Category Archives: Writing

The Breakdown Poem

Poetry was something that didn’t come naturally. I wasn’t interested in writing it, much less reading it. Somehow or another I’ve come to love poetry as well as writing it. I have and continue to write on a range of subjects. With each piece I try to make it different, especially when writing on the same subject. However, I realize that I do favor certain words, phrases and images in my poetry within each subject.

Because of these favoritisms I sometimes like to breakdown the elements of a particular poem I have in mind to write. Breaking down a poem helps me to: see each part individually, focus on the message and/or image I want to convey, decide which parts to elevate and how to elevate them, and critically think about the poem as a whole.

Doing this also forces me to think about my word choice and decide if I should use a synonym versus the actual word or create my own using imagery instead. I try to show rather than tell in my poetry. Showing instead of telling is something I read a lot about on writing novels and short stories. I try to make the same balance in my poetry.

Dissecting the poem before writing it helps me to find the words and phrases that will help me to show instead of tell. I find that certain words spark an image. If those imagery words can be joined with words that trigger the senses, I think it strikes the right tone for the poet. I’m not a student of poetry in the formal sense so this is pretty much my observation from my own experience in self-study, writing, and opinion.

Why am I writing about this you ask?

Because I have a Valentine’s Day poem waiting to be posted. I used this method for the piece that will appear on the 14th. I’ve also used this breakdown method in the past to help others write their own poem.

This breakdown method is a great way for the poet to focus their thoughts and map a way from beginning to end of a poem. Again, my opinion and it works for me. There’s no structured way to break the poem down. It’s basically just jotting down notes and connecting similar ideas to one another. It’s in the associations and connections of this information where I find my poem.

What works for you?

 

 

 

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New Short Story Series Here

So the timing of this is rushed. Whenever I have a new short story or series I usually try to promote it before hand. I didn’t do that with this new short story series. It was more of a ‘okay, a good chunk of it is done, let’s just get it to the blog now’.

The new short story can be found under the short stories tab. It’s titled Harding Middle School Confidential. It takes place in a futuristic setting and centers around the main character named Julius Meadow. He’s a transfer student with his dad being in the military and he’s come to yet another school for what he hopes will be the last move.

Already having reservations about being the new kid, Julius just wants to settle down, stay out of the way and not draw attention to himself until he can find friends he can trust. However, it isn’t long before Julius finds himself breaking up altercations with some of the kids who’ve made it clear they pick on the helpless. This draws unwanted attention not only from the bullies but also from a student named Marcus Andrews.

Marcus has been asked by Principal Coldwater to lead a group of students for an experimental program that she hopes would help combat the many growing factions feuding in the school. Julius accepts and it isn’t long before things get underway.

As the group, known as the Harding Enforcement Squad (or HES) solves case after case of student infractions things begin to take a nose dive. Soon the group finds themselves unraveling and getting mixed up in the chaos of Harding Middle School. Adding insult to injury, accusations emerge that even Principal Coldwater has a hand in the madness for her own selfish cause. Whether true or false, the HES will get to the center of the anarchy.

That’s basically it and the opening page gives an even smaller nutshell of the story. But this project came about a while ago. I thought it would be cool to do something along these lines. As a kid I remember watching shows like Kim Possible, Sailor Moon, Kids Next Door, Scooby Doo (which is my favorite of all even as an adult) and others. I loved the idea of kids solving crimes/mysteries but also juggling school.

In middle school I was inspired to try my hand at striking this balance and wrote a novella (it was only 19 chapters). I had a lead character with five other minor leads (the friends of the main character who also were part of the group solving school mysteries) and they were working for the principal in that project as well. Unfortunately, because I thought I knew what I was doing and really didn’t, I erased it by accident trying to save it from the computer onto a floppy disc. I was crushed. At the same time that sparked me to write more novels and that’s how I basically came to writing novels.

