Up for Grabs #4

Wherein I have written something, whether a single line or two, or several paragraphs, but think it highly unlikely I will ever do anything with them beyond that snippet.  Therefore, they are herewith put ‘up for grabs’.  If any of you writers can and wish to make use of them, feel completely free to do so.  I don’t even require any sort of acknowledgement if you do.  You can take a tiny part of them, the thing in its entirety exactly as is, or the basic idea and completely do with it what you will.  It just seemed pointless to let these things sit ignored on my computer until the end of time, knowing full well I won’t do anything more with them.  Rest assured, if there is any idea I have even the vaguest intention of pursuing, I will not be posting it here.  So, no fear that I’ll change my mind.

Light-Lenders                    [and there are also Dark-Lenders]

little girl can put thoughts/ideas into people’s minds, so subtly they don’t notice, and uses the ability to guide those around her to better choices – kinder, more tolerant, more patient

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Your Writing CAN Improve if you keep at it – Redux

In November 2016, I did a post about the above topic wherein I mentioned a particular problem I had noticed in my writing:

More recently, there are three problems that have stood out:  leading into dialogue without using a speaking verb (He nodded, “I agree.”)

I have been working at cleaning up old stories, as well as not continuing that bad habit.  Somewhere along the line, it occurred to me that often adding a speaking verb wasn’t needed.  Instead it worked better to fix the punctuation.

Using the above example, here is my progression:

original:  He nodded, “I agree.”

better:  He nodded, saying, “I agree.”

probably even better still:  He nodded.  “I agree.”

Sticking ‘saying’ in there was sort of awkward and really not at all necessary.  In correcting the comma to a period, the sentence worked fine and said the same thing but more cleanly.

That is not to say that you should remove all speaking verbs and alter your punctuation accordingly.  Consider something like this:

               “I don’t have a choice,” he snapped.  “Not everyone has the luxury of a choice.”

versus this:  “I don’t have a choice.  Not everyone has the luxury of a choice.”

The latter sentence can work, and you may prefer it, but if I show you nothing else you may not realize his state of mind.  The latter sentence could suggest resolution to the way things are or he might be simply stating fact in an unemotional way.  But the first sentence gives a clue with the word ‘snapped’.  He’s disgruntled, possibly even angry and bitter, about that lack of choice.  In that case, the speaking verb used helps to signal the reader to what he is feeling/thinking about his situation. 

My first example wherein I removed the speaking verb altogether didn’t require that signal.  He agreed, both through words and body language (the nod) that he is in agreement with something that has been said.  Even without a speaking verb, that is perfectly clear to the reader.

What about you?  What ongoing issues keep cropping up in your writing?  Are you looking for ways to correct them, and then maybe even to improve upon the correction?

Previous article:

https://mymindlessdrivel.wordpress.com/2016/11/26/your-writing-can-improve-if-you-keep-at-it/

FYI, if you’re wondering, yes, I did finish the story I mentioned last week that I was working on.

Progress

Was on vacation this week (finally!), and did actually get some writing done on the (very) long story I’ve been working on for nearly a year now.  For writers of original content, a year isn’t that long a period of time, but my fan fiction stories are usually shorter and therefore quicker to write.  Usually.  Lately those stories have been getting longer and longer.  The last one was 110,000+ words, so pretty much a novel, and this one has hit that mark without being finished.

How long or short should a story be?  I usually say it should be however long it takes to tell the story.  In the current case, the problem has been finding the ending.  Today, I finally determined what that was (and wrote it).  Now I just have to finish getting there.  At least now I have some idea where I’m heading and what still needs to happen along the way.

You know how when you first start a jigsaw puzzle, you may know what the picture is supposed to be, but you can’t really see it as you place the initial pieces.  As you fill in more and more pieces, slowly the picture begins to emerge, and it becomes more evident how to fill in the holes.

Yeah, that’s where I’m at right now.  With any luck, the story will be done by the end of year.

YES!

“The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.” 

                 – Dolly Parton

Make a Difference to One, or More

Quite a few years ago, I remember reading at least a portion of a ‘feel good’ story, and I thought it worth sharing.  I didn’t know the source of the story, but a Google search turned up this, which pretty much gives the story that I remember, as well as indicating the source of it.

