Posts Tagged ‘writing’

If you love to write, but are at a loss for words, Friday Fictioneers is for you.  You only have to find 100 of those words, craft them into a story roughly based on a picture prompt (or maybe barely related), go to Rochelle’s site (she hosts the whole shebang), link your story, then read as many of the other stories as you can or like, preferably commenting on the ones you read.  If that sounds like fun, please feel free to join us every Wednesday for the new prompt (although you may post a story up until the following Tuesday night.)  If the prompt comes out on Wednesday, why is it called “Friday Fictioneers?”  Well, that’s a whole ‘nother story and I only have time to tell one this morning.

This week’s prompt is from Erin Leary.  If you’d enjoy reading other stories, please click on the blue linky critter at the end of my story.  But be sure to check back, as writers will be posting for many days.

Erin Leary

Copyright Erin Leary

The Assignation

It was just before dawn when I slipped from the house, checking to be sure no one saw me. She was waiting at our usual spot, half hidden behind a tree. No demonstrative greetings; only time to briefly cup one ample curve. We had to move quickly and quietly.

About fifteen minutes later, we reached a place we’d often used before. Underneath “our” tree, the leaves were soft, with other trees and vegetation nearby for cover. She ran ahead, eager to find just the right spot. I followed, anticipating how many pungent black truffles her snout would unearth this year.

 

Waking from a half-remembered dream, my mind struggles to orient itself, like a drunk concentrating on trying to walk a straight line while actually staggering in all directions. I lie motionless, swathed mummy-like in blankets against the cold. I will myself not to look at the clock, something that invariably kick-starts my mind. If I look, I won’t go back to sleep easily.

2:37 am.

My thoughts shudder slowly to life, wondering fuzzily whether I really need to use the bathroom, how many hours until I have to get up. Since Bryan left, I often wake in the night and as always, I listen to the creaking sighs of everything gradually subsiding from relative warmth to chilly silence until the next furnace cycle. Outside, the wind alternately shrieks and murmurs in its restless quest for something, anything to liberate from its place and relocate in the neighbor’s yard half a mile away. I remind myself to figure out what makes that persistent banging and begin to drift off with the lull in the wind.

The next sound I hear is the low grumble the back door makes when opened carefully.

Writing 3.7 – Writer’s Block

Posted: November 17, 2014 in Writing
Tags: ,

Rich, a friend and published author, has these good thoughts to share on getting over writer’s block.

brainsnorts inc.

writer's block

Everyone wants to not discuss writer’s block, including me.  For many years I couldn’t understand why anyone actually experienced it.  I had always assumed it was just poor planning until I was recently up against it myself.  The good news about writer’s block is that it’s very easy to work through it.  The bad news is that the ways to work around it aren’t all that much fun.

Keep in mind that I have probably been writing for longer than you’ve been alive.  I wrote my first real short story back in ’86 and my first novel somewhere around ’92.  I’m not saying they were any good, but I wrote them, and that’s the first, most important, and most difficult step.  However, this piece isn’t about writing.  It’s about not writing, so let’s not write.

First, what is writer’s block?  It depends on how you write and whether you are a…

View original post 1,113 more words

Vacation hiatus over, it’s time to get back to Friday Fictioneers, writing for small people.  Whoops!  I mean small writing for people.  🙂  Tight, with well-chosen words to get the most bang for the buck (or the hundred or so words);  based on a photo, at least to some degree, often only in the mind of the author. Designed to, what?  Comfort? Surprise? Horrify? Amuse?  Shock?  Create recognition? All depends on what the author decide and what the reader brings to the story…and takes away from it.

“One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.”
~Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums

 

In the Early Morning Rain

A chilly winter morning; cold, grey light reflecting from the lake. He stood motionless on the shore, staring into the distance. She wanted to call to him, speak his name, have him turn, see his face light up when he saw her; run to him, then sit quietly by his side.  Of course, she couldn’t. It was no longer her right or privilege.

It began to rain, the freezing drops like diamond tears cried for the lost. He sprinkled the ashes on the water. She touched him then, the lightest touch of warm breeze, then moved on through the morning.

.

(From the days when songs were the focus, not the show.)

As writers, we’re often told “show, don’t tell” and “Use as few adverbs as possible.” If parts of speech weren’t your thing in school, adverbs are those words that modify or describe the verb (action word) and tend to end in “ly.” In the sentence, “He walked slowly/angrily/quickly/quietly”, the adverbs are all those “ly” words telling how he walked. I’m partial to a good adverb myself, but I’m going to share how you can cut out many of them in your writing.

If you write flash fiction, where every word counts, it’s important to choose only the ones with the most impact and bang for the counting buck. Even if your word count isn’t limited, the right word is a sure way to ensure both that your readers get the idea and to not bore them with too much “telling.”

Enter the thesaurus. A thesaurus contains both synonyms, words similar to the one you’re thinking about using, and antonyms, words that mean the opposite. A printed thesaurus may be a dinosaur, but the digital age makes it inexcusable to not enjoy the hunt for the perfect word. All you have to do is search for “(whatever word you want), synonym (or antonym)” and off you go to the land of more concise writing.

The art of nuance reigns supreme in the search for the perfect word. Let’s look at the simple word, “walk.” Not all walks are created equal and not all synonyms mean quite the same thing.  When I search for synonyms for “walk”, the first entry lists these possibilities (and there are more):

stroll, saunter, amble, trudge, plod, dawdle, hike, tramp, tromp, slog, stomp, trek, march stride, sashay, glide, troop, patrol, wander, ramble, tread, prowl, promenade, roam, traipse

 A child on the way to somewhere she doesn’t want to go, doesn’t glide. She may trudge, plod or dawdle. A soldier probably marches, strides or patrols, but hopefully doesn’t sashay. If you go for a walk in the forest, to relax and enjoy the scenery, you might stroll or, if it’s wet, you may end up tramping or slogging. Aren’t those all more interesting than plain “walk?” And they “show” much more, too.

All these words mean walk, but each means a different sort of walk. By choosing the correct one (and you can find the definition by clicking on the word), you’ll give the reader a more in-depth feel for what’s going on with your character. You don’t have to say, “Joe didn’t want to go to school, so he walked slowly, trying to make the walk last as long as possible.” You can say, “Joe plodded towards school” or “Joe dawdled on his way to school” and your readers will know immediately that he wasn’t looking forward to going there or at least wasn’t in a hurry to arrive.

Using my first example, rather than say, “He walked slowly”, say “He ambled.” But if he walks slowly and unhappily: “He plodded/trudged.” Instead of walking “angrily”, your character could “stomp.”   A person walking quickly could “stride” or if moving quietly, “creep” or “pad.”

Consider using an online thesaurus often and you’ll see your writing improve. Readers will enjoy the richness of your language and who knows? You may even discover the joy of words and the art of nuance.  Improvement is only a short walk of your fingers away.

 

How much of a story can be told in 100 words?  You’ll surprised if you tune in each Wednesday for the photo prompt for Friday Fictioneers and read the stories that emerge!  To access the list, click on the link critter at the bottom of the page.  Stories are added daily (at least until the next prompt is out), so come back to read more.  This group has some very talented and imaginative writers, so you’re sure to find something you love. And if you’d like to participate, there’s always room for another story.

Bottles-Marie Gail Stratfordcopyright Marie Gail Stratford

Truth and Consequences

In vino veritas.”

Kate and her friends had joked about that phrase during high school Latin. This morning, she dimly remembered sharing way too much veritas last night while being too much in vino. Groaning, she swallowed acetaminophen, wishing it could also take away the pain of reliving how she’d comprehensively trashed Joanna’s taste in men, particularly her fiancé. Even more unfortunate, if not cataclysmic, she also recalled lurching around to see said fiancé behind her. After that, things were mostly fuzzy, but truth be told, she thought the chances high she’d find herself defriended and not just on Facebook.

 

A second 100-word story came to mind, almost as-is and pushing to be born, so I post it here today as a companion piece to yesterday’s story...or to stand on its own. I’ll re-post Dawn’s lovely photo so you can see where the inspiration originated.

