Stuck? Don’t stop!

Dont-stopIf you want to be a writer – why do you stop when you get stuck?

If you were driving somewhere and the road was blocked, would you just turn around and go home? Or would you find a different way?

If you get stuck – the last thing you should do is stop writing!

If you’re stuck at a specific place in your story, jump to a different scene.

If you’re stuck with a story, work on a different story.

One of my teachers, a multi-published writer, believed, “If you get stuck and can’t get passed something, it means something is wrong with the story.”

I don’t think that’s true in every case. Sometimes we’re just not certain what comes next, but we do know where we want to go, so go there! Write your way back to the spot. You’ll find out if there’s a problem, or if it was a momentary lapse.

We all get stuck in traffic, in storms, in life – don’t stop!

 

My Family Can’t Find Out!

woman-in-shadow-1280x853-1024x682Many posts in writers’ groups and questions in writerly gathering surrounds the fear of family or friends finding out what they are writing.

Surprisingly, some of these are fiction writers. Although many are memoirists, poets, fiction writers and essayists are also concerned with offending someone they know.

My response to this is: They’ll probably never recognize themselves! The truth is many people see themselves far differently than others do.

Furthermore, studies show that we remember events differently; to be more accurate, we remember different details of the same events, and our memories are not as reliable as we’d like to think.

Legally, in memoir, if names are changed, there is little a person can do if they do recognize themselves. One attorney told me: They’re welcome to write their own version of the events.

Fear stock-fearshould never hold a writer back. A small change in details or location can allow for some question if someone does think the story might include them.

Even if you think you’ll never publish it – write it. You’ll feel better!

 

The Secret Idea Store

Poe’s secret for inspiration is used by many writers today.

Poe scanned headlines, read newspaper stories, and gleaned ideas from the oddities. His goldstory Berenice is about a man who digs up his dead wife and takes her teeth. This is reportedly inspired by newstories of grave robbers, some of which left the body and took the teeth. Another story reportedly inspired by a news report was the Facts in the Case of Valdemar. At the time, there were reports of people who could speak to the dead; there were other stories of ways to prolong life. Poe, it seems, blended these and created a story in which Valdemar “survives” and “speaks” beyond his natural life. This short fiction was thought to be real. People believed it!

Inspiration, for me, has come from the odd news story. A human interest story in which a homeless man was selling stories on a New York street, inspired me to write $1.00 Stories.

Another story flickered to life when someone posted a handful of gold teeth and said she’d inherited them. How does someone come into the possession of teeth, not their own, and why would they will them to a family member? Hence, The Gold Tooth springs to life from my suspicious mind!

Scan the newspaper, and let your mind wander. We’re writers; we have the desire to  understand, explain, and create.

Happy Writing! happy_writing

 

I Am Not Necessarily Me

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I use first person narrator in many of my stories.  I find the level of intimacy I can connect with in the character makes the experience feel more authentic.

I also enjoy the unreliability of the first person narrator. Although I don’t intend to make my main characters questionable, all first person accounts must be met with skepticism.

There’s one possible downside to the first person narrator and I’m certain many writers have experienced the fan who believes they understand the author based on a story which utilized the “I”.

dadshiningOne reader contacted me convinced Dad Shining was about me. “This is a true story, I bet!” He wrote.

This is complimentary in the fact that the story must have been realistic enough for this reader to believe and enjoy it.

However, Dad Shining (originally published in The Chicago Tribune’s Printers Row Journal) is written from a male point of view experiencing a life event incomparable to what a woman could experience.

There’s not much a writer can do about being mistaken for their narrator except to gently correct the reader without offending them or merely thank them. I said, “thank you for reading.”

My main character in West End is a young woman, and I did use an area close to where I grew up. A number of readers have attempted to call me out on that. One reader wrote, “I know most of this is you, except for the part of leaving the boy.” Another reader, convinced it was me believed I’d been married before and left them to change my name and start a new life incognito.

This did bother me to some extent; the woman in West End is in some ways stuck in west end coverlife, and while that might be my fear, it is not me.

Still others found the first person narrator unreliable enough to question her sanity and ask me if she was seeing spirits. These questions I rather enjoyed. One character I had intended to be questionable, but when asked about another – I don’t want to say as I don’t want to ruin it for anyone! – I was blown away!

And that is the benefit and, perhaps, curse of first person narrator. The connection is so authentically intimate that you might convince readers it’s you; And you might just convince them the narrator is a little off her rocker!

Monday Motivation

A writing exercise to get your rusty writing pipes lubricated.

Write the same scene from three different points of view.  I know this doesn’t sound new and groundbreaking, but when is the last time you did it? And what types of characters did you choose?dad-shining-cover

Let’s lighten it up for you – stretch your skills. If you’ve never written from the opposite gender point of view – try it. This is an exercise I did with Dad Shining. This story could not have been narrated by a woman, it had to be chronicled by a man. And that man, it turns out, had to be the son. Dad Shining was published by Chicago Tribune’s Printers Row Journal – so I must have done something right.

But don’t stop there – go further. Write it from a pet’s point of view. The Art of Racing in the Rain is an adult novel narrated in total by the dog. And it is a GREAT novel! Imagine a story from outside of the human point of view.

Or write it from a child’s point of view.  Because my children are older, and I’m presently writing a story which involves a nine year old girl, I’ve had to call my friends. I was fortunate enough to spend time with a delightful little girl and found the time and the young woman inspiring. I have even more ideas than I can handle.

Let me know how it goes – share in our Writing 365 Group.

 

Readers make the best….

518680-book-1362931097-972-640x480Readers make the best writers….   I think almost every professional writer I know, heard, and read has repeated this.

People who read understand voice because they’ve heard a number of different writers use it.

Readers internalize pacing. The pacing of a story or poem is of the utmost importance.

People who read know more vocabulary. The thesaurus helps, but there’s nothing like knowing the perfect word in the necessary place.

Readers are not affected by others’ style but can recognize a need for individual style.

It’s important to read extensively in your own genre. In academia, we refer to it by “adding our voice to the conversation.” One must know what is being done in order to respond, in any number of ways, to it.

People who read are aware of the benefits that serve their writing.