Today we did a prompt based on a photo. We were to pick one and answer a few questions and then write a 500 word scene. I wrote it, but it didn’t go so well for me. I had a hard time coming up with a story line, and then once I did, and wrote it, and edited it, it evolved into something I didn’t intend to write, at first. As to of this sparked a longer story… nope. It was all I could do to get these words out. I don’t particularly have a connection with the person in the photo that I chose. It was difficult to determine, story wise, what he was doing and why. At first I wanted him to be a bit of a peeping Tom but as I started editing, the story started changing, and now he’s seen something disturbing. Here is the photo: And here is my submission:
Characters are my favorite topics to talk about, because I love a character I can sink my teeth into. A well-rounded character will have an entire history his or her own and I will know them like the back of my hand, to the point where I can predict what s/he will say or do in a certain situation. This week we’re talking about our characters and how we collect them. Do we have a grouping of people hanging out in our heads or on paper waiting to be written? Are they stolen from real life and pieced together? My writing style is usually plot driven, mostly because I have written so much fan fiction where the main character is always the same person, different situation. Add original characters, mix, and pour into a glass. My original fiction has followed the same path because that is what I’m used to. A “what if” situation or a “ripped from the headlines” story might plant a bug, and then I start to design characters that would/wouldn’t fit and figure out how to make the story interesting. I collect some of my characters from real life but change so many of the characteristics that I’d be impressed if anyone recognized themselves. I try to “model” characters after a person, either by personality or by appearance. I had a serial story that I wrote for a long, long time and one of the minor characters was modeled after one of our off site managers at work. From time to time, he comes to the office, so sometimes it’s like having that character just a few feet away from me. Really weird feeling, by the way. There are others that I take first or last names but no other info like the job they have or their family makeup. I combine and build and develop until I have a pretty much ‘fictional’ person and only I know the original inspiration. I’ve also told my friends when they end […]
A brief note before I post: Day three of the 30 Day Writing challenge is up on my Tumblr! If you’re participating by blog or Tumblr please let me know so I can follow! So, today we are discussing building a library on the craft of writing. And I have a confession to make: I buy writing books all the time but don’t read them. I have several books of writing exercises but don’t really make use of them. It hasn’t been a medium that has been effective for me… it’s that feeling of flipping through a book and realizing it’s in a language you can’t read. In fact, I become overwhelmed and quite stressed out after reading them because I feel like I have no idea how to apply what I’ve just read to something I’m currently writing. I am much more of a writing blog reader than I am a writing book reader, though I do have a couple of writing books I like:
For those unfamiliar with DIYMFA, it is a website that allows writers to use tools, exercises and experiences to design their own advanced writing program. The do-it-yourself approach allows each of us to flourish in our own ways and dive as deeply as we want (or need) to go to improve our writing and knowledge of the craft. It’s our first Weekend Writing Prompt! The Starting Point: Reading: 1) Do you read regularly? If so, how many books per year, on average? Yes, I am an avid, voracious reader. This year my goal is to read 50 books or more. 2) What are your Top 3 preferred subjects or genres? I’m a fiction reader- within that I like literary fiction, women’s fiction, some erotic romance and historical fiction (set in the US). I read some non fiction but not much- it has to be for a specific purpose. Right now I am reading memoirs of people with schizophrenia as research for a story I am writing. 3) List the last 5 books/magazines you’ve read. *consults my GoodReads account* – Swallow the Ocean (biography, non fiction), The SisterHood of Blackberry Corner (adult fiction, women’s fiction, black author), Surrender the Heart (christian fiction, historical fiction), The Accident (fiction, thriller) , The Whispering Room (fiction, mystery, thriller)
So, I had a bad night last night. Very, very bad. Like, sitting in bed staring at the laptop, sniffling and sobbing, teary twitter updates bad night. And it was all my project’s fault. See, here is the thing. I’m a writer. I have finally admitted to myself that I do this thing called writing. And now that I am well aware that I am a writer, I am looking past just “writing”. Now what I want is to AUTHOR. I want to write a book. Not a book that I finish and smile at and put away. Not a book that is so amateur that I have to self publish because YE GODZ, lady, no one is going to publish that drivel. I want to author a book and then edit the crap out of it and rewrite it and edit the crap out of THAT and send it to 184 agents and have ONE say “yeah I think we can make this work” and have that agent send it to 45 publishing companies and have one of THEM say, “Yeah, we definitely want to publish this” and have my book be available at frikken Barnes & Noble where my mother– who lives on the other side of the country– can go visit a bookstore with her best girlfriend and stand there and stare at it and cry in the middle of the store and be all proud and stuff. That. I want that. But the thing is? I’m not really sure I have that kind of talent.
Today at DIYMFA, we are discussing our writing rituals, or those habits we subconciously fall into in order to get in the mood for writing. Rituals remind me of when a dog goes to lay down. They primp and pace, sniff around, then turn three times and flop down in their favorite spot… every time. It’s not unlike the ritual of a writer, except I don’t do any sniffing around. The reason our rituals or habits are important is because it tells our minds and our muses that it’s time to get down to business. So, let’s chat about our habits and rituals. What are yours? Share in the comments!
Today’s lesson at DIY MFA focuses on showing, not telling, and using the TADA (Though Action Dialog Appearance) Character Compass. In the (very teeny) diagram to the left, the outside of the compass represents the maximum amount of that attribute. The closer to the center, the less that attribute was used. In the example from today’s lesson, the compass represents an excerpt that is heavy on dialog and action, and moderate on thought and appearance– so we’re saying how we feel about things and not talking about what our characters are feeling or how others are reacting to what our characters say or who they are. Our homework assignment was to choose a passage and do a compass to indicate the levels of TADA used. I chose a passage from Nowhere Man, since I just finished it and know it best. And it’s short. HA. This is the passage I’m analyzing and below is my TADA compass: I purposely chose a dialog heavy snippet because I want to see, when I am in the thick of conversation between my characters, if I am doing more telling than showing. From my diagram, it looks like I am big on dialog and action. My character is the tortured type, so there is some thought, a lot of self talk and introspection. Not a lot of appearance, or reaction of one character to another, though it is there, like when she is pacing. I see , though, that I could probably use a little less talky and a little more showy… but overall, I think the dialog works for them because it’s back story and I’d much rather have my characters give hints and clues via dialog than type up three long boring paragraphs about their family histories. Hopefully my fellow DIYMFAers will come tell me if I’m right in my analysis or not!
When I write, I use images to help me describe something
Today was the first Writing Sprint for DIY MFA. The theme today was breaking out of the writer’s comfort zone, breaking old habits that we settle into, so that when we aren’t comfortable, we can’t write. I typically write at home, on my bed. I have a little lap desk that I set up and here is pretty much where I’ve written anything I’ve ever written. I don’t have a desk, so here I sit, day and night, writing. I normally have complete silence… if the TV is on, it’s muted. I also like to have some music playing, at least in one ear. And sometimes, even if I don’t have music, I have ear buds to cancel out any noise from outside, or my neighbor upstairs, whom I call THE STOMPER. One of these days, my prompt is going to be what THE STOMPER is doing up there, making all that noise. Today, to break that comfort, I went to the Cafe at my local Barnes and Noble bookseller. And instead of writing on my laptop, I took a pen and a pad of paper. How did I do? I’ll be honest, it was hard. My brain moves much faster than my fingers do, but I have to slow down while I’m writing so I can read it later to type it up. And then there was the finger cramping… I was able to push through and get down about 1500 words in about an hour and a half. On my laptop, once I get going I can get 1000 words in about 45 minutes. So it seems it took me twice as long, but at least I got it done. I just typed up what I wrote, which is a scene from my next project. It’s also a scene from what I estimate to be about the middle of the book. I’m a linear writer, so I will actually write forever just to get to a certain point. […]