Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints – What Unites Us

To counteract the negativity that seems to have become a permanent part of the daily news cycle, I’ve been reading journalist Dan Rather’s new book What Unites Us recently.  I’ve been enjoying both the emphasis on constructive patriotism, principles, and values as well as the idea that our nation has faced difficult times and risen to the occasion in the past and will continue to do so in the future.

I think the quote below from early in the book gives a good sense of the tone of the piece.   It feels quite hopeful, which is very appealing.

 “It is true that that news headlines often paint a dark and dispiriting picture.  But in every community, on every day, there are so many who choose to do the right thing.” ~ Dan Rather

Now that I’ve stepped away from the news and had my positive thinking adjustment, it’s time for me to do a little writing; preferably something light-hearted or maybe holiday themed.  Since I’m not exactly sure what I want to write at the moment I think a little Random Word Improv will be a good way generate some new ideas.

Care to join me? Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints – The Binge Watching Edition

With a November that was crammed full of activity, my video streaming service and I didn’t spend much quality time together.  Fortunately, over Thanksgiving weekend I was introduced to the show The Good Place, a fantasy comedy television series that is currently in the midst of its second season.

The perfect calorie-free post-NaNo treat.

The show follows the heroine, Eleanor (Kristen Bell), as she wakes up in the afterlife.  She’s in “The Good Place”, but she’s pretty sure there has been a mistake.   In the first season, we see her trying to hide her real behaviour and attempt to become a better person, and then later deal with the fall-out from her actions.  The episodes (without commercials) are about 22 minutes long, so binge-watching the show is a lot like munching on a bowl of popcorn – you keep reaching for just a little more.

If you haven’t seen the series and have access to it via Netflix or some other on-demand service (apologies in advance if it’s not available in your area), I’d definitely recommend it.  Not only is the show a fun watch, but the writers did a fantastic job with the first season ending that resolved the initial story and then immediately threw it into a brand new direction.

Now that I’ve watched my way through the entire first season, it’s time for me to get back to writing.  Since I’m not exactly sure what my next story will be, I think a little Random Word Improv will be just the thing to jump-start my creativity.

Care to join me? Continue reading

Elizabeth: NaNo Progress Report – A Big Hot Mess

Cue the trumpets, toss the confetti, and raise your glass, it’s time to celebrate the rapidly approaching end of NaNo.

About an hour ago I typed my two favorite words – “The End” – and uploaded my final word count and manuscript for validation.  As a NaNo “winner”, I have the lovely graphic you see over to the left and a 50,007 word manuscript that can best be described as “a big hot mess.”

My NaNo got off to a slow start this year (I may have slept through a few writing sessions), and there have been a few days with less than stellar word counts, but being off work last week gave me a chance to really focus on writing and get a large number of words on the page that can probably best be described as “quantity” rather than “quality.”  There are most certainly plot holes you could drive a truck through, and it’s littered with notes like “something needs to happen here,” but the draft is done.

Yay!

Once the excitement of finishing the draft cools, it’s time to think about what to do next. Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints – The Postprandial Edition

Here in the states, we’ve just finished Thanksgiving, which means it’s time to put away the fall decorations and bring out the red and green.  For some, the day after Thanksgiving is a chance to go out and counteract all that eating with a walk or hike in one of our many state parks that are offering free admission.  For others, it’s time for the traditional “Black Friday” rush where they head to the stores in hopes of scoring holiday gift bargains.  I’m giving to charities this season, in lieu of exchanging gifts, so until Monday, my days are free and clear.

That means it’s the perfect time for a little stay-home-writing-retreat.  With about 6 more days left before the end of NaNo (depending on when you read this post), my writing retreat will be focused on hitting my daily word count . . . right after I get those holiday lights up and possibly enjoy some leftovers.

When I do get ready to write, I think a little Random Word Improv will be just the thing to get me in the writing frame of mind.

Care to join me? Continue reading

Elizabeth: NaNo Progress Report – Gaining Momentum

As November continues its rapid race toward December, NaNo has finished its third week, which means there are many new stories out there at about the 35,000+ word mark.

That’s awesome!  It also means that there are only about 15,000 more words to go to reach the magic 50,000 end-of-month goal.

I love this part in the process (when I haven’t spent the last week or so staring at a blank screen).  After the excitement of the first week and the slowdown of the second, there tends to be a marked change in my writing once I’ve gotten over that 30,000 word point.  After that, for better or worse, the story seems to gain momentum and race forward on its own.

The first act of my story ended at around 28,000 words, so I won’t have a completed book at the 50,000 word mark, and what I will have is going to need some definite work (seriously, you can probably see the plot-holes from space), but I’ll have made a real start at getting this story out of my head and on to the page, so that’s a good thing. Continue reading

Elizabeth: NaNo Countdown – 1 Week To Go

October is racing to an end, which means there is only 1 week left before the start of this year’s NaNoWriMo.  Michille had a good post the other day about preparing to write and the NaNo website is full all sorts of good information, like the NaNo Prep Webcast.

Part of my prep-work has included finishing up a host of non-writing projects so they aren’t hanging overhead when I’m trying to write.  I’m also wrapping up a big multi-year project at the Day Job, which should free up some much needed brain-cells.  I will definitely need those to hit my daily writing goals.  All that is left, other than those pesky story details, is to decide when to write and to stock up on motivational “reward-for-hitting-today’s-goal” treats. I have found that cupcakes are excellent in that role.

As I’ve mentioned that last few weeks, my writing specific preparation has included drafting a rough outline for my new story, figuring out the setting(s), and getting to know my characters.

That’s all I need to craft a great story, right?

Oh wait, those characters probably need some goals and motivations so they actually have something to do.

<sigh>

Guess that means this is a good time to focus on:  Conflict Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints – The Bouncy Edition

When I was growing up, carnivals would magically appear in parking lots or vacant parcels of land from time to time.  There were games to play, foods to eat, and whirling rides to enjoy.  There was invariably a Ferris Wheel, made more exciting by the knowledge that it had just been erected hours before (safely, one would hope), spinning rides that left riders stumblingly dizzy, and roller-coasters of a sort.

From the house I’m in now, I used to be able to look across my backyard and see the illuminated midway lights of the local carnival in past years where a Home Depot sits today.  Over time, the carnivals have come to town less and less often and it’s been years since I remember seeing one.  In their place, a sea of inflatable castles and slides and bouncy-houses has appeared.

Down the road, where there used to be a weekly farmer’s market, the “inflatable carnival” came to town a few weeks ago.  One day the lot was empty and the next day there were dozens of brightly colored inflatable structures, filled with happy shrieking little jumpers.  There are no carnival games or foods to eat, but there are bales of hay with pumpkins to purchase which, several weeks from now will give way to Christmas trees to buy.  Late at night the lot is a little creepy, with everything deflated, looking much like a multi-colored sea of popped balloons. Continue reading