From Here to There: Arcs and Transitions

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One way to write is to set down the most dramatic, powerful, important scenes, figure out where they go in relation to each other, and then determine whether there are others lurking between, like waiting-to-be-discovered galaxies.

 

Once all the large beats in your story are in place, you can look at the spaces between them. This is mostly how we are writing our current Young Adult book… only without the mixed metaphors of music and astronomy.

 

If the bridge of your transition feels long and stretched out, there may still be one or more heightened scenes waiting to be developed. Check for alignment with your arcs – whether it be the arcs of your characters, this scene, a dialogue interaction perhaps, or the entire story. There are also those of relationships, places, motivations, and plots… to name a few more.

 

Arcs are stories playing out in time. If I’m wrong, it’ll all be okay soon.

 

A transition will take you from one scene to the next. You can also rely on it to traverse one perspective to another or one part of a universe to another. Maybe in Frank Herbert’s, Dune, ‘Spice’ was originally, ‘The Transition That Ate the Entire Plot,’ bringing in such significance that it changed the story from the inside out. Maybe.

 

As with dialogue it can also be used to reveal character as well as move the story forward. Your first draft may lack the latter feature, but keep a watch out for opportunities on one of your next passes.

 

Some questions to ask yourself about getting from here to there:

*Is this cliché or can I think of a more unique way to accomplish it?

*Am I going off on tangents for good reason or am I taking the direct route?

*Have I packed everything I need?

*Does this reflect back to another part of the story that now needs an adjustment?

*What is my gut telling me as I’m writing this transition?

*Is it as tight as it can be, including only what’s necessary?

 

As with editing in video, we want to glimpse everything we need to see with minimal, non-essential time spent dallying or pointing out odd architectural features that don’t lend to the atmosphere or action.

 

Here’s an example from my first novel’s opening. What line(s) would you identify as a transition in what is an origin story or prologue.

 

[Sitting around the fire in their furs and matted hair, the men looked up as a bright light split the sky. The image burned its way onto every retina and managed to stay there for some time. When it finally cleared, there was barely a trace of the flash from the north…. just a quickly fading ripple of mist down to Earth.

 

It didn’t seem that far away, but night was a dangerous time to go wandering off from shelter and fire. Still, there was something calling to each man, individually… A small voice from the north whispering beckoning words of encouragement.

 

Most thought they would be able to find it in the morning. They’d all get a hunting party together to investigate, but each knew in his own heart that he would be going alone. To find the prize for himself.

 

Shielding his intentions from the others, each man glanced around the circle, only to find all men but one doing the same.

 

Gorag was standing, and it was possible to see the fire in his heart and eyes even from behind. It was as though a string tugged on him like the sinew of a mammoth beast. Shaken out of a daze, he searched around for his club and other essentials: a bow and arrows, his flint knife, an extra fur for warmth. He said no words to them, but they all knew what was on his mind. To follow the trail from  heaven to earth and see what gifts might be found.]
More in future on this topic, especially if you enjoy different views on it.

Interaction is always welcome.

 

Now to wrap it up with a haiku:

 

Transition, bridge, arc

Made of hyper-drives or glue

Once here and now there.

 

 

Vocal Overview Shmoverview

 

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♫ The Voice in Our Heads ♫

 

Voice is a significant characteristic of writing just as it is of people who live off of the page. As the word implies, it speaks to us with personality and purpose. Sometimes, even panache.

 

I’ve found that the most authentic way to write with a strong voice is to get as clear a three-dimensional image of the character as I can, and then step inside his or her skin, clothes, and head.

 

It can also be the easiest because once the potentially challenging job of envisioning and breathing life into the real character is ‘done,’ pretty much all one needs to do is listen and write down what the character says. Whatever can be done with written speech to add inflection and pacing helps too.

 

It is one of the most satisfying components of writing and certainly of revision, that act of going back over the mysterious words that happened to appear on the page, sculpting them into a Life form.

 

I find that it’s easiest to hear when the characters are also thinking or having a dialogue.

 

How do I talk about Voice? If a writer cannot hear the voice of their character while writing them initially, their next opportunity is to read the words aloud… maybe even using a recording device to capture each word and inflection spoken. I can tell with my life-trained ear when it ‘sounds’ right or is off, down to the word, stopping periodically to ask myself questions, like:

 

*Would my character really say that?

*What does that sentence really mean?

