Malapropism


Malapropism

by Adam Huddleston

This week’s literary term is: malapropism.  It is defined as the use of an incorrect word (usually for comedic effect) with a similar sound in place of the correct word.  For example, in William Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing”, a character states “Our watch, sir, have indeed comprehended two auspicious persons” (replacing apprehended and suspicious).  This effect is often used by characters who are either uneducated or wish to appear so.  

I hope this helps in your craft.  Happy writing!

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Epigraph


Epigraph

by Adam Huddleston

In the past, I would blog concerning different literary devices.  I really enjoyed that and wanted to revisit some of those old techniques.  I’m not sure if I ever mentioned the “epigraph”, so here goes.

An epigraph is a quotation, song, poem, passage, etc. written by another author and inserted into the beginning of a larger section of writing such as a chapter or book.  The epigraph is meant to provide the reader with guidance on the overall theme is of what they are about to read.  Some examples include: 

Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay To mould me Man, did I solicit thee
From darkness to promote me? — Paradise Lost, X, 743-45
(from Frankenstein by Mary Shelley)

If they give you ruled paper, write the other way. — Juan Ramón Jiménez
(from Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury)

Lawyers, I suppose, were children once. — Charles Lamb
(from To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee)

Over the Hill


Over the Hill

by Adam Huddleston

I stand at the top of the hill.  My forties stretch out before me.  In the distance, I can see where the land rises to another hill, somewhat shorter than this one.  I suppose its normal for a person to evaluate their life when they reach certain milestones.  Tim McGraw sang about his future after turning thirty, though I have no idea if that song was written then or not.

Some resolutions:

1.  Focus more on family. I feel that I do a pretty good job overall of spending time with my kids, but I could always do more.  A little less tv watching and a few more piggyback rides will go a long way toward a closer bond.

2.  Focus more on God.  That bible on my shelf gets opened, but not nearly enough.  I’m actually looking forward to starting a reading plan, more specifically, a comprehensive one that covers the entire scriptures.

3.  Focus more on my health.  A few years ago I had dropped about forty pounds and was feeling great.  My self-esteem was higher and I could tie my shoes without getting winded!  A visit to my doctor is in order, but even if that doesn’t happen soon, fewer late-night meals and soft drinks will surely help.

4.  Focus more on writing.  I recently moved all of my written works from my old laptop to my newer one.  It’s actually quite exciting to see all my old friends in their new place and I’m looking forward to finishing some of those drafts.

Snowflake Method (cont.)-A


Snowflake Method (cont.)

by Adam Huddleston

Last week, I began my attempt at using the snowflake method created by author Randy Ingermanson.  This week, I’ll continue with Step 3.

Step 3: Write a one-sentence summary of each major character and a paragraph summarizing their goals, conflicts, and overall changes.

Dwight Lara (major character)- A new baseball recruit uses black magic to lead his team to the championship.

Dwight Lara, a twenty-three year old center fielder from Nassau, Bahamas is drafted by the Amarillo Yellowjackets midway through their season when they find themselves at the bottom of their division.  Seeking to help his team, he secretly begins using black magic spells he had learned growing up in the Caribbean. The payment for each hex is the loss of a human life. As the season draws towards its conclusion, Dwight begins feeling more remorseful for each death he causes.  When his deeds are discovered by the manager, he resolves to stop immediately. The manager however presses him to continue, and prior to the championship game, has the player’s son murdered in an attempt to win it all. Although the team is victorious, Dwight kills his coach and performs his final spell, a deed which causes the entire stadium to collapse, taking the lives of everyone.

Stephen Craight (major character)- A losing baseball team’s general manager forces his new player to continue his deadly methods of helping the team win.

Stephen Craight, a fifty-six year old general manager of the Amarillo Yellowjackets drafts Dwight Lara in an attempt to resurrect their season.  He discovers Dwight performing black magic in a little-used area of the locker room but says nothing when he realizes that the team is now winning every game.  His new player has a change of heart near the end of the season, so in an attempt to win the championship, he has Dwight’s son murdered. Lara discovers what has happened and kills Craight once the championship game is over.  

 

Snowflake Method


Snowflake Method

By Adam Huddleston

Over the next few weeks, I will be attempting to use the snowflake method created by novelist Randy Ingermanson to outline a horror story that I’m working on.

Step 1.  The one-sentence tagline

A new baseball recruit uses black magic to turn around his team’s failing season.

Step 2.  Expanding the tagline into a full paragraph

When the Amarillo Yellowjackets find themselves at the bottom of their division, they recruit a mysterious center-fielder in the hopes of turning their season around.  As their luck begins to change, a startling fact becomes apparent; fans are dying at their games. The club manager discovers that his new player is a master of black magic, and is responsible for the tragedies.  When the team makes the championship series, conflict arises between player and coach concerning the fielder’s role on the team. The aftermath of their feud results in the greatest horror yet.