As an adult I grew to enjoy shows like Criminal Minds, Law and Order: SVU and CSI to name a few. So when I was developing Harding Middle School Confidential I wanted it to be for kids, on a kid level but have a little bit of realism to it. I also like the detective noir (think The Maltese Falcon) and I wanted to add that into the mix as well. Even though it was for kids I didn’t want the characters to be too immature, because I was mature for my age in middle school (at least that’s what I was told a lot) and so I wanted these characters to have a bit more maturity. As I continued to develop the story/plot and setting I tried to keep these things in mind so there are a lot of balances I try to strike in this series. But I also wanted a grand villain, not just the smaller villains (delinquent children) and I found it 🙂

A lot of changes took place in the development of this story and a lot of balances I tried to (and hopefully with success) strike. What it came down to was keeping it with fantasy/sci-fi elements (because ya’ll know that’s my writing home) mixed with realism. If I had to compare Harding Middle School Confidential I’d say it strikes a match between Kids Next Door (as far as the fantasy/sci-fi is concerned) with Law and Order: SVU (not with heavy subjects though), and a pinch of detective noir. I didn’t want to go heavy on the noir because I wanted to keep it light and fun. There is even a little funny in their with how the characters act and react with each other.

There is also another element I want to add as part of this story’s reader experience. It will be titled Harding Confidential Times. It’s the school’s magazine with art, editorial, opinion column, comics, poetry, school related news, school district news, sporting events, announcements, student and teacher highlight, interviews and student court proceedings. Obviously, the student court proceedings would be the part I focus on and it would be something readers can read in between each series for each case the HES has solved. It would only touch on the highlights of the case, evidence presented and which witness testimonies were key and of course the sentencing. Now the charges will be mentioned in the actual stories. I think I’ll also post my notes on what constitute as infractions and what charges they can warrant, I haven’t decided on this yet.

I thought it would be something fun to have that as part of this project. The prelude series goes live today at 5pm. The story starts off with a prelude series and then it’ll get into the ‘meat and potatoes’ if you will. Be sure to catch it and follow the Harding Middle School stories.

I hope you enjoy 🙂

Break Time

Yesterday was a post about what motivates me and how a continue on through a novel project from inception to its end. Today, however, I am expanding a little part of the conversation towards the end when I spoke about taking breaks.

As I said yesterday, writing a novel is like running a marathon. So it is important that the writer pace themselves and not over due it. For me this comes in the form of taking breaks. I take frequent breaks throughout the novel depending on the situation. Each project is different and so I take breaks accordingly.

For example, a novel where I know most of what’s happening, when it will and should happen will warrant less breaks during the writing. This is because knowing a novel that intimately means that I have momentum and that’s something I don’t want to lose. So in this case I’ll usually write a chapter a day, sometimes pushing through it when I know I should take a break during writing the chapter. In most cases, however, I’ll take a half chapter break then come back to it and finish out the chapter. Again, keeping momentum without over doing it is key.

If I don’t know the story as well and the future scenes are a mystery or perhaps they need some construction work, then I’ll take more frequent breaks. This is to help me form the story more, work out the setting and aid in world building (especially when building one from scratch). In this situation the story and some of its elements aren’t as organic as I would like it to be. So breaking and brainstorming becomes the tightrope in this situation.

What do I do in these moments when it’s break time?

I do a number of things. I’ll focus on other writing projects most of the time. If I’m taking a break from all writing projects, then I listen to music or read. I’ll watch tv, play videogames and/ or watch old movies (which I love. I especially love Turner Classic Movies). Or I’ll simply just relax, maybe shoot pool, bike ride or something like that. A lot of the times when taking these breaks, inspiration comes and it’s back off to the races. Sometimes not, and a break is just that, a break.

Break time is different for each writer/author and so is what they do during those down times. At any rate, the goal is the same: to not only restore the creative juices but also to refresh the creative flow. This gives a new and fresh perspective to the author so much so it’s like receiving a new pair of eyes. You see clearer than before.

