My Dear Mr. Murphy


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

My Dear Mr. Murphy

By Nandy Ekle

 

First of all, I want you to peek in the window of this house. The owner is in his bed sleeping. He’s still and quiet, not even snoring. We’ll stand here for, oh, about a hundred pages and watch. Everything stays peaceful. His robe is hanging on the hook and the only thing on the floor is the dog, which also does not move a muscle. No sounds, no action, no chaos.

Now let’s go to the house next door. Look in that window and what do you see? Well the owner seems to be getting into bed. The bed is all ruffled, which means he’s been in bed and gotten up. His robe is in a heap on the floor at the foot as if he tried to toss it on the chair and missed. The dog is standing on four feet turning circles like, maybe, he’s been outside and come back in. We hear kids crying upstairs and the lady of the house stomps into the room with a scowl on her face and a wooden spoon in her hand. Her robe falls off her shoulders in a pile and she stomps past it. They both pull the covers up to their chins and he turns out the light.

We’ll stand here a few pages more and listen to them snore. Then we hear a phone ring, the dog barks, and childish laughter peals from the upper floor. Mr. and Mrs. both turn on their lights and roll out of bed. They reach for their robes and don’t find them. The dog jumps around wagging his tail as the two adults stumble to the foot of the bed and bump into each other while searching. He goes for the phone, which has rung two more times and she gets the wooden spoon and heads out the door; the dog jumps in the bed and immediately lays down and goes to sleep.

Which one of these homeowners is the most peaceful? Which one the most interesting? While peace, order and serenity may be wonderful in real life, your story needs conflict to be interesting.

Mr. Murphy has the perfect formula for story writing: Anything that can go wrong, will.”

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

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A NEW YEAR OF WRITING


By Natalie Bright

To start your New Year of writing, I ran across this list of story fundamentals.

  • memorable characters
  • a theme that entertains & enlightens
  • conflict
  • structure – beginning and middle and end
  • point of view
  • plot
  • resolution, great ending, satisfying

During January, WordsmithSix members will meet to work on our goals list for the next year. Hope you have a wonderful and productive 2015!

Natalie Bright

Stoking Young Fire


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

 

Stoking Young Fire

By Nandy Ekle

 

So a very young person, around the age of ten or eleven, comes to you and says, I want to write a story. What do I do?” What do you say to child of that age?

Well that age of kid may not be ready to hear about plot or theme or conflict. They may not even be ready to hear about characterization.

I think one of the first things I would say to a third or fourth grader is that the key to learning to write stories is to read stories. Reading published works by successful authors can be more important than reading a textbook about how to write. We subconsciously learn to put stories together, and we learn to describe scenes.

The second thing I would tell this child is that writing stories is most like playing make believe with our friends. Instead of acting out a game of “play like,” we right down the scenarios. And this is the basis of where stories come from.

A third thing I would explain to this child is that writers write. So the best way to learn about writing is to write.

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

 

Tag word: plot, conflict, make believe.

Characterization Profile List


Characterization Profile List

By Natalie Bright

 

Strengths

Weaknesses (give your character flaws to make them believable)

Self-perception

How others see him/her

Hobbies/Collections

Natural talents

Cultivated talents

Fears (What does your character fear the most? Make them face it)

Habits

Dreams (bad/good/reoccurring)

Most comfortable when

Most uncomfortable when

If granted one wish, what would it be? Why?

Present problems

External conflict or problem

Internal conflict or problem

Main obstacle or problem keeping character from obtaining goal

Character Arc

How does your character change from the beginning to the end of your story.

As the saying goes, you must know all of your characters secrets. What’s hidden in their closet? You may not use this information in your story, but you still need to know.

For Your Reference Library

Psychology of Creating Characters – by Laurie Schnebly Campbell

Creating Character: Bringing Your Story to Life (Red Sneaker Writers Book Series) by William Bernhardt

45 Master Characters by Victoria Lynn Schmidt

Writer’s Guide to Character Traits by Dr. Linda Edelstein

Happy writing!

www.nataliebright.com

Where do I start?


 Where do I start?

This is a common question by those who want to write a book. With all the many instructions and how-to’s out there, let me suggest three simple Ideas.

Develop a THEME for your book.

