Remember When I Used to Post Daily?

Today I’m gong to write against the clock for 90 seconds at a time. I’ve not done this particular exercise in some time and am a little worried I will suck at it. That’s not the point though, so I will press forward.

I changed it to 60 seconds because the 90 was a bit longer than I was used to and I kept expecting the alarm to go off each time I came to the end of a word. It was disconcerting and made it difficult to write fast.

Mist smothered the Texas Panhandle like a killer embraces his victim. You could imagine an overpass was approaching for many seconds before…

…you realized it was never arriving. Cars speeding past you disappeared like memories into the road ahead, and everything was either milk-grey or an unremarkable yellow.

The hawk snatched the fence post like it might some edible prey but instead landed. She ruffled her feathers to stay warm.

Martin stood on the plains; he was a crumb on a grassy smooth table top. The horizon clipped the sky like a ruler set on its edge.

Somewhere in the dark—if one looked carefully—a boney lank of dog or coyote hunched among the crispy beige weeds and sage.

I seem to have developed a theme here today. I guess that’s good considering I wasn’t even certain I’d responde well at all. I fear though that my them may make it hard for me to continue because I feel compelled to stick with that theme. So I’ve written this palate cleansing picece which

The gunship sunk to a roaring hover. Mini-guns sproted from the top and rotated into position to guard the ship…

Abandoned and hungry, Allawashon rose to begin another day of walking. She’d make it to the outpost fort by evening, but not before eating a mouse raw and killing her twin…

Yikes! I don’t know what my plan with the young lady above was/is, but I want to take a moment to apologize to her sister and potentiall to the mouse. I don’t know if either had it coming, but I hope so at least.

“Snow,” Eric said. “But not snow carpetting the field and smashing out all the features. Snow like a reminder that sometimes God likes to change the color of the earth.”

The grueling pace here is always a blessing and a curse. This stumbling blurb is all I could come up withfor this particular 60 seconds.

Ring. Click. Clear. Start. Write… Shit, that’s a pain some of the time. Like now when I thought that lead off would actually take me some where but it didn’t. Maybe my next blurb ought…

SHe was hiding. It felt like she was always hiding fr some reason or another. Hiding to stay out of the cold. Hiding to stay out of the light. Hiding to stay out of the road. Today she was hiding to stay alive, and so far it was working.

But it wouldn’t work for very much longer, because she’d spotted a reason to move. A reason so compelling that it made her scalp itch. SHould she stay alive one more minute or die trying to get the thing which compelled her?

I think I’l end this exercise here. I think it went well enough and I apologize once again fro not spending more time with this exercise when I can clearly be so prolific in a short time. Rather than dumping crap out on you when I can’t make myself compose a better story on those rushed days.

595 words on day 873

Frannie’s Finger Finale

Revisiting that dialogue exercise I came up with a few weeks past. No updates to the chokingly sluggish flow yet.

Probing-Rebuffing
“Where did you get that Pop-tart?” Momma asked.
Sarah stared at her mother. I climbed on the counter—which I’m not supposed to do. I got into the cabinet—which I’m not supposed to do. I tore open a new box because I didn’t want strawberry—which I’m probably not supposed to do. I used scissors to open the foil—which I’m not supposed to do. One fell on the floor and the dog ate it—which he’s not supposed to do. I’d better tell the truth: “I dunno.”

Sarcasm-Seriousness
“What? It’s black.”
“Chris, your aunt died. Take off the concert t-shirt and find something appropriate.”

Abruptness-Calming
Kevin twitched from a forgotten dream to upright in bed. A flop sweat adhering the sheets to his chest.
Socks purred in his lap and nudged his belly for attention.

Anger-Niceness
Captain Oswald Rockford slammed the canopy of the mech closed—a difficult task given the dampening effect of the nuematics—and stomped his boots into the actuators. He detoured eye contact with his co-pilot while he snapped on toggles and pecked at his screen hard enough to stun his fingertip.
“I bought coffee,” [some rank lower than captain] Marta Hanrahan said.

Despondent-Cheerful
“I’m never going to get this math done. I don’t understand the point of the quadratic equation. I mean, ‘Who cares? Who really cares?'” Brain tossed his book bag to the bottom of his locker like he was dumping a body.
“Did you see that Bonnie Archer transferred into our class though? Hot! Let get there early.”

Inhibitory-Encouraging
“You’re not going to be able to get to the mailbox without burning your feet. Get some shoes on or don’t go.”
“Mom, I’ll be quick and run on the grass. You’ll see.”

Uncooperative-Supporting
“I don’t care how much they ‘appreciate me volunteering my time and effort’. I’m not loading full porta-potties into my pick-up.”
“Kyle, what else are they going to do? It’s starting to rain and you’re the only one with a truck. Come on I’ve already got some other guys to help us lift them up and strap them down.” Todd jingled Kyle’s keys then then pressed them into Kyle’s chest when he didn’t immediately reach for them. “Circle it around back, bud. Thanks.”

Uncaring-Caring
“I just don’t care.”
“Well, I do.”

