Summer Vacation isn’t Just for the Europeans

One thing you hear on morning “news” programs and in culture in general is that Europe essentially “shuts down” for the summer, especially in August. They take long “holidays” over there. I suppose that’s what I could call my extended absence from this blog – a holiday. Now, in the sweltering slog of August, I am oddly refreshed and ready muse on writing and embrace my writing muse.

Instead of the typical “What Did I Do on my Summer Vacation” or even the now-trite “What I DIDN’T Do on my SUmmer Vacation” essays, I have a different prompt. Because screw summer. Too hot.Writing about things you hate can be fun, but things turn angry. And ugly. To ease yourselves into harder work after a mental and carpal vacation, write with pleasure.

1. Pick a season/month/day you LOVE.

2. Then, using the first letter of that thing you love (imagine Old Spice Guy saying this to get you in the mood), make a list of everything you associate with it.

Mine is Fall: Fall leaves, football, fresh cider, French ki cinema, I mean CINEMA! Mmm…cinammon in apple pie

3. Lose yourself (as I did) and suddenly, you’re writing beyond the confines and exhilarated to continue.

Rory’s Story Cubes

I am a mad plotter. Consequently, I am not a fan of journaling from a character’s point of view, as it takes me away from completing a draft and focusing on something that will not end up in the final cut. But my self-prescribed writing therapy has me taking the whole writing thing veeery veeery slowly. Plus, with 82% of my day spent in front of a screen, a break was welcome.

I grabbed a recent birthday present, the “Create” journal and a new game, Rory’s Story Cubes. At work, all I hear lately is how they’re awesome, and I tell customers they’re awesome. Last night, I used them in my journaling, and ohboy, they’re awesome!

I rolled the nine dice, rattling my roommate who was watching Rory on Gilmore Girls, coincidentally, and got nine different pictures: a tree, a flashlight, a hand, a moon, a flower, a magnet, a tent, scales (as in justice), and a speech bubble. The genius of these cubes is that they force you to think creatively. I had many markers of a camp scene, but a big U magnet and the scales of justice? Once I put pencil to paper, I started answering questions without realizing it. Suddenly, I had the backstory of the beginning of the friendship between my main character and her best friend. And apparently my mc’s crush was there. I had been undecided about whether he turned out to be good in the novel or not, and this little journal entry helped me figure him out.

Sparking my creativity helped me realize that a novel’s present doesn’t exist in a vacuum. These fictional people have a past, and thanks to the cubes, a future.

Prompt:

Write¬† a scene from your own character’s past or future using the nine cubes listed in bold above.

Fill in the Blanks

Play the old-school game MASH for yourself or one of your characters. But don’t just stop once you learn you and Prince William will have 7.2 children, live in a shack in Amsterdam, and drive a purple Lamborghini. Fill in the blanks. How’d you and Will meet? Is it a really big shack? Was the Lamborghini a Spray-and-Wash giveaway and that’s why it’s purple?

Tell me the basic results in the comments!

Sending a Message – Exercise

Many people decry teens’ abilities to communicate (ie write) properly due to poor habits formed by constantly “chatting” via computers, cell phones, etc. This prompt aims to get budding writers to consider tone, details, dialogue, tags, etc., to determine what information is communicated and how well.

Materials needed:

at least 20 lines of an online chat or text messages wherein sender and receiver have at least 10 lines each in conversation you wouldn’t mind sharing with two other people, two other people (either in person or on the phone)

Steps:

1. Select the chat. Do not think too hard, but be careful to respect people’s privacy.

2. Have the two volunteers read the conversation aloud (either in front of you or on a three-way call). Do not give them context or preamble.

3. As they’re reading, mark the times when you think they’ve read something wrong, if it sounds too flat, if they have trouble understanding the words, etc.

4. Once they’re done reading, ask the volunteers what they thought the gist of the conversation was and what they thought the tone of each “speaker” was.

5. Now go back and re-write the conversation so that it communicates what you know in your heart and head was truly going on. Was your friend speaking ironically? Hilariously? Somberly? Discover ways to convey both your tone and that of your friend. Maybe give the situation context – set up the scene, introduce characters, etc.

6. Correct spelling and grammar errors.

7. Then have your volunteers read your practically-a-short-story conversation and your friend as well. Is everyone on the same page?

Online language (TM Britt Leigh, I think)) is a unique, oftentimes endearing way of communicating with people. It can give rise to new words, expressions, friends-only codes. But many times, brief is misconstrued as brusque, punctuation marks are used inappropriately as the only ways to indicate a joke, etc. Ideally this exercise will capture the conversation more accurately, and more broadly. Perhaps it could engender a whole new fiction!

Chapter One

It was a dark and stormy night. So I stayed in and started a blog. Though I may travel into another dimension in my dreams.

But you, grab a sandwich, book, and kitten and get in bed. That is perfection. This blog will not be. But it will be full of wit and whimsy and wherefores about the writing world.

At 25, I am facing an epoch in my life. I can feel it. One day I will have full books under my name in your local independent book store. Until then, check out my publishing progress, thoughts on the craft and industry, pieces of my mind, and general coming of age.

I love you forever, dear reader.

P.S. Bonus points if you can name the literary allusions riddled throughout this post.