Openings and Closings

Two friends“I know Patricia has had some problems with her computer, but what about this title? What kind of openings did she locate, and do you think this is our closing?

“Edna, I do not think she is talking about us. We had our openings many years ago, and I’m not ready to close down. I think she’s talking about writing and books.”

“Okay, Ethel. I’ll go along for the ride this time and I hope you are right.”

Yes, this is about writing and books. It could be fiction, sci-fi, non-fiction, romance or any genre, and you gotta grab the reader with the first sentence or first paragraph. Readers have so many things going on in their lives and cannot waste time. It is your job to make them want to stop whatever they are doing and grab your book. Not the question of why am I reading this, rather I’ll read the next chapter and then the next, and the next, and the next.

As a writer, you have created a place the reader can go, forget their troubles, and worry about the characters’ dream and troubles. They could be almost like the reader’s problems, but with a different setting and plot, they are new to the reader. But you have to keep them turning page after page. The plot must be strong and interest them from the opening until the closing.

Closings are where everything that has happened before, the laughs, the cries, the character’s bad side and their good sides must suddenly agree. If you go back to the beginning and see what positions and options you gave your characters, then in the closing you will have such a resonant image that will take you back to the beginning. The promise of dying love fulfilled, a new life,  the mystery solved and your characters are ready more action and so  are you.  Do not disappoint your reader, but have your readers beg and beg for more. Then you have made your openings and closings important for everyone.

Find a book you love and rewrite the ending in a different tone. No, take a pen and paper and write your version. What happens? You throw out your paper and keep what the writer intended for you to read. The same goes for openings. You read a book and think – adjust the opening a little by not giving a real scene for the reader. Oops! Now, you know why the writer started the book this way, and you fell into the spell. Remember, you are playing with your pen and your paper, not the real thing. You are so glad to have the author write the book you love.

“Edna, did you enjoy the ride?”

“Yes, Ethel, and thanks for letting me go with you.”

The next time you pick up a book, go over and over the openings and the closings and make note of what you found. Then when you go write your book, you will know what to do.

Happy Surprises in your Openings and Closings. Happy Writing to all of you.

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Switch On To Positive

Two friends“Wow! I thought she’d forgotten about us ,” Ethel said .

“No  way. She knows not to be gone for long ’cause we’d make a scene, and it would not be scenic.”

“But here she is with something we need to think about:  a negative scene or a positive scene, and let’s hear her out before we make any scenes of our own.”

Yes, before you get out of bed in the mornings, make certain your body switch is on the positive. You need this close by your bedside table or wear the switch around your wrist. Better yet, set it the night before inside your mind. This is crazy. No it is not, and we need to take a look at the possibilities of hitting the day in a positive mode.

Lately, a lot of people (of all ages) have been commenting about the time change on November 2, 2014. “Hey, we get to have another hour of sleep.” Or, “how can I make up an hour of sleep from six months ago.?”  Just forget it. I look at the clock and if it tells me the time, I go with this. Of course, some people still complain that the time is okay, but their bodies do not agree.

It does not matter what time zone you are in or the spring forward and fall back bit, you can get up in a positive mood with the switch of your thoughts.

Have you ever awakened and thought, “This is going to be a crappy day?” and then it turns out to be a crappy day. What if there is a switch you can adjust in your sleep and wake up to a positive attitude and a positive, productive day? Yeah, just say it and it’s almost there.

We are in tune with the world and the events of the day, BUT, we are writers and we can make any day we want to sing with the sunshine. So get used to the mind switch from negative to positive and try it every day in your writing world. Oh, yeah, we still need conflict to keep out story moving forward and drawing our readers inside the covers.

Sure, you do. It is an important part of your writing life. And note, I said writing life. You can create any area for your protagonist or the antagonist, and that is your job. But, if you wake up on the wrong side of the bed, the negative side, you will taint your story with all the wrong feelings. And then there is the possibility you wake up in the best of moods, and your characters become happy-go-lucky, when they should be cautious and suspicious.

So, what should we do as writers? Wake up, be quiet, and feel the day unfold. Do you have a window in your bedroom? Look out through the blinds. Is the sun starting to rise? Or are you too early? Does the taste of anxiety fill your throat? Or does the feel of anticipation of new chances fill your mind? You can control how you look at the new day. You cannot control how it will turn out.  You need to switch to the positive side.

If you go back to the sun rising, you turn yourself over and forget about a new day, you are turning the positive switch off.  You will never get your work done. I’d suggest you let the sunlight into your early morning life, or at least the light clouds, and continue your day with positive thoughts, positive words, and get those fingers to the keyboard. It is the early morning vibrations that propel you and your thoughts forward. Do not let the negative switch have an opportunity to ruin your day.

Remember, only you can move the switches between positive and negative. Think positive . . .and reap the benefits for yourself, your family, and your readers.

May your positive switch hold all of life for you and your writing.

Eleanor Roosevelt said, “The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, taste the experiences to the utmost, reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experiences.”

Be positive. Be happy. Write with conviction. Write with gratitude to being positive.

