Tag Archives: writing exercise

Plot Development: Ending Your Novel

Plot Development: How to write the climax and ending of your novel.

If you’re at all like me, you have trouble writing endings.  I don’t want to make this a lengthy post.  I only wanted to share the above link, and encourage you all to have a look at it.  =]

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LfBH – 14: Parting Ways

An intensely rocky start back into LfBH, so I hope you’ll forgive me.  A more action-packed piece will be up on Monday.  Thanks to everyone who enjoys LfBH for your patience. <3  LfBH is nothing without you.

+~+~+

There was little time. The skies, even here, were a dismal gray, as if Blackford Hill was reaching out to offer its misery like a plague upon the people of the small village. Every time a guard entered the village, he brought with him a depressing silence that lasted for hours after he left. Phaedra knew that their presence was wearing thin on the residents here, and so, once they were healed enough to move about safely, she proposed they leave.

Felix was unhappy. He knew his father would be looking for him. He knew that this wasn’t over for him, and if Silas insisted on tagging along (which he knew he would), then things would be very dangerous for him, indeed. As far as the young Count was concerned, his life had been thrown away the moment he set the flame to that temple. The gallows were the place for him, but Silas had a chance at a new life.

Tully, on the other hand, was eager to be out of here; eager to be as far away from their prison hellhole as humanly possible. She wanted to go home. She wanted to be where it was safe, warm, and dry. She wanted Phae and a life of their own.

Standing at the mouth of the village, where the only broad road led in, the stonework ending at the edge of the populated area and melding into packed dirt, Phaedra shouldered a crude canvas bag with a single strap over her shoulder, and glanced to Tully.

“I’m ready…” Tully responded to the wordless request. “I don’t want to leave them behind, Phae, can’t they come with us?”

Phaedra sighed. “They’re a liability to us, just as we are to them. It’s safer for everyone if we split up. We need the best chance possible at not being picked up again.”

“I suppose that means we’re not going back to The Willow?”

“Tully…”

“It’s fine, Phae… it’s fine. Let’s go, alright? We’re losing daylight.” Tully turned to face the road, just as Silas came bounding up behind them, a hand falling heavily on Phae’s shoulder, accompanied by a good-natured laugh.

“Thought you’d run off just like that, yeah? I don’t think so,” Silas laughed as Felix sauntered up beside him, and cast his eyes away.

“We didn’t want to make this any harder,” Phae explained, and gave a faint smile as she turned. For as skeptical as she had been of these two men during their first hours together, she had gained more respect and affection for them during their time here than she had expected. They were good friends, even Felix, the mouthy pain in the ass. It was because they were good friends that they deserved a fair chance; it would be selfish to hold them back by traveling with them.

Tully threw her arms around Felix and kissed his cheek. “If we ever go back home, I’ll find a way to let you know. You can come visit. You’d love the bakery, Felix.”

Felix’s cheeks flared a bit red and he smiled faintly. Friendship had never been something he had been good at, but with Tully, it was so easy. She a sweet person with good intentions and a love for just about everyone.

“I’ll come visit with you, I promise. At the bakery, or elsewhere, I’ll find you when things settle, Tully. Maybe Silas will be with me.” Another faint smile.

“Don’t look so grudging. He likes you. Let him stay. You need someone to support you, Felix. You can’t possibly let yourself be miserable forever. Let him enjoy your company, and for the love of the Gods, try to enjoy his, hm?”

Another dark blush from Felix and he laughed. “It makes me feel guilty.”

“You shouldn’t. Go. We’ll talk again soon. I promise you.” She shoved him lightly, and turned to take Phaedra’s hand, a slight wave behind her to signal their departure. Tears sprang to her eyes, and she inclined her head, as if doing so would keep them from falling.

“It’s for the best,” Phaedra stated yet again, giving her hand a little squeeze. “It’s safer for all of us if we split up. And our work will take us to places where they have no business being.”

Sniffling in finality, Tully brought her hand across her eyes and nodded. “I know. And Felix has business with his father. I just hope he comes out of it in one piece.”

Phae gave a grim nod, and kissed her beloved’s fingers. “We all will.”

Felix cast a glance to Silas, his eyes sliding over him head to toe, and he gave a very bare, helpless smile. If Silas were ever to change his mind, Felix knew that it would be now and he would be left alone. Silas was a good man, and he knew that he liked him, but how could the Count expect someone like Silas to suffer his upper-class woes?

“That was hard, yeah?” Silas drawled, drawing on his cigarette and tossing it aside.

“Smoking is disgusting…” Felix muttered and turned toward him, pulling his cap over his head and meandering alongside Silas.

“I know. So, what’s the plan, Count?”

Felix rubbed his forehead. “I don’t know. Go to my father. Kill him. Take what he doesn’t deserve and try like hell to do some sort of good with it, I expect. We need to do something about Blackford Hill.”

