Monday, November 30, 2009

Whew! What a Month ... sigh, relief, zzzzzzz

Okay, 30 days and 50,000 words. (And counting because it's going to take another 5,000 or so to finish the story.) I'm well-done. Stick a fork in me and I'm sizzlin'. Now, I'm going to rest up a bit. Then I'll be ready for more blogging. Promise.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Check It Out....Weekly Websites

Sorry for the long absence. And it will continue until the end of the month. I've gotten myself into the deep quagmire called Nanowrimo. 35,000 words and counting. But enough about that... I came up with a couple of nuggets you might find useful (not going to mess with the fancy linking labels this time):

This one lists and describes lots of writing workshops ... tips on anything from blogging to writing the big novel.

Here we have a fellow blogger who shows you how to self-edit.

Looking for a new source to create your website? Want it affordable and not all those advertisements to clutter it up? This one gives you customizable options and costs $20/year. It might be worth a look.

Okay, that's it for this round. I will try and post something later in the week. Until then.... Happy Turkey Day!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Name That Poet....#4

It's been awhile, and I apologize. Here is another poem from a classic poet. See if you know the name of both the title and the creator.

"Hope" is the thing with feathers--
That perches in the soul--
And sings the tune without the words--
And never stops--at all--

And sweetest--in the Gale--is heard--
And sore must be the storm--
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm--

I've heard it in the chillest land--
And on the strangest Sea--
Yet, never, in Extremity,
It asked a crumb--of Me.

Okay, good luck to all. :-)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Creating Suspense: Keep the Plot Moving

Creating suspense seems like a reasonable task when writing a story. After all, you just keep stuff happening to the characters, right? Well, yes, incidents that put your characters in some sort of challenging predicament is what keeps the story interesting. But is there a certain technique that a writer can consciously focus on to make it all happen in an effective way? Margaret Lucke in her book, Writing Great Short Stories, sums it up into four techniques: 1) raise the stakes; 2)eliminate the options; 3)isolate your characters; and 4)ignite a ticking bomb.

Raise the Stakes: This goes along with the idea that what happens to your main character, all that conflict, should keep the interest of your readers. In order to do this, you must raise the stakes, i.e. keep the challenges and obstacles coming with each one a bit more risky than the one before. It's as if she or he must bring more to the table to overcome the obstacles and has that much more to lose or gain, depending on whether he or she fails or succeeds.

Eliminate the Options: This reminds me of playing chess. The further you are into the game, the more pieces you may lose, leaving you with fewer options to overcome your opponent and win. Keep reducing the options your character has to get out of the fixes you put him/her in. Tease your readers. Let them think a solution is about to work, and then snap! The solution has disappeared and your character must scramble to find another way out of the problem.

Isolate Your Character: Everybody wants friends in a time of need. Like I mentioned in a previous posting, if your character has some allies to help out, that makes the situation workable. But what about at one of those climatic moments? A suspenseful juncture when you want to put your readers on the edge of their seats? In those points of your story when you think it needs a little oomph, why not isolate your character? Cut him/her off from the rest of the world? I mean physically put the character in a place where there is no outside help. The character must figure it out all by him or herself. Or maybe it's a place where the character is emotionally isolated. An abusive home that he or she can't escape, perhaps. There are lots of choices.

Ignite a Ticking Bomb: Several movies pop into my head right now: Speed, Die Hard, Air Force One, John Q just to name a few. You know, those movies where the clock is ticking and each minute that passes raises the stress and tension level. And to add just an extra element of suspense, you might create a situation where the character doesn't know how much time he/she has left. It could be five hours from then or five days. No one knows. How's that for excitement?

Those are just a few ideas on how to create suspense. Hopefully, some of them work for you. If you have techniques of your own, stop and drop a line! Happy Writing, all :-)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Check It Out ... Weekly Websites

Need pics? Need them for free? Then you should check out this site, which has thousands of photos of just about anything. It's free and easy to use.


Funds for Writers is a weekly newsletter that keeps you posted on paid writing opportunities: there are more than 15 in each issue. There are grants, contests, market offers, etc.


Monday, November 2, 2009

Name That Novel #13

Contemporary, bestseller, an American saga and a very poignant take on human nature -- our flaws, our strengths, all of it set in the vast wilderness of Wisconsin. That said (a generous serving of clues, I must say) see if you can guess the title and author:

**I am giving some other hints, which I hope will bring in a winner. This story is about a mute boy who communicates well with dogs, and he goes on a long journey into the wilderness. The book came out in 2008, I believe.

"This will be his earliest memory.

Red light, morning light. High ceiling canted overhead. Lazy click of toenails on wood. Between the honey-colored slats of the crib a whiskery muzzle slides forward until its cheeks pull back and a row dainty front teeth bare themselves in a ridiculous grin.

The nose quivers. The velvet snout dimples.

All the house is quiet. Be still. Stay still.

Fine, dark muzzle fur. Black nose, leather of lacework creases, comma of nostrils flexing with each breath. A breeze shushes up the field and pillows the curtains inward. The apple tree near the kitchen window caresses the house with a tick-tickety-tick-tick. As slowly as he can, he exhales, feigning sleep, but despite himself his breath hitches. At once, the muzzle knows he is awake. It snorts. Angles right and left. Withdraws...."

There you are. Now, let's see what you can do with it. :-)

Okay, I don't think anyone is going to guess this one. So, drum roll please! .........

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski