In Moments Mundane

 

In Moments Mundane
By Te’Kia Miller 

 

Thought I was in a world
Alone as solitary
Freely dancing in rhythms
Only my soul knows
From music floating in ribbons
And choruses of R&B melodies
When his slight touch apprehended me
His being sliding up behind me
In perfect time to beats
Our hearts know well
As we dance embraced in rhythm
We keep each other expertly
Even in moments thought mundane
Our attraction knows no bounds

 

 

Original. 2017. 2/7/2017.

 

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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?

 

 

 

Only a Figment of Friendship

 

Only a Figment of Friendship

By Te’Kia Miller

I have missed you precious friend
Though… I thought I heard
Your voice whispered in the wind.
Must have been only a figment.
Just like times when we splashed
And splayed in pools of the sun
We were hyenas in the streets
Or horses running wildly even,
Galloping on spoke wheels of ten-speeds.
Must have all been a figment.
We translated stars into dreams
Stitching realities in this surreality
And empires raised before our eyes
Gave us exponential possibilities;
We did believe once.
Must have all been a figment.
Taking on new constructs
We live in time lost and expanse of distance,
Trying hard not to reminisce
All those figments.
Still there is something real
Pulling through the space life made
Keeping us tied at the soul,
Or, maybe…
It was all just a figment
Of imaginations conjuring.

Original. 2016.

 

Voices

When I write my characters, voice is something I’m not really thinking about at first. Anytime I start writing a novel or short story, voice is something that I’m not concerned about. I probably should be, but I’m not. I really didn’t know how undisciplined I was in this aspect (and probably manner others) until my friend asked me about it. As with many questions he asks me when inquiring about my writing process, I had to actually think about this aspect. I realized it wasn’t something that I put much thought into.

With that revelation I had to think about why. Why don’t I carve out a voice for this character or for this story as a whole? When thinking about it then and even now at this writing, I would have to say that I always thought that voice would come naturally. See, in case my dear readers, if you haven’t noticed, I’m a little haphazard in my writing process. There is no method I use to writing what I write. When something comes to me, whether it is character, setting, story, plot, etc. I simply write it. I don’t try to tame it, shape it, sand it, reshape it. It is what it is how it is. When I do my editing and revisions, it’s not geared toward voice. It’s more tightening up sentences, cutting extra words, grammar, looking at details of the world building, adding little character quirks and that sort.

I don’t know about other writers but for me if I write it the way it comes to me, it’ll come across the way it’s supposed to. While I do read advice from other published authors or industry folk, I don’t let it get in the way of how I write. I simply cannot allow that to happen. The minute I start trying to follow in the footsteps of someone else, I am trying to be like them. The problem is that I’m not them and they are not me. While some advice may be okay to follow by the book, most of it I take with a grain of salt and keep moving.

No one can tell me how to write what I’m writing. Unless they are spoon feeding me the words instead of my muse guiding me, no one can. The only person who can write what it is you want to write, is you. Why do you think it was given to you?

Voice for me comes with the words and how they are coming to me. I try to write in that exact way so that it comes through authentically. Poetry is the same way. If I feel a line break should be here and not there for the full force of what I’m conveying, then that’s where it’ll be whether someone else likes it or not. I wrote what I wrote the way I wrote it for a reason. I imagine this is the same for most if not all writers. We write the way we write for a reason. If it was supposed to be written another way, I would have done it that way.

Voice for my characters is again the same. If they use slang, they just use slang. Period. Sometimes they might use a lot of slang. Sometimes they use proper English and sometimes they use a mix of both. They may have an accent or may not. In the case of accents, I will let the reader know what kind, if any, accent this character has the first time they speak. If at anytime the voice doesn’t feel natural to the character then I didn’t write it correctly and I need to change it.

All in all, voice is not something I worry about. It’s not because I don’t care about voice. It just seems to me to be something that would and does (at least for me) come naturally with the words I’m writing.

 

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.