Could This Be Love?


Outtakes 335

Could This Be Love?

By Cait Collins

 

Ah, romance. The book shelves are full of romance novels. Poets extol the virtues of love and commitment. Cynics decry the emotion, calling it a crutch and an opiate for fools. I like to view love as something very special. But despite varying opinions of what love is and the part it plays in our lives, love stories are popular. And there are so many variations in the genre. Straight romance…boy meets girl, boy woos girl, boy gets girl. Then there’s romantic suspense…girl is in trouble, boy rescues girl, boy marries girl. Add paranormal romance, magic, war stories, western romance, “adult” romance, and you have almost unlimited story lines.

Poetry, song lyrics all extol the virtues of love. And then you have the broken romances, stories of love gone bad, and broken hearts that are mended by a new love. Face it, love sells. So write that romance. You just might find a whole new outlet for your talent.

Happy Valentines Day.

 

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Inspiration


Outtakes 332

 

Inspiration

By Cait Collins

I have this great idea for the last chapter of my Route 66 short story and it involves my neighbors’ dog. I’m not a real animal person. I like some pets, but don’t want the responsibility of caring and nurturing one. But Frodo is different. I first met Frodo soon after his parents brought him home. He wasn’t very big size wise, but he had personality. I soon realized I kind of liked having him greet me.

Being around this pup inspired me to write a new character to end my story. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it works. The point is that inspiration can come from so many sources. It might be a picture, a song, a laugh, or a sigh. Experiences inspire us to create settings, characters, and story lines. Don’t ignore these little moments.

The Speech Writer


Outtakes 334

The Speech Writer

By Cait Collins

I am not much for political speeches, but I did watch the State of the Union address. In my career I have been called on to give a talk or address a gathering. It’s difficult enough to write something for yourself, but can you imagine writing for someone else?

Writing for yourself allows you to hone in on your experiences, your personality, and to use your instincts in adding humor or satire to the presentation. But if I were writing for someone else, I would need to get into his head, draw on his desires, dreams, and ideals. The speech would need to suit his personality and his goals. What would happen if my dreams clashed with his? Think about it. Could you put your personal agenda aside and dedicate your talents to building up someone you might not support?

Of course political figures, successful businessmen and women hire people who can mesh with their visions. But if you are just starting out in the speech writing business, how can you be sure you can target the speaker and not interject yourself into the presentation? If you have doubts, the presentation could suffer.

The bottom line is writing speeches, press releases, and maybe even copy for commercials or news appearances requires more than a way with words. It demands an ability to put the personal aspects aside and focus on the speaker or performer. Personally, I wouldn’t want the job.

End of the Journey


Outtakes 334

End of the Journey

By Cait Collins

 

One chapter to go. That’s where I am right now. I have one chapter to pull the entire story together and then it’s on to a new project. Well, not immediately, but after I finish my Route 66 story and send it to be edited, I will be at loose ends. Soon I will pull out a finished manuscript and begin the needed edits.

I have mixed emotions about finishing a writing project. First I’m elated when I put “The End” on the last page. But then I begin to miss the characters. I’ve invested months in building their personalities, finding their strengths and weaknesses, and guiding them along the way to the end. They have become invisible friends and I miss them. And then I have to make the final edits, my least favorite part of the process. Once that’s done I’m ready to walk away from the finished product.

In some aspects of my life, I find I have to be hands on right until the end. But in this case, I believe I can hand it off to the publisher and let him work his magic. I will continue to help with promoting the book and look forward to the release of Our Time on Route 66.

Writing is a journey. It has a beginning and a final destination. There are roadblocks and pitfalls, but there is also the sense of accomplishment when the scenes come together and create the story. But the final destination is not the book release and all the promotion. The destination is when you let go of the old and begin a new journey with a new story line and become friends with a new set of characters. It’s when the creative process begins and you travel that new road. It’s a journey that pauses but never ends.

Hibernation


Outtakes 333

Hibernation

By Cait Collins

I don’t mind winter. I can handle the cold and the wind. A little snow doesn’t bother me.

But I’m having real problems with wanting to curl up in my blankets and just sleep. I will come home after work and fall asleep on the couch and wake up at midnight. This sure does mess with my writing. It’s difficult to write coherent sentences when you keep nodding off.

Truth is I have to force myself to open my computer and attempt to write. Still I force myself to work to finish my goals. Thank goodness I have a great critique group that helps me make sense of some of my chapters.

A good critique group can be a writer’s best asset. Knowing your fellow writers have your back allows you to make changes and updates without second thoughts. You can trust their suggestions because they won’t lead you astray. Their input is designed to make your work better. That doesn’t mean you make every change suggested. It’s still your story and you have the creative control, but don’t dismiss everything they say. They may have a great fix for that ho-hum chapter.

Inspiration


Outtakes 332

 

Inspiration

By Cait Collins

I have this great idea for the last chapter of my Route 66 short story and it involves my neighbors’ dog. I’m not a real animal person. I like some pets, but don’t want the responsibility of caring and nurturing one. But Frodo is different. I first met Frodo soon after his parents brought him home. He wasn’t very big size wise, but he had personality. I soon realized I kind of liked having him greet me.

