Every Sunday, the Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday participants share 8-10-sentence snippets from their works-in-progress on their blogs for others to read and comment on. Join the fun! Click on the links to see the full lists.
Mine! Six-year-old Buddy terrorizes the playground, appropriating everyone’s toys. How can the kids teach him a lesson and get their stuff back?
In last week’s snippet, Buddy had just stolen a Frisbee. In the final snippet of Mine? Buddy rests at a picnic table with all his illegally acquired goods spread out around him, watching what the other kids are doing.
A boy fished a section of newspaper out of the wastebasket, unfolded it, and crumpled the pages into a tight ball. He threw it to another boy, who kicked it to another. More children joined them. They ran and laughed and fell down and giggled and got up and ran again. The crumpled paper ball passed from child to child. Soon, every kid on the playground was involved in the game—that is, every kid except Buddy.
Buddy longed to hold that ball in his hands. When he could bear his envy no longer, he screamed, “Mine!” and pursued the object of his desire.
The ball changed hands repeatedly, always remaining just beyond Buddy’s reach. He ran farther and farther, not noticing that, one by one, the children dropped out of the game, retrieved their stolen toys from the picnic table, and walked home.
We’re stopping about five minutes before Buddy finally receives his epiphany–his realization of what his horrible behavior has cost him.
Next week I’ll share a snippet from Lottie Loses the Lottery.
I know it’s short, but what do you think of this small excerpt? Any suggestions on how I can make it better? Please comment below.
We’re visiting Etsy today, that great online marketplace where you can find something for anyone, even the crazy cat lady in your life. Today’s focus is cat jewelry. I selected only items that I would be happy to wear. (By the way, feel free to buy me any or all.)
No feline-loving female should have to live without a cat necklace. (Click the description for more information. Click the images to see enlargements and captions.)
No self-respecting cat lady is happy unless her earlobes are decorated with cats.
Bracelets for cat lady wrists:
And I don’t know why, but this one reminds me of the Deathly Hallows symbol:
And finally, a ring that can be made to your catty specifications:
As I said earlier, I like ALL of these pieces, but my very favorites are the origami cat face and the art cat necklaces.
What about you? Do you like cats, or live with some? (We currently have two, but have owned as many as four at one time. Five of our former kitties have passed on.) Does any of this jewelry particularly appeal to you? Share in the comments below.
This very special edition of Creative Juice features posts from My OBT, one of my very favorite blogs. Every day, Donna shares something beautiful—or not so beautiful. I include at least one of her posts in CJ each week, but I have so many in reserve I thought I’d bless you with a whole bunch today. If you enjoy them, you might want to subscribe to My OBT so you never miss a single one.
For more advice about the first sentence, click here.
Thank you to guest author Victoria Griffin for this unique strategy for characterization:
At the most recent Knoxville Writers’ Guild meeting, I had the pleasure of hearing screenwriter Lisa Solandspeak about “What the Playwright Can Teach the Writer.” Lisa is fantastic, and I learned a lot from her. She had good tips—about writing and about life. One idea that stuck with me, though, came during her discussion of conveying meaning without explicitly saying the thing.
In other words, show don’t tell.
The example she used was from a play, in which the characters were discussing the garden, while actually discussing a miscarriage. (Sorry, I didn’t note the title.) Of course, as a fiction writer, my mind went to Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants.” If you haven’t read it, I seriously suggest it.
Lisa argued for providing information this way, rather than spelling it out. “We don’t say things,” she said. “That’s why we have therapists.”
I’m playing with two different aspects of writing, here:
As a writer, doing a good job with #2 makes #1 simpler. If we truly know our characters, we have a much easier time expressing the situation without outright saying what’s happening. With a deep understand of our characters, it becomes simpler to write from our characters’ perspectives—rather than from the author’s perspective, or the reader’s. I’m not talking about formal perspective, here—1st person, 3rd person. I’m talking about getting inside your characters’ heads to the point that you don’t have to run everything through your own filters. Sort of like the difference between translating French word-by-word into English and simply hearing something in French and understanding. It’s a fine distinction, but an important one. When this extra “filter” is gone, we feel like we’re in the zone. The words just flow, almost as though we’re transcribing rather than creating. And we don’t feel the need to explain everything.
Be someone your character can talk to, can vent to. Sit down with a computer, a notebook, a tape recorder—whatever does the job—and ask your character the stereotypical questions. What was your childhood like? What would it take to make you feel happier and more satisfied? How does that make you feel?
Write the questions down beforehand, or just let them come. Ask your character about backstory and about plot points. Ask them why they reacted certain ways. Ask them what they’re afraid of.
And don’t forget to ask them the big question, the giant question, the blimp over a ballfield question:
What do you want?
Because as we all know from movies, motivation is incredibly important to an actor’s portrayal of characters. Of course, a writer would need to know characters’ motivations! And don’t just say, “to defeat so-and-so” or “to fulfill my destiny.” Those answers are cliched, and your readers will see right through them. If your characters doesn’t know why they are doing what they do, your readers won’t care whether or not they’re successful.
So here’s the challenge:
Hold therapy sessions for your characters.
Record them, write them down, chisel them in stone. Whatever. Just use them to inform your narrative. And please, share snippets in the comments below! I would love to see how you’re able to develop your characters using this method.