Descriptive Writing Exercise #1

I took a picture from the Internet and tried to set a mood from the picture that would go along with a story idea. The picture is of a pastor’s study and a meeting with one of the members. So, what kind of mood do you think I was trying to set? Is the description 1) overdone, 2) underdone,  or 3) about right? I appreciate your comments and your help. I plan on writing the same scene tomorrow with a different mood.

Pastor’s Study

Meeting with the Pastor

“The pastor’s in his study right now,” his administrative aide said as I walked in. “Administrative Aide,” I thought. “I still prefer ‘secretary.’” “That’s fine, I can wait,” I said noting that her hands never stopped typing on the keyboard in front of her.

She did stop her typing long enough to pick up the phone. She punched in the extension to the pastor’s study. “Yes, Pastor. Your one o’clock appointment is here.”

She paused, her long, manicured fingernails clicking on her desk. “Yes sir, to the study? Really?” Her eyes opened wide and a perfectly groomed eyebrow shot up over her right eye. “Yes sir,” she responded. “Of course I can trust your judgment.”

Obviously, she didn’t trust it if the look she gave me as she hung up the phone was any indication. “Follow me.” She sighed as she beckoned, taking me out of the office and down the hall. She didn’t knock, but opened the oaken door carefully, as if giving the pastor time to say “No.”

Pastor Charles was already standing to greet me. His hands were rough as we shook, which surprised me. I never figured a pastor would do physical work. “Hello, Merle. Happy to meet you face to face.”

“Thanks for agreeing to meet me, Pastor Charles,” I said. The study smelled like coffee – hazelnut if I knew my coffee aromas.

“Have a seat,” he said, gesturing to the couch beside his desk. He walked to his desk, poured a cup, and then looked over his shoulder at me. The sun shining through the window reflected off his hair, giving him a glow. “Forgot to ask,” he said. “Coffee?”

“Please,” I answered. “black.”

He handed me the cup and my hands curled around it, embracing the warmth. I sniffed the steam, trying to take the chill out of my body. The sun flickering in the window lied as it made me forget about how cold it was outside. “So what can…” he stopped when his phone rang. The strains of “You Raise Me Up” filled the room. “My wife,” he said, embarrassed by the interruption. “Forgive me.” He answered and began talking.

I got up and walked to the other edge of the room. This bookcase was filled with older volumes and the musty smell filled my nostrils. This was much like my father’s library. I shivered as I thought about that, then I realize that maybe dad would enjoy talking old books with Pastor Charles. There was always a chance.

 

 

 

Learning the Craft

One of the things that separates the author from a writer or a story teller is the craft. Craft inovlves the way you put together a story so that it works together, paces well, and generally flows well. It’s knowing when to show and when to tell. I am going to be working on craft as I continue my writing. The first area I’m going to tackle is description. I love reading well written description. It makes the scene come alive to me. I just have not felt comfortable writing description. When I write it, I feel like it’s overdone and “hokey” if I can use that word. The only way to work on description is to do it, so, I’m planning on working on description in a few different ways. Over the next week (?) I’ll be doing some descriptive writing. I’ll be posting it here for you to critique. I’m pretty good at taking criticism and try to use it as a springboard to grow. I’ll include my feelings about the writing after the selection. What I eventually want to hear is “Nailed it” (and not like those pinterest memes.) I don’t expect to nail it at first, so I would appreciate any feedback. If you have any ideas to help me as I go through this journey: websites, techniques, descriptive exercises, good examples of descriptive writing – please share them. I appreciate any and all help. Thanks in advance!

Having a Moment

After posting yesterday, writer’s block set it. Some wit said that writer’s block happens when writers have nothing to say and the sad thing is, it doesn’t happen to them more often. Mine wasn’t based on having nothing to say; mine was based on grief and fear. As I studied the beta reader’s comments, there was a little bit of grief in losing the simple story I had. I knew that, for the most part, he was on target with his comments. I have heard him critique shorter pieces and that was why I was excited when he agreed to be a beta reader for me. Still, there was a sense of grief as I realized that all those plot holes and inconsistencies that I had learned to love had to go. I believe that what will rise from the ashes will be a much better story, but it will require a lot more work than a few small touch ups. And that’s where the fear came in.

I realized I needed to do a lot of foundation work before I went back to rewriting. I had to understand my characters in depth, including my living villain. I had to change the motivation for my villain while, at the same time, make his good character qualities stronger. I had to have a better explanation for the break in the family relationships of my main character. I needed to understand my world and place it in proper context on its planet – especially for future novels. I needed to understand my nameless, faceless villain and find ways to weave the background of that agency into the story so that tales of the current nature will make sense. I even realized that the changes I made for this book, would affect the other books – especially since the original title no longer made sense in light of the ideas I had for changing things.

So, I had a moment yesterday. I opened up the file for this book and stared at the character page for my male main character. I couldn’t even put down the height. I went away and looked at something else. I don’t know how many times I went to that page, and clicked away from it because of the fear of doing this right. I couldn’t work on some other writing that I had to do either. One of them is a writing challenge for 400 words a day. Later in the evening I finally passed 400 words, but not by much. So yesterday I had a moment. Today, I have hope. Today, I will begin reworking my characters and falling so much in love with them again that I want to be sure and tell their story – different as it may be. Today, I begin the process of falling in love with my better, more complex story as I progress towards becoming an author.

Becoming an Author

A number of years ago I wrote a book. I think I told a pretty good story. I wrote two sequels so that now I have a trilogy. I have no doubt that if I had tried to publish them as they were, a few people might have bought them and enjoyed the stories. I might even have made a little bit of money. But I want to publish them the right way. I want to make sure that the stories hold together. I want that world to be consistent. So, I rewrote Book 1. You’ve seen some of the ARC chapters here. I was in love with the story so the book didn’t change a whole lot – I did try to shore up some areas that I realized were weak. I sent the book out for query and to beta readers. 1 agent has already told me “No.” I expected that, to be honest. I got back the reactions from one beta reader.

While enjoying the overall story, he pointed out some weaknesses and omissions. Most of the weaknesses I think I knew, deep down. Perhaps I thought that they weren’t really weak parts of the story, especially after I tried to strengthen some; perhaps I thought that those parts were weak because of my own insecurity and that others wouldn’t see them. He saw them. So, I have a couple of options: I can choose to ignore those parts of the criticism that would require a lot of work to fix and remain a story teller, or I can choose to become an author.

The first and second draft were the basics of the story I had in me. It was a nice story. The comments from my beta reader will make my “nice” story become a much stronger book. In order to follow this reader’s advice and become an author, I’m going to need to do a major re-tooling of the book. Plot points that hinged on one aspect of my main character will need to be completely re-written. My villain will need to be shown as more sneak and conniving while at the same time his positive qualities will have to come out. I will have to throw out parts of the story that I loved. I will have to make a much more determined effort to build and flesh out the world in which this story takes place and use ::shudder:: description – one of my weakest points.

Today I begin to become an author instead of just a story teller or a writer. I won’t begin by re-writing again. I will begin by getting to know my characters even better. I will begin to flesh out my world. My hope and my prayer is that by the time I finish this process of re-tooling this writing, it will be more than just a good story – it will be a book that I can be proud of. Join me on the journey. Give me suggestions as I walk…now…onto the work.

(Edit Note: All of these posts will be found under the “Journaling” Category)

April Writing Challenge

400 words a day – can you do it? If so, this is the writing challenge for you. I did this in January, had to skip February, and did it again in March. It’s a fun challenge and you get to meet some nice people on-line. Check it out!

 

https://anygoodthing.com/2017/03/27/any-good-thing-april-writing-challenge-starts-soon/

 

For the past few weeks, writers participating in the Any Good Thing Writing Challenge have been pumping out words–400 x 5 days per week per person. While the March results aren’t in yet, here are the results of February’s Writing Challenge:

Folks who wrote 5 out of 7 days produced, on average, 13,698 words.

Our “highest volume” writer generated 16,432 words.

Our “most consistent” writer wrote for 25 days out of the month–blowing past the expectation of 20 days. This writer basically squeezed an extra week of writing into the month.

Our “highest daily average” was 1040 words.

Our group daily mean was 627 words per day of writing.

Guilty by Association by E.A. Copen – Review

Guilty by Association by E.A. Copen – Review

“Welcome to Paint Rock” is asign that signals you’re entering a very small town in west Texas. How small is the town? The sign is painted on both sides. Ok, that’s a bad joke, but you get the idea. The people in Paint Rock are wonderful people, but it’s a small town. I used to tell people trying to find me when I lived there, “Drive out to the middle of nowhere, and take a left.” Imagine my surprise to begin reading Guilty by Association by E. A. Copen and finding out that the Judah Black novels are set in Paint Rock, Texas. (You had me at “Paint Rock,” E. A.)

Paint Rock is a different town from the one I knew and loved. As the truth came out that Vampires, Werewolves, and Fae lived among us, the government had to do something. Someone took a map, put their finger in the middle of nowhere, moved it left slightly, and decided that Paint Rock was the perfect town to use to isolate the Supernatural Beings. Each group re-formed the area of the town that they settled in to their liking. It would be easy to look upon the new Paint Rock and channel Obi Wan: “You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious.” Yet as Guilty by Association shows, evil is not caused by form. People who aren’t “supernatural” can look pretty bad too.

Paint Rock was the end of the line for BSI agents. (That’s Bureau of Supernatural Investigations.) And so we see Judah Black living there on assignment with her last chance. Doing normal things. Like laundry at the laundromat. And keeping knowledge of her son away from everyone.  Only that day, the laundromat was a crime scene that would lead Judah Black on a hunt for a vicious killer. A werewolf is splattered all over the laundromat and Judah has to begin the hunt while getting her boy ready for school, all in dirty clothes to boot. It was not going to be a good day.

While investigating the murder, Judah and Detective Tindall, her unwilling partner in the investigation uncover the disappearance of three children – one werewolf, one vampire, and one fae. The missing werewolf is the nephew of the murdered werewolf and suspicion begins to rest on him as the abductor. People soon learn that talking to Judah Black is dangerous to their health and it gets even harder for her to gain information. Her neighbor, a war veteran and a werewolf, steps in to help her during this time.

Things turn to the worst for Judah when her son is kidnapped as well. Death, destruction, and mayhem continue to follow Judah until the end of the book. By the time it’s complete, Judah has managed to make enemies with practically everyone in Paint Rock, and also in Eden – 22 miles to the south. Can she redeem herself by solving the murder and rescuing any of the children, including her own?

I have to admit that I might be prejudiced in favor of this book because of the setting. I have actually lived in Paint Rock, and while the overall building set up may have changed because of the circumstances of the story, I relived some good days I had there while reading. The story is gripping, E.A. Copen spins a tale that will keep you on the edge of your seat. She introduces you to a great idea in this book: if all these fantasy creatures really existed, how would we be able to live side by side in the world with them? I highly recommend this book and have enjoyed the next volumes in the series so far.

E.A. Copen is the author of the Judah Black novels and the forthcoming space opera, Broken Empire. She’s an avid reader of science fiction, fantasy and other genre fiction. When she’s not chained to her keyboard, she may be found time traveling on the weekends with her SCA friends. She lives in beautiful southeast Ohio with her husband and two kids, at least until she saves up enough to leave the shire and become a Jedi. (This last paragraph taken from her Amazon page)