Saturday, November 30, 2013

Respect for All

Imagine this scenario:

You are wildly gifted and extremely talented. You can do things with words that leave others full of wonder and gratitude. You also, naturally, appreciate the work of other artists, knowing that you are not the only one in possession of this delightfully savory ability.

You see an agent who appears to be a good representative for another successful author, and you ask him or her if he or she knows any young agents that would like a job. He replies that he doesn't. You again express concern that you find the person you need to help you with your work, and he promptly snubs and ignores you.

Now there can be two reactions to this scenario. Yes, it stings to have someone treat you with disdain when you are a very good writer and a very hard worker. But you can

a. sulk about it
b. get off your seat and get going with your work. Prove him wrong. Make your name shine in lights that outdo the person he chose to represent.

Don't get discouraged. Don't let the razor sharp words or the arrogant snubs of others get you down. Use them as a springboard to drive you forward. Let your scribblings shine ever truer in a world that hungrily eats every crumb when you know how to cook up a really good recipe for revenge: living well.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Capture It!

What shall we have our characters capture? Why do they need to capture it?

A magic unicorn? Why? Why do they desperately need a wish granted?

A wild stallion? What will it help them accomplish?

A dove? A rabbit? A deer? What do they need these for?

The dove could carry a message. Rabbits and deer usually end up as campsite food in stories. Maybe the deer is a caribou. Would we have our hero train it like a pack animal or ride it like a pony?

Capture the runaway steers, the escaped convict, the lost lambs. Capture important papers before they are carried away by a roguish wind. Capture the runaway hot air balloon with a helpless person in its basket. Capture the fleeting heart of a doubting person who can't seem to find his or her way back home. Capture the model boat whose string snapped, leaving its owner tear stained on the river bank. Capture the raft before it reaches a waterfall. Capture a fish for a pet or for your dinner. Above all capture the readers while you set about obtaining whatever else your characters are after. Make their minds want to stay with your story or your series.

Write on!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Break It and Put It Back Together

A happy family is separated and the rest of the story is about how they strive to be reunited.

Two loves are separated and the rest of the story tells about their struggle to reunite.

A dog has wandered away from his family and the rest of the story describes their frantic search for him and his longing to reunite with them.

A selfish sinner runs away from Providence, and the rest of the story is about how he is eventually restored and reunited with his conscience, with his fellow human beings, and with love.

Sound familiar?

How many stories really are about breaking something apart and subsequently putting those pieces back where they belong? How does the plot build? What does the reader really want to know? How they will get back together? Whether or not they will get back together? Build on that. Stretch it. Let them almost make it and let them fail. Get your audience biting their figurative fingernails.

Now get to it. Write on!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Rhyme Time

Beet, beat, cheat, feat, feet, greet, heat, meet, meat, neat, peat, seat, treat, wheat......

Okay, that's A thru Z in things that end in the "eat" sound. Now to weave them into work.

I once beat a beet to receive the red stain
A feat without cheat into which I drained
Under heat, mixed with meat, with some wheat and grain
A treat so complete that no hunger remained

When I greet the feet of my hungry crew
And seat them, neat, in a row or two
And serve them the mixture I cooked and grew
They delight at the taste of my homemade stew!


Original, fresh, and served.

Okay, so I left out "peat." It didn't fit this rhyme. Whatever isn't useful can be saved for another day.

Now I challenge you: word play! Find an ending, list the possible combinations, and weave them.

Write on!

Saturday, November 9, 2013


How many different kinds of traps can you think of? Let's make up a character named Alonzo, and put him into several different kinds of trap situations to see what we can create.

"Alonzo suddenly found his foot rising high above his head, and with a sudden sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach he flew into an upside down position, dangling from a jingling rope attached to a bouncy supple tree limb."  SNARE

"Alonzo yelped as the floor beneath him caved. Leaves flew upward; the ground swallowed him in a single gulp. 'Are you okay down there?' asked Flora. 'Why are your eyes glowing?' she added. 'Those aren't my eyes,' he replied. 'I'm okay, but I think I surprised this tiger.'" TRAP DOOR/PIT

"The realization dawned slowly. There were walls on three sides: north, west, and east. Behind him raced the thirty armed thieves; ahead loomed the shade of unsympathetic rock." BOX CANYON

These are just three examples. Think of more. A large cage could fall on your hero. An army or a pack of wild animals could surround him. He could become entangled in a rope, in glue or tar or molasses or some other substance; he could get lost in a maze, in a jungle, or in an endless field or desert.  What else can you think of?

Write on!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Channel Your Inner Rage

What made you the angriest you've ever been in your life? How angry were you? For how long? What did you wish you could do about it?

Now: is there any way you can channel this energy, this fervent wish and feeling, into a story?

For example:

"Sebastian was vexed. Not only did his favorite wand break, but it also left a gluey mess upon the floor of the cave, which had trailed after him as his multicolored garment dipped into it like a long multicolored paintbrush. It was now impossible to remove, and glowed with an annoying light both day and night."

Perhaps this imagination was poured from the chalice of this situation:

"Fred was mad. His favorite television remote fell apart in his hand and leaked battery acid on the carpet, eating little holes here and there. And the holes weren't in inconspicuous places, either. No, they were right in the middle of the floor where everyone could see them. Everyone, including his wife. Even with the lights out and a dim TV the only luminescence in the room, they could still be seen."

Though this is more of a frustration than a fervent seething anger, the point remains the same: real circumstances translate nicely into fictitious situations and lend a taste of credibility to which your readers will relate.

Write on!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Maximize the Danger

The key when danger enters a story is not to let it drag on too long, for your reader will become disinterested or frustrated. Neither do you want the danger to go away too quickly in most cases, because while your characters are in danger you have the reader's utmost attention. The ideal duration must often be learned by experience. Have you ever watched a movie wherein the duration of a dangerous situation led you to believe you had better find something else to watch because your body didn't have enough adrenalin to keep up with it for so long? Even horror flicks know the trick to a good tale is to have quiet, safe pauses between the more active pieces of script in order to allow viewer adrenalin to revamp. The mind shuts off if there is no letup.

If  your endangered characters are saved too quickly or too easily the audience may give you a well deserved yawn. Draw it out a bit. Play with it. Cat and mouse it a little. Duck and dodge, fight and fight again, keeping in mind that you must neither push too much nor let go too soon.

And that is all. If I were to go on, I might achieve a well deserved yawn.  Write on!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Secret Compartments

Human beings like to explore secret compartments, and we like to find treasures. If you were a cantankerous, feisty Aunt with a gift for humor, where would you hide your artifacts if you bequeathed your house to your niece?

A. Above a ceiling tile
B. Behind the wall trim
C. In an extra unknown compartment of a built-in chest of drawers
D. Behind the pegboard in the garage
E. At the back of an old rusty cabinet
F. Underneath a hollow tree stump
G.In a piece of discarded drain pipe in the tool shed

As you can see these are only a small share of the ideas for hiding places. The world is full of mystery.

Write on!