A snapshot in a time of your life
Rory C. Keel
To find a story idea, think of a snapshot of time in your own life.
No, I’m not talking about writing a memoir piece, but using something we all have — a snapshot in time.
We all have those brief moments in life when we see something out of the ordinary, an event, or an interaction between people or things that make us pause for a brief second. Those snapshots of time are story ideas.
Perhaps you heard someone’s voice and wondered who they were speaking to and what did they mean. A story Idea!
Think back in your mind to the last time something caught you off guard, and you thought, I wonder what that was about?
Now make up a story!
Active Writing cultivates new Material.
Rory C. Keel
As a writer do you struggle to find new material to write?
For me, ideas often come to mind when I am actively writing as if one idea sprouts from another. As my story moves along, writing one sentence after the next, a scene will unfold unlocking a previous thought. Occasionally a secret door in that scene will open showing me an object or a thought that feels out of place and doesn’t fit. These are what I call my story seeds, seeds for another project.
Story seeds are small bits of information that emerge in your thoughts. They can be simple objects like a single red sock hung on a clothesline: why is it blowing in the wind as if forgotten, or was it intentional and a signal for someone? Maybe an animal such as a small brown dog runs through your thoughts while you write. Why is he alone? Does he have a master? These story seeds may be a specific place you’ve never been before or a mysterious person that suddenly emerges in your mind and then vanishes. When these items appear, I quickly record them to use in a future piece.
Make a List
Make a list in a small pocket notebook or journal of story seeds when they happen. When you struggle to find something to write, use the list to spark a story. Ask when, where, who, what and how about each item on the list to generate the next story.
Make your list!
Rory C. Keel
Don’t Forget The Senses In Your Setting
How does the loss of sight affect your hearing?
What color does an orange smell like?
How loud is an inner voice?
Can you describe how the wind feels?
What does sour taste like?
When I am writing, it’s easy to visualize what I want my characters to see and feel or even smell. However putting it down on paper so that the reader can clearly see them is a difficult task. For example, if I write, “He walked into the room and gazed at the beautiful painting hanging on the wall.” What does the reader see? What object is displayed in the painting? What colors make the painting beautiful? How is it framed?
This dilemma came to life for me when the main character of my novel, UNLAWFUL WORDS, suddenly goes blind. Writing what he saw with his eyes came to an abrupt halt. How do I write his experiences now?
Using a blindfold I spent several hours experiencing the darkness. Immediately I began to depend on my hearing, turning my head from side to side trying to capture all the sounds around me. My hands automatically reached forward hoping to feel something familiar and my feet slowed their steps to prevent stumbling. The objects once identified by sight now had to be described by feeling the texture, or the smell. These are the details that help the reader understand what the character is experiencing.
In your writing, use the basic senses such as taste, touch, hear, see, smell. Be careful not to give the reader sensory overload by giving a long string of description using all five sense on every situation, when generally the use of two or more different senses can tie the picture together for the reader.
Rory C. Keel
This month in our WordsmithSix blogs, we will be writing on the topic of settings.
Settings Adds Dimension
Rory C. Keel
The setting most often is thought of as only the backdrop to a story. However, many times, the surrounding landscape, or a single small item that is touched or seen may be a pivotal point of change for your character.
History and culture are essential in the setting. Whether your story is placed in ancient history or in more recent times, your characters will have an extra dimension that allows them to come alive to the reader as they interact with the culture of the time. Even future or fantasy genres have a culture and history. History and culture help define who your characters are.
Climate and geography play a big part in the setting of a story. Is it winter or summer? Are your characters in a forest or relaxing on a sandy beach? The climate may determine how your character will dress. Geography will dictate a person’s activities and how they might react to challenges. Running from a bear, or being stung by a jellyfish while swimming, may even change a plot’s direction.
The setting of a story includes the “When” and “Where” of a story. It brings depth to your characters and fills your story with richness.
The Place Where Writing Flows
Rory C Keel
For me, reaching that place where writing flows happens when I put my self into the story. For a reader to be drawn into a story while reading, the writer has to go there first. When I see the setting and know the character’s good traits and flaws, when I feel their emotions, that’s the point when the writing flows. That place becomes very personal because, by putting myself in the story I must reveal pieces of myself, both good and bad.
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Inspired By The Past
Rory C Keel
I would have to say that I write in the genre that I read and enjoy. I love reading inspirational Christian stories that encourage the human spirit along with history and the human resolve to overcome adversity. To be able to take lessons from the past and put them into words in order to inspire others in life drives me to write in the Christian, Historical and inspirational genre.
Gone Fishin’ is one of my favorite comedies. All they ever wanted to do is just go fishin’!
Joe Waters (Pesci) and Gus Green (Glover) are bumbling yet happy best friends who live modestly in Newark, New Jersey and have known each other since childhood. They share the hobby of fishing and win a stay in the Florida Everglades to go angling, but promise to return home in time for Thanksgiving.
On the way, however, while stopping at a bar, they meet an Englishman, Martin (Brimble), who discreetly steals Joe’s car keys and leaves. Joe and Gus are forced to push their boat down the road until they are met by two women, Rita (Arquette) and Angie (Whitfield), who are after Martin and offer them a lift. During the ride, a bump causes the boat to disconnect from the car, leaving Joe and Gus stranded yet again, and the boat is accidentally hooked to a train and pulled away along with their beer and supplies. Joe and Gus hitch a ride with two men, but on the way, they see their car at a gas station and investigate. Joe goes to confront Martin inside the bathroom, but backs down when he catches Martin loading a gun. Joe and Gus flee the petrol station in their car, and discover a blood-stained knife in the dashboard.
Joe and Gus stay at a trailer park for the night, and while watching a documentary on television, they learn that Martin is actually Dekker Massey, a wanted criminal who has conned several women out of their riches and is implied to have stabbed his last victim to death and hidden her money and jewelry somewhere. The presenters offer a bounty for Dekker’s capture, and Joe and Gus decide to turn in the knife after their fishing trip. Meanwhile, Dekker begins hunting Joe and Gus down.
Following a recommendation by the trailer park owner, Joe and Gus visit Phil Beasly’s boatyard and rent a speedboat, but end up breaking almost every gadget on the boat, losing the knife and wrecking the boatyard by accident. Distraught, they decide to return home early, but end up with a flat tire. While getting the spare tire from the trunk, Joe discovers a map that leads to Dekker’s fortune. They book a room in a nearby hotel, and while having dinner, they are found by Rita and Angie, who question them about Dekker and reveal that they are after him because Rita’s mother was one of Dekker’s victims. Joe and Gus promise to bring Dekker to justice, but that night, Gus sleepwalks and starts a fire in the hotel, destroying their suite and the map. They only barely manage to escape undetected, though their car breaks down on the road and Joe is struck by lightning while they try to fix it. Instead of killing him, the lightning boosts Joe’s memory and he is able to lead the way to the cave where Dekker hid his fortune. Despite an altercation with an alligator, they retrieve the treasure and escape, but are accosted by Dekker. At gunpoint, Dekker forces them to push Joe’s car into the swamp and ties them up inside a sheriff’s office, intending to flee the country with the treasure.
After Dekker leaves, however, Joe and Gus are found and freed by their idol, Billy “Catch” Pool (Nelson), and they set out to stop Dekker. After a long chase across the swamp, Joe and Gus find and capture Dekker moments before his escape via plane and hand him over to the police. Though they claim the reward money, Joe and Gus are forced to spend it mostly on the damages they caused during their trip.
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