Saturday, May 30, 2009

May Mania ~ Stretch #30

In order to be a good writer, you must know what makes good writing. Take any book you enjoy and dissect the first chapter. Did it have a gripping first sentence or first paragraph at least? Did you get a sense of the story's promise? Is the character presented one that moves you in some way, either in being able to sympathize with or loathe or care about? If it's in first, is the voice vibrant and engaging or does it fall flat?

Stretch # 30

Once you begin asking questions and dissect the chapter bit by bit, exposing all the pros and cons, write down all your impressions and also what you would do the same and what you would do differently.

By analyzing a published work, you will be able to then apply that same eye to your own pieces. Be great in all you do.

~ Signing off and sending out cyber hugs.

Friday, May 29, 2009

May Mania ~ Stretch #29

Usually when we're thirsty, we just guzzle liquids and don't give much thought to any sensations beyond taste. We desire to quench thirst and that's about it. But there's more to a drink than taste and the feel of it in your mouth and sliding down your throat. Discover the sensory explosion in one of your favorite drinks.

Once you have your favorite drink in hand, describe everything about it. Is it fizzing? Are effervescent bubbles tickling your upper lip or steam? How does it smell, taste and feel in your mouth. What kind of things does it do to your body. Does it calm, delight you or make you tingle all over. Does it warm you up, cool you off? Write down all of your impressions. Lemonade reminds me of summer, swimming and eating watermelon, even if I drink it in the dead of winter. Does your drink draw connections to seasons or memories? Explore it all and think outside the box.

I love discovering the extra things that often get overlooked. So go find for some literary treasures in refreshments.

~ Signing off and sending out cyber hugs.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

May Mania ~ Stretch #28

Summer is fast approaching, which means the beach, amusement parks and Jim Rice's Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will be calling. It seems that summer is the busiest season for traveling. Wouldn't it be great to have unlimited resources to go wherever you wanted? To stay in the Waldorf every time you go to NYC instead of the cheapest place you can get? I'm sure some of you can at the drop of a hat. Don't think I'll be taking a trip this year. It's not looking likely, not unless money falls out of the sky.

Money isn't everything though. For this creative writing exercise, create a character who has everything at his or her fingertips, can go anywhere he or she wants, buy whatever is desired, but is still missing something. What? What does your character want most? A passion, love, true friendship, a new career path, joy, zest for life, to catch the person who killed his/her parents, to unearth the buried sins and secrets in the family. Then create a catalyst, something that spurs the person to chase after the one thing that is most desired. Will it be achieved and how? What obstacles do or will stand in the way? What is at stake if it's not obtained?

Creating a character in a specific circumstance with a goal and a challenge in attaining an end result is all you really need to get a story going. Write on!

~ Signing off and sending out cyber hugs.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

May Mania ~ Stretch #27


My little kidlets have their own beds, but they enjoy clustering together on one mattress like a litter of puppies. I'm not sure why. But they do. Every night. And my youngest son and my baby girl, who just turned three and is no longer a baby, were lying down, facing each other, having pillow talk the other night, cracking each other up with their own brand of sillies. It struck me as so adorable. But face to face pillow talk is more than cute, it's a good springboard for inspiration.

Your creative writing exercise is to write a scene or a short story where two characters are together and engaging in some kind of pillow talk: two kids trying to be brave and ignore the growl during their first camp out in the backyard, two lovers after a dud sexual encounter, two strangers trying to comfort each other on an overnight flight during extreme turbulence, one character dying and another clinging to their beloved's last minutes on earth, a surprised thief with a knife to the throat of the hollering college student who wasn't supposed to be in the dorm during winter break.

At first glance, pillow talk seems too fluffy and soft, all whispers and giggles, but oh no, when you let your imagination run wild, a multitude of scenarios and conflicts can rush to the surface and create the basis for an amazing story. So fluff your pillow, pick up that favorite pen of yours with the purple ink and just write your characters into trouble and then back out.

~ Signing off and sending out cyber hugs.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

May Mania ~ Stretch #26

Ever see a movie or read a book that left you totally annoyed because the ending sucked? While reading or watching something, we intrinsically know what will bring about a satisfactory finish and we get frustrated when art falls short of our expectations. In real life, sometimes endings are messy and unsatisfying and heart-wrenching. Nothing can change facts. They're fixed in stone. And nothing is more depressing than the unchangeable bad news we find in reality. It seems we get no respite from it. So why not make some good news.

