Share Your World 8/20/18

If you’d like to take part in the “Share Your World” weekly get-together, just hop over to Cee’s Photography and get the details.
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Question # 1:  Which tastes better: black or green olives?

I love both, so I can’t choose between them. However, since I do try to watch how much extra sodium I take in, I tend to eat more black olives than green.

Question # 2: What’s your favorite room in your house? 

Well, again, I can’t really choose. Depends on what I’m doing. I love my kitchen because I love the blue and white color scheme and the light, friendly atmosphere. But I enjoy my living room for a lot more hours of any given day. I have my computers, most of my books, and my watercolor materials in that room, so whether I’m writing, reading, researching, or painting, I’m enjoying the living room. The only things not in that room that I need periodically are my musical keyboard and my bed, and they both reside in the bedroom just off the living room. The only room I don’t actually enjoy is my second bedroom, which has been converted to a laundry room/storage room, and it’s a reminder of how very unorganized I am.

Question # 3: What fictional family would you be a member of?

Oh, definitely the family of characters I created in my Smoky Mountain Series novels. Of course that ‘family’ is made up of about 4 different families who are tightly intertwined. They are the kind of people I want to be and the kind of people I want for family and friends. Plus — they all live where I want to live: right smack-dab in the middle of the Smoky Mountains.

Questions # 4: What did you appreciate or what made you smile this week?

Ahhh!  There’s no need to even think about this one: I paid off the mortgage on my house this week!!!!!!!!!   Yes!!!!!!!!  And I am smiling reeeeeeeaaaaallllly big.  Thank you, God!

 

 


 

‘Releasing the Creative Writer in You’ – Lesson 3

releasing-the-creative-writer-icover-editedTo access other lessons in this series, click on “Creative Writing Class” in the navigation bar and scroll through to find the lessons you need.

LESSON # 3: WRITING FICTION

Fiction covers a wide range of genres, including short stories, novels, novellas, novelettes, scripts, screenplays, and children’s literature. Having a knack for writing well in one of those genres does not guarantee that a writer has an equal knack for the others. However, most of the time writers find that, with experience and practice, they can write successfully in several different genres at the same time. While all good writing requires some of the same characteristics, each of the different genres of fiction has certain elements that are peculiar to it alone.

SHORT STORIES

There are no hard and fast rules followed by all writers and publishers concerning what constitutes the length of different genres of literature. Each literary guide has its own specifications, but the information given in this text offers an average that takes into consideration the high and low ends of various guides. In general, short stories are considered any stories between 100 words (generally referred to as “flash fiction”) and 20,000 words. Often the stories that run between 100 and 3,000 words are referred to as “short-short” stories. Length does not matter, except for the purpose of meeting the requirements of a particular assignment. (Ex. Writing for a magazine that has a word limit, etc.)

What matters is whether you have all the elements required to satisfy the readers of the stories, and if you have developed the characters, setting, and plot thoroughly – without letting any areas of the work drag or become unnecessarily verbose. The writer must tell a complete story: an attention-grabbing beginning, the development of a problem or conflict, attempts to resolve that conflict, the climax, and a resolution/conclusion.)

In short stories, word choices are even more pressing than in longer fiction. Character development is trickier, due to less time. There are also fewer words for describing setting and characters, as well as for developing plot.

NOVELS

Novels require a larger tale – so a larger scope. You have more time to develop setting and characters, as well conflict and climax. Generally readers expect a little more than one simple conflict in a story of any significant length – simply because real life is that way.

Word choices are still extremely important because nothing drags as badly as a novel that is too wordy.

Novel length is generally considered anything between 50,000 and 300,000 words. But most publishers have a policy concerning length of each genre they publish, and authors will need to consult each individual publisher’s guidelines when considering submissions.

Novellas: When you have a story that really needs more than a short story format, but hasn’t enough plot for a full novel, novellas offer a good alternative. If you find yourself working on a short story, but realize you are up to 30,000 words, you need to consider expanding the story a little more and making it a novella. (Generally 40,000-50,000 words on average).

Novelettes: This category offers one more level in alternatives to short stories and novels. Novelettes also give the reader a story that is more involved that a short story, but that does not have enough plot to carry it the length of a full novel. Any work running between 10,000 and 30,000 words can be considered novelette length.

SCRIPTS AND SCREENPLAYS

For scripts and screenplays, dialogue will generally rule, and action must be 100% do-able. Words are at their highest premium in a story that must be acted out. The author must also consider and write in all the stage directions as well.

CHILDREN’S LITERATURE

In children’s literature, writers deal with all the elements common to adult short stories and novels, but children’s works require special attention to the level of language and frames of reference so that they fit exactly the age group for which the pieces are written. The ONLY way to do that successfully is to SPEND A LOT OF TIME WITH CHILDREN. Children’s literature is also generally much more successful with pictures and illustrations. Therefore, the author needs to be able to provide these elements or develop a good relationship with an artist/photographer who can.


