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: 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

Jilly: Three Things I Learned at McKee’s Story Seminar

I promised to report back on last weekend’s craft marathon, otherwise known as Four Days of McKee—three days of the legendary Story seminar and a further day dedicated to the Love Story.

It was physically grueling. I can’t remember the last time I spent four eleven-hour days in a row sitting in a lecture theater, and it’s been more than thirty years since I had to take notes longhand. I treated myself to a new notebook and pen for the occasion.

It was mentally challenging. I had mixed feelings about Mr KcKee’s teaching style (to say he has strong opinions, robustly expressed, would be to understate the case), but no reservations about the quality of his analysis. Even though much of the material was familiar to me and I only made extended notes where I thought it necessary, I still filled more than sixty pages and went home every night with a head full of new ideas.

I could blog for the next year or more about the things that I learned, but three nuggets top my list of things to chew on, because I think they will be especially useful to me when I get on to writing Alexis’s prequel story. All three were superbly illustrated during the final session of Story—a six-hour scene-by-scene analysis of Casablanca and again during Love Story’s breakdown of The Bridges of Madison County.

Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints – Soggy NaNo Style

Today has been a very damp dreary day.  I’m sure the lawns, trees, and reservoirs all appreciate the influx of water, but I did not enjoy it at all during my very long, very early commute this morning, especially since my windshield wipers are apparently overdue for replacement.

Fortunately I’m back home now, curled up on the couch under my favorite quilt with the cat purring away.  I managed to add about 1,800 words to my manuscript between dinner and Wheel of Fortune™, and I’m hoping to make some more good progress before calling it a night. Continue reading

Elizabeth: NaNo Progress Report – The Sagging Middle

No, I don’t mean the after-effect of holiday eating or what happens when the elastic in your gym shorts breaks, I’m talking about what happens right about now during the month of NaNo.

We’re at the mid-way point; probably the most challenging time of the whole month.  The initial excitement of the first week, when stories were fresh and new tends to fade about now and be replaced by daily word counts that are a little more challenging to hit and creative ideas that are a little harder to come by.

For some – those whose stories are rolling right along – this can be an exciting part of the process where the germ of a story idea has taken root and grown into something even better than first imagined.  For others, this can be the time when what started out as a great idea now looks like a tangled mess with no discernible resolution.  You may have written yourself into a corner, or noticed you don’t actually have any solid conflict, or realized that 10,000 words ago your story took and unexpected turn and now you don’t know what’s next.

It can be tempting at this point to read over what you’ve written so far and do a little editing.

Don’t do it. Continue reading