©Tales_From_the_Motherland©Tales_From_the_Motherland

She’s come undone.
All the carefully packed
    sections of her life worked loose,
    edges unraveling
    as if pulled by a malicious hand,
    spilling out their contents
    into random heaps,
    top layers caught by winds of chance
    and blown away
Nothing can put them back
    and she thinks perhaps
    she shouldn’t try,
    should simply lie down
    beneath them all and
    inhale deeply.
Too simple; the coward’s way
    and so she dashes uselessly
    here and there
    attempting to gather the pieces of her life,
    
not seeing the beautiful pattern that they make,

    sitting in despair 
    in the rubble
    (as she deems it.)

Fictioneer: n. 1. A person who participates in a weekly challenge to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt.

2. A person who tells stories that may or may not be based in reality.

3. A person addicted to writing once a week, 100-word stories. No cure is known.

I’m back on the traveling road today through the weekend, but I couldn’t pass up Dawn’s beautiful photo, even though I may do something less than beautiful with it.  Forgive me if I don’t get to your story and thanks for reading and commenting on mine.  Yes, it’s fiction.  🙂  A second story insisted on being written as well, but I’ll post that tomorrow, so if you’re interested, feel free to drop in and let me know which you prefer.

©Tales_From_the_Motherland©Tales_From_the_Motherland

 Compartments

I’m

.

.

falling

.

.

a p a r t.

 

Too much to do, too little time to do it.
Things I don’t know how to do, things I don’t want to do.

Sometimes I’m on the outside looking in, hitting the glass, trying to get people to see me. They’re making fun of me, talking about me.

I feel worthless.
I feel great.
Work’s great.
Work’s screwed up.

I’m screwed up.

Everything should be in its own compartment but it won’t stay there! It bleeds into other parts of my life, makes a mess, makes me a mess.

What do I do now?

Someone help.

 

Please?

Friday Fictioneers.
Look at a photo.
Craft 100 words to tell the story that inspires you.
Share it with others and share your thoughts on their stories.
Repeat weekly.
Learn. Enjoy. Hone your craft.

Friday Fictioneers, Madison’s baby, Rochelle’s teenager, has come of age.  Thanks to the tireless efforts of all involved, we received WordPress recognition this week, http://en.blog.wordpress.com/2014/05/19/writing-communities/.  What a wonderful surprise, although I must admit to having thought next, “What if we get lots more people?  How will I ever read all those stories?”  🙂  Fame has pros and cons.  But kudos to everyone who’s part of what FF is today–a supportive community of accomplished writers.

copyright Erin Leary

copyright Erin Leary

 

Fog Bank

Rain falls outside like tears.

That woman’s here again. Says she’s my daughter. I wonder who she really is, what she wants.

Where am I? Where’s Jim? Why doesn’t he come and get me out of here? I want to go home.

Sounds like it’s raining. I always liked walking in the rain, liked looking out over the farm when it was misty. I liked…I can’t remember. Why can’t I?

No one said getting old would be like this, that my memories would come and go. That I would lose myself.

That woman’s here again.

Tears fall inside like rain.

 

When Nora Vasconcelos at “The Traveling Book Club’s Blog”, http://thetravelingbookclub.wordpress.com/, asked if I would like to take part in the “Writing Process Blog Tour”, I blithely said “Of course.  Thanks.”  I did wonder, though, what I was doing among people who have had books published or are working on books.  Although I grew up writing stories and journals, most of my professional writing has been doing newsletters for companies or for church.  But I thought it would be fun.

It turns out that the most difficult part was trying to find three other writers willing to be featured.  Some have done this before; some never returned my emails.  So I’m ad-libbing.  I have one excellent writer who took the challenge and then I’m going to highlight a few writers/bloggers and provide links to their blogs.  As for my part, here goes.

1)What am I working on?

My current writing is on my blog. When I started over two years ago, every post was writing. Then I started adding photography and now I’m working to keep a balance between writing and photography or else combining the two. With the discovery of editing apps, I’ve started putting the written word on photographs, which is fun.

Every week I participate in Friday Fictioneers, a flash fiction challenge where the participants write a 100-word story based on a photo prompt. I’ve also been writing haiku and am working on learning about haibun and haiga, Asian writing/poetry forms. I’m starting to work on a children’s book, with our younger daughter as illustrator.