*Is this the best word to use here, or would another one work better?

*Does the structure of each sentence in the paragraph help to optimize meaning?

*Did I save my work?

 

Voice is one of the essential 7 traits or components of writing that need special attention when revising or offering feedback. The seven are: Ideas and Content, Sentence Fluency, Voice, Mechanic, Word Choice, Organization, and Presentation. We will periodically develop and go into more detail with each of the traits on future blogs until we’ve covered them all.  And we won’t stop there.

 

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Quoting loosely from Manuscript Makeover by Elizabeth Lyon are valuable tidbits from Chapter 1:

 

-Voice and Style are often used interchangeably

-Six processes to help you free the imprisoned artist within:

 

>Cultivate deep listening.

>Silence critics; banish censors

>Practice riff-writing

>Revise from your truth

>Harvest your emotions

>Catch fireflies”

 

…and then let go of them say I…

 

 

 

 

Meningitis Mind Sentences

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Throughout my early life I wrote my pain on paper, and it seemed to help. I wasn’t conscious that I was dealing with it that way until an event in my early twenties.

One morning I woke up to get ready for work, and fell into my closet. Next I drove my little blue Fiat to work as if I was underwater, falling to the asphalt, eventually arriving bloodied and confused in the office.

I agreed to go to the hospital at the urging of my neurologist, who was concerned about these symptoms along with the intensity of my headaches and the fact that my naturopath had seen some unusual activity behind my eyes.

They took spinal fluid to rule out the most dangerous potential cause of these anomalies. My neurologist thought it unlikely but better to be safe.

It turned out to be true. I had spinal meningitis, and the next people I saw wore outfits akin to space suits. I stayed a month, and none of the doctors I saw could answer my simple questions: Will I live through this? Will I once again be able to complete sentences and think as well as I once did?

It’s difficult to describe the level of completely useless fear I felt when one after another answered, “We don’t know yet.”

At first, I was not allowed to sit up or stand. I had to do everything lying down. I would eat by rolling over onto my side carefully and using a straw. Though I was in the perfect posture for it, the one thing I couldn’t do was sleep. People entered hourly. There were lights, sounds, and people crying in the night. And there was pain and fear.

All the while I wrote in my mind. Affected cognitively, I couldn’t do much, but I constantly repeated the mantra I had been given by my meditation teacher. Over and over again, I would not only say it, but see it in my mind’s eye. I clung to those words like the lifeline they were. They kept me from drowning in my own fear.

Later, I continued, interspersing thoughts of purpose. “What did I want to do with my life when I was well again?” It took a long time for me to complete thoughts of any complexity, but I was gradually certain I would like to be a naturopath, one of those kind people who spent so much time to help me figure out what was wrong after a slew of doctors told me it was everything from an ear infection to my imagination. I will be a naturopath, I thought, and I asked my nurse for help sending away for information long before the eras of laptops, wifi, and cell phones. Snail mail was IT, baby.

While I waited to hear, I started to sit up again. I responded to cards with a line or two of text and a scribbled picture of the sun, heart, or a flower.

I wrote one line of feelings over and over until I thought of another line to repeat. They soothed my imaginings of the future.

I found out that I needed to do something else to fund the years of study it would take to become a naturopath. I thought I’d like to teach.

All this came together through thoughts that were pinned down to paper so they wouldn’t fly off into the stratosphere before completion. Slowly, I learned to complete sentences again. I applied to schools and wrote their essays with persistence. I struggled to stand and balance my body, and in a month’s time live outside of a hospital. I was a lucky girl who lived.

I did not become a naturopath, but I did become a teacher. I worked at it lovingly for a decade and a half.

Though I will always live with remnants meningitis left in my body, I know I would not be the person I am grateful to be today were it not for that experience and the time spent with myself, talking, whispering, and writing through the pain.

What Grew from Two…Words

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After reading and enjoying Leslie’s flash fiction I decided maybe I would try my hand at it. Well actually my fingers.

I asked a friend to give me two words. I don’t know why two, but that’s what called to me.

The two words were cosmically and pendulum. Hmm, kinda cool. Let’s see what I could do with them.

I would like to share the results of my first flash fiction. I hope you enjoy.

I just this second found out that flash fiction is under 1000 words. This is a little over so it is not exactly flash.

It’s Flash with Sass. It’s a wee bit suggestive, but not too much.

Thank you for reading my first ever flashish fiction.

