WRITING LIFE


WRITING LIFE
Natalie Bright

The writing life is a solitary endeavor, and routinely interrupted by
everybody! Life happens.

Seriously, at times writers have to put aside the world within their heads
and face reality. Somebody’s always hungry (at least at my house), something
needs cleaning, bills past due, and laundry piles grow as I write this. I’ve
been hit with reality for several weeks now and I can’t seem to dig out from
under it. Sometimes I really miss my fictional world.

Many experts suggest that you have to live a real life in order to find
material for your stories. New York Times Bestselling author, Jodi Thomas,
says that writers live two lives with one foot in reality and the other in
the fictional realm. Overheard conversations, experiences, and research can
add richness to your writing. That may be true. During the break my creative
mind may be taking a pause, but my self-editor and self-doubt is partying
hard.

Thank goodness part of the real world includes a writer’s meeting this past
weekend.  Kim Hunt Harris talked about adding humor to your writing and K.
J. Waters enlightened us on the business side of becoming an Indie Author.
Once again I am reminded how sitting in a room full of creative people can
motivate you to keep going and inspire you to fill pages with words.

Texas High Plains Writers meets every other odd month on the third Saturday
at the Chase Tower in downtown Amarillo.

Our next event is co-sponsored with Canadian Arts Alliance, to be held in
beautiful Canadian, Texas April 13-15. Follow us on Facebook to keep updated
on all the details: Texas High Plains Writers based in Amarillo, Texas.

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ANIMALS AS CHARACTERS


ANIMALS AS CHARACTERS

Nataliebright.com

If your story is plodding along and you’re struggling in that saggy middle quagmire, think about adding interesting elements through animals.

Animals add a richness to our lives and provide some great material for stories. With some creative thinking, they can add unlimited conflict for your characters to deal with. The death of a beloved pet. The bequeath of granny’s pet anaconda. The personality of a cranky, old cat.

As I sat in the vet’s office one morning, an elderly couple came in with an obnoxious solid black mutt. He barked at my dogs, with a face that was full of disgust. The elderly gentleman took him outside. The lady explained that their dear neighbor had died and had left this dog to them in her will. Sometimes great stories just land in your lap from out of nowhere.

We have a ranch with dogs, barn cats, Registered Angus cows, wild turkey, antelope, deer—you name it. There are issues that happen every week just involving the livestock and wildlife. If you’ve ever owned a pet, you know that they exhibit quirky personalities and habits that keep life interesting.

Last Saturday, I toured Dove Creek Ranch and Equine Rescue. They do amazing work. I was reminded that animals have fascinating life journeys and stories much like people. Some of these horses have experienced mental issues, grief, abuse and pain. Horses go through traumatic events and have to experience a healing process much like humans. Sometimes it’s not a happy ending. Other times horses and humans can heal together, and there is new found joy and a fresh beginning. Talk about a place full of story ideas!

Dig deeper and rethink the dynamics of your story. Would an animal add a unique dimension to your character arc or story line?

Always onward WS6 writers!

A NAME


A NAME

By Natalie Bright

Stuck. On a name.

Actually, I don’t know his name which is why I can’t write the story.

Drat!

All of the components are there: setting, beginning, middle, and in my opinion, a brilliant ending. The story plays out in my head in vivid color, but what is his name? I have no idea.

As writers, we understand the importance of a great name. Fictional character names can inspire countless generations (Superman, DC Comics) and generate millions in promotional material (Charles Schulz’s Snoopy). We love those serendipity moments when a character’s name arrives like a gift out of thin air. Author David Morrell spoke at a writer’s conference about being extremely frustrated and stuck on a name for his character. His wife encouraged him to take a break and handed him a locally grown apple. The name of the apple variety was “Rambo”.

My character is quiet, yet very strong, and determined for all of his twelve years of experience. He’s not shy, but he’s not the life of the party either. He works hard and he loves horses. I can see him clearly. What in the heck is his name?!!

CHARACTER NAME RESOURCES

  1. School Yearbooks. I start with my son’s Jr. High yearbook. This is a modern story and there’s no better way to know what kids are being named than to glance at names in today’s world.
  2. Google It. Next I go to the life-changing resource that is Google (how did we survive before?). I’ve searched baby name sites for several days and jot down a page of possibles.
  3. Consult your Names Notebook. Whenever I meet someone with an unusual name, I make a note on my phone or whatever scrap of paper I can find, and then add it to my Names Notebook. Sometimes in conversation someone will tell me that their family has unique names, and they’ll jot them down for me. Also in my notebook are names of family members gleaned from Ancestry.com. Thanks to my Uncle’s genealogy work, it’s become a great source for ideas.
  4. Pinterest has some interesting links for names lists, like most popular, most unusual, most underused, ancient names, etc. You can find some of these on my Board “I Write” under @natbright on pinterest.com
  5. Still writing with character named ‘boy’. The search continues…

Where do you turn for inspiration and ideas to name your characters?

 

 

WRITING LIFE


WRITING LIFE

By Natalie Bright

The writing life is a solitary endeavor, and routinely interrupted by everybody!

