Challenge Acceptance #3

This is my continuing challenge acceptance from the Weekend Challenge #3.

A summer breeze blew the white curtain aside to reveal a starlit night outside the open window.  The tower room was small with block stone walls and well-worn wood floorboards. A faded red door stood opposite a large canopy bed. The bed was dressed in white bedclothes. Beside the door was a small table with a stool. A single burning candle sat next to a blank piece of parchment and a quill resting in an inkwell were the only items on the surface of the table.

Slowly words took shape upon the parchment as if a ghostly hand formed each letter with careful grace. “I’m finally free” was written in long black strokes.

L. R. Mauck

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Weekend Challenge #3

Well, another weekend is upon us, so here’s your challenge.

challenge

This is a continuation of the layering exercise. This week I want you to reuse your room from last week, but have something about it that’s off.

Example: it can have a bloodstain on the flooring, a set of car keys on the table, spilled coffee, a prestige white room with dead flowers in the center or if you want to go the fantasy route – add a gnome drinking a margarita on a sofa watching the Big Bang Theory show.

Length: Build this into your room. It doesn’t need to be 1000 words yet. So, remember to keep pace as if it’s in a story – don’t over show by being too descriptive or under show by telling. Paint a picture with words.

For bonus points: post it to your blog.

Writer’s Group

A writing group or club is where people get together and critique each other’s work. Or the group can have workshop classes or their own lectures about writing details, agent or publishing information.

writing groupSome times they can bring in different speakers, host seminars, book signings, or even have contacts that can get you that in that you need. They are a great way to get insight for your writings and give you that opportunity to socialize among other writers. The group sizes can vary. Some prefer only a limited number or other welcome anyone / everyone. There are different levels as well. Levels as in, just small critique groups up to those that offer classes and such. Dues are required for most groups. I Googled writing groups and a whole long list popped up. So, I’m sure there are some within your area. If not, there are several online:

Scribophile

Inked Voices

Critique Circle

However: Not all groups are legit. Warning signs: Writer’s Digest online critique groups

As a bonus: Not only can you get your novel cleaned up or helpful suggestions, but agents love seeing a writing group attendance on the queries. It shows that the writer is active in their pursuit of perfecting their skills.

I, myself, am not part of a group. I loved to be, but the local one that meets a rock’s throw from my house meets on Wednesdays. I could maybe attend part of it, but it overlaps into my Bible study class at church. There is another in a neighboring community that I’m going to check out next month.

My Challenge Acceptance #2

This is my challenge acceptance of my 2nd weekend challenge. I know it’s short, but the challenge was only to create a room. It’s the base exercise for layering weekend challenges to come.

The room:

A summer breeze blew the white curtain aside to reveal a starlit night outside the open window.  The tower room was small with block stone walls and well worn wood floorboards. A faded red door stood opposite a large canopy bed. The bed was dressed in white bedclothes. Beside the door was a small table with a stool. A single burning candle sat next to a blank piece of parchment and a quill resting in an inkwell were the only items on the surface of the table.

Weekend Challenge #2

challengeThis weekend challenge will be fairly simple, but it is going to be a part of a series of challenges that I hope to layer together to encourage you the readers to create a story. So, on to the challenge.

Scene Challenge: Create a room.

That’s it. It can be a room in your house, it can be a room in your dream house. It can be a hotel room, or even a school class room. A closet – whatever. I want you to write about this room. Detail it out. Tell me if there are tables in the room, dishes, pictures, etc.

Do NOT do something that you are already working on. This is to push your creative boundaries. Have fun with it.

Length: No more than half a page. Remember, this is a layering exercise.

For bonus points: post it to your blog.

Show vs. Tell

mark twainOne thing I’ve read and heard many times is “Show, don’t tell” when writing. There are many articles and suggestions online to help with this–and here is another.

What is the difference between showing and telling?

Showing is as it is defined: “to cause or permit to be seen” (Merriam-Webster.com)

You as a writer have been given the task and honor to create a story from your own imagination. Taking the world as a whole, there are not that many who have the means or ability to write a novel. That puts all the more pressure on authors shoulders to make it a good story to keep the readers engaged. To keep those readers engaged, you need to paint a picture with words. I’ve been told is to write as if it is a movie. As an example: you can offer some details about the character (features, clothes, traits, and possibly a flaw).

Telling is when you tell someone something. In a story context, it is very dry and boring to read. Telling is more for an essay or for documenting. You’re stating facts. Think of newspaper articles or science studies. This is not to be used in novels except for those (very) few books that can make it work.

Example:

Telling: Sarah went on a walk and saw a twenty-dollar bill on the ground. She gave it to the nearby store clerk in case the owner came back.

Showing: It was such a nice day out that Sarah decided to take a walk around her town for some fresh air. She spotted a twenty-dollar bill outside one of the local craft stores. She looked up and down the sidewalk for a possible owner, but saw none. The store was still open, so Sarah took the money to the clerk in case the owner came back to claim their money.

What not to do:

  • Don’t vomit descriptions. Example: “The leafy green trees swayed as the puffy white clouds drifted by in the soft warm blue skies.” Ugh. This is boarding on cliché. If it is important to the story, include it. If not, tighten your sentences or get very familiar with the delete button. Instead write: “The trees swayed on a warm clear day.” There. Done. You still get that mental image of a breeze moving the trees and it’s a nice day. It’s still better than telling: “Trees swayed and it was warm out.”
  • Don’t use run-on sentences. A “period” is an inserted breath for the reader to take. It helps pace the story. A comma is generally over looked, but a completed sentence breaks a thought.
  • Don’t repeat: “Tom put his hand into his hair in frustration. With anger evident in his voice, Tom says…” – it’s a repeat. Do one or the other.
  • Don’t “sigh”. It makes the character dreary. And make sure your character isn’t smug or conceded. It’s off putting. I’ve read stories that begin with the character being on top of the world and thought they were the greatest thing since sliced bread – I normally don’t get far in the book and never finish reading it. It could be a great story of a character learning the path of humbleness, but I personally can’t get into those type of stories.
  • Don’t have characters talking to themselves or nodding to themselves. Insert a thought process instead. It helps move the story along.

L. R. Mauck

Weekend Challenge

challenge

My challenge is simple.

Activity: Write

Time: 15 Minutes

Topic: write something that is your polar opposite

Purpose: To challenge our creativity and broaden your skills as a writer.

Explanation: Polar opposite as in writing for support in issues that you oppose. Or if you write from a female’s perspective, write from a males perspective. And if you actually can’t think of anything to write about – paint a picture with words. Just sit in a comfortable location and write about what you see, feel, and hear.

Award: POTB (pat-on-the-back) points. Post your writings on your blog for extra POTB points.

L.R. Mauck