Tag Archives: writing exercises

The Poet

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April is not only the month bloggers participate in the A to Z challenge, it’s also National Poetry month. I adore poets and love to read poetry. I have dabbled in poetry writing since I was a teenager but I don’t think I’m good enough to be considered a true poet.

Today, I’m sharing a Haiku I wrote in honor of Spring and today’s letter-H.

The Poet

Resurrecting Sun
Fresh air twirls through sprouting blooms
The poet observes

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THE GRAPEVINE STORY (A CHARACTER BUILDING GAME)

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Do you remember playing the grapevine game when you were a small child? You know, the game where one person whispers a phrase into the ear of another person and then that person does the same to another and then another until there are no more people to whisper it to? More times than not the participants discover the original phrase has changed by the time it gets to the end of the line of people playing the game. You played this right?
That game inspired me to write today’s a to z challenge for the letter G.

Our character’s name for this game is Shay. Shay’s a twenty year old college student taking the day off from school to go to the giant street fair that only comes around once a year. The festival is a cross between a giant flea market and a big craft fair with bands playing music too. There are vendors, musicians, food stands and artist galore at this event. Shay brought lots of money to shop and eat.

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Leave a comment letting us know what you think Shay will get or do at this festival. What stands will she stop at? Is she interested in the art work from local vendors? Does she want a piece of artisan jewelry? Is she hungry for a portabella mushroom sandwich or would she be more likely to grab a hotdog? What type of music will Shay stop to listen to? Is Shay alone or did she bring others with her? Feel free to leave a physical description of Shay.
At the end of the day, I’m going to go through the comments and update this blog with an in depth character description of Shay based on the details everyone provides. You can get a good feel for a person based on the foods they like, the items they buy for themselves or the music they listen to. Shay will evolve based on your comments. Currently, I have a vision for her in my mind but I’m certain by the time I read through the comments I will see her differently.
Happy Writing!

UPDATE: I WILL POST THE CHARACTER DESCRIPTION BY WEEKS END. THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO HELPED BUILD SHAY.

CHARACTER DESCRIPTION OF SHAY

Thanks for helping me build Shay. I believe we created a hippie which is fine with me because I always wished I was born in the era of the hippie. Shay reminds me of a lyric of a grateful dead song. She wore rings on her fingers and bells on her shoes. I imagine Shay was wearing a dark red bandanna skirt with a white halter top and strappy sandals. Her hair is swept up into a messy bun and her face is covered with over sized sunglasses.

Medeia mentioned she bought beaded bracelets (which I totally imagine her to be wearing) and elephant ears. I think (however I may be wrong), Medeia meant the flaky pastry and not actual elephant ears. So we have Shay stopping for a pastry. Her arm is filled with her newly purchased multicolored beads. She is the type of girl others watch from afar.

She’s confident too. Confident enough to purchase a pair of floppy elephant ears from a novelty vendor next to the bandstand. She slips the grey ears over her head and bops over to the band where she listens to the bluegrass band. She sways slow, her head moves with the jazzy beat of the instruments. She smiles before taking another bite from the fluffy pastry. Flakes of crust flutter down her shirt which she brushes off.

Shay strolls out of the band area and heads back to the vendors. She’s filled from the pastry but not stuffed. She can’t resist the fried Avocado with the crispy corn dog coating. She chooses the ranch dipping sauce. Today is a day to splurge.

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BRAINSTORMING EXERCISE

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In November I attended a writing conference where we met with some great authors, illustrators, agents and editors. It was a two day conference filled with writing tips, critiques, pitch fests and mini workshops. I had a workshop with Linda Oatman High, a successful children and young adult author. Linda was AWESOME. She shared stories of her road to success, offered advice and gave us a super cool writing exercise that I’m going to give to you today. At the end of this exercise, I will share the fiction story I wrote that day.
Grab a pen and get out a piece of paper (or your laptop). Are you ready?

Write down a symbol of hope.
Write down one or two difficult times in your life.
Write down something that recently made you laugh.

Now take everything you just wrote and write a short story. You might find yourself asking how they will possibly fit together but believe me you will come up with something. If you are willing, share with us your story. If you don’t feel comfortable or have time to comment with your story then maybe just comment with the answers you wrote for the prompts given above.

As promised, here is what I came up with.
*Symbol of hope-I chose a dove
*Two difficult times in my life
1. The death of my father
2. Being an overweight teenager
*Something that recently made me laugh – I wrote down “What If” scenarios and trying to apply makeup to my husband on Halloween (we had an idea that just wasn’t coming together, the more I tried to fix the make-up, the worse it became).

Here is the story I wrote.

