Thursday, August 29, 2019

Post-From-the-Past, August Archives

Down memory lane...

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

"Today Was Good"

Summer fun 2010
Today was good.
Today was fun.
Tomorrow is another one.
--Dr. Seuss

"...Playing while Mommy is out of town. Just had to share. Hope you had a fun day, too. Writing will be the better for it after we stop swinging."

There are no seven wonders of the world in the eyes of a child. There are seven million. --Walt Streightiff

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summer fun, August 2019
Fast-Forward to present, 9 years later: The little one above is now 11 and oldest of six grandkids. All were together this month as the family made a trip to the Smokies. This time, with her siblings and cousins around, she led them in hikes, movie making on the cellphone, and being a look out for all the bears we saw.



Once again we say, "Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one!"

Hope your summer has been a good one--with any bear sightings kept to a safe distance!
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Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Post-From-the-Past, July Archives

summer 2019
"Question on the run: What's unusual about (the word) unquestionably?" --James J. Kilpatrick

That was the question of this month's post-from-the-past for July, "Weekend Trivia." Scroll down to get the answer.

Speaking of on the run, our yard has been overrun with rabbits this year. Do you have lots of the cute little critters around, too?

Hope you enjoy the re-post. It might be a little like running down another rabbit hole, but it was a fun one to write, and one of my favorites.

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Friday, July 20, 2012

Weekend Trivia

"A question on the run: What's unusual about unquestionably? Answer: It contains all five vowels and the letter y. I leave it to you to discover why facetiousabstemious and abstentious are collector's items." --James J. Kilpatrick

I've added this bit of trivia to my collection of English language absurdities and unusual facts. Find any word-loving tidbits for your collection lately?

p.s. Facetious (adj. "having the habit of joking") I sorta' knew. But abstemious and abstentious? Well, abstentious, it turns out, means the same as...abstemious. And abstemious? It means "sparing in eating and drinking; moderate." Confused yet?

So, are you going to be abstemious and abstentious this weekend? (She asks facetiously.) Hope your weekend is unquestionably super.


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(And back to present now--as I reread this post, I'm struck by the mystery that I missed the first time around. Just what is Mr. Kilpatrick's tease all about, that it's left up to us to discover why facetious, abstemious and abstentious are collector's items? Hmmm, wonder what he's alluding to? Must be more to this than meets the eye. Here we go, down another rabbit hole! If you are able to solve the mystery, let me know!)
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Sunday, June 23, 2019

Post-From-the-Past, June Archives

courtesy Google images
"In reading...stories, you can be many different people in many different places, doing things you would never have a chance to do in ordinary life. It's amazing that those twenty-six little marks of the alphabet can arrange themselves on the pages of a book and accomplish all that. Readers are lucky--they will never be bored or lonely." --Natalie Babbitt

Are you still amazed at what those twenty-six little marks of the alphabet can do? I am. It's an ongoing fascination, I think, no matter how old we writers--and readers--get. As Natalie Babbitt (award-winning author of the modern classic Tuck Everlasting) so aptly reminds us, those 26 little scratchings take us places we'd never have a chance of visiting in ordinary life and give opportunity for so many amazing encounters along the way. Boredom is not a word in our vocabulary!

Babbitt's quote is also an apt lead-in to the next repost in my post-from-the-past series, this one from June 2015: One Writer's Alphabet to Writing a Novel. Enjoy the travel back in time...

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Saturday, June 6, 2015

by Kenda Turner
photo courtesy google.com/images
"When I was having that alphabet soup, I never thought that it would pay off." --Vanna White

A writer subconsciously develops her own alphabet soup when it comes to writing a novel--those key elements, basic rules, discoveries, weaknesses to watch for, areas to develop, exploratory tangents, and microscopic and telescopic revisions that take her to the finished product. I discovered this when I reviewed journal entries I recorded during the time I wrote my first book. I recently reviewed those notes while my current WIP simmered on the back burner for a few days. What an education--there was something for each letter of the alphabet!

