Prompt Your Muse

We all have trouble, at some point in our illustrious writing careers, coming up with fresh ideas for new stories. That’s what prompts are for!

There are a plethora of sites on the internet that offer writing prompts in every genre.

One prompt I like is: A car is seen by a passing motorist going off a cliff road. When the motorist stops to help, there is no car, only a woman dangling from the edge. He reaches for her hand and something green grabs hold. 

I tweaked prompt #9 found here.

Even if you are not after a story starter, prompts can work to fill in the gaps if you struggle to move your story to conclusion.

I like to create prompts for later works by asking myself “what if?” and then writing down what comes to mind.

All my best,

Naiobi

 

 

Journal Your Grief

Yesterday was my birthday; family gathered for lunch and birthday cake. It was a great day until it was shattered by the news of the death of Kobe Bryant, his thirteen-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others in a horrific helicopter crash.

It saddened one of my sons to near tears as he was a basketball player throughout his secondary school years; Kobe was one of his idols, they were the same age.

We spent the rest of the day in sorrow; saddness for his young widow and their three remaining daughters at times overwhelmed. The one thing that helps me with grief, in particular this form of it is to journal my feelings.

I write down everything I feel; I scream onto the page, at times the nib of my pen tears through to the page underneath. I rant; my rage palatable as it spills from me, heart and soul.

At the end of it, I feel spent, mentally and physically exhausted, but better. When I am able to cope with my feelings, and speak about them without having a complete melt down, I turn back to the journal, not to write but to read.

These are raw feelings that can help when you create them in your characters. It will add depth to their emotions and will draw the empathy from your readers which is something you want to do. You want the reader to care about your character, what happens to them, feel what they feel.

I was struck hard by this tragedy because I watched Kobe grow as I did my boys; watched how he changed his life to become one of the heroes who inspired fans around the world to be better, to do good things.

I feel for Vanessa, I know her pain. I was widowed at twenty-six and had two young children aged three and seven. It was difficult to explain to them why “daddy wasn’t coming home; his death a tragic car crash.

Any emotion that you are overwhelmed by deserves a page in your journal; use them to write better emotions in your characters.

Rest in Power, Kobe and Gianna.

Naiobi

Word Confusion

I don’t know about you but I still have to pause and think about which word is the correct one to use when I am working on my WIP. There are so many that are spelled the same, sound the same but have different meanings. Some sound the same, are spelled differently and have different meanings. Do you see where I am going with this?

Let’s take the Homonyms – these are words that sound the same, are spelled the same but have different meanings. For example: lie (an untruth) and lie (lie down) or pen (writing instrument) and pen (enclosure for animals).

Then there are Homophones – a type of homonym; words that sound alike but have different spellings and meanings. For example: see (sight) and sea (body of water) or ail (poor health) or ale (a beverage)

Homographs are words that have the same spelling but have more than one meanings. For example: lead (a metal) and lead (to guide) or back ( step back) or back (part of anatomy).

Then there are the Heteronyms

Don’t forget the synonyms and all they bring, but that’s for another post.

Great writing requires you know the difference in word usage; I hope these lists prove useful.

All my best,

Naiobi

Backstory/Frontstory: What are they and how are they used?

Backstory in writing tells the story of everything that your character has experienced before the story begins. It takes the form of memories, flashbacks or even allusions. It can tell the reader, for instance, what motivates the character, may help the reader empathize with and care about the character’s outcome.

It also describes your story world before reality sets in. In world building, you may develop the perfect small town, much like Mayberry and then something catastrophic happens. Your frontstory should begin in the catastrophy so in the use of backstory, you can describe how it used to look and what caused the devastation.

Since your story is always told in chronological order, the reader will be able follow when you switch to backstroy, though you must always return to the frontstory to make this possible.

I found an excellent article on this subject and I encourage those new to the craft of writing to give it a read.

All my best to you,

Naiobi

A Writer's Tool

I am always on the lookout for something that will help me in the writing process. As I’ve told you, I use scene cards to help me organize my scenes and chapters; I am a visual writer so must see it all laid out in front of me.

While shopping online, I found something that I thought I’d share. It’s called a Blank Storyboard which is a book filled with scene cards, you can literally write your story into it. You can brainstorm your ideas and see how they would fit into your story; jot down ideas for a new story if one comes to you. Amazon.ca also carries these gems.

There are a plethora of books like this for writers of all stripes, even for lyricists.

