Picture It!: Creative Writing Exercise #CreativeWriting #AmWriting #WritingAdvice

One of the most overlooked parts of writing, one of the main characters who seem to always fall into the shadows of the background, happens to be, well, the background.

I don’t know about you, but for me, when I am caught in the throws of an action scene or lost in the rivers of tense character emotions I find that I often forget to describe the world around them.

Part of the struggle for me is that I already see the setting so clearly in my imagination that I often forget that no one else can see as I see. I need to paint with my words.

When we take pictures from our vacations and look at them long enough, our senses become sensitive to the memories evoked by the scenes.

The next step in my struggle comes from being able to do so authentically without schlepping a bunch of words together without the needed care that the character-called-background or setting, needs.

In one of the previous creative writing exercises called, Coffee with Character, I encouraged you to sit down with your characters to find out the little nuances about who they are as people; dig in to find out the traits that may not necessarily be mentioned in the book, but that still have a direct effect on how your characters behave.

In this exercise, we are going to get to know the setting of the worlds we are creating by immersing ourselves within them.

This prompt is inspired by an exercise created by my eldest sister, and I find that it has great influences in helping to better express through words the images of the surroundings within our stories.

GETTING TO KNOW YOUR WORLD:

  1. Take a moment and think about the world you want to describe, from the micro-view to the macro-view.
  2. Jot down what comes to mind.
  3. Surf the web for stock images that come the closest to what you are imagining.
  4. Print them out and create a gallery wall of the images within your creative writing workspace. (Directly in your line of sight is best.)
  5. As descriptions come to the forefront of your mind, type them in a separate Word document or directly within the manuscript you are currently working on.

The point is to become so visually familiar with the scenery that describing it comes as easy as breathing.

When we take pictures from our vacations and look at them long enough, our senses become sensitive to the memories evoked by the scenes. We feel the sand again, smell the scent of rain, hear the kick-drums during the drummer’s solo at a concert.

We, by looking at the images, can tell the story of the scene as if they are happening a new. This is our aim with our fictional worlds.

This same exercise can be used when creating characters in fiction as well. Finding images that best fit their physical descriptions helps you, the writer, to become more acquainted with them. Seeing them brands them to your mind and opens up paths of imagination about them.

Give this exercise a chance and let me know in the comments how it has helped you to be immersed in and better describe the fictional worlds you are creating.

Right on? Write on!

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

Monday’s Muse Writing Prompt: May 15th 2017 #AmWriting #Fiction #Monday’sMuse

OPENING LINE (S): “He sat his cup down and pressed his lips together in a hard line. She didn’t know if his expression was due to the bitterness of the brew or what she’d just said.”

RULES: 

  • Using the above line and the picture provided, (Or a line of your own choosing) create a story (or even a poem) within up to 20 minutes.
  • Once you have finished your super awesome masterpiece, add a link in the comments section of THIS POST to your story for others to read, as well as a link on your page back to this original post for others to follow along and write with as well. In your “tags” section, add the tag “Monday’s Muse.”
  • To get the Above Image follow this LINK

If you do not have a blog of your own, leave me a comment and send me an email to icameforthesoup@gmail.com and I will post your lovely words here on my blog.

(PLEASE KEEP ENTRIES THAT NEED TO BE POSTED ON THIS SITE WITHIN A PG13 RANGE. THANK YOU)

My results will be posted by Friday.

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

Monday’s Muse Writing Prompt: May 8th, 2017 #Amwriting #Writingprompt #Monday’sMuse

OPENING LINE (S): “He’d definitely found something. He wasn’t sure what it was, but he could just make out its silhouette under the blue-black blanket of night. His heart stopped when the light of his lantern stretched across it.”

RULES: 

  • Using the above line and the picture provided, (Or a line of your own choosing) create a story (or even a poem) within up to 20 minutes.
  • Once you have finished your super awesome masterpiece, add a link in the comments section of THIS POST to your story for others to read, as well as a link on your page back to this original post for others to follow along and write with as well. In your “tags” section, add the tag “Monday’s Muse.”
  • To get the Above Image follow this LINK

If you do not have a blog of your own, leave me a comment and send me an email to icameforthesoup@gmail.com and I will post your lovely words here on my blog.

(PLEASE KEEP ENTRIES THAT NEED TO BE POSTED ON THIS BLOG WITHIN A PG13 RANGE. THANK YOU)

My results will be posted by Friday.

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

3 Curious Ways to Build Character: Wisdom from the Writer’s Journal #writingtips #amwriting

When you build a character, you are really fueled by curiosity not answers. ~Andre Dubus III

I believe Andre Dubus III put the art of building characters in perfect perspective. We as writers are indeed driven by curiosity. It is our ‘watching’ of the world, and those around us, that constructs who our characters are and ultimately become. Even in our minds, we watch them, the characters who live in our imaginations.

WatchingWhen we allow the stories in our heads to tell themselves with an organic voice, we become witnesses, and thus stenographers if you will. We find our characters behaving naturally in their environments, shocking us with the choices they make, the thoughts they have, the people they connect with, their mannerisms.

Curiously, we keep our eyes on them, jotting down every detail. We watch. We build. It becomes like a game of Jeopardy. We have the answers to who and why. The story that we write around these ‘answers’ is where the questions come from.

The stories themselves are actually the questions.

HERE ARE 3 PRACTICES TO KEEP IN MIND WHEN BUILDING CHARACTERS

  1. WATCH: Take the time to watch your characters perform within your imagination. This doesn’t require actual writing but focused observation. Feel free to jot down notes from what you see but not so much to work your story (unless it is a scene that belongs in the story). What you are witnessing is getting you familiar with the nuances of each character’s personality.
  2. LISTEN: Pay close attention to what your characters are saying during these moments of focused concentration. The tone they use with the server at a restaurant does give you a clue as to how they would or would not respond to their ex if they called out of the blue.
  3. BUILD: Take what you’ve seen and heard during these moments and use them as tools for while you are writing. You build with knowledge. You gain knowledge from learning to understand, and understanding comes from watching and listening.

For some more tips on character building, and character watching,  read my article and writing exercise titled, Coffee with Character…or Tea.

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

Monday’s Muse Writing Prompt: May 1st, 2017 #Amwriting #Writingprompt #Monday’sMuse

 

OPENING LINE (S): “They’d been walking for three hours. The car had run out of gas that far back. She’d stayed with him, but she still hadn’t told him her name.”

RULES: 

  • Using the above line and the picture provided, (Or a line of your own choosing) create a story (or even a poem) within up to 20 minutes.
  • Once you have finished your super awesome masterpiece, add a link in the comments section of THIS POST to your story for others to read, as well as a link on your page back to this original post for others to follow along and write with as well. In your “tags” section, add the tag “Monday’s Muse.”
  • To get the Above Image follow this LINK

If you do not have a blog of your own, leave me a comment and send me an email to icameforthesoup@gmail.com and I will post your lovely words here on my blog.

(PLEASE KEEP ENTRIES THAT NEED TO BE POSTED ON THIS BLOG WITHIN A PG13 RANGE. THANK YOU)

My results will be posted by Friday.

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

Coffee With Character…Or Tea. How to Get to Know Your Fictional Characters: A Creative Writing Exercise #WritingTip #Writing #CreativeWriting

Writing is such a cathartic expression. Be it used to create poetry, something literary, or a piece that is completely outlandish and full of adventure, writing is indeed a breath of fresh air.

As writers, even in the face of an activity so purifying we often times find ourselves locked in a position where our creative muscles have not been trained to go, or rather have no idea how to get where we are trying to go.  This frustration is no different than Yoga.

Original art by Candice Coates
Original art by Candice Coates

Sure, you have got “Downward facing dog” in the bag, but dare your muscles to attempt “Crane pose.” or “Forearm-standing Scorpion,” and you may find yourself stuck in between the attempt and nowhere near where you had hoped to be.

And it all looked to so easy in the beginning.

Original Art by Candice Coates
Original Art by Candice Coates

This writing exercise is all about getting ‘there,’ helping you stretch past the stiffness of your imaginative muscles, especially when it comes to the characters who are the life blood of the writing you may be working on.

In order to get ‘there’ you need to know the folks you are traveling with, right?

Here are some steps to do that.

EXERCISE:

1.Write down the names of the main characters in your book (and even some important supporting characters). Write them on a piece of paper or even on your computer (your choice) in column style.

These are the names of the folks you are inviting over for an intimate meal or even just a good cup of coffee, one character at a time or if you are feeling adventures, invite them all!

2. Consider the likes and dislikes of each Character: what each character likes to eat. What they don’t like. Who prefers olive oil over butter, how do they take their coffee?

3. Write it all down.

4. Now think about how the conversation would go with them.

5. Jot these things down in each column.  Do they tell jokes? Do they like the shakshuka you prepared? Do they even know what shakshuka is?

Bonus: Have fun with it. Treat the characters as you would any guest you were entertaining.

WHAT IS THE REWARD?

The reward of this exercise is to get to know your characters more intimately. The answers that you find out about these individuals are not necessarily tid-bits you would add to beef up your plot, but they are the gems that really get you in the head and heart of the people who are acting out the story. It makes the flow so much more authentic.

It makes the flow so much more authentic. By knowing these little intimate details you will know what things they will and will not tolerate while you work and weave your plot around them.

This information will stretch you from “Downward facing dog” into “Crane pose” without locking your muscles.

Happy Writing!

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

P.S if you don’t know what shakshuka is, follow this LINK! Happy writing and happy eating!

*This exercise was original created August 28, 2014, and has been revised.

The Pull of the Rain: A Free Flow Write #Romance #Writing

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“I don’t know how to win you.” He said, the lines in his brow straining against the pull of the rain. The eyes that looked back at him were equally intense, equally determined.

But why? Why was this such a struggle? Didn’t she understand? He pulled his hand down his face, callouses brushing against evening whiskers that had begun to sprout beneath the brutality of the day. Dampness, not only from the rain but from the sweat of his exertion made his shirt cling to his chest, arms, and back.

He needed to quit this, he needed to quit her, he needed-

“Didn’t you hear the bell?”  A voice cut through the patter of rain against wet earth. A finger of lightning traced the sky and pointed towards the house a little ways off. It was as if the finger of God was telling him, “Go home, Jesse. That is enough.”

Jesse ground his teeth, walking toward the edge of the fence. He met the woman’s gaze as she shielded her eyes against the falling rain with the kitchen towel she held above her head.

Why is she out here? 

She asked again, “Didn’t you hear the bell? I rang it several times.”

“I heard it.” His voice was clipped. She paused, as was her way as of late, and traced his face as if it were a page of a novel she was reading. She was reading him.

“Alright then,” she finally said. Her hands dropped down, pulling the kitchen towel from over her head. She twisted it between her hands before glancing once over his shoulder and then back at the house.

She had only gotten a few steps before Jesse forced himself out of the corral. He took hold of her arm and turned her around to face him, another generic apology ready upon his lips.

“Hannah,” He said her name but paused, the expression on her face striking him to silence. Even beneath the wetness of the falling rain he could tell there were tears upon her face.

He had never given a care for her tears, never given a care for her. He didn’t know how to win her either. He didn’t know how to bring peace from an unwanted union, or love from two lonely hearts made stone. Nothing he had tried to do had done any good with Hannah, the same way nothing he had been trying to do with the blasted horse was working either.

He felt defeated, he could tell that Hannah did as well, the dip at the corners of her mouth said so. He touched the side of her mouth with his fingertip and felt a jolt of electricity that was not unlike the lightning.

Before he could make heads or tails of why he had touched her mouth with his hand, he touched her lips with his, something he had not done since the day they said “I do,” and even that was short lived and almost painful.

But it wasn’t so with this kiss, not with how the rain blanketed them, not with how Hannah’s unsure hands found their way up his chest, or how his arms found their way around her curved waist.

It was peace. It wasn’t winning, it wasn’t losing. It was just the sweetest surrender; giving into the wanting and being met with the same determination.

THE END

*Originally published April 9, 2015.

 

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

Warmth in Winter: Micro Fiction

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Warmth in Winter: Micro Fiction

The heat of his hands upon the small of her back warmed through her dress sending a delighted shiver through her middle.

His warmth, the perfect contrast to the chilly winter day.

Her arms, that had once been wrapped around his neck in a slow dance now rested lazily, expectantly, just beneath his collar, hypnotized by the steady acceleration of his beating heart.

With bright eyes, glistening from the strings of white twinkle lights that shone round them, he looked upon her face, studied her lips until his lids slid to half mast.

And then with the gentle, and slow move of his finger beneath her chin, he coaxed her lips into a kiss with a heat that told that summer would come again.

THE END

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

Pour Timing: Short Story #BlogBattle week 78

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Pour Timing: A Short Story

“Oh, Clem, this is portent! I knew it the moment you stepped in the room!” Daisy wrung her hands together, a sign of nerves but the smile playing at the corners of her mouth said otherwise.

Clem, Clement Tilling, rolled his storm-grey eyes and lowered himself in his favorite recliner. He said, lifting his ebony brow, “Important, you mean?”

Daisy frowned. “No. I am literate, thank you.” She gave a sweep of her arm directing his gaze to the rows of books that lined her walls, many of them dictionaries. Daisy had buried herself in learning ever since she’d married. Her husband was older by more than two decades and extremely indulgent, yielding to her whims even if that meant filling half his spacious home with dusty old books.

“Ah, using your word of the week-”

“The day.”

“The word of the day. And are you certain you are using it correctly?” Shifting with the hope of moving the focus from himself he tried a slight jab at her. Picking at his cousin usually got her feathers ruffled enough that she’d lose her train of over-the-top thought. It didn’t work this time.

Instead, Daisy’s full-lipped smile spread across her face. “I’m still working on my structure of sentence where the word is concerned, however, I am confident that I have effectively used it in line with its meaning.”

He shrugged and leaned back as the maid-Eillee, Eillee Dennett was her name- entered the room carrying a tray of treats and tea. He has hardly in the mood for any of it. Still, he allowed her to pour him a cup, three lumps of sugar and enough cream to cover them before drowning it all in dark, fragrant brew. She was always so attentive.

She smiled at him and he returned the gesture feeling his suddenly, foul mood slip. Eillee seemed to have that effect on his nerves. She had the effect on everyone he supposed. He even knew her name. That could have been because at one point they were closer in social standing. that was before his mother married his step-father.

Vernice Cavanaugh had an effect on him too, one that made bile rise up each time he thought about her.

He took a sip of the tea savoring its sweetness before Daisy slapped his arm causing a bit to splash onto his saucer.

“It’s a sign, Clem! You being there just as Vernice arrived. And right after your break up with what’s her name.” That dreamy look washed over Daisy’s face.

What’s her name? Her name was Agatha!

Clem frowned. The scent of too much leather and ink had clearly addled her brain the way that too much laudanum could. None of this was a sign. It was actually just poor timing.

Setting down his tea he took hold of her hand, “It doesn’t matter that she is here,”

“But you said Hell would freeze over before you two would ever be in the same room together again, let alone at the same time. And she said the moment it happened you’d both know the truth, that you were actually meant to be together.

“And you were just in the same room! A sign and a right good one. I mean the thought of Hell had my hide burning.” She gave a shudder. “I am a bit naughty at times you know and the heat gives me hives.” She winked at him and squeezed his hand. “It’s a sign. Portent. You ought to pursue it. Fate will flay you if you don’t” She took a bit of a fig cookie before frowning and setting it back on the table, snatching up a brownie instead.

Clem let out a sigh. “It’s not possible. I can’t even bring myself to entertain such a thought.”

“Can’t or won’t, Clemmy?” Vernice’s voice, once so smooth, it dripped honey, now made the hairs on his neck stand on end and his eardrums feel as if they were bleeding.

Clem shot to his feet with such speed that Daisy nearly choked. Ire rose in him like lightening. With a bit too much force he whacked Daisy’s back all the while piercing Vernice with a heated glare.

Daisy grabbed his hands, “Well, Vernice I didn’t expect you to call on us so soon. This is indeed portent.” She gave Clem another wink.

Clem felt his flesh go hot and cold. Every hateful word he’d practiced against Vernice in his head seemed to slip into dark oblivion leaving him to stand there clammy and quiet boiling over without an answer. It was a good thing to have lost those thoughts, he reasoned. None of them were those of a gentleman.

Mustering his nerves with a silent prayer he forced himself to calm. “I hate the name Clemy, Vernice. If you cared one wit about me you’d have honored that.”

Vernice took calculated steps into the room. “My apology. Seeing you only reminded me of old times…times when we were friends.” She gave a coy smile.

What was she playing at? Not willing to find out, Clem tossed the hot tea down his throat and sucked it back as if it were liquor. “Well, we are certainly no longer that.” He forced a smile of his own which only made her come closer as if she could woo him into submission the same way she had seven years ago when she’d shamed him and broken his heart. She wouldn’t get the chance to do so today.

“We could be again. I’d like that. I mean I understand that I deserve nothing short of your temper, especially after what I did. I was young and foolish.”

Young! By all accounts she was considered an old maid at five and twenty and that was seven years ago. She most certainly knew better than to toy with an honest man’s affections especially after accepting his suit.

“I no longer hold you in my temper,” he lied. “Still, I can’t offer you friendship.”

Vernice’s blonde brow rose. Daisy’s mouth dropped open. “But it’s portent,”

“Daisy!” He gave her a warning look. Daisy stuffed her brownie in her mouth.

Vernice finally frowned. Her gaze challenging. The threat of it made his heart give a wild tattoo. “On the matter of friendship or anything else with you, for Daisy, I can’t. For you, I won’t.

That made Vernice take a step back. She suddenly looked desperate. Clem had no idea why nor did he have any desire to find out. He only wanted to be left alone!

“Why!” Both women sang just as Eillee entered the parlor. It was as if a ray of light from Heaven shined down upon her.

Before he knew what he was doing, Clem drew her to him and anchored her there, his hand cementing itself to the curve of her waist. Her closeness sent a sizzle through his every nerve. “I can’t and won’t because Eillee Dennett and I are in love and are engaged to be married. I asked she accepted and that is that!”

Eillee took in a deep breath, her protest ready to be vocalized. Clem did the second dumbest thing that came to mind, besides announcing their false engagement. He quickly covered her full lips with his and kissed her until she all but swooned then he towed her from the room while her wits were as tangled as his, closing the parlor doors behind them.

He’d worry about her killing him later.

THE BEGINNING

*I have to say ‘The Beginning’ because I intend to visit this story again away from my blog. I hope you enjoyed my entry to Week 78 Blog Battle. This week’s KEYWORD: PORTENT and my GENRE: COMEDIC ROMANCE. My word count was 1200 words. To read the entries of others, you can do so by following this LINK.

*Image taken from Pixabay: https://pixabay.com/en/tea-cup-pocket-watch-time-classic-599911/

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

“The Hydra Effect”: 3 Ways to Manage Multiple Plot Conflicts

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Singer Sargent, John – Hercules – 1921

“When writing, don’t try and figure out every aspect of the story in the beginning. Know where you are, have an idea of where you are going, but for goodness sake, DON’T RUSH AHEAD!”

Sage advice? I’d say so. I’ve had to tell myself this many times before.

Plots are tricky. A good plot will keep the reader engaged. A great plot will keep the writer on the edge of their own seat.

For this reason, it’s important that you take your creative time.

Don’t try to solve every problem or knot that presents itself. You are going to have some questions at the beginning of each story that don’t have immediate answers. This is true of our real lives as well.

When we jump ahead and start trying to break down conflicts that are not presently relevant in our plot line, we end up causing our own “writer’s blocks.”

Not only this but as you answer these plot questions and conflicts, you will find that you have engaged in what I am calling (Insert dramatic, climactic music here,)  the…

“Hydra Effect.”

What is the Hydra Effect? According to mythology, when one head of the Hydra ( a serpentine creature with multiple heads bent on  destruction by its nature) is cut off two more would grow in its place.

As I have found in my own writing, once I solve a problem or answered a question of conflict, several more conflicts spring up alongside several more unanswered questions, each of which holding the potential to make or break my plot altogether.

When we jump ahead and start trying to break down conflicts that are not presently relevant in our plot line, we end up causing our own “writer’s blocks.” We overfill our minds with irrelevant possible outcomes (venomous Hyrda heads) of the story and we get derailed from the main track of the story itself, lost in a fog of confusion.

In other words, we are “borrowing trouble from tomorrow.”

WHAT TO DO, THEN?

1. Get in the habit of remembering the phrase, “Cross each bridge when you get to it.”  Answer those questions and confront those conflicts  in the story once they are at your door and actually demanding answers.

Work on what you can, dedicate your time to the conflicts in your plot that are in front of you at the moment, and as you move forward, fix, and solve problems that are presently ready to be solved and the answers to the questions and problems that are next will come to you.

2. (In the meantime) Do keep the door open to said conflicts and keep an eye on each stewing pot so as not to let them boil over into the story because you left it too unattended.

It’s a balancing act. But you don’t have to stare at the stew, watching it to see when it boils.

3. It’s good to have a plan as to where the story is ‘potentially’ going, but remember, your imaginative piece does have a mind of its own. It will give you the answers when it is time for them to be answered. Trust the flow.

BONUS: Be encouraged on your journey. Take as many breaths and breaks as you need. Knit at a pace that is thrilling to you and not so demanding that you end up feeling rushed, pressured and anxious, drowning yourself with plot conflicts.

Writer's Table

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

*This post was originally created August 11, 2014 and formally titled, “Where you are, Where you are going: Plot Conflict Resolutions.”