Tag Archives: Writing

Day 10 for NaNoWriMo ‘J’ juxtaposition

I moved through the fields taking pictures of dried wildflowers. Wild thorn bushes, burrs and stickseeds  grabbed  at me as they tried to get me to acknowledge their existence.  A frantic last-ditch effort to hide their seeds  as I unwittingly  drag them back to shorter grass and soft mud, thus giving them a place to survive the winter.

I took a walk past leaning trees, milkweeds seed pods, tuffs of Goldenrod, and stickseeds the ones that grab at your shoelaces and clothing and won’t let go, even after being put through a couple of cycles in the washer. These cling-ons will survive the washing machine. I slipped out of my coat and carefully picked the seeds, one at a time from my coat, pants, shoes, gloves and my hair, which was harder to remove than gum.

Long pieces of still green stems deteriorating into pieces as I tried to peel them off, when I had looked over the quiet field, I didn’t see the seeds conspiring to rattle my day. But they did. I ended up picking-off-one-seed-at-a-time from my clothing. Getting them caught under my nails, when I try scratching them off. I’m surprised at the strength of these stickyseeds. My first impression was of a simple seed no bigger than a fruit fly. When I saw them in a different light, one of grabby, clawwy, irritating, Velcro-like seeds. They lost their first impression- luster.

A bit of a juxtaposition of what I thought this plant was and was not.

“I have suffered a great deal from writers who have quoted this or that sentence of mine either out of its context or in juxtaposition to some incongruous matter which quite distorted my meaning, or destroyed it altogether.”~Alfred North Whitehead

A juxtaposition of actions, no more a simple wave at you summer and fall plant.

A juxtaposition of sweet to irritating, pretty to hated, and losing all comparison to the Goldenrod waving at eye level, while the stickyseeds wrapped there tentacles around my ankles. What a difference a few feet made to juxtaposition my first impression of what was going to enhance my day, and what will choke me in seeds: and surprise me as I found I was used as a transport system.

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I realize that the plants were similar.  I could have compared a bird and a tree, or a plant and a barn, two things dissimilar with preconceived images set in my mind, and then I could have juxtaposed them so what they had changed, and gave the reader a surprise to chew on.

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Juxtaposition Examples in Literature from: examples.yourdictionary

  • Juxtaposing God and Satan – Paradise Lostby John Milton
  • Juxtaposing the haves and have-nots before the French Revolution 

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness”- A Tales of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

  • Juxtaposing the struggle for life and the acceptance of death 

“Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray. / Do not go gentle into that good night. / Rage, rage against the dying of the light. “- Do not Go Gentle into that Good Night by Dylan Thomas

  • Juxtaposing light and darkness 

“O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright! / It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night; Like a rich jewel in an Ethiope’s ear”~ Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

“Merry and tragical? Tedious and brief?; That is hot ice, and wondrous strange snow!; How shall we find the concord of this discord?” ~ A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare

  • Juxtaposing the angst of loving someone 

“I thoroughly hate loving you. Your heart is a perfectly-carved stone; Set deep into your chest, soft as granite. I grip you gently with angels’ claws; Icy breath scorching your warm, shivering skin. Your hard topaz eyes shimmer liquidly;”~  Author unknown

  • Juxtaposing violence with goodness 

“You will soon be asked to do great violence in the cause of good.” ~ The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers

 

 

 

NaNoWriMo Day 5 writing is editing: ‘E’ for Editing

Editing is Writing

I walked out into a gloomy cloudy day. The clouds had dropped so low I felt as if I were walking inside them. A grey chill spread from the wet ground and met the dreary clouds, pinning me inside that painful air pressure

 

By the time I got my mail, the cold dampness found its way under my coat. My head was aching. The change in air pressure heralded in a warning of impending rain. The world was covered in water; all the rain that fell the past week had overflowed into my shed.