If these books appeal to you, investigate the many options available to help you on your writer’s journey. I find using these little things help me to expand my mind just that little bit further.

All my best for your writing success,

Naiobi

Resolutions or Goals?

Now that a new decade stretches before us, what will you do with the next ten years; do you make resolutions or set goals?

Resolutions by their very name, beg to be broken; mine don’t last the month! A few years ago I started to set goals and it has worked for me. This, of course, is individual as resolutions do work for some. The name of the game doesn’t matter as long as the result is the same…accomplishment!

When I write, I set a goal for the completion of my first draft and depending on the cooperation of my muse and characters, I can usually meet that goal. However, the character in my present wip is not cooperating. Theo (that’s his name) and I are at a stalemate at the moment as we try to work towards a compromise!

Whatever you set at the beginning of the year, should see some reward by year’s end.

Make this your year or your decade to shine!

All my best to you,

Naiobi

Memories Can Lead to Publication

So, Christmas is over for another year, memories have been made. What will you do with them? How about writing and submitting a short story for a Christmas anthology that would be published in time for Christmas 2020?

There are lots of anthologies accepting submissions and it’s a good way to get your feet wet if you are a new, yet to be published writer.

You don’t have to go with a Christmas theme; troll the internet and look for any calls for anthology submissions. Chicken Soup for the Soul is one of the more well known ones. Do a Google search, new calls are submitted frequently.

You can also make your own anthology of Christmas memories or any others you would like to share and self-publish. Try Kindle Publishing; they offer a course to show you how. Once you’ve published your book, it will automatically be sold on Amazon, and you will earn royalties.

Adams Media published the anthology, Changing Course: Women’s Inspiring Stories of Menopause, Midlife and Moving Forward in which one of my short stories was included. It was published fifteen years ago; I used and still use my given name when writing and publishing non-fiction. The story, Today’s Grandma, is about the evolution of grandmothers; I had fun with that one.

Flex your mind and your fingers…publication awaits!

I will be back to more regular blog posts in the new year. In the meantime, I wish you health, happiness and publication!

All my best to you,

Naiobi

Character Creation

This is my favorite part of the writing process; I love to create characters. Many writers create them in their minds, I need the visual. My process is long and tedious (to some) but it helps me with the tiny details.

I always keep a stack of old magazines handy and when I am in a lull with my writing, I go through them and look at the faces of the people portrayed in them. I look at facial features such as lines, wrinkles, crow’s feet, moles, dimples. I look at hair color, the shape of their faces, whether their ears sit high or low.

When I am intrigued, I cut out the picture from the shoulders up and save it in an envelope. It may not serve my current wip but will help in others. I have an envelope full and still adding.

In one short story I wrote years ago I described the conductor on a train: He was a portly senior whose grey strands of dried, splintered hair peeked from the rim of his cap. A small piece of lint marred the perfection of the shoulders on his conductor’s jacket, though the gold colored buttons were tarnished. He walked with a slight limp and his thick, grey mustache tickled under his nose when he smiled. He had bushy grey eyebrows that sat over kind, rheumi-blue eyes and his hand appeared dry and calloused when he reached for my ticket.

This description was not inspired by a magazine photo but by the host of a children’s program my kids watched when they were very young.

Character ideas come from all around us. If you are a people-watcher like me, you will never grow out of ideas. Sit on a park bench and notice how people walk, how they interact with one another. Go to the mall, ride public transport; these all help.

If you go on vacation to another country, listen to them as they speak in their native tongue then try to imagine them as one of your characters.

There are also myriad books, articles and web-courses on character development, but the best teachers, in my view, are your eyes and imagination.

All my best,

Naiobi

The Three Dots

We all use them in our wrting and they are called ellipses in the plural; a group of three dots (no more, no less) is called an ellipsis. The one place there would be more is if it lands at the end of a sentence, then there would be four dots, one being a period.

So, what does an ellipsis do? They are used to indicate an interruption or pause in dialouge. They are also used to express more, with the use of fewer words.

Before you decide to submit your manuscript, make sure to check that you haven’t overused the ellipsis. Use the Find function and enter two dots; the checker will find every sequesnce of two, less or more dots in your manuscript so you can edits out the errors.

I remember early into my writing career, I was in love with the three dots and used them shamelessly throughout my manuscript. When I sent it for a critique, one comment was, “why do you have so many? I didn’t know what the critiquer was referring to so I looked up the word and realized that I shamelessly overused them. Lesson learned!

Until next time,

All my best,

Naiobi