“See there, Ethel, she was just on a mind journey to give us something else to think about.”

“Yep, you are right, Edna. She needs to do this more often.”

“Keep positive, Ethel.”

 

WHAT IS WEIGHING YOU DOWN?

Great ImageThis past weekend, I attended the GRW (Georgia Romance Writers) Moonlight & Magnolias Writers Conference entitled “On the Write Path” and what a fabulous group of writers and speakers. There was not a workshop scheduled each day that could not help any writer improve their craft.
All of the classes had a little something for every romance writer. Sweet romance, paranormal, how to write great sex scenes without going overboard, and so many more it would take a spiral notebook to name them all. Then a workshop caught my eye – Draw Me a Story. Fascinating, innovative, and I will never look at another picture – newspaper, magazine, billboard, television without questioning every aspect of the image.

Now, I look forward to the 2015 conference, where the hard workers are already getting speakers and planning events. This is what writers do: SUPPORT EACH OTHER.
The whole weekend, I thought of nothing but writing. Then I returned to reality and the world around me. That is why I titled this blog, What Is Weighing You Down? STUFF. STUFF. STUFF. It is as simple and complex as this word.

When we begin our week, or even our day, we think about all the stuff and this suffocates our writing. Yes, we do have jobs, a family, responsibilities, but what about our writing. This is important to us, as writers, and we have a tendency to put our writing last.
One thing I came away with, that I am putting into action, is my time to write. We make appointments for the dentist, the doctor, the hairdresser, the car maintenance, the laundry, the grocery store, the manicure, and I could go on and on. These are important. But, damn it, so is my writing. No, I do not mean to be so abrupt, but we need to look at our writing as a continuous job in process.

Some of us are early risers and think clearer early in the morning. If you truly believe in your writing, then it is as important as keeping the dentist appointment. I am an early morning person. My thoughts have not yet coincided with the stuff of today, and I can think of all sorts of positions to put my writers into. So getting up at 5am and writing until 7am fits into my schedule. Yeah, some days the eyes do not open, the pillow feels too comfortable, and then I think about the last scene I wrote and left unfinished. Why? To guide me back to that special place and find the ending or rework the whole scene.
All the other ‘stuffs’ can be worked in during the day, which leaves me some part of the evening to read. A writer does not just write, a writer reads, corresponds with other writers,
And—oh, yes—works on revisions. Sometimes, the revising process is best done in the evenings or at night. We are concentrated on the work before us and not the work we want to do.

I have found dust bunnies love company, so a once a week distraction to them is okay. Football weekends, unless you are one of the addicted ones, can be the time for laundry, and ugh, house cleaning, and grocery shopping. I find during the game, stores are fairly clear of rampage in the aisles

May you find what weighs you down and clear up the downs and add the ups. We all need to make choices, but these are choices that fit you, your lifestyle, your family, and most importantly, YOUR WRITING.

I have pics, thanks to my SilverSneakers® Camera Guy. Now, I need to practice downloading and uploading to you. There is one more to add, but my computer is working against me. Don’t worry, you will get to see the whole group.

SS 57th FIGHTER 10-15-2014 001SS 57th FIGHTER 10-15-2014 003

 

 

 

 

Have a wonderful FALL WEEKEND. Enjoy the start of the cool weather and map out your own way to clean up what weighs you down.

HAPPY WRITING.

 

 

Are You Your Character?

9776003-audienceWhat? No, I am a fiction writer and I make up my characters, but there are times they do not seem to fit the image I had in mind. I did what a lot of writers do, I’d put the story away for a while and think.  A lot of times, even this did not help.

What helped, was a child. Yes, a young girl playing with her doll. I listened for over an hour while she had a pretend tea party, wore an old floppy summer hat, probably one of her mother’s old collections, and got disgusted that her ‘dolly children’ would not mind.

WHAM! I received that kick in the behind and a thump on the head as I realized what I could do to jump-start my story. I need to be my character. Of course, if you are working, you might have to wait until off hours or the weekends, but try out this role play.

Become your character for a weekend. Live like you think she wants to live, talk in a different voice, spice up your life with your new self.

In your story, is she treated in a different manner because of her lack of education or the side of town she lives in? Do her friends make fun of her? Is your character out spoken and not afraid to say anything to anyone? Or does she drag words out slow, slow, and slower causing people to turn away. Does she dress like a hippie from the 60’s, or always wear blue jeans and a t-shirt? Does she try to dress like the most elegant female alive. Of course, these clothes may come from thrift stores if she does not have a job or is not able to hold onto a job.

Now, hit your story. No, not to write but to read. Forget any typos, the missing places, and concentrate on your character. What about the people around her and the guy she wants, but never seems to get. You need to feel her as a person and not a character in your story. You will need all of this for a whole weekend. Do not plan anything except to be your character.

Go to areas of town unfamiliar to you and where none of your friends hang-out. You are “xxx”, a new person and you need to meet different people and try out your new character. You may feel uncomfortable for a while, but it will not last. Your new character will take over and surprise you.

