“Tis the season . . . NaNoWriMo

‘Tis the season for NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month is held during the month of November. Have you ever done it? Have you thought about it and wondered if you could or should do it? I say: Go for it! What do you have to lose? And, you might gain some excellent writing. “National Novel Writing Month began in 1999 as a daunting but straightforward challenge: to write 50,000 words of a novel in thirty days.”  Sharon Oard Warner says “A work of fiction that logs in at 50,000 words is actually a novella . . .” So, if the idea of writing a novel is overwhelming, consider writing a novella. Prepare for NaNoWriMo Julie Artz writes about her NaNoWriMo experience on Jane Friedman’s blog, “Want to Win NaNoWriMo? The Secret is Preparation.” Learn from her mistakes to get “that coveted NaNoWriMo win.” Prolific author Bella Andre wrote about her struggles…

Choose a scene . . . Prompt 607

Choose a scene and write. Scene 1 You are sitting at your kitchen table. The morning sun lights up the room. You wrap your hands around a mug of warm, steaming, fragrant [type of drink]. What are you daydreaming about? Scene 2 You are sitting on a porch, looking out at [wherever you are]. A movement catches your eye, reminding you of . . . Scene 3 You and (name of dinner partner) are enjoying dessert. You are surprised by . . . Scene 4 There you are, in the middle of [something]. What are you thinking about? #amwriting #justwrite #creativewriting

Weave narrative, dialogue, and action . . . Prompt #605

Have you read something that feels “off?” Or been bored with the sluggish, plodding plot? Do you wonder why the novel isn’t moving along? It could be the lack of balance between narration, dialogue, and action. As a writer you want to keep your story moving and engaging. Weaving “We want to balance our scenes using three elements of fiction: dialogue, action and narrative. This is one reason you want to put your character in a scene with other characters as often as possible: Scenes that weave together these three elements engage the reader at an emotional level much more effectively than scenes that are only dialogue, only narrative or only action.” —Gloria Kempton One at a time Sometimes you want to focus on one aspect. Use dialogue, for example, to show a character’s personality and motives. “If you want to highlight a particular character trait in your viewpoint character…

Passion is the engine . . .

Robert Crais: Passion is the engine that has to fire the whole thing.   Successful writing is all about passion, to create a world that’s full and complete and engrosses the reader. First and foremost, the reader is you. If you’re writing about a world in which you need to research to learn about it, then feel passionate about it. If you’re not passionate about what you’re writing, you’re writing the wrong thing. You want heat, you want fire. That’s what we gather around and warm our hands with. Excerpted from “Fired Up,” by Jessica Strawser, Writer’s Digest, Nov/Dec 2016 #amwriting #justwrite #creativewriting

Three Bags Full: A Sheep Detective Story

If you’re looking for a murder mystery with a clever wooly sleuth, then “Three Bags Full: A Sheep Detective Story” by Leonie Swann is for you! I haven’t read many mysteries, but I do love a good animal story, so this book caught my attention. Who wouldn’t be interested in a story about a flock of sheep determined to solve the mystery of their shepherd’s death? How, you may ask, does a flock of sheep solve a mystery? Well, these aren’t just any sheep. George, their shepherd, read to them every day, so they’ve been exposed to philosophical literature, mysteries, and romance novels. With the intrepid Miss Maple in the lead, the gang escapes their pasture to do a little detective work in the village while trying to go unnoticed by the village butcher. They gaze up at cloud sheep – what becomes of a sheep when they die—as they…

Lies, humiliation, secrets . . . Prompt #604

Memoir is similar to many elements of fiction: Careful scene setting, pacing, tension, conflict. Seduce the reader with a confiding tone. Reveal secrets. The best secrets are those that the author reveals or learns about self in the process, “Ah, did I really think that?” Readers are interested in your conflicts. It’s important to modulate good times and bad times. “The best memoirs explore and reveal conflict in a way that illuminates and startles.” —Kat Meads Consider the scope of your memoir. It’s not necessary to start from when you were born and work your way up. Don’t try to write about everything. Take one aspect. The year you were in Paris, for example. If you go with a chronological way of telling, share just the important events that shaped you. The idea is to look objectively at your life to write a richer subjective memoir. Part of writing memoir…

A time you fumbled. Prompt #602

The prompt:  Write about a time you fumbled or stumbled or faltered. Or: Write about a kindness you have done or would have like to have done. Here’s the backstory: December 2016 Occasion:  Nobel Prize ceremony, Stockholm, Switzerland. Patti Smith delivered an emotional rendition of Bob Dylan‘s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” at the Nobel Prize ceremony in Stockholm, Sweden, December 2016. She sang for a few minutes, faltered, stopped singing, and said, “I’m sorry. I’m so nervous.” Then she continued in her beautiful, transportive way. We’ve all been there, haven’t we? Awkwardly faltering. But usually, we don’t want to admit what we perceive as a weakness. January 2017 I’ve had a lot to think about these past few days. Extreme highs: Watching granddaughter perform as rat and a camel in her church Christmas pageant and as a soldier in the Nutcracker. Celebrated with son, his wife, and her family as his…