Thursday, October 25, 2012

For anyone doing NaNo: things to include in the beginning and middle of your work

     -Introduces the protagonist and provides a glimpse of his/her character, goal, and conflict.
     -Sets up the world of the book.
     -Shows "before" of the world and the protagonist, what they're like before the story events.
     -Hints at backstory, or at least indicates there is some relevant backstory.
     -Sets up the major story questions (external, internal, interactional) and probably poses the external story question.
     -Initiates the external conflict.
     -Hints at the internal conflict.
     -Shows the start point of the central relationship.
     -Ends with the inevitability of change.


     -Shows how protagonist initially responds to the forced change.

     -Shows how the world of the book responds to the threat and event of change.
     -Forces more protagonist/antagonist action/reaction through events.
     -Forces protagonist to confront (but not yet resolve!) internal conflict.
     -Forces protagonist to begin to understand the cost of not resolving internal conflict.
     -Gradually reveals the "secret" or the backstory as needed.
     -Heightens conflict through events requiring greater emotional risk from protagonist.
     -Suggests what the crisis might be– what the protagonist fears most.
     -Produces reaction by antagonist/external conflict.
     -Increases interaction within central relationship, heightening conflict but also increasing the intensity of the caring. With each event, the nature of the relationship shifts a little.
     -Creates the point of no return– the event or action that means the protagonist cannot turn back.

**From this site, if you're interested in more:

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Sometimes there's poetry in your errands.
The last couple weeks during grocery shopping, I've picked up a bouquet of roses. Just because. 

(When I stepped outside with the first bunch, it was as though someone spilled sunshine across their faces.)

As they dried, I saw that most of them became sad, turning dark and downwards but one----
One became lighter and more upright. When it was deprived, it chose to extend itself further. It showed its ability to adapt when its nourishment was gone. 

Kind of a metaphor for how we can be during adversity, don't you think? 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Tips from a wise writer

"When still a child, make sure you read a lot of books. Spend more time doing this than anything else. When an adult, read your own work as a stranger would read it, or even better, as an enemy would."

"Don't confuse honors with achievement."

"Protect the time and space in which you write. Keep everybody away from it, even those who are most important to you."

-Zadie Smith 

P.S. On Creepy Query Girl's blog, I read her post about a fellow writer's work being stolen from a friend. This is one of the most devastating things that can happen to one of us and unfortunately, occurs too often. Of course, when it occurs with a friend, that bond is likely corrupted for good.
 With the internet, it's become easier to steal someone's words and ideas and then just conveniently disappear, like in this case. Still, Wendy is handling her situation with an admirable grace. Go show her some support and remember, be careful with your work but as Wendy noted, don't allow one negative experience to taint future relationships. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Quotes of the moment

"Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand." 
George Orwell

"Keep a diary and someday it'll keep you." Mae West

"What you are is a complicated girl with simple needs. You need your books and time to read and you need a few friends and you need someone---not to take care of you but to care for you. If you have all those things, you'll always be all right." Brian Morton

Lastly, for my favorite feminist:

"Some of us are becoming the men we wanted to marry." Gloria Steinem

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Reading your work out loud and other life lessons

1.) In the fertile land of editing, I've found that there's a lot of trial and error involved (but maybe that's just life as well?). Many fellow bloggers have mentioned reading their manuscripts out loud so I decided to try it. That is one of the benefits of living alone, right?  To be able to speak to yourself and not worry about looking crazy. 

It turns out that this technique works wonders for the "rhythm" and tone of a written piece. Are there too many shorter sentences? Is there irrelevant detail? Reading your words out loud can help answer these types of questions.
Tell me, do you have a go to editing technique?

2.) I'd like to say I fell for Samir over our many candle lit dates at restaurants with thick, linen tablecloths. While that's true to an extent, there's another side. He learned about how much I hated doing dishes the night we met. Every time we've been together since then, he races to the sink to finish them (and like an eternal gentleman, pretends it's a coincidence). Last time, while I observed his soapy fingers, the growing stack of plates by his side, and the hum of an old slow song leaving his lips, I knew that's where love happened.
Take home: life occurs in those banal, daily moments that are too often overlooked.

3.) My poetry professor had the best, succinct truths that he exhaled throughout class. One I remembered today:
Me to a fellow student: "I wouldn't worry about the test too much. I think that whole class is pass/fail."
Professor: "Yeah, life is pretty pass/fail." 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Insecure Writer's Support Group: Keeping it Fresh

Ah, another post for the incredible support group Alex created. 
Sometimes Often I worry that when it comes to writing, I'll never meet my full potential but really, I later find that this, like so many other worries, is irrational. 
Because our potential as writers is entirely within us.
I recently read a great NY Times article about the importance of "cleansing your literary palate" in order to keep your own work fresh. What we soak in influences us. The words we read become folded within and seep out while we work. This is why reading things from all genres is essential. Stepping out of our comfort zone is crucial in our reading and the rest of our lives.
It's important for us to keep pushing ourselves to not only meet our potential but continually redefine it. There are enough things in life that are out of our control. Our writing potential is not one of them. 

"Basically, earlier patterns in what you say or read or write “prime” you to repeat them when you’re acting automatically. Our tendency to say the same sorts of sentences as those around us was first studied by someone looking at, of all things, walkie-talkie conversations between burglars. Our words and sentence patterns are also primed in the same way, such that the words we chose are the words we will choose later.
 As a warm-up activity, you might try actively imitating a writing style different from your own. It’s hard to do and highly unpriming.”