One Writer's Alphabet Soup to Writing a Novel

A...active voice...action...action words...atmosphere
B...backstory (enough but not too much)...beginning (jump in)
C...causality...character development...clarity...clich├ęs...complications...conflict...connections
...consistency...craft
D...description...detail...development...dialect...dialogue...discovery
E...edit...emotion...end linked to beginning...ending (satisfying)...energy...essence
F...flexibility...focus...foreshadowing...frame
G...genre...goals...grammar...growth (character and author!)
H...heart...historical accuracy...hook...human dignity
I...imagery...inciting incident...infinite-verb phrase openings (“Looking up slowly, she…”)
J...jell...journal...journey...joys
K...kaleidoscope...kernel...knead...knit
L...landscape...language..listen...location...loose ends (tied up)
M...magical...main character as problem solver (not bystander)...malleable...metaphor...middle slump...motivation...mystery
N...names...narration...narrative arc...narrator
O...obstacles...opening...overthinking (as in, don't!)
P...pace...page turners...patterns...pauses...place...placing character (where doesn’t want to be)...plot...plot holes...plot lines...plot points...plot twists...point of view...punch...punctuation
Q...quest...questions (and answers)...quotes
R...reading level...redundancy (check by using document's 'Find' feature)...resolution...revision
S...satisfying...scene...sensory details...sentences ending with prepositional phrase...sentence variety...serendipity...setting...show (don't tell)...sparkle...spelling...stakes...story structure... storytelling...style...subplot ...supporting characters...surprise...symbolism
T...tenses...tension...theme...threads...tightened form...title...timeline...tone...transitions...triggers
U...understandable...unexpected...unique
V...values...verb tense...viewpoint...vocabulary...voice
W...weak words (weed out)...wonder...word choice...word count...world building
X...(e)xact...(e)xtraordinary...X out the unnecessary
Y...yarn of a story...yawn (avoid)...yearnings...yes (or no)...yet (as in, doors haven’t opened yet)
Z...zenith...zest...zip

This is just a sample of one writer's alphabet soup--a savory mix to keep me going. Any ingredient you'd like to add? What does your writer's alphabet look like?
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And upon coming back to present time, want to read interesting facts about the English alphabet? Check out this link: Interesting Facts About the English Alphabet, by Richard Nordquist.

And this fun quote by Douglas Adams: " 'Why' is the only question that bothers people enough to have an entire letter of the alphabet named after it. The alphabet does not go 'A B C D What? When? How?' but it does go 'V W X Why? Z'." 

Creative, yes? Have a great week!
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Thursday, May 30, 2019

Post-From-the-Past, May Archives

May 2019
Where innocent bright-eyed daisies are
With blades of grass between,
Each daisy stands up like a star
Out of a sky of green.
--Christina Rossetti

The month of May certainly has sped by with projects and writing and celebrations: Mother's Day, Memorial Day, birthdays. Daisies herald the end of the school year, and doors are being flung wide open to all the summer adventures ahead. 

As I continue to reprint posts-from-the-past, my selection this month (before the month slides into the rearview mirror here shortly!) goes back a number of years to 2011. And while we marvel at the speed of the passing of time, the post itself speaks of lessons learned from that slow-moving sage, the turtle. Here it is, The Writer's Journey, From a Turtle's POV:

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Wednesday, May 11, 2011


The Writer's Journey, From a Turtle's POV

"And the turtles, of course...all the turtles are free, as turtles and, maybe, all creatures should be." --Dr. Seuss, Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories

I would have seen it this morning on my walk anyway, but twice I was alerted to the little turtle's presence before I got that far. First, by my neighbor Pat, who was coming the other way. "There's a turtle in the road back there," she said. "I'm afraid it's going to get hit by a car." Then another neighbor drove by, slowed down, and told me the same thing. So I was ready. And there it was, moseying across the pavement, head held high, taking the journey one slow step at a time. It was certainly in a precarious situation.

"Come on, buddy," I said, "let's help get you across." And I moved the creature into the grass at the side of the road, marveling all the while at the striking pattern imprinted across the hard shell.