Seriously, at times writers have to put aside the world within their heads and face reality. Somebody’s always hungry (at least at my house), something needs cleaning, bills waiting to be paid, and laundry is piling up. I’ve been hit with reality for several weeks now and I can’t seem to dig out from under it. I really miss my fictional world.

Many experts suggest that you have to live a real life in order to find material for your stories. Overheard conversations, experiences, and research can add richness to your writing. That may be true. During this break my creative mind may be taking a pause, but my self-editor and self-doubt is partying hard. I’m a loser. I’ve been working on a 500 word piece for a month now and it’s just not coming together. At this point, I’m totally convinced that I will never write anything again that anyone will want to read. I can’t see that I’m making any progress towards building a writing career. I’m done.

Thank goodness part of the real world this past weekend included a writer’s meeting. Author and song-writer, Jan Sikes, talked to the Texas High Plains Writers group in Amarillo about her series of books based on her life with a musician. Using the facts of her own experiences, she changed the names of the people involved to create what she explains is 90% true and 10% fiction. She even gave herself a fictional name so that she can step back from the very personal connection and bring this fascinating love-story to life. Her talk was excellent. I’ll share some of her writing advice with you next week.

Thank goodness I am reminded how sitting in a room full of creative people can give you inspiration to keep going.

Texas High Plains Writers meets every other month on the third Saturday at the Amarillo Senior Citizens Center in downtown Amarillo.

THE BIG WHY


THE BIG WHY

By Natalie Bright

When I added fiction writing to my job related and freelance work about 12 years ago, I had envisioned becoming a romance writer. My goals were to sign with an agent and attend the Romance Writers of America conference every year.  As a member of two critique groups, one which is all romance writers, it stands to reason that I’d be a natural at creating these kind of stories. Easy peasy.

Wrong.

The stories in my head are not of the romantic nature.

The characters that interrupt my dreams are young people, most often from the past. More specifically in the old West. Not only have I spent many, many sleepless nights wondering about these characters and their adventures, I’ve also asked myself, WHY am I doing this? I remember being fascinated with history, the Oregon Trail, and the old West at an early age, but I never imagined I’d be crafting historical novels. I’ve since walked many a mile on the dirt road behind my house, staring into the setting sun, trying to channel a 15-year old Comanche brave. Why this character haunts my head is a mystery.

This summer, my entire mindset has changed regarding my writing journey.

WWA is the West

I attended the Western Writers of America convention in Lubbock, Texas. This is a diverse group, with songwriters, poets, historians, museum archivists, writers of nonfiction and fiction, editors, agents, musicians, and newbies and veteran authors.

As a first-time attendee and new member I didn’t expect to know anyone there, and then a very nice lady from Utah introduced herself and said, “I’ll be your mentor.” (Thank you Rachelle “Rocky” Gibbons, SPUR Award finalist of Big Buckaroo & Moose the Cow Dog.)

Educational Panels and Much More

While there, I listened to a panel of New York City authors share facts about The Alamo that I’d never heard before. Songwriters and talented musicians shared their original music every night in the Roundup Room. A panel on writing about the Comanche Nation included great-grandsons of the great chief Quanah Parker!

At a table over a plate of Texas Bar-B-Que, I listened to the daughter of Don Coldsmith tell how her father gave up a successful medical career as a family practice physician to write stories set in the west. His first book came from the discovery of a valuable bit in an antique bin in Oklahoma, which he bought for a dollar. He penned 40 novels which involved a whole series covering centuries of history. She told us about his writing process and about how he never missed a WWA convention.

The Why Doesn’t Matter

Here’s what I learned during this amazing week: these people don’t worry about the WHY.

WWA members endlessly research the subjects they love. WWA members write about the people and the places that burns a hole in their gutt. My guess is WWA members would pen those stories, songs and poems whether anyone read them or not. A writer writes. From this day forward, I’ll strive to write the very best story I can and leave the why for somebody else to worry about.

WESTERN WRITERS OF AMERICA NEEDS YOU!

If you’re a fan of history, cowboys, horses, and anything relating to the American West, close to 600 WWA members share your enthusiasm. You will LOVE this group. Check them out at www.westernwriters.org.

Perhaps I’ll meet you June 2016 at the WWA Convention in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Whatever haunts your dreams, stop questioning the why and write on!

Nataliebright.com

THE BIG WHY


THE BIG WHY

By Natalie Bright

When I added fiction writing to my job related and freelance work about 12 years ago, I had envisioned becoming a romance writer. My goals were to sign with an agent and attend the Romance Writers of America conference every year.  As a member of two critique groups, one which is all romance writers, it stands to reason that I’d be a natural at creating these kind of stories. Easy peasy.

Wrong.

The stories in my head are not of the romantic nature.

