The universe is against you—just so you know.


The universe is against you—just so you know.

Natalie Bright

Ideas are everywhere, if you can learn to recognize them. And then the stories in your head won’t go away. Once you acknowledge to yourself that you have a passion for writing, the universe will seemingly turn against you. There has been a story lurking inside you and if you’re like most of us, probably your whole life, and this will be the hardest work you have ever done.

Here are some tips to push aside the static in your life and stay on track with your writing.

  1. Take note of those ideas. You can sort the ones you want to work on later. Write it down. Write everything down!
  2. Push aside the guilt and make the commitment to yourself, and then tell your family. “This is my writing time. This is important to me.” There will be a crisis at every turn, but you can persevere.
  3. Make a creative space with no distractions. A closet with a desk, a card table in the corner of your bedroom. Turn your back to reality and set foot into the visions in your mind.
  4. Remember the end goal. What is your end goal? A book in hand? Author events and talks? Manning a booth and selling your books at the local craft show? Don’t lose sight of the goal to hold your book in your hand. It’s one of the greatest feelings in the world.

My co-authors and I were at a recent event selling books. A poet stopped by our booth. Typical of most writers, he’d had a story scrambling his brain his entire life. We encourage him to pursue that dream. Now is the time!

Be open to the ideas around you. Listen to your gut. It’s never been easier to realize a publishing dream. There are so many options and people out there to help you make it happen.

 

FICTION DEPENDS FOR ITS LIFE ON PLACE


FICTION DEPENDS FOR ITS LIFE ON PLACE

 

A few quotes about setting…

“Every story would be another story, and unrecognizable if it took up its characters and plot and happened somewhere else. Fiction depends for its life on place. Place is the crossroads of circumstance, the proving ground of, what happened? Who’s here? Who’s coming?” EUDORA WELTY

“I think I have a God complex, and I like moving mountains and writing stories that affect entire worlds, and it’s a bit hard to do that in a contemporary setting because you have reality intruding. Whereas, when you set your own reality, you can makeup your own rules and do whatever you like.” JENNIFER FALLON

“I never think of an entire book at once. I always just start with a very small idea. In HOLES I just began with the setting; a juvenile correctional facility located in the Texas desert. Then I slowly make up the story, and rewrite it several times, and each time I rewrite it, I get new ideas, and change the old ideas around.” LOUIS SACHAR

“I always strive to create a setting that leaves the readers’ imagination room to roam. That way, every reader sees the story through their own eyes.”  P.S. BARTLETT

“I think setting as almost a character of its own, influencing the other characters in ways they’re not even aware of. So much of the success of a good ghost story rides on creating a creepy atmosphere; details of the landscape itself can help create a sense of dread.” JENNIFER MCMAHON

WALKING THE LAND


WALKING THE LAND

Natalie Bright

Your story setting is the location, environment, or atmosphere in which your novel takes place. Some authors believe in getting to know the setting by walking the land.

Here’s the link to a Youtube video with New York Times Bestselling author Jodi Thomas explaining her process. The photos featured in the video were taken by me in the Texas Panhandle, and if you like cows and Texas sunsets and such, you can see more on my blog, Prairie Purview, at nataliebright.com or find me on Instagram @natsgrams and Pinterest @natbright

Video: Walking the Land with Jodi Thomas

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sG4IeXueJDA

 

nataliebright.com

Point of View: Omniscient


Point of View: Omniscient

“The coffee-room had no other occupant, that forenoon, than the gentleman in brown. His breakfast-table was drawn before the fire, and as he sat, with its light shining on him, waiting for the meal, he sat so still, that he might have been sitting for his portrait.

… He wore an odd little sleek crisp flaxen wig, setting very close to his head: which wig, it is to be presumed, was made of hair, but which looked far more as though it were spun from filaments of silk or glass. His linen, though not of a fineness in accordance with his stockings, was as white as the tops of the waves that broke upon the neighboring beach, or the specks of sail that glinted in the sunlight far at sea.”

The exert above, from A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens, 1946) is an example of storytelling in an omniscient viewpoint.

Omniscient Defined – There is no identifiable character observing the scene above and relaying the information. Instead, a narrator, who is not identified, tells the tale.

CONSIDER FIRST PERSON POV


CONSIDER FIRST PERSON POV

Natalie Bright

My story about rescue horses did not come alive until I wrote it in first person point of view from the perspective of my main character, a rescue horse named Flash. This same story was written as a chapter book, a picture book, and an easy reader. Finally, Flash tells his own story and it works!

  

CHAPTER 1

The Worst Day of My Life

 

Everybody calls me Flash. That is not my real name.

At birth, I was given the name Snake Creek Rooster. I am a registered Tennessee Walker, which means that I come from fancy bloodlines.

My instincts are natural to me because of my parents.

From the Tennessee Walker lineage, I have a long, straight head. I am strong and agile, and I like people. I am loyal and kind.

The spots on my legs and chest are an important part of me too. Because of my coloring, I am recognized with a spotted saddle horse registry. I am double-registered.

