Elements to Think About Before Writing Your Story

I’ve been quite busy critiquing and attending writing improvement classes. Here are some things I learned that might help you. Ask your self these questions before you write your story.

  • Who is your protagonist?
  • What is his/her initial problem?
  • What does your protagonist want?
  • What gets in the way?
  • Why does he/she want that goal?
  • What happens if he/she doesn’t get it?
  • What event starts the story?
  • What deadline does the protagonist have?
  • What is the ending?
  • Who is your villain?
  • What is your protagonist’s inner conflicts?

Now figure out, who are your readers? Don’t say everybody because that isn’t true. What age group or gender would your story appeal to?

Here is an exercise for you. This should work for your protagonist, secondary characters, and your villain.

  •  What is the character’s name?
  • age and sex?
  • physical description
  • Where does your character live?
  • What does your character hate?
  • What does he/she fear?
  • Any particular skills?
  • married or love interest?
  • any children?
  • job history?
  • strengths and weaknesses?
  • hobbies?
  • does he/she drive or mode of transportation?
  • what is the character’s backstory?

After you’ve figured out these things, write a book jacket in 1-3 sentences. Believe it or not, you can do this, even if you don’t know all the details of your story yet. Good luck.

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Checklist for Revision

  • Before you submit your manuscript to an editor or agent, print it out and read it aloud. You’ll catch any typos or missed words this way.
  •  Today’s computer systems have a feature in them to alert you to grammar issues and spelling errors. Use it.
  • Does your character have a clear want that moves the plot along?
  • Have you made it clear what your protagonist’s desires and fears are?
  • Do your characters have distinct speech patterns or details that the reader knows who is speaking without a dialogue tag?
  •  Have you included obstacles in your story to play on your character’s fears and weaknesses? Have the obstacles increased and become more difficult over time?
  • Does every plot event challenge, reveal, and shape your main character?
  • Does the plot contain any twists or surprises?
  • Does the ending of your story resolve the conflict? Is it inevitable?
  • Does each chapter end with a hook for the reader to want to turn the page?
  • Does your story start with a great hook?
  •  Ask a fellow writer or critique group to analyze your writing before turning it in. Unless your spouse is a fellow writer, don’t bother asking their opinion.

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Tips For Writing That Middle Grade Novel

A Middle Grade novel are for elementary and middle school themed. They have less darkness and sweeter endings than YA. They are more open to curriculum tie-ins and educational content. The view of the story is through the eyes of the MG character. It starts with the character. Ask yourself these questions about your character before you write the story:

  • What are their hopes & dreams?
  • What do they want?
  • What obstacle is standing in their way?
  • What problem must they solve?
  • What specific action must they take to overcome obstacle?
  • What is their flaw?
  • What are they afraid of?
  • What does the character need to learn & evolve over the course of the story?

The protagonist needs to be someone the reader cares about and wants to know better. They should be active in their own story. They should have believable motives and care deeply for things and people. The character should not be afraid to take risks and have strong opinions and believes about the world and themselves. Kids are real people with real problems, yet use humor whenever you can. It can be situational funny, instead of comedy. Don’t preach or talk down. Kids hear enough in real life. Balance actions and feelings. Read a lot of MG to get a handle on it. Sit at a mall or other places where kids hang out and just listen to their speech and the things they talk about.

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Short Story Contest

Here is a contest some of you writers out there might want to chance. It’s run by Owl Canyon Press. There isn’t any cost to enter. The stories must be in English. The catch is to use only 50 paragraphs total and each paragraph must have at least 40 words. There isn’t a maximum word count. Owl Canyon Press also provides the first sentence and the 25th sentence. Interested? Go to www.owlcanyonpress.com to enter and further instructions.

Let’s see how clever and wise you are.

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Tips on Writing Urban Fantasy

I listened to Craig English, a teacher and author at the PNWA conference about how he creates urban fantasy. He said urban fantasy is something freakish or a personal moment of otherness that happens to a character. The character might not embrace the strangeness at first, depending on their background, turmoil, and religious preference. Then up the stakes after the odd episode and see how the character deals with it. It could be a flexibility of reality. Establish the mundane world, then the fantasy, and balance the two. Decide on a theme and the rules of the weird. The character realizes the world is not quite what it seems.

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Reflection

Capturing that vision in mind, the story unfolds from the tips of the writer’s fingers into printed word. It dances in front of the reader and dazzles him until the story ends. This thought came to mind after listening to various speakers at a writers conference.

For those of you that like to write mysteries or are thinking of writing one, you might like this information. A panel of agents and editors broached the subject, what is the difference between a mystery, thriller, and a horror novel.

Mystery has a puzzle and clues to follow. It’s usually not terrifying, has a broad crime or a murder.

A thriller or suspense: existence of hope, heightening of suspense, the unknowing, doesn’t need to be a murder to justify action, revelations through the story. specific pacing involved. Serial killers in a story are expected to be a thriller.

Horror: something awful happened, worst feeling, exploits fear, darkness within.

Thrillers are plot driven. They kick start with conflict and the stakes are raised frequently. In a horror, something about the story sticks with you.

Editor, Jenny Chen recommends mysteries should be written in third person, instead of first person, so the story doesn’t drag. It gives a window for the reader to understand the mystery.

I hope this helped some of you. Happy writing.

