Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints – The Cuddly Puppy Edition

Echo ©Scott Eldridge photography

Today is National Puppy Day.  For those who prefer kittens, your day is October 29th, while human babies get May 2nd.  I love the fact that someone (or many someone(s)) have found something to celebrate for every day.    In addition to being National Puppy Day, today is also apparently National Chip & Dip Day, National Melba Toast Day, and World Meteorological Day.  That’s a lot to fit in a single day 🙂

I think I’ll stick with the puppies.

For those who are curious:

“Puppy Day was established [in 2006] to bring awareness to the world about puppy mills and how to go about adopting.

Sadly, my house is currently devoid of puppies (something the cat totally approves of), so I’ll have to find something else to occupy my time.  Sounds like a little Random Word Improv is in order.

Who’s with me? Continue reading

Elizabeth: Writing Exercises

Spring has sprung, judging for the Golden Heart is completed, and it’s time to pick up the pen (or keyboard) and start writing.  I have a couple of contemporary stories in progress at the moment (short attention span), but have decided to dust off the story I started with at McDaniel instead.  It’s the first story I ever completed and I have some ideas about how to make it better so that, just maybe, it won’t have to spend the rest of its days tucked away in the desk drawer gathering dust.

It’s been a while since I’ve looked at the story, so I need to do a little pre-work to get reacquainted, especially with the characters.  After all, I can hardly hope to make them come alive on the page if I can’t make them come alive in my own mind.  I could just look through all of my notes, but I’d like to get a fresh perspective and (hopefully) pick up some new ideas.

Writing exercises to the rescue!

Luckily for me, the class I attended at a recent RWA Chapter meeting included a few writing exercises that I can use as a starting point.  Though the focus of the class was on writing dialogue, it included several character-related exercises since, in order to write believable dialogue, you need to really know your characters.    The initial exercises in the class focused on describing a character (job, background, personality, family history, experience that impacted his/her life) and then deciding how that description would impact the way the character would talk and what they would (or would not) say.

My favorite exercise from the class (and the one I found the most useful) was the following:

Exercise:

A divorced couple is stuck in a cramped closet together, sitting side by side.  Without using dialog, describe 3 ways they would show:

–              discomfort

–              regret

–              that there might be something between them

Now, using only dialog, show the same things

Not as easy as it sounds, right?

Writing exercises are a fun way to jump-start my creativity.  They also get me thinking about how my characters will act in various situations and how I can subtly show their reactions.  I generally include a writing exercise or two in my daily writing routine to help keep me in a creative frame of mind.  You can find additional character exercises in our posts here, here, and here, if you’re interested.

So, your turn.  What can you come up with for the exercise?  Please share in the comments (I’ll post my answers as well).

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints – St. Patrick’s Edition

Welcome to another Friday or, as I like to think of it, the participatory portion of our blog.

As you may have noticed by the preponderance of shamrock decorations, parades, “Kiss Me I’m Irish” buttons, and grocery store ads for corned beef and cabbage, it’s time for another St. Patrick’s Day.  Although the day began as a religious and cultural holiday celebrating Saint Patrick on the anniversary of his death, it has evolved into a day of revelry that includes copious amounts of food, drink, and goodwill (hopefully).

My own celebration will include the traditional corned beef and cabbage dinner though, frugal Irish girl that I am, I’ll be waiting until Saturday so I can buy my ingredients at post-holiday sale prices.    In the meantime, I think I’ll do a little baking.  What better addition to a St. Patrick’s Day dinner than a Guinness Chocolate Cake.  As a bonus, those 50 minutes while the cake is baking will be just perfect for a little Random Word Improv.

Who’s with me? Continue reading

Elizabeth: What Should I Watch Next?

Spring is just a few days away, though you wouldn’t know it from the recent snowfall blanketing our east coast.  Writing contest season is also in full swing, which means I’ve been spending more time judging other peoples’ writing than focusing on my own these past few weeks.

It’s an interesting experience.

For this year’s Golden Hart, I’m just finishing up a set of “inspirational” entries.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, but they’ve mostly been “sweet” contemporary stories (no sex and occasional God references).  Definitely different from the paranormal entries that I judged previously, but it has, as always, been a learning experience.  It seems far easier to recognize what is not working in someone else’s story than it is in mine.  Using the information in Nancy’s recent post on conflict-locks last week, I tried to create a conflict box for each of the stories I read.  No surprise that the stories I enjoyed the most / rated the highest were those that had a clear conflict lock.  It’s a good reminder to me to take a close look at my own stories and make sure I have the conflict locked down.

As soon as I finish the last few contest entries, it is back to writing for me.  Naturally that means I need to watch some television first.

Wait, what? Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints – Celebrating Women

Another week is coming to a close, bringing with it the start of Daylight Savings Time in many parts of the US this Sunday.  Fortunately I’m kicking off a 3-day weekend, so I’ll have plenty of time to make up for the hour of sleep I’ll lose when the time “springs forward” early Sunday morning.

With dry weather and sunny skies predicted for the next week or so, my 3-day weekend is likely to include a fair amount of yard-work as I attempt to reclaim my backyard from the jungle of weeds that are attempting to take over, thanks to all of the recent rains.   Regardless of whatever else I have planned, my weekend is also going to include plenty of writing time.

The last few weeks have been crazy busy with the day-job, which means I’ve had very little time or inspiration available for writing.  Watching the news coverage and reading posts about this week’s International Women’s Day marches and celebrations, however, has sparked lots of ideas that I can’t wait to get on paper, so I’ll be starting off my day with a little Random Word Improv.

Care to join me? Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints – Let the Good Times Roll!

mardi_grasWhether you are religious or not, you’re probably aware of the Mardi Gras (“Fat Tuesday”) celebrations that wrapped up this week.

“Laissez les bons temps rouler!”

 I’ve always wanted to go to New Orleans, where Mardi Gras is celebrated all the way from Twelfth Night to Ash Wednesday.  It looks like such fun.  Plus, there are strings of beads.  As my family can tell you, I’m a sucker for brightly colored beads.

Unfortunately, “New Orleans Square” in Disneyland is about as close as I’ve come to New Orleans, so for now I’ll have to watch the festivities from a distance.  Thanks to the internet, I’ve been able to enjoy the parades, musicians, and colorful costumes vicariously.  This year, as always, I was amazed by the creativity and the joy and excitement.  Having read a number of cozy-mysteries lately, I also couldn’t help but think that it would be a great setting for a murder mystery (I’ve probably even read a few).

Though I’d don’t have any plans to write a murder mystery just now, I’m sure I can fit in a little Mardi Gras inspired Random Word Improv.

Care to join me? Continue reading

Elizabeth: February Short Story

Unexpected street signAs we’ve talked about on the blog before, it’s important to keep creating (whatever your art), even when things are challenging; maybe especially when things are challenging.

This month I’ve been continuing to try and make sure my daily writing time doesn’t get completely swept away by deep dives into the internet news vortex or extra hours at work, though my success has been varied.  I looked up at work this evening and realized everyone had gone home long before me and then got distracted by the evening news when I got home.  Obviously, I my “focusing on writing” still need some practice.

Anyway, as I mentioned last month, I’m posting a short-short story once a month as a way to make sure I keep writing.  Today’s story is based on an idea from an old writing journal, along with a set of random words.

Enjoy. Continue reading