2019.04.23 The Newbie gets to work

 

By Diane E. Bokor

Hello again from the Newbie Writer, who a few months ago decided to get serious and develop professional habits.  I am happy to report that I have been chipping away at my essay project, producing lots of words on the page. Hooray!

I write to you from Camp NaNoWriMo (the thirty days of April).  My days here at the (virtual) Camp have been significantly rearranged.  Well before dawn’s early light, well before the first bird sings, I wake to the inner trumpet call, the reveille, the call to the keyboard.  

A Writer told me, “Write before your inner critic wakes up.”

That advice seems to work.  

Work. The word keeps coming up.  When I discuss my project with non-writer friends, I often get,

“Oh, that sounds like a lot of work,” as they shake their heads, no-no-no-not-for-me.

Work, as in that school essay they were assigned.  

Another Writer told me, “Give yourself space and time to really wander, to really enjoy the process, especially of the first draft.”

So daily, here at Camp NaNo, I get lost each morning, playing in the woods of words, writing only about things that interest me. It is becoming a habit.

I have a strong work ethic. I admire those with a strong work ethic. But the work of creative writing versus the work of chores on the mundane to-do list…Aye, there’s the rub. I’ve been trained to get up before the birds to keep my household running smoothly.  It comes naturally to me to start a day by tidying the house, responding to emails and calling customer service about yet another situation that needs to be resolved.

Here at Camp, I get the writing done first and go about the day with this funny virtuous feeling in my heart.  I fed my starved inner Artist (who has been hiding in the dark for decades). I worked toward my Goal.

As James Brown would say, “I feel good!”

A new way to live.  Writer with a capital W. Thank you to the women of Montana Women Writers, who show up to share and support and show the way.

Your new friend,

The Newbie

Thoughts from a Newbie

Diane

Diane E Bokor is a deeply rooted Montana transplant who loves to hike, garden and explore new horizons of the mind.  She lives in Kalispell with her famous dog, Roscoe.

 

 

By Diane E. Bokor

Do I qualify to be in a group called Montana Women Writers?

I am a woman who lives in Montana.  I like to write. I was invited to take a seat at the table.  I showed up and now I am writing a short piece for the MWW blog.  If this piece gets published, I have my answer! I am shy about my writing.  I don’t have much confidence — yet. But, thank you, Montana Women Writers for your openness to a shy newbie wannabe like me.

Does everyone start with a vomit draft?  I love my fingertips on the keyboard trying to keep up with my bubbling thoughts.  It’s a race and a real mess. If I can remember to hit “save” occasionally, the thoughts are captured and the crafting of a piece begins.  It feels like good, honest work to change fragmented thoughts into cogent sentences and shape sentences into a well-formed essay. Adding commas and capitals or finding typos is as satisfying as tidying my house with windows open to a fresh Montana breeze.  I am always aware of the red pen of my 12th grade English teacher, Miss Basenbach.  She was a real hard ass and I am ever grateful.

For my current writing life, my goal is simple: write reflections on the 70 years of this life.  I have told my shy writer-self that these reflections are for the benefit of my grandchildren. That is a pure motivation and a target audience that, theoretically, will be automatically appreciative.  These current reflections are my heart’s desire, the meaningful purpose of my third act.

When discussion around a writers’ table turns to plot, publication and agents, I merely smile and listen.  What could I have to contribute to that discussion? One day, while merely listening, I heard a jokey little comment about “developing professional habits”.  It led to the discovery of Turning Pro by Steven Pressfield and that changed everything.  A switch got flipped. No more vague daydreaming. I know my purpose.  I am developing professional habits. I show up at the keyboard each day (ummm, mostly) and I capture my life stories.  I no longer feel like a fraud. I can participate in this blog because of a fresh start.

This newbie can truthfully say she is beginning to be a Montana Woman Writer.

WRITING WITH FEELING

betty.ed (2)

 

Author: Betty Kuffel

Through the Lens of a Writer

Writers have a special way of looking at things. Envisioned scenes are painted with feelings, smells, sounds and touch. Delving into a character’s thoughts with interior dialogue adds depth, revealing desires and motivation.

Smells are a strong part of memory storage. A recalled odor conjures up acute memories of time and place. If the wind blows from the wrong direction across a Montana landscape, the smell of a nearby feedlot might drift to a beautiful outdoor wedding and overwhelm the sweet smell of flowers carried by the bride. When her marriage turns bad, she may recall the smell of manure on that fateful day. Or the sweet smell of pipe tobacco may instantly bring to mind the image of your loving grandfather.

Using comparisons and stark contrasts enhance description:

+My pet rat’s sandpaper tail wrapped beneath my chin as her silky body snuggled against my neck like a miniature kitty.

+Moonrise inched over the Rocky Mountains slashing the black slate of Flathead Lake.

Coloring your writing:

cinnamon hair in rain.ed (2)

Cinnamon hair

fiery sunrise.med (2)

A fiery sunrise

pomegranate.ed (2)

Pomegranate jewels

Unique colors descriptions produce immediate images in the reader’s mind.

