Liebster

liebster

A very heartfelt thanks to Sara E Ackerman for nominating this blog for the award. To say it was a shock is less than the reality. We are stunned.

The rules of this award:
1. Acknowledge the blog who nominated you and display the award. Sara E Ackerman
2. Answer the 11 questions the blogger gives you.
3. Give 11 random facts about yourself.
4. Nominate 11 blogs.
5. Notify those blogs of the nomination.
6. Give them 11 questions to answer.

As there are five souls attached to this blog, the questions may reflect one, two, or multiple opinions spliced into the answer of one or more questions. That’s what life as a multiplicity is all about!

(2) The 11 Questions.

  1. Out of all the countries you have visited, which one did you like the most?
    The ones that don’t exist on this plane. We travel to many worlds, meet many creatures and beasts, and the occasional human. These worlds are as real as the one we open our eyes to each day, and sometimes more real than reality. That’s probably why we’re storytellers.
  2. What is the most extreme thing you have ever done?
    Jumped out of perfectly good plane.
    Kite surfed in the snow. Broke a leg.
    Cave diving underwater. Black.
    Quilty 100. Sore bum for weeks – poor horse.
    Fostered teenagers. They survived.
    Written stories for other people to read and live (it’s like giving up a child to someone else’s care).
  3. If you could take someone with you in your travels, who would it be?
    Either Attenborough brother – both have a good way to make story.
    Neil DeGrasse Tyson (for this quote “We are part of this universe; we are in this universe, but perhaps more important than both of those facts, is that the universe is in us.”).
    Ghandi. Teach us the way of peace and enlightenment.
    There are others, but the arguments got a bit hot.
    If you could give someone $1 million dollars who would you give it to?
    An organisation that helps the world by housing the people who live on the streets, that takes food that doesn’t meet supermarket criteria and uses it to feed those people, that is part of the community and actively inclusive.
  4. For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
    A common goal; life; friends; the ability to share and help; neighbours, friends and family.
  5. Given the choice of anyone living or dead, who would you choose to have dinner with and why?
    King Arthur – then we’d know for sure if he was real or not!
  6. Give some advice to other bloggers or other blog starters.
    Find the things that give you pleasure, that intrigue you, that offer inspiration and hope; use those worlds to help you create your own place in this community. Do it to a schedule, even if only once a month (we do like to read them).
  7. What is the most scandalous thing you have ever done?
    Run naked down Hay Street Mall in Perth.
    Kissed a stranger on NYE – but what city was it?
    Got caught up in a protest and taken to jail – where my uncle was in charge! Whoops!
    Drove without a licence, in an unregistered and uninsured vehicle through five states – did own the car! Didn’t get picked up.
  8. What is your greatest accomplishment?
    The fosters.
    The stories out in the world.
    The ritual of writing every day.
    The creation of this group of writers.
    Learning the Storytelling 101 and sharing it with anyone who will listen (whether they want to or not).
    Saving the life of a child who nearly drowned, who went on to become a doctor.
  9. If you could do any career in the world, what would you do?
    Write. Tell stories. Novels, anthologies, shorts – any shape or form, as long as it’s a story-telling role.
  10. If you could live one day over again, what would it be and why?
    The day of the fire, because now I know.
    The day I left home at 12yo … because now I know it wasn’t the answer.
    The day of the caravan … because I should’ve been more than I was and done more than I did.
    The day of my father’s funeral, because I should’ve stayed.

 

(3) Eleven random facts about me (us):

  1. Jumped out of a perfectly good plane in an attempt to overcome a fear of heights. Didn’t work!
  2. Worked in a job that had everyone turning up their nose (sewerage truck – ha! got ya!).
  3. Slightly overbearing to get kids to go to school; comes from a background of feeling ‘dumb’ rather than uneducated – now changed. We never stop learning, and education is only the beginning.
  4. Like watching pimple-poppers (don’t tell anyone!).
  5. Still eat chocolate, regardless of the allergic rashes it causes.
  6. Prefer cats to dogs, but love dogs too.
  7. Can’t write poetry, but still try.
  8. Miss my daughter, even though she’s been gone for 24 years.
  9. My mother is one of the people who should never have had children.
  10. Writing about battles brings on nightmares about war (but still do it).
  11. Dogs are better than cats.

Responses by more than one person of the five, as you can tell by 6 and 11 (Cisi and Karel – dobbed).

(4) I would like to nominate the following bloggers. No particular order of favouritism, and so many others that could be here!

  1. Cage Dunn
  2. Life of a ChickPea
  3. Martha Kennedy
  4. SpecFicChic
  5. Amy L Sauder
  6. Valerie Parv
  7. Oscar Relentos
  8. Sascha Darlington
  9. Lost Property
  10. Jackie Kellum
  11. Nicole Knudsen

(5) Notify them!!!!

(6) The 11 questions for the nominees:

  1. What types of books do you like to read in Winter? Is it different to Summer?
  2. What is your favourite location in the real world and why?
  3. If you had one question you want answered, what would it be?
  4. What four people would you invite to your next big-ticket party and why?
  5. What are some of the things you’d ask them?
  6. In what way would you like to change your life? Why? (or how?)
  7. If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
  8. What was the most important thing in your life (up ’til now)?
  9. What advice would you offer to new(ish) bloggers? What would’ve helped you when you were starting out?
  10. Have you ever done anything your mother wouldn’t be proud of? (you have to tell at least a little).
  11. What is the funniest thing to ever happen to you (or in front of you)?

thank you for participating – we know it takes some effort to do this, but we love you for it! And the spelling – we are Australian.

Cage, Karel, Shannon, Cisi, and Rose – of Five Books a Year By One For You (5bayby14u).

 

 

And Then Along Came …

The Character and his journey. That’s what story is about, isn’t it? A character in conflict who struggles to find resolution. The journey implies an arc, something that aligns with the concept and theme and context of the setting and background and turmoils. Because a character has an arc, the story has an arc, and the lesson learned is something aligned with one or two or three bits of ‘the six things’ (which we’ll discuss later).

The story shows us how the character begins his life in this story. We see the first dimension things like how he looks, dresses, what language he uses when he speaks and thinks, the things he likes to surround himself with – all 1D elements of this character.

Then we see the second dimension things: the reasons or excuses for some of the 1D characterisations. Sounds simple, but understanding why a person does something, applying backstory to try to understand a 1D practice, is harder than it first appears. A person can be in a given situation and react in a particular manner – a practiced manner or an instinctive manner (instinct =3D, later). 2D can be the reason they do something a particular way, but the character chooses – it is choice that matters. One person may respond with a response that is reasonable based on the backstory, and the next person may react in a completely different manner. They have chosen to respond to the life-incidents that form 2D characterisation in different ways (but it better conform to the known psychological patterns [unless an alien learning how we operate, of course] and human needs).

And third dimension? This is the core of a person. Their inner beliefs and innate responses to situations. A scream when the snake runs over the path barely one step in front of them versus the other who freezes in the same circumstance. 3D is not the same for all. But it is the core of that person. This is the part of character that needs to be demonstrated as part of the character arc. In Part 1, the 3D is the weaker response, the unlearned innate or instinctive reaction. Part 2 shows the learning process and how hard it is; Part 3 shows the beginning of the fight back (and the losses and scars incurred in the process); Part 4 shows the changes at the core of the character. 3D is different in Part 4, and it should be obvious, through the whole of the story, that this is the true journey. The change.

However, that change may be limited. If a person does the whole gamut, gets to the end, does the heroic thing, and then falls back into ‘life as it was’ – is this the wrong journey? No. People are varied in how they learn and grow. Sometimes the lesson sticks, sometimes not.

Life is like a character arc. Change is hard. We may work up to making the change for the moment it’s required, and then, and then, and then we go back to what’s expected of us, or what we’re comfortable with, or ….

Character arc is the person in the story learning, being burned, relearning, struggling, and coming through for something or someone. Or not. The underlying theme is discovered through the journey he takes through the context of his story.

Remember the auto-responses: fight, flight, freeze. Show the change in character by the use of these auto (core) responses. Does learning or training change one or more? Does the fight to retain or regain something cause a change in how these auto-responses are managed?

Story is: a character in conflict who struggles to find resolution. Characterisation is where the story shows the struggle (internal and external – and the crossover).

Good luck with that!

Originally posted on SpecFicChic (by Me). Copyright Cage Dunn 2017.

 

 

Tools to Write By: Hand, machine, or . . .

