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Lost Book Found

If you’re a book nerd like me then you know the agony of misplacing a book.

If you’re a book nerd like me then you know the agony of misplacing a book. I had to wonder if I lent it out. But I knew I hadn’t. I never lend a book that I haven’t read yet so it had to be somewhere in my messy home. But where? I looked the small bedroom that I’ve turned into my library/office, not there. I then checked the living room and my bedroom. But I did not find it. I remember reading it last in my bedroom but couldn’t recall if I had taken it with me on my last trip up to the Bay Area.

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I was worried that I had really lost it. Usually my books are only misplaced by being added to the wrong stack or shelf. But this one seemed to had disappeared altogether. I was very upset by this. I needed that book damn it! It was something I needed to read for research for a story I want to write.

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My search seemed to be for not. For days and weeks I was not to be found. Not knowing what to do, or where to look I gave up. My husband said when I stopped looking for it and wanted to find something else I would find it. I figured he was right but I couldn’t stop from looking, from obsessing about it.

This lost book was driving me nuts. I kept telling myself I could always get another copy and then would joke about how as soon as I did I would find it. But I just couldn’t spend money on something I knew I already had. By this point I was sure it was somewhere in my home, no doubt shoved in with a bunch of junk. I worried that it made its way into my book give away box by accident. So I checked it twice and didn’t find it.

I went through both my shelves and all the stacks of books that I have around the house. Nothing, zilch, zip, nada. Now I’m really getting pissed off and I only had myself to blame. I should have put it where I would easily find it again.

I had to stop looking. I had to put my library/office back to order. But the nagging feeling didn’t go away. It was always there in the back of my mind. “You need to find that book.”

If you have an anxiety disorder you know how fucked up this feeling it. After all its just a book and if I really have too I can buy another copy no problem. But my sick little mind doesn’t see it that way.

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I finally tell myself that I’ve left it up North and that when I go back up I’ll find it at my in laws home. No dice. They haven’t seen it and I can’t find it there.

Oh the agony of it all!

Some weeks later after cleaning my home I misplace my Nintendo XL 3ds. I can’t find it anywhere.

Now the book I’ve been looking for was from a used bookstore bought on the cheap. The XL 3ds was not cheap. But while looking for my ds I find the book I’m looking for along with three other books I didn’t know I was even missing! And later that night I found the ds. It got covered my some laundry.

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All images from google.

But now all is right with the world. Or at least in my tiny corner of it.

 

 

Reflection on the Short Story Part 3

Hello and welcome back fellow writers. In this post I’ll talk about characters, setting and theme.

Hello and welcome back fellow writers. In this post I’ll talk about characters, setting and theme. So if you’ve read Part 1 and 2 on Reflecting on the Short story you will know that I talked about Plot and Conflict. If you like you can go and read those now and come back to this post. Or keep on reading and check those out next. With these two elements of writing I’d like to point out that I will be discussing my understanding and how I’ve come to use them in my own writing. If you have a different why of doing things please feel free to share that with me in the comments.

For me most of my stories start with an idea for a character. It’s the character that will, for me, determine the conflict of the story and the overall plot. For others it may work differently and that’s okay. So if you started with a setting or a conflict that you want to write about great. If doesn’t really matter how you begin just as long as you do.

Short story character types:

Main Character(s) – Your main character is the person that is central to the overcoming of the conflict or the person(s) trying to reach a goal. This is the Protagonist.

The Antagonist can be a person or a situation. This is what the Protagonist will try to overcome.

Supporting Character(s) –  These characters should help or hinder the main character. Some will be flat. By Flat I mean they only have one personality trait that they are recognized by. Round characters will help to move the plot along. They are usually conflicted and have complex personalities. Think Hamlet.

It’s best to use just a few characters in a short story. To many could become come confusing to the reader. But this is not a hard rule. If you need a lot of characters in your story then go right ahead. Just make sure that each character has a purpose to the plot. Any character that doesn’t help to keep the plot moving along doesn’t really need to be there.

There are different types of characters but for this post I’ll keep it simple. The protagonist, antagonist, and supportive characters are enough to round out a short story without becoming overwhelming to the reader. But that’s not to say that is all you can do with a short story. But for the beginner I think it’s best to go the path of least resistance. It’s okay to start simple and go from there.

