Foundation and Details

Foundation and Details

Rory C. Keel

Over the last year, 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.

Game Play


Game Play

By Nandy Ekle

I love most word games. However, it’s hard to find one that keeps my interest very long because, well, as modest as I can be, I’m pretty good at them. I have a huge vocabulary, I’m a good speller, and I can think fast and spontaneously. That’s not to say I’m the champion word gamer, because I’m not. I often go for the most grandiose words and don’t think about score, which means I use a lot of letters of very little value.

But I found something new. Well, not really. It’s a renewing of a very old game. It’s called Bananagram, but it’s nothing more than Scrabble. The version I’ve got is a solo game with the option of finding random players from my contacts list, which I don’t do often because I’m always afraid of bothering other people.

There are four ways to play on my app: Quick Game, which is a short timer and set number of tiles; Pop Atack, where letters drop into a well that grows and I have to use them up before the pile touches the top of the screen; Time Race, which is another short timer, but when you use up the letters more appear for you to use; and then, just plain Practice where they give you a set number of letters and no timer and when you touch the letter the diagram shows you everywhere it can be played.

With my semi-obsessive personality, I’ve played, usually the Time Race, with every second of free time I can find. And while it’s a challenge because the time is so short, I’ve invented a new rule. Each game will have a theme. Every word I make now has to be related to the other words in the diagram.

Now. I wonder how many stories that will create?

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

The First Words

The First Words

By Rory C. Keel

The first words on the page are often the most difficult to write. The number one problem is usually deciding the first word. And many times the first word may be the only word you write for the day.

Motion and Promise

One quality of a good novel or story is the feeling of motion in the opening. The paragraph should offer a promise that your story has life and will stir the reader forward

The very first lines should pull the reader into the story. By the end of the first page the reader should be caught up in story and carried forward.

If the beginning of a story is difficult for you, just begin writing your story and somewhere around fifteen to twenty pages the true opening will appear.

Word Sculpting

Word Sculpting

By Rory C. Keel


Have you ever seen a sculptor at work? The artist gathers the clay needed for his project and then he does something very interesting. He will take the blob and knead it. He pounds it with the heel of his fist and then mashes it with the weight of his body concentrated through his stiff arms into his palms. Breaking the clay into smaller pieces, he will roll them into long dough like strands before wadding them back together into a ball. He will then pat the sphere and admire it as if he has accomplished the world’s greatest feat.

Then the sculptor starts

Without hesitation, the prepared clay is placed on the work surface and the sculptor begins to poke and prod, carving out any undesirable portions and adding more clay in other places to transform the ball into the vision in his mind.

A writer is a word sculptor

As a writer, you work in a similar way. You gather the research materials for your specific subject and then you sculpt your story by tying the materials together or subtracting what is not needed.

Don’t be afraid to put words on the page and start your story. Like the sculptor, work to form your story until the finished product appears.

Craft a Bridge

Craft a Bridge

By Rory C. Keel

The Writer

Within the writer is an individual not much different than his readers and in some ways similar to his characters. Filled with personal life experiences and holding a small piece of the lives of individuals around them, the writer can create worlds and invent unique characters to fill them.

The Reader

The reader wants to know about the writer’s characters. He is curious about the details of the lives written on the pages of story. The reader says Show me, let me ride with them, Let me join in the battle, make me laugh or reveal the suffering and let me cry.

The bridge between the two

The bridge between the writer and the reader is the book. Study the craft and write in such a way that it compels the reader to cross the bridge to find the answers to his curiosity.

What Keeps You From Success?

What Keeps You From Success?

By Rory C. Keel

What holds you back from your writing success? Is it a rule of some kind that limits how or what you write?

Where are all the stories you thought might make a good book, short story, poem, or song? The ideas you have actually put down on paper or typed? Are they now aged, sitting hidden in a file on your computer?

“They’re not good enough. Nobody will like them,” you may say.