Do you see any guys walking around or sitting at a different coffee shop? Would any appeal to your character? Do you find yourself in a position to start a conversation as your new character?

Return home and to YOU and go back to your story, but not the old one. Start making notes about your character. Do not worry about all the details, just write from your new character’s feelings. You will be shocked at what flows from your fingers to the keyboard. Do not stop; keep writing until you are drained.

The next day, pick up your story and begin again. You will find yourself in tune with your story character. Just let go and enjoy the sensation of knowing your character inside and out.

Happy Character Hunting.  Happy Writing.

Are You Still Journaling?

images_028I hope you are, because letting your mind run wild gives you opportunities to explore your life.

Today, try to focus on a heroine and a hero in one of your books from a shelf in your home or from a story you have finished, or from a story you want to begin.

Now, describe the heroine’s journey and see where you are in her journey.Are there parts of her wanderings you’ve never traveled? Then ask yourself, why? Keep writing and find where you’d like to travel with the heroine. If your heroine is in a different time, say the 1800’s or way in the future, put yourself in her time periods. Write about the clothing, home life, social activities, but do not compare your current life to your heroine’s life. Give yourself permission to indulge in a different time. You need to feel the experiences and capture this in your journal.

No, you aren’t finished. Look at the hero’s journey. Where is he traveling and how? Go along and feel the exhilaration of seeing the first train, ever, and even a first train ride. Then think to your first train ride, Scary? What if the hero you picked had been or is a gunslinger, astronaut, or pilot. Can you picture yourself on a journey with him?

Do not sensor any of your writings. You are on their journey and forget the gender. We have female readers, male readers, female authors, and male authors, and this time we get to see both sides of their journeys.

The next time you are stumped in a plot situation or your character’s journey, remember all of the journeys in your journal.

Have FUN. Travel FAR. Learn a NEW writing experience.

 

Happy Writing.

Writing Got You Down?

Lost ConfidenceYou go to YOUR writing spot, room, or the corner table of your favorite coffee shop. You relax, open your computer, and find your desire to write . . . GONE. You’ve lost the fire inside you. Why?

Stop trying to write. Yes, stop and do not feel guilty. Every day deadlines, then you need work for your critique group, or maybe just a critique partner, and it is not ready. Your editor reminds you to finish revision one. Seems like everyone wants a piece of you. The joy of writing isn’t there.

Yes, it is, but how can you get it back?

First and foremost — DO NOT PANIC. Relax and breathe deep. No, not just once, but several times. Let your mind meander. Do not think. Give your thoughts a change to roam. Which brings me to an old, old song, sung by Eddie Arnold, “Don’t Fence Me In.”  Check this out on U-Tube. After you read and hear, let this music and words become your motto.

Have you traveled far enough backward to find a time when you could not wait to write? Where were you or what were you working on? Were you in a different city or state? Maybe, you dabbled in poetry or took long walks to come up with just the right setting, AND, yes, your characters talked to you.

Don’t push. Relax and let these old feelings rise up inside you and ideas start flowing. You’ll feel energized and want to write that way again. YOU CAN. Do not judge yourself, but relax and enjoy the moment.

HAPPY WRITING. HAPPY YOU.

DOES YOUR DIALOG SPIT FIRE?

ImageYes, you can make your dialog spit fire without burning you or your reader. You do this through your characters and their actions and your imagination. Go to the scene where you need the dialog. Read before and after these scenes. Get your mind wrapped around the tension, the happiness, the sadness, or the love.

Are you in the scene with your characters? Then let the words flow. Do not pay attention to hitting the wrong keys. Just write. You can clean up your work after all the words flow from your head and heart. Feel the conversation. You may find yourself writing a different scene than what you thought you needed. Why? Because you are in your character’s head and they have more ideas than you ever imagined. Pump up your writing juices and see what spills over onto the page.

Then make the dialog fire burn brighter. Instead of writing this time, read what you have written. Can you feel the fire? Can you see the fire between your characters? No? Now, you can have fun. Be each of your characters and act out their conversation. If this makes you nervous, check out a couple of movies from the library or go to your own video library. Watch for the dialog and conversations. Look at the movements between the participants talking. Forget the lips, at this time, rather check the way they stand, slump, bounce from one foot to the other. See their facial expressions. How do their eyes focus? What happens to the eyebrows? Take notes. Where are their hands? Do they shake at one another, or can you see the fingers tighten into fists. Does one person dominate the conversation or the other person back up?

Now be prepared for more fun. Put two hats on and become both characters. In the comfort of your own home, do the scene and include the conversation. Get into your improve actions. This is a heated argument, remember fire in dialog, and go for the best you can do. Yell, scream, stamp your feet, feel your body tighten, your shoulders tense, can you feel your face take its smile and replace it with contempt? Okay, you don’t want an argument, so choose what predicament you want for your characters. If this is a love scene, watch how different your improve actions become.

Practice. Practice. Then . . . write, write, write. Sure you will have revisions, but when you get the words, actions, expressions into your dialog, stand back because you will feel the fire. Please do not throw anything. You can picture this, but some practices must remain in the mind.

Happy Writing.