Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Writers need to be readers: suggested read

You've Got To Read This is an anthology supplying short stories that are the favorite reads of some of the finest writers of the 20th century.  Every writer should be reading, especially the most exemplary works of well-written prose.  "Goodbye, My Brother" by John Cheever is one of my favorites due to the family dynamics it portrays with simple, straightforward narration, and it is introduced by Allan Gurganus.

This book, though not a recent publication, is a great start for the writers looking to learn by reading.  The short introductions given by the author that selected each piece adds to the reading of each work.  Not only do I get to read a great short story, but I also get to understood what drew the accomplished writer to be moved by the work and name it as one of his or her favorites.

So track down this text and sit down for that occasional short read that you can examine both for the writing skill itself as well as for what  an establish writer might find worthwhile in it.

As said in Lu Chi's Wen Fu, "When cutting an axe handle with an axe,
surely the model is at hand."

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Tuesday prompt: #44 2012

Think about a dream you had recently (if you remember your dreams).  What about it carried the strongest emotional tug.  Focus in on that and describe it with as much detail as you can.  Try to recapture everything that carried emotion, evoked emotion or still creates a stir in your mind.  If you are not a person who remembers your dreams, how about a day dream?  The main point is to locate the strongest point of emotion and put that across.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

How far will "they" go to increase sales: cold in my head

Have you noticed that tissue boxes have become decorator accents?  I only mention this as I have spent the past three days nearly married to my tissue box due to a cold/flu hybrid determined to leave me bed bound.  I've been free to ponder the workings of the evolution of sales and the degree to which various necessities (yes, I consider the tissue to be a necessity) have taken to increase their profit.  I am on the verge of believing that all these colds are merely the production of some very inventive advertising:  minions (possible students earning money for college anyway they can) out wiping cold germs on any and all frequently touched surfaces.  Herbert's The White Plague comes to mind.  I never will look at paper money the same way after reading that book.
Blurry tissue box.

Okay, I am tired and working with a throbbing headache that has partially convinced me that I am on my way to a sinus infection.  I am following my usual combative measures against the complete overthrow of my sinus system: vitamin C, Cold Ease cherry flavored cough drops every six hours, a Reliv shake twice a day, lots of sleep, and most emphatically, absolutely no grading or lesson planning allowed.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tuesday Prompt: #43 2012

Dig out an old photo of when you were a kid.  Write about the moment it was taken. Imagine the image in black and white whether it is or not.  Keep your descriptions of colors in the grey scale. Go for the shadows, the bright spots; enrich your description by looking at the sharpness of the lines, the feelings the picture evokes and the story it is ready to tell.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Advice: the value of external hard drives

I have spoken before about backing up one's computer regularly (post Back up Your Computer). I have four of a seven book series drafted on my computer, so not doing an occasional back up would be downright silly of me.  However, for convenience sake, I also keep my documents on an external hard drive.  The drive that is inside my computer case only holds my programs.  But the external drive has my documents.  My father, who was an electrical engineer and computer builder in his retirement, felt this was essential to increase security, so I have been in the habit for a long time of keeping these two items separate in case of a computer virus or crash.  (In the early days of computer ownership, I had to partition my hard drive to create this kind of separateness.  I like an external drive much better for the reasons I mention below.)
Internal drive in external case
Well, that habit paid off recently when my all-in-one computer's monitor began to fail.  Sure my files are saved, but if I can't see them, what good are they?  I can't even run a back up or open them up and print them if the monitor won't display.  When my daughter's computer suffered this same problem a couple years back, I had to open the computer up, pull the hard drive and insert it into an external drive case. Sure this is no big deal (though it took me some time I didn't have handy to pull the drive, order the drive case and get them together), but when my computer began to falter, all I had to do was unplug the external drive full of my work and plug it into my laptop.  Bingo, complete access to all my work, which, of course, is also backed up on my WD storage drive.

I suppose one could say I am a bit over cautious, but I'll get the last laugh later.

Another advantage: you know that silly question about what do you grab if your house is on fire?  Well, chances are I can grab an external drive faster than I can carry out a computer or even a laptop.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tuesday prompt: #42 2012

Red flowers to right.
Open a fiction book to somewhere in the middle.  Pick a page.  The first image you find is the starting image in your writing. Take it from there.

