A Review for an Extraordinary Story

come-to-a-memory-31171219COME TO A MEMORY Joab’s Story/Lila’s Story

Come to a Memory, by Francis Webb,  is an extraordinary read. It feels genuine and real. I felt like I was reading a true story from the viewpoint of a little nine-year-old girl, named Lila.  America was barely edging out of the depression era and nerves stretched thin by the inconceivable shock, fear, and confusion of another war, so soon after the Great War.  This story takes place at the beginning of WWII in a small town and a family suffering financial loss like so many others during the Great Depression. What many people forget is that children were the ones that suffered in silence because that was the way children were instructed to behave, but not Lila.

Lila, intelligent, stubborn, and inquisitive, found ways to-be-heard, by throwing acorns at her cantankerous grandfather, as she hid in a tree, and by hiding a real chicken foot in her sleeve during her grandmother’s wake, terrifying ladies as Lila greeted them at her front door, not with her hand but with the chicken foot—claws and all.

Lila’s complex friendship with a Jewish boy from Germany, named Joab, who came to join her 4th grade class, grew slowly during the time before America entered into WWII after Pearl Harbor. Lila’s choice to befriend Joab, over the sneering remarks of children and adults alike, taught both lessons they would never forget.  Through it all, it was Lila and Joab, both suffering for being different, who helped to mend the suspicions of a small town about a little boy who escaped Nazi Germany, though his family did not.  I highly recommend this true-to-life story. This historical fiction, “Come to a Memory, made me cry, made me smile, and made me laugh hysterically.  A story that still lives in the hearts of many, still here, to remember the horror that was.  I highly recommend this story – to one and all!

10 Tips for Writing Good Dialogue

words-to-erase10 Tips for Writing Good Dialogue

Dialogue is one of your primary story telling tools. Dialogue means more than just attribution, meaning to tell the reader whose voice is speaking at any given time within any given scene/chapter.

It defines through speaking who they are, their character, their state of mind, and their intentions, most often. The “he said and she said” attribution is the most common and most accepted form for attribution. On the other hand, a “beat” is a description of a physical action that can be used to indicate the speaker instead of an “attribution”.

Tips on Writing Dialogue

  1. Don’t explain your dialogue. When you follow dialogue with phrases like “he said angrily” or “she said harshly” you are explaining how the character feels. Instead, their feeling should be obvious by the words they say as well as their actions.
  2. Use of an adverb(ly) almost always catches you in the act of explaining dialogue. Instead of an adverb, use a beat of action to convey your characters’ feelings.
  3. When you are writing speaker attributions, said is always the right choice. Do not saddle your characters with impossible actions; you cannot beam, smirk or grin a line of dialogue. Said is akin to punctuation. It disappears on the page. For the sake of variety, you can use beats of action in place of said.
  4. Always place the character’s name or pronoun first in a speaker attribution. Use ‘Sam said’ instead of ‘said Sam’. This is the professional standard for dialogue.
  5. Choose one way to refer to a character in a scene and stick with it. Don’t use “Detective” the first time and “Jane” a few paragraphs later. This is one case where shaking it up for the sake of variety can be confusing.  Please note that this is within the confines of single scene, not the entire story.
  6. Avoid ping ponging dialogue by having your characters refer to each other by name in order to eliminate speaker attributions. This is just plain awkward. Use the speaker attribution or a beat of action.
  7. Use sentence fragments and contractions to make your dialogue sound real. Dialogue is the one place you can play fast and loose with grammar.
  8. Do not use dialogue to data dump. Having your characters speak like an entry in Wikipedia is not natural. If you have a chunk of background information to reveal, do it piece by piece through both dialogue and exposition.
  9. Let your characters lie to each other, argue and misunderstand each other. Allow your characters to be suspicious of each other, to wonder what the truth is. Real life is never wrapped up in a neat package, so give your characters the chance to disagree and they’ll sound more human.
  10. Read your dialogue out loud. Listen to see if it sounds natural, and if you can differentiate the characters in your scene by the words they say. As you listen, you should be able to find places where you stumble over words or places where you need beats of action. If your dialogue sounds stiff, make sure it isn’t announcing information that could be imparted through exposition.

 

DEAR STRANGER!

I have reblogged a great post the site and title,  “Dear Stranger” on https://bhavika24.wordpress.com. It is an excellent post. A must read!  My comment is as follows:

I believe that domestic abuse is still very much a terrible social problem in our American culture as in other cultures as well. There are many pathological rationales, however, bullying, power plays, anger tantrums, sexual abuse and rape, as well as drugs and alcohol, are key behavioral problems and often lead to a deadly outcome for any female of any age by fathers, brothers, boyfriends, male strangers, and husbands.

