Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Exercise Part VI

How did the story last week work?

I have to confess, I haven’t quite finished mine. Working those three topics in together has made it more of a caper than I expected – I thought it would be a more serious piece, but it’s turned out, in the first draft anyway, to have a lot of humor in it.

I’m going to keep working on it while I work on this week’s exercise.

Choose one of the characters from any of the stories in the previous weeks, and write a new piece in first person, from the character’s point of view. It can be a variation on any topic we’ve worked on thus far, or something completely new.

No word count limit this time, but I suggest shorter rather than longer, so you don’t feel overburdened in a week.

Hmm. My instinct is to go back to the very first piece – the wounded soldier from Iraq who returned and was charged for his medical care – but I’ve used characters from that piece in another crossover, and I think I should use someone else. I have to think about this one for a bit.

Anyone get the feeling that the first piece has the strongest hold on me?

Next week, we’ll look back at the stories and start revisions.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Absolutely Appalling...

Absolute Write, which many writers have been part of for years, is now gone. It is shocking. Click HERE for the story.

If you want to support AW--post the top 20 Worst Scam Agents list on your own blogs or websites. Every little bit helps! I myself was part of that community. It was an invaluable website to writers everywhere.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Exercise Part V

Take out the three articles put aside at the beginning of the process. Read them over.

Craft a story, up to 5000 words, that combines inspirations from all three articles. It can be shorter than 5000 words, but try not to make it longer.

Have a minor character from one of the other stories have a major piece of this story.

To share with you my process over the past few weeks:

The first story was the flash fiction based on the returning GI’s being charged for their treatment. It was rough to keep it that short. I may have to write something longer in the future about these characters.

The second story was just over 1000 words about the spoiled twenty-somethings too stupid to change their own light bulbs.

The article left over, for my last story, was about how literary parties aren’t what they used to be. The easy choice would have been to take a spoiled twenty-something character from the light bulb story and stick her into the lit party. However, I decided to take the politician we met in the first flash fiction, who had to answer to the woman whose brother lost his house because the government charged him for his medical care upon his return from Iraq, in the lit party.

It wasn’t easy, but I think it made for a more interesting story.

For the above piece, my remaining three articles that have to be integrated in this week’s exercise are: the 40-year-old fruitcake, the runaway police horse, and the 1000 year old Roman statue.

It is a puzzle, and should be an entertaining challenge. How on earth will I figure out how to put them together?

The wheels are spinning.

I’m going to insert one of the stupid twentysomethings in the story and kill him or her off.

Check back next week. I want to hear what people have come up with!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Get Thee to a Library!!

I remember as a kid, the public library was sooooo cool. It was like a sanctuary. Except for the slightly batty white-hair-in-a-tighter-than-tight-bun Librarian shushing everybody, it was like being in a church. It was my church. I could look through anything I liked--and spend hours, so long as I wasn't bothering anyone. It was Heaven.

Today, our local library is down the street, and I took a peek in the other day, and was slightly surprised at what I found. Libraries have become full-blown meccas lately, with all the technology we have...much more so than the 70's and 80's when I was hanging out with Whitey Uptightey.

Now there are computer centers. There are Video centers, where they've basically built a Blockbuster section in between Reference and Romance. There are elaborate kid's sections, some with overstuffed chairs and places where kids and parents with kids can read.

I remember Libraries used to be just books. Almost as well as I remember scrolling through Microfiche, and who can forget the almighty Card Catalog?

Times have changed. Libraries are AWESOME places. Go and check out your local Library. Whitey Uptightey with her bun may still be there, and yes, they STILL don't let you check out the Reference books, but the major coolness of the Library itself will make it worth the visit!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Building a Personal Library

A must for any writer, no matter your genre, would be a personal library.
Size isn't important. Some writers have three books, some have three thousand--no matter, as long as they have a personal library of books that inspire and educate, that is the main point.

I read somewhere, a long time ago, that reading is preparation for writing. When you are a child, if you read, you glean the necessary tools for building stories. It's called practice.

All the writers I know read regularly, whether by hobby or for reference, or for inspiration. Reading the ideas and words of others can inspire and enlighten, and motivate us to write our best.

Personal libraries can be had for relatively little expense, thanks to Amazon.com, Ebay, Half-price Books, and all those used bookstores near you. Build your library slowly (or quickly, depending on your financial situation.) When you feel the Block, or you need info, you can go to your personal library for help.

I highly recommend it. It is a great tool, for every writer.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Exercise Part IV

I’d love to hear your comments on the exercises in the comment section below; how you’re doing with them, etc.

This week, we take the leftover article and write a piece of up to 1500 words inspired by it.

In addition, take one of the characters from either of the other pieces you wrote over the past two weeks, and have them make an appearance in this story. It can be a walk-through. It can be an interaction. A minor character from another story can become a major character in this. Or a major character from one of the other pieces can be a minor character in this. But do a bit of cross pollination.

Next week, we deal with the three other articles

Thursday, May 04, 2006

How Do they Do It???

I was recently reading Stephen King's "On Writing" and found it highly interesting. As writers, we put our "babies" out there, and hope and pray they succeed in the world. (Preferrably to the tune of sizeable advances, etc..) But is there a formula that successful fiction writers have?

I guess if there really WAS a secret, everyone who knew it would be successful. The fact is, there isn't one. According to Mr. King: "Fiction writers...don't understand very much about what they do--not why it works when it's good, not why it doesn't when it's bad."

This makes a lot of sense. Why can one fiction writer have a blockbuster hit, and then have their next novel be utterly craptastic? An Editor told me once that it's "all in the wind." What was poplular yesterday, will be overdone tomorrow...but wait six months and it will be popular again! I prefer the old adage: Today's Peacock: Tomorrow's feather duster, but that's negative, because story ideas are like clothes--you can put them away in your closet and in a few years they'll be in vogue again. It's always a cycle.

The point is, there really isn't a "secret formula" to success in the Fiction writing field. Sure, you have to have talent, and believe in your work, but whatever your genre, you have a chance. There is always a chance.

So, never give up. Keep plugging. Good things happen to those who wait. Wait, and work hard.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Exercise Part III

How’d your flash fiction piece work out? I know I had trouble keeping it to the word count. Long is always easier than short for me, which is why this exercise is helpful.

Put away last week’s piece. We’ll get back to it in a few weeks.

Pick up the other two articles from last week that were not used. The remaining three that are all together will be used in a few weeks.

Read over both articles. This time, choose one of them and write a piece 1000-1200 words inspired by that piece.

Which one is yours?

I chose the spoiled twenty-somethings who are too stupid to change lightbulbs.

Next week, we’ll deal with the third article, with a twist.