Rip this creative writing exercise from the headlines: Take an article from a magazine, newspaper or webpage with bad news and rewrite it with alterations so that it becomes good news.

An ending can change in the hands of a writer. Write one that makes you smile.

~ Signing off and sending out cyber hugs.

Monday, May 25, 2009

May Mania ~ Stretch #25

Today in America we celebrate Memorial Day to pay tribute to heroes who lost their lives in battle or service for this country. I always tear up for the lives lost, those people I've never met or faces I have no names for, those who gave their lives for freedom. It infuriates me that the freedom so many willingly spilled their blood for is dissolving faster than we can keep tabs on, not because of Muslim extremists but purposely by powermongers sitting in or behind Capitol Hill. And Veterans are on a watchlist now? A watchlist! Really? People who have risked their lives for YOU and YOURS are too extreme and radical for your global agenda? The more I think about that, the more livid I become.

Think of something that incenses you and dissect why. Dig into that frustration and fury and let it pour out in 200 words of raw emotion.

It's okay to flow with that angry current if you have a suitable outlet like a writing exercise. Gunning people down at work or cutting someone off on the highway is not recommended. Instead, get mad and write.

~ Signing off and sending out cyber hugs.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

May Mania ~ Stretch #24

Addictions can trip up even the strongest of us. At first you're watching a baseball game every now and then, and before you know it, you're TiVoing every main sporting event known to man. Okay, maybe that's just me, but anyway...People can become obsessed with or addicted to almost anything, one particular person, video games, sex, books, food, cats, shopping, nasal spray—uh, it happens, hand raised but kicked the habit years ago. An unquenchable desire in a character can be the basis for a story or even a novel.

Write from the POV of someone who has an addiction or obsession. Will he/she continue chasing what is craved? What lengths will he/she go to to get it? Will others get hurt? Does you character care? Does your character want help or merely to keep from getting caught? Continue asking questions and pick your addict's mind.

Dig into some ugliness and begin asking questions and hounding your character for answers. Maybe you'll find a psycho killer on the rise or a church-going soccer mom hidden in the shadows of shame. Find illumination in an addiction.

~ Signing off and sending out cyber hugs.

Friday, May 22, 2009

May Mania ~ Stretch #23

Almost any song you hear has a story encased in it, but the characters in that story often flutter in and out of existence, pushed aside by new chart toppers and more popular iTunes downloads. Give a song new life in story form.

Find a song that stirs you in some way like You're Beautiful by James Blunt or Incomplete by Backstreet Boys or Janie's Got a Gun by Aerosmith or The Christmas Shoes by Newsong or Ohio by CSNY and write from the standpoint of the one relaying the song or as one of the persons in the song's setting and tell the story in your own words, give it a fresh spin.

Like maybe the girl in You're Beautiful is totally unaware of any charm she may possess since she's been overlooked by guys her whole life. She even had to lamely hire an escort to take her to her company gala so she wouldn't look like a loser. But when she catches an adorable guy on the subway looking at her, really looking at her...for the first time in her life, she wishes she were alone.

Stories are in everything, especially in music. Go find one and make it your own.

~ Signing off and sending out cyber hugs.

May Mania ~ Stretch #22

Some of the funniest, shake-your-head moments are bestowed upon society by fools. Did you hear about that teen in North Carolina who held up a store with a banana and then ate the evidence, or the man in Texas who rented a car to rob a bank, completely taking for granted that the car dealership had his personal information? Admit it! You love laughing at idiots. So why not write about one?

Think of a scheme gone wrong because of stupidity and write a scene from the POV of a witness, police officer or reporter. Or go for ironic karma, like a college student running a plagiarism ring gets his I.D. stolen by a hacker.

Stupidity can be a good springboard for humorous writing, so brainstorm some strokes of non-brilliance and get crackin'.