Parents often avoid to act on or deny that their male/female child, at a very young age, display acts of cruelty, meanness, and anger tantrums. Often parents just don’t know how or have no time to address these pathological issues. Whenever a culture accepts bullying, as America has recently decided to do, I suspect the act of emotional abuse and violence will escalate.

Abuse whether physical or emotional, is also observational by children watching the actions of and by adults within all of our social interactions/mediums. It often starts at the beginning of a child’s life and if not addressed, continues the cycle of abuse and violence throughout these individuals lives. Stop abuse where every you see it, whether in church, school, or at home. Unfortunately, the culture aspect of religion often by design, encourages dominance over females, this is intellectual and emotional abuse that sets the stage for emotional and physical abuse for life.

bhavika24

Stranger! YESS that’s what you are.! That’s what you always were.!!

I never met you by my own choice.I was told to meet you by my parents.And I was forcibly expected to like you.Because no matter how I felt,it was already decided that you were the perfect choice for me, and that I could not get any better. Everytime I tried to believe them, I inturn doubted myself. But I was so obliged to my parents that I couldn’t question their intentions for me.I wore those specs of oblivion that I couldn’t see any flaws in you.Since I had to spend almost all my life with you,I started respecting you. Before I knew what was happening I even started to like you. Our story seemed to be a fairy tale.Our lives seemed to be written by God’s own hands.

We got married.This is the most beautiful day of girl’s…

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Lest We Not Forget! by LeeAnna Waldrop

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Lest we not forget, in the heat of the moment,

Our logical minds and common sense,

Lest we not embrace, in those times of

Uncertainty, our unfounded fears and

Imagine demons,

Lest we not believe, in those moments of

Vulnerability, that our passion and energy are

Wasted,

Lest we not neglect, in the face of our

Enemies, our innate compassion and

Unrivaled love.

In these times of uncertainty, it is important to look through a wider lens, understanding, that those around us, our children and our friends,  need to be reassured that their world is not unalterably changed and justice for all, will prevail. 

 

 

Foreshadowing – how much is too much?

ForeShadowing 3

I was working on my second edition of a middle grade novel when my editor told me that I should be careful about using foreshadowing to liberally.  It was my writing technique to include foreshadowing at the end of each chapter, if needed. In fact, she eliminated, in each chapter, all but one of my foreshadowing lovelies.  It was hard to take. So, in a state of rebellion I put several of the best, in my opinion, back where they belonged. I kept those rebellious foreshadowing evils in my revision.  The following is an example:

With Foreshadowing:

After supper, Laura cleared the table and put the dishes in the sink to wash them. The summer storm had passed and in its wake was a beautiful evening.  It helped Laura to forget about the nightmare that still haunted her.  At the kitchen window above the sink, Laura watched as the first star of twilight became visible. It was the Dog Star, Sirius; the star that guided wayfaring sailors home from turbulent seas. “I wish, I wish” said Laura, that I could fly up to the planets and discover the world my parents knew, my home, somewhere up there. Laura had no way of knowing how prophetic her words would become and the danger therein.

Without Foreshadowing:

After supper, Laura cleared the table and put the dishes in the sink to wash them. The summer storm had passed and in its wake was a beautiful evening.  It helped Laura to forget about the nightmare that still haunted her.  At the kitchen window above the sink, Laura watched as the first star of twilight became visible. It was the Dog Star, Sirius; the star that guided wayfaring sailors home from turbulent seas. “I wish, I wish” said Laura, that I could fly up to the planets and discover the world my parents knew, my home, somewhere up there.

Come what may, I will live with this decision. Of course, if anyone out there has  some sage words of instruction, I would love to know how other writers have handled this perplexing problem!

YOUR NOVEL BLUEPRINT, by author Karen Wiesner

 

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I found “Your Novel Blueprint” on Writer’s Digest,  it is a book by Karen Wiesner. It  is a very useful and very complete guide from start to finish.  I am posting the first couple of pages and then a link to her article (10 pages) and also her book  can also be purchased there.  Read the article and then see if it is for you. I loved it.

You can find Karen Wiesner on Writer’s Digest http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/your-novel-blueprint

Writing a novel and building a house are similar when you think about it. For instance, most builders or homeowners spend a lot of time dreaming about their ideal houses, but there comes a time when they have to wake up to the reality of building by analyzing what they expect from a house, and whether the plans they’ve selected will meet their needs. Architects argue that it’s better to build from the inside out.

This is where a home plan checklist comes in handy. This list assembles the key considerations to keep in mind when deciding on a plan, including what are called external monologues, relating primarily to the outside of a house and its environment, and internal (interior) monologues. (The word monologue, in building, refers to a single facet of overall composition on the inside or outside of a house, such as flooring material or landscaping aspects.) Writers spend a lot of time dreaming about their ideal story. Eventually they have to face reality and analyze whether or not the story will work. Authors, too, usually build from the inside out—in other words, they know what they want at the heart of their stories and they build around that.