ELEMENTS REQUIRED BY ALL FICTION GENRES

So what are the elements of a good story?

1. Characters

Get to know your characters personally. Your reader may never need to know how your main character did while in first grade, whether he always cleaned his plate as a kid, whether or not he took vacations with his family, etc. But you need to know him well enough to know those things. That doesn’t mean you have to list every event in his life before he steps onto the stage of your book, but you do need to sit and think about him from every direction.

Chances are he will come from a real person you have had experience with, or – more likely – a composite of a number of real people. That is why keeping a journal and making character sketches is so important. This character had a life before he came into your book, and you need to know what it is so that he will be REAL and not just an automation you have invented to walk through the pages and say certain words.

Sometimes the characters will be there to carry out the plot (Plot-driven story)

Other times, the characters will be the main story, and their inner struggles, changes, and growth (or deterioration) are what constitutes the story. (Character-driven story).

2. Setting

You know yourself best, and you must decide if you are a person who enjoys detailed descriptions of settings or not. If you enjoy them, chances are you will write them well enough that your readers will also enjoy them. However, if you do not enjoy them, then you must work at giving your story a setting that needs a minimum of description and that has no real importance to the story itself.

The purpose of your story will also determine a lot about the degree of attention paid to the setting. If you write a story focused solely on a romance, making the characters and their personal, emotional interaction the meat of your story, you can get by with simply letting the reader know the characters live in a large American city, or a village in the English countryside, etc., with very little detail. But if you write a story set on another planet, you need to be prepared with loads of details so that your reader will not feel out of sync with the characters they want to identify with.

(You will find more details concerning setting in the upcoming chapter on that particular element.)

3. Plot (Action – either physical or mental)

The plot of a story includes the following basic 5 basics:

A. Introduction.

This can be as simple as opening the story with ordinary action shortly before the important action begins. This method is tricky because of the need to engage your reader from page one, but it can be done. Or you may open in the middle of some important action that will be explained in subsequent pages. Or you may use a prologue if you have to lay some groundwork that is not part of the main story. (However, you need to use prologues and epilogues very sparingly. Some readers skip them altogether.)

B. Development of a Problem or Conflict

This problem/conflict can be physical, mental, emotional, or all three. (More details are available in the chapter on conflict, which will be included in a later lesson.)

C. Attempts to fix the problem

D. Climax – Problem comes to a head and meets the solution head-on

E. Resolution/Conclusion/The End

For more details concerning plot, see the chapter entitled “Plotting Your Story,” coming in a future lesson.

4. Theme: The central, recurring, unifying idea of a piece of literature.

What is the Purpose of Specific Action or Dialogue in Your Story?

Your theme can generally be found in the answer to the questions of why something happened or what effect it is meant to have. As your story develops, you (and your reader) will generally find that virtually all of the action and dialogue is happening – ultimately — for the same purpose: to bring about specific outcomes – all of which work together to affect the reader the way you want him affected.

5. Body Language and Dialogue

As you develop your plot, remember to use as much dialogue and body language as possible to help the reader see and hear the words and actions. Simply narrating it is much less effective. Quote your characters directly, and let the reader hear a sigh or see the character lean against a door frame. Describe a smile or the sound of the laughter. Allow your character to lean forward or backward, rest his head against the back of a chair, or fold his arms across his chest. No real person carries on a conversation without body movement as well, and you need that kind of description to keep your reader’s attention and make your characters “real.”

(More discussion on this aspect of writing stories is covered in the material on Developing Characters and in the chapter on Dialogue and Body Language. These segments will be included in upcoming lessons.)


cartoon-writer-pink-spikey-hair-2Do you need an outline before beginning?

The short answer is ‘No.’ Sometimes stories just jump out at us when we are doing a simple writing exercise or sitting quietly and meditating. It’s fine to just sit down to the keyboard and start writing out what is flowing through our minds.

However, do not expect to write excellent stories on a regular basis without having a strong idea of what you want the story to do – how you want it to play out – and who the characters are. You will need some kind of guidelines to help you stay focused and to make sure you have a thoroughly developed plot.

If you find that a story begins coming to life in your mind, go ahead and start writing it. Write until you know you are finished with what was pressing to get onto paper. However, once that is done, you do need to try to determine where you are going – what is going to happen to your characters – what do you want the ending to be – are you wanting the story to stir up particular emotions or teach any particular lesson or moral?

Then lay out a “loose” outline. You will, no doubt, change this outline a number of times, but having something to look at now will at least help you stay with your story instead of writing two or three different stories because of running off on tangents as you write.

