Cleaning; and Editing My Story

img_20161120_130352703_hdr.jpgObserve the picture at right…my stack of books piled next to my bed.

This happens every once in a while; the books pile up and it is time to do some cleaning. This goes along with the vacuuming, and laundry and yes, being an adult is waay over-rated sometimes.

Along with cleaning, though, I’ve been trying to edit one of my stories today and this becomes its own sort of cleaning…

You have to clean the sentences; trim down the wording until you have clear, precise language and what you are trying to say isn’t bogged down by excessive adjectives or adverbs.

Oh, beware of the too many adverbs! These are the ones that you have to watch out for.

What I’ve learned, though, is that I am terrible at editing my own work! I know that many authors have expressed that it is a major suck-fest to edit and I would have to agree.

It is fun sometimes when you can see the clear direction that a story is supposed to go on the page. Sometimes you know know how things are meant to be…and sometimes not.

This is when the frustration comes in.

I’ve gotten into the habit of jumping around and then going back to the point in a story that I find particularly irksome at a later date. This helps because then you come back to the page with a fresh mind and sometimes new ideas.

What about you guys? Got any great editing techniques out there?

Well, I’ve Finally Killed My Darlings

You guys were so helpful when it came to my confusion when it came to killing characters. I loved the insight you gave me, and I meant to get back to my story right away, but then I got injured and I haven’t felt well to sit at my computer lately.

Well, this morning I woke up inspired and full of new ideas for my story and I’ve gone and done it: I’ve killed off my character, and boy, am I happier for doing so! (I did cry, but well, it was bound to happen.)

My story finally has a purpose, it has the meat that it was missing before! It needs a few more re-writes and scenes fleshed out, but it feels more complete than it ever did before.

Never thought I would say that I was happy about killing off a character, but I am! Poor thing! But she served her purpose, and now she is a hero and the story has a lot more sacrifice and heart because of it.

I’ve got to finally get around for the day, and get some other stuff done, but I’m proud that I got some good two hours of story writing in today!

Hope you guys are also having a productive Saturday!

Happy Writing!

When to Kill Off a Character?

I’ve been working on one of my short stories lately, because I want to at least try to get something published this year…and I ran into a little snag. On Sunday, I finished a rough draft for it, but it didn’t seem complete.

I had alluded to the idea that one of the characters does pass away earlier in the story, but when I got to the end, there she was a live and well, and I was happy with that. She was so good, sweet, and compassionate and I wanted to keep her, was that such a bad thing?

But the story seems to lack a climax, a moment that resonates with the reader, that draws the story to the close, to some kind of satisfying end or resolution. It kind of struck me in that aw man, type of way, when I realized that the death of one of my favorite characters might just be the sacrifice that the story needs to make it complete, but I’m dragging my feet.

How do you know when a death in a story is really necessary?

I did a little research, and the overall idea, it seems, is to incite some reaction from your reader (which is what I need,) and it should advance the plot, (which this would.)

The fact of the matter is: I don’t want to kill her! I love this character and the idea of just offing her in some grand sacrifice, makes me feel kind of sick inside. But if it upsets me, surely it might be necessary to the story?

I guess I was wondering your take on the matter?

Do you guys know when it is the right time to kill off a character? And are you finding it as difficult as me?

I guess I’ve never given it much thought until now…and I can’t imagine what J.K. Rowling must have went through when she had to face the death of Dumbledore…(yeesh!)

Hope everyone is having a great night! Happy Writing!

Sunday Night Oscars and Writing

Today was a beautiful day. A balmy 50 degrees and sunny here and definitely not feeling like February. We definitely lucked out this winter…makes me wonder what’s in store for us next year, eh? Flooding? Blizzards?

Anyway, had a successful morning and afternoon. Made some pancakes, bacon, home fries and eggs for brunch today, and while the other half went back to bed with a book, I disappeared into my office for some writing time.

(This is what I was listening to this afternoon while writing).

I’m really enjoying these sunlit, late afternoons to myself lately. There was a nice, cool, clean breeze coming through the window, I had my headphones on blasting some Celtic dance music, and I was transported into a different world. It felt exciting, and sexy and full of adventure.

