Category Archives: Exercises

Are We Done Here?

The girls and I haven’t written in a long time. And there has been no comments when we have written. The only two people who regularly responded here have passed away.

But

I can’t seem to quite give up on our little blog that no one reads.

There is so much good stuff in the back pages.

From this point on I’ll write as though this is a writing journal. If someone reads, cool. If not, well, no big deal.

So here goes.

After years of nurturing a little orange tree grown from a 6-inch twig, I HAVE orange blossoms. The lemon has yielded fruit and the lime tree has 6 or 7 limes. But the orange trees (I have three of them) have been so slow-growing.

And now this!

The blossoms are beautiful, with a stripe of pink on the fragile petals. And in Florida, back in the day, you could drive past huge groves, all in blossom, and the smell was out of this world.

I had a friend who couldn’t smell at all (I think it was because of abuse). One day when she was stoned, she rode on the back of a motorcycle down a dirt road in town. She was hit by . . . what? What was happening? Wave after wave of a taste in the air. As the two made a turn she saw the groves, acres of orange trees, all in bloom. She realized then she was experiencing her first (and last) smell ever.

I love that.

Those kinds of descriptions, those kinds of incidents, help readers know where they are, physically in your novel.

What smell do you remember? What something changed the way you look orange trees or pizzas or fresh almonds?

 

 

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Good Ol’ Trent Reedy

My friend, Trent Reedy, is going to write one million words this year. A MILLION.

(I have written 3,000 words since the start of January.)

We’ve talked about that million words.

“What if they’re bad?” I said.

“Of course, they’re bad.”

“What about rewriting?”

“Oh, I’ll rewrite.”

“But . . .”

“Look,” Trent said. “I was only writing 800 words a day before. Now I’m getting words on the page. If I don’t write, I have nothing to edit. No books to work on.” (In case Trent reads this post, I have taken our conversation over several days, squished it together, and written the best parts here. All swears have been omitted!)

Trent makes a great point. If you never pen the words, you never have a book to edit, to send to an agent, to sell to an editor, to wind up on a shelf. Just this week a student came to my office and told me she’s had a great idea for a series for several years. No words were written. And when I gave her my advice several times during our thirty minutes together–Just write–I could tell I sorta bugged her.

Don’t dream.

Just write.

Just write.

Just write.

Do you write no matter what? I don’t. But . . . I’m lucky to have a friend like Trent who does just write. He encourages me daily, and has gently prodded me to write, maybe not realizing this is what he’s doing.

This year I had hoped to write four days a week, but I haven’t been able to for whatever reason. However, as I have watched my pal, I’ve taken courage. My new goal is one hour of writing–really writing–four days a week. If things normalize here, then I can increase that. If they don’t, I have four thousand new words a week. And that, as they say, is nothing to sneeze at.

But to do nothing? Well, the days still pass. The weeks do, too. And at the end, if I do no writing, I have nothing to edit.

Just as Trent says.

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Monday, Monday

Every time I start a new semester, I get behind. When you add behind to behind to behind what you get is me. Someone who can’t seem to catch up, no matter what.

Here is a writing exercise for you so you don’t get as far behind as me. You can take this experience of mine, find your own that is similar, and write an incident that can fit in your book.

My best friend’s shoes are in my closet. A pair of his jeans in a drawer. He’s been dead just over a year.

“Do you want me to take these?”I ask him. He’s in a hospital bed. He can’t speak. SO he nods. I gather the shoes, the pants. “I’ll take these until you’re better.”

And here’s this article from my dear friend Trent Reedy. what do you think?

https://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/how-to-write-100-000-words-per-day-every-day?utm_source=nextdraft&utm_medium=email

 

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Merry Christmas Day 5

Ann Dee always makes it snow on our site at this time of year. Have you noticed?

Once, when I was in Florida (which is where I grew up) is got so cold the water dripping from our hose (to keep the pipes from freezing) formed a four-foot icicle. Mom and I were so surprised, and excited, we took a picture by frozen water.

Imagine your character has never seen snow. It’s her very first experience. In 250 words, write about this event, using all the senses. If you only know snow, you are going to have to stretch. If you’ve never touched or walked through snow, or seen 25 foot snow drifts on the side of the road, you’re going to have stretch, too.

Here’s is the second part of the challenge. Think outside the box. No glistening. No freezing. No sparkling (Geez. Am I describing a vampire?). Make this new and original.

