Fill In the Blank


POST CARD FROM THE MUSE

Fill In the Blank

By Nandy Ekle

 

The last couple of weeks I talked about my need for organization in my every day life, but the total lack of structure in my writing life. And I’ve studied and been told and shown what an important tool outlining, planning, and plotting can be for a writer.

Let me just say, whatever your writing habits are, I will never tell you you’re doing it wrong, especially if you can successfully write “The End.” I very firmly believe each writer’s methods are right for them. But I also feel it’s important to have an open mind and trying something new to be sure you have the most effective way for your writing.

Last Friday I ended in the middle of telling about one story I wrote in a completely different way from my normal seat-of-the-pants method. This particular story, I did the plotting and planning, the story boarding and characterization, and the theme and each event. Even though this story is one I love very deeply, I didn’t have as much fun writing it as I normally have. The spontaneity was gone. The surprise was gone. I felt as though I was filling in blanks to a story already written.

But as I mentioned last week, something very interesting happened. The story was successful. I entered it in a contest, and it won second place and it earned the second spot in an anthology (available on Amazon). The other thing that happened was that the main character became one of my all-time favorite characters. And I think the reason that happened is that in my characterization of her, I realized she represents both of my grandmothers rolled into one.

Now, there’s another story I wrote in my normal way. This story, I had a theme and a situation. My character had a paranormal ability, but she didn’t want to reveal her talent, so she made up a story when caught using her gift. This was where I started. As I wrote, events of the story came to life as if I were a reader reading it. For me, this is the “funnest” part of writing. The tale unfolds in my head as if I’m watching a movie. In fact, as I headed into the final scene, I still was not sure who my villain was. As one of my “movie” scenes played, the secret bad guy turned his face to me and winked. This was when I saw the end of my story. To this day, I get cold chills when I remember the scene.

This story has not found a home yet, but that’s one of my resolutions for this year.

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

 

Fill In the Blank


POST CARD FROM THE MUSE

Fill In the Blank

By Nandy Ekle

 

The last couple of weeks I talked about my need for organization in my every day life, but the total lack of structure in my writing life. And I’ve studied and been told and shown what an important tool outlining, planning, and plotting can be for a writer.

Let me just say, whatever your writing habits are, I will never tell you you’re doing it wrong, especially if you can successfully write “The End.” I very firmly believe each writer’s methods are right for them. But I also feel it’s important to have an open mind and trying something new to be sure you have the most effective way for your writing.

Last Friday I ended in the middle of telling about one story I wrote in a completely different way from my normal seat-of-the-pants method. This particular story, I did the plotting and planning, the story boarding and characterization, and the theme and each event. Even though this story is one I love very deeply, I didn’t have as much fun writing it as I normally have. The spontaneity was gone. The surprise was gone. I felt as though I was filling in blanks to a story already written.

But as I mentioned last week, something very interesting happened. The story was successful. I entered it in a contest, and it won second place and it earned the second spot in an anthology (available on Amazon). The other thing that happened was that the main character became one of my all-time favorite characters. And I think the reason that happened is that in my characterization of her, I realized she represents both of my grandmothers rolled into one.

Now, there’s another story I wrote in my normal way. This story, I had a theme and a situation. My character had a paranormal ability, but she didn’t want to reveal her talent, so she made up a story when caught using her gift. This was where I started. As I wrote, events of the story came to life as if I were a reader reading it. For me, this is the “funnest” part of writing. The tale unfolds in my head as if I’m watching a movie. In fact, as I headed into the final scene, I still was not sure who my villain was. As one of my “movie” scenes played, the secret bad guy turned his face to me and winked. This was when I saw the end of my story. To this day, I get cold chills when I remember the scene.

This story has not found a home yet, but that’s one of my resolutions for this year.

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

 

Timeless


Outtakes 208

Timeless

by Cait Collins

 

Do you ever wonder why certain books, plays and poetry are still taught in school? I have a theory. The classics were written by men and women who perfected their craft. They didn’t rest on laurels; instead they invested time in making the next work better.

Students groan when they open Julius Caesar but the story is still worth telling. The characters have the same concerns as men and women today. We have issues with government and power grabbing.

Mark Twain revealed a dark time in American history. TOM SAWYER AND HUCKLEBERRY FINN did not necessarily defend slavery. The stories revealed a truth that can bring about change. Tom and Huck are so right as boys in the late 1800’s. I’ve met a few shysters who could pull off the whitewashing of the fence with a wink and a smile.

JANE EYRE depicts the times when men ruled and women held a second class status. But it also shows the growth of a young woman beyond the customary role to become a strong and faithful lady of means.

Then there are new classics. I truly believe the Harry Potters series will stand the test of time. After all daring deeds and heroic action will always be popular. And like the previously noted volumes, the Potter books will be part of my library. As will Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series, Craig Johnson’s LONGMIRE stories, and Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunters.

These authors and others like them found the formula for success. They developed memorable characters, had good stories and plots. They employed the basis of grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Above all, they wrote for the reader and not just for themselves.

What books are in your library? Is there a mixture of old and new? Are the covers pristine or worn? Are there some volumes that are dog-eared and faded from handling? I do hope your library is just like mine. I hope you have a mixture of everything and you read and reread your old favorites and acquire new favorites. After all, good writing never goes out of style.

 

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

Writers Need Readers


Writers Need Readers

By Rory C. Keel

As an Author, I need readers. Whether I’m writing a novel, short story or an article for publication, the written word needs an audience.

Two things must merge at this point, your work and the reader. The question is how to get your writing and the reader together in order to achieve success?

Here are three things that will help to tie your read to your writing.

Something to write about

What interests you? Is it a major news event, an evil deed done by societies misfits or a heroic action? Research your target audience and then draw ideas from current events to create a plot or story line.

Good Title

While the title is not the story, a good story may never be read because of a bad title.

The title must be a calling card to your writing. When choosing a title, think about what would cause you to read this particular piece. Is the title colorful and exciting? Does it promise something without revealing the answer? Does it strike an emotional nerve?

Ending

Write an ending that moves people. As the reader struggles through each conflict of your story along with your characters, the reader needs relief. The main character may die at the end, but if the reader receives meaning from the end of your story,  you have written a successful ending.

I Admit It; I’m an Outliner.


I Admit It; I’m an Outliner.

By Rory C. Keel

It is generally accepted among writers that there are two categories of writers: outliners and non-outliners, otherwise known as “plotters and pantsers.”

While non-outliners, or pantsers, fly by the “seat of their pants” when writing, the plotter or outliner does just what the name implies, we make an outline.

Make an outline.

When your writing begins, make a brief outline of the story you want to create. It doesn’t need to be a formal outline with roman numerals and such, but a basic list of plot points. It can be very general or elaborately detailed, either way you know the direction you want to take your story.

Benefits of Outlining

There are several benefits in outlining.

  1. It allows you to know where you’re going.
  2. It allows you to see the balance of a story at a glance.
  3. Keeps you from chasing dead ends.
  4. Helps in determining the POV of your story.

If you are struggling with writer’s block, try outlining the rest of your story to move you forward.

Try living with your character


Try living with your character

When creating a character try this exercise.

As you build a character, or characters, you should be able to see them and answer questions about them. As you take action and make choices during the day, do the same with your character.

What do you eat for breakfast? Does your character eat breakfast? What foods do they like or dislike?

Do you wear a particular style of clothes? What does your character WEAR? Why do they like to wear them?

Do you go to the store? Where does your character shop and what do they buy?

What do you do for fun, sports or hobbies? What about your character?

What’s important is NOT what the character did, but what you learned about what you know about the character.

Rory C. Keel