This is where a Story Plan Checklist becomes essential, because it targets the key considerations necessary when building a cohesive story that readers will find unforgettable. The checklist has basic external and internal monologues.  Monologue, in writing, refers to a single facet of overall composition concerning the internal or external elements, such as conflict and motivation. Generally, these are composed individually in free-form summaries, but they need to develop and grow cohesively.

The Story Plan Checklist can ensure cohesion between character, setting and plot. This checklist connects all the dots between internal and external conflicts, and goals and motivations, thereby guaranteeing the cohesion all stories require. In its most simplified form, a Story Plan Checklist—which you can find an example of at writersdigest.com/article/first-draft-finish-novel—includes free-form summaries (or monologues) covering each of the following:

PART I: THE BASICS

  • Working Title
    •    Working Genre(s)
    •    Working Point-of-View Specification
    •    High-Concept Blurb
    •    Story Sparks
    •    Estimated Length of Book/Number of Sparks

PART II: EXTERNAL MONOLOGUES

  • Identifying the Main Character(s)
    •    Character Introductions
    •    Description (outside POV)
    •    Description (self POV)
    •    Occupational Skills
    •    Enhancement/Contrast
    •    Symbolic Element (character and/or plot-defining)
    •    Setting Descriptions

PART III: INTERNAL MONOLOGUES

  • Character Conflicts (internal)
    •    Evolving Goals and Motivations
    •    Plot Conflicts (external)

I call this list a Story Plan Checklist not only because of its correlation with a home plan checklist, but because if you haven’t considered each of these areas, written something solid about them and checked them off, your story may not be fully fleshed out and cohesive enough. Sooner or later, the basic structure will begin to fall apart.

While you’re in the beginning stages of forming a story plan, sit down and figure out some of the working details (which may change throughout the process).

TITLE AND GENRE SPECIFICATION

First, come up with a preliminary title. All you need here is something to reference the project. While you don’t want to lock in your genre too early (stories evolve in unpredictable ways), get started with genre specification. For now, list all the genres this story could fit into.

POV SPECIFICATION

Now, start thinking about what point of view you want to use for your book. It’s very important to start your Story Plan Checklist with this because the identities of your main characters will play a huge part in your characterization and, subsequently, each of the areas you’ll be summarizing on your checklist. Most stories spark with a character who may end up becoming your main character. Your best bet for deciding which character’s viewpoint to use: In any scene, stick to the view of the character with the most at stake—the one with the most to lose or gain.

HIGH-CONCEPT BLURB

The high-concept blurb is a tantalizing sentence—or a short paragraph with up to four sentences (one or two is ideal)—that sums up your entire story, as well as the conflicts, goals and motivations of the main character(s). It’s no easy task. Here’s a simplified explanation of what your sentence needs to contain:

A character (the who) wants a goal (the what) because he’s motivated (the why), but he faces conflict (the why not).

Or you can simply fill in the blanks—whichever works best for you:

(name of character) wants (goal to be achieved) because  (motivation for acting), but she faces  (conflict standing in the way).

A Glimpse into the Philosophy of Reading

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I think, “reading is such a game changer. With every book I read, I feel changed somewhat, meaning, I have been added to or subtracted from some thought or notion. Beyond that notion, I have learned something important.  I am never filled up—nor am I ever emptied.”  The following are a few great quotes on reading and why reading is important – it helps one think and often great things are the result – like Democracy and our constitution, as well as the sciences, humanities, and literature. We are what we read and ergo—what we think.

“Reading and writing, like everything else, improve with practice. And, of course, if there are no young readers and writers, there will shortly be no older ones. Literacy will be dead, and democracy – which many believe goes hand in hand with it – will be dead as well.” Margaret Atwood 

“I did the traditional thing with falling in love with words, reading books and underlining lines I liked and words I didn’t know. It was something I always did.” Carrie Fisher

“Expand the definition of ‘reading’ to include non-fiction, humor, graphic novels, magazines, action adventure, and, yes, even websites. It’s the pleasure of reading that counts; the focus will naturally broaden. A boy won’t read shark books forever.”Jon Scieszka

“Reading is a conversation. All books talk. But a good book listens as well.” Mark Haddon

“By reading Huckleberry Finn I felt I was able to justify my act of going into the mountain forest at night and sleeping among the trees with a sense of security which I could never find indoors.” Kenzaburo Oe

“There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.” Ray Bradbury

“Reading was very important to me as a kid. It was very inspirational to me. I went to a school where that wasn’t encouraged so much, but my parents encouraged that, and it has made me part of who I am.” Sasha Grey

“Reading is a basic tool in the living of a good life.” Joseph Addison