Step 3.  Repeat steps 1 and 2 for each main character

To be continued next week!

 

Short Story Submission


Short Story Submission

By Adam Huddleston

 

Here’s a short story I submitted to WritersDigest.com. It was based on a picture of a young lady peeking her head over the edge of an office cubicle partition.

 

Macy’s head slowly surfaced over the edge of her home-away-from-home like a tiny periscope.

“There.”

“I see another one, over in Bill’s cubicle.”

The woman in the square opposite Macy’s rolled her eyes and took another sip of coffee.

“Girl?  What are you talkin’ about?”

Macy lowered herself back into her seat and spun around to face her computer.  Jessie never believed her, and why should she?  When you’ve only been released from the “facility” for a few months, people don’t want to put any credit in your perception of reality.

“I know it sounds…crazy, but there’s a little pink dog in Bill’s cubicle.  Can’t you see it?  It’s right over there, chewing on his seat cushion.”

Jessie made an over-dramatic effort of standing up and craned her neck in the direction of Bill’s workplace.  She gave his station a once over then plopped back down.

“Nope.  Nothin’ there but Bill, Macy.  Why don’t you get back to your calls?”

The brunette temp resisted the urge to poke her bottom lip out; a habit her parents had thought endearing when she was a child, but now came across mildly irritating.

Macy spent the next few minutes rearranging the office supplies on her desk, typing a few lines into the computer, and disinfecting her phone.  She hoped the urge to look again would lessen, but eventually, it caught back up with her.  Chewing her ragged nails, she poked her head over the cubicle’s edge again.

“Bill,” she whispered.  “Bill, its Macy.  Don’t turn around too fast, but there’s something in your cubicle.”

Bill Johnston had his earbuds in.  The only sounds he heard were coming from the iPhone in his pocket.

Macy watched in agony as the pink dog (she was pretty sure it was a poodle), nibbled ever-closer towards Bill’s backside.  It was inches away when she sprang into action.

In a rather impressive exhibition of athleticism, Macy hurdled the partition between their workstations and dove at the little canine.  She crashed into the back of Bill’s chair and the pair of them went sprawling onto the carpeted floor.

“Macy!  What are you doing?” Bill screamed.

When she finally got to her feet, she looked around for her prey but the cubicle was empty save for the two co-workers.

“I…I was trying to…help you.”

Bill stared at her with his mouth dangling open.  Gently, Macy reached over and lifted his bottom jaw back to where she felt it belonged.

A huge guffaw came from behind her and she spun around to see Jessie with her hand pressed over her mouth, wiping away tears.

“Wow.  Just, wow. I can’t wait till corporate hears this.”

Bill looked over his assailant’s shoulders at the woman laughing at them.  He popped the speakers out of his ears and tossed them onto the desk.

“Quiet, Jessie.”  Then he turned his attention to the temp.  “What exactly where you helping me with, Macy”

Macy stood in silence, her bottom lip slowly edging away from the upper.

“I thought I saw something.”

“What?”

“It doesn’t matter.  It’s not here.  It never was! I’m so stupid!”

Bill let out a sigh and slowly pulled the girl into a hug. He held her for a second, then approached the woman still giggling behind them.

“I wouldn’t laugh too much.”

“Why is that,” Jessie asked.

“Because something left a little pile of pink poop by your computer case.”

The Em Dash


The Em Dash

By Adam Huddleston

This week, I wanted to provide a quick reminder on how to appropriately use the em dash when writing dialogue.  The em dash is typically utilized when spoken dialogue is interrupted.  It can be used inside the quotation marks or outside, depending upon the circumstances.

For example, when dialogue interrupts dialogue:

“I don’t know what you’re talking-“

“Of course, you know what I’m talking about!”

 

For an example when action interrupts dialogue:

“I’ve had this truck for over ten years”-he ran his hand along the hood”-and I don’t plan on selling it now.”

 

I hope this helps in your writing!

Pantser or Plotter?


Pantser or Plotter?

Adam Huddleston

     So the questions come up when new writers look to begin their first work:

How do you write a story?  Do you begin at the first and then just plug away?  Do you organize all of your scenes first and then write it?  What’s the best way?

Guess what folks.  It really depends on the writer and their preferences.  I will say that there are pros and cons to each.  Let’s examine the two prevailing methods.

  • The “pantser” writes by the seat of his/her pants.They start from word one and let it fly. The plot unfolds as they write.  This can be a very exciting and creative method, but it can also lead to quite a bit of editing later on.
  • The “plotter” plans out each scene and plot twist before they begin to write anything. This allows the process to be more streamlined and decreases editing.

