Wednesday, August 29, 2007
But as with falling in love, the bruises begin to show. Holes in plot or research. Character issues you'd not anticipated. For many years, I'd mourn the loss of the first stage of exuberance and allow it to mire my passion for the story until I could go no further. The dreaded "sagging middle"; where like all of us in the real world, our imperfections can keep us bogged down.
Stephen King believes in having one "ideal reader." Someone whose opinion you crave and desire to please above all others. This person, whom you trust completely with the very essence of yourself you've poured onto the page, can only enter the love affair after it's finished. He believes writers should resist the temptation at all costs to give into the part of your internal editor that seeks reassurance and praise along the way. In doing so, we give away a glimmer of the magic. Words from our critique partners are no longer our own. Well-meaning readers can steer a story off-course as quickly as gale-force winds in what you thought was a solitary journey.
I'm in the infatuation stage with my current work, filled with hopes and anticipation of getting to each and every morsel that seems predestined and ready to write itself in my mind. I know the day will come when the bruises show, but this time I will hoarde the magic. Savor its every last breath until the time I can present my ideal reader this ultimate gift--a story uniquely mine, untainted by the fingerprints of other's thoughts and opinions.
And ultimately, isn't that what resonates with the reader?
Who is your ideal reader? When do you turn over your writing for others to see?
Monday, August 27, 2007
Friday, August 24, 2007
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Somehow, in the land of BBW, flowers are capable of a minuet, taking on weighty verbs of their own and fruits couldn't own any more action tags unless you placed them under your arm and squeezed. Does any woman read this when deciding to purchase a scent? Helpful online maybe, but in the store, I doubt anyone is swept away by the descriptive Harlequin-esque prose.
Along the same lines, have you seen the commercial for the new "5" gum? At the beginning an announcer states, "Want to know what it feels like to chew the new "5" gum?" Okay, how hard is that, really, to experience the sensation a piece of gum gives you when you put it in your mouth by watching television? Almost impossible, right? So the actress drops into a wind tunnel, burglar-skydiving-style, while thousands of wind-generating heat lamps keep her suspended by their air current. Perfect example of show, don't tell.
To have to write tight enough to convey the entire essence of a product in a few, sometimes less, words is a talent we should all aspire to. Every word on the page should impact the reader in some way. Every adjective a subtle nuance to the emotional state of the POV character. Every verb a shade of universal truth we've all shared. Writers have the power to manipulate the story world for the reader, just as the marketing writers manipulate us into purchasing their products. Consumers of body lotion are buying into an experience as much as our readers.
Make sure every spritz of language leaves a lasting impact.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
~Time travel stories for children and young adults
Heliotrope, a speculative fiction E-zine, is now open to submissions for their Winter 2008 issue to be published in March 2008. Submit your science fiction, fantasy, mystery or horror short story (not to exceed 5,000 words) to Jay Tomio, editor. Stories that fall between these genres or ones that can't be easily labeled are also welcome. Payment is $.10 per word upon publication. Submission guidelines and Heliotrope back issues are available on their website.
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Want to turn a young reader on to time travel? Here are some suggestions:
Reginald Pepper is Out of Time by Neil Sorenson
The son of a world-famous paranormal troubleshooter uncovers a strange family secret hidden in a forgotten wall is plunged back in time to 1905 where he must twart the evil deeds of a vengeful vampire. (256 pages, recommended age: early teen)
Betsy Ross's Star (Blast to the Past series) by Stacia Deutsch and Rhody Cohon
Awarded Learning Magazine's Teacher's choice award for 2007, this eighth book in the series takes Abigail and her history class on an adventure to set the record straight about who really sewed the first American Flag. (80 pages, recommended ages: 9-12)
Time Warp Trio : The Seven Blunders of the World by Jon Scieszka
Follow Joe, Fred and Sam as they travel back to ancient Babylon to recover The Book and discover cuniform and the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. (96 pages, recommended ages 9-12)
What was the first book you read about time travel?
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Between Mind and Heart
As a writer, this painting hits me on a deep level. I see reams of paper, failed attempts and a reflection of myself in my work.