 

 

Last night, that water pushed toads up the drain and into the house. One of my cats -Enishi- brought one to me. He dropped it at my feet. I didn’t act happy. I took the toad outside and spent the rest of the evening cuddling with Enishi, trying to make up for my mistake. If I could edit out my reaction, I would have. What I should have said was, “Good Boy!” then took the toad outside. Instead of getting worried and telling him not to touch it, he didn’t understand why, and he seemed to deflate, but he listened.

I was worried he would get an adverse reaction if he decided to chomp on the toad. Some toads can be toxic to cats. This little toad was no bigger than a quarter and I didn’t take its picture, so I couldn’t identify it.

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“Toad venom can be toxic for your cat. Fortunately, toad venom toxicity is rare in cats. Still, being natural predators, it is common enough for cats to pounce on toads and come into contact with their toxin, which the toad releases when it feels threatened. This highly toxic defense chemical may enter the eyes, resulting in vision problems, or it may be absorbed through the oral cavity membrane. Its effects are lethal if not treated immediately.” ~ Petmd.com

I edited my reaction after I put the toad outside. But my cat wasn’t buying it. And I had to carry him around telling him he was a good cat and a mighty hunter. I need to edit my reaction for the next toad he brings me.

This brings me to NaNoWriMo. This is the 5th day. The day of ‘E’ for edit.

Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

My top ten

1) Editing is writing. Stop thinking of it as a way to cut up your creativity.
2) Cut overused words; you know, like, that, even very, anymore, only, usually, etc. Words you tend to overuse. Make yourself a list so you can find them in your text.
3) Read your creation out loud, you will hear mistakes.
4) When you ask people to read your work ask them questions. Example: What words did I overuse? Or, do you like my main character?
5) What Point of view did you write in? What tense? Does your pattern match -through out your novel?
6) Does all your dialogue move the story forward?
7) Does each scene move your story forward?
8) Do your word choices match your scenes? Scary, happy, sad, lonely, dark, light etc.
9) Now, write your plot line. Are all the acts in order?
10) Write down each scene on an index card. Boring or just the right amount of drama? Does each one advance the story? Advance the chapter?

Today my word count is 2,052 {{Happy Dance}}

NaNoWriMo Day One A for Antagonist Prayers to the muses

Today is Day One of NaNoWrimo!

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You know the National Novel Writing Month. It’s that one month when I give myself, my muse permission to write. I will write a total of One-thousand-seven-hundred-twenty-five words per day. I realize that my count is off, slightly. I don’t count the last day, that 30th day. That last day, I am busy with my happy-dance, and feeling a little sad.

Did I just say, sad…?  By the end of the month, it’s like an old friend is heading home.

A bit sad.
A bit happy.
A lot tired.
And, relieved I survived.

I have written 50,000 words in November for a number of years. The words that poured out were less than great. But, they did tell a story, maybe more my story than the characters that ran across the page. A horrible mishmash of ideas, clues, pinch points, three-act –blocks, worlds, characters running around in their underwear, like untrained puppies. My muse would act like a spoiled child, that was trying to drive off the babysitter. A lot of screaming and crying, sitting on the floor curled in a ball, not listening at all.

Each November I set up a plan, then I wrote. My eyes blurred. I heard nothing that was said around me; instead, I crawled away from my words to cook meals.

I followed the rules and drank plenty of water. I even allowed myself time to stare out the window as if I was a cat hypnotized by an invisible spider on the wall. I would tell myself that I was exercising my eyesight by focusing close up and far away. I would ‘will’ myself to ignore those dust bunnies. You’ve seen them, they ride in on a breeze and disappeared under a desk or chair. The sneakier ones hide under the couch. I will veg out wondering -why-the phone won’t stop ringing or why it doesn’t ring. Or thinking- I should clean out the kitchen cabinets or arrange by size, date, and name every piece of paper in the house. I will have an uncontrollable need to dust. I will hear that dust calling to me by name.

I continued to write. I will continue to write. I won’t ask for permission, not from myself or anyone.
No doubting
Never asking permission.