[Posted on Peter Straube’s webpage, 5 Jun 2011:

               https://eventsforchange.wordpress.com/2011/06/05/the-starfish-story-one-step-towards-changing-the-world/%5D

Once upon a time, there was an old man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach every morning before he began his work. Early one morning, he was walking along the shore after a big storm had passed and found the vast beach littered with starfish as far as the eye could see, stretching in both directions.

Off in the distance, the old man noticed a small boy approaching.  As the boy walked, he paused every so often and as he grew closer, the man could see that he was occasionally bending down to pick up an object and throw it into the sea.  The boy came closer still and the man called out, “Good morning!  May I ask what it is that you are doing?”

The young boy paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean. The tide has washed them up onto the beach and they can’t return to the sea by themselves,” the youth replied. “When the sun gets high, they will die, unless I throw them back into the water.”

The old man replied, “But there must be tens of thousands of starfish on this beach. I’m afraid you won’t really be able to make much of a difference.”

The boy bent down, picked up yet another starfish and threw it as far as he could into the ocean. Then he turned, smiled and said, “It made a difference to that one!”

adapted from The Star Thrower, by Loren Eiseley (1907 – 1977)

In today’s difficult world, we all need to be difference-makers, even if it is limited in scope.

Note to Self

I know you’re lazy, and several trips to the car to bring groceries up to the apartment is annoying, but you are not a pack animal.  Do NOT load yourself down with everything to the point that you can barely walk just to avoid another trip.  Don’t make me smack you upside the head, girl!

Obsessive? Compulsive? Disordered?

Not long ago, blogger Hannah Heath wrote a blog post with tips for writing OCD characters.  She did an excellent job and the article is well worth reading.  (https://hannahheath-writer.blogspot.com/2018/10/8-tips-for-writing-characters-with-OCD.html)

I have a friend who is OCD.  Unless we know someone who has been diagnosed with it, it’s doubtful we understand it.  Media representations usually focus on a few basic variations, but it goes far beyond that.  In the case of my friend, neither she nor I would have thought she had OCD until a doctor finally diagnosed her issues as that.  The symptoms she was having didn’t fit the nice little version so often seen/mentioned as we expected.

In case you didn’t know, OCD can’t be cured.  With treatment it may be controlled, but there will still be instances when stress or other factors make it resurface with a vengeance.  Is my friend a crazy, angst-filled person who is depressing to be around?  No, not at all.  Most people who know her and have not seen her struggle think she is a happy, cheerful, upbeat, bouncy, fun person who is living a good life, doing work she enjoys.

The truth is, for a long time, I didn’t know what was going on.  She thought it was obvious to me, but what I was seeing just looked like laziness or some other reason that she made excuses not to do things.  I had never encountered anyone with OCD so I had no frame of reference for it.  Once she finally opened up about what was actually happening with her, we both learned a great deal.  She’s had a lot of treatment.  It is ongoing and it has helped her to function, but she does have setbacks.

My point, and Hannah Heath’s, is that if you want to write about something like OCD or depression or anything else, you need to become informed.  Don’t simply go for the stereotype, and don’t turn it into a joke.  It’s not a joke for the people who suffer.  They didn’t choose this and they don’t want it affecting their lives like it does, but life isn’t always under our control.

When you write, dig a little deeper and you’ll bring more complex characters to life than if you simply fall back on the cliché.

I’ve mentioned that I write fan fiction.  In fan fiction, you will see a lot of the writers writing the same story over and over.  They may change a tiny detail here or there but it is the same boring story.  In all stories (fan fiction, original or even comics), try to bring something new and fresh into it.  If you are female, you haven’t lived your life exactly like every other female your age.  So your stories should have different females with different life experiences and different traits and different interests.

You don’t want your reader getting twenty pages in and thinking “I must have read this before because it all seems totally familiar”.  Stand out.  Be different.  Reflect the diversity of life in a diversity of stories and characters.

It’s Time for a Change

And not just the time on our clocks.  If you are a U.S. citizen, please Vote.

It’s easy to be complacent.  To leave it to others to fix things.  To say that your one vote won’t count.  It probably won’t, but if 2 million people decide “it won’t count, it won’t matter”, those 2 million non-votes COULD make all the difference in the world.  You don’t exist in a vacuum.  Voting isn’t about your one vote making the difference.  It’s about having a voice.  If you don’t vote, you have no right to complain if you don’t like the way things are.  Your silence helped make them the way they are.

There’s a reason why it’s called “the Silent Majority”.

Find your voice and use it.  Please.  For the good of the country, for the good of us all.