I lived in a pen and had a wonderful family. My life was simple and uneventful.

One day my entire world changed.

My family had to move. They could not take me with them. There was no place for me in their new home.

What would become of me?

Where would I go?

I had never been alone before.

 

 

Writing is your journey, so go write!

POV Defined


POV Defined

 

Point of view refers to the perspective that the narrator holds in relation to the events of the story.

Point of view is the way a story is narrated or depicted and who is telling or narrating the story.

Narrative point of view is the perspective of that narrator.

Literature provides a lens through which readers look at the world. Point of view is the way the author allows you to “see” and “hear” what’s going on.

We’re blogging about Point of View all month long in September. Thanks for following Wordsmith Six.

Writing in your journey, so go write!

Nataliebright.com

PLOTTING A STORY


PLOTTING A STORY

Natalie Bright

Stuck in a rut? Look at your story from a different perspective by breaking down the plot structure. I got this at a writer’s conference and unfortunately, my notes do not indicate who to credit. Apologies.

Once upon a time there was:

Every day, (regular world):

One day, (normal world changes):

Because of that, (conflict):

Hero/heroine reacts how:

Because of that, (conflict):

Finally, he/she (resolution):

What does your character want more than anything in the world? As the writer, you must do everything you can to prevent them from getting it. How can you twist the expected outcomes and add something unexpected? Happy ending or not? You decide.

Writing is your journey, so go write!

Natalie
Nataliebright.com

A Brief History of Children’s Literature


A Brief History of Children’s Literature

Natalie Bright

We are blogging about what we write this month on WordsmithSix. Some of the stories in my head are for children.

While cleaning out cabinets, I discovered an old textbook and since I also write for children, the history of Kid Lit was fascinating to me. “Tell me a story” is as old as time, and generations have passed down embellished family tales for centuries. I hope you find this interesting.

The Ancient World [ancient Rome; 50 BCE to 500 CE]

  • oral tale; composed not to be read but to be heard
  • children listened to poems of Homer, the Iliad, the Trojan War, the Odyssey
  • adults might be drawn by love story; children by adventure, monsters
  • Aesop’s Fables–animal tales with pointed morals

The Middle Ages [500 to 1500 CE]

  • Reading
    • fewer children could read; little written for them
    • childhood generally ignored and kept as short as possible
  • Fables and other tales
    • The Deeds of the Romans [late 13th C] collection of moral tales and fables; sources of plots for centuries]
    • animals’ stories have always been favorites of children
    • biblical stories; lives of saints; local legends
    • no distinction between fantasy and reality; storytellers freely mingled magic, enchantment, the ludicrous, and the serious
    • the literature was rich with childlike imagination, full of wonder, mystery, excitement

The European Renaissance [1500-1650 CE]

  • Instructional Books
    • children more literate
    • reading materials were instructional books (Books of Courtesy) and works written primarily for adults
    • still had Aesop’s Fables
    • by end of the 17th century social changes were well underway and there was a path cleared for a genuine literature for children.

The 17th Century

  • childhood began to take on new importance
  • adults began to recognize the special needs of childhood, including the need for childhood reading
  • two specific influences brought a heightened sense of special needs of the child
    • Religious: rise of Puritanism, that placed special emphasis on the individual’s need to tend to his or her own salvation
    • Intellectual: work of John Locke, the English philosopher who believed every child possessed the capacity for leaning and that it was the responsibility of adults to see to the proper education of children
  • Bunyan, Defoe, Swift
    • children continued to adopt certain adult works of literature–Pilgrim’s Progress, Robinson Crusoe, Gulliver’s Travels

The 18th and Early 19th Centuries

  • John Newbery
    • Little Pretty Pocket Book (1744) first significant publication for children
  • Rousseau and the Moral Tale
    • expressed his ideas about education in Emile (1762), emphasized the importance of moral development–through simple living
    • books taught children how to be good and proper human beings
    • children¹s writing was considered inferior to adult writing and therefore mostly composed by women
  • Rise of the Folktales
    • 1729–Tales of Mother Goose by Charles Parrault, retellings including Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty
    • throughout the eighteenth century, more and more retellings appeared
    • beginning of 19th century–Grimm brothers
    • folktales were not considered expressly for children
    • some adults felt them unsuitable for children as they contained adult themes, alarming frankness and violence, lack of moral messages however children, nevertheless, continued to read and love the old tales