You can use the old tried-and-true classic outline format to do your planning, or you can simply write out a few notes or a paragraph for each scene you plan to include in your story. Many authors plan out their entire novels in such paragraphs. And some writers plan out each individual scene as well as the effects of each scene on the people who were involved in it.

One plan includes writing each scene on a note card, followed by a second card explaining the effects of that scene. The writer can then lay out the cards in front of him as he begins each new chapter and write out what he sees in his notes. Naturally, there may be a number of additions or subtractions – or some moving scenes around – putting them into a different chapter – but that’s what creative writing is all about.

(NOTE: If, while you are writing one story, you do get an idea for a totally different story, stop long enough to jot down the main idea that came to you – along with any notes about a character that you know will be a part of that story. Then put those notes away until you are finished with the story in progress. EXCEPTION: The exception to this rule is that if you find yourself pulled back to the new story again and again – or the ideas for it are coming much easier than the ideas for the first story, then, by all means, put #1 away in a drawer, and write # 2. This may be your masterpiece!)

Most of the time, characters and plot tend to take on a life of their own as you write. Do not be alarmed if you find a character wanting to do some things or say some things that you had not intended. If you are brave, let it happen. Then go back to the piece a day later and see how you feel about it. The same is true with plot. You will very likely have new ideas that come along as you write, and your story may turn in a direction you hadn’t even considered in the beginning. You may end up with an entirely different ending than you planned.

Now, there is a thin line between letting your imagination and creativity have this freedom and in being confused about what you are writing. That is one reason to have an initial loose outline. Each time you find a character changing his or her nature, you can stop and ask yourself, is this helping the story or hurting it? The same is true with plot. Often, you will have to wait a day or two and go back to the story to make that decision, but most of the time, you will not be on a strict deadline.


* Releasing the Creative Writer in You, © 2013 by Sandra Pavloff Conner

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Share Your World 2016 – Week 36

Come on, you know you’d like to share some things about yourself. Just hop over to Cee’s place and get the details about how to participate in this project.

Question  # 1: List 2 things you have to be happy about.

1. Knowing Jesus Christ personally
2. Having the opportunity to write things that encourage, entertain, and help other people.

Question # 2: If you could take a photograph, paint a picture, or write a story of any place in the world, where would it be?

PIC FOR SM.MT. SERIES COVER - FB - smallerMy first choice would be the Great Smoky Mountains, and my second choice would be the coast of Maine. But, in fact, I have taken loads of pictures of the Great Smoky Mountains, and I have written a whole series of novels set in those mountains. So part of my dream has come true. (The following is an advertisement: If you’d like to read some or all of the stories in my Smoky Mountain Series, just follow this link to my Amazon author’s page and you’ll find the first four books in digital available at the Kindle Store. There’s also a free Kindle app available for any device in case you don’t have your own Kindle.)

Question # 3: Should children be seen and not heard?

Absolutely not!  Children are so full of life and so fresh (until we adults pressure them into the corrupted, dogmatic, politically correct molds we’ve made for ourselves). The freshness and zest for life make children a source of energy and revelation that we all need to take advantage of from time to time. I’ve learned so much from kids, and as a teacher, I was constantly amazed at the depth and creativity I found in young people.

Now, of course, I saw discipline problems as well. But in general, the truth is that if parents begin early to develop good discipline in their very small children, that discipline will carry through into adulthood. (The biggest problem I see is that most parents have no self-discipline themselves, and because of that they cannot discipline their children. Hence, the kids pick up the parents’ undisciplined life-style, and we have the problem multiplied over and over.)

The best answer to this question is that children should be disciplined, but not muzzled.

Question # 4: List at least 5 of your favorite first names.

Well, now, I’m going to have to list 6 in order to be fair to the girls and boys both.

Girls:  Hannah, Kate, Joy

Boys: Simon, Sebastian, Jonah

Bonus Question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

I’m very grateful that I’ve had my new car to drive for the past two weeks. It makes life sooooooooo much easier.

This coming week, I’m looking forward to preparing the materials for my next creative writing class, which begins September 8.

 

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Share Your World 2016 – Week 20

To participate in “Share Your World” visit “Cee’s Photography”.

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Question # 1:  When do you feel most connected with others?

When  I’m teaching them. It seems to be true whether I’m teaching the Word of God or a writing class or a blogging class. Any period of time when I am sharing with people some part of knowledge that will make their lives better or that will help them to grow and do something important to them, I feel very closely connected.

I relish those times because so much of my life is lived in a solitary state. Because I’m in ministry, I spend a great deal of time studying the Word of God and praying. Both of those activities are best done alone. When I’m preparing a lesson — regardless of the subject matter — I need to be alone in order to concentrate and give it my best work. And since one of the biggest parts of my life is writing, that, too, requires total solitude. I’m not the kind of person who goes to a coffee shop to write my books. I’m able to do some writing even when I find I have to sit in a restaurant or library at times, but I do my best writing when I am totally alone and with no noise.