~ Signing off and sending out cyber hug.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

May Mania ~ Stretch #21

Dip your plume in ink and try your hand at a rigid form of poetry like a villanelle. The villanelle consists of 19 lines: 5 tercets [3 lines] and 1 quatrain [4 lines]. The 1st line of the 1st tercet is repeated as the last of the 2nd and 4th. The last line of the 1st tercet is repeated as last of the 3rd and 5th. Then, those two repeated lines end the quatrain. And the rhyming structure is basically like a stack of Oreos, all the chocolate cookies have to rhyme, and all the cream filling has to rhyme. And at the very bottom is an extra chocolate piece. :)

You can use iambic tetrameter, in essence eight beats per line, or iambic pentameter, ten beats per line.

Try writing a villanelle. It seems difficult but start small. First, brainstorm several lists of words that rhyme so you build a good pool to dip into for inspiration and direction. Once you have some pieces to work with, think of a concept, the point of your poem You can go for any concept like frustration over not being able to find what you need at the mall or a wedding that's gone horribly wrong. Then start experimenting and stringing some sentences together.

Here's an example of a villanelle I wrote:

~ The Chill ~

Though warmth of sun doth not end nights
As haunting voice springs from the tomb
Love’s whispers break the chill that bites

My broken wings don’t soar in flights
At dawn you come and fill my room
Though warmth of sun doth not end nights

You raise me up to higher heights
Replace my frost with heat in womb
Love’s whispers break the chill that bites

Your presence here rids all my frights
The darkness fades along with gloom
Though warmth of sun doth not end nights

Fret not, my love, the call to lights
Find warmth inside, beyond the doom
Love’s whispers break the chill that bites

I’ll miss your touch, these hints and sights
But peace has now become my groom
Though warmth of sun doth not end nights
Love’s whispers break the chill that bites

Push yourself in new directions. Creative exercise is fun and awesome, especially when you accomplish a feat you never thought you could. Keep at it.

~ Signing off and sending out cyber hugs.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

May Mania ~ Stretch #20

As a child did you ever wish you had a super power, that you could fly, become invisible, hear people's thoughts? It's fun to imagine the strangely impossible. Dipping into a realm of weirdness also makes for great fiction.

Invent a superpower and then construct a character who has it. Write at least 200 words about your freak.

In Wicked Lovely the MC can see and talk to faeries. In 18 Seconds a blind woman can experience the last eighteen seconds of a person's life, their thoughts, sights, sounds, everything, when she touches a corpse. Stepping outside of the norm can be an extremely fun exercise. Who knows? You just may come up with a fabulous concept for a future work.

~ Signing off and sending out cyber hugs.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

May Mania ~ Stretch #19

Everyone is aware of their five senses, but we can gather details and information in other ways too. Tap into those weird, almost inexplicable moments in life and write about them.

Think back to a time when you experienced an epiphany, gut instinct, discernment, deja' vu, a premonition, intuition, a spiritual vision or dream, a hallucination, a spiritual nudge to go somewhere or do something or not to, the presence of something good or evil that you couldn't see, hear or feel but just somehow knew was there. Then try and put that experience into words and recapture your feelings about it.

Because we are visceral beings, sometimes our minds and spirits detect or experience things that our obvious, physical senses don't. Like, how many times do you get a sense about someone and then learn later that you were right? Or for whatever reason you go a different way back home, only to learn of a pile-up on your habitual route. Those strange moments are often neglected in fiction. They are also difficult to put into words, so this will be a nice stretch for you. Work it out!

~ Signing off and sending out cyber hugs.

Monday, May 18, 2009

May Mania ~ Stretch #18

My grandmother died on this day in 1985. Even though it's been more than 20 years, her absence still bites like a bitter cold. I wish she would have been here to see me get married and have kids of my own. None of my grandparents were alive to see my best blessings. Each of them, in one way or another, in their lives, lessons, mistakes and deaths helped shape the person and the kind of writer I am today.

Write an essay or a short story on who or what inspired you to write. If you published a book or if you hope to be published, who would you dedicate your book to and why?