Finding the moment where you actually feel enveloped in the world you created seems very rare for me lately, and I enjoyed it a lot this afternoon.

Tonight, we are watching the Oscars, although my negative self can’t help but ask every once and awhile: how expensive do you think her dress is? More than all the rents in this building? More than my car? (Money is so depressing, lately.)

Anyway, we are tuning in mostly to see Leo DiCaprio and his nomination in The Revenant, which Mike (the other half,) said was a great film. I have not seen it yet. And while everyone gushes over dresses, and controversial issues, I turn to writing and research.

I’ve been doing that a lot lately, too…story researching! Mike might walk in my office and see me researching sail boats and solar energy, and sub-genres of fantasy. I might look up dresses, (been very obsessed with what my characters are wearing lately.) Today, I was listening to tribal drums.

The world is the limit, and I am very much enjoying the new found passion I have found in my projects. It doesn’t matter if it is different than everyone else…that’s the point!

Hope everyone has a great week! Happy Writing!

15 Minute Journaling: Hot and Cold

Author’s Note:

Thanks all for the comments on Friday post, I haven’t decided what I’ll post that day, but I am leaning towards some kind of continuation story. Couldn’t think of what to post tonight, so went to the writing prompt app on my phone and came up with this post. Who knows, maybe it’ll be a story idea for later. 🙂 Hope everyone is having a great night!

Happy writing!


 

Writing Prompt # 34: You are at a restaurant when someone you know shows up. They make their distaste for you evident to the people you are with.

I was on a date with my boyfriend. I got the fried chicken with mashed potatoes. The potatoes were good, but the chicken was a bit dry and stringy. I chewed on a forkfull as I watched the steak wander around in my boyfriend’s mouth. Maybe we’d been too quick to make things official, I guess I didn’t realize how narrow his face was, how his mouth looked like a duck when he chewed. I choked on the bite of food in my mouth as I saw a body appear next to his left shoulder. I saw a bright pink scarf and followed it up to a bright, shiny face, and pink lipstick. Her face literally shown, like a Angel’s, I’d forgotten the way her blond hair framed her face, the way her blonde curls bounced and curved next to her upper lip. The place where I had kissed her freckles dozens of times.

“Jewel, God,” I choked on my chicken as Andrew glanced up at her standing behind him. “What are you doing here?”

“I might say the same to you,” she said with that pucker of her pink mouth. I never understood how she managed to be so sweet and so mean at the same time.

I stirred potatoes around on my plate, mushed them into soggy green beans. “I’m not sure what that’s supposed to mean.”

“Oh, I think you know,” she said.

Andrew glanced up at her, eyes narrowed. “Have we met before?”

“Andrew, this is Jewel. She’s an…old friend of mine,” I said.

“Ex-girlfriend,” she clarified, with a hand on her hip. I tried to hold back my laughter as Andrew choked on a his water.

I tried my sweetest smile. “Did I forget to mention her, sweetie?”

His duck mouth pursed with obvious distaste. “I think we ought to go home. Are you finished?”

I looked sadly down at my chicken. “It tasted like shoe anyway.”

Jewel was standing there silent during our exchange. As we got up, she gave me this look. It was a look that lasted a second, but felt like a lifetime for me. “We should talk,” she said.

I pulled on my coat, as Andrew stood there, his eyes dark. “Later,” I murmured.

“Are you ready yet?” said Andrew.

I gave him a dark look. It was cold outside, negative two degrees last time I checked. It was a kind of cold that really did bite at the extremities. If my boyfriend was sending out chills, Jewel’s expression was warm. Probably warmer than it should have been, given the situation. I didn’t know what to make of that.

“Later,” I murmured again, as her eyes followed me out the door. I brushed my hair out of my eyes and sighed. “Later.”

It was a comfort knowing I would no longer be talking to my myself anymore.

Funky Dreams, Inspiration and Writing

This week is a week of inspiration for me…and another inspiration is dreams. I get a lot of inspiration from dreams, as they are basically stories that the brain invents all by itself while you are sleeping.

