Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Saturday, September 25, 2010

A Day Late and a Comma Short

Yesterday was National Punctuation Day.

The official website is http://www.nationalpunctuationday.com/ In addition to providing information on the day itself, the site gives usage information on each mark.

My favorite punctuation marks are the semicolon (joining two independent clauses) and the em dash (setting apart parenthetical expressions). I like them because they allow me to write in a way that matches the way I speak. I have a tendency to make associations, and my "asides" often come in the middle of my sentences. I'm struck by the fact that these two marks are opposites. Hmmm . . .

In the course of my day job—or when reading the work of aspiring writers—the most common punctuation mistakes I see are:

Commas: Not every pause in a sentence requires a comma.
Misplaced Apostrophe: Don't use an apostrophe when making something plural.

Maybe I'm the only literary weirdo with favorite punctuation marks; maybe I'm not. In any case, Happy Belated National Punctuation Day!

Monday, September 20, 2010

In the Still of the Night

I have a feeling it's going to be a late night. In addition to being a night owl, I just finished a latte with enough espresso to jumpstart three accountants.

Anyway, I'll probably work on my writing or make some tags for my scrapbooking and cardmaking projects. I was looking at my oven about an hour ago. It could use some extra attention. I'll probably take care of that before I go to bed.

All of this got me wondering what my main character does at odd hours. If for some reason he couldn't sleep, would he toss and turn? Does he have one of those "sounds of the ocean" machines on a bedside table? Maybe he'd just turn on the television and watch infomercials. As I type this, I realize that he'd get up and work. He works at home and suddenly I know he doesn't have much of a life outside of his apartment.

What does your character do in the wee hours of the night? What wakes him/her up in the middle of the night? Would she make herself a glass of warm milk? Surf the web? Or how about something unexpected like go for a walk?

Think about how a scene like this could add depth to your character. It could reveal fears and racing thoughts. Imagine the type of people he/she would meet late at night.

Heartland Writers Group: 100 Challenges

100 words per day for 100 days.
I had such a great time when my writers group did this a few years ago. I can't wait to do it again!

Heartland Writers Group: 100 Challenges: "A few years ago HWG held a challenge at the beginning of the year. Write 100 words a day for 100 days! Wednesday September 22, 2010 is the ..."

Monday, September 13, 2010

Refilling the Ink Pot

On Saturday, Psychic Andy was a guest speaker at the Heartland Writer's Group meeting. He talked about his intuition and perception growing up, his journey to accepting his abilities and using them, what it's like to give a reading, differences between ghosts, imprints, and spirits, and many other matters of sensory acuity. He was captivating, and I took 6 pages of notes!

The things he spoke of didn't seem strange to me, nor did they sound fantastical or unlikely. I grew up with a father whose dreams came true. He would tell his dreams to my mom and me and usually within two weeks, what he dreamt would happen. He would be vague sometimes, like the time he said, "Something's going on in Iowa." Then a few days later, parts of Iowa started to flood. The flood lasted for 6 months. Other times, he was more specific. He told me something was wrong with Magic Johnson two days before Magic announced he was HIV positive. He told me that a Nebraska football player who had trouble with law a year before was about to have trouble again. In less than a week, the player (who'd been out of the spotlight for a year) was back in the news--this time for attacking a woman. I can't explain it all, and I can't say that my father was psychic. But what I will say is that breakfast in our home was often interesting.

After hearing Psychic Andy, I've decided to invest some page time in exploring my characters' deep intuitions. Not so much strong impulses, but staying a moment with what their raw instincts tell them about a situation and what happens when they have no faith in their own judgment or . . . follow it blindly.

Psychic Andy's talk was in the morning, that afternoon I attended the Downtown Lit Fest. I heard discussions on the future of the book (and the surge of e-publishing) as well as readings from novels and comments from a panel of writers who'd contributed to a fairy tale anthology. The event was held in Kaneko, an open space for art and creativity, and reminded me of how important it is to:

• Refuel the muse

• Be around like-minded people

• Be inspired by other writers

• Learn more about the craft

• Indulge creativity

• See how others are: pushing the envelope, re-imagining the craft, creating in new directions

I'm hesitant to say this, but I'm going to say it anyway, I feel sorry for people who don't "get out." For some writers, all they know about writing is the space in their home where they sit and write. Now, if that process is workin' for ya, cool. But I still wonder how much richer a person's writing would be if they mingled--actually walked around in the world of writing & creativity that exists beyond their fingertips. There's nothing wrong with appreciating a rose for its fragrance and beauty, but if you stand back from the rose for just a moment, you’ll be awed by an entire garden of aroma & splendor just a few short steps away.

Like they say at the Discovery Channel, "Explore Your World."

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Writing with the Rain

I never realized how much weather influenced my writing until tonight. I guess I just didn't give it much thought. Tonight, I'm writing while listening to the rain, and what I hear is my main character's voice loud and clear. This guy is really fascinating and had a joy-shredding childhood. So far, he's managed to keep his pain and resentment tamped down until . . .

Wow. Listen to that thunder!

What climate brings the best out of your pen?

Planet SARK

If you ever need inspiration, Sark has plenty. I've been following Sark and reading her books for over 15 years. Her "playbooks" are all handdrawn and created to help readers not only get in touch with their inner child, but let the inner child run, breathe, skip, leap, laugh, and transform their lives.

Check her out: Planet SARK