Friday, January 29, 2010

Constructing Scenes

Scenes build your story. They usually include action and should have three parts: a goal, conflict, and an outcome. So, you have a character who wants something (goal) and must do something to get it, but has problems (conflict) and will either win or--since fiction mirrors life--lose (outcome). Let's take a look at the three parts of a scene in more detail.

Goal: needs to be specific and clear. This way your character can be proactive and move toward achieving what he wants.

Conflict: should build excitement, interest, and show the desire and courage of your character when he is confronted with challenges, but continues to "battle" his way through.

Outcome: will have your character win or lose. The idea is to let it be okay for him to sometimes lose and be confronted with a new challenge to conquer. This will build suspense and keep your reader interested. Also, your character becomes stronger. He shows determination to achieve his goal when those obstacles stand in the way, and yet he manages to pull through and live on. Remember, failure makes us human. But of course you will want him to win some, too.

In writing scenes, there are some guidelines to follow, which will help make you more successful. The following are some of those pitfalls to avoid or features to include:

--vary the length and complexity of your scenes
--wind up the tension as your scenes move the plot forward and keep your character challenged
--remove scenes that aren't useful ( to decide -- if you can remove it, and it doesn't affect the outcome or clarity of the story, you probably can do without it)
--your scenes should either include character interaction or experiences that will affect other characters
--include realistic emotions
--maximize your opening and closing scenes
--keep a few secrets along the way in some of the scenes, leaving them to be revealed later on
--to achieve a very active scene, make your paragraphs, sentences, and dialogue shorter to gain that intensity

Hopefully, this helps in your scene writing. Remember, a story is told through scenes, like building blocks put together, they construct your story from beginning to end. It's more than just a compilation of words, sentences, and paragraphs.

For more information, read: Thanks, But This Isn't For Us by Jessica Page Morrell

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Collecting and Using Anecdotes in Your Writing

First of all, what is an anecdote? By definition it is a short, personal account of an incident or event, a way of personalizing an article or essay to make it more entertaining and more engaging. These mini stories are a great tool, but be aware; they must be placed carefully in your writing and used to help the reader understand more clearly what you are trying to say.

Where to find them? Of course, they don't fall from the sky or just magically appear. You have to seek them out. People are a great resource. They have wonderful stories to tell and most everyone enjoys talking about themselves, don't they? So, interview! Find some of those interesting people and start taking notes. (Although I'd use a recorder myself. Notetaking is too chancy; you might leave out the good parts!) Another source is the written word – books and definitely primary sources such as diaries, letters, etc. from famous or not-so-famous people. You can find valuable gems in those places.

What to do with them?
Placement is key. In the middle of the article is common, but really, you should be the judge and plop it in where it seems to fit. Personally, I like to see them at the beginning of an article because this engages my interest right away, gives that personal touch to where I identify with the topic. More than likely, I will want to go on and finish the article because of that anecdote. You might even take half of the anecdote, place it at the beginning, but leave it as a cliffhanger. When you get to the end of your article, finish it up, rather like a grand finale. As far as constructing your anecdote, be concise – you don't want your reader to lose the true point of the article and stray away. And though you may be writing a non-fiction article, the anecdote should sound fictional. Be creative as you write your mini story. Over all, your anecdote needs to match the point of your article. It must be relevant and fresh. Choose wisely and write effectively.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Name That Novel #15

Let's go across the Atlantic and back in time, about 100 years ago. This well-known author led an active social life, mixing with the aristocracy. The following excerpt was from the first volume of six. He was known for his style of creating extremely long sentences. This work was one of his efforts proving to be both creative and enlightening. See if you recognize him.

"... But when from a long-distant past nothing subsists, after the people are dead, after the things are broken and scattered, taste and smell alone, more fragile but more enduring, more immaterial, more persistent, more faithful, remain poised a long time, like souls, remembering, waiting, hoping, amid the ruins of all the rest; and bear unflinchingly, in the tiny and almost impalpable drop of their essence, the vast structure of recollection.

And as soon as I had recognised the taste of the piece of madeleine soaked in her decoction of lime-blossom which my aunt used to give me (although I did not yet know and must long postpone the discovery of why this memory made me so happy) immediately the old grey house upon the street, where her room was, rose up like a stage set to attach itself to the little pavilion ... the streets along which I used to run errands, the country roads we took when it was fine ... the whole of Combray and its surroundings, taking shape and solidity, sprang into being, town and gardens alike, from my cup of tea."

(translation from French to English -- Moncrieff and Kilmartin, revised by Enright)

Good luck to all!

Hats off to Tina! She guessed correctly with Proust and his work, Remembrance of Things Past.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Check It Out ...Weekly Websites

Here's a site for all you hungry writers who need mags to sell your short stories, poems, and articles to, and while you are at it --- tada! --- you can keep track of all your submissions with the onsite submission tracker. Can't get tidier than that :-) So, click on over to ...


And if you don't particularly like Duotrope's tracker, here is another site you can go to for the same service:


Thinking of joining a writer's association? And maybe you are ready to play hardball, hit a few writing credits out of the ballpark while hoping to make a career out of writing. Well, check out the National Association of Independent Writers and Editors. The people there will guide you along the way to customize what you are looking for and give you a website while they are at it! Cool :-)


Sunday, January 3, 2010

Name That Poet #5

It's back! Try guessing the poet of this one. I'm giving you the last two stanzas of the five stanza poem.

Thy brother Death came, and cried
Wouldst thou me?
Thy sweet child sleep, the filmy-eyed,
Murmured like a noontide bee,
Shall I nestle by thy side?
Wouldst thou me?--And I replied,
No, not thee!

Death will come when thou art dead,
Soon, too soon--
Sleep will come when thou are fled;
Of neither would I ask the boon
I ask of thee, beloved Night--
Swift be thine approaching flight,
Come soon, soon!

Good luck, all :-)

I guess I will have to give this one up. It is by Shelley and the title is "To Night"
Thank you, ladies for contributing!

Check It Out .... Weekly Websites

Want to visit the "world's largest" blog? This one has more than twelve million monthly pageviews. It focuses on reviewing new Web sites and services, giving you info on all those social media resources and guides. It's definitely worth checking out.


Are you a mom? Are you a mom who likes to write? Are you a mom needing other mom writers to talk to, share and compare writings with, gain a bit of advice, and oh so many other desires? Then maybe you would be interested -- mom or not -- in this website:


Hope you enjoy!