First, develop a theme for your story. Theme is different than subject in that it expresses a purpose or intent of the subject. For example, your subject might be a run-away girl, but your theme might be, “There’s no place like home.” The theme is what ties your plot and characters together.

Develop the PLOT

Develop the Plot or the action of your story. The plot is not equivalent to conflict, but is a series of dilemmas or encounters, which may include conflict, that helps your main character to evolve through their needs and motivations.

Create CHARACTERS

These are the people who reveal your theme. They connect with the reader by their traits and inner qualities described by the writer in a believable way. By matching their characteristics with the theme and running them through the plot, they must change in some recognizable way.

These three intertwined together will form a satisfying story. So let’s get started!

Rory C. Keel

Characterization Part 3



Characterization Part 3

By Natalie Bright

 

From last week, did you develop a history and family chart for your character? Next, let’s dig even deeper and consider how their life experiences might influence their actions and responses to the conflict in your plot.

The Power of Control

When you get right down to it, I think people throughout the world and through time have experienced the same emotions. Being human means we have the ability to practice self-control and we cover our genitals (and there are always exceptions). Fictional characters would draw on those same emotions. They’d also be influenced by traits of their experiences, both past and present.

Author Steven James talked about the power of control in a main character in a special session at OWFI con in Oklahoma City. Self-control and silence are remarkable traits for the hero. “Heroes don’t back down,” he said. Stillness, silence, body stance, and a slow response can evoke power. Would 007 ever run from the room screaming like a girl? Through internal dialogue, your main character may be having a total meltdown but on the outside the villain only sees calm and control. This makes an intense scene for the reader.

Develop the Differences

reflect on the differences for your protag and antag, and then take everything to the next level for fictional characters. For example, consider the Texas Panhandle where I live. A visitor from Florida commented how busy everyone is here. She said we’re always going somewhere to do something, evidenced by our recurring reference of “fixin’ to”.  She told me that people in Florida don’t seem to be that busy at doing anything or even making plans. Her comment surprised me in that the differences would even be that noticeable.

We’ve seen this a hundred times; a character is put into a new situation, a new city, or a different world in which their normalcy is now outside the norm, and often times extremely strange.  Develop the differences.

I remember talking to a group of Chinese college students who were amazed that they could drive outside of town to where there were no people.  They were shocked to drive down a dirt road to our home and not meet another car. At the time, they lived in apartments owned by my in-laws and they would ask the strangest questions, “Who gave you permission to buy this building.” “How were you assigned to this land?” “Who tells you how many cattle you can own?” They couldn’t comprehend that my husband managed property he actually owned, which he was capable of repairing and leasing to people of his choosing. The idea that families could own grassland and decide how many cattle the land will support was an unbelievable concept to these exchange students. To me, being assigned an apartment and having a job which I didn’t choose seems just as strange.

What If

I love meeting new people and learning about their lives. Aren’t humans fascinating? Fictional characters can be just as enthralling. Dig deeper to determine the differences between your heroes and villains and then make them larger than life. Create conflict. Utilize both external and internal issues and build intensity with emotion.

As the character dynamics swirl around in your head and as you consider the “what if”, you’ll come away with a ton of conflict for your plot line based on the feelings and desires of your characters. Once you really know your fictional creations, you can let them take you on their journey.

Bestselling author Jodi Thomas pointed out, “Characters are interesting only to the extent that they grate on each other.”

Have fun and Keep writing!

Where do I start?


 Where do I start?

This is a common question by those who want to write a book. With all the many instructions and how-to’s out there, let me suggest three simple Ideas.

Develop a THEME for your book.

First, develop a theme for your story. Theme is different than subject in that it expresses a purpose or intent of the subject. For example, your subject might be a run-away girl, but your theme might be, “There’s no place like home.” The theme is what ties your plot and characters together.

Develop the PLOT

Develop the Plot or the action of your story. The plot is not equivalent to conflict, but is a series of dilemmas or encounters, which may include conflict, that helps your main character to evolve through their needs and motivations.

Create CHARACTERS

These are the people who reveal your theme. They connect with the reader by their traits and inner qualities described by the writer in a believable way. By matching their characteristics with the theme and running them through the plot, they must change in some recognizable way.

These three intertwined together will form a satisfying story. So let’s get started!

Rory C. Keel