44432_girl_sleep_lgThis morning I woke up at 4am with the knowledge that I had the best dream EVER, and despite me writing down as much as I could, it still seemed like a whole lot of nothing. I could barely remember anything.

All I do remember is that I was at a friend’s house staying the night, I made out with one of my girlfriends, (we have been watching a lot of Orange is the New Black lately), we sang a song, there was food and candles lit, I went somewhere with my boyfriend. I was working out on an exercise machine, doing pull ups. Then the dream switches to me being on a slide with my friends, we were poling on a raft through a river of dead bodies, then there was this waterfall drop, I was too scared to go so I jumped off the raft to the side.

dower2_0121205Just as I’m about to go down the shoot, some arms and legs emerge from a grate and a man appears with a gun and a bunch of soggy money clutched in his hand, he tries to shoot me and the dream changes again…I remember a story within a story, a love story I eventually tell to someone and my amazing heroics. (Apparently I could control water.) I remember a large grassy hill and a yellow mansion on the hill. I remember writing names on a mirror in pink paint or lipstick; someone scoffing and saying they definitely weren’t the best couple ever. I remember I dreamed up a night’s worth of actions in two hours.

Although I couldn’t remember everything, what IS clear is the emotions. I felt hopeful, triumphant, amazing and invincible. Like justice was really served or true love really triumphed in the end. I felt strong and confident and young. My heart was warm, and fuzzy, I was the happiest and the most excited about life that I have been in a while.

If I had a dream about my ex-boyfriend, I wouldn’t be warm and fuzzy. No, emotions like regret and longing sometimes resurface. But it is funny how sometimes a story has the ability to influence your emotions, changes the way you feel.

That’s what I want to do someday: I want to make someone feel happy because a character is happy, I want a reader to rejoice in their triumphs. I want to write something that changes a person’s perceptive about certain things. Words are powerful. I want to shape them, make them my own and be one of the triumphant ones.

Anyway, that’s enough from me…What are your goals and inspirations? Ever have a story that was inspired about a crazy dream of yours? I’d like to hear it!

Happy Writing people!

 

 

 

 

15 Minute Journaling: Every Rose Has Its Thorn

It is raining here in upstate New York, coming down like it means some business. We’ve had a flash flood warning, have been threatened with 3 or 4 inches of some good rain, but I’m not afraid.

Sherrie, in Rock of Ages. I thought the whole Tom Cruise rock star thing was a little freaky at first. But you can barely recognize that its him.

Julianne Hough as Sherrie in Rock of Ages. I thought the whole Tom Cruise rock star thing was a little freaky at first. But you can barely recognize that its him in the movie.

Instead, I’m in that writer-like dream mode. The rain reminds me of sad stories, lost loves, that sad aching feeling of something once remembered, something cherished.

Just finished watching Rock of Ages while doing some much-needed dishes, and near the end of the movie is the song, “Every Rose Has its Thorn.” I don’t know why, but it inspires me…So I’ll use that as my inspiration for my next 15 minute journal session.

My 15 Minute Jouraling posts are something that I started as a warm-up for myself, so as to keep myself writing and the creative thoughts flowing. It’s something we used to do in my creative writing classes with a prompt given from the teacher. Anything can inspire me and I thought I’d give it a share.

I’ve done some other entries too, if you are curious, you can view them here, and here.

Also, it helps if I have that song playing in the background…I’m a sucker for covers and I really like the version on the Rock of Ages.

Here’s where I’ll put 15 minutes on the clock and do that thing that I do, GO!

>>>>She stared out the window at the rain, watched it come down in sheets and sheets of water that fell so hard it looked almost white. Her mother told her not to do it. Told her not to move away and live with a boy she’d just met.

The town they had moved to was in the middle of no-where. Except for the nuclear power plant a mile away, there was nothing there – except for a few dusty stores and cows that bellowed in the fields nearby. Her mother told her once that she hated the sound, that bellow. It was empty, mournful, made her think of her father that had up and left them. Angel said that the cows bellowing gave her stomach ache. It sounded like they were going to be sick and she’d rather steer clear of them.