So breaking is important in my opinion. Sometimes it can feel like a set back cause it’s like you get a good pace going then you hit a block. This is usually where frustration kicks in. Writer’s block can happen before, during or even towards the end of the project. To have that momentum only to slow down or completely stop? Yes, it can be frustrating. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be. It’s just break time. Use it wisely 🙂

Another thing I do is write at certain times in the day. I’m a morning person, so I’ll usually write in the early afternoon (after going through my morning routine of getting ready. Yes, I get dressed and everything). It’s more comfortable for me to write in clothes-clothes instead of PJs. This is different for each person too. Now, when I was writing in college I couldn’t do that. I had to write at night or into the wee hours of the morning because I had classes during the day. On top of that I could only write on nights when I didn’t have class the next day.

Now, if I’m really urging to write, then I’ll pull a late-night if I don’t work the next day. This happens especially if I have my laptop already set up and the next scene is revving to go. So my writing schedule vacillates a little more than it has in the past but I try to keep it consistent as much as I can. It’s not something I worry about though and neither is writer’s block. I just use it as a break and occupy my time with something else until I meet that project again.

-Peace.

 

 

 

From Beginning To End

If we think of writing in terms of running you might say that writing a novel is a marathon. I certainly do. Whereas a poem is like a hundred meter dash and a short story more like a four hundred meter dash. Novels take more time and endurance. That translates into requiring more care and preparation as well. All forms of writing, regardless of medium, require everything a novel does. Novels, however, I think are a different beast though in that everything is drawn out.

The writing is drawn out, the brainstorming, the editing, revisions, everything. It’s like that because, well, it’s a novel and not a poem. It’s not a short story where things can take and sometimes do take less time. Even the incubation period for novels are longer (and I’ve had poems with some long incubation periods). Bottom line is this: novels are marathons.

In being so that also means that the writer/author must endure, pace, and stay motivated to persevere the novel. This was a topic a friend and I talked about before. They asked me how I kept motivated through the novel. At first I was stumped as to how to answer (which is always the case) because I never thought about what keeps me motivated. I never thought about why I stay motivated or what things I do to overcome burning out or giving up altogether.

I’ve been writing stories since I was a child in middle school, maybe even before that, but middle school is my earliest memory of writing. I love it more than I did then and I loved it then too. I think you have to love writing to actually gain joy from it because it’s not the most interesting thing in the world to do. It’s not the most exciting activity and yet it is. Well, at least not to those looking from the outside in but I digress.

So, the question is what keeps or how do I stay motivated from beginning to end when writing a novel?

I think I’ve said this before in a couple other posts but it’s the excitement of the idea. When an idea hits me one of two things happen: I get really excited beyond reason or I don’t. If I’m on the fence about it it’s because I really like the idea but there’s something about it that doesn’t jive quite right. In this case I’ll let it sit and if I can make it work, then I go for it, even if at some point I’m not feeling it. Because things always take a turn in the course of writing a novel so why not? And if I don’t like it at all I can always just hit ‘delete’.

It’s that excitement that springboards me. The more I work on it and progress through it the more possibilities pop up. Each possibility brings another level of excitement. Sometimes they don’t and it’s like ‘never mind back to the original story’ but just because the level isn’t raised doesn’t mean I lose the excitement. It just means something didn’t work out but the story, characters, settings, etc. are still cool. See, I have to believe that the story and plot is cool, fresh, fly, dope and off the wall for me to even be interested in writing it in the first place. That belief in the story, plot, characters is what I look for. I have to believe in it to write.I have to believe in it enough to see it through to the end. Otherwise, why am I writing it?

So my passion for writing is why I write novels. Believing in the project is what carries me through the writing from beginning to end. Boiling it down my motivation is: passion and believing in the idea. As for how to keep from burning out, I take frequent breaks and these breaks vary. If I’m on a good writing streak then I’ll take a break from all writing. If I’m not and I’m only writing in spurts then I make use of the down time in between. Even when I am writing, I take breaks during writing that particular project so I don’t wear myself out. Writing can be tough if one doesn’t pace their frequency of writing.

-Peace.