Then, as we writers are apt to do, I considered the turtle's journey--and compared it to the writer's life. You probably already know what's coming, another of those corny analogies. But here goes...

The Writer's Journey From a Turtle's POV
1. You gotta' stick your neck out if you're going to get anywhere.
2. Start. And keep going, one step at a time, no matter how slow the pace.
3. Don't stop in the middle of the road. If you do, you'll never get where you want to go.
4. Stay focused, patient and persistent. A little bit of luck wouldn't hurt either.
5. Let friends pick you up when you find yourself in a tough spot.
6. Remember your pattern is unique, and you add your own little bit of beauty to the world.
7. Catch your breath and rest, if need be, when you get to the other side--especially if you get shook up (think "querying process"!). Then move on to new adventures, the next story to write.

Do you feel like a turtle sometimes? What advice would you give a writer who's plodding along?

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Back to the present now and looking ahead to a new summerish season, I hope to heed the turtle's advice and stay focused. Easier said than done. What I really want to do is go out and pick daisies! Trying to strike a balance. How about you?
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Thursday, April 25, 2019

Post-From-the-Past, April Archives

April 2019
"The power of metaphor comes from the distance bridged and the pleasurable shock we get from that electrical connection between two seemingly different entities." --John Drury, Creating Poetry

My selection for April's post-from-the-past, dipping back into blogging archives of now over nine years, is this one: Book Metaphors: Six Ideas and Counting. Who would have thought this post would be the one with the overall highest viewings of all those published here at Words and Such? But it is, and I'm amazed that it still gets a dozen or so new views each week. There's something real, tangible, and fulfilling about books, and we're still discovering ways to describe the experience. In addition, the subject of 'metaphor' itself is a fun one. Making those connections between two seemingly different entities, as John Drury says in his book Creating Poetry, can be a writing adventure.

So without further ado here's this month's post-from-the past, out of April's archives:
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Friday, April 6, 2012

What is a book to you, metaphorically speaking?

Others have weighed in on the subject, as evidenced by the following six quotes:

1. "Books are the compasses and telescopes and sextants and charts which other men have prepared to help us navigate the dangerous seas of human life." --Jesse Lee Bennett 

2. "Books are lighthouses erected in the great sea of time." --E.P. Whipple

3. "A book is a garden, an orchard, a storehouse, a party, a company by the way, a counselor, a multitude of  counselors." --Henry Ward Beecher

4. "Books are the bees which carry the quickening pollen from one to another mind."--James Russell Lowell

5. "Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers." --Charles W. Eliot

6. "Books are a uniquely portable magic." --Stephen King

Six quotes turn into fifteen metaphors: compass, telescope, sextant, chart, lighthouse, garden, orchard, storehouse, party, company, counselor, bee, friend, teacher, magic
But we don't have to stop there. We're writers--how about making up a few of our own?

Photos courtesy of sxc.hu
My contribution: "a book is a ticket." A ticket to worlds and stories, places and things, ideas, insights, and imagination. A ticket to colors and wonder, images and emotions, mystery, heart tugs and promise. A ticket to the tapestries and threads of history and humanity--and to hope.

Would love to hear your ideas. How would you describe a book, metaphorically speaking?


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Breaking back into the present, we add to our list with contributions from blogging friends who shared their ideas of book metaphors in the original post's comments:

"A book is a hideaway, a place where we can get away from everything for a while." --Peggy Harkins 

"A book is a portal to another world, traveling through time or space or both." --Elizabeth Varadan 

"A book is transportation to a world filled with secrets that are not being let out at once but piece by piece." --Kamila Glomova 

"A book is a hide-and-seek, a game played by writer and reader." --PS 

More suggestions? From Meghan Cox Gurdon, author of The Enchanted Hour, the Miraculous Power of Reading Aloud in the Age of Distraction: "Books are portals into wonders."

