A to Z Challenge 2013

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Blog Chain - Feelings From Many Mediums

I am severely late (by two days) on this post, and I'm incredibly sorry.  If it counts though, I'm working through an ugly cold and I could probably get a note from my mom.

In any event, our own wonderful Kate has put forth the topic for this round:

Post pictures, songs, movie clips, poems, or novel excerpts that make you feel. Feel what, you ask? Feel anything. Happy. Sad. Angry. Nostalgic. Hopeful. Hopeless. Jealous. Joyful. 

I have read in several different places that YA novelist John Green said of his latest novel, The Fault In Our Stars that he wants to make his readers "Feel All The Things." I would love that someone could go through this blog chain and through what we all choose to post have that same Feel All The Things feeling.

When I sat and thought about this, I instantly ran out to find a clip from my favorite writing movie Stranger Than Fiction:

I really love this clip because it shows such a personal and emotional scene in the movie.  Here you get a really great sense of who these characters are and you see the emotional tie building between them.  It's only one of the great scenes in the movie, but it's one of my favorites.  This movie is one of the most inspirational writer movies I know, and every time I watch it I have to break out my tablet and start writing.

Another source of feeling for me comes from a well known poem by Dylan Thomas:

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay, 
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light

The funny part about this poem is that I first heard of it while watching the movie Back To School with Rodney Dangerfield.  The movie may be a B movie and not necessarily a source of much intelligent thought, but it exposed me to this poem and that makes it good enough in my book.  Who can argue with the feelings this poem invokes in the reader?  It's an awesome piece, demanding that we refuse to give in.

Lastly, there is one song that demands feeling from me every time I hear it:

It doesn't matter where I am or what I'm doing.  When I hear this song, I have to pause and listen.  I have to feel it resonate deep within myself.  It is the greatest tragedy that Phil Collins is no longer able to play drums (because of back and wrist problems I believe), but songs like these that he has given us will continue to play long after he is gone.  I have almost every song he's ever been a part of and this is my favorite.

Well, this is my contribution to the blog chain round.  If you haven't had a chance to read Michelle Hickman's post, head on over there.  And PK will most likely have her post up soon as well, so you can continue along the chain from there.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Blog Chain - The Original Domicile

It's Blog Chain time, and our own talented contributor Jon has posed the following:

Imagine the home(s) where you grew up, and start drawing a floor plan. As you draw, memories will surface. Grab onto one of those memories and tell us a story.

Here's my go at it:

As I reach the driveway, I glance up at make-shift rim and wooden backboard.  I can't count how many times I've lost a game of Horse to Dad.  Someday I'll be able to sink his famous one-handed hook shot.  Right now though, the basket towers above me on that faded yellow pole, daring me to try a dunk one more time.

The white stucco gleams in the sunlight, contrasting against red roof tiles in the usual Spanish style.  I open the black wrought iron and enter the front room.  Mom's pristine couches are there, the ones Sis and I aren't supposed to sit on.  There's the unused fireplace tiled in tan where I have run mock battles over and over, the toy soldiers crying out with each magnificent death.  That small strip of tile has been my playground since I could sit upright.

Taking a left, I pass under the smooth arch and into my small bedroom.  There's some inset bookshelves filled with paperbacks, the spines tattered from frequent use.  A bunk bed is pushed up against the far wall, even though the room is mine alone;  I only sleep on the top. There's a small desk by the window, bought at a yard sale some time ago.  Images of Star Wars cover the walls, Darth Vader and Luke locked in their legendary battle.  It's amazing I'm not claustrophobic after growing up in this tiny room.

Heading back through the dining room into the kitchen, I look out the window over the sink.  The trampoline looks pretty inviting.  Maybe I should sleep out there tonight.  It might be warm enough and losing myself in the stars is so much fun.  I head down the stairs, stopping halfway down.  Even though it's daytime, I'm not going down into the basement.  Between the haunted house Dad created that one Halloween and the ghost with red eyes in their room, the basement is not a place to be without company.  Creepy doesn't really cover it.  Instead, I head out the back door and pet our German Shepherd.

