Capturing Your Ideas

Every person has had more than one moment where a brilliant idea pops into his or her mind. Sadly, if we don’t capture those ideas quickly they may be forgotten in the busy rush of life.

When a writer is crafting her next bestselling book, capturing creative ideas on the fly is often the greatest author challenge. The last thing you want is a missed opportunity at creating something special.

What if you are out for a run and forgot what you were thinking when you arrived at your residence? For writing consistency, one must remember and capture those fleeting moments.

When you have that next idea in mind, here are ways to capture it quickly, before your thoughts move on to something else:

• Keep paper and a pen or pencil handy and write down your ideas.
• Type up your ideas on your computer
• Use Google Notes to capture your ideas.

I also read a great deal. If I didn’t, I would never write anything down. Reading provides me with ideas for my writing. I’m currently reading Sue Grafton’s I is for Innocent. Ms. Grafton is funny and sometimes she’s profound, but she knows how to write a mystery. I’m keeping notes on how she does it.

If you have other ideas, please comment.
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I’m writing a mystery called TWIST. Not finished yet.

Why Do I Bother

It seems to me only one or two people like my blog. Which makes me wonder why I bother blogging?

If you’re an author, you’re told to have a blog. Why? So when you’re book is published people can buy your book from your blog.

I haven’t found that way yet. I hope I do.
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My book of stories, A Surprising Measure of Subliminal Sadness, is still looking for a publisher.

A Compilation of Psychic Readings

RON
What happened to you recently…no, I don’t want to bring anything to you, though I sense in your heart that you know I’m did want to see if these unfortunate circumstances.

Last Sunday I set aside some time to draw a special Tarot card. I can tell you right now that my expectations have been great. They (along with something special I’ve discovered) have given me great hope for a fantasy very soon, in fact!

Here is what the cards have to say about you:
1st card from the left: The Past – what has brought you.

TEN OF CUPS
I was happy to see the Ten of Cups manifest for you, an overall feeling of immense happiness. It most often symbolize emotional turmoil is about to be resolved.

Considering this, I found it slightly odd that it appeared in your past – my explanation here is that happiest moments (although channeled sufficient positive energy to bring you in relation to the above, the Ten of Cups represents you to press on despite the odds.) Your fortitude has allowed recognition and success to materialize in your life, and the spread dispels any doubt about that.

2ND CARD – The Future – what is in store for you.

SEVEN OF CUPS
The Seven of Cups is closely tied to your happiness – emotional sense. Family and loved ones are about to add to your daily life. On the other hand, the Seven of Cups also warn not to dwell on past successes, but instead channel that end, achieving your goals in the future.

Indeed, the Seven of Cups is all about reconciling with order to leave them behind. This does not mean that the past action returning to you as a sort of test. For example, past wrongs you enacted on somebody, or those who you haven’t spoken to in a long time to forgive their wrongs.

The ‘test’ is extremely in tune with what I’ve discovered.

3RD CARD: Hidden influences – can anything interfere?

My friend… your lucky period is fast approaching!

PSYCHIC….9ATBIRTH
Boohoo hope you’d call me, answer is this…boy what a case for biz. Manipulate people by using generally known ideas. To get you to call. Tells me they read same way. General. Not 100% real ability But money making biz. Hugs.

PSYCHIC EXPERT
We discovered an unexpected information, and we don’t know what to do with it.

It took us nearly a week, but we decided to tell you.
After all, it concerns you. It’s a sign someone warned us just in time about what was happening you.

We immediately did a special tarot draw for you, and what we saw was very surprising!
But now, we don’t know what to do with this special information.

You will have a choice to make, and this choice won’t be easy.

The next week will be a milestone for you! We have revelations to make to you, and the revelations can change everything in your life, but it is urgent to act.

You have some good reasons to be happy and we will show you why!
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I doesn’t necessarily believe in these psychics. But I still read them. Why not? They might come true:)

Why I’m Not Writing Now

In a word: Distraction.

Who can concentrate when you’re moving this coming Thursday morning. It’s a house (4305 Howard, Skokie) with a small living room, small dining room, kitchen, three bedrooms, two baths, a basement and a garage and of course a back yard. I don’t think this will be the only house we buy. Mainly because of the living room that’s tiny, tiny but will fit some of our furniture.

There are expenses attached to buying a house. New towels, a table, chairs and umbrella, towel hangers, taxes we need to pay, etc. etc. We did sell our condo, but there is the inspection. On the day of the inspection, our microwave broke. Now the microwave is attached to the wall so we couldn’t un-attach it. And one of the garage door openers broke. That was a quick fix. But the microwave is another matter. We did hire someone to come out this week. Meanwhile, we are still waiting for the results of the inspection and whether the buyer will still buy our condo.

I started to write a short story, but there is packing and moving the packing to be done.

Now I need to continue packing. Thank goodness it’s cool outside. Yesterday was way too hot to move anything into the house. But today is a good day to move some things into the house.