The tools of the trade for a writer. Pen, pencil, paper, time, a wandering mind? Or maybe a bright screen, keyboard, silence (or music), space, a mind focussed on something? Or part pen and pencil on paper, and part keyboard tapping and desk cleared of the junk of anyone else.

Or is this all a pile of scat?

It is true that people like to do things their own way and sometimes that works for them, but do they learn their own way through seeing what others have done, by imitating or borrowing techniques? I’m sure some do. But are they learning what it is they need to know? Is it a shadow-boxing game where if it looks okay it must be okay, or is there more to it?

More. It must be more. Why? Because the fact of putting pen to paper may be a personal task, it may be an artistic pursuit (especially if it’s a personal thing), but if the writer wants a reader, then the writer must consider what it is the reader expects from the story. It must be better than all the others out there. And it has to grab attention from the first glance.

The genre, for example, can be elicited by the title and the cover. If it’s a romance, what do you think the reader expects to find on the cover and beyond? Or a detective story? Or sci-fi? What do you think would happen if the title was Times Gone and the picture on the cover was a star exploding? And what would you think if the title was the same but the picture was the innards of a clock?

Do the same expectations follow for the rest of the innards of a novel? Does the reader expect to meet someone they can identify with, travel this journey with (vicariously, within the skin); someone they can feel for, cry for, laugh with, fight with/for? Does the reader want to travel a path that brings goosebumps to their skin, that takes them somewhere they haven’t been, probably won’t ever go to/see; somewhere interesting and compelling and intriguing and relevant to the underlying story of the character they are in? Do they want to reach an end that gives them enough of the resolution to enable them to put it down with a sigh, or a heightened understanding, or …

All that stuff means there is a defined way to put a story together because if it doesn’t open with the reader finding someone they connect with, it gets closed. If the reader connects with the person/character, but the journey is boring or repetitious or ‘not right’ for the purpose, the book gets closed. If there’s something in there that doesn’t gel with the presentation of what it is, it gets closed.

So, in order to write the story to meet the right reader, put it out there in the right way.

Give it a title that says what the story is about and what genre it is; give it a cover that says it more strongly, and indicates which reader should go further; give it the inside that starts with the right character, in the right place, take the path that leads to the full measure of depth and fear and elation, give it the journey of a lifetime that can be felt through all the senses a human is capable of, and wrap it up as if it was the only story you were ever going to write.

The Title, Cover, and Story that follow the mud maps of the journey from ‘Once ….’ to ‘…. The End’ and covers a certain amount of territory and time to impart wisdom or fun down the track that beguiles and bewitches and besots the reader.

Not much to ask, is it? But it does tell you that the tools don’t matter. The craft does.

It doesn’t matter how many people know the right way to do something, it always takes a spark of something to take a story from “That was a good story” to “Wow; that was Great!”

Consider this: Anyone can paint – just pick up a crayon and put something on paper; someone will like it, somewhere. Anyone can sing – open your mouth and sing along with your favourite songs; someone will like it, even if it’s just you.  Anyone can dance –  just move and groove and jiggle those bits; same deal. But if you want to be a better artist than Picasso (or as good as) or sing like one of the three tenors, or dance like … Consider this: how did they get to be the top of their field? By just jumping in and figuring it out as they went?

No, and nor should a writer consider that is the way to go. Learn everything you can, practice all the time, read your own work aloud so you can hear it differently. Do the same for the people you write with.

Be the best you can be because you don’t know if it will be the only chance you get.

 

 

 

 

A Thought

A very private moment brought that thought. Then came the need for movement. To get away. Run. Hide. Find somewhere quiet to be alone – with that thought. Would a feeling come with the thought if she gave it enough time? If she wanted it badly enough?

But Tini knew what that thought was, where the need came from. The very rare moment when she was alone in her physical, real world, as well as in her head. That’s where it came from.

The aloneness that came with the crowded-in walls of people and things, the words that hammered and scratched and never left a mind a moment of peace, the ‘look’ people gave her when she raised her head to see beyond her feet. That’s where it came from.

Never alone. Never free. Never more than an obligation. The bare moment when she had a thought she could call her own, and no privacy to indulge it, to caress it, to feel it against her soul.

If her useless body, her wordless tongue, her blinded eyes that still felt the crush of closeness – if Tini could overcome even one of those things, she could keep her own thought. It wouldn’t wander away like the smell of the ocean that came from the tap, or the cry of a bird so free it was unafraid to call her. If she could . . .

