Friday Flash: Lost Fun

She chortled and spun the hard black lace. Sweet, delightful air rushed past her wings.

She grinned and hopped backward, watching. It spun and spun!

Oh! Such fun!

Below, her provider paused and looked up. Now he would see.

She jumped and grabbed hold of the pretty blackness and yanked, wings beating furiously.

It was off! It spun faster and faster, until she hardly needed to make it go. Wind pushed her forward, glorious, speedy air. It was better than her provider’s big metal den.

“Sofia!” Her provider stood below her, waving his hands. “No! No, Sofia. Sit.”

Concerned, she let go and drifted down. He only sounded like that when some danger tried to cut off her wings.

“Good girl.” His hands cupped her back, warm and comforting. “What were you doing up there anyway, huh? We’ll get you some sugar and you can play in your cart, okay? But stay away from the mill.”

Style as Exposition

I’ve been thinking about my writing style, but I don’t think I actually have one. Not in terms of sentence structure, feel or anything else, either. All those things change with the story. Maybe I’ve just never found my particular style.

The few times I’ve managed to infuse some sort of style in my stories, it’s related to the character or the setting or something.

I am thinking now that style could be another way to do exposition, to reveal things about character in a non-obvious way. It probably works best in first person POV, but could work pretty well in a third person limited POV, too.

Some of that is probably because I read/write mostly fantasy and lots of fantasy is written in the “transparent window pane” sort of style – plain and unobtrusive and not noticeable. The reader notices it as much as those birds who slam into windows in window cleaner commercials. (But with less pain!)

But not all of it because some fantasy writers do have a distinctive style. I know, because all of their books sound similar. You think it’s the characters’ voice. But it’s not, because the language is similar not only across many books and many different characters, but different series as well. Similar enough you know who the writer is with only a single sample page. I know with these writers the way the book is written reflects nothing about the character.

Some of this is probably because I’ve always tried to write in the POV character’s style rather than my own. I try to figure out a few words/phrases the character loves and use those in as varied a way as I can.

A part of me no doubt thought if my character had a way of speaking, preferred some words over others, liked to repeat certain phrases, liked to go on and on and on, there would be a reason and would go to illustrate their character. If they didn’t, it might be best to keep the style as neutral as possible.

What do you think? Can the style of a piece serve as exposition as well? Should it?

Friday Flash: Yellow Ticket

Step. Step. Step.

Gasp. Step. Gasp.

She staggered inside, shuddered as the heat of the store made its way under her jacket, sweater, shirt, thermals and scarf.

She ignored the roars and rush of the crowd.

Instead, she clenched with her numb, worn gloved fingers a yellow ticket: small, badly printed, but the answer to her dreams.

The check-out line grew long behind her, wove around product displays and was full of loud chatter.

She ignored it all.

The small slim box the checkout girl handed her was wonderful. Perfect. Others wouldn’t think so, but she could type now. Write whatever she wanted, whenever she wanted to. Watch videos, even.

She no longer needed to wait on the school’s computer labs.

Pondering the WiP

I haven’t written a word today. Just one of those days. And I don’t feel well enough to force myself to write.

But I’ve been pondering my protagonist’s character profile. He has a thing for art and exercise. I haven’t shown either in the WiP so far. I’ve just told it, breaking the cardinal rule of showing and not telling. They’re important enough to the character a part of me thinks they need to be shown.

Neither of those passions of the character are important to the character are important to the plot. So I need to find some very subtle way to work it in.

I just haven’t figured out a way to work it in.

When do you Create Character Profiles?

On Twitter I asked advice about what to do about minor, inconsistent characters.

A Twitter friend said I should write down everything I know about them and that can become a reference. That sounds like a character profile to me.

I haven’t created character profiles for the WiP yet. I could have, especially for the main character and the secondary characters I knew about. But I wanted to get on with it, you know? I didn’t want to stop and fiddle with an excel file or a word file for the characters. Instead, if I forget the eye color or something, I go back and look it up.

I need to create character profiles now. I’ll probably wait until the WiP is done or create it now. I haven’t made up my mind. I do know I’ll be using OneNote app on my tablet. I want to try it out and it seems perfect for this. Better than either excel or word.

Is doing it this way a bit weird? At least this way I’ll have a list of all characters that need a profile.

And I’ll know what kind of things I keep looking up: physical characteristics, descriptions of surroundings and stuff like that.