My first published work will be dedicated to my grandparents. It's not that I'm not thankful for the support of others around me like my husband and parents, but my stirring to write came from the Annual All-Star cookouts, the best Christmases ever, watching baseball with the men, walking to Dunkin' Donuts with my grandfather and getting Munchkins, being dragged along from tag sale to tag sale, going to Hammonasset every summer where my grandparents camped, my grandmother melting away from cancer, me being at college and not getting to spend time with my dying grandfather. Events of the past, good and bad, are a wellspring of inspiration. Where is your wellspring? Find it and pay a tribute.

~ Signing off and sending out cyber hugs.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

May Mania ~ Stretch #17

Sometimes inspiration can be found in otherworldly or non-human creatures. A sparkling vampire in a dream kicked off Stephenie's Meyer's Twilight Saga. Whether you like the books or not is irrelevant. [Haven't read them yet. I know. I'll get there. And I plan to do blogs posts about them. So look out for that.] She went with her spark of creativity and made it work for her, and that's something to emulate: going with inspiration when you find it.

Write from the point of view of something non-human. This can mean a werewolf, a faery, an animal, an angel, a doll or even a pen. Write at least 500 words or enough to get a feel for and adequately express a new voice. Getting into a non-human mindset and writing from that POV will help you think outside the box with tone, dialogue, actions, motivation, needs, etc. When your narrator is not confined to human conventions, morality, the laws of physics, your imagination can run wild. Go for it!

~ Signing off and sending out cyber hugs.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

May Mania ~ Stretch #16

They say pictures are worth a thousand words. Prove it.

Find a picture in a magazine, a calendar or even on Flickr or Photobucket that captures your interest. If the subject is an old woman, imagine the life she's led. Did a hard life cause her wrinkles or did she get them from a life spent busting a gut? A nice, cookie-cutter home in suburbia. What secret is buried in that tire-swing yard? That unassuming, church-going librarian moonlights as a callgirl as soon as the sun sets. How does she maintain a double life and will she get caught in her lies? Stories are hidden in every good composition. Find one that sparks your imagination and write at least 1000 words about it. That's approximately a scene-length piece. You can do it.

Never say you can't come up with good story ideas. They're all around. Like in the picture above. It's just flowers in the dirt, right? But why are they there anyway, discarded, tied together with string like a present? Why are they crushed, left to wilt? Did a stalker find his lovely with her boyfriend, again, even after his countless threats, and chuck his gift to the ground, determined to return with something much more fitting? Did a nine-year-old tomboy pick flowers for her mother only to get snatched by a stranger on her way home? There's a story in discarded flowers, just lying in the dirt. What is it? You just have to scrutinize things much closer and look for the peculiarities and interesting facets in photos, people, locations, etc, like a comedian looks for humor in the mundane. Look around, find some treasures and just write.

~ Signing off and sending out cyber hugs.

Friday, May 15, 2009

May Mania ~ Stretch #15

All writing, from poetry to lyrics to novels, needs to stir some kind of emotion in a recipient. But sometimes words strung together are so convoluted and dense that true meaning gets lost. And when the meaning is lost, reactions are too. You want to strive to make your point known in your writing, to allow your audience to understand what you're saying so they can feel the emotion in the words you've written.

Work on fully capturing an emotion for a specific circumstance. This isn't a scene or a story, per se, just a written expression of pure emotion. Tap into God losing His Son, a sprinter not winning again, a lover kissing THE ONE for the first time, a wife whose long-deplored husband just came home, a mother who gave birth but went home empty-handed, a groom left at the alter. Show it all. Make that emotion as tangible and in-your-face as you can. Let it pop off the page.

You can't make an impact unless you can make an emotional connection. So dig deep, get raw, gritty and real. Lay it all out there to draw readers in and hook them on your every word.

~ Signing off and sending out cyber hugs

Thursday, May 14, 2009

May Mania ~ Stretch #14

In the similar vein of using a phrase as a writing prompt, you can also use any word like, baseball, wedding, beach. This creative writing exercise you should do with a paper and pen, so your thoughts can flow freely. If you're an exceptional typist, you can key it in, but there's something nearly magical for me about the motion of scribbling and letting my thoughts flow. Plus, I'm a fumbly typist. Even though I hold a degree in Journalism Advertising, I often need to correct many, many flubs. The shame! With a pen, I can just write and not worry about technicalities.