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The Grass is Always Greener on the Other Side

The moon shone down upon the campsite like a giant eye. A gust of wind rustled the dry, summer leaves of the maples. The fire crackled and popped. The counselor gazed at each boy’s face. His eyes gleamed in the fire light.

“Some of you heard these tales before. Please don’t spoil it for the new recruits. Tonight’s story is about the green man of the woods. It’s said that he snatched young boys that wandered off and lost their way. I was skeptical once, same as you, but as I live and breathe, this story is true.” He looked at the younger boys and rubbed his hands together.

Now Bobby looked up to his best bud.  Eddie was older by a couple of years. He had long legs and fast on his feet.  He climbed a rope with ease, excelled in sports, and beat most of the others in a race. Bobby was short for his age, chubby, and picked on at school. He didn’t have any brothers and was left alone more times than any ten year old. His mother worked long hours as a nurse. She felt guilty and decided Bobby needed companionship. She sent him off to Camp Crockett. At first, Bobby felt all alone, until Eddie stepped in to show him around. With Eddie as his friend and on the same team, Bobby felt proud and knew they’d win most of the games.

Some of the older boys told of a camp across the lake that had a swimming pool and a bowling alley. Eddie talked Bobby into stealing one of the rowboats. Bobby had never stolen anything and was nervous, but he’d do anything for Eddie. He scanned the area, before he shoved the boat out. Bobby ran and jumped in. Eddie waded out and climbed inside. They paddled, with all their might, to the other side of the lake. Their arms ached, by the time they reached Camp Boone. It had been further away than they had anticipated. They set the oars inside and hauled the boat to shore.

A thin girl, around twelve, with white-blond hair and dressed in a white tennis dress, emerged from the bushes. “What are you doing here?”

Eddie licked his fingers and smoothed his cowlick down. “Hi, we’re curious. Is it true your camp has a swimming pool and a bowling alley?”

“Yes, and other things. My name is Diana and you are?”

“I’m Eddie and this is Bobby.” Eddie pulled Bobby over.

“Do you want to peek inside?” she asked.

“Yes!” the boys chorused.

Diana unlocked the padlock on the gate. She pushed it open and the hinges squealed. The boys entered the campsite. As they wandered the grounds, they noticed garbage littered the area. Cabin porches looked damaged and the windows broken. The swimming pool smelled foul and green slime floated on top of the water. The boys gazed at each other. Eddie  walked over to a cabin. He waved Bobby over. He lifted Bobby up to look inside. Bobby paled.

“What do you see?” Eddie asked.

“Put me down!” Bobby cried. He raced to the gate with Eddie behind him.

The gate slammed shut before them. They looked behind them and couldn’t believe it.  Diana’s arms and legs changed into vines that rolled and entwined over each other in their effort to claim the boys. They scaled the gate, but Diana caught Bobby by his leg and dragged him back.

“Don’t leave me, Eddie!” Bobby yelled.

Eddie’s eyes widened as the vines slithered up the fence. His jacket sleeve snagged on a wire and he couldn’t budge. He yanked his arm free and jumped over the fence. The ground rumbled under his feet. He leapt for the boat. The vines tunneled under the rowboat and lifted Eddie and the boat as one. Eddie grabbed an oar and smacked it across the vines. A shrill rent the air. Eddie covered his ears. The vine shrunk back. Eddie took the opportunity rowed to the middle of the lake.

Eddie drifted on the water for hours. He started to row back to their camp when Bobby called his name. Eddie rowed back to Camp Boone and saw Bobby standing by the gate.

“Diana’s sleeping. Please take me back with you,” Bobby said. “Can you carry me? My legs hurt.”

Eddie climbed out of the boat and strode over to Bobby. He carried his friend to the rowboat and sat him down on the seat. Eddie pushed the boat out and jumped inside. “You look a little green.  Did Diana poison you?”

Bobby’s arms and legs turned into vines. Eddie screamed and the vines entered his mouth. Only hollows were left of Eddie’s eyes and slime covered his skin. The camp leaders found the rowboat circling the lake. Bobby wasn’t anywhere in sight. And so the tale of the watcher in the woods continues to this day.

“What a bunch of hogwash!” one of the new boys exclaimed.

“My name is Bobby. Now do you believe?” The counselor changed into an alien of mossy vines and snatched the boy’s tongue.

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The End

 

RUE the DAY

Here is a poem for when you’re feeling angry.

 

Hope ground into garnet glass, washing love’s hair gray,

As heartbreak flooded the blood-stained street.

Her nostrils flared, her palate full of lust,

Desire not quenched or rinsed,

Rage hurtled from the cracks.

Anger her shield and revenge her sword,

She charged toward her enemy.

 

Revenge raked her sword across the demon’s face,

Ripping away his cloak of deceit,

His wounds raw and peeled open to truth,

he begged for mercy,

But the lioness licked the crimson from her blade,

And watched with unforgiving eyes.

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Spring Daisy

The daisy is said to spring from the tears of Mary Magdalene. The flower opens and closes with the sun’s rays. The daisy has been called God’s smile or Day’s eye because of this. Medieval knights wore daisy chains made by their ladies as a sign of affection, before they went into battle or on tournament. And who hasn’t pulled the petals off a daisy as a child and played, he loves me, he loves me not? Such a delicate flower is the daisy.pexels-photo-459059.jpeg