My Writing

Another Writing Exercise

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I wrote this snippet of backstory for my character, Rebecca.   It may never be in the final draft, but writing a short scene helps me deepen my characters.  After I wrote my rough draft, I put this piece into the  The Hemingway Editor.  This editor highlights adverbs, confusing sentences and when you used the passive voice.  I found it very helpful.

tiny floralswirl2

Glass shattered. Rebecca startled awake.  They’re fighting again.  She looked over at her bedside clock. It was 1:57 am.  She heard the sound of angry voices from the kitchen, but couldn’t understand what her parents were saying.  Rebecca gripped her pink sheets and turned to her five-year old sister, who was curled up on the other side of the bed.

“Amelia, are you awake?” she whispered.

“Yes.” Amelia whimpered.

Rebecca moved closer to her sister and snuggled her close to her body.  “It’ll be OK.” Rebecca said soothingly, though her eyes burned and her lip quivered. Amelia sniffled.  I hate that it has to be this way.

Rebecca heard more incoherent yelling and a feminine scream followed by a loud crashing noise. Why does she let him treat her that way?  Rebecca was used to nights like these.  When she was younger she used to cry as her parents fought, but now she only cowered, berating herself for not being stronger, for not defending her mother.  But, what can I do? He’ll just beat me if I try to stop him.  A door slammed shut. Then a car started and sped away.  Rebecca hugged Amelia tighter.  The house was silent for a moment.  Then Rebecca heard the hum of the T.V and her mother’s stifled sobs.

Getting to Know your Characters

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I’ve found that writing a scene from your work-in-progress can help develop your characters.  It doesn’t have to be exactly what will be in the final draft, but it can give you an idea of how your character acts.  Here’s what I wrote today to get to know my protagonist.

tiny floralswirl2

It was morning. Nathaniel woke up, earlier than usual, even though he was already an early riser.  He got dressed and went outside to the bonfire area, and sat on one of the logs, which were used as chairs.  The remains of last night’s bonfire were left in the fire pit. Nathaniel started to pray his morning prayers, when his eye caught a notebook lying abandoned on the log next to him.  The cover was filled with artistic swirls that looked hand drawn. The artist had some skill.  Nathaniel walked over, and flipped through it, looking for a name inside, but couldn’t find one.  He felt strangely drawn to it.  He didn’t know if it was the appeal of the art, or simply the mystery of it.

The first page had a realistic sketch of a girl.  He vaguely recognized her. Her hair was loosely curled, dark brown with thin caramel streaks.  She was sitting in a moderately suggestive way.    Under the drawing the artist wrote in feminine handwriting: Broken. Seeking love.  There was also a sketch of a bleeding heart, with many keys stabbing into it.  The artist used dark colors.  Nathaniel flipped the page, still entranced.

The next page was in stark contrast to the one before.  It was filled with springtime colors, and a sketch of a cute red-haired girl.  Her eyes looked lively, and her crooked smile was sincere.  Under her, were the words: Naive.  Life may be a sad surprise. The bottom was filled with swirly bird sketches.

Don’t read the rest. He thought to himself.  He flipped the page, and was surprised to find a drawing of himself.  Under his picture were the words: Strong.  Will make a girl happy one day.  He stared at these unspoken compliments and wondered who said them. He suddenly felt very intrusive.  These were the artist’s secret thoughts, and here he was reading them.  The artist must be a girl.

He flipped to the very end of the book, and at the bottom of the page, in small cursive letters it read: Rebecca.  He remembered meeting Rebecca.  She was a quiet girl, and very pretty. She had long straight blonde hair and sad brown eyes.  He was overfilled with a strong urge to know her.

He flipped to another page, written on it was a poem:

Sadness overfills

Salty tears fall down my face

Broken hearted girl 

Was this poem about herself? Or someone else?  He was impressed by the artist’s eloquence. Attraction flickered in his heart. He wanted to comfort her. Don’t think about her. She’s not an option. Not now. She’s only seventeen.

He flipped to a page with a sketch of Ignatius. He looked handsome, with a fake smile and sad eyes.  He looks broken. I never saw that in him. Under him were the words: Searching.  Aching for truth amidst the lies.