And this one, posted by  Caroline Starr Rose, author of May B and Blue Birds, both novels-in-verse, on her blog earlier this year (here): "If education is the road out of poverty, books are the wheels for the journey." --Richard Crabbe, African Publishers Network

And so to our original list, we add hideaway, portal (to another world/into wonders), transportation to a world of secrets, game of hide-and-seek, and wheels (on the road of life's journeys). May books continue to be all these things and more to the next generations coming up. Wishing all a spring full of book adventures.
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Monday, April 1, 2019

Celebrating National Poetry Month, 30 Quotes and Counting

a bit of poetry outside the window March 2019
April arrives bringing with it once more a month of celebrating poetry (National Poetry Month origin, here). My share in the celebration, along with a goal of reading more poetry this month as well as challenging myself to write 30-haiku-in-30 days again (last year's challenge, here)--is the following compilation of 30 of my favorite quotes on poetry. Each brings its own inspiration, one each day of the month to stir up the imagination toward poetry. Let the celebration begin...

  1. "Poetry is the languages of surprises." --Stephen Taylor Goldsberry
  2. "The poet doesn't invent. He listens." --Jean Cocteau
  3. "Poetry is a packsack of invisible keepsakes." --Carl Sandburg
  4. "Prose is a photography, poetry is a painting in oil colors." --Austin O'Malley
  5. "It is the job of poetry to clean up our word-clogged reality by creating silences around things." --Steven Mallarme
  6. "The poet lights the light and fades away, But the light goes on and on." --Emily Dickinson
  7. "I would define, in brief, the poetry of words is the rhythmical creation of Beauty."-Edgar Allen Poe 
  8. "Poetry is an echo asking a shadow to dance." --Carl Sandburg
  9. "Poetry is a language in which man explores his own amazement." --Christopher Fry
10. "I have never started a poem whose end I knew, writing the poem is discovering."--Robert Frost
11. "Poetry is the journal of a sea animal living on land wanting to fly in the air." --Carl Sandburg
12. "If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry."--Emily Dickinson
13. "Poetry is everywhere; it just needs editing." --James Tate
14. "A poet is, before anything else, a person who is passionately in love with language." --W.H. Auden
15. "The true poem rests between the words." --Vanna Bonta
16. "Poetry is life distilled." --Gwendalyn Brooks
17. "Writing a poem is making music with words and space." --Arnold Adoff
18. "Prose is words in their best order; poetry is the best words in their best order."--Samuel Coleridge
19. "A poem is a spider web, Spun with words of wonder; Woven lace held in place, by whispers made of thunder" --Charles Ghigna
20. "Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words."-Robert Frost
21. "Poetry is a section of river fog and morning boat-lights delivered between bridges and whistles, so one says, 'Oh!' and another, 'How?'" --Carl Sandburg
22. "Some of the greatest poetry is revealing to the reader the beauty in something that was so simple you had taken it for granted." --Neil de Grasse Tyso, astrophysicist
23. "Poetry is the impish attempt to paint the color of the wind." --Maxwell Bodenheim
24. "Poems are not words, after all, but fires for the cold, ropes let down to the lost, something as necessary as bread in the pockets of the hungry." --Mary Oliver
25. "How do poems grow? They grow out of your life." --Robert Penn Warren
26. "Poetry makes life what lights and music do to the stage." --Charles Dickens
27. "Poets don't draw. They unravel their handwriting and then tie it up again, but differently." --Jean Cocteau
28. "Poetry might be defined as the clear expression of mixed feelings." --W.H. Auden
29. "Poetry has the power to turn words into darts that shoot under your skin."--Penny Ashton
30. "A poet can survive everything but a misprint." --Oscar Wilde

Happy Poetry Month 2019. How does poetry stir your world?
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Monday, March 25, 2019

Post-From-The Past, March Archives

from photo archives, historic Fort Macon, Emerald Isle NC 2017
"Atmosphere is a term used in literature to describe the mood of a piece of writing, which is usually created by how the author describes the setting and background, as well as the characters and events within the story. The author creates his or her atmosphere in order to give the reader subconscious impressions about the narrative." --reference.com

The atmosphere in March sure has its own flavor doesn't it? Milder weather, unfolding leaves, emerging daffodils, and--happy days--the bluebirds are back! We know that atmosphere plays a big part in our stories as well, something I was reminded of when I pulled the following post, first published in March 2013, out of the archives. I'm glad for the refresher. Maybe you'll glean a little something out of it, too.