I have two tiny publishing “triumphs.”  One of is a compilation of fifty one-hundred word flash fiction stories written by fifty different people (mine is one, as is my husband’s):  “One Photo, Fifty Author, One Hundred Words.”  The other is a haiku that was included in a book of Jan Morrill’s lovely haiku (one of only two not her own):  “Life:  Haiku by Haiku.”  Jan also has a wonderful novel, “The Red Kimono“, about the Japanese internment during WWII.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

My work reflects my beliefs, experiences and interest. That means in some sense, everything I do is unique. That doesn’t mean it’s the best, but it’s unique to me.


3) Why do I write what I do?

I’ve been writing in some way all my life. I kept journals for years, although they’re sometimes embarrassing to read now. I’ve always enjoyed letter-writing, which is gradually becoming a lost art. My husband and younger daughter urged me to start a blog. I can remember the excitement I felt when I got my first non-family like and follower. Since I don’t have a theme for my blog, it’s taken longer to build up a following, but it’s been so much fun. I love talking with people and blogging is a great way to meet and talk with people. I guess I write what I do for the dual purposes of expressing thoughts I have and reaching people.

4) How does my writing process work?

I don’t currently have a time set aside each day to write, although that’s on my agenda. I have notebooks where I jot down ideas or even (gasp) write things out with a pen. I have a notebook in the car to record ideas pop into my head while driving. Especially on long trips, when I have time to think, I always have things I want to remember. But mindful of safety, I always keep one hand on the steering wheel and my eyes ahead…which means I can’t always decipher my chicken scratches. I guess with my iPhone I could dictate but I haven’t advanced that far yet technically. Sometimes I imitate the Indians and tribes who had a mostly oral tradition and keep going over lines, stories or poems in my head until such time as I can write them down. It’s good brain exercise.

I write, then let my writing sit for a time before going back and revising it. Sometimes I run it by a friend but usually I just go over it myself. Those of you who know me know I’m a stickler for grammar and correct usage, so I really look for that. Hard to edit your own things, but I generally do fairly well. Sometimes I read aloud to see if the rhythm and feel are what I want. That’s also a great way to see if you need to break up sections of writing so that you don’t have run-on sentences or to see if you have incomplete sentences. I also try to look at my story from the point of view of someone who doesn’t know the back story and determine whether they’ll see it the same way as I intend. Sometimes that works; sometime not.

*********************************

My featured blogger is Jennifer Pendergast.  Jen is both a good writer and a fellow grammarian.

Jennifer Pendergast lives in two very different worlds. The first is small and restrictive: bounded by the laws of physics and the demands of a strong-willed toddler. The second world is vast and limitless, even when it has to be squeezed into word counts and hard drives. In spite of this, she tends to write real-world stories, often at the darker and more deadly end of the spectrum. She’s a stickler on grammar and spelling, and enjoys sharing critique with her fellow writers – two elements which sometimes clash as she’s an English woman living in Canada and writing in the multi-lingual universe of the blogosphere at www.elmowrites.wordpress.com

Jen Headshot

 

 

 

 

My highlighted bloggers are writers and/or bloggers who I think you would enjoy meeting and reading.  There are some friends who are very good authors a/o bloggers who, as I mentioned, have either already participated in this tour elsewhere, simply don’t have time to participate or didn’t return my emails.  This isn’t a definitive list but one I hope you enjoy.

1)  Nepotism first!  My husband is developing into quite a good poet and although he would say he’s not that good, I’m not the only one who thinks his work is worth reading.   His fiction/poetry blog is “bwfiction.”

2)  Belinda at “Busy Mind Thinking” will grab your heart and not let it go with her story, her bravery and her encouragement.  If you think life is giving you a difficult time, spend some time with her and you’ll be amazed at her heart and encouraged by your own circumstances.

3)  Take a trip. I’ll finish with three bloggers who will  take you to other countries.  Ladies first!  Theodora Brack’s “Paris:  People, Places and Bling” will transport you to Paris and give you the skinny not only on shopping but on all sorts of history, food and fun.  Even if you won’t be shopping in Paris, you’ll have a great time visiting through Theodora’s eyes.

4)  Prefer the south of France?  Then you need to visit Stéphane in Bordeaux, France at “My French Heaven.”  Gorgeous photos, wonderful words and even recipes from a place you can even stay if you’re in the area.

5)  Love food, travel and great journalism?  Then you want to visit Tom at “The Palladian Traveler“.  But never read any of his posts before dinner!  You’ve been warned.