If wishes were . . . Tini couldn’t remember the rest of it, but she’d heard it so many times. If they had the chance to be granted a wish, and only one wish, what would it be?

The ‘get rid of her’ wish?

The ‘get her well’ wish?

The ‘get free of her’ wish?

One thought, one free thought in Tini’s head – now fading, of course – and she dreamed of release, of letting go, of being no more than a memory; of not being the crutch or load or weight of burden.

If only someone would take the time to find a way into her neural paths, if only someone believed she had a chance, if only . . .

Another dream. A dream. One word, one stray thought – and she dreamed again.

What did she do to deserve this? Why couldn’t she remember more than a few minutes of her scrabble through the sphere of life? Why was she here?

If it was to be a lesson – for someone else – it wasn’t fair! Not fair! Not! Not! Not!

Darkness came and dazed the blaze of red as seen through the closed eyelids. Had she been looking at the Sun?

The thought she’d felt for that moment settled into the garbage chute. The world of all thoughts stilled like a stagnant lake. Tini wanted to cry but she had no capacity for that, either.

 

Copyright Rosey Brimson 2017.

Setting

A tool topic.horse-in-window

Compelling – that’s what we want, what a reader wants. To visit a compelling place while in the confines of a book . That doesn’t mean exotic, just that it is someplace we have never been, never likely to go to, would be afraid to visit (even in our dreams), or that doesn’t exist in this realm.

That’s lots of words to apply to a setting to impress a reader enough to push them beyond the banal and into the realm of your story.

Setting. The place where it happens. What happens if you get it wrong? Put a story of Pinocchio in the world setting of Star Wars? Not going to work, is it? That may be an extreme example, but it works as an example because it shows how it can be so wrong. Worse would be to make it so cliché that the reader won’t even go past the first breath of it.

What a waste all your work would be if no one walked past the gate, let alone opened it to come down the drive to the house (story) you built just for them. A waste.

Compelling – a place to visit that will intrigue, incite, excite, tickle (something). A new place, or a forbidden place, or a place where things could be different (or the same, but with rules to use to stop or do or change something). A new world – for the reader.

The word vicarious fits here – to live as if in the skin of the person undergoing the path of the story. As character acters (no gender specificity here, thank you) become the character, how about the character reader becoming the character? That’s what it’s all about.

Get the reader so involved in the setting, in the closeness of the character (through empathy and attachment) that the reader becomes the part presented, becomes the character reader.

There are words to use to make a setting sing, but having a lovely word doesn’t necessarily cause that thrill, that frisson, of connection. It must be, first and foremost, COMPELLING to the reader.

If it is only exotic – is it exotic to the writer or the reader? How can a writer know if a reader will consider this particular setting to be exotic? They may live with that setting, and consider they not only know more, but that the writer got things wrong about their world. That’s a bad move.

If it is new and imagined, is it somewhere that lights the flame of intrigue? Is it a place of dangers (sublime and terrifying) that will burn the skin on the first reading?

If it isn’t compelling, in terms of the genre, the subject, the character – don’t do it! Find another setting, one that is compelling, that puts that character reader right in the head of your story and living it as if it belonged in their world.

Compelling setting. Don’t forget it. Don’t put Skippy into Antarctica.

 

Copyright Karel Jaeger 2017.

Someday, or The Day After

Someday. It will happen then. Maybe the day after that. Always in the future. Never now. Why?

It was a question that didn’t have an answer. Kiri knew anyway. It was a question she’d lived with for so long, a question she couldn’t answer, or wouldn’t answer, because she had yet to take the first step on the path to Someday.

That was the day she would leave this place. Leave it all behind. Walk away. Start fresh. Change her name, the way she looked and dressed, the way she spoke. Someday.

the day of the new beginning, of the search for a more true self. Someday.

But not today. Today, Kiri would take care of the snarling old woman who lay in the chair all day; the old woman who ran the whole place, who stank of bitter tobacco and rancid fat. The woman who would be her grandmother if her mother or father had . . .

Gone. Somewhere. Somewhere else. They chose their Someday, and stepped out into it. The chose wrong, because the old woman found them. They did not come back, did not come home. They chose the wrong Somewhere Else on the wrong Someday – because how else would they have been found?