I saw Eddie Colla’s Ambition street art, his picture of a woman with a bandanna covering her nose and mouth, in one hand she holds a can of spray paint.  AMAZING!  Captioned:

“If you want to achieve greatness stop asking for permission”

https://eddiecolla.wordpress.com/tag/ambition/

I am going to add my own spin on his phrase.

If you want to write a novel, stop asking yourself for permission
If you want to write a novel, stop doubting yourself
If you want to write a novel, tell your muse you are listening

If you want to write a novel, write your novel.

Here is an A for the first day of #NaNoWriMo2018

A  for Antagonist the main character or thing or situation that comes in conflict with your main character; AKA the bad guy

Example: Sauron in The Lord of the Rings by, J.R.R. Tolkien

How about overarching antagonists like Anakin aka Darth Vader, arches over the story, linking the beginning of the story to the end.

 

Starting today the past tense of having written changes and I am once more writing for NaNoWriMo.

Tick-Tock! Time for me to write out my antagonist’s evil plan.

 

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group March

It’s that time again, the first Wednesday of the Month

Insecure Writer’s Support Group

“Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting! Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post.”

March 1 Question: Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?

I have thought about it-pulling out an old piece and reworking it. Something always comes up; a new idea or project and I move forward not looking back. I have to admit- I have a piece I have been working on forever.

(In my head  I  hear “forever” sounding like a teen trying to get out of washing their clothes.. Do I have to! ! Double exclamation point with an extra dangling whine. )

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I have a lot of unfinished pieces. For one reason or another I just can’t find their endings. Those never really get done. I can’t seem to get close to the mid-point. Once I hit that rising action all my characters start falling off Freytag’s pyramid. I find that simple line isn’t enough to hold them, they start dangling by their toes….then the whole thing gets pushed back in its folder, stuffed in the back of a drawer or hidden between the pages of a book on writing.

 

I was told once, that I wrote too fast… and to slow up so I could think about what I was writing. That was the worst advice to give to anyone.  Writing and getting that story out is the most important part- at least for me- once I have my thoughts on paper, then the real writing and rewriting starts. But, it has to be on paper. Not in my head! Not swimming in a fog of ideas, for once that fog clears, I can end up with ‘nothing’. Pooof!

I have been reading Stephen King’s, The Dark Tower series. In the introduction for the first book, The Gunslinger, King tells how long and to what extent, he had been working on this book and how he got the idea in the first place. He read J.R.R Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings in 1966-67, which sparked his wanting to write his “own kind of story.”

Stephen King said, that when he writes, “his method of attack” is to “plunge in and go a fast as I can” and “…keeping the edge of my narrative blade as sharp as possible by constant use, and trying to outrun the novelist’s most insidious enemy, which is doubt. Looking back prompts too many questions: How believable are my characters? How interesting is my story? How good is this, really? Will anyone care? Do I care myself?”
Then he goes on to say: “I put it away, warts and all, to mellow. Some period of time later six months, a year, two years,…” Then adding, “…I come back to it with a cooler (but still loving) eye, and begin the task of revising.”

 

So pulling out old stories and reworking them is on my list for 2017. Time can only sharpen my eyes, and my ability to tell that story with a slightly different twist.

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The Insecure Writer’s Support Group-January Blog Post

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group

 http://www.alexjcavanaugh.com/p/the-insecure-writers-support-group.html

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

January 4 Question: What writing rule do you wish you’d never heard? ~TheIWSG

There isn’t a writing rule that I wished to have never heard of: whenever someone mentions rules, I tend to fall asleep….

I have found that the more I read and delve into an idea; even those rules become more convoluted. I have a need to bricoler (tinker) inside those flow of words, meld with the colors, feel the whispers and to see how those rules were (are) played with by artists and writers, to see how they used them or didn’t.

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I wonder if I missed the rules on writing this post…

Truth be told, I believe that all rules need to be broken. Every red button labeled ’don’t press’ needs to be pressed just so I can see what would happen: a rainbow car tumbles out a Clown Alley of critics with their trusty red markers, taking it out on my imagination.

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I got past worrying about state of being verbs. Stumbled over commas, I add one every time I exhale; is that worse than using none. Or counting every ‘the’ … twelve,  just saying.

I started wondering about the path that forks out towards a Quotidian world or Balzacian or Bourgeois, let’s not forget Jamesian and Metaleptic telling or told. I started scratching my head over Metaphysics to show existence, then wiggling over to Ontology: straining to hear Social Realism whispering in dark corners. A few shakes of empty soup cans, rattling with dried peas, a sorry imitation of bongo drums. All the while looking confused at the honing steel hanging out in Kitchen Sink scenes, pointing down the hall to the fogged up mirrors of Romanticism.

The best or maybe my grandparent’s favorite was ‘bathtub gin’ it helped them not to worry about rules.

 

Video lesson 13 Writing Suspense James Patterson’s MasterClass

Friday’s, Writing with James Patterson MasterClass

 

Lesson 13 writing suspense
Lesson 13 writing suspense

Video lesson thirteen 13 Writing Suspense. James Patterson starts out this video lesson with a bang. He talks quickly, enthusiastically, what I saw from James Patterson is the energy that you ‘need’ to see in your writing.

Here is a part of Mr. Patterson’s opening lines for lesson 13:

“Obviously, with mystery and suspense, it’s all about suspense. It’s constant non-ending fireworks. Its an adventure that starts and, –it’s gonna hold you at the edge of your seat right to the end, it starts big and gets even bigger….”

And even more…

Got to be genuine. If it feels like, to somebody throwing in devices, if you feel the manipulation, you lose them there too. If the readers going, ‘this is just crap.   This is just the usual somebodies, you know, trying to manipulate me.’

I love this line: “People kind ah want to be manipulated, but they want it done well.”

Know Your Genre

Read the books you want to write. You will learn how to write them, and you won’t write the same book. Write your own story. 

“Be aware of what’s out there. Not to imitate it but to avoid it.”~ James Patterson

The Da Vinci Code the complexity in the story is in the puzzle. It felt fresh to people.

The Da Vinci Code is a mystery-detective novel by Dan Brown.

Now, the secret to suspense is…

Ooops! Sorry, I will not tell you what James Patterson revealed in his video. I will give you a hint. It is common sense. If I reveal it to you, you will lose out on hearing it being told by James Patterson.

James Patterson does get around to answering that question. He pumps up the energy in this class with intense energy.

If you listen, really listen, you will hear all the good advice being given. But you have to listen. Remember when you sat in school  staring out the windows and not listening…well, don’t do that here. You will miss a great lecture. So a little advice, listen to these videos. Listen over and over so you can hear when that  advice is given.

Click on the link to James Patterson’s MasterClass you will find it on the top left-side. Just look, for Mr. Patterson’s picture.

Lesson 12 Building a chapter James Patterson’s Masterclass

Lesson 12- Building A Chapter

Lesson 12 Building A Chapter
Lesson 12 Building A Chapter

Friday with James Patterson’s MasterClass

James Patterson starts this lesson saying:

“Mike Connelly said, What Jim does, is, every single chapter moves the characterization and the action forward. -Every chapter. And turns on the movie projector in our heads.”

Then James continued.

“That movie projector in our heads means, that I can see the scene. I can hear the scene. I can smell the scene. I taste the scene. Something about it, I was getting enough information that sets me in that scene. So I can be there ‘with’ that character. And that’s really, really useful.”

He tells us to hear, smell, and see the scene- be there with the character. My take on this is –get in close– and personal. Chapters can be one scene or a few scenes. It all depends on what you have in mind for your story, your novel.

Choose a View Point

James Patterson likes to write in 1st person and 3rd person limited

Then he tells us, ‘It is your creation you can do whatever you want to do if it works.’ There are no rules that’s says you can’t use 1st and 3rd in the same story.

He likes to follow the villains and some secondary characters – you can switch off and write from a different character’s point of view. Who makes it more interesting? Which point of view feels right? The victim? The Detective, or the Killer? What is the best point of view you need to make the chapter come alive?

Other points of view emotionally how do you want your reader to feel? What is going to make it sad, happy, scary or sexy – then write in that point of view or rewrite it?

In ‘1st To Die’ all the main character are introduced in that first chapter. 1st to Die (Women’s Murder Club #1) by James Patterson

Starts with a murder of a couple, in a hotel, while on their honeymoon. We are introduced to Lindsay Boxer who is a police officer. The medical examiner, Claire Washburn. We meet Jill Bernhardt an assistant D.A. We see their connection. In this first chapter, we met three key characters. Then we meet a young reporter, Cindy Thomas, the fourth member, and she doesn’t belong there. She lies her way in. By the end of the book they are a unit – James Patterson says, “good shit”

This lesson has a PDF, a comments section, and an assignment.

 

Lesson 11 ‘Writing Dialogue, James Patterson’s Masterclass

Lesson 11 ‘Writing Dialogue, Friday’s with James Patterson’s Masterclass

James Patterson's Masterclass
James Patterson’s Masterclass

“All of your key interchanges with your characters, I mean, they gonna be good, bad or indifferent just because of the dialogue. And how they talk to each other it is gonna reveal who they are. Who’s smarter, who’s taking advantage of who? Who’s lying? Who’s telling the truth? Who’s in charge? And who’s really in charge”. ~James Patterson

Mr. Patterson used Lush Life by Richard Price,  his example of  what great dialogue can sound like. I have that book. I need to sit down with it, read and learn, pull the dialogue apart , examine its details. And figure out its ‘hows and whys’ .  This is definitely the type of dialogue that I would love to write.

Here are a few lines from, page 6 of Lush Life.

“What do we got…”

“Two males in the front.”

“What do we got…”

“Neon trim on the plate.”

“Tinted windows.”

“Right rear taillight.”

“Front passenger just stuffed something under the seat.”

No dialogue tags. Just fast paced dialogue. Short, tight writing. It moves along. In just these seven lines I can feel and see the movement as the cops check out the car they stopped. I felt like I walked around that car.

My thoughts on this: check out your favorite authors and see how they write their dialogue. Read it out loud. Get the feel for it. Then ask yourself if you learned anything new about that character from their dialogue. Where did the author take you in this dialogue?

James Patterson doesn’t write realism. His dialogue is heightened – but it feels real. Without being ‘literally’ real dialogue. Because real dialogue is boring…

Listen to how people speak when you are in the store, at work, on the bus.

This class has a comments section, where you can post your lesson and a video critique by James on his office hour’s page where he will answer questions.

Enroll by clicking the link on the upper left sidebar.

 

I binged watched Netflix STRANGER THINGS

I just finished binge watching on Netflix ‘STRANGER THINGS‘.

I loved it!

I don’t want to give out any {{spoilers,}} so go watch then come back here. *SPOILER*

Creators; Matt Duffer, Ross Duffer

I can compare this movie to other writer’s work and past shows, but only if I want to nitpick at a really great Netflix original.

When the show started I didn’t love the character of  Joyce played by Winona Ryder. I started complaining at how she didn’t even seem to notice her teen was making breakfast. Later on, she redeemed herself by accepting responsibility for her shortcomings.

Winona Ryder played a stressed-out, guilt-ridden, divorced mom running through stages of grief. She had me believing  she was heading for a one-way-ticket to a nervous breakdown and living in a cardboard box. Her house is a mess, her life is a mess, she is a mess. I felt sorry for her.

Police Chief Hopper (David Harbour) his daughter died of cancer before this story started. He is dealing with that loss with beer and pills.

The show has four preteen kids. Gaten Matarazzo  who plays Dustin Henderson. Caleb McLaughlin as Lucas Sinclair the  lifelong next-door neighbor of Mike Wheeler, played by Finn Wolfhard. Lastly we have Noah Schnapp  who plays  Will Byers, the character that everyone is searching for or believes is dead.

These boys are friends, who live by a code of chivalry that they learned from playing Dungeons and Dragons.  They prove their  friendship, with cooperation and  using strategy to find the real enemy.

I wondered about the accuracy as they played the game, especially when they ran into  Demogorgon. No one faces Demogorgon and lives. So tossing a fireball at a creature that is from a flaming pit/the Abyss/ it is Hell’s most powerful demon, well, that won’t kill it. When Demogorgon pops in, you run for your life. Just… RUN!

The boys meet Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) while they are out looking for their friend Will

Nancy is a teenage girl, who now has two boys who are smitten with her. Here we see normal teen hormones running rampant. Nancy’s little brother, Mike, takes in Eleven and she hides in their basement.

Nancy (Natalia Dyer) has a crush on Steve (Joe Keery), a popular boy at school. Jonathan Byers played by Charlie Heaton, has a crush on Nancy. Jonathan’s little brother is Will.

I hope you followed me as I set up the characters.

Everyone has something they want or something they are trying to overcome. The government has their own agenda, which is capture Eleven, they will go to extreme measure to accomplish this goal. Eleven wants away from ‘bad people.’  The creature wants to feed. Joyce wants her son back. The boys want to find Will. Police Chief Hopper he couldn’t save his daughter, he needs to save Will.

Nancy wants to find her friend. Without being able to read Nancy’s mind, I can only guess she wants both boys. Steve wants Nancy. Jonathan wants to save his brother and maybe end up with Nancy.

The mentioning  of,  Hugh Everett the American physicist who came up with the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics-multiple universes, gave this story  believability.

Now, I wonder if someone or something is trying to communicate with me,  through my flickering hall light.

Tenth Video Lesson James Patterson’s Masterclass First Lines

Friday with James Patterson

Lesson 10 First Lines
Lesson 10 First Lines

Listening to James Patterson as he teaches this class, has given me a look into the way his words play out in his books. I can hear his voice, his sound is a sort of eastern- Mid-Atlantic accent with a pinch of New England. I could be hearing things,- which wouldn’t be the first time- Well, maybe I should think up an idea for a story just out of a person’s dialect.

Here’s my attempt at that first line: “How long you gonna take stare’n at da map, Jimmy?” “Shda-up , Doris, we can’t just drive up wit old Benny in da trunk”

Okay, my accents need a lot of work. Still, I posted it in the comments section. Along with this: “Fourteen ways into the town, Jimmy had them all pointed out on the map all he needed was one, one that will let him drive into town hoping one would notice blood leaking out of his trunk.”

James Patterson tells us, that first lines, “Can give you an advantage. You are reaching out from that book, grabbing ahold of that reader and sucking them right into your book…or not. …. If you pull them right in you got em! “ The he said, “You’ve got that agent that editor, that reader. ”

FAVORITE FIRST LINES

James Patterson’s favorite first lines:

‘Along Came A Spider’ the first Alex cross book starts like this:

“Early on the morning of December 21, 1992, I was the picture of contentment on the sun porch of our house on 5th Street in Washington, D.C.”

This first line gives you a lot of information.  What it tells me is the feeling, –  “the picture of contentment” then I have the time, “early on the morning” the date, “December 21, 1992” and where it all takes place, “sun porch of our house on 5th Street in Washington, D.C.”

Here is the first sentence for ‘You’ve Been Warned’ by James Patterson a horror book, “Its way to early in the morning for dead people”

If you want to contact James Patterson you can send him a letter at this address from his website

James Patterson  c/o Author Mail  Hachette Book Group USA 1290 Avenue of the Americas New York, NY 10104,

or connect  with James Patterson on Facebook,  Twitter,  and Pinterest

Or sign up with MasterClass. That link is at the top of the black, left sidebar.