Sussan Afrasiabian creates spellbinding modern expressionist paintings and sculptures. She's received multiple awards, both in the United States and abroad. To view her amazing collection, learn more about her inspirations and find links to her art shows in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, visit her website.
Monday, August 13, 2007
Thursday, August 9, 2007
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
"Open your inner eye as wide as it will go and trust the reader will do the same."
This "inner eye" he's referring to I call the "writer's eye". It's the quasi-self-hypnotic state where the writer sees--really sees--what's happening in a scene before pen touches paper or fingertips fly across keys. It's the deep breathing, close your eyes, sit back in your chair kind of meditation that puzzles our families when they walk in the room and assume we're screwing off.
In high school, I did a research paper on self-hypnosis that's helped me more than just about any paper I can remember in college. When I have a bad headache or I'm caught without pain killers, I close my eyes and visualize the pain. The texture. Subtle changes in the color. How the shape changes and morphs with each passing second. The idea is simple. Focus so completely on something--this creative painting of pain--and you trick your mind into forgetting about the pain. Sound crazy? Try it next time--say a full five quiet minutes. It works.
Self-hypnosis used as a relaxation technique can also help writers access their "mind's eye". Using these techniques, the walls dissolve and your mind is fully transported to the place of the image you're creating. Sounds like writing, doesn't it? Two techniques:
1) Imagine you're alone in a large building on the tenth floor. The temperature on your skin is just right. Stretched out before you is an escalator, humming quietly. Beneath your toes, cool, slick marble that offsets the warm sunlight spilling over you from the ceiling atrium above. The walls are textured. A vibrant, red number "10" inside a large white circle is painted on the wall to indicate the floor. A potted fescue near the revolving banister tickles your knee. Did you see the ornate iron bench behind you? What about the black smudge on the pristine floor from someone who walked here before? Now, step onto the down escalator. It's moving at a comfortable speed. As you descend you see another lobby laid out in much the same way, this time with an orange number "9" painted on the wall. Is there another bench? How has the light changed on your shoulders? Step onto the next escalator and breeze downward to floor "8", each time noting how warm, abrasive textures and colors and details change to cool and relaxing. Maybe some of the floors have murals, each with an increasingly peaceful scene. This is your world. Paint it how you wish as you progress to the first floor. What's on that first floor, you ask? Your "writer's eye". The next scene of your story. Deep sleep (this works SO much better than counting sheep). This exercise should take about ten minutes to allow time to properly slow your heart rate, so spend some time on each floor.
2) Some people refer to the next exercise as your "happy place". This is no joke. You construct in your mind the most relaxing, peaceful place you can imagine. For some, it's in a lush forest near a waterfall pool. For some, it's a wide open, green meadow. Set rules. For me, there cannot be bugs (CPs--no laughing). The last thing I want is to be sitting near an enchanting waterfall and have a waterbug crawl over my fingertips. Rule number one: like the previous one, you must be alone. This is not the time for Oded Fehr to show you his rapture. Like a photographer capturing this place only you know about, for ten minutes enhance the image with details. The next time you return, the parameters will be set and relaxation will be easier to access. And in this place, you'll find your "mind's eye".
A few more tips about self-hypnosis: Make sure you're in a place you cannot be interrupted. We're doing deep relaxation and slowing the heartrate, so your husband walking in to ask you, "Where's the mustard?" could cause a bad start--for you (and him) :) It's important to know you're as alone in your physical environment as you are in your spiritual one. Also, no music. You don't want your mind to become dependant on hearing certain sounds to become relaxed. You want to be able to do these exercises anywhere, anytime.
Doesn't finding your "writer's eye" take longer to get a scene written? You bet. But the payoff is a deeper, richer environment for your character to play out his emotions and goals in.
Oh, and until then, check out Stephen King's article. It's as amazing as his prose.
Try one of these self-hypnosis techniques. Post here and let me know how it works for you.
Sunday, August 5, 2007
Asimov's Science Fiction
The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction
Odyssey - Adventures in Science
Realms of Fantasy
Writers of the Future Anthology