Tag Archives: language

What I’m learning Part II

Ok, I’m learning lots of new things in my writing class… here’s something else I’ve learned.  This is my post for scenarios. It is like an expanded outline – very rough draft. Then, my comments on what I got out of the experience.  I got great comments from my instructor, so I think I should share it!!

 

SCENARIOS FOR INK MAGIC:

The Zoran repositions Kaydan, and starts tattooing a different spot. Kaydan drifts back into her memories in order to withstand the pain of the needle.

Kaydan finds a knife and cuts a small hole in the back of the canvas tent and slips into the woods. She runs blindly afraid the army is going to catch her. She uses magic to hide her tracks and continues moving south. She wants to avoid the next town, circling to the south, but catches a whiff of bread baking and realizes how hungry she is. She tries to sneak into town to get some bread, but notices men from the army around. She uses just a thread of magic to make herself insignificant to the soldiers, and slides out of town, but she didn’t get any food.

She opens her eyes. The buzz has stopped and the Zoran is patting her shoulder. Kaydan wants to know why she is stopping, and the Zoran answers that she thinks Kaydan has had enough. Kaydan disagrees and they argue briefly, but Kaydan gets her way and the tattooing begins again. The buzzing lulls her back into her memories.

This time Kaydan comes upon the Zoran’s cottage and it is surrounded by soldiers. They have the Zoran on her knees in front of the small cottage. One of the soldiers is screaming at her and calling her a witch, making Kaydan think he is going to hurt or kill her. Kaydan knows she has to do something. She has been trained in combat, and now that training comes back to her. She uses magic to sling the stones at the soldiers and knock them out. Her heart is pounding and she is terrified that she killed them.

Kaydan comes out of her memory again. The dragon is done, but Zoran makes her rest and Kaydan falls asleep.

COMMENTS:

I think this process is not only useful but essential. I still have a few more to do for this story, but writing out scenarios for the story before you actually write them is like making a complex outline. I can quickly look back over it and see if I have the beats in the right place, if the pace is moving quickly, if the tension is escalating. In this story in particular, I want to feel the seriousness of the war increasing as Kaydan moves through her memories. Once I have it outlined, I can easily shift things around and play with the elements to get the story where it should be even before I even really start writing. I enjoyed doing this, and will use these scenarios to write this story. I think there is more on either side. Once I started writing, it really got things flowing. I felt I could quickly capture the most important elements in each movement of the story. That allowed my creativity to really explode as well; something to remember for those writers block moments.

 

 

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What I’m Learning… Part 1

If you’ve followed my blog, you probably know that I’ve been working on my MA in Creative Writing. So, I’m taking an awesome writing course right now… I’m learning a lot, and one of the things we are doing is writing about how we can apply what we are learning to our own writing. That made me think that I should be blogging this stuff…. so…. here is the first installment of what I’m learning:

In his essay, “Talking Forks,” Charles Baxter writes, “How a person sees the things that surround him usually tells us more than an explicit description of his mood. The things carry the feeling. They do not when our emotions are placid, but when our emotions are violent, they must.”

This sentence is the epitome of the essay and could be the driving force of “The Things They Carried,” the short story by Tim O’Brien. People attach emotions to objects and they can relate to objects carrying emotions in fiction.

The soldiers in “The Things They Carried,” carried a lot more than just objects: “Grief, terror, love, longing – these were intangibles, but the intangibles had their own mass and specific gravity, they had tangible weight (O’Brien). Their emotions were heavy and they were attached to things. Lieutenant Jimmy Cross had a stone sent to him from a girl back home. It weighed next to nothing, but carried the heaviest emotional weight that got heavier as the story progressed. When a soldier dies because he wasn’t paying enough attention to the surroundings because he was thinking of the girl back home, the stone suddenly had more weight than anything else in the story.

O’Brien tells about all the things that the men carried and why throughout the story in order highlight the events of the story. For example, he gives a list of things including, “Kool-aid, lighters, matches, sewing kits…” and then tells about the reasons for some things like Kiowa that carried his grandfather’s hatchet to show his heritage and distrust of the white man. Then, O’Brien switches to something that is more significant to the main plot of the story, such as the poncho that the soldiers used to carry the one that was killed.

He also uses things and emotions to help continue the mood of the story. He writes, “They carried the sky. The whole atmosphere, they carried it, the humidity, the monsoons, the stink of fungus and decay, all of it, they carried gravity” (O’Brien).

In my own writing, I should be conscious of the things around and my characters’ emotional connections to them. Things can be symbolic of other things like the stone the Lieutenant carried symbolized hope and longing and then after the solider died – guilt (O’Brien). Keeping this in mind can help create depth to my stories. Objects do carry emotional weight and these things can make the characters feel more complicated and real. When the emotions are too hard, putting them into the things around us can help, and that can be used to add meaning and context within a work of fiction as well.