Using background music when you write adds to setting and feeling:

Many writers use music to set mood when writing scenes. Free internet sites allow you to choose specific songs, genres and themes to write by (Pandora, Spotify). Novels set in a certain era bring popular songs to mind and can be used to solidify and enhance a setting. Playing the songs can get you in the mood to write about the period in your novel.

“Without music and dance, life is a journey through a desert.” ― Pat Conroy

Additional quotes from Beach Music written by Pat Conroy, one of my favorite authors:

Touch and feelings:

“The water was pure and cold and came out of the Apennines tasting like snow melted in the hands of a pretty girl.” ― Pat Conroy

“My own tears seemed landlocked and frozen in a glacier I could not reach or touch within me.” ― Pat Conroy

 

Write scenes as if painting a picture. Happy reading and writing.

Thanks for stopping by.

Betty

Amazon Author Page  

 

ACTION PACKED SCENES

911DR - 2BAll of us are risk-takers. Just getting out of bed in the morning sets us on the road to making hundreds of decisions each day. What a character eats and wears aren’t very interesting unless they’re enjoying exotic foods in faraway places. No one really cares if the character brushes her teeth, we just assume she has. A reader wants to experience life by living vicariously through the activities of others.

Choices have consequences. Our characters get themselves into terrible predicaments. It’s those crises readers like. They experience being stalked by a madman or chased by zombies from the comfort of a Barcalounger. Driving too fast, mountain hiking without bear spray, driving while drunk, aerobatic flying, firing someone and getting pregnant are all potentially dangerous common experiences from choices made and sometimes regretted. When characters get themselves into dangerous situations the events must be realistic.

We like to read exciting books about complex characters who keep us awake long after the lights should be out. How do we write action scenes about risks and make them compelling? Conflict drives a story. The character is often in deep trouble because of poor choices that carry risk to lives, safety, lovers, finances, family or world. If you are writing an action scene, reading how other great authors do it can save you time and angst.

The event must be appropriate to your genre and characters. Accuracy is also important. If you are writing a gun scene and have never fired a weapon, research online and handling the type of weapon used in the scene along with interviewing a reliable shooter will make your scene more accurate and believable. If, on the other hand, you’re writing a memoir, you have the emotion, circumstances and scene embedded in your brain forever, but can you write it effectively?

Be sure the scene reveals your character accurately? Having someone critique your work is important to assure validity and readability. Being factually correct is essential in nonfiction. In fiction, we just make it up, but this doesn’t mean you don’t have to be accurate. Each of us has expertise in varied areas and when scenes are factually incorrect, readers will notice, and reviews may be negative.

If you have questions about specific aspects of your scene, ask another writer with expertise in the area, or interview someone in that field. My history of flying, marksmanship, and practicing ER medicine frequently generates questions from authors who are writing related scenes. A law enforcement crime scene evaluation course I took has proven valuable when writing about investigation processes.

Here are a few thoughts on constructing action scenes:

  • Remember, each scene has a beginning, middle and end.
  • Building tension with conflict begins with simmering emotion that accelerates and foreshadows the event. Include mood and setting.
  • Action verbs are key to sweeping a reader into the scene. Example: He ran quickly… is not nearly as effective as: He bolted through….
  • Clarify the characters’ needs and emotions. What is at stake? What if she/he loses?
  • Use time-lapse to intensify the scene. Is time running out?
  • Be sure actions are shown and dialogue is short. Intensify a visual of emotion by few words and a descriptive action. Examples: He yelled, “You can’t go. Please stay. I love you so much.” More effective: He pulled her back in an embrace. “Marry me.”

 Take some risks in your writing, join a critique group. Contact Authors of the Flathead.org to join a group of writers helping writers.

Be safe and enjoy life.

Happy Thanksgiving from my yard to yours.

6027.cropped Turkey

Betty Kuffel

Dr. Kuffel’s books on Amazon

Learning my colors

By Janice McCaffrey

One of my first blogs back in February 2016, I shared a technique that helped me enhance first, second, third, and so on story drafts. Layering. I start with a very rough draft and then work on applying layers: dialogue, body language, physical descriptions of characters and settings, etc.

Currently I’m layering color.

In my July 2018 blog I listed online resources to help improve descriptions. I’m working with site kathysteineman.com to learn my colors. It lists adjectives that help describe a certain color.

For example

cat black

Cat Black

and

smoky black

Smoky Black

Then there are words like hue, tone, tint, and shade to describe differences in colors. According to DifferenceBetween.net a hue is the brightest, purest form of a color…red, yellow, blue, etc. A general term that refers to a pure color that has been lightened or darkened is tone. A true color that has been lightened is a tint. A true color that’s been darkened is a shade.

cornsilk blonde

Corn silk

 

 

apricot blonde

Apricot Blonde

 

Hair colors are fun to play with. There are many descriptions of blonde online. Here are two:

 

color wheel

 

Reviewing the color wheel has helped me dress my characters and decorate their space

 

 

 

 

And check out dailywritingtips.com’s How to Punctuate Descriptions of Colors By Mark Nichol – It’s a short two minute read and very helpful. Easy to understand explanations for  the correct use of hyphens and commas and how their misuse can change your intended meaning.

Metaphorically, I’m a three year old. No, not in dog years . . . in writers’ years. learning my colors

And I’m having fun learning my colors!