And so, from March's archives...
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Friday, March 8, 2013
Setting, Landscape, Atmosphere--How Are They Different?
"In every piece of fiction...setting is one of the three major elements--along with characterization and plot--that the writer must weave together to create the narrative." --Connie C. Epstein

Setting
Oh, the fun of setting--imagining where the story takes place, how characters respond to their surroundings, drinking in the sights, sounds, and smells that connect the reader to the written word--it's the world-building side of the writer's craft. I've been immersed in the subject this week as I've brainstormed ideas for my WIP. Along the way I've sought the wisdom of others to help open up that world. Helpful thoughts on the subject:

"There are lots of things you can do with setting. Setting adds color to the story. Setting affects characters. Setting lends authenticity to the narrative, and paints pictures in the imagination of readers." --Nancy Lamb, The Art and Craft of Story Telling.

"Settings..aren't just backdrops. Just by where you have the action happening will tell a lot about the action itself and the people involved." --Ansen Dibell, Plot

"Setting grounds your writing in the reality of place and depicts the theme of your story through powerful metaphor. Without setting, characters are simply there, in a vacuum, with no reason to act and most importantly, no reason to care. Without a place there is no story." --Nina Munteanu, scribophile

Landscape
And yet, expanding on the idea of setting, I came across the concept of landscape, this from Elizabeth George in her book Write Away: "On the surface, it would appear that landscape and setting are the same creatures, identical twins given different names just to confuse the beginning writer. This, however, would not be the truth since setting is where a story takes place--including where each scene takes place--while landscape is much broader than that...Landscape in writing implies much the same as that which is implied by the word when it's used to refer to a location in a country: It is the broad vista into which the writer actually places the individual settings of the novel, sort of like the canvas or other medium onto which a painter has decided to daub color.

"You need to think about the landscape of your book because if you're able to make the landscape of place real, you can make the land itself real, which gives you a leg up on making the entire novel real for the reader."

Atmosphere
But there's more. If the nuanced differences between setting and landscape are not enough, what about the idea of atmosphereJanet Burroway in her classic, Writing Fiction, a Guide to Narrative Craft, puts it this way: "Your fiction must have an atmosphere because without it your characters will be unable to breathe."

"Like many of the terms that relate to the elements of fiction, 'atmosphere' has more than one meaning," Burroway writes. "Sometimes referring to subject matter, sometimes to technique. Part of the atmosphere of a scene or story is its setting, which includes the locale, period, weather, and time of day. Part of the atmosphere is its 'tone,' an attitude taken by the narrative voice that can be described, not in terms of time and place, but as a quality--sinister, facetious, formal, solemn, wry, and so on...As we need to know a character's gender, race, and age, we need to know in what atmosphere she or he operates to understand the significance of the action."

Settinglandscapeatmosphere. Separate entities yet connected.The first puts you in the action. The second contains the story's broader vista. The third enables the characters to breathe. Had you ever considered the varying distinctions? How so? Will you imagine your setting with a different understanding now?
photos courtesy of sxc.hu
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And now back to the present, an additional source on the subject includes an article titled Creating Atmosphere in Fiction, by Esther Newton (found here). In it, Ms. Newton says, "To be successful a short story or or novel needs to develop a strong sense of atmosphere. This draws your readers into your story so they can imagine this world you are creating. It also sets up expectations for them and gives them information about the characters they're likely to meet in your story." She follows up with six categories for developing that atmosphere. They include: setting, description, five senses, weather, time, and first person viewpoint. Another good refresher resource!