 

 

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NaNoWriMo, Lemon Trees and Blossoms

A few weeks ago my youngest and I transplanted my lemon tree into a new pot. Every year we get one HUGE lemon from this tree and I was excited that the one lemon I had-pollinated, still clung to the branch.

Low and behold, when Carolina and I moved our tree, it rejoiced and burst out in blossoms all over!

Yahoo! More hand-pollination for me to do! The promise of more lemons!

But this growth got me to thinking. I take very good care of my southern plants. I have two orange trees, a clementine, a lime and two lemons. I have a couple of hibiscus and I’m even growing ginger (three pots full). Still, my lemon needed more love than I had given it. It needed room to breathe and stretch. And when I gave the tree what it needed, I was rewarded with blossoms.

This is sorta like our stories. Here we are, writing with our heads down, trying to get a specific number of words each day. This is exactly what we should do during NaNoWriMo. And at this point, we should be in the just-after-the-beginning of the middle of our novels. That  horrible awful icky yucky-ducky place that I slog through every time I write a book. We might be feeling a little stuck. Or root-bound.

Why not shake things up a little? Loosen the roots of your book. Allow your story to blossom. How? By asking yourself a few questions. Here are a few that may shake things up for you.

  • Am I allowing my character to move the plot or an I forcing the story to go the way I want it to?
  • Am I adding far too many characters? Too many subplots? Too many useless words just to make word count?
  • Am I feeling a forward movement in the story or have I gotten stuck because of wrong moves made in previous pages?
  • Do I trust myself, my story idea, my creativity, my characters to move the story toward the climax of the novel?
  • Do I know where I am headed? (By now, I think you should know what the climax of the story will be.)
  • For the sake of numbers, am I adding useless bits and pieces that may throw me off course during revision?

Hopefully these questions will give you an idea of how to grow a bit more during this exciting month of NaNoWriMo. And I mean that. This month should be a growing month, an exciting month, a frustrating-but-I-did-it, fun month!

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Filed under Ann Dee, CLW, Exercises, Family, Kyra, Life, Uncategorized, Writing Marathon

Preparing for NaNoWriMo

On Thursday I wrote a long list of things we could do to prepare for NaNoWriMo and for some reason, when I went to post, it wouldn’t.

I pitched a fit and stomped off.

Went to the TH evening party and it was a lot of fun.

Never resent.

You have today and tomorrow to think about a few questions so you can jump into NaNo a little more prepared.

BTW, if you want to play with WIFYR, email Bruce here: wifyrdoesnano@gmail.com and make your goals. Bruce will add you to the list. The goal is 1,000,000 words as a group! Woot woot!

Novel questions:

  1. Who is your main character?
  2. What does she want?
  3. Have her write a note to you.
  4. Ask her 25 personal questions and write this interview down.
  5. Who are her friends?
  6. Her enemies?
  7. Her family?
  8. What is she afraid of?
  9. Can she sing?
  10. Dance?
  11. Is she funny?
  12. Snarky?
  13. Does he have a crush?
  14. A true love?
  15. What is the scariest thing that can happen to her?
  16. Will it happen to her?
  17. What do you see as the climax of the story? Do you have a general idea?
  18.  Name three things she will lose during the telling of the story.
  19. Are you trying to teach a lesson?
  20. What are you willing to give up to complete your 50,000 words?

Also, every Thursday evening, from 7-10 pm we will meet at Kyra Leigh’s house, eat and write.

Last year this was a lot of fun. This year it will be even more fun because I won’t have to clean every TH in anticipation of people arriving at my home. YAHOO, KYRA LEIGH! Anyway, if you want to bring potluck (which is what gets you into the house) and write for a few hours with fellow NaNoers, let me know. We have room for about 15 people.

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Filed under Ann Dee, Character, CLW, Exercises, Kyra, Plot, Voice, Writing Marathon, writing process

TWO DAYS LEFT!

Today!

Tomorrow!

How will you finish the challenge?

We hope you’ve been writing.

I know I have tried to write Every. Single. Day.

Hint:

Put your head down.

No need to try and make up lost time. Just WRITE today.

And tomorrow.

Enjoy these last two days.

Love your words.

Love this chance.

Love your story.

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Filed under Ann Dee, CLW, Exercises, Kyra, Life, Voice, Writing Marathon