☮❤☼♥¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪ ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥ •.✫:))☮ ❤ ☼✫

“So do you want to see what I found or not? I asked you about an hour ago, and it still hasn’t happened.”

“Okay okay. I’m sorry. You can show me anything you like. Don’t be upset with me. It’s the sky tonight. It’s beautiful and we haven’t been out here in a long time. I got distracted, but you have my full attention now. I was hoping to make another wish, so I’m expecting a shooting star to show up shortly.”

“Oh really? You just expect the stars to comply with your request.”

“Yes of course. I am cosmically inclined you know.” I couldn’t help but tease. It was one of my favorite things to do to the people I cared for most.

“You said another wish. What was the first one?”

“I can’t tell you. What I can tell you,” I looked deep into his eyes then for dramatic effect, “is that it came true.”

“Hmmm.” “There you go again, getting me off topic but it won’t work this time.”

A smirk arose on that face I had known for a little over a year. It was a really good year. I looked forward to many more. I didn’t like to talk about how good things were going. I was superstitious about these sorts of things and I didn’t want to jinx it back to the way it was before I met him. For the first time in a long time, things were going really well. It was easy with Alex. He let me be myself or should I say all my selves.

“Come on, you know I don’t do it on purpose. There’s times when I’m completely focused. It’s just difficult when there is so much activity all around me. I mean look at this place. We can see the city lights and hear the ocean surf from up here. ”

“Yes, it is quite breathtaking up here, but I know how you operate. I also know when I have your full attention,” he said with that look that made me weak in the knees.

“MMM don’t I know it. I’ll be practicing that in a few more minutes. I’ll be getting your ‘full’ attention too.”

“Promises promises.”

All I could do was smile. “Okay, what have you got in your pocket to show me that you haven’t already?”

“Now, don’t get me off topic again. You’ll be seeing, I mean feeling that soon enough.”

Good thing it was dark because I must have turned the deepest shade of red all over. I could feel the warmth spreading through my whole body, but I knew how important this was to him so I took a deep breath and came back to full attention.

He reached in his worn out jeans. They were my favorite pair of his. They fit him so well in all the right places. Yummy. Okay Vanessa, get a grip.

“I found this at the beach. I was walking down by the water and the sun caught it just right. I could hear it calling me, and I answered.”

It was beautiful. It looked like a two inch long diamond on a straight chain with nine distinct sides coming to a point and a flat top. Even in the moonlight, it sparkled. “Wow. It’s amazing; what is it?”

“I wasn’t sure so I went into one of those shops in town, you know the one I mean with all the rocks. You’re always talking about going in and you haven’t yet.

“Yea, I especially like the one where the guy on the stilts hangs out.”

“No seriously, why haven’t you gone in yet?”

“Now who’s getting off topic? And besides, they’re called crystals. Not stones.”

“Oh, pardon me, Miss Fancy Pants. It’s called a pendulum and it’s used, hmmm, the best way to describe it is…”

“Like one of those magic eight balls, but only with yes or no answers?

“I was just going to say that. That’s really weird, Vee.”

She noticed his eyes getting wider and his posture stiffened. “It’s just a coincidence, Alex. A lucky guess.”

“That’s some coincidence; what are the odds. Anyway, care to give it a whirl? You have to ask it what your yes and what your no is.”

“Huh?”

“Here, let me show you. Hold the chain and let it be still over your palm. I like to say a little something to it. ‘Guides, what is my yes?’”

I giggled.

“Vee, this is serious business. Come on.”

“Okay, I’m sorry, go ahead.”

“Guides, what is my yes?” The pendulum started to swing forwards and backwards.

“Come on, Alex, I know you’re doing that.”

“No really, I’m not. I’ll let you try and you can see. ‘Guides, what is my no?’” The crystal started to swing from left to right.

“Hmmm.”

“Here, you try it.”

“Okay, I’ll give it a go. Magic Pendulum, what is my yes?” With that the Pendulum started to swing from front to back. “Whoa, that’s so cool. Have you asked it anything for real?”

“Yes, but just little stuff, nothing big. I wanted to give you first dibbs on the good stuff.”

“Aww, you’re so good to me.” I grabbed that face that I loved so much and gave him a quick smooch. It would have been a longer kiss but I wanted to keep my wits about me. That mind numbing was for later and once we started kissing, he couldn’t control himself. Who am I kidding, I couldn’t either.

