Posts by lquigless

Let’s Write a Short Story!

Posted by on Nov 8, 2013 in Feature, Fiction | 0 comments

Let’s Write a Short Story!

I don’t remember right now how I happened upon the thewritepractice.com website, but I’m glad I did. There, the website founder, Joe Bunting, urges writers to practice fiction by writing short stories. One reason is so that if you’ve written a novel, you can supply fans with other works; another is that you can submit more work to more publications and thus be a published author possibly more quickly, and thus be more attractive to literary agents. Yet another reason: practice. Writing fiction with a lower word count allows you to practice the craft of fiction writing with a much faster sense of completion.

I have a confession: I’ve been in a novel-writing rut for a long time since I completed my first novel. I think I’ve been waiting for the experience of writing a second work to feel the exact same way, with the ideas and plot fitting together the exact same way, too. But writing a second novel, at least for me, is very different from writing the first: I know a lot more quickly when the work is working and when it’s not, and when it’s not, I feel paralyzed. Also, I want that same beginner sense of something so fresh and so new…and writing a novel isn’t new anymore. I’m getting over all that and seeing the benefits of the second novel and beyond—that’s another post for another day—but in the interests of getting my writing confidence back, I have taken Bunting’s advice and writing some short stories, and I’m having a lot of fun with them! If you’re stuck on your novel or stuck with your writing, period, I HIGHLY recommend writing a short story. Here’s what I love about them (and most of this, I learned from Bunting’s book, Let’s Write a Short Story, which you can buy for a mere $4.99 on the website or on Amazon):

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Scandal: A Case Study in Backstory Used Well

Posted by on Oct 15, 2013 in Feature, Fiction | 0 comments

Scandal: A Case Study in Backstory Used Well

I joined the wondrous movement that is Scandal kinda late, but once I got on that train, I was on it, okay? And I know I wasn’t the only one who gasped when we found out in the cliffhanger Season Two finale episode that the mysterious man who appeared to have the power to put even Cyrus in check was Olivia’s father?  What??!!

Olivia is one of those characters who seems above having a father, let alone a dad. But then, once that door opens, you want to know everything about her relationship with this person. And when he goes off on her and she cowers before him, even popping out a meek “Yes, Dad,” you feel (or at least, I did) that you’ve got to know who this person is who has Olivia Pope shook, even if just for a short time. (It was a relief to see her come back to herself and get off that plane.)

But why are we so hooked? Why are we so vested? It’s because we are witnessing and experiencing the power of  backstory used very, very well. Shonda Rhimes has done an outstanding job of giving us compelling story, and then just as compelling backstory to, well, back it all up. Here’s how I think did she does it effectively.

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When You’re Stuck in the Middle of a Scene

Posted by on Oct 14, 2013 in Feature | 0 comments

When You’re Stuck in the Middle of a Scene

I read the following tip on the Writer Unboxed blog (www.writerunboxed.com), and it’s the simplest, most effective way for me to get unstuck in the middle of a scene. I wish I could remember the author’s name, but he stopped writing years for that blog, which I love, by the way, years ago.

The strategy is as follows: Simply ask, “And then what happened?” (Or if you’re writing in present tense: “And then what happens?”)

Posing the question somehow jumps my brain off its repetitive loop and onto what’s very immediately next and then next after that. And now that I am beyond the “stuck” part, I can look back at it more objectively (after about five to ten minutes) and see what needs to change.

It’s really that simple, and it works.

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Dr. Phil’s (Surprisingly Really Great) Approach to Character Development

Posted by on Oct 1, 2013 in Feature, Fiction | 0 comments

Dr. Phil’s (Surprisingly Really Great) Approach to Character Development

Between my tutoring business, AYWI, my five-month-old, and my feeble attempts to have something that somewhat resembles a social life, Sunday is my one day to rest right now, and I use my time well lying in bed watching SuperSoul Sunday on OWN. It’s my time to breeeeeathe, and I love it, man. Story inspiration abounds, though, and I wanted to share a writing exercise for character development based on a Dr. Phil episode on “The Best of the Oprah Winfrey Show.” He was promoting his book Self Matters and was discussing the importance of excavating one’s past to understand one’s present.

My writer’s ears perked right up.

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Make your protagonist a STAR!

Posted by on Sep 11, 2013 in Feature, Fiction | 0 comments

Make your protagonist a STAR!

Watching Fik-Shun and Amy Yakima win as America’s favorite male and female dancers on the Season 10 finale of So You Think You Can Dance last night really touched me. All four of the finalists were excellent, but I think the right people won as America’s favorite dancers. Jasmine Haper, with her fantastic legs and powerful presence, and Aaron Turner, with his winning smile and awesome talent—they could’ve won, too, based on their technical ability; but I had a feeling they just weren’t it; they didn’t have that extra-extra-bright star power Fik-Shun and Amy just exuded week after week.

The finale outcome made me wonder, though: what, exactly, is star power? And why is it so potent?

I think it all boils down to one word: heart.

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