Flush out your main character’s traits. All characters will have traits and should be made clear, as long as is needful to the story. Not all characters will need to be flushed out to the same degree. Supportive characters, though helpful, are not as important so the reader doesn’t need to know their favorite color and what grade school they went too. Flushing out your characters traits will help to make a more believable character and story. So when you’re giving out those traits remember descriptive adjectives. Check out the link for list of adjectives.

http://www.gingersoftware.com/content/grammar-rules/adjectives/lists-of-adjectives/

Giving good details to show your reader instead of just telling them is always best. This helps to keep the reader immersed in the story. This is true for the actions that the characters are taking and to establish setting. Setting is the time and place in which the story is taking place. The setting will be the backdrop to your story and give the overall mood. You must take care with your setting. Because it will shape your characters. It will show you their values. You must take into account how your characters interact and react to their surroundings. Your setting can’t just sit there, it’s got to help move that plot along. Everything we do in the story is to move the plot along. When there is an action then there is an outcome. Use the setting to show the mood.

For example in a short story I wrote about a women taking care of her terminally ill husband I used the setting to help show how much the whole experience has turned their home into a dark prison for her. After her husband has to be taken into hospice care the house remains dark, closed off, and depressing. This has become her whole world. She has giving up everything, sacrificed her own well-being to make sure her husband has a good death. The house is no longer a home, it’s a tomb even after he dies.

I kept the lighting dim  and all the furniture is old and dark in color. It’s a house of illness. there is no joy left here. Reading about the detailed setting showing the reader in your description will enforce your setting. It will feel real. And when if feels real, readers keep reading.

Theme is the vital idea or belief in the story.  In my above example the theme could be death. Or Loss, what happens after the death of a loved one. That’s one of the questions I tried to answer in that story. There are many themes, many questions to pose and write about. Death, loss, love, justice, lust, and the list goes on. Break open your story and get at the deep questions. What is it that you are trying to say? If you’re not sure, just keep writing, it will come to you. For me It’s always so hard to figure out what my theme is. I never really know until I’m done. and then there it is staring me in the face.

This concludes my Reflecting on the Short Story. In these three posts I’ve talked about the elements that make a short story. I hope that this has been helpful in some way.

Happy writing.

 

 

Reflecting on the Short Story Part 2

Each story must have a conflict that needs to be overcome by your main character(s). If there isn’t a conflict then there isn’t a story.

This post is the second part to my reflection on the short story. Through these reflections I’ll be talking about the elements that make up a story whether it be a short story or a novel. Its takes all of these elements to make a story work. I’ll touch on each one in regard as how I become more familiar with it and how I came to understand it and use it. This post will be about Conflict.

Each story must have a conflict that needs to be overcome by your main character(s). If there isn’t a conflict then there isn’t a story.

So what is Conflict? It’s the struggle of your main character(s). There are four types of Conflict:

  • Man vs. Man
  • Man vs. Society
  • Man vs. Nature
  • Man vs. Self
  • Man vs. Supernatural

The first four are what I call the classic conflicts. It’s what I was taught in HS and in college. But as I’ve come along in my reading of conflicts I don’t see why we should discount the supernatural. After all there are many stories written by respected authors about the supernatural. So I add it here to my list.

To become more familiar with each conflict type I’ll give you some suggested reading.

Man vs. Man: The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin. A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor.

Man vs. Society: The Lottery by Shirley Jackson.

Man vs. Nature: To Build a Fire by Jack London.

Man vs. Self: Yellow Wallpaper by Kate Chopin. The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe

Man vs. Supernatural:  The novel Dracula by Bram Stoker

For my own writing I have never written about nature and the obstacles she can throw at you. Nor have I explored man vs. society. I’ll leave that to more capable writers. For myself I love to explore the conflict of the supernatural and the conflict of the self. The supernatural gives me a way to explore both this and the self at once. If I have a character that doesn’t believe in such things it can cause an inner struggle for them to come to terms with as well as finding a way to overcome supernatural forces.

I love to explore the inner struggles of my characters. Mainly because their conflicts have been mine too. Writing about it gives me a safe place to explore all the emotions that come with the inner struggle. What kind of inner struggles you ask, or maybe you didn’t ask but I’m going to tell you anyway. Psychological struggle such as self-doubt, fear, shame, mental illness and addiction.