Demands-Trivializing
“Give me the gun. Now!”
“It’s not even loaded.”

Prohibitive-Unrestricted
The sign read: Authorized personnel only. No public entry.

Frannie shuffled the Post-it out of her pocket and tekked in the code on the keypad.

The latch clunked promisingly, but the door to the man-trap didn’t open. She pressed and held the clear button for a moment and started over—this time using a four instead of the nine she’d thought it was the first time.

The latch clacked. Even more promising!

Frannie twisted the knob and stepped into the man-trap—just one biometric hack away from the raised floor. She saw the entry-alarm strobe to life in the next room but couldn’t hear the siren through the thick bullet-proof glass. The sentry startled to his feet and would have knocked his coffee off his folding table if food and drinks were allowed on the raised floor.

She snatched her photo-ID up from the zip lanyard on her belt and held it up as proof of her authority. The sentry shook his head and pointed to a blank space on his side of the man-trap which matched up with a fingerprint scanner on her side. Frannie held up her index finger like a question; the sentry looked exasperated and motioned again to the scanner on her side.

Frannie pressed her finger lightly to the scanner so that the frayed edges of silicon wouldn’t register.

629 words on day 844

40% of a Dialogue Exercise

Let’s give this dialogue exercise a test run…

Probing-Rebuffing
“Master, where will I find the last dragon?” asked Leroy.
Master grinned a bit and pulled a golden medalion from a wooden box. “Take this to the fortune cookie factory.”

Sarcasm-Seriousness
“Well, that worked just great!” Greta reached for hilt of her broken sword out of the stones at the river’s edge where it had been thrown.
“Stop. That worked quite well indeed. Pick it up with this and be careful not to touch it,” said the mage. “We can track the beast now.”

Abruptness-Calming
“Just stop talking.”
“I will,” Carson said, “but not until I’ve finished what I came here to say.”

Anger-Nice

Despondent-Cheerful
“How am I ever going to slay that dragon? I’m useless with a sword.”
“You know, almost no dragon ever died by the sword. The vast majority of them die of old age.”

Inhibitory-Encouraging
Uncooperative-Supporting
Uncaring-Caring
Demands-Trivializing
Prohibitive-Unrestricted

That was a bit more work than I had time for this morning. I’ll try to come back later tonight to fill in the gaps. Overall I like this exercise, but I need to find smaller morsels within it. As it is it’s too complex to be the core repetition stuff I’m looking for.

208 words on day 830

The Making of a Dialogue Exercise

http://revealingofthesoul.blogspot.com/2009/07/art-of-dialog-active-vs-reactive.html

On Saturday I mentioned a post on dialogue that I thought could give some direction regarding a dialogueing exercise or two. I’d hoped with a little research I might find other helpers for such, but in the time I’ve alloted myself I haven’t. The reason I wanted to look around more is because the post I mentioned doesn’t complete its thought regarding its premise. Or at least the premise I’ve inferred.

It lists ten modes of dialogue:
1. Probing – to gain information
2. Sarcastic – to reverse the momentum
3. Abrupt – to end an interaction bluntly
4. Angry – to release tension
5. Despondent – to express negative emotions
6. Inhibiting – to disallow undermine
7. Supportive – to relate acceptance
8. Uncaring – to relate lack of concern
9. Demanding – to overwhelm opinion
10. Prohibitive – to change direction

I haven’t and I won’t take the time to vet this list or its definitions—it feels like I ought to—but I won’t. He goes on to pair each of these active dialogue pursuits with their correlative reactive partners.

Probing requires a Revealing reply.
Sarcasm requires a Serious reply.
Abruptness requires a Calm reply.
Anger requires a Nice reply.
Despondence requires a Happy reply.
Inhibition requires an Encouraging reply.
Supportiveness requires an Uncooperative reply.
Uncaring requires a Caring reply.
Demands require a Trivial reply.
Prohibiton requires an Unrestrictive reply.

I’ve translated his listing structure to appeal to my own sense of pattern, but I don’t think I’ve lost the gist. He goes on to mention the need for conflict, and I start to cheer but then he never hits the mark despite his remarkably solid set of examples. Instead he wanders into a few statements about subtext and deeper which make no sense to me. Lastly, he ends with the application of the above to a movie; I htink that was fine enough, but not terribly coherent.

Anyway, that doesn’t stop me from thinking what I thought rather than what I think he said, which is that these active and reactive pairs, when used in concert, elicit conflict between speakers—and that he’s got a few that need correcting. At least one. And it’s the first one. Which may be what confused me when I first read this. If you probe someone and they reveal what they know, that’s not terribly conflicty. So let’s amend that to: Probing requires a Rebuffing reply.

Now we’re cooking.

Here’s the thing though—and maybe this was his hope for whatever he was talking about with subtext—these are overt pairings. To get to the subtext, to get to the part where the reader plays a role in the dialogue, you need to write these pairs indirectly or askew of the mark.

“Where’s the bathroom?” — “I’m not telling you.” versus “I need to pee.” — “Someone’s in there.”