Every dress I tried on made me look like an Orca. I succumbed to the fact that I was going to be the fat daughter standing at the casket. I don’t remember the drive to the funeral home but I do recall the half hour before the public came in to pay their respects. I stood above the simple wooden casket staring at my lifeless hero, stroking his cold forehead and kissing his cool cheeks trying to remember the warmth they once held.
Random memories surfaced as my face filled with tears. I don’t know how I could forget the car ride over but remember the fight we had one Halloween. My mother insisted he dressed up like the rest of us. “We are trick or treating as a family,” she yelled. As she scrambled about the house gathering our costumes my father sat patiently as my eight year old brother smudged my father’s face with paint from a kit purchased at a costume store. “You’re going to look scary but cool,” my brother said.
My oldest sister flew into my bedroom whining “I don’t want to go trick or treating. I’m a teenager for crying out loud,” she protested.
“Can I eat your candy?” I asked. All I was thinking about at that moment was chocolate, sugar and more chocolate. I followed her out the room continuing to beg for her candy (I knew regardless if she wanted to go, she was going to be forced to go). She ignored my pleading and headed down the steps. I raced behind her shouting “Erika can I eat your candy?” All I wanted was to hear her say yes. I skipped the last step to get to her sooner. When I hit the landing, I felt a crunch beneath my foot. My father still sitting on the floor getting his face done, looked up when he heard the sound. His face wasn’t cool or scary, it was ridiculous. I would have laughed at the blur of mish mash colors across his face if it wasn’t for the fury I saw swimming in his eyes. When I lifted my foot, I saw the remains of the shattered ceramic dove his mother painted for him when he was six years old, three years before she died.
It was usually on the mantle of our fireplace in its special spot but that day my father allowed my brother to take it in for show and tell. He didn’t put it back. “I’m sorry Daddy,” my brother mumbled before his eyes lowered. My father’s head shook. He looked at me “You should be giving away candy not trying to eat more,” he said. My heart crashed from his hurtful words. I knew at that moment that my father the only person in my world who never made a fat comment to me thought I was fat.
The memory faded as people from his life filled the small room. I took my spot next to my siblings and thanked the people offering condolences. I couldn’t stop myself from thinking that as they were telling me they were sorry for my loss they were also thinking she’s the fat daughter.
When the night came to an end and the funeral parlor emptied. I kissed my father’s cheek and said goodbye once again.
I heard its call when I stepped outside. I stood paralyzed. Above my head on a telephone wire a dove cooed. I looked up at the bird. Its head nodded as if it was acknowledging me. It might have been nothing to someone else, but to me it was my father giving me a sign in the form of a dove. Perhaps he didn’t want that memory to occupy anymore space in my mind. I let the memory of the only hurtful word my father spoke to me during his life fly away with the bird.

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APPLES IN LITERATURE

Today is the first day of the A to Z challenge. I thought I’d write about Apples in Literature. If you are a blogger participating in this challenge, drop me a line and let me know where I can find your blog.

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According to Wikipedia, the apple is known to symbolize knowledge, immortality, temptation, the fall of man and sin. We have all heard of Adam and Eve being tempted by the forbidden fruit which man determined to be an apple. Since the story of Adam and Eve the apple has popped up in many stories in literature. For my first A-to Z post I have collected some stories where apples showed up. Are there any that I missed that you would like to include?

The Story of Adam and Eve– In the Book of Genesis we are told that Adam and Eve were tempted by the serpent (Devil) to eat the fruit from the forbidden tree. It started with the serpent tempting Eve who took the first bite and later convinced Adam to eat the fruit. Because of their actions (disobeying God) they were banished from Eden and man would be made mortal. Of course this is my summary of the story so please don’t chastise me for not writing the complete history of Adam and Eve.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs-Snow White is beautiful and kind and everything about her upsets the wicked queen who also happens to be Snow White’s step mother. The queen especially hates when her magic mirror tells her that Snow White is the fairest of all. The queen’s jealousy for Snow White consumes her and she orders a huntsman to chase Snow White into the woods and kill her. The huntsman can’t do what is asked and instead warns Snow White and urges her to hide in the woods. I think we all know what happens next, she meets seven dwarfs who do their best to hide her. For a while all is good but eventually the witch finds out she is alive and devises a plan to get rid of her for good. She makes a poison apple, dresses up like an old lady and offers Snow White the shiny delicious looking apple. Snow takes a bite and immediately falls into a deep sleep. All looks hopeless until her true love kisses her and she awakes.

Paris and the Apple (Greek Mythology) When the Goddess of discord found out she was not invited to the wedding of Peleus and Thetis she felt snubbed. Her means of revenge was to throw a golden apple onto the table at the wedding reception with the inscription To the most fairest. Three goddesses saw this and fought over who was the fairest. They took their argument to Zeus who handed over the decision to Paris. Each woman promised Paris things if they were chosen. In the end he chose Aphrodite a decision that was said to cause the Trojan War.

Other places the apple made an appearance are –Twilight (on the cover and in the lunch room scene, Bella rolls the apple-perhaps it was symbolic of being tempted by Edward) , Johnny Appleseed, and The Nancy Drew Notebooks (The Apple Bandit).

If an apple a day is said to keep the doctor away then why have so many bad things come from taking a bite from one? 