Being around this pup inspired me to write a new character to end my story. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it works. The point is that inspiration can come from so many sources. It might be a picture, a song, a laugh, or a sigh. Experiences inspire us to create settings, characters, and story lines. Don’t ignore these little moments.

New Year


Outtakes 331

 

New Year

By Cait Collins

 

 

I know it sounds trite, but the older I get the faster time seems to fly. When I was a kid, my parents tried to help my impatience by telling me it was seven sleeps to my birthday or Christmas. Those were long nights. And it still seemed like the big days would never come. Now days, time races on and before long, we will be staring 2019 in the face.

While I don’t make resolutions for the New Year, I am making promises.

I promise to finish my short story by the first critique meeting of 2018.

I promise to finish the edits on my memoir.

I promise to have my short story for Holidays on Route 66 by deadline.

I promise to get my blog done on time each week.

 

Best wishes for 2018 and happy writing.

Make It Work


Outtakes 330

Make It Work

Cait Collins

 

I was three chapters from the end of my Route 66 short story when I learned that one of the places I planned to feature was closed. I needed that site to help my heroine move forward with her life. When someone is afraid of dark places, a tour of a cavern sounded ideal. So it was time to find another route to helping the character heal.

I opened my research books and began looking for something to fill the need. I knew there were mining operations in Missouri, but were tours available? Did the company require a minimum number of people to schedule a tour? I took a while, but I have my fix. It has made it easier to allow her to realize the mistakes she has made in her life.

Roadblocks in our work are not reasons to scrap the project and move on to something else. They should be considered opportunities to make the story better and maybe more insightful. I don’t like to scrap a project until I have dug myself a hole so deep I can’t crawl out. Even then, I do not destroy the work. I keep it under the bed and revisit it occasionally. Maybe one day, I’ll discover the fix for it.

Experiences


Outtakes 328

Experiences

By Cait Collins

 

Sometimes I have trouble getting into my characters heads. I just don’t understand why they don’t respond as I think they should. To correct the problem, I try to recall a similar incident in my own life and recall my emotions and responses. How did my reactions differ from those of the character? How did I express my feelings? How do my character traits compare to those of the character?

Here’s the situation. Cara has been dating Mark for several months. She thinks everything is fine until she sees him with her best friend, Barbie. There is nothing suggesting the encounter is casual. In fact, it’s a steamy public display of affection or lust. The lip-lock speaks volumes.

Cara is devastated. Instead of confronting the couple, she breaks into tears and runs off. Once she gets home, she calls a couple of her friends and tearfully tells the story to them. Soon Barbie is no longer welcome in the friends circle and Mark is getting the cold shoulder from everyone. It’s a pretty typical response. And boring.

What if Cara pretended she wasn’t bothered by the events? Why not do the stiff upper-lip bit and shrug it off in public. Then when she’s alone, she breaks down and cries her eyes out. No tears in public. No angry displays. No name calling. After all, no self-respecting woman wants a man to think he can’t be replaced.

Instead Cara begins to write that novel she claimed she always wanted to write. She kills Mark and Barbie off in the book. The book is picked up by a big publishing house and it becomes a best seller. Cara finds happiness in a new career and in a new relationship. She maintains her self-respect and doesn’t have to apologize for making a scene and making everyone’s lives miserable.

Have I ever used this method to get over a bad situation? Absolutely. Writing is the best therapy.

Grinch


Outtakes 327

Grinch

By Cait Collins

 

I have a favorite Christmas story… How The Grinch Stole Christmas. You see, I have my Grinch moments. There are days when I want it all to go away. I don’t want to shop at the local stores, nor do I plan to spend hours on-line trying to find gifts for my nieces and nephews, especially now that most of them are teens and pre-teens. That’s why I go to the bank and get cash to give to the kids. At least I know money fits and it’s the right color.

Then there are the days when I get lucky and hit the mall and find everything I need. On those days I’m Cindy Lou Who. The characters in the Grinch’s story are so memorable. I can easily picture the Grinch, his dog, and Cindy Lou. I especially like the Grinch in his Santa suit. If I had to use one word to describe each one it would go something like this. Max-faithful. Cindy Lou Who-trusting. The Grinch-lost.

The Grinch may be lost and a little bitter at the beginning of the story, but he learns something about the season. Christmas is about hearts, and when he begins to understand that the season is about love, his own heart grows.

All the characters in our stories have the potential for growth and change. As the story develops, the reader should see the characters grow. The playboy becomes a faithful husband and father. A thief restores his ill-gotten gains to his victims. The ugly duckling becomes a swan. And the woman who has been physically and emotionally battered learns to love and be loved. It is the writer’s job to craft his characters so that their transformations are real and not shallow and cookie-cutter. After all, who would have thought the Grinch would go from zero to hero?