475 words on day 829

Looking for a New Exercise

I’m looking for a new lesson. Not that I’ve exhausted the Comma Fanboys one but I’d like to incroporate others for variety and growth. There are likely a few more comma related ones I ought to codify. Appositives and introductory phrases come to mind. I could probably find meat outside the comma hard-on I seem to have as well. I’ve noticed I’m using more hyphens lately and think I may be using them incorrectly.

However, I’d like to find some structural elements to make in to exercises. Bickham’s book suggests a few I could easily enough run with. Action-reaction couplets. Five-sentence scenes: goal, conflict-conflict-conflict, disaster. Or Four-sentence sequels: emotion, thought, decision, action.

I found a dialogue related bit of craft tonight while skimming Evernote for help. It contends dialogue fits into ten active categories and their ten reactive reverses. The ten pairs cling tremulously to that blog, and I’m sure I’d have to prop them up with some brain lifting before I had an exercise worth doing. As far as I know though, that’s the best I’ve got for dialogue craft.

181 words on day 827<£>

Comma On My Mind

  • I think today I’ll do some exercises, and I may seek new ones.
  • Hovering over the keyboard, his fingers contemplated their next move.
  • Clouds drenched us overnight and gray hangs overhead this morning, so I feel like writing about water.
  • Last night I told my wife I think writing well would mean writing full time, but I don’t think I will take on that challenge soon.
  • As it turns out, knowing where to put the commas isn’t all that hard.
  • My grammar for fiction writers book is in my desk drawer, yet I resist opening either util I can nail all the conjunctions.
  • I don’t think I will get them all from memory, plus I haven’t figured out how to use ‘nor’ at all.
  • I’m still shaky on the introductory phrase, for I often find I write longer ones than I think are allowed to be called introductory.
  • I’m not sure if questions constitute a full sentence, nor am I sure why I would think that were true.
  • Eesh, that nor one kills me.
  • I shouldn’t forget the comma before names. Right, Scott?

What other exercise can I dream up?

I read about SVO order, and I thought I might work on that more. I also read one author who recommended back loading sentences with your core thought. Either of those might make good exercises.

I’ll explore those later.

xxx words on day 586

Waiting on the Train Home

I’ve been working on an exercise suggested by a writing website.  Make generalized notes summarizing the actions of each scene in a movie: Introduction of Bad Guy; Main Character discovers Evil Plan; Main Character set back by Bad Guy Henchmen.  The notations should be non-specific enough that another reader couldn’t easily identify the movie you’d reviewed.  Which presumably makes them generic enough to be used as an outline for your original story.
I can see how the notes I’ve made would be useful to another writer or a better writer than I am.  If I used them as an outline not recalling the movie to mind would be difficult.  It’s a few more scenes before I can get to that point anyhow.
What I am discovering is the volume of information conveyed in each scene of a well made story like the one I’m using.  My expectations going in were that I’d be using phrases as succinct as the examples above.  I’m not.  Objectifying the factors inherent in the story is easier on a per scene basis than it is when you then have to string those scenes together.  One object that started off as New Partner soon evolved into Other Main because New Partner implied too much.  Even using Henchmen, which could be interpreted loosely if one chose, likely conveys too much so I re-termed them Bad Guy Proxy.  I suspect Bad Guy could even carry descriptive conotations that would direct a writer’s hand more than I’d intended.
I do like that I described the arrival of Police as “Story Appropriate Environmental Factors”.
Another aspect of story telling I’m uncovering is the bulk of story in a story.  Before as I’d laid out parts of my aborted NaNoWriMo I’d not put in nearly the amount of action in each outlined scene as I’m decanting from this effort.

I’ve been working on an exercise suggested by a writing website.  Make generalized notes summarizing the actions of each scene in a movie: Introduction of Bad Guy; Main Character discovers Evil Plan; Main Character set back by Bad Guy Henchmen.  The notations should be non-specific enough that another reader couldn’t easily identify the movie you’d reviewed.  Which presumably makes them generic enough to be used as an outline for your original story.

I can see how the notes I’ve made would be useful to another writer or a better writer than I am.  If I used them as an outline not recalling the movie to mind would be difficult.  It’s a few more scenes before I can get to that point anyhow.

What I am discovering is the volume of information conveyed in each scene of a well made story like the one I’m using.  My expectations going in were that I’d be using phrases as succinct as the examples above.  I’m not.  Objectifying the factors inherent in the story is easier on a per scene basis than it is when you then have to string those scenes together.  One object that started off as New Partner soon evolved into Other Main because New Partner implied too much.  Even using Henchmen, which could be interpreted loosely if one chose, likely conveys too much so I re-termed them Bad Guy Proxy.  I suspect Bad Guy could even carry descriptive conotations that would direct a writer’s hand more than I’d intended.

I do like that I described the arrival of Police as “Story Appropriate Environmental Factors”.

Another aspect of story telling I’m uncovering is the bulk of story in a story.  Before as I’d laid out parts of my aborted NaNoWriMo I’d not put in nearly the amount of action in each outlined scene as I’m decanting from this effort.