____sources:
Baxter, Charles. “Talking Forks: Fiction and the Inner Life of Objects.” Burning Down the House. St. Paul, Minnesota: Graywolf Press, 2008. Print. http://www.amazon.com/Burning-Down-House-Essays-Fiction/dp/1555975089/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1360887487&sr=8-2&keywords=burning+down+the+house

O’Brien, Tim. “The Things They Carried.” The Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Short Fiction. New York: Simon & Schuster. ebook. http://www.amazon.com/Scribner-Anthology-Contemporary-Short-Fiction/dp/1416532277/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1360887535&sr=1-1&keywords=Scribner+Anthology

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11 weeks of literature

You may be wondering why I haven’t had a blog post in the past 11 weeks or so. Well, it’s because I’ve been taking 2 classes in my new MA program in creative writing at SNHU. The classes were awesome, but they left me 0 time to do anything else.

The classes finished up yesterday and now I can finally breath – a little.  The next term starts today! Oh my!  Well, I’m only taking one class this time, so I hope that will leave me with some breathing and writing room. 

I took College Grammar and Introduction to Literary Theory for the first two classes. Everything I learned I can directly apply to my writing, so ultimately, this has already made me a better writer (in theory). Since I haven’t written anything outside of these two classes in 11 weeks, I’m still not totally convinced. I guess I’ll let you know when I get my final grades in.

With that, I’m off to learn about social context in British Literature. Wheee.

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WANTED DEAD OR…

Just wanted…

I need these text book ASAP. Anyone have one that you are willing to part with? If so, pleast tweet me @sljasble

Rhetorical Grammar (6th Edition) [Paperback]
Martha J. Kolln (Author), Loretta S. Gray (Author)

The Structure of English For Readers, Writers, and Teachers, Second Edition [Paperback]

Mary M. Clark (Author)

 
 

Literary Theory: An Anthology (Blackwell Anthologies) [Paperback]

Julie Rivkin

 
Julie Rivkin (Editor)
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(Editor), Michael Ryan (Editor)

 

Beginning Theory: An Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory [Paperback]

Peter Barry

 
Peter Barry (Author)
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I need these for class starting on 4/2/12.  So, I’m willing to negotiate a price.

Thanks!!

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I did it… OMG!

After so many hours of searching online for the perfect writing program… hours and hours! I finally settled on the program I wanted to do AND applied for it. I officially applied for the MA degree in creative writing online at the Southern New Hampshire University!

I’m really excited. I have everything completed that I need, and now I have to wait. I’ve done my FAFSA, submitted my writing samples, and requested my transcripts. Now, I’m crossing my fingers and hoping for the best!

I haven’t been in school for a while, but I love writing and I’m hoping that this program will help me improve my writing and maybe help me move my career in a more creative direction.

I’ve been unsure of what I wanted to do for a while now. I’ve been sitting in a crossroads, if you will. I could move forward with pursuing my doctorate in Industrial/Organizational Psychology (sound interesting, huh?)… OR… writing. I’ve been leaning towards the writing. I think it was just a matter of finding the right program. I think this is a good one!

http://www.snhu.edu/English-and-Creative-Writing-Fiction-MA.asp

Once I finish this, I’ll have three Masters degrees ~wild, huh?!?! Well, maybe I’ll consider a doctorate afterwards, but right now my life is all about writing, and this program will be a good boost in the right direction. Woot!

Ya’ll cross your fingers for me too!!

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Flexing those muscles!

Recently, I’ve been on a dual quest of muscle flexing!  I’ve been on a physical exercise program for the last 6 weeks that has me been working out a lot more, but I’ve also been on writing quest as well. I’ve really been flexing that writing muscle. I’ve been hammering out my novel, but also working on a few other things. I have been really trying to write even more these past six weeks, and have implemented more specific deadlines. At the same time, I’ve been stepping it up each week in my physical work out.

I made the connection on the track yesterday. I jogged for the first time! Woot! While doing so, I realized that I had also been working out my writing skills. Even while on the track, I’ve been thinking about my novel. There’s nothing like killing two birds with one stone (pardon the cliché!)

It won’t be long now before I’m not only a successful novelist, but also a skinny one!!!

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Facing the Challenges

I started writing this blog to document and share my experiences with writing/publishing.  So, I thought I’d take a minute or two to hash out some of the challenges I’m dealing with at this stage…

One of the most difficult and challenging parts of writing fiction is coming up with the names for my characters. I want the names to be appropriate to the character. The name has to fit. If  I have the wrong name, it doesn’t work well. Sometimes it is very difficult. Sometimes it comes easy. It is also a lot of fun. It is part of creating that character. What is that person like? What are their idiosyncracies? What makes that person who that person is? There are times when that is really hard, especially when that person is an alien or is alien like. It is also difficult when you try to name someone within a historic context. If this character comes from ancient Ireland, they can’t be named Fred, right?!

The other big challenge hitting me right now is getting stuck on little things. I keep getting stopped flat by small things that might not even matter, but I get so hung up on them, that I can’t move forward.  This is what I was stuck on this week:

*A different word for canteen.
*Where did I put my notes on a different story entirely than the one I’m trying to work on.
*I needed to buy a new cushion for my chair in my office where I write

Seems like small things, but I’ve wasted a long of time on these things! Gave up on the thesaurus problem, finally found my notes, and bought a seat cushion (on sale at Kohls!) So, now I’m ready to write… what am I working on today?

I need to do some yoga and focus!!

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