Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Fifth Tuesday’

Writer’s Mail
Tuesdays with Story
December 21, 2018

 

Partying and critiquing at Alicia Ashman:  Present were Amber, Jack, Tracey, Bob, Millie, John, Larry, and Paul. Thanks Amber and Millie for bringing cookies!

Tuesday evening, here’s who had their work critiqued:

John Schneller (chapter 2, Broken.rewrite) . . . “Broken chapter 2 created scenes that needed clarity. Why would Broken be considered bait in Keefer’s trap? The explanation of Din status needs modification as both a worthless and a most valuable person were locked into the indentured service. The scorpion scene was well received.  Thanks to all!! And, Merry Christmas!”

Jack Freiburger (chapters 24-25, A Walk upon the Water) . . .  “I have been so busy I haven’t even looked at the comments yet. Seemed like it read well for the readers, enough action in as few words as possible with some humor that seemed effective.  Sean’s witness the arrival of Venus seemed to work.”

Amber Boudreau (chapter, Avice) . . . “Jack thought the main character would guess others were discussing her and had a problem with one character being described as mean, when they could just as well be described as professionally distant. Larry was looking for more of an emotional reaction from the main characters. Tracey just had to go and channel Jerry and insist tables don’t drink coffee. John suggested being more specific with the last line.”

Tracey Gemmell (blog entry on West Somerset Morris) . . .  “Tracey requested feedback on her blog. She felt it was covering too much ground and was too long. The group agreed. Jack suggested removing all the Morris dance information and including it after the links to more information. Larry felt it read more like a newspaper article on the members of the Morris group than an introspection of Tracey’s ties to England. The group agreed it was maybe two blogs. Tracey has now separated it out into two blogs: her story in one, the stories of the West Somerset Morris members in Part II. Many thanks for all your help.

As an aside, if you want to hear Tracey’s interview on Exmoor Radio, follow this link and scroll down to Stories in Depth.  http://exmoorradio.com/

 

 

Who’s up next

January 15

Larry Sommers (chapters 3-4, Izzy)

Millie Mader (???)

Kashmira Sheth and Amit Trivedi (chapter, untitled novel)

Meg Matenaer (chapter, Write in Time)

Paul Wagner (???)

Cindi Dyke (chapter 3, The Mansion Secrets)

 

 

Next month

January 1, our next regular meeting night, stay home or go to a party. We won’t meet that night. We will resume on January 15.

And meet again on January 29, Fifth Tuesday. Tracey Gemmell will host us at her home in New Glarus.

The Fifth Tuesday writing challenge? It’s January in Wisconsin. We’re deep into winter. Where would you rather be? Maximum length for your story, poem, or essay is 500 words.

 

New editor

John Schneller is our Writer’s Mail editor for January.

 

Words make the news

Merriam-Webster executives announced their choice of the word of the year earlier this week. Here’s the story from the Associated Press:

Racial justice. Obstruction of justice. Social justice. The Justice Department. Merriam-Webster has chosen “justice” as its 2018 word of the year, driven by the churning news cycle over months and months.

The word follows “toxic,” picked by Oxford Dictionaries, and “misinformation,” plucked by Dictonary.com.

Peter Sokolowski, Merriam-Webster’s editor at large, told The Associated Press ahead of Monday’s announcement that “justice” consistently bubbled into the top 20 or 30 lookups on the company’s website, spiking at times due to specific events but also skating close to the surface for much of the year.

While it’s one of those common words people likely know how to spell and use correctly in a sentence, Sokolowski pointed to other reasons that drive search traffic. Among them is an attempt to focus a train of thought around a philosophical problem, or to seek aspirational motivation. Such well-known words are often among the most looked up every year, including those that are slightly abstract, including “love,” he said.

The designation for “justice” came soon after President Trump’s one-time fixer, Michael Cohen, was sentenced to three years in prison for crimes that included arranging the payment of hush money to conceal his boss’ alleged sexual affairs. He told a judge he agreed time and again to cover up Trump’s “dirty deeds” out of “blind loyalty.”

It also came ahead of a Senate vote on the “First Step Act,” a criminal justice reform bill with broad bipartisan support. Earlier in the year, Kim Kardashian West not once but twice paid a White House visit on Trump to discuss prison and sentencing reform. Sentencing for drug crimes, treatment for opioid addiction, a loosening of cannabis laws, a Tesla probe, the Mueller investigation into the Trump campaign: Justice will remain top of mind into the new year.

“These are stories that connect to the culture and to society across races, across classes,” Sokolowski said. “We get this word that filters in.”

That includes Twitter in a big way.

Often, when Trump tweets about the Department of Justice, he uses simply “Justice.” On Aug. 1, when he tweeted his wish for then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to stop the Mueller investigation, searches spiked significantly. Trump referred to “obstruction of justice,” a separate entry on the Merriam-Webster site, prompting a lookup increase of 900 percent over the same date the year before.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Writer’s Mail
Tuesdays with Story
December 7, 2018

At Alicia Ashman, the branch library in the small conference room:

 Present on December 4 were Larry Sommers, Millie Mader, Tracey Gemmell, Jack Freiburger, Lisa McDougal, Cindi Dyke, JohnSchneller, Amit Trivedi, and Amber Boudreau.