Silas slipped a hand discreetly into his and tugged him between two buildings, where he promptly stole his lips in a reassuring kiss. “Let’s do that, then.”

Felix swallowed hard and stared at him, before he dropped his eyes to their clasped hands. “Let’s,” he breathed with a faint nod. “Yes. Well, to my father’s then.”

With a single glance back to the departing women as he came out of the narrow alley, Felix drew a breath and pulled Silas down the road in the opposite direction.

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Writing Prompt: The First Lie

Salut!  So, some of you must be wondering what happened to my posts for the last week and a half.  WordPress decided that it won’t post my scheduled posts in full.  The post text is deleted and replaced with my initial draft line, like the post was never saved.  So, I apologize for any emails that didn’t link to posts.  I think I have it under control.  To rectify the situation, both of the last two Writing Life posts will be posted this weekend.

LfBH will now be posted bi-weekly.  I can’t keep up with the volume and quality, and if I want to have less editing work later, I need to put the time in to make sure each post is up to standard.  The next LfBH installment will go up on Monday, October 24.  I know, it’s a long time from now, but I’m plotting a NaNo novel, and editing the hell out of the first 13 chapters of LfBH.  So, wish me luck.  =]

Now, for the writing prompt!

Write a scene in which a lie lands yourself or your character into a pot of hot water!

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Prompt: Familiar

Gwin © Inkheart - Cornelia Funke

This is vague.  I want you to really reach here, because this concept has been done a thousand times five times over.  I want you to… *drumroll*  ….. tell me about your animal companion/familiar!  Or a character’s animal companion/familiar.  How did you/they come to be together?  How do you/they communicate?   Tell me the story. <3

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Burnt Offerings: a response

So, I’m now a registered author on Goodreads.com! Yay!  Anyone who has read Something Peculiar now has the opportunity to add it to their book lists, rate, and review!  Celebrations!

Yesterday, I posted the writing prompt for Friday entitled Burnt Offerings.  Since Inkwell meets every Friday night, I decided to toss it at the other Inkwellers.  So, we wrote awhile, and this is what I came up with; unedited and unabridged.

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The corners of the photo curled at the edges, the image bubbling and distorting the cherubic face pouting at the camera.  The sepia tones burned black as the infant’s face was obscured, burnt black by the flames.  Elizabet kicked a stray piece of wood at the fire, embers and ashes exploding upward and dying as they fell.  She drew the back of her hand across her tear-streaked face, leaving tracks of soot over her cheeks.  The photograph gone, she dropped a lace bonnet into the fire.

“What do you feel this will accomplish?”  Avery’s voice jolted her back to some semblance of lucidity.  “She was my child, too, Liz.”

Elizabeth whirled around, rising and turning in one fluid motion.  Her eyes lit on Avery, leaning on her infant daughter’s open casket.  Without a second’s hesitation, her hand flew, striking him full in the face.

It was the resounding crack more than the impact that stunned him, his cheek flowering a brilliant red.  “You’ll be sent off if the guests see you like this,” he snapped.  “You aren’t the only mother to mourn a child.”  Avery, her husband and her love turned cold since the death of their child, left Elizabeth alone with the casket.

She sank to her knees with a sob and resumed dropping tiny Christening clothes into the fire, piece by piece.

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Writing Prompt: Burnt Offerings

Image © Fernando X. Sanchez

This can be a fiction or nonfiction exercise.  I want you to think of someone burning parts of their past; objects, memories, etc.  Why are they burning those things?  If you’re pulling from your life, what have you burned deliberately, literally or figuratively, and why?

Don’t forget to share the result of the exercise in a link in the comments!  I’d love to see what this yields.

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Writing Prompt: Between Genius & Insanity

Steampunk Demotivational

Writing Prompt Friday lives on!  This week, you’re an inventor.  Give me some insight into your current big project.  Not working on anything, O great inventor?  Tell me how you’re making ends meet, being an inventor with no commissions.  Don’t want to air your dirty laundry?  Give me a typical day in your lab, introduce me to your staff, your favorite materials to work with.

Remember, the world may not see your genius, but that shouldn’t stop you from showcasing it!

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Writing Life: Clustering

How many of my loves use clustering as an initial plotting technique?  Anyone?  Well, I’m here to give you as many reasons as I can why you should.

Let’s start with this: clustering empties your brain.  The rules of clustering state that you need to write down ANYTHING that comes to mind, even if it doesn’t connect to anything else.  Write it down, no matter how ridiculous, because you never know when you’ll find that gem that connects points A and C with the ever-elusive B.  It’s like really messy, bullet-point free-writing.

My good friend Coffee over at The Land of Man-Eating Pixies recently posted about something her shop teacher said, and it’s really brilliant.  It’s the ENTIRE reason I swear by clustering (even if he wasn’t talking about clustering =P).

