Monday, April 27, 2009

The Ah Ha! Moment

This is it, writers. You've only got 500 words to go, and your short short story is complete. Or perhaps, you've now realized you've got the beginnings of a full-length story or even a novel.

Whatever you're writing, you will now want to bring us to a moment of discovery. This discovery might lead to your epiphany—the ending of your short story. Or it could lead to a larger conflict and a bigger story. It's up to you. Whatever you decide, your readers want a "ah ha!" moment right about now.

How to do this? I would take a look at your first 250 words. Inside the text there's an image. Something a little quirky, perhaps. It's definitely sensory and a little mystery. It makes you a little nervous—this image. You've been tempted to edit it out, but it's a good thing you didn't, because now, I would like you to take this image and repeat it at the end of your climactic moment. Let it spin and twist the narrative. Let it blossom into something unexpected. Give your protagonist a line of dialogue that reveals something completely new and yet familiar.

Have fun with this. Don't stress over it. Enjoy. Breathe. And now, your story is done! I can't wait to see the winner!

With love and luck,
Jamie

Respond by sending your entry to wordforwords@sbcglobal.net. When the contest closes, we'll announce the winner and post the entry on the blog. The winner will receive The Writer's Toolbox.
This is it, writers. You've only got 500 words to go, and your short short story is complete. Or perhaps, you've now realized you've got the beginnings of a full-length story or even a novel. Whatever you're writing, you will now want to bring us to a moment of discovery. This discovery might lead to your epiphany-the ending of your short story. Or it could lead to a larger conflict and a bigger story. It's up to you. Whatever you decide, your readers want a "ah ha!" moment right about now. How to do this? I would take a look at your first 250 words. Inside the text there's an image. Something a little quirky perhaps. It's definitely sensory and a little mystery. It makes you a little nervous--this image. You've been tempted to edit it out, but it's a good thing you didn't, because now, I would like you to take this image and repeat it at the end of your climactic moment. Let it spin and twist the narrative. Let it blossom into something unexpected. Give your protagonist a line of dialogue that reveals something completely new and yet familiar. Have fun with this. Don't stress over it. Enjoy.Breathe. And now, your story is done! I can't wait to see the winner!With love and luck, Jamie

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Taste of Lipstick

Hi, Readers:

Here you are—in the home stretch. Your story is getting complicated, a little wild. Perhaps it even feels as if things are getting out of hand, and you are no longer completely in control of the narrative.

In fact, your characters are doing all sorts of unexpected things and my goodness—your protagonist is really misbehaving! It would seem that he or she has completely veered off course and is no longer following any preconceived plan that you may have come up with when you started this exercise. Things are downright crazy, and you feel as if you are lost in the forest and the sun is going down and you forgot your flashlight!

Well, congratulations! This is exactly where you should be in your story. You are reaching toward your climactic moment, the three-quarter mark. This is the time when most writers get a little nervous. And knowing that you only have one more exercise to go after this, may be leading you to want to wrap things up. Resist this urge! You will have next week to worry about tying up loose ends and creating a satisfying resolution. For now, for this moment, for this week—go wild. Allow your characters to say unforgettable/unforgivable things. Let them take action. Get physical. Push the story into dangerous places. Let the story surprise even you.

Here is your new prompt. I'm taking it from the "Sixth Sense Cards" in The Writers Toolbox. This is a visual and sensory image and you can do anything you want with it. But, be sure to have fun!

See you next week for the big finish!

"the taste of lipstick"

Respond by sending your entry to wordforwords@sbcglobal.net. When the contest closes, we'll announce the winner and post the entry on the blog. The winner will receive The Writer's Toolbox.

Monday, April 13, 2009

A New Direction

Hello, Word for Word Readers—

First of all, congratulations! You've made the big leap and have begun your story! Characters have introduced themselves to you. Situations have emerged. Complications abound! And you are in the middle of it all. What an exciting time in the process!

Okay, so now that you've done all this, it's time to push forward into a new direction. I'm about to give you a nonsequitur sentence, which is simply a transition I've randomly pulled from The Writers Toolbox. It's designed to throw you a little off course. Don't worry, it won't be painful! However, it will get you to think outside the box and take your narrative into a new direction you couldn't have possibly predetermined. This is the whole point of right brain writing—to keep your story fresh and organic. It gets the writer's critical/analytical left-brain out of the way so that your story's twists and turns will surprise even you.

Okay, so here's what I'd like you to do. Take a look at the sentence below and then just "live" with it for a few days. Let it sink into your subconscious mind. Walk around with it in your head, but wait until Saturday or Sunday to begin writing. You're going to take this sentence and add it onto the first 500 words of your story. Don't worry about whether it connects or even makes sense right away. Go with the flow. Write quickly without overthinking. Don't censor yourself or try too hard to make it make sense. This is the part of your story that is still opening to the world, so anything is possible. It's time to take some literary risks, since you're approaching what screenwriters call "the midpoint crisis," so this is no time to be timid. Let it rip! And have fun! Now here's your nonsequitur:

We were drinking champagne and losing our shirts.

Write just 500 words. I'll be back next week with another prompt to add to your story.

Respond to the prompt by sending your entry to wordforwords@sbcglobal.net. When the contest closes, we'll announce the winner and post the entry on the blog. The winner will receive The Writer's Toolbox.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Writing From the Right Side of the Brain

Hello, writers—I'm thrilled to be the guest blogger on Adele's fabulous site! I'm the creator of The Writer's Toolbox: Creative Games and Exercises for Inspiring the "Write" Side of your Brain.

Writing from the right side of the brain means writing from that part of your brain that's intuitive and nonlinear, and maybe even a little illogical. When you write from the right side of your brain, you're willing to make unexpected leaps and transitions in the narrative that doesn't always make sense—not at first glance, anyway, but later down the road, it does make sense. But all this involves a leap of faith and a willingness to take creative risks.

Actually, it's very similar to the technique improvisational actors and musicians use to create original scenes and unexpected riffs. You've seen it on Who's Line is It Anyway?, where a character playing, say, the part of a new doctor will get a line from the audience, and even though it would seem very odd for someone playing a doctor to pronounce, "There's nothing I like better than a ripe banana!" the actor makes it work, and somehow makes it make sense. That's the challenge and that's the delight of the right brain—whether you're acting or painting or making music or writing.

But rather than talking about it, let me show you. Let's get started on a game. Here's your first sentence, taken directly from The Writer's Toolbox:

Dad gave me a wink, like we were pals or something.

Now, you've got one week to write the first 500 words for the beginning of a short story. No more. Just 500 words. Next week, you'll get a nonsequitur sentence. Week three, you'll get another and, finally, a last prompt to take you to the end of your story.Oh, and have fun!

Respond to the prompt by sending your entry to wordforwords@sbcglobal.net. After the month-long contest closes, we'll judge the entries, and the winning entry will be announced and posted on the blog. The winner will receive The Writer's Toolbox.