Tracey Gemmell (chapter 5, Lavender Wine) . . . “Members treated the chapter kindly. Some questioned the use of ‘skew-whiff’ so this may be a more British word. Larry wanted less emphasis on scooters and Jack suggested changing transportation and transformation usage. Cindi likes the expression ‘accidentally fine.’ Isabella is coming across as a star character. It’s recommended I downplay the ‘goodbye’ scene when Cassie leaves the hotel as it almost seems Isabella’s part is over. Some of the banter needs cutting. Thanks for your input. Thanks also to Larry and Lisa for helping with the book cover blurb for More or Less Annie.”

Kashmira Sheth and Amit Trivedi (chapters 2-3, untitled novel) . . .  “Summary of comments by group: (1) Pay attention to point of view. (2) Define ‘Indian’ words up front. (3) Kedar needs to be a bit more aware of what is going on in the country. Thanks!  Amit.” (more…)

Read Full Post »

Writer’s Mail

Writer’s Mail
Tuesdays with Story
November 23, 2018

At Barnes & Noble Westside

For the second meeting in a row, seven writers gathered in the magic circle. They critiqued the work of seven of their colleagues. Here is some of what was said:

Kashmira Sheth and Amit Trivedi (chapter 1, rewrite, untitled novel) . . . Jack would prefer the story open with a wide shot and then had a question about how dark
it was exactly. He also had comments about continuity and breaking up sentences. Jerry thought the story was going to be about the tree. Cindi found the descriptions beautiful, but wondered why they traveled down to the temple and back. Larry and Jack are looking for some symbolic value as they’ve read ahead and know what’s coming. They’re in search of a hook. (more…)

Read Full Post »

Writer’s Mail
Tuesdays with Story
October 19, 2018

They gathered at the bookstore

John Schneller led 11 TWS members gathered in the writers circle through critiques of the works of seven of their colleagues. Here is some of what was shared:

Lisa McDougal (chapter 6, The Tebow Family Secret): There was some confusion about why Adam gave Jessica a Sprite instead of a beer when she asked (under age). It was suggested that the African mask be made less valuable so that it would be more believable that Adam would have it. Also to rework line about camera being new. Tracey recommended I change the lines from the movie because of copy right issue. Larry thought the ending wasn’t subtle enough.

Millie Mader (Short story, rewrite, “Stone Cold Stripper”): My only contribution is that I’m going to do more rewriting. (sigh!!)

Jack Freiburger (chapter 18, A Walk Upon the Water):

Bob Kralapp (short story, part 1, “Capacity”): (more…)

Read Full Post »

Writer’s Mail

Writer’s Mail
Tuesdays with Story
October 2, 2018

October gathering

Eight writers came in to critique the work of five of our colleagues. Amber’s ginger snaps kept the evening, well, snappy. Here’s some of what was said:

Jack Freiburger (chapters, A Walk Upon The Water): I sent out a long read for the 4, including Black Ice, which the group had read early on. It was gratifying that while our hero/anti-hero is not necessarily likeable, at least he seems interesting enough to hold the reader’s attention. Larry and others noted that the melt-down scenes struck a chord.

Bob Kralapp (poem, “Passage from a Letter”):

Tracey Gemmell (chapter 4, Lavender Wine): Consensus: the chapter was entertaining and well-written. Isabella still steals the show but Claude is hot on her heels. The chapter answered questions for Meg as to how the children were taking Cassie’s move to France. Larry felt some switching between modes of transportation could be confusing. Cindi also noted poor driving skills on Cassie’s part. This needs clarifying because Isabella was actually driving. Jack noted some missed opportunities to tie Cassie’s emotional state to Isabella’s close shaves with tractors. Many thanks for your help. (more…)

Read Full Post »

Writer’s Mail

Writer’s Mail
Tuesdays With Story
September 21, 2018

Tuesday evening at B&N

Nine writers circled the chairs on the store’s bargain floor for an evening of ghost stories, lost memories, changing lives, magic, and cauterized wounds. Here is some of what was said in the critiques:

Meg Matenaer (chapter 3, Write in Time) After a lively garbage disposal discussion, the group decided that Marie should drop a thin juice glass into it instead of a thick coffee mug. Jack suggested the line, “The garbage disposal could be reset, but her day could not.” Amber, John, and Jerry noted that the readers know little about the professor. The group was alarmed about John’s (Rueger not Schneller) ear and thought he should be too.

Lisa McDougal (chapters 3-4, The Tebow Family Secret) . . .

Amber Boudreau (chapter 13 rewrite, The Dragoneer) Amber read from Chapter 13 of her novel The Dragoneer which she is deep in the middle of rewriting. John and Jerry enjoyed the piece but had suggestions on switching a few sentences around for clarity and deleting some mundane dialogue.