Choose a juicy word, set a timer for fifteen minutes and write freely. Don't think too much, just brainstorm, jot whatever comes to mind, go. You shouldn't edit. This is just about writing.

Free writing can help clear a stubborn logjam and release great ideas and new, cool directions for long fiction. Some people refer to it as stream of consciousness. Whenever I'm trying to figure out a plot point or turn in my story, because I'm a just-wing-it kind of writer and sometimes get stuck, a good brainstorm session or creative wrestling match always helps me find the direction I need. Give the crazy pen a shot.

~ Signing off and sending out cyber hugs.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

May Mania ~ Stretch #13

All stories take place somewhere, in little towns like Forks or ancient worlds like Middle Earth. Sometimes inspiration can be found in the setting itself. Try and break through the norm. Instead of setting a romance in Paris or on a cruise ship, what about in a Rescue Mission? Not so glamorous and full of potential character conflicts. Go for something unexpected and offbeat.

Stage a story in an environment you've never used before. And pick a situation for that setting which would not be likely or pretty or easy. Make it challenging for yourself and stretch.

There are so many worlds to explore in fiction, so go find one that's intriguing and new to you and just write.

~ Signing off and sending out cyber hugs.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

May Mania ~ Stretch #12

Put down your pen for a few moments and go get some real exercise outdoors. Walk, run or roll and pay special attention to everything around you. I love running but have a tendency to go all inward when I'm out there in my solitrary bliss, getting into my rhythm, listening to my tunes, focusing on my new-old gait. However, if I turn off my MP3 and focus on everything around me, my sensations come alive. I love the beauty in nature, even a grey, cloudy sky or trees covered in ice. So inspiring.

Once you're out in the fresh air getting physical exercise, look for inspiration in something you observe, think, hear or smell. Stimulate both your mind and body at the same time.

Go with the inspiration you felt during your physical exercise and put it into words for your mental piece.

Sometimes being stuck inside in front of a computer sets you up to fail at your writing goals. If you break out of your habitual zone and take a new approach, in a new zone, you can often climb out of that annoying rut. Go for it!

~ Signing off and sending out cyber hugs.

Monday, May 11, 2009

May Mania ~ Stretch #11

One of the easiest ways to jump start a creative burst is with a writing prompt. Here is a list of phrases I keep on hand to get my juices flowing that could work for you. This is also a good exercise to do when you want to get in touch with and flesh out your characters for longer works.

I don't remember...
I remember...
I've always...
I believe…
I dreamt…
I see...
I try not to...
I don't see...
I’ve never...
I know...
I don't know...
I don't want to...
I want to...
I wonder...
I try to...
I hate...
I love...
I can’t…
I cry...
I laugh...
So, there I was…
This summer…
This Christmas…
Last summer...
Today is...
You’ll never guess…
You'll never believe...
If I could…
Someday I’ll…
When I was a child…
My earliest memory…
My worst nightmare…
My deepest regret…
My biggest fear…
My heart breaks…
My heart skips a beat...
My spirit soars...
The last time I tried...
I can't stand...
I get chills when…
Tomorrow promises…
It kills me when…
Did you know…
When she/he…
Suddenly, my…
I’m haunted by…
My death…
I lied.
I’ve killed before.
What's sin for you is mere survival for me.
Don’t judge me until you…
Bet ya never thought…
The world...
The darkness...
My home is...
I ran away...
I can't take...
My future...
I'm dying...
My life changed forever...
I can never go back to...
I can't escape...
I'm breathless...
I hunger for...
I can't live without...
If I could just go back in time, I'd...
I can never die...
Immortality is...
Last night...
For the first time in my life, I...
How could you...
Please don't...

Get inspired by a writing prompt and go. Write for ten minutes as a either first person narrator or in an autobiographical style.

This exercise is a great way to dig deep and expose some hidden emotions and motivations. It can also help you find the vibrant, gripping voice you need if you're using a first person narrator. Get to it.

~ Signing off and sending out cyber hugs.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

May Mania ~ Stretch #10

Dialogue is the main component that drives a story forward. It is also used to reveal character and unfurl conflicts. Yet writers are often guilty of talking -heads syndrome. This faux pas runs much deeper than simply having two people volley statements back and forth without actions; it's about the absence of true character. It's spoken words falling flat, going nowhere, revealing little.