Well, I have good news for you. SOMEBODY wants to hear your stories.

Think about it. If someone told you a story about a little boy who did magic and had an enemy that had a name you couldn’t speak, would you have listened? Somebody did.

How about your best friend telling you about a romantic love story where they bite each other and drink each other’s blood? Somebody wanted to hear it.

These authors made millions of dollars.

You may not make millions, but you will never know until the right somebody hears your story.

Submit the story

That means you must submit it to somebody. “But what if nobody likes it?” you ask.

I’d say “What if somebody does?”

The truth is, as an author, you are not limited by some boundary that forbids you from success, but simply by the fear of the words “what if.”

What Do You Know?

What Do You Know?

By Rory C. Keel

That is an interesting question. I greeted a young man I hadn’t seen in a while by asking him “What do you know?” It would have been really interesting if he had replied with a long string of facts or some secret revelation that would make a good story. This would help with the dilemma of where to get a story, or what to write about?

This is one of the great mantras of the writing field. Let’s explore what this means.


First, write what you know about the physical truths.

Describe what an object or a location looks like. What are the sounds or smells that would help you explain where you are or what you’re doing? What kind of textures do you feel when you touch it? These are the physical attributes of a subject.


Secondly, write about the emotional truths. When writing about the emotional aspect of a situation, describe the feelings of the reality of the moment you are writing. These emotions create the mood of the “now” moment of your story. This creates believability and connects the reader to the action. When the reader “feels” emotions along with the characters and senses the mood of the setting, the reader will accept your story.

The Puzzle


The Puzzle

 By Nandy Ekle

I took a walk through my hall of unfinished stories. My hand brushed along the half filled pages, fingertips touching each and every one. As I passed by a lonely little three-page rag, I noticed a sparkle from its eye. So I picked it up and read its words.

Three pages, around 1000 words. My character spoke so loudly I was mesmerized. I felt her loneliness and her growing neurosis. I could see her problem clearly. Goosebumps the size of watermelons grew on my arms and my scalp tingled. Then, at the bottom of page three, the whole thing came to an abrupt stop in the middle of a paragraph.

It’s been about a year since I wrote those three pages and several other stories have channeled themselves through me. I looked at the blank space at the bottom of the page and felt lost. Where was this going? What was my aim? The girl had shown me her problem, but the reason for the problem was gone, along with the ultimate outcome.

But I can’t scrap it. And so I will put on Doctor Freud’s hat and figure out the rest of the story. Number one – she definitely has a problem brewing. And I think I can see exactly what it is. Number two – why is this a problem? Well, because there’s something she wants. I need to remember what her greatest wish is. Number three – what will this desire cost her? Hhhmmm. A little trickier. I need to know her a little better to remember the things most important to her. Reading what I have a few more times will help me with that. Number four – can she achieve what she wants, and if she does, is it really what’s best for her?

As you can see, my work is cut out for me. My muse stands in the corner of my writing space staring at me like a stern math teacher waiting for me to work the equation and get the right answer. However I think I have enough to go on with my three pages, and maybe a few hints from my silent muse.

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

Will There Be Blood


Will There Be Blood

By Nandy Ekle

Intense labor. Sweat pours out of my skin. My fingers fly as my character talks to me. A lot of work goes into writing a story.

Sometimes the work is putting my hands on the keyboard. Sometimes the work is typing it all before the story leaves. Sometimes the work is holding the idea while I get to a good writing place.

Today the idea that has been rolling in my head for two months grew legs and walked onto the page. I opened the computer, put my fingers on the keys and the character appeared on the screen. She spoke and told me her story and I wrote it exactly as she said it.

When I finish the story, more work waits for me. The proofreading, editing and polishing will begin. This is where the blood comes in. Cutting the unnecessary words from the manuscript is like surgery.

And yes, there will be blood.

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

Reasons to Write

Reasons to Write

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