Thursday, April 26, 2007

Short Story

Today's Mood: Scattered. Today's Music: Love and Peace or Else by U2. Today's Writing: revision of An Artist's Parable. Today's Quote: Thomas A. Edison

"Just because something doesn't do what you planned it to do doesn't mean it's

Hey! I've written a short story. I didn't really intend to write a short story when I started it, but that is what it turned out to be--and here I said I didn't know how to write short stories! Of course, I still don't really feel like I know how to write short stories. I do better with the novel form and plenty of room for character change. Maybe I'm a slow learner when it comes to life, so I make my characters equally clueless. But I asked my small writing group yesterday if it fit the qualifications of a short story, and they thought it did. (and not a horrible one at that!)

My small group meeting was absolutely wonderful! What excellent writing! It was enlightening to hear such a variety of writing forms (poetry, personal essay, opinion piece, and short story) and then discuss them and analyze them with other writers. I love PW! For those of you not in a small writing group--you should get one. It is just as (if not more so) helpful to hear other people's writing as it is to have them discuss my writing. I learn so much about the craft of writing.

Which, by the way, reminds me that I have got to tell you about this book called Immediate Fiction by Jerry Cleaver. Great writing book! He talks about story and what it does for us as human being. Then he gives the example of how Michael Jordan (in some interview or another) talks about how when things are going well, the team just plays basketball. But, when there is a hint of trouble, they immediately fall back on "the plan"--which is certain positions and moves. Jerry Cleaver took that example and talked about how writers need a basic plan so that when things aren't working, they can go back to the basics and gets things working again. That is the writer's craft. Then he proceeds to share the basics--want, obstacle, action, resolution, showing and emotion. That's it--just those six things. What does your character want? (and it must be something that if the character doesn't get, he/she will not go on unchanged) What is preventing him/her from getting that want met? What does he/she do about it? (action) and how is it resolved? You must Show this (real-time) rather than just tell us about it. And you need to expose the emotion of the characters--so that the readers can identify with the character and therefore with themselves.

Granted, this may all be stuff you have heard before. For me, it was said (well, the book said it in such a way--not me) in such as way that I really GOT it. I mean, I know what plot is--sorta. I get the arc of beginning, rising action, climax, falling action.... But this put it in a much more accessible way (in my opinion).

Anyway, if you are looking for a writing book that gives very concrete (and not overwhelming or too strict and narrow) ways of making your writing better--give Immediate Fiction a try.
I'll bring it with me to Glen Lake in June if anyone wants to borrow.

Speaking of which--only 51 more days!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Go Tigers!

Today's Mood: Content (I found this great website that talks about moods and emotion--and has a list of positive and negative emotions which I find helpful since I'm more out-of-touch with my emotions than I thought: Mood and Emotion) Today's Music: Alison Moyet. Today's Writing: revising a short story (for the Writer's Digest Contest) Today's Quote:
Poetry lifts the veil from the hidden beauty of the world, and makes familiar
objects be as if they were not familiar.—Percy Bysshe Shelley, A Defence of Poetry (1840)

I've been watching the Tigers. I say this with just a bit of reluctance first, because I am not a person who watches TV, and second because I have never been a person who pays much attention to professional sports. But the Tigers! I got hooked on them at the start of last year--and look where that led! Now that I "know" (in a very limited capacity mind you) the players--what awesome stories there are each game. Will Inge climb out of his slump? Will Kenny Rogers ever pitch again? Can Verlander pitch a shut out game? I'm developing an addiction.

The other cool thing about baseball is that I can do other things and still watch (or listen) and get most of it. That's a good thing when one has small children and cats and a husband and a house with way too much crap in it.

Check out the new link under the favorite links site on the left-hand side. Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips to Clean Up Your Writing. This has some cool (and helpful) podcasts about different grammar issues. Like vs. As, Run On Sentences...

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Voice and Tense

Today's Mood: Capable. Today's Music: Beethoven's Symphony Number 9. Today's Writing: IFFY (research, plotting) Today's Quote:

"Just sitting down and thinking about writing doesn't always work.It would be nice if it did, but the creative process is more complicated than simply deciding to create and then doing it."Terry Brooks


I've been crazy busy at work lately--everyone trying to get in the last research paper/project of the year--so I apologize for not posting more often. I've been feeling rather guilty for not working on my novel, but I'm struggling with the voice, tone, person, and tense. Yesterday I was reading Sometimes the Magic Works (by Terry Brooks) and he talked about dream time. You have to take time to think the story through--and at some point put it all on paper. He didn't want to use the word "outline" but that was the essence of what he was talking about. It actually made me feel better about not writing and just spending time on plotting. I am toying with the idea of writing the first chapter in past tense (it is presently in present tense, first person), in third person, and whatever other way I want just to see which one grabs me the most. How do you decide what is the BEST way to tell a story? I mean,I can tell it 50 different ways, and essentially it is 50 different stories. Ahhhh! I get all stuck worrying about the BEST way.

P.S. The deadline for Writer's Digest contest is coming closer.
May 15. Come on, what can it hurt to try? You can't win if you don't play!

Monday, April 9, 2007

Spring--not hardly

Today's Mood: Preoccupied. Today's Music: U2--at the moment. Today's writing: research for IFFY. Today's Quote:
Originality is not seen in single words or even sentences. Originality is the
sum total of a man's thinking or his writing. Isaac Bashevis Singer, New York Times Magazine, Mar. 12, 1978US (Polish-born) Jewish author (1904 - 1991)
Hello all! Just got back from Georgia and what a climate shock! I felt like I was coming back to Christmas, not Easter. At least I don't mind being back at work--other than the early morning thing.

I have to be honest and admit I didn't write even one word during vacation. I read two books though. Good stuff. King of the Pygmies and Cage of Stars. Both deal with schizophrenia. I had no idea there could be very mild cases that are manageable without meds. Of course, Cage of Stars showed the other end of the spectrum--murder.

Have any of you set up writing as a business? You know, there are things I could write off--conferences, mailings....--but of course, I have no way of knowing when I'll actually sell any of my writing. I've got two novels I'm sending out hither and yon, but as we all know, it could take awhile to get published. But it doesn't really seem fair that you can only write off expenses for the year you get published--I mean, come on! It takes all those prior mailings to get there.

What do you do? How long can a business show a loss before the IRS gets annoyed? I mean, yes, it is a hobby, but I do hope to sell something someday--not that I'm in it for the money. I've read enough to know better.

Oh, and how's the writing going? I have small group tonight and I'm excited. Hope it helps get me going again. I'm stuck in a quagmire of do I totally change the trigger event for my story because it isn't very original, or do I just go with it.