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IT’S A NEW YEAR, LET’S GET WRITING! MY 500 WORDS: A WRITING CHALLENGE

Happy New Year! I hope this New Year brings luck, prosperity, ideas and days filled of writing.

I have lots of ideas for the blog this year. In addition to author interviews, book giveways and posts focusing on this wonderful craft, I have decided to include more writing exercises and critique giveways. Who doesn’t love a critique? I love to critique and will promise to offer constructive feedback.

Yesterday while blog hopping I stumbled upon Jeff Goins My 500 Words: A Writing Challenge. I signed up and made a promise to myself that I will write 500 words a day for the entire month of January.

I need the discipline and look forward to visiting other writer’s blogs to see how their progress is going.

I’m diving into 2014. I declare my mantra to be- No feeling beats the feeling of accomplishment.

Today, I found a book I purchased years ago when I first started studying the craft. The book, Writer’s First Aid by Kristi Holl offers motivation for writers.

Throughout the month I will be opening the book to a random page.

Today, I smiled when I saw the words Keep Moving on page 65. Kristi encourages writers to tackle unfinished business. She explains how stalling can deplete your energy. (So True!) Her message is a similar message to the one I wrote about a few days ago. You have to get up! Stop procrastinating. Tackle the projects you have allowed to sit. You will feel so much better about yourself.

Come on guys, we can do this. We have to believe in ourselves. Write something right now, in an hour you will be happy you did.

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A Divergence Test For Writers (Inspired by the book Outliers)

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Happy New Year! I hope each and every one of you see success and productivity in 2013. May you write many words, imagine great stories and read tons of books.

Currently, I am reading the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. It’s a story about success. I’m very interested in the facts Malcolm shares about the world’s most successful people. There are so many things that contribute to a person becoming successful and to be honest it’s simply fascinating. Yes, hard work is at the center (according to his findings it takes about 10,000 hours to achieve success) but so many other things come into play as well, such as birthdays, geographic locations, opportunities and sometimes being in the right place at the right time.

I stumbled upon a chapter in the book that made me think blog post. The section talks about geniuses and the studies done on groups, scholars thought or claimed to be the most intelligent. A test given to them is called the “Divergence test.”  My interest was piqued when Malcolm explained that this type of test requires you to use your imagination. Perfect for writers, right?

So, let’s do it together (the sample he gave) and see what different types of answers we can come up with. Below you will find two words. The book says write as many different uses you can think of for each item, but for this post I will say five. Don’t read my answers until you come up with yours, then let’s compare. Okay, Ready, Set, Go! Be sure to use your imagination, don’t just write the obvious.

1. Brick
2. Blanket

Look over your answers, can you use any of them for a story you are writing? What do you know, this just became a writing exercise.

Here is what I came up with for Brick.

1. Build a House (my obvious answer)
2. Protection (A brick can do some serious damage)
3. Book Ends (Why not?)
4. Use to jump over when running an obstacle course (Be sure to be careful if doing so)
5. If you have a window that won’t stay up on its own, a brick can be used to help prop it up.
6. To stand on if extra height is needed. (I know I said five but I couldn’t help myself)

7. A planter (Yes, I’ve seen it done on Pinterest)

 

Here is what I came up with for Blanket

1. To cover yourself for warmth (my obvious answer)
2. To use as a roof when making a fort (my children do this all of the time)
3. To cushion something if transporting (if you are traveling, you can wrap a blanket around something fragile)
4. To cover a window (think college students)
5. To spread out on the ground while picnicking or a beach while sunbathing
6. To cover a body (Some of us write crime novels right?)

Okay, how did we compare. Now look over my answers and your answers. Can you use them in your story? Perhaps the eccentric neighbor invites you in for a cup of coffee and you notice she uses painted bricks as book ends. You get the idea. I love being inspired, and this book and the test listed in the book did exactly that. I hope I have inspired you today and would love if you list your answers in the comment section. I’m super curious to know what you come up with.

Happy Writing!

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Her Thoughts Became Mine – Discovering My Character

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I finally got to edit today. I won’t bore you with why I haven’t been able to in the last few weeks, but I will tell you I felt lost, not being able to be active in the world I adore, the world I create.
I have a great critique partner. She is someone that really jumps into editing and gives an honest opinion. I noticed one thing that was brought up several times through my critique. “Too many internal thoughts.”
I have a tendency to include an internal thought from the mc at the end of a sentence but it wasn’t something I recognized I did until recently.

Coincidentally, a few days prior to receiving my critique I was beginning to spot the over usage in my work. So when I read her comments, I knew she was absolutely correct.
As I deleted words that have become special to me I realized something else. The internal thoughts that I was writing down unnecessarily were necessary to me. Those internal thoughts were my characters way of introducing herself to me. So though eliminating them makes the story stronger, I am connected to my character because of them. I learned what she thought about people, what she really wish she could say to people, what she thought of herself, what went through her mind when she was scared and what memories she held.
Her mind became my mind and I discovered everything she needed to be.

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