“Your brain is filled with stupid. There’s layers and layers and layers of stupid in your brain. So you have to give yourself fifteen minutes and a couple sheets of paper, and you have to write down every idea that pops into your mind. Even the ones that suck. Because you have to empty out all that stupid and maybe something halfway decent will trickle out. And you’ll be like, ‘WHOA WHERE DID THAT COME FROM? THAT’S ACTUALLY KIND OF GOOD.’ And the only reason you’ll have that halfway decent idea is because you emptied out all the stupid.”

I adore her for sharing this.  You guys need to visit her blog.  MOVING ON.  Yes, you need to empty out all the crappy ideas, because you never know when one crappy idea winds up as an integral part of your hook.

What is clustering?  Let me illustrate.

Messy photography, I apologize.

1.  Color-coded legend!  You don’t have to use highlighter, but I do.  Yellow for settings and locations, pink for characters and character relationships, and orange for groups and organizations.

2.  The actual cluster.  You start by writing a name, an event, a setting, plot point, etc. in the center.  From that center point, you write any connection you can make to it, then you branch off by making connections to the connections.  On the lines that connect them, you can write why their connected, catalysts, necessary information, etc.  Seriously, write ANYTHING that comes to mind.  If it doesn’t connect, don’t connect it.  If you don’t like it later, take it out.  In this way, clustering functions like free-writing; removing any mental blocks you may have between A and B and giving you deeper insight into the connections between characters and events in your story.

3.  Bullet points that detail this and that within the cluster.  If I hit on a point I like, I toss it up in the bullet points.  Sometimes it even turns into a faint starter outline.  It’s handy.

4.  Believe it or not, this is actually part of the original cluster.  It erupted into a detailed plan and layout of the city in which this all takes place.  All I’m missing is the drawing.  It’s easy to get carried away in clustering, after all, and that’s encouraged!  Anything that propels you forward.

Need a better view on each point?  I’m going to leave out number 1, since I think I can assume we all know how to work a legend.  I’ll also add another apology for the poor photography.

2.

3.  (Don’t you love my handwriting?  It’s like someone blindfolded a toddler and handed him a Bic pen.)

4. 

Whew.  There we go.  See in 4?  Above the mess of setting details, it’s linked to my cluster.  It all connects somehow or other.  I’m sort of grateful for my crappy photography in the first two pictures.  It keeps some of my details super-secret.  =P

In any case, that’s clustering!

Do you use clustering?  Are there other pre-outline development techniques you prefer?  How do you handle your initial ideas?

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Updates Mean I Love You!

It’s been a busy summer, folks!  But I’m back at home at my desk, G&L HQ, and ready to throw myself back into my work.  So, here’s the run down:

  1. Tomorrow, you’re getting Letters from Blackford Hill Part 12.  It’s going to look familiar to some of you.  <3  I hope it brings back fond memories of the beginning of LfBH, because it certainly did for me.
  2. Wednesday, Writing Life is back on track with a brandy-new post on clustering!  The how-tos and the whys are hopefully answered. <3
  3. Thursday is a special day at G&L!  For those of you unfamiliar with the Speak Out with Your Geek Out movement, I urge you all to check out the Facebook event page.  It urges the geek community to embrace its geekiness!  Let us all blog about our favorite geeky activities!  Share them with the world!  So, any day from Sept. 12 – 16, blog about your geeky hobbies, and Speak Out with  Your Geek Out!  Thursday is G&L’s day.  =P   Enjoy.
  4. Friday is another scheduled writing prompt.  I hope these are helping you guys out!  You’re all still welcome to share the pieces spawned by the writing prompts, and I’ll link them in the post! <3

I’m working very hard to get back on track, and three of the four above posts are already written and scheduled, so NO MORE FALSE PROMISES!

Speaking of false promises, does everyone remember when I promised you all a G&L e book exclusive?  I’ve been working on it, and I’ll be releasing it on Tuesday, Sept. 20th.  Everyone who has subscribed since May will receive a .pdf or .epub (other formats available upon request) ebook of exclusive G&L fiction!  The offer continues until October 31st, so if you haven’t subscribed and want the fiction that isn’t posted here, subscribe to the blog!  =]

One more thing!  Letters from Blackford Hill has been plotted to the end.  When it’s finished, I’ll leave it up on G&L while I edit, and when that’s done, it’s coming down.  LfBH will then be available on Lulu in ebook format… possibly in print, I haven’t decided.  What do you think?

Inkwell Imaginings, the writing group I began in Massachusetts, with the lovely Jessi of A BA in BS, now has a sister group in Jacksonville, FL.  And a website. <3  Progress!

Anyway! I’m back!  I missed you all!  And I’m eager to be posting again!

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3 Fiction Writing Exercises ~ via Writing Forward

Today’s writing exercises come from Writing Forward, by Melissa Donovan.  LOVE her blog.  <3

So, head on over to Writing Forward’s 3 Fiction Writing Exercises!  She’s give you a separate exercise for characters, plots, and themes, so there’s something for everyone! <3

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