After we moved our things into the house, we went to the Emily Oaks Nature Center. There I took pictures of the beautiful trees, the trail and the water. Then I posted them on Facebook. Who saw them? Only can only guess.
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Sue Powers is an accomplished short story writer. She has had many publications, including Saturday Evening News, New Millennium Writings, Blue Earth Review and many others. She is a recipient of a fellowship and grant from the Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Prose, and two of her stories have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

How to Make Setting a Character

For myself (and many writers I know), character or plot usually take the top spot. Setting usually doesn’t. Humans connect with other humans, after all, so it’s often easier to invest oneself in characters and their conflicts. A setting, though still important, is a bit more difficult to connect with. If you’re one of those writers who struggle with setting, I’d like to share with you an approach that might help by treating our setting like a character.

No, that doesn’t mean we’re going to write pithy one-liners for our setting (though that does sound kind of cool, now that you mention it). Instead, we’ll explore how to assign vivid characteristics to our settings, how to suggest those characteristics to readers, and how to develop our setting’s arc.


Exploring Your Setting’s Characteristics

Eddard Stark is honorable. Atticus Finch is courageous. Amy Elliott Dunne is dangerously cunning.
Memorable fictional characters always have strong characteristics. How can we translate such characteristics to setting?

Let’s start with the basics. Here are some questions we all ask ourselves when creating characters:
What does this character look like? What is this character’s backstory? What does this character want? What secrets does this character hold? What is this character’s conflict?

Now that we know our questions, let’s answer them for our setting.

Appearance
Most writers begin with question one, usually using a few sentences to set the scene. It’s the most basic aspect of setting and likely the most obvious.

To address this question through the character lens, let’s imagine what our setting might look like as a character. Are they young or old, rugged or refined, diminutive or enormous?

Better yet, is there an existing character in your book who personifies your setting?

An excellent example comes from my own book. The book’s main setting is cold and filled with snow. It’s cold because the mystery starts out as cold (i.e. we don’t have a clue how it’s going to end.) As the main character finds clues, it gets warmer outside because the main character is getting closer to finding out how to solve the mystery.

Secrets
This one may or may not apply to your setting but it’s a potent addition when it works. Consider the secrets hidden within the country house of Bly in Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw. A setting within a secret is just as compelling as any secretive character.

Conflict
Great characters have conflicts, and so do great settings. For instance, take the war-torn city of Osgiliath in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. This location provides a visual representation of the greater conflict in the series; what was once a thriving city of humans is now a smoking ruin overrun by orcs.

Suggesting a Setting’s Characteristics
I’ll bet you’ve heard of show, don’t tell. It’s a fine rule of thumb though it need not always be followed. For example, it’s often acceptable to describe a character’s appearance rather than conveniently have them peer into a mirror. The same goes for describing a setting.

Imagine if J.K. Rowling had written this: “The Forbidden Forest was super creepy.” That doesn’t scare anybody! She made it creepy by showing us the centaurs, werewolves, giant spiders, and more that roamed within.
So how can you do the same for your settings? Here are a few tricks.

For starters, allow yourself to “tell” in your first draft. Let’s say you’re writing a story set in a small town during winter. In the first draft, you might simply write, “The town was cold.” We forgive you. It’s just a first draft!

In your second draft, return to those blunt descriptions and decide how to show coldness rather than tell it. Describe the ice hanging from the eaves of the houses, the slippery snow packed upon the sidewalks, the breath hissing from your characters’ mouths. You haven’t used the word “cold” anywhere, yet the suggested meaning is clear.

Furthermore, having one character describe another is an effective way to suggest characteristics. This works just as well with settings.

Finally, show your setting’s traits through action. Cormac McCarthy didn’t just tell us the world was dangerous in The Road. He showed it by populating that world with ashes, marauders and cannibals. If your setting is trying to kill your protagonists, it’ll feel more like a character.

Developing the Arc of Your Setting
Characters have arcs. So, like characters, great settings often have arcs as well. This might sound like an odd concept at first, but it really can make a difference in your writing.

To build your setting’s arc, consider what your setting is like at the beginning of the story, what it becomes by the end, and what happens in the middle to make it so.

Maybe you start with an idyllic pastoral country which ends up ravaged by war. Or your post-apocalyptic wasteland might be restored to beauty by the heroics of your protagonist. Or perhaps your setting stays just the way it always was despite what happened in the middle. Whatever arc you choose, it should improve your setting.

Lastly, do you consider the characteristics of your settings when you’re writing? Please leave your thoughts below.

My Addictions

It’s not alcohol, cigarettes, heroin or any other illegal drug…. it’s word games!

You would think I was addicted to Writing. But that’s my passion. Word games are my addictions. One game is Lexulous – a Facebook word game. I love this game and each morning I play it. Lexulous, which is similar to Scrabble, offers two dictionaries. One is the US dictionary; the other is the UK dictionary. The UK dictionary offers many more two-letter words such as CH, KY, NY, FY, plus longer words that aren’t in the US dictionary. Plus, when you play Lexulous you’re allowed to use the dictionary while you’re playing.