As for the supernatural conflicts I enjoy exploring, fate, the gods, superstitions, ghostly hauntings, and demonic entities. All those unnatural things that science can not explain. Things that shouldn’t be and yet there it is looking my character in the face.

Come back to for part 3.

Happy writing.

 

Reflecting on the Short Story Part 1

I am always asking myself, what is the PLOT of the story?

Part 1: Let’s discuss PLOT. 

The next posts will be in I think 3 to 5 parts on the important elements of the short story. I’m doing it in parts because I felt that it would be too long a post not to break it up. 

I am a Short Story writer. So I spend a lot of my time thinking about ideas for short stories and how the Short Story is an important part of Literature. I am forever learning and discovering the inner workings of the short story. And I often wonder if I have a good grasp on it.  Sometimes I think I do and sometimes not so much, usually when I’m feeling stuck and can’t figure out how to keep my story moving along.

Sometimes writing, whether it be a short story or a novel, it can be overwhelming. When I first started out putting my story done on paper I had no idea what I was doing. I had no structure to help me along. I didn’t make an outline or use a plot board. I had an idea and I just sat down with it and wrote it out, from beginning to end. I did that for a long time and it was always frustrating as hell.  But It seemed to work for me at the time.

Those were the early days. I’ve grown as a writer since and I like to think that my writing has matured, that I’ve developed and honed my writing skills along the way. I didn’t do it on my own. I read everything I could get my hands on. I took lots of creative writing classes and English Literature class is college. In college I joined the writers group. And after college I kept reading and learning and writing. I pushed myself to do better. I read all kinds of stuff about the craft of writing and I still do.

I am always asking myself, what is the PLOT of the story? The plot is the events or scenes that take place in the story. When we create a PLOT OUTLINE we are tracking the events in the order we need them to happen in. I use to think that you had to know all the events before hand. I don’t know why I thought that but I did and I just didn’t bother with the outline. Now that I know that it’s okay to not know every little detail before I start a story I have a much easier time. The PLOT BOARD helps me to see my story’s time line in the flesh so to speak. I can add to it or move events/ scenes around as I need too.

The Plot Board has given me a way to explore my story outside of it. I can try different ideas for events/ scenes within the board and if I feel that it doesn’t add to my story, or if it hinders my characters in their process of overcoming the stories conflict, then out it goes. This has been a helpful tool. And there are all kinds of ways to go about it. So if you do something different no worries.

Come back to read more about Reflection on the Short Story Part 2.

Happy writing.

The 4th of July

Wishing everyone a Happy 4th of July.

Wishing everyone a Happy 4th of July. I hope you all will be safe tonight.

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As for myself I’ll be kicking back today and going to the movies later on with a friend.

And remember that some people like Vets have a hard time dealing with the noise. It triggers their PTSD and makes it really hard to get through the night. And a lot of pets are scared by the noise too so please be respectful to others and don’t shoot off fireworks all night long, don’t be that dick.

Any of you getting any writing done?

 

 

Say No to Lazy Writing

What’s lazy writing? It’s the telling instead of showing. It’s overusing words that add nothing to the sentence and over all the story.

What’s lazy writing? It’s the telling instead of showing. It’s overusing words that add nothing to the sentence and over all the story. It’s the lack of good grammar, or the overuse of grammar. And it’s the throwing around big fancy words when a little one will do.

These are all things that will drive your reader away. They will close the book, put it down and turn the TV on. That book will never get picked up again. But don’t worry, don’t fret. The wonderful thing about writing is that you can always go back and fix by adding in and taking out. Pumping it up with details that will ensare your reader to ensure their continued reading.

First Drafts are where you make all your mistakes. This is just getting down the words onto the page and seeing what you get in the end. First Drafts are all about getting that story out into the world. Stephen King says, “Write with the door closed.” If you’re a parent  you might be thinking, “WTF, I can’t even go to the bathroom with the door closed!” Yeah I know it can be hard to find the time to be 100% focused on your writing. But it’s very important to find that time when you can give 100% of yourself. So if you have to get up early or go to bed an hour late, do it. It will make a huge difference in your writing. Constantly having to get up and walk away from work isn’t conducive to good writing. There is just no way to be able to stay in mindset and get any real work done.