“Go ahead, Babe, ask away.”

“Okay, hmmm. Magic Pendulum, will I see a shooting star tonight?” No sooner did the words leave my lips then the crystal took off swinging with a definite yes.

“Ask another.”

“Really? Okay. Magic Pendulum, will my wish tonight come true?” Once again, it swung with a definite yes. I had to hold onto the chain tightly before it flew out of my hand. “Awesome. How lucky am I?”

“You are so lucky, Miss Campbell. You’re with me aren’t you?”

I couldn’t even give him a smart answer back. The truth was, I knew how lucky I was. After the events leading up to literally bumping into him that day on the street, I had to ask myself, How does that happen? Going from the worst time of my life to the best.

He didn’t know I changed my last name. I felt badly about that, but I had no choice. It was to protect him. Maybe one day I could tell him. I hoped that day would come soon. “Okay, your turn, Albus.”

“Haha. Very funny. Okay, here goes. My big question. Guides, will I always be with Vanessa?”

“That’s a heavy question, Alex.” I was afraid of the answer and didn’t want to look, but my curiosity got the better of me. The pendulum stood still. It didn’t move at all. “Hmmm, ask it again.”

“Okay, Guides, please answer my question. Will Vanessa always be with me?” This time, the pendulum moved, slowly at first but then it went in circles. There was no back and forth, no left to right. Just circles.

“What does that mean, Alex?”

“I…I’m not sure. Maybe we aren’t supposed to know. Like it’s a surprise”

“Maybe. That could be it.” I tried to shrug it off and change the subject, but I was concerned. After all, it might have to do with what had happened. Maybe my happiness would be short lived.

“Okay, my sweets, let’s go back and get to snugglin.”

“That sounds perfect. You have the best ideas.” He gave me a tight hug that melted away my worries. We headed back to town listening to our favorite radio station watching the landscape go by. I forgot all about the pendulum’s response, but I also forgot about the shooting star and my second wish that was never made.

Copyright © 2014 Andrea D.E.

Procrasti…Nation Inflation

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Some days I’m unable to produce. Some days can easily turn into a week gone by, and then it’s holy crap. How does that happen? Very frustrating; as in I’m sitting here staring at a screen. I’m exhausted… from procrastinating!

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Click on the book image for a procrastination resource, which you might find interesting and/or helpful. Check the different formats, as I believe the Kindle version, is considerably less expensive.

In addition there’s the link below for a procrastination page  that we recommend, with tips and an app to help get unstuck. Even though we haven’t been able to find the app to try it out on our Android devices, we do like the page information:

How We Procrastinate at Unstuck Now

 

That’s where it’s nice to have a good writing partner so we can share our angst and cheer each other on. Well, not that we want to give each other angst, but it’s good to be able to bounce ideas back and forth. We don’t feel so alone. It’s fun to write with each other as we talk on the phone and especially when we’re together.

Time magically opened up, and we managed to get together in the same domicile for three days. It was interesting to see how each day had its own personality.

Day 1: Andrea arrived at Leslie’s. She was tired from how long a drive it was.

Expectation: Zero. She was distracted and passed the exit  for the Turnpike. That led to running through a maze of back roads to get back on the highway.

Outcome: It took longer than expected, by an hour. The original was already a long enough trip for her.

Actuality: We got some things done, by saying, ‘We’re not going to do anything today.’ It happened anyway. Surprise and confetti!

Let’s see: what did we do? We wrote business letters, and then Andrea had a brilliant idea of asking our talented artist of a cousin if she would be willing to do  our book cover for us, even though no one judges a book by its cover anymore. Ha!

We got that letter written, using our Art for Inspiration Pinterest board to communicate ideas of how we envisioned the cover so clearly. Our cousin agreed to work with us. She said it might be fun. Yay. That’s one huge concern lifted.

We also wrote three whole paragraphs of Chapter 14 in just under three hours. Record time, but not the good kind.

Reward:  Movie time! STAT! We amazingly got through two and stayed up way too gloriously late.

Day 2: We wrote all day. Not an easy task for a master ADD’er such as Andrea’ Nevermind, she was completely focused that day! Hooray!

Leslie snapped out of her three-paragraph-only capacity and we took off from the stagnation of yesterday PLUS finished the next two chapters. Some days are not like others. We pinky-swore that we would go over it again in the morning and send it to the editor.