I enjoy sitting and visiting with friends and family, and I do manage to connect with them pretty well during those times, but it’s when  I’m actually teaching and interacting with someone to whom I’m imparting knowledge that I “feel” most connected.

Question # 2:  What daily habit would you like to introduce to your life?

Returning to a pattern of cooking and eating more regularly. Because I have the freedom to do as I please where most meals are concerned — and because I am generally doing much of the solitary work that I spoke of in question # 1 —  I often eat at erratic hours and seldom put the time and effort into actually preparing food the way I did 10 years ago. But I always  enjoyed cooking. I guess it just can’t compete with the writing and the teaching these days.

Question # 3:  What one mini-little-adventure would you like to have in the coming week?

I’d like to fall in love. It’s been a long time since I was really in love, and it’s such a great experience. Of course, it has it’s up’s and down’s — as all things do in real life — but all the joys are worth the aggravations ——— well, at least that’s how I remember it. Maybe this week, if my adventure comes true, I’ll find out if I still feel that way. I’ll let you know.

Question # 4:  List at least 5 things or events that changed your life.

  1. Accepting Jesus Christ as my Lord.
  2. Being baptized in the Holy Spirit
  3. Marrying my husband
  4. My husband’s death
  5. Writing my first novel

Bonus Question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

I’m grateful that I FINALLY finished a novel that I started 4 years ago and have struggled to get finished. During that four years I completed two other novels and saw them published, but this one kept getting away from me. I don’t feel I am required to finish every story I start, but I felt this one had real merit, and I didn’t want to give up on it. But whew!  I thank God it’s done!  (A lot of my readers won’t like the ending of this book, because it’s different from the norm in my novels, but I believe the ending is what it’s supposed to be, so that’s what counts.)

This coming week, I’m looking forward to basking in the joy of not feeling guilty and not mentally beating myself up because I didn’t write another chapter in that book. It’s done, it’s done, it’s done!

 

 

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A Dream Come True – or – How ‘Everything’s Jake’ Was Born

BLACK TYPEWRITER - with JAKE“Where do your stories come from?” people ask. And my normal answer begins with, “Actually there are about as many different sources as there are stories.” And sometimes the answers can get pretty involved. But, with this little story – Everything’s Jake – it’s a ridiculously simple answer: I dreamed this story.

Yep, that’s right. As hoaky as it sounds, I dreamed this one. Well, to be more specific, when I began waking one morning, I was in the throws of the story. Then I floated into that unique hazy land that exists only between  sleep and wakefulness. You know – that place where you’re awake enough to know you’ve been dreaming, but still caught up in the dream itself enough that your conscious mind refuses to let go just yet and begins to “finish” the dream for you. If you’re being held prisoner by someone, your thoughts start racing through possible scenarios for escape, and if you’re in the middle of a great kiss, you try to find ways to make it last longer.

When I got to that semi-conscious state, I had the root of the plot and not quite half of it played out. I had my heroine’s nickname, thus tempting my conscious mind to later form that name into the title of the story. Now, my hero was a little more vague. He was there alright, but I knew he’d take a little more work – the kind that comes only after you’ve gotten fully awake – and maybe even downed a couple cups of coffee.

No matter: I was off to a great start. But then I hit a snag. I just couldn’t seem to get the story to play out to the end. Enter my blogging family. I’ve been very grateful for my WordPress buddies any number of times, but no more so than when I realized I could use them to help me force a story to completion. I decided I’d make myself write the story for my readers here at “The Right Word Makes All The Difference,” and, that being the case, I would be forced to finish it in a timely manner. So I jumped in with both feet and announced that I’d post the story one chapter at a time on a continuous basis until it was finished.

Easy-peasy. Well – maybe not so “peasy” – but much more beneficial than any other remedy I could think of. Getting tremendous feedback from faithful readers – and lots and lots of encouragement from them – caused me to remain diligent about posting on a regular schedule. And before I knew it, Everything’s Jake was a finished story, and I loved it. That fact doesn’t mean everyone else will feel the same. None of us writes a story that everyone likes. But some people will love this little story as much as I do, and that’s who I’m writing for after all.

So there you have it. Everything’s Jake, which made its debut in digital format on the Amazon Kindle Store this past weekend, is what you’d have to call literally “a dream come true.” I hope a few of you hop over to Amazon and grab it for your e-reader. (It’s on sale for $0.99 through November). I also hope you find it a happy, fun book with just a touch of something deeper than fun clinging to you after you’ve read the words “The End.”

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P. S. If you do read the book and like it, I’d really appreciate your going back to the page where you ordered it and saying a few words in the “Customer Review” section at the bottom of that page. It will help others to find and enjoy the book too.

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