As part of my Friday Fictioneers tales I’ve been posting a story about two cousins from Moose Knee who take a tour of Florida. It’s supposed to be a great time of year to go, but their plans have been derailed by the weather. In case you’re interested, here are the links to the three segments I’ve posted so far:
I appreciate all who come for a visit and say a special thanks to those of you who decide to follow my scribbles, both here and at Christine Composes, my fiction blog.
I once learned an old song, “Learn A Little Every Day.” As I go through life I realize that every day brings a new lesson in coping with life, people, myself, technology. I want to thank Jo at The Inquisitive Writer for helping me learn a little more about blogging: how to make a Read more line. Messing around, I also learned how to make a sticky post like this one. If you’re new to blogging you may want to check out her blogging tips.
I’m trying to get several other projects done, so won’t be posting much new writing here. However, I’m importing stories and poems from another blog I’ve closed down, trusting you’ll enjoy them and bear with me if you’ve seen the before.
I want to mention again, in case you’re interested, that I have published a children’s book for ages 4-8, called The Rescuing Day. The information is in the bar above; just click on My Children’s Book.
Overwhelmed by Adjectives
My mind registered a familiar ring tone and I reached for my navy faux-leather handbag, the one I’d bought with the gift certificate Mom gave me for the trendy new fashion store that just opened up three months ago at a nearby mall. I rummaged around, feeling my wallet, a few tissues, and several small spiral notebooks I carried for jotting down bits of poetry before I pulled out my shiny pink cell phone, now steadily tinkling out the tune to Fleur Elise, my favorite of all the tone options on this phone, hit the tiny green Talk button and said “Hello.”
The caller had hung up.
Would you? If this were the opening paragraph of your story, would you keep reading?
I started a book last week and soon discovered the writer is a lover of vividly descriptive adjectives. I had the feeling of walking on a wet beach where your feet sink into the sand at every step. In Chapter One the main character gathers her things, heads to work, and arrives there. Not what you’d call fast-paced, but her home and workplace were well described.
Some readers enjoy this type of descriptive writing and will find this story interesting. They are a market, albeit limited, some writers aim to please and that’s great. But like most readers, my attention span has become short. I like a bit of description, but then let’s get on with it. Give me a quick, smooth trip, no slogging through wet sand.
May Heaven Bless Good Editors
If you’re working on a novel and intending to publish it, do run it by a professional editor. And listen to their advice — even if it hurts.
The editorial cry of, “Cut, cut, cut!” can be painful. One tactful editor a century ago told a writer, “Your work is like a rare jewel. And like all jewels, it will sparkle all the more once it’s cut.”
Mark Twain once said, “When you see an adjective, kill it.” He admitted that adjectives do have their place, but cautions writers to use them sparingly.
For a travelogue descriptive adjectives are great, but do we care that, in the opening scene, Fleur Elise is this girl’s favorite among all the ring tones on this phone, or do we want to find out who’s calling and why?
Writer Charles Todd, in the Bess Crawford Mysteries series, has achieved what I’d call a perfect balance. While including descriptions of WWI battlefield scenes and the shattered bodies brought in for Bess and the doctors to patch up, the story line moves along quickly and holds a reader’s attention.
Jerry Jenkins Writers Guild
A few months back my husband signed up with the Jerry Jenkins Writers Guild and I started following his articles entitled “How to become a ferocious self editor.” We get a demonstration of how Jerry would edit the first page of someone’s manuscript — and he does EDIT. Chop, chop, chop!
The story may start out with 200 words and end up with 50 when he’s done, but he explains each change. We hear that one adjective is usually enough. Instead of talking about the great big house, you say the great house or the big house. Better yet, eliminate both and say the cottage or the mansion. Instead of “The lonely lost lamb shook with cold and fear,” pick one good adjective and choose your verb well. “The forlorn lamb shivered.”
Friday Fictioneers: Putting It Into Practice
This is a group hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Every week she posts a photo as the group’s writing prompt and we’re to post a hundred-word story in response. I’ve been finding these a real challenge!
A hundred words means barest bones. Every superfluous word goes. Every line that can possibly be omitted is.
My opening paragraph contains 102 words, the entire allotment for a for Friday Fictioneers story. Action sum total: a female answers her phone. For an FF story I’d boil it down to:
I grabbed my ringing phone from my purse. “Hello.”
Mom’s voice sounded worried. “Sue, I can’t reach Patty. Have you seen her lately?”
