How To Write a Story


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

How To Write a Story

By Nandy Ekle

First

First you

First you write

First you write a

First you write a word.

First you write a word. Then

First you write a word. Then you

First you write a word. Then you write

First you write a word. Then you write the

First you write a word. Then you write the next

First you write a word. Then you write the next word.

First you write a word. Then you write the next word. Soon

First you write a word. Then you write the next word. Soon you’ll

First you write a word. Then you write the next word. Soon you’ll have

First you write a word. Then you write the next word. Soon you’ll have the

First you write a word. Then you write the next word. Soon you’ll have the whole

First you write a word. Then you write the next word. Soon you’ll have the whole thing

First you write a word. Then you write the next word. Soon you’ll have the whole thing on

First you write a word. Then you write the next word. Soon you’ll have the whole thing on paper.

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

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The Moon


Postcards From the Muse

The Moon

You’re riding in the car late at night.  The sky looks like black velvet with tiny rhinestones dotted around the darker inkblots of clouds.  You admire the dark shapes the clouds make and notice a bright sliver working its way out from under the edge of the blackest splotch in the sky.  The moon struggles for attention.

As you watch the contest, you notice that as the cloud moves at just the right angle, the illusion of a frowning brow is created over the face of the moon morphing it into a giant eye watching the earth below.  You can’t take your eyes away.  A fuzzy line of fog forms around the silver disk morphing the illusion further.  You suddenly feel certain that a being observes and takes notes of the night life on the planet.

Who or what does this eye belong to?  Does it spy on a crime taking place?  Has a lover’s tryst caught its attention?  And why does it choose to appear angry?  What story can you find here?

Congratulations.  You have just received a postcard from the muse.

Nandyekle.com

MY CHARACTER LEFT ME


MY CHARACTER LEFT ME

By Natalie Bright

Writing an entire novel is the most wonderful, soul-changing, frustrating, dreaded task you’ll ever tackle. In fact, I once said that I’d never writer a book. My articles and short stories were enough for me.

Several years ago I started a lovely historical story with a 16 year old protagonist targeted to YA market. The suggestion was made that I consider dropping her age to 12 or 13. I rewrote it, and now I have two 7,000+ word manuscripts. I never finished either. Both versions seem wrong, leaving me uninspired and frustrated. Where did my main character go? Will she ever emerge again?

Write.

SHE’S BACK…

These past several months, this character has been nagging me a lot. She still holds much mystery for me and I must know more about her and the time of her life. The historical period continues to hold much intrigue. I see her as a young girl, on the verge of being woman. I see her being involved in a forbidden love, so a 13 year old is not going to work. YES! I SEE her and she’s getting clearer every day. As to her exact age, I haven’t a clue. Both versions are a muddle in my head.

Note to self: Don’t question the why. I have a beginning and I have an ending. I need to make a list of possible conflict that she must overcome. I will write the scenes in my head, no matter the order. Make it to the end. With the help of my WordsmithSix group, we’ll make it tidy and tight.

Write more.

CRITIQUE THAT MAY STEER YOU WRONG

I’m not saying that it was a waste of my time to rewrite the book with a younger protagonist. Maybe it will help me see the main character and her journey more clearly. At this point, who am I trying to please? The answer: me.

Take writing advice with a grain of salt. In the end you’re the author and only you can make the final decision. Absolutely, make that scary leap and let other people read your work before you publish. I know that you’ve dug to the depths of your soul and sweated over your pages for months and months, perhaps years.

Step back. Listen carefully to your trusted beta readers. Consider all of the possibilities, but in the end you have the final say.

LET’S BEGIN AGAIN

I’m starting over. For the third pass I’ll use elements from both versions. My gut is telling me this story has potential. Hopefully, I can find the heart of the story and it will emerge from the mess I’ve made. This will be a great project for NaNoMo in November, and I’m going to reach the end this time. Phew. I feel so much better about this. Thanks for listening, WordsmithSix!

Just.

Keep.

Writing.

 

Message From Mundania


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

Message From Mundania

Life, moving slowly, as if the same day repeats over and over and brings to mind a phrase from the days of Flower Children: What a drag.

You get up in the morning, rub your eyes, wash your hair and drink your coffee. You go to your jobs or classes, work a while, eat your lunch, work a while, go back home. You eat supper or dinner—whatever you like to call it—turn on the TV and settle for the night. And it all starts over the next day.

But what we forget are the little adventures we have every day, you know, the little things that are different about a day. The postage machine hijacks the fax machine, the client forgot to send in the payment, or a black plastic bag scoots across the highway and reminds you of an alligator coming after your car. Once, just breaking the promise to myself that I would not eat my favorite snack that day brought a very nice story.

When something happens just the teeniest bit out of the ordinary, whether it’s frustrating or hilarious, you can write an entire story centered on this event. Let your imagination ponder and study it. Then add in some exaggeration to what you already know about the event. You’ll soon find that your ho-hum life is full of story-worthy adventures and “boring” will be for people like detectives and spies.