The cinder block garage Dad had built seems twice as large as the house.  I can still see the pine trees towering on the other side though.  I remember how often I've climbed to the top, even though Mom had fits about it.  It is so cool to see the gold dome of the Capitol downtown though.  I bet no other kid has that view.  Yeah, I'm definitely going to sleep outside tonight.  I head back in to get my sleeping bag, see if it's okay with Mom.  Nah, she won't mind.

That's my glimpse of personal history.  If you haven't had the chance to check out the awesome bit Michelle Hickman wrote yesterday, head on over there.  And tomorrow you can look forward to something spectacular from PK.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Unexpected Character Romance

As I work through tightening up the characters in my WiP, I have stumbled on an unexpected twist.  My two main characters (Trevor and Mara) are a romantic couple waiting to happen.  And I'm not really sure how to get them there.

See, when I first created Trevor I did not envision him falling for Mara.  I guess I was so focused on telling his part in the story that I didn't think about the dynamics between the two of them.  As I further solidify them both however, it just makes perfect sense.

Now comes the difficult part.  While I consider myself a fairly sensitive guy, I'm not sure I know how to write a good romantic scene (let alone build a relationship between these two).  Trevor isn't necessarily charismatic, and he doesn't have that <em>natural</em> ability that some guys have to just draw a woman in.  In fact, he's more along the lines of being socially inept which doesn't leave me a ton of ideas.

If anyone out there has some ideas, I'd really appreciate it.  I'm going to continue working on other parts of the story, but at some point I'll need to address this.

So how do you write the building of a relationship between two characters?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Twitter Tuesday

Yep, you read that title correctly.  Thanks to the awesome Beth Revis, I've finally decided to join the Twitter masses.  I had been holding off because I had been worried about how much time I might spend (not writing) on Twitter.  But today there is an event going on that I just don't want to miss.

Beth is launching her second book (A Million Suns) today and I didn't want to miss out on all the fun.  Because of this, I now have a Twitter account.

Oh, and thank you to Michelle Hickman for getting the word out before I could LOL.  Man, that girl is fast.  No biggie though, she just beat me to the punch.

Anyone else been holding off from joining the Twitter tide?  What are your reasons?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Insecure Writer's Support Group - The Idea


Happy New Year to everyone.Even though we're a few days into the new year, I decided to wait until now to put up my first post of the year.  I decided to change how the Muse looks just because I felt like switching to something new.  I also decided to make my post for the Insecure Writer's Support Group the one that starts this year off.

I recently got the last critique from my critique partners and although it was really great stuff, it was also a little bit of a punch in the gut.  If that critique partner is reading this, understand that it's not your fault at all.  You did a wonderful thing for me and now that I've had a moment to absorb everything, I completely understand the why's and how's.  It's a great critique and will be very useful.  But on first read, I do admit that I felt...not as good about my writing as I usually do.

There was one thing the critique partner said though that turned on a light bulb.  I have a habit in my writing of coming up with a central idea for a story and then trying to reveal that idea slowly.  I withhold little bits here and there, and I guess I'm trying to keep things mysterious.  What it ends up being is an artificial curtain that I intend to whip aside in some kind of "Ta-da" moment.

After I thought through what the person was getting at with their comments (and got over the idea that I am a terrible writer who needs tons of help), I realized that I have been trying to hide the idea until the <em>right</em> moment when what I really should be doing is tossing the central idea out there and writing that idea's story.  I need to just draw my reader in, put a spotlight on my characters, and tell the story.  No curtain, no artificiality, just a good yarn for them to enjoy.

A critique where I learn something really solid about my writing is a great way to start the year.  It does mean I have to change how I think a little bit, change how I write.  But that's a constant process for all writers, so it's not a bad thing.  In the end, I'm ready for a better year than the last, and hopefully I will somehow finish one of these WiPs.

Has anyone else had some cool epiphanies as the new year begins?  Tell me all about it.