What do you find to be the easiest ways to create atmosphere in your writing? What comes hardest for you?
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Monday, February 25, 2019

Post-From-the-Past, February Archives

winter walk 2019
"In the end, what makes a plot twist effective? It's not difficult to give a friend a present they never would have expected. But one sign of a good friendship is that you can give your friend a present that they never would have expected, perhaps never would have even guessed they wanted, but are still delighted to have. That's the sign of a good plot twist as well." --Dave King, "Playing it Straight with Plot Twists," at davekingedits.com

Pulling again from my archives over the last nine years of blogging, I offer The Unexpected: 5 Tips on Plot Twists. This post first appeared in February 2012 and ranks in the top-10-list of my most viewed posts ever. Maybe you, like me, would like (might even need?) a review. Here goes:

Tuesday, February 7, 2012
The Unexpected: 5 Tips on Plot Twists
"Creativity comes from looking for the unexpected and stepping outside your own experiences."
                                                                                                                                                --Masaru Ibuka
The jolt, when it hit, was palpable. Nothing really big, but a hit all the same.

I was on my morning walk, approaching the turnaround point at the curve. The scene is so familiar at this particular spot--that of an old barn that for years was a picturesque fixture of the landscape. In fact, I often told myself that I should bring my camera and get a picture of it. Admittedly the barn was dilapidated and abandoned, but it had such character built as it was on a stone foundation with weathered boards that had seen many a day. It shouted history--even a story or two. I'd even analyzed the angle from which to take the shots. Yes, one day I would do that.

This time as I approached, I looked up to see a small earth-mover nearby. I couldn't tell if it was parked on the road, and if I'd have to skirt around it. I wondered what project was about to be embarked upon. That's when the surprise hit, and the unexpected registered on my brain.

The barn was gone.

Razed. Obliterated. Kaput. The bulldozer's job had already been done. The landscape was forever changed. What a twist that revelation brought to my morning!

Well, as is so often the case, thoughts went from personal disappointment over a lost photo op to the question of how such an event could be useful in plotting our stories. How can we use the unpredictable, the unexpected, surprises, twists and turns in order to keep our readers reading? And why?
Scanning several sources, I uncovered five tips on plot twists:

1. Predictable to Unpredictable. Barbara Dunlap, autocrit, defines plot twists as: "anytime something unexpected happens in a story that changes its fundamental direction. Where the characters and the plot are moving along in a direction that feels predictable then something happens to alter that predictability, that's a plot twist."

2. But...There's No Formula. Janice Hardy, at The Other Side of the Story, gives great advice about plot twists related to reader expectations. She writes, "We're all looking for a great plot twist, right? Be it in the books we write or the ones we read. That unexpected event or revelation that changes everything we thought we knew and takes it to a whole new level. The things that make us go, 'wow, that was awesome. I never saw that coming.' Trouble is, knowing you want one is a lot easier than coming up with one. There is no formula for devising a great twist, because every plot is different and any number of things can work in a story. My trick for twisting my plot is pretty simple: Reader expectations...You want to give readers what they expect, but not in the way they expect it."

3. Murphy's Law. Ansel Dibell in his book, Plot, suggests we play with Murphy's Law. "Try to think of what, within that fundamental situation, could go surprisingly wrong, yet seem believable and reasonable, within that context, when it happens...Your twist must satisfy and improve upon what it substitutes for, not just change it to something else."

4. Connect the Dots. This from Amanda Hannah, at YA Highway: "Most surprises need to have some roots grounded early in the book--little whispers that could hint at something to come. Things that the reader might not consciously pick up on at first, but once the surprise is discovered, they can connect all the dots together."

5. Multiple Implications. Scott Edelstein, in The Writer's Book of Checklists, amps plot twists up another notch. He says, "Look for events, developments, and twists that work in two or more ways at once, or that have multiple implications, meanings, or consequences. These can be among the most powerful elements in any piece of fiction."