He closed the notebook quickly and took it inside the cabin.  He was still thinking of her.

 

My Writing Binder ~ Part 1

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I find it very helpful to keep a writing binder for each of my story ideas.  This keeps all my papers and notes from getting lost or wrinkled.  I divide my three ring binder into different sections ex. characters, plot, setting, research with page dividers.  I always have a regular lined notebook to write down random ideas or to brainstorm with my binder.

Here are the things that are in my ‘character’ tab:

colored betsy
This is an example of a character inspiration picture. This one was originally black and white, but I printed it out and colored her how I wanted her.
  • Each of my main and supporting character’s sketches.
  • Each of my main and supporting character’s inspiration picture so I can envision them more clearly.
  • K.M Weiland’s blog post on character archetypes.
  • Any other helpful blog posts on creating or developing characters.

Tomorrow, I’ll show you what’s in my ‘plot’ tab!

 

 

The Letter

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I wrote this short story for a contest on Fanstory.  The prompt was to write about a tattered, stained letter with no return address.

 

“Sir, your truck is fixed.  Also, I found this wedged behind one of the seats.”  The auto repair man handed the mailman a tattered, stained letter.

“Oh, thank you.”  The mailman replied as he stared at the letter wonderingly.  It had no return address.  How strange! It looked old. How long had it been lost?  Its delivery address was on his mail route.

The mailman dropped the letter into a stack of outgoing mail, even though he felt tempted to open it and read the mysterious message.  The next day he came to work and was assigned his mail bag.  He rifled quickly through it, looking for the letter.  It was there. When he arrived at the address on the envelope, he put in the mailbox.

The next day he approached the house where he had delivered the tattered letter.  He opened the mailbox to put the day’s mail inside.  The stained letter was laying there, with a post-it note attached to it stating in red letters: Recipient doesn’t live here.  A strong curiosity overpowered him.   I want to read it.  What kind of message would be inside?  It looks personal and old.

The next day, the mailman didn’t find the letter in his delivery bag.  Still intrigued by it, he rifled through a box that held undeliverable items. The tattered letter was among them.  He secretively put it into his pocket and left to begin the day’s work.   When his shift was over he drove to a nearby coffee shop.

He slid into a corner booth and mused about the strange letter in front of him.  The recipient wasn’t found. What could it hurt if I read the letter?  I know I’m not really supposed to, but my curiosity is killing me. 

Why didn’t the person include a return address?  Is it because they are wanted by the police?  Was the person too ashamed to write the return address, for whatever reason? What if this letter would have repaired a relationship, but it was never delivered?  Is it a murder threat, or a murder warning? Since it was never delivered what were the consequences? Was it some other type of warning that was never given? Would this letter have saved someone’s life?

He knew his mind was wandering as he sat examining the envelope. Why is it stained? It looked like someone had spilled juice on it, or was it blood?  He sipped his coffee and sighed.  Alright, I’m going to open it.  It will probably just get thrown away anyway.

He broke the seal hurriedly, knowing he was doing something that he shouldn’t. It felt weird to be reading a letter meant for someone else.  He took the paper out of the envelope.  It was somewhat ragged too.

It read:

April 18, 2007

Dearest Alexandra,

If your love is still as fervent as it was last June, meet me at the downtown Starbucks on April 26 at 8:00 PM.  I’ve never forgotten you and I still love you.  I’ll be there waiting. If you don’t come, I’ll have my answer: our love was simply a summer romance and nothing more.  But, if you do come, we can run away and start a life together.  The obstacles that parted us will not be able to stop us this time.  Do not, under any circumstances, let anyone know about this meeting.

Forever Yours,

Michael

The mailman stared at the letter.  The date showed that the letter was from seven years ago.  He had not guessed it would be a letter between two forbidden lovers.  I wonder how long Michael waited for her that night.  Is he still mourning her loss?  Or was he able to move on?  What were the circumstances that tore them from each other?  It may have been a good thing that this letter was lost for all those years.  It may be that Alexandra is now happily married and perhaps, has a child?  If she saw his note now, it could cause discontent in her.  It could reawaken her feelings for Michael.  On the other hand, what if Alexandra was never able to move on and is still mourning the loss of her beloved? 

 He pushed these thoughts away.  He put the letter back in his pocket and left the coffee shop. Fate’s a strange thing, that’s for sure.

Is High School Dating a Good Idea?

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I wrote this essay for a contest on Fanstory.  The topic was write an argument against something controversial.

teen dating image (1)Love is something that is displayed constantly and in a variety of ways. From the earliest age, people are exposed to stories that focus heavily on romantic love. This glorification of romance puts love as the highest ideal. Because of this, teens feel pressure to enter into dating during high school. This has become the norm, but, is high school romance a good idea?

A relationship is a huge load for a high schooler to bear. The dictionary definition of love is this: A decision to commit oneself to another and to work through conflicts instead of giving up. The love between a man and a woman is a sacred and beautiful thing. The purpose of this love is marriage. Marriage means sacrifice, responsibility and a family. What high-schooler is able to realistically commit on this level? Because a high school romance cannot lead to marriage for about 4-8 years, they often end in breakup. During high school, a teenager may end up having a broken heart multiple times. This is giving teens practice only in failed relationships, rather than practice in maintaining a healthy relationship. Lastly, teenage relationships are physically tempting. This often leads to pre-marital sex, birth control and possibly abortion. High school is not the time to enter into these roles because a teen has neither the skills nor the resources to marry and provide for another.

A romance requires time and energy. It can be exhausting maintaining a teenage relationship, academic demands and extracurricular activities. Several aspects in a teen’s life are impacted by dating. The tendency to communicate constantly through various electronic methods is hugely distracting. Secondly, a relationship consumes much of a teen’s precious time, which is usually already overscheduled with academics and extracurricular activities. Thirdly, it’s emotionally exhausting. Maintaining a happy relationship, working out conflict and making wise decisions can drain their mental and emotional resources. There are only four years of high school, and romance is not the best way to use these formative years.

High school can be a wonderful time of personal growth and development of hobbies and skills. This is prevented when the majority of a teen’s time is taken up by the opposite sex. Imagine how much more ready for the world a teen would be if they had spent all of their high school years developing himself/herself as a person, rather than spending it jumping in and out of relationships. Romance also takes time away from developing friendships. Friendship is a skill that will be needed throughout one’s entire life. Lastly, it takes from the time that should be used for learning and studying, which affects a person’s future career. Romance is an unnecessary demand to place in a teen’s life.

Though our society has chosen to make teen dating the norm, this doesn’t have to be the case. Love is at the heart of human nature, and because of this, it’s something that we’re all looking for. Romance is a good and beautiful thing, but it is important to wait until the right time. Hearts need to be guarded and protected, which becomes harder when a high-schooler is involved in a romantic relationship. The self-restraint that is exercised when a teen withholds a romance from himself/herself is a valuable skill that will serve him/her for the rest of their life. Before entering into a teenage relationship, carefully consider if it’s a wise choice.

Daffodil

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I wrote a new Haiku to cheer myself up during this long, cold, snowy winter.

 

snow-daffodils

Daffodil 

cold months underground
patient daffodil bulb waits
warmth and springtime come

The Fork in my Road

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fork in the road

 

I’ve decided to let go of my novel-in-progress, Recalled to Life.  I’ll be working on my other novel idea, The Exiles, now. (see my ‘Novels’ page for more details).   This may seem like giving up too soon, but here are my reasons for this decision:

 

  • Not every story idea is a good idea.  Unfortunately, you have to put a lot of work into an idea until you can determine this.
  • The Exiles was actually my first story idea.  In hindsight, I can see that I dove into Recalled to Life because I was intimidated by the other story.  Fear was my motivation for writing that first.

 

Here are the reasons why I’m not upset about this choice:

  • The time spent away from The Exiles gave me new perspective when I came back to it.
  • I learned a lot about novel writing with my first project.  Now I understand better how to build a story.  For me, second tries are usually better than my first.

 

During the last week I have begun pre-outlining The Exiles.  This is the step where you build plot, characters, themes and symbolism, before you start outlining for real.  Already, I feel more bound to this story than I did when I was pre-outlining my first story.  I’m very excited about my progress!

 

How do you decide how to let go of a story?