Outcome: First pinky-swear in many a year. Lots of writing done. Happy authors. Time for a snack.

That was enough!

Reward: We try to diversify our snacks for health and deliciousness. We decided to do research by watching TV. Leslie suggested a show, which was roundly decried at first, but eventually attempted for lack of choices. We loved it. In case you wish to know the title (and more about our senses of humor writing), it’s called, ‘You’re the Worst,’ on FX. It’s a bit naughty, so we don’t want anyone to be surprised! How did we survive? It was just that funny. A couple of episodes lagged. Yeah, we admit it, we binge-watched, but overall it was very enjoyable

Day 3:  We got our last blog post done and ready. We finalized and did two passes (or was it three?) on chapters 14-16 of the book before sending them off to the editor. Good feeling and time for more snacks! First one to the kitchen is a golden egg!

Also…. we got our first press release out for our funding product! Hooray! That was an accomplishment. Leslie only wishes she’d set it to come out earlier…. How about you, Andrea? Are you satisfied? She’s easy to please about some things. <wink>

Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? We’re happy and in any case we pushed on through some difficult pain times.

Reward: Almost done with the first series of our show now, so aiming high, but … dun dun dun: “Walking Dead (especially season opener) takes PRECEDENCE!

Day 4, early: Scene at the door: “Whaaaa…. time to part again.”

Now: Back at our own domiciles and on the phone sharing a screen once more.  Today’s goal: write this blog post!

 

Reward time…A favorite time of day…

 

For you writers out there, we found what we think is a good writing prompt site… just in case you are helped by prompts. Leslie wrote her first novel from one photo of a grocery store with an apartment upstairs.

Enjoy!

 

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Every time you refresh the page, the Writing Prompt in center area will change.

Happy Writing to you and you and you….

Writers Watching the World

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I’ve heard many debates about what makes a writer a Writer. My opinion is that a writer is someone who writes. How often or how well is usually for others beside me to determine. Writing makes a writer in my eyes.

Once a writer, I began to notice everything differently, especially if I was in the middle of writing a story. But even if nothing’s immediately on the cooker, so to speak, the whole world’s now populated by story ideas, twists, bread crumbs, and characters to name a few.

I love good movies and watch television. When I do, it’s now with an entirely different perspective and a dual purpose: to enjoy and to note structure, how the twisting and turning of a tale can be accomplished.

I’ve noticed that a film or show can have the best casting, even great editing, directing, musical score, and cinematography, but if the strong or excellent writing is not there as a foundation, it won’t be one of my favorites most likely. It’s the story that reaches down into the furthest depths of my appreciation. It bestows all the color and heart into a piece of work.

I’m one of those people who can enjoy pretty much anything if I’m in the right, open kind of mood. Even if all I can find to like in a movie are the camera angles and lighting, I can still come away enjoying the film while others might decry it by the scores.

This is because I watch with at least two heads, two brains, and two personas. The first has suspended disbelief in order to get caught up in the show of it all.

The second is scanning for when something moves me – what is that? Why does it work? What are the components? I feel these things in my body: tears, goose bumps, shivers, or just a gentle awareness of movement in my heart.

There’s also the visual aspect in which I see multiple universes or story choices spread out before the moment I’m in the middle of watching. I think most consumers of Story do that in a way, and mine is five-sense oriented. First is the vision, the sight of it. Second I hear things…. And smell can be most powerful if it’s offered up in the presentation. That leaves touch and taste, which can also be involved depending on the tale.

A wise person once told me in a training for public speaking, that whatever moves me when I’m writing out what I will say, or when I’m saying it, will go directly from the place in me where I’m feeling it to that same place in the listener. After that, I’d notice the places when I felt moved to tears during a talk or a film or a tv show… or even Life. Writers not only watch the outside world, but keep this kind of eye on the inner world as well. There’s a fullness there that must be experienced to be believed.

 

In this article by Noelle Sterne, she offers the following regarding this writing world view and examples of how to learn what NOT to do:

“If we can’t ditch the guilt, we have a great rationale for watching TV. As I’ve learned from my own (admittedly guilty) primetime TV watching, it can teach us a lot about what to avoid in our writing. Some TV dramas and movies are well-crafted and hold our interest. Others offer many lessons. Here I’ll share examples, lessons, and remedies for six: unbelievability (two types), overlingering attention, heavy-handed foreshadowing, lazy language, and groaning predictability.”