Maybe we won't surprise our readers with a barn in one scene, only to find it unexpectedly leveled in another, but we do want to provide them with the occasional jolt that keeps them reading. What about you? How do you plan for the unexpected in your stories? Any outstanding plot twists you've read and marveled at recently?
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And, now, back to the present: Re-reading this post gave me pause to ask myself, what books have I read recently in whose pages lay memorable plot twists? My list includes:
Cold Mountain, by Charles Frazier
Empty Places, by Kathy Cannon Wiechman
Waiting for Augusta, by Jessica Lawson
The Girl in the Torch, by Robert Sharenow
The Unfinished Angel, by Sharon Creech

Other lists, other compilers:
10 Children's Books with Surprise Endings, thechaosandtheclutter.com

Any books with memorable plot twists you might recommend? What are you currently reading?
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Thursday, January 31, 2019

Post-From-the-Past, January Archives

"There are thousands of thoughts lying within a man that he does not know till he takes up the pen and writes." --William Makepeace Thackeray

Thackeray's quote resonates with me as I enter my tenth year of blogging. Ten years! And over the years, the number of blog posts--and thousands of thoughts I didn't even know I had--has grown, now numbering 440. So in this, my tenth year, I thought I'd go back in the archives and highlight a post-from-the-past each month. A re-post, yes, a revisit, a re-encounter...

Traveling then back to the records of January 2012:
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Sunday, January 1, 2012


Aim, Shoot, Bull's Eye: Targets for a New Year

 "It's the sheer act of writing, more than anything else, that makes a writer." --John Gardner


Call it semantics, but I've decided to set writing "targets" rather than resolutions for the new year. The "dart board"--what I'm aiming for--is to write every day. No matter how much, how little--my goal is to hit at least one of four targets every day. Each is represented by the graduated concentric circles of a dart board. (I wish I could diagram this, but such design skills aren't in my repertoire yet!) 

The four targets include:

1. The Bull's Eye: Write 1000 words. I hope to hit this mark more often than not in this new year. But that is the real prize, and often hard to attain. So if circumstances--like life's challenges away from the computer--preclude this then I'll aim for...

2. The Inside Ring: Write two pages. Linda Sue Park, author of the 2002 Newbery Medal Winner A Single Shard, in an interview over at Cuppa Jolie, said: "My most valuable tip came from Katherine Paterson, who wrote in an essay about how she tries to finish 2 pages a day. I read that when I was starting work on my first novel, and it was a huge light-bulb moment. I thought, I can do that! I don't know if I can ever write a whole novel, but I sure as heck can write 2 pages a day. I've written every single one of my novels that way, and I'm positive I never would have written even one if I hadn't read that tip." Still and all, though, if time is at a premium on a busy day, I will at least shoot for...

3. The Middle Ring: Write for 15 minutes. Dan Goodwin, at Coach Creative, says: "Create every day and you get used to starting creative sessions quickly and easily. They become a routine, a habit, and you begin before you've had a chance to procrastinate. The less often you create, the harder it becomes to get started, and the more excuses and 'urgent' tasks that have to be done before you create begin to stack up...(so) start today, set aside 15 minutes, make an appointment with your creativity, and write it down. Do the same tomorrow." Yet, being realistic, on days I can't even do that I will at least...

4. The Outer Ring: Write ten words. This from Mary E. Pearson, on a guest post at Dear Editor: "When I feel like I can't move forward, I will do all kinds of things to help me keep going, like...Trick myself. I sit down to write and tell myself I only have to write ten words and then I can get up and do whatever I want guilt-free. TEN. That's all. But I have to do it every day." She says it's amazing how allowing yourself ten simple words more often than not jumpstarts the writing process and you end up writing more than you thought you would.

So there you have it, my targets for 2012. Every day, hit at least one. Now my aim might be poor at the beginning. After all, I haven't been all that consistent in the past. But with practice, who knows what will come. I'm looking forward to finding out.

What are your writing targets for the new year?
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And returning to the present, I recommend an article posted by Mary Carroll Moore: Your Writing Life: The Benefits of an End-of-Year Review. Ms. Moore, whose tag line to her blog is "How to Plan, Write, and Develop a Book," poses questions to ask ourselves in review, questions such as what did I want to have happen with my writing life this past year? what steps did I take to bring that about? what was my biggest ah-ha moment? my actual accomplishments? where did I find the most satisfaction or joy? Good reading here, with a proposed review process that I'm now in the middle of. You might want to check it out. 

Happy reviewing, goal-setting, and target shooting in 2019!
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