Once that First Draft is done celebrate! Pat yourself on the back. Have a drink. You deserve it. First Drafts are so hard to get through. Don’t worry about all the little mistakes or even the big ones. Take some time and walk away from it. You need to get away from it so you can come back with fresh eyes. And so you don’t end up hating your story.

Your Second Draft is where we will go in and fix the spelling, the grammar and any run on sentences that you thought were paragraphs. Here is where you will look for all the lazy habits and get rid of them. As you re-read your story add in any missing details, such as character descriptions, setting details, atmosphere for each scene and any details that will add to the overall plot. If it doesn’t add or keep the story moving along then you don’t need it. Once you got that done go in and delete the word VERY. Its adds nothing, and chances are that your sentences doesn’t need it, or there’s a better way to say it.

Example:  Sally is very tired.

Sally is exhausted to the point of collapsing.

Sally’s so tired all she can think about is sleeping in her bed.

Using Very is lazy and vague. How tired is she? The reader has no way of knowing if we don’t show them how the characters are feeling. Notice that I didn’t say TELL, I said SHOW. Readers don’t want to be told, as a reader we want to see it in our mind’s eye. When you tell it, it feels flat. There’s no urgency or emotion to it. We need to find a connection to the reader, do that with your words by showing them. Show them the danger lurking in the dark woods. Show them the characters emotions. Sally’s feeling scared standing in the dark woods alone. Yeah so? As Sally stand in the woods alone she begins to feel vulnerable as the dark spreads out from the trees. The reader now feels what Sally is feeling and if they’ve ever been in the woods lone maybe lost, it will invoke that memory.

When we, as writers, can find that connection to our readers, we hook them. They become invested in the story and that will keep them turning pages.

To help keep those overused words out of your stories I’ll share with you some links and images that will list those unneeded words.

Happy writing.

http://www.grammarcheck.net/overused-words-phrases/  (Teachers this link could be used for your students. Teach then early not to overuse these words.)

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/09/these-words-are-so-overus_n_5447356.html

https://www.consultpivotal.com/commonly_overused.htm

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I found this image a long time ago from a website called Writers Write. They have a Facebook page if you’d like to check them out.

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I found this through a google search I have no idea who created it. But I did not make this but I love it! If anyone knows who created this please let me know and I will gladly give them full credit.

Now go write.

Upcoming Posts and a Little About Me

Things have calmed down for me and I have more time to write for my blog, as well as other things.

Things have calmed down for me and I have more time to write for my blog, as well as other things. Tomorrow morning there will be a new post in the category Writing more to follow soon after.

Summertime is here and man has it made itself known. Here in California we had a triple digit heat wave that just sucked the fun out of outdoor activities. Right now we are in the upper 90’s but it’s not as bad as 104 to 110 degrees it was.

Lots of things have been going on for me. As I said in an earlier post I got married we are getting to spend the summer together since my husband has the summer off. (He works for a school district.) We don’t have a ton of things planned for our summer just a day trip that’s in the works to a local Zoo. Mostly we will hang out at home playing video games like Minecraft, (that’s a game we can play together,) and binge watch Netflix or Hulu.

Some other things that have happened is that my maternal grandmother got very ill and spent some time in the hospital. (Her blood pressure was way too high,) but she’s doing much better now. She back at home and is just as mischievous as ever. But she really scared me there for a while. And my Mom retired from her job of 27 years. She was the Head Lunch Lady at an Middle School. Her and her husband, my step dad, already being retired decided that it was a good time to buy a house and move out-of-state. So my mom is far away for the first time in my life and it’s really weird and I’ve been a little down about it. But I’m very excited for them as well. As Gomez Addams would say, “C’est la vie!”

Yes I quoted Gomez Addams. Yes, I am that kind of weirdo. #Gothforlife

So only half a year gone by with some big changes. It’s not easy but I have a great support from my friends and loved ones. And with all this emotion I can channel it into my writing.

And just for fun here are five random things about me.

  1. I love all things Goth!
  2. Always looking for the perfect red lipstick.
  3. I love 90’s Alternative Music.
  4. My favorite band is The Smashing Pumpkins.
  5. I collect Funko Pops.
  6. Bonus!   I love all things Horror!