Most writers probably use a little of both and what works best for you is simply that; what works best for you.  I prefer to write and edit the “major” scenes that I know I want in the story then piece them together with “minor” scenes.

Try out both methods and see which you prefer.  Happy writing!

 

Continuation of Last Week’s Work


Continuation of Last Week’s Work

By Adam Huddleston

 

Here is some more from last week’s work.

I sit at a long lunch table in the school’s cafeteria waiting for the first bell. My classmates are chatting at that volume above casual dialogue but just below shouting.  After yesterday’s events, I don’t feel like talking at all, especially about the banal subjects that my peers seem obsessed with.

Who is sleeping with whom?  What website a student found that contains actual suicide videos?  Which sophomore stole the answer key to Friday’s exam?

I sip on a bottle of water and stare at the clock, willing it to move faster. It doesn’t and a sandy-blonde boy I’d spoken to only a handful of times grabs my shoulder.

“You hear about Shasta?”

I can smell something strong on his breath that isn’t chewing gum.

“Who’s Shasta,” I ask, not really caring.

“Shasta!  The girl that sits in the front cubicle in English.  I heard she got herpes.  Ain’t that funny?  Herpes!”

I stare at him for a full ten seconds then turn away.  He bursts out laughing and moves on to another table.

The bell for first period blares throughout the room and we all move en masse out of the cafeteria’s double doors and into the hallway.  The din of the lunchroom pales in comparison to that in the halls.  With my backpack and computer, I have no free hands to cover my ears so I make a quick bee-line to my first class, Civics.

 

Rough Work


Rough Work

by Adam Huddleston

 

Here’s another taste of dystopian story that I’m working on.

 

Scene 1-Introduction

“Ben. Go ahead and close the blinds.”

I stand up on legs that are a little shaky and make my way across the carpeted living room.  There is no movement from outside, so I quickly draw the blinds, casting darkness over our meeting.

“Thank you son,” he says.

My father stands tall in the center of our circle, looking around at each of us with a firm and steady stare.  He raises a smooth, long-fingered hand and smiles.

“I’ll Fly Away,” he whispers.

We begin singing the familiar first verse, piano, so as not to draw the attention of anyone walking down the sidewalk in front of our house.  My father directs us in 4/4 time, marking each downbeat with a pop of the wrist. When we reach the chorus, I struggle to resist the urge to raise my volume.  Father, sensing my hardship, grins wider while using his other hand to direct our small congregation to sing ever quieter.

“…When I die, Hallelujah by and by, I’ll fly away,” we finish in not much more than a whisper.

We sing another handful of hymns, all from memory of course. Decades before my dad was born, the government enacted the Freedom From Religion Act.  All religious books, hymnals, pamphlets etc. were banned.  Any public displays of faith were prohibited as well, so no more churches, synagogues, or mosques.  Praying before a meal at a restaurant warranted the same punishment as any other infraction.

My father removes a cloth covering a brass plate.  Resting on top of the plate is a thin, round loaf of unleavened bread.  Beside it sits a bottle of homemade wine and a few small cups.

“In times such as these, we still remember our Savior.  His body was broken and his blood shed so that our sins would be forgiven.  No matter what dangers we face, we will partake in this supper until the end.”

Father didn’t have to explain what the “end” meant.  It could be our individual deaths or the death of the world.  Either way, Paradise awaited.

He breaks the bread and people outside begin shouting. I run to the window and gently peek between the blind slats.  Two houses down from us, Mr. Langston is being dragged out of his house by two men wearing black, armored uniforms.  One of the officers steps away and the other pulls a sidearm from its holster.  Our neighbor holds his hands up and shouts something and that’s when the officer shoots him in the forehead.  I see a brief cloud of blood in the air behind his head and he slumps forward onto the ground.  His wife and sons are standing in their doorway screaming.  I turn back to the dark room and begin crying.

My father leads me to the couch and sits beside me.  He wraps a long arm around my shoulders and pulls me close.

“I’m sorry, son.  I’m so sorry you saw that.  George was a good man and I’m gonna miss him.  I’m proud of his resolve, too.  Like us, his family never stopped worshipping.”

This makes me feel a little better but then my mind begins forming a scene where something similar happens to us.

“What if the Agency ever discovers us?  I’m scared, Dad.”

He looks away for a moment and I follow his gaze.  On the wall across the room is a picture of my mother. She was killed a few years after I was born when an Agency officer suspected her of trying to evangelize while shopping for groceries in town.  My father, who speaks often of her, but rarely of her death, says that he doesn’t know if that’s true or not.  Part of me hopes that it is.  If she had to die, I want to think that it was for a noble cause.

He sees me looking at her picture and hugs me tighter.

“It’s alright, Ben.  The government is strong.  Our family is stronger.  God is the strongest.”