Another word game is Wordcrasher. I find it’s hard to play Wordcrasher on my phone so I play it on my computer. There’s also Soltaire to which I’ve become addicted. I’ve won (I think it’s rigged) many times and for some reason I’m addicted to it.

There are other games such as the card games Monopoly Deal, Karma and the word game Quiddler that I enjoy.

If you love word games, let’s play together. But watch out – you could become addicted!
________________________________________________________
Sue Powers is an accomplished short story writer. Her most recent publication was in Saturday Evening Post. She has now written a mystery entitled TWIST and is currently writing another mystery.

How to Make Setting a Character

For myself (and many writers I know), character or plot usually take the top spot. Setting usually doesn’t. Humans connect with other humans, after all, so it’s often easier to invest oneself in characters and their conflicts. A setting, though still important, is a bit more difficult to connect with. If you’re one of those writers who struggle with setting, I’d like to share with you an approach that might help by treating our setting like a character.

No, that doesn’t mean we’re going to write pithy one-liners for our setting (though that does sound kind of cool, now that you mention it). Instead, we’ll explore how to assign vivid characteristics to our settings, how to suggest those characteristics to readers, and how to develop our setting’s arc.

Exploring Your Setting’s Characteristics
Eddard Stark is honorable. Atticus Finch is courageous. Amy Elliott Dunne is dangerously cunning.
Memorable fictional characters always have strong characteristics. How can we translate such characteristics to setting?

Let’s start with the basics. Here are some questions we all ask ourselves when creating characters:
What does this character look like? What is this character’s backstory? What does this character want? What secrets does this character hold? What is this character’s conflict?
Now that we know our questions, let’s answer them for our setting.

Appearance
Most writers begin with question one, usually using a few sentences to set the scene. It’s the most basic aspect of setting and likely the most obvious.

To address this question through the character lens, let’s imagine what our setting might look like as a character. Are they young or old, rugged or refined, diminutive or enormous?
Better yet, is there an existing character in your book who personifies your setting?
An excellent example comes from my own book. The book’s main setting is cold and filled with snow. It’s cold because the mystery starts out as cold (i.e. we don’t have a clue how it’s going to end.) As the main character finds clues, it gets warmer outside because the main character is getting closer to finding out how to solve the mystery.

Secrets
This one may or may not apply to your setting but it’s a potent addition when it works. Consider the secrets hidden within the country house of Bly in Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw. A setting within a secret is just as compelling as any secretive character.

Conflict
Great characters have conflicts, and so do great settings. For instance, take the war-torn city of Osgiliath in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. This location provides a visual representation of the greater conflict in the series; what was once a thriving city of humans is now a smoking ruin overrun by orcs.

Suggesting a Setting’s Characteristics
I’ll bet you’ve heard of show, don’t tell. It’s a fine rule of thumb though it need not always be followed. For example, it’s often acceptable to describe a character’s appearance rather than conveniently have them peer into a mirror. The same goes for describing a setting.
Imagine if J.K. Rowling had written this: “The Forbidden Forest was super creepy.” That doesn’t scare anybody! She made it creepy by showing us the centaurs, werewolves, giant spiders, and more that roamed within.

So how can you do the same for your settings? Here are a few tricks.
For starters, allow yourself to “tell” in your first draft. Let’s say you’re writing a story set in a small town during winter. In the first draft, you might simply write, “The town was cold.” We forgive you. It’s just a first draft!

In your second draft, return to those blunt descriptions and decide how to show coldness rather than tell it. Describe the ice hanging from the eaves of the houses, the slippery snow packed upon the sidewalks, the breath hissing from your characters’ mouths. You haven’t used the word “cold” anywhere, yet the suggested meaning is clear.

Furthermore, having one character describe another is an effective way to suggest characteristics. This works just as well with settings.

Finally, show your setting’s traits through action. Cormac McCarthy didn’t just tell us the world was dangerous in The Road. He showed it by populating that world with ashes, marauders and cannibals. If your setting is trying to kill your protagonists, it’ll feel more like a character.

Developing the Arc of Your Setting
Characters have arcs. So, like characters, great settings often have arcs as well. This might sound like an odd concept at first, but it really can make a difference in your writing.
To build your setting’s arc, consider what your setting is like at the beginning of the story, what it becomes by the end, and what happens in the middle to make it so.

Maybe you start with an idyllic pastoral country which ends up ravaged by war. Or your post-apocalyptic wasteland might be restored to beauty by the heroics of your protagonist. Or perhaps your setting stays just the way it always was despite what happened in the middle. Whatever arc you choose, it should improve your setting.

Lastly, do you consider the characteristics of your settings when you’re writing? Please leave your thoughts below.

_______________________________________________________________
Sue Powers is an accomplished short story writer. Her many stories have been published in magazines such as Saturday Evening Post, New Millennium Writings, Blue Earth Review, Funny in Five Hundred, Another Chicago Magazine, Happy, Facets, The Writer’s Place and Samizdada. She has written a mystery and is writing another one. She also has a book of stories, entitled, A Surprising Measure of Subliminal Sadness.