The characters that interrupt my dreams are young people, most often from the past. More specifically in the old West. Not only have I spent many, many sleepless nights wondering about these characters and their adventures, I’ve also asked myself, WHY am I doing this? I remember being fascinated with history, the Oregon Trail, and the old West at an early age, but I never imagined I’d be crafting historical novels. I’ve since walked many a mile on the dirt road behind my house, staring into the setting sun, trying to channel a 15-year old Comanche brave. Why this character haunts my head is a mystery.

This summer, my entire mindset has changed regarding my writing journey.

WWA is the West

I attended the Western Writers of America convention in Lubbock, Texas. This is a diverse group, with songwriters, poets, historians, museum archivists, writers of nonfiction and fiction, editors, agents, musicians, and newbies and veteran authors.

As a first-time attendee and new member I didn’t expect to know anyone there, and then a very nice lady from Utah introduced herself and said, “I’ll be your mentor.” (Thank you Rachelle “Rocky” Gibbons, SPUR Award finalist of Big Buckaroo & Moose the Cow Dog.)

Educational Panels and Much More

While there, I listened to a panel of New York City authors share facts about The Alamo that I’d never heard before. Songwriters and talented musicians shared their original music every night in the Roundup Room. A panel on writing about the Comanche Nation included great-grandsons of the great chief Quanah Parker!

At a table over a plate of Texas Bar-B-Que, I listened to the daughter of Don Coldsmith tell how her father gave up a successful medical career as a family practice physician to write stories set in the west. His first book came from the discovery of a valuable bit in an antique bin in Oklahoma, which he bought for a dollar. He penned 40 novels which involved a whole series covering centuries of history. She told us about his writing process and about how he never missed a WWA convention.

The Why Doesn’t Matter

Here’s what I learned during this amazing week: these people don’t worry about the WHY.

WWA members endlessly research the subjects they love. WWA members write about the people and the places that burns a hole in their gutt. My guess is WWA members would pen those stories, songs and poems whether anyone read them or not. A writer writes. From this day forward, I’ll strive to write the very best story I can and leave the why for somebody else to worry about.

WESTERN WRITERS OF AMERICA NEEDS YOU!

If you’re a fan of history, cowboys, horses, and anything relating to the American West, close to 600 WWA members share your enthusiasm. You will LOVE this group. Check them out at www.westernwriters.org.

Perhaps I’ll meet you June 2016 at the WWA Convention in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Whatever haunts your dreams, stop questioning the why and write on!

Nataliebright.com

Chasing the Creative Impossible


Chasing the Creative Impossible

by Natalie Bright

www.nataliebright.com

Time.

The elusive part of our lives that all creatives tend to never have enough of, whether you’re firing ceramics, designing jewelry, painting with oils, gluing scrapbook pages or crafting stories with words. There comes a time when chasing your passion is like taking a slow, tortuous swim in a deep, murky pool of self-guilt. The reality is that most of us won’t realize world notoriety.

People Who Inspire You

I just returned from a writing conference where, of course, the topic of making time to write was discussed. Everyone struggles to follow their passion. Spending time with imaginative people helps me bring my ambition into focus. It makes my goals list seem more realistic and achievable, because I meet others who have accomplished what I dream about. Feeling exhausted, rejuvenated, and itching to apply what I’d learned to my waiting manuscript, the drive home took forever. I couldn’t wait to get my fingers on the keyboard again.

What Creative People Do

This weekend at the Enid Writers Group in Oklahoma, Spur Award winning author, Dusty Richards said, “Things will be tough in your life, but when you get to the other side, you still gotta write that book, or do whatever it is that drives you. Just do it.”

Something from Nothing

I think this applies to anyone who chases that elusive need to bring into being what they alone can visualize. People who are driven by an unseen creative muse can’t explain the why. At some point, it’s time to stop providing the excuses, the clarification, or the justification to others. At some point, all that’s left is the doing.

Dig deeper, keep going, just keep writing.

Note: Dusty Richards is author of over 100 books and countless short stories, and currently serves as President of the Western Writers of America. His Brynes Family Ranch Western series is a fan favorite, published by Pinnacle Books. www.dustyrichards.com

State of Being



State of Being

 

The ‘state of being’ verbs. The ‘be’ verbs. Basic grade school grammar which you probably memorized to pass the test. For writers, they are murder on your story.

The ‘be’ verbs are passive. To fully engage the reader, your writing must be active.

One of the best tips I learned at a conference is to search and highlight was in your manuscript. It’s easy to use was, as you’re dashing through that difficult first draft. Go ahead. Put a was in there, however you must go back and replace as many of them as you can with active verbs. Ramp up the imagery and heighten the action by using active verbs. In grade school, my sons learned a list of spicy words. We should all write more vividly, and spicier.

Instead of: She was running.  Make a list of other words to replace the verb run, such as: amble, bound, canter, dart, dash, escape, gallop, jog, scamper, scuttle. Each active word gives you a little different visual as opposed to “run”.

How many spicy words can you think of to replace jump?

Learn the B verbs:

be, being, been, was, just, very, to be, had to

Over the next few posts I’ll be blogging about basic grammar and story craft.  Until next week…

Thanks for following us at Wordsmith Six!

nataliebright.com