If this sounds interesting to you, dear reader, please use the link below to fly there at your leisure:

http://www.writing-world.com/fiction/TV.shtml

So, if you happen to catch a show here or there, you might go further and tune in to what your mind and heart are doing simultaneously. I hope you enjoy the show! (Leslie)

 ~*~

I would like to add that since starting the story and finding the pleasure I once had in writing, I view the whole world in words now. I pay attention to how things are said and if it was written, how I would edit the statement. I am not judgmental in my listening, I am just aware of the structure in it.

Even the word, ‘just.’ I now determine where I believe it belongs and where it should be deleted. I didn’t know before, but most times, it should be left by the wayside.

In watching TV and movies, I really see the story now. I look for what I like in the character and for what I do not want our character to become. It’s exciting to have this new viewpoint. I agree with the whole guilt aspect of it. As a TV and movie lover, I always felt so guilty for indulging but now I look at it as research. I have cut down considerably but it is still a helpful source. (Andrea)

A Letter to the Blogging Community

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I find the blogging community truly inspirational. I enjoy checking out the sites and seeing everyone’s creativity that I never knew was right here all along. I love to read and of course I have books, but to be shown this new world is something else. I aspire to be as connected to the community as all of you wonderful writers and artists already are. I’m so glad I joined in. It’s a wonderful feeling.

I am a newbie to the blogging arena. My sister is the seasoned one and amazes me with every word I see her write. When I shoot on over to her computer screen, I am able to see the words flow onto the page, I am in awe. It’s like a spirit is writing, for all I see are the words created and appearing before me. We are thankful for the program that allows us to share one another’s computer from the far reaching top and bottom of good ol’ New Jersey.

This new-found ‘out in the open’ sharing makes me feel incredibly vulnerable, but if I want to grow and create, I know I have to put myself out there no matter how hard it is for me.

I love our story we are writing and cannot wait to share with you what comes from deep within us.

Thank you all for being here. Thank you, Leslie, for accompanying and mentoring me on this adventure. (Andrea 🙂 )

Photo credits go to my son at age 10. It’s even more special to me because cardinals are significant in my life. To have it take flight right at the moment of snapature, resonates with me for I feel I am now taking flight as well.

Many Hands, One Page

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As you know, this is a blog written about a book being written by two sisters.

It’s both exhilarating and confusing, in a good, problem-solving sort of way, to write a novel with another person.

It’s fabulous to have that ability to brainstorm and create worlds, details, and directions together, building on each other’s ‘tossed into the pile’ ideas.

When things are at their best, there’s also more than double the energy. Even if things are not at once-reached heights, there’s usually at least a quarter of our attention powering the project’s momentum. When both of us are completely engaged, we can write for hours with no concept of time. It exemplifies a case where the whole is more than the sum of the parts.

The most challenging aspect for me is to match styles, threefold: with the story, with my sister, and with my own writing on other days. There are so many variables to doing that, but for the purposes of this post, I will pick out three:

  1. Re-entrance into the world of the story and the being of the character
  2. The 6 + 1 Traits, Oregon style
  3. Dealing with the ‘inner editor’ I dispense with on rough drafts working by myself.

Here and there over the next few weeks, I will address each of these in turn.

The first one seems so easy at first glance that I almost thought, ‘Let it speak for itself.’ But then I considered further.

What can a writer do to enter the world of their story and the character in focus for that scene or chapter? Here’s my initial brainstorm:

  • Keep a document full of ‘best lines,’ evocative of that character or his/her style of speech, thought, and emotions.
  • Remind myself of the character’s main motivation(s).
  • Find out where the character is in her own arc as well as in the arcs of the story overall.
  • Read the last thing written… again.
  • Get the rhythm. (“You can dance if you want to,” – right inside the comfort of your own mind!)
  • What are the character’s weaknesses?
  • How do others in the story see the character?
  • Keep in mind the overall premise and themes of the book and how this small piece will fit.
  • Take a few moments to sit quietly within myself, to let the character and content come to me. (Here, kitty, kitty, kitty)
  • What are my favorite aspects of writing this character?
  • Breathe

I’m off to try some of these today.

Brainstorming to bring new and old ideas together is one of the simplest yet most powerful ways of beginning an action plan, like now – when I need a bit of help.

(Leslie)

 

And You, Ma’am… What Are Your Thoughts?

Katharine Hepburn on

We think it would be fun and perhaps revealing to interview each other. It started as a future interest in adding guest bloggers and writers from time to time who have things to share about any of the main topics this blog is about. The beginning of Western Civilization stood upon such simple dialogues , and though we’re neither Socrates nor Plato, everyone has something worthwhile, universal, and unique to share.

As we build connections and lead up to asking others, we thought it might be interesting, since there are two of us, to interview each other. We’ll bring in an imaginary Dick Cavett, though of course our sprite is no match for the man who interviewed Katherine Hepburn as depicted above.   (Leslie)

~*~

What is your favorite portion of the book and why – without giving any big spoilers away of course, especially if it’s in the second half of the book.

(Leslie) – One of my favorite parts of the story is the Prologue. I’m sticking to the beginning here so as not to ‘spoil’ things. Herein we find out there is an ancient, deep friendship between two mysterious beings. I like how they could be anyone until we find out something about their language and the nature of at least one of them. I especially love how it evolves into something ethereal in a short few paragraphs. I have room to imagine the characters and the place where they are meeting.

(Andrea) – One of my favorite parts is when our hero discovers her moment of hope, her turning point (unbeknownst to her).

What were your earliest memories of writing or being a ‘writer?’

(Leslie) – My uncle was attending the Ohio State University Veterinary School, and I was 7 at the time. He was the first person to ever write straight-up from his heart the way he saw things. He also wrote so as to inspire responses from me. I was interested in this new hobby, and so… we had a correspondence. It turned out to be the first of many to come. He basically changed my life with those invitations and longed-for letters of daily goings-on and questions that made me think about my life differently. I daily thank you, dearest Uncle, for such a great gift.

(Andrea) – I believe I had just turned 12. I was at the beach with Marcy (other sister) and her friend.  I took out a pad and pen and started writing poems.  They encouraged me with every poem they read. I found that the words flowed through me and came easily.  I was excited for the first time about something. That was before the reason I stopped writing of course.  Then, years later, I discovered it again through you Leslie. So thank you for that.  It was funny because the way you first reminded me was when I asked you to read over some emails I had written to a particular someone and you said, your writing flows so well and you have a way with words.  It took a few more years but I finally unblocked the memory of why I stopped in the first place and started to find my voice again.

What are your most helpful tips for writers of any age?

(Leslie) – These may seem like things you’ve heard a thousand times over, but it possible, try not to filter them out. They’ve proven helpful for me, and perhaps they might for you as well. The very first thing is to write, every day if possible, but as often as you can. You will sync yourself up the more you do, and it will become more and more a central part of you.

What does the experience of writing feel like to you?

(Leslie) – Writing feels like a liquid process to me. It’s a combination of swimming and flying, and it comes from my heart. My head has its part, sure, and especially when revising and editing… but I am very aware of the flicker of physical sparks radiating from my heart when I write. It feels like a surprise waits around every corner because it is only by writing it that I know what will be said and done. However much I plan a piece, story, or a novel – which is still writing – I do not know what the action and how it will announce itself will be until I write it down. Writing is soaring in a timeless space. It is also physical and emotional. I get goosebumps. I lean forward in my chair. I get flashes of heat and chill. Writing feels like being engaged with something on such a deep level that it is life, pouring out onto the screen or page.

(Andrea) – It feels like there isn’t anyone or anything around me.  Just me and my stuck thoughts getting released from their sentence. I know, I’m corny, but that’s just me 🙂  I come alive and feel the rush of excitement when I feel it’s written the way it’s intended. On the flip side, I am depressed when I feel blocked or write something I don’t feel is my best.  I have to remember that any writing, whether to be shared or not, is still my expression and I need to accept all of it.  The vulnerability is something I need to get used to.  That is the hardest part for me. The moment of sharing and opening myself up to others and their words in return.

What is the message behind this book?

(Leslie) – We want people to feel empowered. We are speaking primarily to Young Adults, so that they can incorporate messages of self-worth and personal power within themselves as they grow, but it is our hope that the story will be read and enjoyed by people of all ages. It is hard for us as humans to feel that things are the best they can be at any given moment. There are so many issues that need immediate attention in our world. Perhaps we’re not always happy with our own behavior. There is an old Sanskrit saying I love very much – and for some reason when I set to type this, Dorothy at the end of The Wizard of Oz popped into my head. It ends with this sentence: “When the Perfect is taken away from the Perfect, only the Perfect remains.” There are clues all around us. We need the eyes, the perspective, to see these clues and understand. It is my fondest hope that a person might walk away from this book saying aloud to the supposedly empty air, “I always knew there was more to me and this world than I ever suspected!” Truly, there is, and we are that… When we know we are … a new world view and life begins.

Do you have a synopsis (teaser trailer version) for us?

(Leslie)  – It is a story about a hero and her inner and outer demons, and how she got to know herself better and better than she ever realized possible.

~*~

Post facto: The Socratic and Platonic references didn’t wind up being much of a bullseye here since Andrea and I pretty much aligned in our answers. Therefore there was no need for dialogues from opposing points of view working toward a resolution of truth using reason.

Also, it feels good to both participate in the same post again. We hope to find diverse ways of doing that. If you have any answers to any of the questions posed here that refer to you, OR ideas about how to create an interactive form of post, we’d love to hear from you. Or any words of wisdom or whimsy you might like to weave into this subject matter. See you on Wednesday!

Building from the Bone

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Oftentimes, especially when I feel a bit blocked from a larger tale, I’ll take a picture from my head… or even one I’ve seen in passing on the web or in print material, and write a tiny story – a short piece of flash fiction – from any inspiration it offers.

For today’s post, I included a tiny story about one part of the human life cycle.This came to me whole (IF in fact it is whole). It gave me a bit of a surprise as it’s not normally how I see this part of life. I usually imagine people around, with the noisy kind of joy that attempts to stay quiet but simply can’t. Encouragement aplenty swirling around ‘a room’ as preparations go on behind the scenes. Maybe it isn’t so different in every sense after all.

As you read along, I would be honored and interested by your opinion. Does this rough draft have the elements necessary to be called a story despite its length, namely a beginning, a middle, and an end? Is the title a give-away? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

Wishing you happy reading and writing, dreaming, seeing, and playing.

 

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“‘When an Old Man Dies,

a Library Burns to the Ground.’

….African Proverb

He couldn’t hold on to the daily ways any longer. It was time for him to take his last journey. There was nothing he could do for himself at home, but setting out on the road was something anyone could do, even if they crawled. Even if they found a place and sat.

He didn’t tell anyone his plans. He hatched them secretly in his mind. As he wandered the village, feeling the cool red sand sift between the toes of his sandals, he kissed the top of a great grandchild’s head. He felt the bare skin and coarse hair that he could not see.

He was tired. This life had gone on as long as there was cause. A voice rose up and spoke to him now. It called him home to rest.

His children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren all told him how much they needed his wisdom, but he saw little evidence of this any longer in their day to day lives. They knew what they needed to do to get on with the business of living and raising their families. He, on the other hand, had long been drifting further and further outside the circles of daily routine and normalcy into a world of heart and spirit.

Now he wished that the older ones from before had talked more about what it was like: those who had taken off in the night without word, here and there, dotted across his life. What had they found out about this stage of a human life?

He had seen the medicine woman at different times, and though they never spoke of it, he knew that she could see it in his eyes. She could see because she had started to enter that place herself. Maybe it was an early season for one with her gifts.

For tonight, the meal was over. So was the washing. The children were calming down as the sun set. Everyone was getting ready for story time. Tales of adventurers and princesses back to time before time would find their place, take their actions and speak their lines.

He looked after his family fondly. There was never a moonlit night when he hadn’t joined the circle, often as the storyteller himself. He feasted his memory on how the children, and the adults too, would stare straight through him as they watched the stories unfold.

He would be sure to pack that with his belongings as he headed out after the setting moon.

There was an ache under his ribs. There was nothing that could be done. He often dreamed of crying but never managed to make his eyes do it, though he knew it would bring relief. He felt selfish, but he knew this was the best for everyone… to disappear without ceremony. Any ritual to be done for him had been done when he reached ninety summers.

Some thought he might leave after the eighty summer ritual. They encouraged him to stay often, at that time. Everyone could sense that it wasn’t meant to be… yet.

Laughter and gasps echoed up the cart path from the fire circle where the suspenseful  story was spun. If anyone knew how it turned out, it was him. He turned his back toward all that was familiar, found his pack where he’d left it on the path, and began to walk away. At the bend in the road that would leave all sight of his village behind, he took one last wistful look, breathed a deep sigh, and moved on to what unknowns awaited him.”

Copyright © 2011 Leslie Engel

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