 

Character Differences

So I have been in talks with a dear close personal friend of mine and they are always asking me questions about my writing. I have NO problem with them doing this. I like sharing my views, tactics, and techniques (if any) where my writing is concerned. Lately this particular friend has a desire to write again and looks to me for whatever kind of insight I can provide just from my own experience, which I am happy to oblige.

One of the topics we’ve discussed is how do I make my characters different from each other from project to project. This is a very good question, especially since it’s not something I think about doing. But now a closer look at the question and we’ll see it’s not just how do you make your characters different in the story from one another. It’s also how do you make them different from each other in the story but also different from the ones you’ve written about before. So we’re not just dealing specifically with story but also between stories.

I admit I had to really think about this question posed to me. How did/do I do that? This caused to retrospect on the characters I’ve created and their stories. I think therein lies the answer. Their story.

When I look back over the stories these characters are involved in each story has a different set of circumstances, situations and events. Each main character has something different to achieve. How does this striving for this achievement affect them? Are they dealing with a moral issue and if so how to they act/react to obtain the desired result? Maybe it’s not moral but an ethical issue or both. Maybe a life changing event has happened to the main character. How do they deal with it based on fear, motivation, passion and surrounding? Based on who this character is (their passion, what motivates them, what fears they have, setting/location) has a baring on how they deal with these situations. Passion, motivation, fears and surroundings are different for story and each main  character. So each main character will be different in that way since they should act and react to those things. Am I making sense?

But now how to stay away from creating characters with the same passions, motivations, and fears or even locations? I believe that’s where composition comes into play. I try to make sure all my characters are composites of people I have seen, come into contact with, observed, or even wondered about. I try out different surroundings, although I try to stay close to home (unless we’re out in space). If you let your mind wander on a character, I think you’ll find some interesting things about your character.

Now sometimes it is hard to keep characters different from story to story, especially when writing about a general surrounding like space/outer space or space sagas. Again, I look to who is this character? Why are they the way they are? How are they justified in their own mind to be who they are? How do other characters perceive them?

Other character perceptions are important too. When I look back on the minor or secondary characters, they help to flesh out the main character even more through interactions, conversations, opinions and judgements. They play off each other.

So for me personally, how I make my characters different from each other in each story is: their story, answering what makes them who they are (passion, motivation, fear, surrounding) and their allies/enemies.

-Peace.

It’s A New Edition

So on closer inspection you’ll notice a new edition to this blog. Poetry Collections Blog Edition tab. That’s because I’ve decided to create smaller poetry collections especially for this blog. The reason for this is because in the process of creating poetry collections (two have been completed as of this writing) there are those that don’t make the cut. Actually there are a lot that don’t make the cut. Well, instead of keeping them in the dark someplace, I’ve decided that they could go into some collection.

These particular poems weren’t bad pieces. They just didn’t fit with the body of work I was putting together. Not only that but these pieces tend to be pieces that I don’t see in a published body of work. They seem to be a better fit for the blog. So I needed a place to put them. There you have it. The first small collection is already up. It is titled Bag of Knick Knacks.

Each small collection will consist of anywhere from 10 to 15 poems. I hope to keep this going as there are always many pieces that never get put in a larger body of work. Or more commonly there are those that are always being taken out as I progress through to the end of the collective pieces. Sometimes I’ll even take poems out and replace them with newer pieces I like more than what was there. So I hope you enjoy the new page and the new poetic collections. Peace.

 

Organize That

There are lots of childhood memories I can easily recall. One of which is writing. Even as a child I was always writing. Mostly short stories. And I can remember laying on the floor of my basement, scribbling away on paper a new short story whatever it may have been. Each time I finished one I would go over it and check it for mistakes. Each and every time there was at least one mistake. Most of the time they were spelling or grammar mistakes. Or maybe I missed a word. These mistakes were due to the fact that I would write as fast I as could. Not really sure why. It just always seemed like I was trying to keep up with the images and things going on in my mind. So that led to something missing here and there.

