brought Lara in and our season turned around immediately.  We didn’t win every game, but most of them. Week by week, the boys began creeping up the standings.

Something pretty morbid was starting to happen though; folks were dying at our games.  I mean, actually dying. It was just a handful of fans, but the crazy thing was, they only passed during the games that we won. The police never got involved with the team, because the causes of death were always outside of our influence.  Some had health-related issues, some choked on food, a couple were due to stadium security. It was sad, but…we were winning.

Before a game one night, I remember it was the last part of a homestand, I couldn’t find a clipboard to attach the lineup sheet to.  When I checked the seldom-used room at the back of the locker room, I saw something I later wished I hadn’t. Lara was kneeling on the floor, facing away from me.  In front of him was this…idol, I guess is the closest term.  He was whispering something over and over, kind of a chant.  The kid must have heard me behind him, but when he turned around, he didn’t look startled in the least.  Just calmly nodded at me then turned back to what he was doing.

I put two and two together and figured he was responsible for the deaths somehow.  I felt bad about it, but I let him keep doing his thing.

Winning is addictive.

Well, we made it to the championship series, and one night Lara comes to me and tells me that he’s suddenly grown a conscience.  Says he can’t perform his spells anymore. I told him real quick that unless he wanted me to rain down destruction upon him (and his family), he better keep it up.  He refuses so I contact a man I knew from my days in Chicago. He knows a guy who knows a guy, and such. The next thing I know, this goon is knocking on my front door at home and offers to “take care” of Lara’s son.  It was my final mistake in a history of bad mistakes.

The last game of the series, I get word that this guy has offed Lara’s kid somewhere in the stadium.  We end up winning the game, but before the confetti has even had a chance to set in the outfield grass, Lara finds me and takes me out.  The kid separates my melon from my shoulders.  After that, everything is dark.

 

Learning Online with MasterClass


Learning Online with MasterClass

Natalie Bright

 

As I write book #2 of the Trouble in Texas series, I’m watching MasterClass with R. L. Stine during lunch breaks. Stine is the author of the Goosebump Series for kids.

Learning online at MasterClass.com is easy. The first class I took was James Patterson, which is an excellent video series about his writing process. Also included in the price is a workbook which you can print or download. The short videos fit into my already busy day.

Although I do not aspire to be a screenwriter, I paid the additional fee for the All Access Pass to unlock every class. I’ve just finished learning about character development from Shonda Rhimes. Listen to her as she breaks down the inspiration and writing process for her characters in Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal. Go back and watch the pilots for each show. It’s fun to witness genius at work.

Lunch breaks are spent at my desk watching R. L. Stine’s videos, and I print the PDF worksheets from each short segment, jotting notes of the specific changes I’ll need to do to improve my story. I work on edits when I get home.

Interestingly, R. L. Stine does not keep an idea journal. Using character and plot ideas, he formulates a chapter outline. He most always knows the ending before he starts, and then he writes from that outline until it’s done. The key word here is DONE. Finished. The end. I can never get there because I give in to the many ideas swirling in my head. My process is to stop, start this, and then jot notes about that. Those days are over. I’m going to finish final edits on Book #2 of the Trouble in Texas series, THE GREAT TRAIN CAPER, before I start something new.

Mr. Stine has been very inspiring. One class costs $90, and the all access pass is $180 per year. I’ve discovered I didn’t have time to read the writing magazines I used to subscribe to several online magazine, and attending SCBWI conferences is a huge investment. If you want to learn more story craft, consider MasterClass. Next up for me on MasterClass.com: Judy Blume.

Happy writing!