Story in a Sentence

Story in a Sentence

Natalie Bright

There’s no better way to discover the “heart” of your book then to summarize the plot into as few of words as possible.

One sentence can explain the main characters, the plot line, and the theme. Now that’s a challenge!

Stripe your story down to the bare bones. Hooks are attention getters to lure readers into your story. You want to generate interest with a promise of adventure. Ensnare the reader. Pull her away from reality.

If writing one sentence is too difficult, perhaps you have more than one story line. Maybe you have multiple plot lines, and need to decide upon the main story and theme.

*Toy Story is about the ‘secret life of toys’ when people are not around.

*Princess Anna, a hopeless optimist, sets off on an epic journey – teaming up with rugged mountain man Kristoff, his loyal reindeer Sven and a talking snowman named Olaf – to find her beautiful sister Elsa, whose icy powers have trapped their kingdom in eternal winter.

*After a painful divorce, the author sets out to devote one year to pleasure, prayer and love. (EAT, PRAY, LOVE by Elizabeth Gilbert.)

Please share the story in a sentence of your current work in progress.

Kids and Books

Outtakes 223

Kids and Books

By Cait Collins

I’ve really tried to keep causes out of my blogs, but I hope you will indulge me this week. I realize times have changed, but as we see academic scores dropping and kids having trouble excelling in school, I have come to believe we have an issue with reading. I see kids being held back in school because their reading skills are not where they should be. They are not dumb children; they simply can’t read well.

I grew up in an environment where reading was encouraged. My folks bought the Grolier Encyclopedia, Book of Knowledge, and ChildCraft for us. They bought the books on a payment plan because they wanted us to have easy access to information. I remember Mom or Dad gathering us in the big chair and reading to us. As I got older and could read on my own, I would spend hours reading and studying these volumes.

These days books are not always present in the home. Often the family budget does not stretch to purchasing books. And if parents are not readers, it could be difficult for a child to see the need to read. Unfortunately, the child suffers because the inability to read well slows the learning process. For this reason, I support efforts to get books into a child’s hands.

One of my favorite programs is Toys for Tots. Every Christmas, the Barnes and Noble Store in Amarillo selects books for kids of all ages. The titles are suggestions for customers who wish to purchase books for the toy drive. Or the patrons may prefer to browse the shelves for some of their childhood favorites. Book donations are also accepted by the Evelyn Richards Foundation, a local charitable group that works to provide coats and Christmas for children in our area. It may not seem like a big deal to those of us who grew up reading, but giving a child a book of his own may be the beginning of new adventures and better learning opportunities.

Why not volunteer for Story Hour at your local library or bookstore? Maybe we could mentor in the local schools. As writers, we should be at the forefront of supporting efforts to put books in the home and in schools. Maybe we can’t change the whole world, but at least we can make an inroad in our corner of it.


Reasons to Write

Reasons to Write

By Rory C. Keel

Why do I write? Is it because throngs of fans demand it anticipating every word of my next masterpiece? Is it because I honestly expect to make millions of dollars on a bestseller, or desire to be famous? No.

Over the next few weeks I will share with you a few of the reasons I write.

Reason #1

I write to tell a story. Everyone loves a good story. Children drift off to sleep with their heads cradled gently in downy pillows, and their minds full of colorful images from fairytales. Young adults turn the pages of books filled with adventure, loyalty, and sometimes tragedy. They experience a spectrum of emotions as they learn the meaning of dedication, true love, and even loss. Adults feel alive with the thrill of a great suspense novel. As we grow older, we can gain a sense of who we are, and where we came from by reading of our youthful yesterdays.

For a few brief moments in time, a story affords the reader the opportunity to escape reality. Traveling through time into other dimensions, we can explore the far reaches of the future, or a place in history. A story allows the reader to become someone else, able to triumph over evil, or transform into the bad guy. The words of a story can inspire us to overcome the odds stacked against us, and we can experience the exhilaration of victory.

Everyone has a story–write yours.

Rory C. Keel



By Natalie Bright

One of the notable things that many successful writers have in common is that they read. If you find interviews by some of your favorite best-selling authors, they usually reveal their reading lists. And more often than not, they’ll have a few books that they’ve read over and over.

William Faulkner wrote, “Read, read, read. Read everything — trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it.” 

One of the WordsmithSix writers told me she reads Stephen Kings’ THE SHINING every year around Halloween. It’s one of her favorite books because of the psychological intensity, and of course written by one of the masters. My goal this year is to read that book in October. It’s already on my eReader.

Which comes first: the writer or the reader? For me personally, I can’t answer that question, but one bookshelf holds several of my cherished childhood picture books. And I can vividly remember my hometown library, Rhoads Memorial Library in Dimmitt, Texas.

Located on the same block, and just around the corner from the Laundromat, I spent most Saturdays there.  While my mother did our weekly wash, I whiled away the time with characters and discovered places I’ll never forget. Mrs. Howell usually had books ready and waiting for me. With a cheery “Good morning. I think you’ll enjoy this,” she’d hand me a stack of treasures.  The feel, the smell of the pages, the tingle of excitement; I couldn’t wait until I could bury my thoughts into the story.

One of the happiest days for my mom, and probably one of the saddest for me, was when my dad backed his pickup truck next to the front porch and unloaded a new washer and dryer. That was the Saturday I didn’t get to go to the library. And perhaps that was the day I started writing the stories in my head.