Also, the more nebulous, personal stuff that I know is changing right now from appearance to appearance for minor characters, the stuff that makes a character a character, and that stuff that needs to especially consistent. (Unless something happens to a character that makes them change, things that don’t usually happen to minor characters.)

It feels a little backward, to create them at the end of a novel instead of the beginning. Who else creates character profiles at the tail end of a WiP?

Foreign Words

Last year, I read a short story by Juan Diaz. It had a few Spanish words in it.

I thought the words were explained by context. To a degree, they were. But not completely.

I found this out when a word I thought was a random curse word turned out to be not so random. It was a derogatory word for gay people. I didn’t know and I was very surprised when the character in question turned out to be gay. (The Spanish guy who told me was all, of course he is gay! Obviously!)

If Bollywood movies include English sentences, sometimes they will repeat it in Hindi. Sometimes, not always.

So . . . how do you use non-English words in fiction written in English? Is a general understanding of the word okay? Like when I knew it was a Spanish curse word and nothing else?

Or does not knowing the exact meaning of the word harm your understanding of the story?

Friday Flash: Punching Bag

It wasn’t true. It couldn’t be.

We lied. We’re married.

She circled the punching bag to the right and jabbed at it. Step, hit, step, step, hit.

We knew you wouldn’t approve so we lied. But we both want you, we really do.

Sweat beaded down her face and under her tank top. She threw a punch at the bag. It rocked back.

It’s not cheating. You have to understand.

She stripped off her gloves and threw them at the bag. They thudded on the wooden floor.

We both love you.

She screamed. Loud and high, her voice exploded from her.

“Baby?”

She turned. They both stood by the door, anxious and eager. Mark and Eric, black and blond, looked as different as day and night.

Her boyfriend, floppy black hair, earnest brown eyes, tried to smile at her. His husband – husband! Not best friend! – stood mute next to him.

“How could you?” Her voice broke. “How could you?”

“We are sorry.” Her boyfriend hugged her tight.

Eric closed his arms around them both. “Please forgive us. Please.”

Writing with a Timer

So, I’ve been having trouble writing lately. One problem I’ve had this past

Cute Timer!

week – other than words will not come – is that my focus is shot. I am always doing something else when I mean to sit down and write.

So yesterday I had an idea. I downloaded a timer app and set it to fifteen minutes. For minutes, I would write. Or stare at the screen. I would at least try to write.

I would not:

  • check my twitter
  • Google random things
  • Facebook
  • Google+
  • Play games
  • Watch TV
  • things other than stare and write words on the screen.

I managed this yesterday. I checked twitter after my timer went off and then went back to the work in progress.

In this way, I wrote 549 words yesterday.

I am hoping I can do it again today.

National Novel Writing Month and National Blog Posting Month

NaBloPoMo_November

Nationalnanowrimo-logo Novel Writing Month and National Blog Posting Month start today. 

I’m not doing NaNoWriMo. The current WiP doesn’t have another 50,000 words in it. I’m still slightly stuck, so the word count isn’t moving very fast. And I really don’t want to start something new.

If I were on schedule, I could have and it would have been so much fun! (I actually have ideas for several novel -length ideas!) But I’m not so . . . No.

But I thought maybe I could do National Blog Posting Month. You have to post something each day of the month. The closest I’ve come to that is the A-Z Challenge, where you post every day but the weekends. Me, I barely managed it this year. I used the weekends to write some of the week’s posts.

I’ve been blogging for 4 years how and I’ve never managed to blog everyday for a month, weekends and all. I may, however, have gone for a whole month without blogging.

So I’m not really very confident about my ability to do so now. But I suppose it will be an interesting challenge.

Middle Book Blues

I haven’t written a word in nearly two weeks. The book is half done. 

I have heard that the middle of the book is the hardest bit to write, the most common place to get stuck. How do I get out of it?

I have some idea what the next biggest scene will be. I even have some idea what my character needs to do – he has a to do list! And he’s sorely behind in the list of the things he needs to do. (He was derailed by the plot bunny!) Poor guy.

But I don’t know the next immediate step. I don’t know how he gets from here to the next biggest scene and he can’t just skip from here to there. I don’t even know how he gets from here to the next thing on his to do list.

I’m stuck and it’s unpleasant. Very, very unpleasant.