Mike Austin (short story, “Go Faster”)  I received a lot of really good comments and input for, “Go Faster.” I found that I need to start naming things. John wanted me to name roads and locations, Jerry wanted me to name the beer they’re drinking. There was a brief discussion about fingers tickling, “as light as spider’s feet.” In the end, I was allowed to keep it. Jerry thought I could say “humerus” instead of “arm bone.” Sounds kind of funny to me. Okay, bad pun. I was concerned that the humerus through his chest (Hm. Now I’m starting to like it.) might seem contrived, but was assured that it was not. Thank you, everyone, for the encouraging comments.

Jerry Peterson (short story, part 1 rewrite plus 6 new pages, “Death Rides the Rails”) . . . The scene of Early hunting a rabbit was not serious for Amber Boudreau but a comedy. “Could you add a few more animals?” she asked. John Schneller said a hawk would not attack a man, that another way has to be found to injure Early so the next scene—he cauterizing of his wounds—can be saved.

 

Who’s up next

October 2

Bob Kralapp (???)

Paul Wagner (???)

Larry Sommers (chapter, untitled novel)

Jack Freiburger (chapter, A Walk on the Water)

Cindi Dyke (???)

John Schneller (chapter, Final Stronghold)

Tracey Gemmell (chapters)

 

Fifth Tuesday

As, yes, October 30. And we now have a writing challenge. Here’s the prompt: “A howling good time.”

Your story, in no more than 500 words, doesn’t have to be a Halloween story, but it could be. Figure out where you’re going with the prompt and start writing!

 

Our editor

Tracey Gemmell loves editing our e-newsletter so much that on October 1 she moving back into the chair where she will shepherd the next two issues. Email your good stuff to her.

 

Why you need an inciting incident

From Randy Ingermanson who bills himself as America’s Mad Professor of Fiction Writing:

 

First, let’s define our terms. The inciting incident is some “new thing” in your protagonist’s world. It marks the change that is ultimately going to pull your protagonist into your story. Usually, this is something external to your protagonist, but it’s possible it could be an internal change.
I don’t see a problem with starting the inciting incident in the first two pages of your novel. You can put it pretty much anywhere you want, so long as it’s reasonably early in the story and as long as it works. Some stories start fast out of the gate, and some take longer to get rolling.
I do see a problem with a scene that has no conflict of any kind. Conflict doesn’t get in the way of your reader caring about your protagonist. Conflict is often the reason your reader does care, at least early on. When we see somebody in trouble, we instinctively care about them. We might later stop caring about them if we decide they aren’t worth caring about.
But let’s face it—when somebody’s in trouble, we care. The news concerning twelve young soccer players and their coach in Thailand trapped by rising floodwaters two and a half miles into a cave, made people care. The minute we heard about them, we cared. Because that’s what humans do.
Fiction is about giving your reader a powerful emotional experience whether it is external or internal, conflict is conflict.
Do all scenes require a Goal, Conflict, and Setback? The answer is no. That’s one strategy, and we call that strategy a Proactive Scene. But another strategy is the Reactive Scene, where you have a Reaction, a Dilemma, and a Decision. (For much more on both of those, see my latest book, How to Write a Dynamite Scene Using the Snowflake Method.)
I strongly recommend that all scenes be either Proactive or Reactive. These are solid design patterns that work well and that your readers are already primed to understand. If you have a scene that’s neither Proactive nor Reactive, you should be able to explain to yourself what makes the scene work—why is it giving your reader a powerful emotional experience? And then you should ask whether you can make the scene better by turning it into either a Proactive or Reactive scene. Because usually, you can.
Let’s circle back to the inciting incident. I don’t sweat the exact location of the inciting incident, as long as it’s in the first several chapters. Remember that the inciting incident is not what makes your reader start caring about your story. The inciting incident usually comes much too late for that. Long before your reader reaches the inciting incident, she should already care about your story.
My thinking is that you want to start pulling your reader into your story with a strong first sentence.

 

  1. Followed by a strong first paragraph.
  2. Followed by a strong first page.
  3. Followed by a strong first scene.

 

If you do all that, then it really doesn’t matter when the inciting incident happens, because your reader already committed to the story from the very beginning. The inciting incident just gives your reader words to explain why she’s committed.

Read Full Post »

Tuesdays With Story
Fifth Tuesday stories
July 31, 2018

 

Writing challenge: Write a fake book blurb, a nice way to roast a fellow writer. Example: blurb Larry Sommers’ latest book, The Sommers’ System for Writing a Bestselling Novel in 30 Days.

200 words max.

Children’s Author Strikes Again

Lisa McDougal

Monsters in my Soup

By Millie Mader

Monkey-Man Publishing, 2013

220 pages

Retail: $8.49

Smell the soup and it’ll make you hungry. Eat the soup and it’ll make you a monster. Monsters in my Soup is a terrifying children tale about the perils of eating soup. This isn’t your grandma’s special chicken noodle soup. Also, this isn’t your grandma. When monsters invade the little town of Safe Haven, Connecticut, posing as grandmothers aiming to enslave children by feeding them their special soup. Can our heroes, Blake, Jake, and Cake, stop them in time before they get so hungry that they eat the soup?

Millie Mader is the author of the children’s books, Creatures in my Teachers and No Razzle in my Dazzle.

—Lisa McDougal, author, It’s a Crime not to Give a Child a Horse (more…)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »