Paths of Imagination

This post is approximately 500 words long. That’s about a word for every friggin’ marble I’ve stepped on.

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Benji and I recently played with our Marbleworks set from Discovery Toys. Think of it as a cascading bobsled track for marbles that you assemble in any configuration you desire. Place one in the funnel at the top and it follows your path all the way to the bottom. This wonderful experience develops creativity in kids (and reignites it in parents).

Our construction approaches vary. Sometimes, Benji just gives me pieces. Others, I try to work in something creative, like every level is the same color. The basic approach is the same: funnel(s) at the top, finish line(s) at the bottom, fun raceway in the middle.

And (he says, appreciating the segue he’s created), this is analogous to writing a story. Continue reading

Writing Exercise: Discovering Chris Cornell

This post is approximately 500 words. Occasionally, I write about artists who inspire me. I should probably do that more.

chris-cornell-3Today is a day much like one twenty-five years ago. I’m in blue jeans and flannel, and outside it feels like Autumn is being carried away by the harbinger winds of Winter. I’m listening to Soundgarden’s magnificent Badmotorfinger, though unlike today, in 1992 it was my first play-through, I was sitting in my freshman dorm room, and Chris Cornell was still alive.

I was fortunate to have a roommate who brought a large CD collection to college, and I recall pawing through discs to satisfy my ravenous appetite for music. I discovered three albums that I distinctly remember to this day: Steve Miller Band’s Greatest Hits (74-78), Metallica’s Master of Puppets, and Badmotorfinger.

 

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Writing Update: May 12, 2017

This post is approximately 300 words. Two months later.

I’ve been talking with some writers and conducting some interviews lately, and it occurred to me that I’ve been ignoring this blog. However, I didn’t realize it had been TWO MONTHS since I’d posted.

clint disappointed

That’s disappointing.

March was busy and April flew by ridiculously fast. And now we’re halfway through May. The good news – for those interested in the book – is that I haven’t been idle. At least four more chapters have been cut-up, torched, and polished, and a few more have also gone through the writing wringer.

The editing and re-writing hasn’t been easy, however. For me, I’ve spent most of the first two-thirds of the story setting things up and slowly painting my hero into a corner. Now I’ve got to untangle that web and see how she saves the day.

SPOILER: Continue reading

Writing Update: March 12, 2017

This post is approximately 600 words.

Last night, the clock on my computer screen read 11:48 pm. Including the last two hours, I’d spent six or seven hours yesterday working on Chapter 14, a 4000-word section which in hindsight, should have had a working title of “The Long Walking Chapter Full Of Exposition”.

I required this chapter to do a lot of heavy lifting for the story: the one being told in the current book, but also in the greater overall tale I wanted to tell throughout the series.

My characters began to understand that there was more going on than a simple adventure story filled with monsters. Additionally, readers needed to know that our heroes had just one choice for sanctuary, but the destination might be only slightly less perilous than the wilderness. I had backstory about the place and needed a thorough-enough depiction so I wouldn’t have to keep describing it (I’d rather establish a scene early and as we go on, allow readers to recall as little or as much detail as they wanted to enjoy the story). We also meet two secondary characters and a few tertiary ones.

Oh yeah, and I needed to continue the character development of my three heroes. Whew.

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The Last Shard (modified image of Devils Tower)

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Writing Exercise #7: Child of the Caldera

This post is approximately 950 words.

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Writing isn’t just about the final piece, the story you want readers to consume. It’s also about the writer herself. Or himself, in my case. If I’m bored out of my gourd, the process will be a tremendous slog, and I’ll probably never finish. But if the idea feels fresh or unusual – or requires me to do interesting research – it can be as effortless as breathing.

In this post, beyond the typical short piece of fiction I just write until the energy fades, I thought I’d list some of my motivations for exercises like this. Especially since the resulting stories are unrelated to my current manuscript. And at the end of the post, I’ve written out some ideas on the piece. It’s an evaluation of sorts, to help me determine whether I breathe additional life into the idea.

The writing exercises…

  1. Allow me to practice my craft
  2. Give me a break from the manuscript
  3. Expand an intriguing concept to see if it can stand on its own
  4. Capture an idea before it disappears forever
  5. Entertain me

Let’s see if the following piece does those things.


Child of the Caldera

September 9, 2017 – Jakarta, Indonesia

“Three weeks have passed since Mt. Meracellus exploded, ravaging the island of Ruhlu Benda and causing havoc across the region. A plume estimated to be thirty-five kilometers high has dominated the skies of Southeast Asia and deposited ash nearly a thousand miles away. Tsunamis have killed thousands of people in Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines, with reports of damage coming from India, China, Korea, and Japan. Stories from as far away as Australia and Hawaii tell of black waves of dead sea life hitting their shores, the poisoned remnants of the volcano’s death.

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Tpyos will always plague you

This post is approximately 450 words. Yes, the title was deliberate.

I love writing, which means I’ve spent a considerable portion of my life doing it. I’ve written thousands of pages and reviewed thousands more. If you’re like me, you’ve developed proofreading, editing, and copyediting skills. We understand that spellcheck isn’t foolproof. Long story short (too late!), we have the tools at our disposal to deliver pristine prose.

And yet, the typos return like locusts, plaguing our writing on a biblical scale.

locusts

Case in point, I recently had a friend review two chapters of my manuscript. Oh man, were these some challenging ones to write. When your protagonist is following a trail of destruction, it’s tough to keep every new discovery fresh. I was also unhappy with the amount of exposition, though I eventually found ways to make those passages feel natural. I also introduced the monster and tested the mettle of our hero. And lastly, I had finally reached the portion of the book where I’d removed one of my important secondary characters, and I needed to make additional hard decisions about his contributions to the story. These chapters hurt my writing brain. Continue reading

Writing Exercise #6: A Working Of Color

This post is approximately 200 words – short n sweet, like the mystery fruit described below.

splash-of-colors-wallpaper-1.jpgWisps of cloud diluted the perfect blue of the morning sky, reducing its rich color to a softer hue. Young leaves, bright with verdant life, glowed in the light of the rising sun. Dancing green lights they seemed, as a warm breeze awoke them from slumber. Beyond the sentinel mountain that overshadowed this valley, the sun brought the promise of a perfect day, its yellow rays coaxing vivid summer colors from all things that fell beneath its gaze.

A tentative hand reached into the branches of a tree and plucked free a large red fruit, its rind as rich and dark as blood. Not an apple was this, he knew. It was too early in the season. The fruit’s sudden appearance had surprised him, considering this was a tree long thought barren. Compulsion, not conscious thought, brought the fruit to his lips, where the sharp white peaks of his teeth pierced the rind. The fruit nearly burst from the wound, and dark purple juices ran down the man’s chin as he chewed.