When I started writing novel length works I noticed this same trend but something else was happening as well. Plot holes, getting characters mixed up, or getting the stories mixed up and forgetting what was going on. These mistakes happened because I would try to write a project for each idea I thought was great. This also led to me scrapping a lot of projects. This was problematic for a number of reasons which could have been easily dealt with in one word: Organization.

Although I was pretty organized in other things, writing was an area I wasn’t skilled in being organized in. At that time I always thought that the story would bring me back to what it was about and I could continue on from there. While this was the case I still needed to be organized if for no other reason than for pop-up points. Things always come up in the making of a story and there needs to be a place to organize these pop-up points.

As I’ve grown older I’ve revamped my organization more times than I remember. It is actually the reason for this post. I’ve revamped it again because I have done something I haven’t done in a while. Started multiple projects which I have every intention on finishing. But to help me with that I’ve kept two journals for two of the projects (as I’ve gone back to writing by hand in some cases) and with these journals are sticky notes for those pop-up points. Other projects that I write on my computer have their notes written in the document with precision so I know at what point in the story something needs to take place. This is temporary as I have been thinking about a better method to keep track of this kind of information. I think this is a good start though. I hope to one day have a study where I can write and maybe have a giant dry-erase board. That might help 🙂

The Truth of Fiction

On occasion it has come up in conversation and also in off-hand remarks that fiction is simply a good lie. Maybe even a great lie. It is referred to as ‘the one where you lie’ versus ‘the one where you tell the truth’ (referring to non-fiction). Even some writers refer to fiction as ‘how can I tell the best lie?’

My question is: why is this the view of fiction? It seems to me that fiction doesn’t deal with how can I tell the best lie and make it believable. Not for me any way. I am not concerned with trying to tell the best lie I can. I am concerned with answering the question “What if?” After all most, if not all, fiction writers begin their project with this question in mind. Lying is the farthest thing from our minds.

Sure there are untrue elements in the story and even the story itself is untrue. But the endeavor is not that it is untrue, the endeavor is what if it was? So then a character begins to form. This character would be completely made up if it wasn’t for the fact that most of the time this is a composite of many people that writer has come into contact with or observed or studied. The story of fiction revolves around this character or characters and the challenges they face in the event that what isn’t really is. Real transportation, environments, locations, locales, businesses, etcetera are used in many cases of fiction even if they are used in a fictitious manner for purposes of the story. Real situations, real emotions, actions, and reactions are used. In cases of science-fiction, the same holds true depending on the time period of the story and the world in which the story takes place. Even so, there is some truth in that genre. There is some truth in all kinds of fiction.

The writers of space travel weren’t trying to lie when they wrote about it way back when. It was a possibility. What if we could go to the moon? Then lo, and behold, we went to the moon. What if robots could think on their own? Technologies are in play to create this very thing. What if we could transfer organs from one person to another? The story of fiction, in my opinion, revolves around the character we are reading about. How would a person act and react to these conditions if this were the reality they lived in? If it was our reality? In this way the reader and everyone at large can study and think on our reality and the human condition (or lack thereof) through story and character. Fiction is a window for the wonder of ‘what if’ not ‘let me lie my pants off until they catch fire’.

In my personal opinion whether it’s women’s fiction, genre fiction, or whatever kind of fiction, it’s not dealing with lying the best. It’s dealing with ‘what if?’. Now, this is not to say that fiction tells the truth, I mean that’s why it’s fiction. It’s a fictitious turn of events. But it’s fiction for wonderment’s sake, not for lying sake.

-Peace.

P.S- Besides, there are tons of people who enjoy reading about another place, another time, another person living in a distant place who overcome the odds of great circumstance. I am one of them 🙂

 

 

