I was very excited to learn about Ally Carter's newest series that recently came out this month. So, using the excuse that my Fiction teacher gave me an assignment to read a book I hadn't read before, and to study the craft of the author, I ordered a copy of All Fall Down (Embassy Row #1). Thanks to Amazon Prime I had my copy three days after the book came out and I read it over the weekend.
At first I was a little skeptical as to whether I would enjoy this new series as much as I had The Gallagher Girls series and Heist Society series. I should never have doubted Ally Carter's ability to draw me into a story. A few interesting differences in this new series is that instead of a dead father, Grace has a father and an older brother. After the first chapter you don't see them but you hear about them plenty.
I am a huge fan of dialogue. It can do so much for a story. We get to know characters through their voices, what they say, what they don't say, how they say what they say. Information can be given through dialogue (as long as it isn't used just to portray information to the reader. A character wouldn't say "We have to stop Dr. Cyclops before he unleashes his evil plan to take over the world, starting with the U.S. and spreading out from there, by controlling the production of Pop-Tarts." They'd say, "We have to stop him." The other character ought to know who they have to stop, why, and how already).
Dialogue is also a great way to bring people into a story. Some people disagree with me, with the opinion that a good story should open with an intriguing and memorable image. While I'm all for imagery and strong images that will stick with the reader long after the story has ended, dialogue has an immediacy that some images just can't convey. It put's us right in the thick of the characters lives.
So for this week's writing prompt, I found another dialogue prompt on Pinterest. The prompt is this: "Please stop putting things in my microwave." If you're intrigued read on.
Last November I participated in NaNoWriMo for the the fourth time and I won. But I cheated a little and used an idea I had been working on since May. From May to August I wrote 25,000 words BY HAND!
While I was writing my story, BY HAND, I realized some things about the structure of the story. I realized that the exposition was drawn out way longer than it needed to be (which happens with every rough draft I write). I also figured out what scenes I could cut to speed things up. So when November rolled around I decided to do a basic rewrite of what I had already written. I used very little of the original and I definitely improved my story.
It may seem like writing those 25,000 words by hand was a waste of time. However, anything that improves your story should be done, right? Plus there is just something about a blank piece of paper and a pen that just flows, isn't there? So below is a list of reasons to write your story by hand.
No long preamble today. I have a paper due in school tomorrow and I still have to write a little over half a page. So here is your Writing Prompt for the week.
Write a scene where two characters communicate through body language for at least five sentences before you use dialogue. Try to avoid cliché.
Karen played with the buttons on her blue silk shirt.
Across the table, Greg picked a piece of lint off his suit jacket and wiped away imaginary dirt.
Staring at him, Karen waited for him to catch her eye, before she slowly slid her foot towards his under the table. She ran her foot up his leg.
He cleared his throat and his chair scraped along the floor as he stood up. "If you'll excuse me, I need to use the restroom."
She tilted her head and winked at him. "Hurry back." Then she bit her lower lip.
He set his white clothe napkin down on the table next to his plate and hurried toward the bathroom sign on the other end of the restaurant. Once he reached the bathroom he pulled his cell phone out. "Hey, man, get me out of here."
What'd you think? Why do you think Greg was uncomfortable with Karen's advances. I didn't give you many clues so feel free to continue with this story if you want. Or make up your own situation and try using body language to convey something between your characters. As always, post what you wrote in the comments or strike up a conversation about body language. Thanks for reading.
Keep on Creating,
K. A. Jairl
My husband is the best gift giver I know. I showed him the Aqua Notes - Waterproof Notepad I wanted on amazon back in May or June of 2014, maybe even further back. He remembered and gave it to me for Christmas. No, he did not order it way back in May or June. I know because my birthday is in July and also because he had to use my Amazon account to order them two days before Christmas! Just like a man, as Miss Cornelia would say.
First off I just want to say I am not making any money off this blog post. I simply LOVE my notepad. It is not expensive, you can get it for around $8 on Amazon.
It works great in the shower and the bathtub which is where I generally brainstorm or get inspiration for stories. The pages rip off fine. It does feel different to write on at first, because of the waterproofing on the pages; they are smooth compared to regular lined paper. I actually really like how the pages feel to write on, though that is just a personal preference.
The only problem I have had with my pad so far has been getting it to stick to the wall. This is not the pads fault though since our walls are tiled and the tiles are textured. It sticks fine to the bathtub (which is porcelain, I think. It is smooth). So that is where I stick it when I take a bath and want to have something handy for when the muse strikes me like a monsoon. In the shower we also have a window with a very smooth surface on the inside so I stick it there as well. I have not had a problem with either the notepad or the pencil falling from either of these places and am super excited about using it as you can tell.
Have you tried or wanted to try Aqua Notes? Do you have any other solutions for brainstorming in the shower or bath? What other tools do you use for brainstorming? Let me know in the comments.
Keep on Creating,
K. A. Jairl
Since no one commented on my last Wednesday Writing Prompt Post, I get to choose whether we continue on with those characters or do something new. This week I think I'll use some different characters for this exercise.
This week we're going to be trying an exercise from Jerome Stern's book Making Shapely Fiction. In his chapter on "Juggling" Stern says that "Juggling means the way you go back and forth between action and thought to create immediacy, tension, and character" (pg. 8).
So for this exercise, I want you to choose a specific location and have your character respond to that location. While your character is interacting, with their location intersperse their actions with thoughts. Their thoughts can be focused on their location or not. You can use tags of he thought or she thought, but don't use too many as these can become distracting. I like to put my characters thoughts into italics to signify that they are thinking. For that reason I don't need to use quotation marks around thoughts and most people would find that confusing anyway.
For my location, I've chosen a bookstore. You can see how my character Adam goes between action and thought, juggling the two of them.
I am going to be accountable to all of you readers out there. I don't know how many of you there are...I could check but hopefully there will be more of you to keep me accountable later on this year. Speaking of which 2015 is officially here! Which of course means, New Years Resolutions. So below are my 2015 New Years Resolutions for Writing.
Do you guys have any suggestions I can add to my list? What are your new years resolutions for the year, writerly or otherwise?
Keep on creating,
K. A. Jairl
I mainly read this book for inspiration on how to revise a novel I'm working on. I have to say I was surprised to find that the Disney Movie version follows the book pretty closely, even including parts that, in the book are maybe a paragraph long, but are actually pretty important to understanding the characters. What was most interesting to me was how the narrator always had a slightly dark tone where mothers were concerned. He seemed to have a hate/love relationship with them and also with how ungrateful children can be especially when they take advantage of their parents. All in all though this was an interesting quick read that I'm glad I finished right before school started. If you've seen the Disney movie or watched the play (also written by Barrie) or the musical, then you would enjoy reading this book.
Have you read this book before? How did you like it? Post a comment and lets chat.
Keep on Reading,
K. A. Jairl
K. A. Jairl
My name is Kim and I'm glad you stopped by. This is where I post my triumphs and my downfalls as I fight the good fight of being a writer mom everyday.