If nothing inspires you, start with the red flowers to the right.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

non-linear plot imbedded in linear plot: not intending to confuse the reader

As I have mentioned before, I am working on a revision of the first novel in my Students of Jump. One of the changes I am making is running the two timelines (1979 & 2275) adjacent to each other. I am in the middle of a decision.  Should both run chronologically or should one (the 1979 timeline) run chronological, while the future timeline runs non-linear, different scenes appearing based on a commonality.  I like how a feature in common brings in a future event that the earlier time event is a result of.  At the same time, I worry about my reader getting confused because the events in the future do not run consecutively.  Maybe I can explain it like this:

Basic linear plot: Boy meets girl, boy falls for girl, gets girl, looses girl, gets girl back, they live happily ever after. (Let this be the chronological 1979 timeline.)

Non-linear plot:  Boy loses car keys, Boy needs to take car downtown, Boy cartwheels over sleeping dog, boy grabs keys off counter, boy must find another way to get to town, boy buys new car, Boy needs new pair of pants.  (non-consecutive 2275 and happens both in the future and before the 1979 events would occur.)

With one linear and one non-linear, they might look like this.

Boy loses car keys,  Boy meets girl, boy needs to take car downtown, boy falls for girl, boy cartwheels over sleeping dog, boy gets girl, boy grabs keys off counter, boy loses girl , boy must find another way to get to town, boy gets girl back, boy buys new car, they live happily ever after, boy needs new pair of pants.

In order to get the girl, the boy must need a pair of pants and must lose his keys, but these events do not occur in the same time period. One entirely precedes the other.

Is this confusing?  Would it make for a confusing novel?  You see my dilemma.  I won't know the answer until I put it completely together.  Revise that, it is currently in this form.  It is me that is confused.

Also note, these are not the actual plots of my novel.  Hmmm.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Tuesday Prompt: #41 2012

Go find a hat, either one you have not worn for a very long time or one that belongs to someone else.  This is a magic hat.  Put it on and sit until you feel the magic vibrate around and through you.  Give it color, sensation, dimension; imagine that magic flowing into you, inspiring you.  Sit until you can feel the flow.  Then hold on to your bootstraps (figuratively, of course) and write.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

WordPerfect: my kind of word processing program

I am fully aware that the most popular word processing program out there is Microsoft Word, but my loyalty goes to Corel WordPerfect.  I like the way the program is laid out and some features just simply don't exist in the same way in Word.  Reveal codes, for example: I love being able to look at each code spelled out and easy to read and delete as I please or not (a simple toggle switch).  I can change formats without finding myself suddenly back in a particular format when I was certain I had changed from outline to word processing or from columns to no column. 

The two programs did become very similar over the years (though my favorite features never left WP); however, the version I have now in WP is far different from the new Word which I am still figuring out.  I have used both for nearly the same length of time:  close to thirty years.  But when I work in WP (which I do for everything personal and most especially for my fiction writing), I just sit easy.  If I am not familiar with some feature, I can figure it out because I understand WP's logic. This is not the same with Word, which, though I said I have been using it for years at work, still makes me stumble about. 

Recently, my WP began freezing every time I saved my work.  I would write a thousand words, go to save and find myself in permanent freeze and no access to all I had written.  Heartbreaking, as it happened repeatedly, though I did get smart and save after each page, so I could at least see what I had written and could hand copy it.  After a few days I switched my files over to Word so I could work on my book, but I wasn't happy about it.  I assumed it was an update to my computer operating software (Vista) that brought about the problem and since my version of WP was at least ten years old, I thought it was time to up grade.  I ordered WordPerfect X5 and couldn't wait for it to arrive.  Now I am not so sure I had the source of the problem correct as the new version suffered from the same problem. 

So there were a few days that I was quite frustrated.  I tried looking for updates, I researched on the web finding the problem actually began back in 2006, though it did not hit me until this past September.  I found suggested solutions, but none worked. Then, a few days ago, I decided to try again.  I experimented and used "save as" instead of the icon for "save."  It worked just fine. And two days ago an update came through for WP X5.  Now I am back to saving using the icon without freezing.  Now that is a quick fix.  I love WordPerfect.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Tuesday prompt: #40 2012

Today you will write about discomfort.  What does it feel like?  Get real descriptive.  Most importantly, get uncomfortable.  Sit on your seat awkwardly, twist your body around and hold it in place until you are uncomfortable.  Don't eat if your hungry. Hold your arm straight up from your shoulder until it cramps, and then write about how it feels.  Don't imagine; use your own experience to get into the details.  If you already have a cold, flu, arthritis, backache, then you are ahead of the game (for once it brings you benefits). Go for the sensation, the imagery of pain, stuffy headedness, tight muscles, stiffness, a sinus headache.