Who influenced you to become a reader?

Twitter in the New Year

Twitter in the New Year

By Natalie Bright

Take a look at this list of names:

Cynthia Leitich-Smith
David Morrell
Christine Taylor-Butler
Elizabeth Hoyt
John Kremer
McDonalds TX Panhandle

Can you tell me what this group has in common?

Give up yet?

All of these people, or place as in the McDonalds, are on Twitter and they followed me back. This is a big deal because they all have way more followers than I do. In all of these cases, I do buy their books, follow their blogs, and repost their tweets, except for McDonalds to which my teenager contributes. I believe that’s how social media works.

It’s not too late to make New Year’s Resolutions is it? I’ve decided to make an effort to be more friendly on Social Media. There’s really no reason to be snooty on Twitter. In my mind, we should all repost and retweet, and more importantly, follow back the people who follows us.

How do you determine who to follow back and who to skip over?

There are local people I know personally who did not follow me back on Twitter. If that’s you, out you go. I’ve had to unfollow a lot of you, so that I can follow back the people who are following me. It just good manners.

In 2015, I promise to be kinder, friendlier, and retweet all things bookish.

You can find Natalie on Twitter @natNKB.

Wedge of Writing

We love books!

The world of books is the most remarkable creation of man, nothing else that he builds ever lasts, monuments fall; nations perish; civilizations grow old and die out; new races build others. But in the world of books are volumes that have seen this happen again and again and yet live on. Still young, still as fresh as the day they were written, still telling men’s hearts, of the hearts of men centuries dead.

–Clarence Day

Write on, WordsmithSix friends, write on!


Hooray for Banned Books

Hooray for Banned Books

By Natalie Bright

Children’s Literature celebrated Banned Books Week Sept. 21-27. Hooray for that because I’ve discovered many wonderful books from these types of lists. Take for example the news that a large school district in Texas has banned The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie.

Written in first-person “diary” format, it’s the inner thoughts of a teen so it’s raw, realistic, inappropriate; just like teenagers. The main character faces bullies, alcoholic parents, racism, abusive adults, sex, cuss words; just like life.

It’s written for YA (young adult) audience which means this is a story for older teenagers. As the mother of two teenaged boys, I absolutely believe in the power of parents to control the materials our children have access to. (What parent hasn’t cringed at the mention of internet?) I understand how inappropriate teenagers can be and how shocking some of their questions are, but they’re also funny, charming, and crazy smart. Kids today continually amaze me. It doesn’t mean every teenager is into any of the topics covered in a YA novel. Sherman Alexie’s book doesn’t promote a certain kind of life style. These topics exist in our world, in a teens world. This book is for high school aged teens and, in my opinion, should not be in grade school or Jr. High libraries.

Based on the author’s own experiences, THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN is about a main character who leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white high school 22 miles away. It’s a story about following your dreams, finding acceptance, facing adversity, and coming through as a winner. It’s a story with loads of HEART. I loved this book.

Opinions are subjective. For as many people who hate a book, you’ll find just as many who love it. I’ve discovered so many wonderful stories through these kinds of lists, so hooray for banned books! Let’s work together to promote the joys and privilege of reading a great story. Let’s broaden the world view for our children and open the dialogue. Let’s do more talking, reading, learning, and less judging.

Writers Take Action:

1) Post an online review of one of your favorite stories from childhood. Ask your kids what’s one of their favorites. Post an online review of that book too. By promoting each others work, we’re also promoting the joys of reading.

2) Choose one book from a Banned Books List and read it.

Reading and Writing

Reading and Writing

Rory C. Keel

A few things that can help you become a better writer and reader.

  1. Practice – Writing makes you a better writer and reading makes you a better reader.
  2. Read, think, read, write, ponder, write – and read some more.
  3. Learn a new word everyday.
  4. Read lots of books.
  5. Write. And then write some more.
  6. Get the pen and fingers moving, or use a computer.
  7. Read what you have written aloud to anyone who will listen – including the cat.
  8. Keep a journal to keep the writing juices flowing.
  9. Read what you’ve written over and over, until you can’t find any more problems.
  10. Before you take a trip, read any information you can find and then write about your experience.

Thumbs Up Huskies!

Thumbs Up Huskies!

By Rory C. Keel

I had a wonderful time speaking to the 3rd and 4th grade classes at the Henry W. Sory Elementary School in Sherman, Texas. The students were fantastic and super polite.

Thanks to all the teachers who have worked so hard to instruct and encourage the students to excel in reading and writing.

A special thanks to Ginger White, the Assistant Principal, for inviting me to come and share some of my writing motivations and the book that inspired me to read. I enjoyed reading my story, The Challenge published in the Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiration for Writers book and hope someone will be encouraged to be a writer.

I know that the Sory Huskies always do their best!



“Ands and Buts”

“Ands and Buts”

 By Rory C. Keel


Recently I decided to do some rewriting and corrections on my novel. Wow, it’s amazing how much better I write today than months ago when I started the book.

I remember the first day I started. I was confident in my story plot, characters and setting and remained confident every day as I move the story forward. Then I read the beginning; my confidence had covered a multitude of mistakes.

Making corrections is no easy task either. One day you change the “ands” into “buts”: then on the next day after re-reading the corrections again you change the “buts” back into “ands.”

The problem is that you’re confident about the corrections on both days.

Hello Editor!