My Delights of Inspiration

I recently went to Barnes and Noble to purchase just one magazine. I ended up buying two and the third novel to a trilogy I’d started reading earlier this year. It was really unexpected but it happens. Besides, the magazines were Writer’s Digest and Poets and Writers (my first ever of either one). It wasn’t until I started reading them I wondered, why hadn’t I bought these long before now? They were packed with some really nice articles. I am very choosey about what I think I should believe from what I read. Got to be careful in this day and age where everybody thinks they have something important to say when all it is, is nothing at all. Anyway, as I was checking out the clerk was interested in my purchases, seeing that I have bought these particular magazines, and asked if I was a writer. I said ‘yes’ and then they proceeded to ask me if I had anything published. This second question I had trouble answering because I still haven’t defined it for me. I know the world thinks that unless it’s come through a publisher or self-published e-book, then it’s not considered published. But by definition, a blog, vlog or any other form of writing content and distributing it to the masses is considered published. So I told the clerk ‘not professionally but I do have a blog’ and I told them where they could find it. The last question the clerk asked was what did I like to write. While I gave them an answer I could live with (being that I mainly write thriller, sci-fi, and fantasy type stuff), this answer goes beyond that. It is always for the sake of time that I try to keep this particular answer short. However, beyond the three that I mentioned, my delights are rooted in a variety of things, so my inspiration is just about everything. This is in part because I am fascinated by a lot of things. As a kid, I loved researching and learning about different things. I still do and so I am interested in different genres. It is also due in part because I just don’t stick to writing novels. In fact, my writing roots begin with the short story. My earliest memories of writing are of me in the basement as a kid writing short stories from one page long to about fifteen or so pages. Then I moved on to novel writing, as a test because I knew it was longer. It certainly takes greater endurance. Poetry came lastly, which came to be something I love equally as the first two (especially since I initially didn’t care for poetry). But at a young age, it came to me almost as easily as the short story and novel. Almost. Poetry took more practice I think because instead of endurance, now the focus was on the word choice, which I find to be a grueling task and yet fun.

So my inspiration stems from any and everything around me as well as the fact that I don’t like to be confined to any one genre or writing discipline. Writing in each of these three veins helps me to understand them well enough to use their strengths in whatever I am writing, whether it is for word choice, endurance, or details or whatever. They each require their own specific set of skill. That same set of skill I find, however, can be used to achieve writing in another form.

However, if for some reason the above doesn’t satisfy what I specifically like writing, here is an idea (keep in mind this is not all inclusive): FOR POETRY- Faith (I am a Christian for the inquiring mind), love, nature (even the destruction of it), time, life, death, seasons, thoughts/ponderings, muse/poet relationship, lack of inspiration, reaching one’s dreams, relationships (familial, friends, intimate), abuse (domestic, child, and other), and sometimes socially conscience pieces.

FOR NOVEL: thriller, sci-fi for the most part although my work is probably more sci-fi thriller (in my opinion). I like fantasy and I have a working idea for a fantasy but I haven’t really had experience with this particular genre. The only thing I think would qualify is my posted short story A Turn In Perception and an epic ballad I did in high school. I like having themes in any novel work I do. I try to incorporate some kind of theme on purpose and then of course you have themes that just pop up organically. I am interested in writing other genres inspiration and mixing genres as well.

FOR Short Story: This runs the gamut. From inspirational to fantasy. I like short stories because they are a good writing workout in my opinion. It will certainly test the ability of word choice, that’s for sure.

But these are my delights of inspiration for the most part. More pop up as I become fascinated with more things.

A Return To Poetry

This is coming two days too late but so be it. April is over and that means so is Poetry Month. During the month of April I attempted to write a poem everyday. At last to no avail. However, I have all of the prompts from which I drew my inspirations and will look forward to completing all the prompts. At the end, I’ll have a total of thirty poems, enough for a collection.

This comes as I am currently already working on a collection more than one year in the making. It’s not that I don’t care, it’s that other things have taken my attention away. In particular the two recent novel projects. They continue to be in revisions mode as I have currently taken a break from the literary agent search (it will begin again soon).

Now that these poetry prompts for April have oiled the poetic gears, I think it shouldn’t be too hard to finish both collections. At least I hope not. I don’t have any immediate plans for a new novel project at the moment (although I do have a few in development stages right now). I’m not really focusing on a new novel. I have directed my attention to submitting to literary magazines in hopes of getting that kind of publication under my belt.

We will see what happens.

– Peace.