The Victorians: The Golden Age

  • during the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901) children’s literature first blossomed as first-rate authors and illustrators began to turn their talents to children and their books
  • Fantasies
    • 1865, Lewis Carroll (Charles Dodgson–math prof at Oxford) published Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and began a new era in children¹s literature
    • first significant publication for children that abandoned all pretense of instruction and was offered purely for enjoyment
    • Kingsley’s The Water Babies (1863); MacDonald’s The Princess and the Goblin (1872); Baum’s The Wizard of Oz (1900); Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows (1908).
  • Adventure Stories (for boys)
    • especially popular Stevenson’s Treasure Island (1883); Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1976) and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884)
    • British children seemed to prefer stories set in faraway and unfamiliar places; Americans more attracted to adventure stories set in America and rags-to-riches stories
    • Dime Novels–sensational, lacking style and depth, cheap–were immensely popular
  • School Stories (for boys)
    • antics of boys at boarding schools: Tom Brown’s School Days (1857)
    • school stories (virtually always coming-of-age tales) occasionally appear in the 20th century, such as The Chocolate War
  • Domestic Stories (for girls)
    • tales of home and family life focusing on the activities of a virtuous heroine, usually coming from dire straits and achieving good fortune and ultimate happiness in the person of a handsome young man
    • Alcott’s Little Women (1868) and Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables (1908)
  • Children’s Book Illustration
    • books of 18th century and earlier either lacked illustrations altogether or contained crude woodblock illustration–serious artists did not draw for children’s books
    • At the end of the 19th century, changes in publishing and printing attracted great illustrators
    • by end of the 19th century, stunningly illustrated children’s books were available at reasonable prices
    • by 1st quarter of 20th century, libraries were designating children’s rooms–or at least children¹s shelves–children’s literature had at last come of age.

Twentieth Century: Widening Worlds

  • greater diversity in children’s books
  • picture books to poetry to fantasy to realistic fiction to informational books

BIO: Natalie Bright is the author of a middle grade series for kids, TROUBLE IN TEXAS: Book 1 Hangin’ Day; Book 2 The Great Train Caper; and coming soon Book 3 Murder in the Morning. She also writers true rescue horse stories for kids, easy readers for 3rd/4thgrade level: Flash: The Story of Meand TAZ & THE BIG FLAPPY THING.

THE JOURNEY


THE JOURNEY

By Natalie Bright

This month we’re blogging about genre: what do you write and why? Some days it’s all uphill, chasing this writing fever.

My youngest son graduated high school this year and as we complete the paperwork process for college, I realized he may take his life in a whole new direction than what I had planned. He is a talented artist, since a very early age with a gift for color and design. I made him go to summer art camp as a pre-teen and he says I ruined the joy of drawing for him. He is a gamer, so I tried to steer him towards graphic design,  and he could build a resume by redesigning my website and helping me with social media memes and promo videos. That’s not happening.

Our oldest is also very smart with a talent for business and math. He loves to read, particularly history, and has asked me several times about book premise ideas; “Have you ever read a book where this happens? …” I told him to write it, and that he would find tons of fans with that idea. I had visions of him going to writing conferences with me, and maybe I’d be standing in line at his book signing event one day. But his passion lies in an entirely different area than anything I’d ever considered. It’s not going to be the family business or writing, and that makes me sad.

I remember hurrying home to tell my father about the English and poetry classes I had taken in college, and about my poetry journal. I wrote a book when I was in high school. His reply, “You should take some business classes.” I followed his advice and didn’t get back to writing until twenty years later. Dad had a different idea for my journey, just like I had envisioned our kids’ path.

Light bulb moment: we each have our own path to find. My journey in writing and publishing is MY journey, and MINE alone. No one is going to make me sit down at the computer and hold my hand. I have so many ideas and projects in my head. So many opportunities. The only problem I have is time.

This week has been particularly difficult with day job deadlines, the stories tug at me every minute, but that’s okay. I can do this. I can make everybody happy. I took my laptop with me while we were out of town last weekend, only to realize that I can’t write with someone in the same room. I read over what I had worked on in critique this week and it was horrible. The struggle is real.

Time. I wish I would exercise more and plan healthier meals for my family. I wish the day job would go away, but since my husband is the boss that’s not likely.  I wish I could join the five o’clock morning writers’ group, but my brain doesn’t come alive until seven. I wish I could stay awake all night and finish something. Time.

What I can do is give in to the journey and the stories in my head. What I must do is shut the door and write. Wish me luck. But first, I told my husband, “Yes, I’ll watch Season 3 of Stranger Things with you.”  One-half a step forward and three steps back is my journey.

How do you stay true to your writing? How do you carve out time to get things done?

Thanks for following WordsmithSix!

Hollywood in the Desert


Hollywood in the Desert

Natalie Bright

 

The Old Tucson movie set continues to be recognized as the pre-eminent film location in the Southwest, after its construction in 1939. Hollywood legends have walked the streets from John Wayne, Dean Martin, Glen Ford, Elizabeth Taylor, and many others. It was the location for the show High Chaparral, which aired from 1967 to 1971 staring Cameron Mitchell and Mark Slade, among others. Films, television shows, commercials, and even music videos, have been filmed here. If you are a fan of westerns, as I am, plan a visit to the site. Located about a 30 minutes drive from Tuscon, Arizona there are also eateries, shops, and a great shoot-out performance with stunt men.  For more pictures about my recent trip to Tuscon to attend the Western Writers of American convention, go to my Instagram @natsgrams.