Word count: 23. And go on from there. In the final edit I might even have to cut out the purse, though its mention tells readers she’s on her cell phone and not at home. This type of editing is terrific practice for writing tight, which is mainly the writing that sells these days.
As a reader, are you fond of description in your stories, or do you prefer the “cut to the chase” version?
by Edgar Guest
Not for the sake of the gold,
not for the sake of the fame,
not for the prize would I hold
any ambition or aim:
I would be brave and be true
just for the good I can do.
I would be useful on earth,
serving some purpose or cause,
doing some labor of worth,
giving no thought to applause,
thinking less of the gold or the fame
than the joy and the thrill of the game.
Medals their brightness may lose,
fame be forgotten or fade;
any reward we may choose
leaves the account still unpaid.
But little real happiness lies
in fighting alone for a prize.
Give me the thrill of the task,
the joy of the battle and strife,
of being of use – and I’ll ask
no greater reward from this life.
Better than fame or applause
is striving to further a cause.
From his book, A Heap O’ Livin’
© 1916 by the Reilly & Britton Company
Hope you find this verse inspiring. I’ve also posted another fiction story about a fellow lost in a spring storm, titled A Whiff of Smoke, on Christine Composes.com.
Esther peered down the narrow hallway. A tunnel, almost, with its arches closing over her head. “We have to go through there?”
“Yes…if we want to see the rest of the art gallery,” their guide replied, his quiet sniff betraying his view of uncooperative tourists.
Like a snobby English butler, Esther thought. Well, she couldn’t help it. She was sweating now, terror almost suffocating her as she eyed the passage. Against it stood the fear of being left on this side all alone. The struggle in her mind paralyzed her.
“Let’s proceed, everyone.” The guide’s tone forbade any dissension.
Just looking at a picture like this makes me shiver. Can you guess why? 🙂
100-word story written for Friday Fictioneers This is a great exercise in making every word count!
Winter “Clipper” Roars Through
Yesterday morning our weather had warmed up here in Sask — temp got up to -9̊ C. Which brought in a fast-moving storm by evening with howling wind gusts that rattled our windows something fierce. I was afraid the power might go out, so I placed candles and flashlights in strategic places, just in case. Thankfully we haven’t had a lot of snow to blow, and not a lot came down during the “clipper”, or it would have been much worse for drivers.
This morning dawned clear and sunny, but the temp has dropped to -31̊ C, below -40 with wind-chill factored in. I call that “bitterly cold”! So I’m happy to stay inside all day, thankful I don’t have to pump gas or do any other out-in-all-weathers job.
Today’s Word Press prompt is someday. Very fitting.
Someday it will be spring. The grass will green up, the trees will bud and blossom, perennials will poke through. Someday. Meanwhile, today I plan to edit this book I’ve been working on, for teen boys.
I also posted Winter’s Day Dreams on Tree Top Haiku.
Book report: Hurricane
© 2003, 2008 by Terry Trueman
Speaking of a book for teen boys, I read one yesterday that I thought was terrific. In the book Hurricane, by Terry Trueman, Jose, a young teen from a small Honduras village, stays at home with his mother and younger siblings in their small village while his dad, older brother and sister, have gone to the city. The day starts out rainy, nothing too unusual. Unknown to them, this is the forefront of Hurricane Mitch, the storm that devastated Central America in 1998.
They initially have to contend with the worsening storm, trying to keep their belongings dry under the leaking roof, and wondering about their missing family members. I small battery radio tells them about the damage Mitch is doing all over their country. Then before the night is over Jose hears a great rumbling sound and mud from the loggers’ clean-cut patch on the mountain above comes pouring down on them, burying most of the village in sludge.
The author has done a great job of depicting the feelings of a boy caught up in a tragedy. We understand his amazement facing a sea of mud, overwhelmed by the cries of survivors needing help. We see his efforts together with neighbors digging in the mud for their loved ones and for food. We feel his revulsion at finding dead bodies — and sympathize with his constant fear that his father and siblings have been swept away, buried in other mud somewhere. Will they ever be found? Sandwiched in between are his flashbacks to the good times and questions about the future.
The author does all this in a refreshingly “clean” story with very little profanity and no immorality. Jose’s family, God-fearing Catholic people who believe in prayer, are trying to apply faith and trust in the midst of tragedy. This is a book I’d give to any reader, teen or adult.