Except there wasn’t anywhere to go in the empty town. She liked the look of the green grass and the trees that waved in the wind in the summertime, but come winter all she felt was loneliness. It was the kind that bites. That seeped into the cracks of their trailer and left a chill in her heart, an edgy-ness. Everywhere she went in that small town she could feel them watching.

And Angel knew that she wasn’t meant to stay.

It didn’t matter that she had no money. She wasn’t going to ask her mother for any either. She’d pack her bag and leave and feel the sun on her face once more. It was time she did something for herself rather than others.

She didn’t know how much that her boyfriend would put up a fight.

She’d told Andrew on a Tuesday that things weren’t right. He’d crush the beer can he’d held in his hands. Yes, he was the typical red-neck…complete with wife beater and ratty faded blue jeans. She’d like the grease on his hands at first. She liked the way he swaggered.

Now, she felt afraid.

“You’re not going anywhere,” he said as he lit his cigarette. She’d told him not to smoke in the house.

Angel fumbled with the dishes that she was drying and nearly dropped it on the floor. “What do you mean?”

“I mean, nothing,” he said, and laughed and got up and kissed her bare shoulder, traced his hand along the edge of her tank top. “You won’t go anywhere without me.”

“May…maybe I’m meant to be,” she stuttered, and followed him into the next room, her hands still soapy. “You once told me I could do anything.”

He sat in front of the TV. “Yeah, that what I said?”

“Well, I’m going to do it,” she said with one hand on her hip. “I’m going. And you won’t hold me back.”

He laughed a laugh that had no emotion. She wondered if when he said that he loved her, if he really meant it. “Do what you want, Angel,” he said. “It doesn’t matter to me.”

If it didn’t matter, why was she so afraid?

By the next week, she had her bags all packed. She’d filled her car full of gas.

ANNND…that’s all the time I have. I used online stopwatch and the alarm just rang, scared me, lol. If I were to end this story, it’d probably go something like this:

She left him standing in the driveway, mouth wide open, his eyes finally open and lonely. The coldness had dropped from his face, and his shoulders drooped in that ratty wife-beater. It reminded her why she had loved him. He was so tall, and broad-shouldered, his eyes dark and beautiful. When she’d first met him, she thought he was so strong and steady. That he’d protect her, make the monsters of the world go away.

She imagined someone tough and blond-haired would marry him. She’d probably be a girl who grew up in camo and went hunting with her brothers on a regular basis. She wouldn’t be beautiful, but she wasn’t ugly either. She’d swear like a sailor and be stubborn. She wouldn’t take Andrews crap, and eventually he’d turn to alcohol anyway.

Angel felt her stomach twist as she turned onto the highway. Felt the tires run on the open road and breathed a sigh of relief. Yet, she felt a jolt in her heart as she felt the pressure on her abdomen and she pulled over to the side of the road and threw up in the ditch.

Bile clogged her throat and bits of her breakfast went back down as she swallowed. And she ached all over, felt a kind of dread that defeats tiredness, it brings on its own kind of weary. Tears ran down her cheeks and she snuffed loudly as she tore around in her backseat for a tissue. Her fourways blinked and clicked obnoxiously as a semi bellowed past.

It was too late. She wasn’t in this alone anymore. She’d never be alone again.

Whoa. That took a different turn, geez. I didn’t really do any editing, except to fix spelling errors and I think I’m going to keep to that. I might use this as inspiration for something else someday.

Anywho, thanks for reading and now perhaps I can run to the store now that its not raining buckets and get eggs so I can make cupcakes!

What inspires you? Thoughts below if you want!

Character Files: “The Conductor”

I’d like to try something new to add on here – I call it “Character Files.” In my struggle to find some kind of story inspiration some time ago, I purchased a book called Writerific II: Creativity Training for writers by Eva Shaw, which offers encouragement, but most importantly, writing prompts for the creative writer.

One such prompt, has a page full of groups of words. Each group of three words is meant to inspire a story, by using each word in a story or situation that you may create. I decided to take it a step further, and as such created – Character Files.

spy8Each group of words inspired me to create a character, someone who may or may not have a story – a character that I could store away in a file with other characters I created, that I could return to and use that character for story inspiration if need be.