I read a book recently and all the characters sounded the same and the dialogue ran in unnatural chunks rather than as seemingly true conversation. Don't let your dialogue smother itself with the deadweight of nothingness. Have a point. Sharpen those dialogue skills.

Write a story that is made up ENTIRELY OF DIALOGUE, in 500 words or less. Skip dialogue tags, actions and modifiers of any kind. Your dialogue-only piece must reveal something about the characters, the setting and the conflict/plot. Work hard at giving your characters distinct voices. You can express actions through dialoge too. "What are you doing? Put me down, John! I am not a child." Really stretch to express as much of the scene as possible.

This exercise will get you to think outside the box to expose a solid piece through tone and voice. I know a woman who wrote an entire novel this way, so a simple exercise could shift your experiment into a greater artisitc treasure.

~ Signing off and sending out cyber hugs.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

May Mania ~ Stretch #9

Ponder desire. Some wants are won, some lost. In real life many wars, arguments and wrestling matches arise because of opposing desires. One of the best aspects of any written work is conflict. It is the driving force, the hook that never loses its barb. So any exercise you can do to sharpen conflict-wielding skills, will improve your storytelling craft overall.

Think of something you once wanted so badly, food, love, sex, education, a peaceful morning, a raise, an answered prayer, a room for the night, $5 because you haven't had a meal in two days. Now imagine another character who could easily give it to you, but refuses for one reason or another. Delve into and expose that conflict. Consider the many ways to push and pull. Try to shift the conflict in a surprising direction, add a twist or an apparent misunderstanding in the end. For instance, maybe character 1 assumes character 2 is being stubborn and wretched, while he/she is actually doing a loving thing.

Dissecting and building conflict for even a small scene, will help you understand its importance and apply those battle skills to longer works.

~ Signing off and sending out cyber hugs.

Friday, May 8, 2009

May Mania ~ Stretch #8

Sometimes one-way communication is a good place to find some inspiration. Journals, diaries, letters and one-way phone conversations can all expose so much character. In some of those mediums, characters can lay it all out there and get raw and honest.

Use some form of one-way communication to convey a character's circumstance and feelings. It can be parent to child, employee to boss, lover to lover, alien to home planet, whatever tickles your fancy.

If you're thinking that's a waste of energy that will amount to nothing, that's not true. Like with the Screwtape Letters or The Dairy of Anne Frank, sometimes entire works can be made from one-way communication. So pick a character and go. Get deep.

~ Signing off and sending out cyber hugs.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

May Mania ~ Stretch #7

Your writing drive can come and go. Sometimes all you need to get going again is a simple prompt. I recently did a writing prompt exercise that began, So there I was... For this next exercise, turn to a source that normally makes your brain go all mushy: the TV.

Flick through the channels on your television and stop long enough to hear a character in a TV show say a line of dialogue. Kick off a scene or a poem with this line.

Might as well get some brain-stimulating use out of the talking box, beyond a daily fix of Jeopardy. Get your pen twirling again.

~ Signing off and sending out cyber hugs.

May Mania ~ Stretch #6

We often hear we should write what we know. Tapping into your own experiences can be a great way to expose emotions through words. It can even be cathartic. Actors learn to do a similar thing in drama, to get in touch with some past experience to help one identify with their character and bring that same emotion to the surface. We can also do the same thing with written words.

Write the story and expose the emotions in one of your earliest memories: scary, funny, traumatic, warm. Work at recapturing the moment and build it into a full scene. You can narrate from the POV of someone else while you are just a character, even an unseen being, like an angel or a ghost, observing the scene. Write in first or third, whatever you're most comfortable wielding.

Everyone has experinces to share. Discover the untold story in one of your own.

~ Signing off and sending out cyber hugs.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

May Mania ~ Stretch #5

Sometimes it's good to put yourself in a box. Not a literal cardboard box, but a word box. When you have a solid surround and some restrictions in which to confine and structure your jots of pen, you can often come up with something wonderful. It's great fun, like trying to make messages out of your alphabet soup. Yeah. I've done that. So what? Here's your next challenge. Get boxy.