She, Kiri, would choose the right day; she would choose the right place; she would not come back – but she would not be found.

Play along, be the one unnoticed, be nothing more than a shadow of dust seen when the door opens or closes. Become the dirt, become the shadow, become the dust. Yes, the dust, because dust can move away, far away, with the right wind.

Soon, so very soon, her Someday would come.

Maybe tomorrow.

Almost, she smiled as she prepared the main meal for the mid-afternoon revellers. She turned it into a grimace, a more normal response to the work she did, the smells she had to tolerate every day in this place. Pressed her bare feet against the sharp rock to remind herself of what was real, what was almost real – but not yet.

The door slammed like a cross-bow bolt in her heart. The old woman lifted her gammy teeth in a smile as the man came in. He was the last.

The group waited for her to serve them. Kiri filled all their ewers of hot wine and pointedly refused to serve the ones who didn’t clear their space; the table was finally cleared of weapons and spoils – shoved under the table and out of sight while the feast for her celebration day was consumed.

She continued, laid out the plates of flat wood and the dull, flat-bladed knives used to lift the food parcels; and she struggled with the heavy full-to-the-brim platters of roasted carcasses: two of goat and one of pig and one with ten roosters. And the old lady’s favourite, a whole ram with the head pointed at the head of the party.

Each dish contained the green edges of her carefully tended herbs: parsley, rosemary, marjoram, lavender. The roots and nuts and seeds: yam, beets, artichokes, carrots, valerian, kava, passionflower – and many more. And the gravy, flavoured with all the most efficacious of them all.

Colourful, delicious, food that filled and satisfied.

The smile snuck into her eyes as they dived in like a raucous gang of cockatoos at a waterhole.

She would not be allowed to participate in the eating. Her job was to serve and to make sure the table did not empty.

Someday. Today was Someday.

Copyright 2017 Rosey Brimson.

 

 

A Checklist! For Scenes . . .

The world loves a list, and writers more than most – so here’s the list we use to check the purpose and role of each scene in the story. We hope you enjoy it.

__________________________________

A Scene is one event (specific/precise) from one POV in one place at one moment in time (interesting/relevant) – where something changes/happens.

Purpose:                                                                                               Audience:

POV:

Who is where (when?)

– journey                                                                                              – timeline

– stakes

– char                                                                                         – scene

– story

 

From:                                                                                                   To:

– What changes beginning to end?

– Character challenge?

– trait

– action/inaction

– decision/not

– consequence

– sub-plot pieces

– jig-saw puzzle / weave / pattern / puzzle

– pieces, bang, wrap

________________

How has the world changed?                                           What does the reader learn?

 

What was the Action?                                                       Reaction? Physical/emotional/psychological/spiritual/intellectual.

________________

A scene is a RELEVANT, DRAMATISED (in real-time; in Show) UNIT (encapsulation) that moves the Story forward.

Escalates to climax (end).

Build tension: decisions, actions, consequences, reactions.

Dialogue, risks. Two hot spots, no more. Long scene, stronger hot spot.

Event – small enough to be dealt with in One Place and Time.

________________

Scene Types:

– Contemplative: goal, thought process, decision, epiphany

– Action: argument, chase, description, drama, epiphany, fight

________________

Scene Board:

1)               Purpose – relevance

2)               POV

3)               Setting info (stage setup: time, weather, era, senses, props, symbols/thematic)

4)               Chars in scene (why?) – relationship; agenda (each char)

5)               Conflict – complications; contributes to ? plot position, growth phase

6)               Dialogue – subjects, subtext, symbol/theme, echo

7)               Internalisation – agenda, diff from dialogue

8)               Actions – dramatic; significant, but everyday actions

9)               Hot Spot (climax)

10)             Exit line

11)             Change-up (link to purpose) – what changes from beginning to end? Physical/emotional/psychological/spiritual/intellectual.

 

Senses: (detail to bring scene to life) See, Hear, Smell, Taste, Touch, Sense (are there more?)

 

Timeline of Events in Scenes:

What is at STAKE (Scene, Story, Char)? Outline what is already written –

Hook/s                                                                                                 Flow

Segue                                                                                                    Tension

Growth                                                                                                 Begin/end mirror

 

How has the world changed? What was learned? Do you have a Theme? Logline for scene?

Also here.