There are a lot of word groups in the writing prompt, and I’ve only created a few different characters already. But I was pleased with the different results. This particular example took me to a place and genre that I don’t normally write, but it allowed for some nice practice of sensory images. Here goes…

The words are:  pigeon   voltage   train

“The Conductor”

He is a nobody, tall and willowy with a pale face, and dark brown hair. His back is straight as he sits on the park bench in his navy blue conductor’s uniform, his long legs bunched up in front of him as he reads the newspaper.

            Looking at him, no one would know that he’s killed someone and framed somebody else for it, although, he twitches occasionally at every other sentence he reads. His brown eyes squint, his face bunches and then goes straight. Two-thousand volts of electricity frying their way through his veins. It could have been him. The memories eat at him, peck at his brain like a flock of crows.

            The sight of the butchered man he killed in the alley late that night. The rain pouring in his ears and over the curve of disgust on his lips. The bastard he caught sleeping with his wife…maybe he should have killed her too.

 

He smelled the rain that night, and he never smelled anything more visceral. Felt his thoughts mix with the sewage and the blood water that swirled around the man’s body, the man that he killed, a milkman, another nobody. What was so important about this stranger that made his wife take her pants off?

He thought, just once – it was a fleeting thought really – that maybe he should be down in the sludge and the darkness of the alley, too. Let the smell of something putrid, the river of feces, blood and rain water pour over him. Feel the fear of something cold and slimy creep its way across his bare skin. Let it feed off of him for a moment and taste the sponginess of his brain, the holes there, the parts that were missing that tasted brown, like something sweet and rotting. Let blood pour out of his nose and his eyeballs bounce down his face. Let him feel hell just once.

Instead, he swiped at the water on his chin, shook his head like a dog, shivered once, pulled his coat around his shoulders and walked home. The knife he used on the stranger who was defiling his wife, he hid in his cousin’s apartment, still wet, the blood dripping.

The next day, while drinking his morning coffee, he placed a call to his local police department to let them know that his cousin, an alcoholic and a man who occasionally liked to feel up little girls, was in town and that he came around the other day begging for money. His cousin had threatened him with a knife, which the conductor described to the police in great detail. A butcher’s knife, he said and then shuddered with a slight catch in his throat. There were groves and barbs on the blade, the kind that shreds through skin when you use it. Mostly likely cut a man in two. Or remove somebody’s head.

The next day he read the front headline of the newspaper while he sat on a park bench on his lunch break: Child Molester Arrested for Murder. He folded the newspaper carefully and tucked it under his arm. The sun felt warm and soft on his navy blue uniform and he looked down at his shiny, black shoes and smiled to himself. It was going to be an excellent day.

Don’t Wake Up the Sleep-walker!

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sunset at Pine cradle lake, PA

I’ve been working on a story/writing for the better part of 2 hours, mostly because I am bored and mostly because I am procrastinating doing laundry – but the reason I decided to post was this: I just realized something.

There is a big difference between writing a story, and immersing yourself in that story. Sometimes you write on the page, but you never become involved. There’s a difference between staying in the present world that you are writing, and emerging into that world, where the sights, scents and conversation is what is around you – not the hum of the fan next to your computer screen, or the traffic outside, or the typing of your hands wandering across your keyboard.

Immerse yourself into that world fellow writers. Become one with the scents, the sounds, the people. It is jarring to come back from such a world sometimes, but if this is what needs to be done, then, hey, I’m all for it.

Now, what was I doing again?

Ah, being a writer really is a lonely thing sometimes. Only we see the world that we are writing and it is sometimes hard to explain to others why they can’t interrupt that thought process.

I compare it to waking up a sleep-walker. Don’t wake up the sleep-walker! It’s all disorienting and confusing. That’s why I always tell my boyfriend: don’t interrupt me when I’m in the middle of writing, its like waking me up from a deep sleep, yanking me away from a world prematurely. (And believe me he’s done it a couple of times, grumble, grumble).

Let the writer wake up in her own time. Ah, but anyway I digress.

Become one with the story…don’t be afraid to dive in! That’s all.

Happy Writing!  And to those that are experiencing warmer weather (finally): Big Smiles! Summer is finally here!