For this exercise, choose fifteen random words that are completely unrelated and use them in a story of 1500 or less.

If you're too lazy to comprise a list, you can use mine: wicked, forest, obedient, prayer, quirky, dawn, brainteaser, birth, plow, virulence, zephyr, asunder, sprightly, riot, door.

Go find a creative burst in absolute randomness.

~ Signing off and sending out cyber hugs.

Monday, May 4, 2009

May Mania ~ Stretch #4

Every writer has a preferred writing zone, a place where they can get the most accomplished. For some it's on the couch with the family all around, for others, it's being tucked in an office or den in complete silence or maybe just some creativity-inspiring tunes. But sometimes the walls of your workspace can close in on you and smother your drive. Here's a way to get some fresh air.

Go off someplace you don't normally write with a pad and a pen in hand. It can be a mall, a library, Barnes and Noble, a coffee shop, the beach, a subway, wherever your heart desires. Describe everything detected by your senses. Try and notice things you'd normally overlook: sounds in the distance, odors in the air, clothes people are wearing, mannerisms, bits of conversation, the different colors of blossoms and leaves emerging. Jot down everything in a stream of consciousness fashion. Your aim is not to go all poetic but to build your description skills, and that begins with attention to detail.

I'm pretty oblivious and miss a lot around me, so I need to make a conscious effort to pay attention and key in to my surroundings. Go find a new creative zone and let your senses come alive.

~ Signing off and sending out cyber hugs.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

May Mania ~ Stretch #3


Nearly every writer has heard that an overabundance of adjectives and adverbs pegs one as an amateur. They themselves are not ugly but using three modifiers again and again and again for noun after noun creates severe drag in your prose. While you can certainly use adjectives, use the most important ones or try to find strong nouns that speak for themselves: polo v. white, golf shirt; cardigan v. v-neck, button-down sweater; Corvette v. little, sporty hot rod; sunset v. streaky, orange sky; sundress v. flowy, summer dress with spaghetti straps. You don't need to get specific and provide colors and patterns for every little thing. Stick to the most important things. Then the adjectives you do use will pop.

And adverbs are lazy tags when you can often find stronger verbs that convey the same thing. Said angrily v. shouted. Verbs are fun. And some adverbs actually dull verbs instead like simply, mostly. I love hunting for strong verbs, and I use them whenever I can.

Describe an object, character or setting without direct modifiers.

~ Signing off and sending out cyber hugs.

May Mania ~ Stretch #2

The elements of any great piece of fiction include a setting, a protagonist, an antagonist/obstacle, conflict and resolution. The smallest works fall under the category of flash fiction, which would be anything less than 1500 words. The word-specific forms are these: Micro fiction/250 words or less, Droubbles/200 words, Drabble/100 words, 69ers/69 words, and 55ers/55 words with 10 sentences, the first with ten words descending down to the last sentence with one. Generally flash fiction packs a punch in the end or has some kind of twist. Hit it.

Write a piece of flash fiction that includes all the key elements of a story in 250 words or less. You can do it! Go for the zing.

~ Signing off and sending out cyber hugs.

Friday, May 1, 2009

May Mania ~ Stretch #1

Spring is a time when my plume productivity drops off big time because sports is a huge distraction for me. After a long winter, it's difficult to ignore the call of the wild when the weather's so nice. I'm just getting back into a running routine, cuz I hibernate when it's bitter cold, and I want to be out, out, out, frolicking, hiking, playing flag football, running with my pack. Writing becomes a bit of chore in this welcoming season that promises fun times. But I need to write and finish my book.

If you're like me, you sometimes just need little nudges to get creative juices flowing and to make writing fun again. So, nearly every day in the month of May, I will give a writing exercise you can use to tickle your inner writer. Become a May Maniac and pen something beyond napkin scraps. As writers we need to pay attention to details. Here's an easy stretch to kick off a most productive May.

Eat something with multiple tastes like a chocolate covered cherry or strawberry, a slice of apple with peanut butter or a piece of steak drenched in your favorite sauce and describe everything about it from the appearance, colors, textures and flavors to the emotions and sensations it piques in your body.

You can do it. Be a May Maniac and get writing.

~ Signing off and sending out cyber hugs.