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

Nandy Ekle

Injecting Life


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

 Injecting Life

The twisted little body lies on the slab. So far that’s all it is, just a lifeless rag. I’ve put a suture here and there to string pieces together in an effort to make the body whole. There are a few loose ends, but those will heal once the life begins.

I have a whole ward of these lifeless little things. Some of them could be beautiful; some of them could be powerful. All of them are mine. The only thing missing from each one is a beginning sentence.

These special little wads of bodies are ideas that I’ve had for stories. They pop in my head at random times, sometimes uncanny in their ability to find the most inappropriate moments to show up. I can be in the middle of a sentence during a conversation with a complete stranger when one of these ideas knocks on the door and says, “Guess what!” Or I can be deeply immersed in reading an amazing book, except for the split second when I hear, “Sort of like what happened to me.” Music brings them, pictures bring them, people walking down the street bring them. One time an idea spoke so loud I woke up from sleep in the middle of the night to listen.

I take the idea and lay it on a slab, gluing it down with my ink and a promise saying, “Don’t go anywhere, I’ll be right back,” and usually I do come back and fiddle with it a little more. Occasionally, though, they get tired of waiting on me and go on to find someone else with more time—but for the most part, they wait patiently.

So I look at this one particular idea and see the marks of where I have tried to find the right sequence of words to inject into its veins that will open its eyes. I see a lot of needle marks, but still the eyes have not opened. There was a flutter one time, for a split second. This poor little waif is in two parts, and the second part is set. The first sentence of that scene caused the eyeballs underneath the lids to roll in a curious REM fashion, but they did not open. The first part is not there yet.

From all the words that exist in language today, there has got to be a combination that will work to open these eyes. And so I will continue to look for the perfect fit, that special key that will give life to this story. Then I can move on to the next.

Nandy Ekle

The Moon


Postcards From the Muse

The Moon

You’re riding in the car late at night.  The sky looks like black velvet with tiny rhinestones dotted around the darker inkblots of clouds.  You admire the dark shapes the clouds make and notice a bright sliver working its way out from under the edge of the blackest splotch in the sky.  The moon struggles for attention.

As you watch the contest, you notice that as the cloud moves at just the right angle, the illusion of a frowning brow is created over the face of the moon morphing it into a giant eye watching the earth below.  You can’t take your eyes away.  A fuzzy line of fog forms around the silver disk morphing the illusion further.  You suddenly feel certain that a being observes and takes notes of the night life on the planet.

Who or what does this eye belong to?  Does it spy on a crime taking place?  Has a lover’s tryst caught its attention?  And why does it choose to appear angry?  What story can you find here?

Congratulations.  You have just received a postcard from the muse.

Nandyekle.com

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

           

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 THOUSAND WORDS


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

A Thousand Words

In the back of one of my closets is a green plastic tub full of the images of memories. There are pictures of my wedding, the births of my children and grandchildren. There are family photos, Christmas photos and birthday photos. I look in the tub and see reminders of children sleeping, playing, fighting, performing and posing. I also find reminders of places where we took those children, and when they left my house. And sometimes I find a face I don’t remember in my green tub.

One really fascinating place to find inspiration for writing is pictures, paintings, photos and mementos. Each little scrap of paper, ticket stub, greeting card or lock of hair brings up the memory of an incident.

Have you ever seen an old photo that brings memories and feelings to your mind and the story behind them begs to be told?  Did you ever come across a scrap of paper with what appears to be a coded message that you know you wrote but will never remember why or what it means? And who is the nameless person smiling at you in the photo begging for your attention?

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

Nandy Ekle

Foundation and Details


Foundation and Details

By Rory C. Keel

In the past I have been involved in planning and building a new facility for the church where I attend. In the planning, every aspect of the building has a purpose. The measurements of the foundation are laid out on paper and then the details are considered, what color of paint, what kind of flooring? Will the congregation be comfortable with the seating? What about sound quality? What happens in an emergency? Is the lighting adequate? The list seems endless.

The day came when the project started and the foundation was poured. At the end of that first day, I stood gazing at a slab of concrete that didn’t come close to looking as large as I had imagined. My mind said something’s wrong! The plans confirmed the size was correct!

Every day since, I have watched as each wall was raised and the roof now appears atop the building, and my perspective has changed. The building has been transferred from ink on paper, to a multi-dimensional object that better fits the concept I had imagined.

As a writer, a similar process takes place, only we use words as the building materials. We hold a story concept in mind with all of its grandeur and we begin to write, one page then two, our mind says something is wrong! What we see doesn’t look like what we have imagined, so we wad the paper up or hit delete.

The story doesn’t look like the grand story in your head, because it isn’t finished!

Don’t give up too quickly, create an outline, the foundation, and then build your story by filling in the blanks with the details.

roryckeel.com