Monday’s Musing on synopses and Skeletons…

This one comes courtesy by way of Kristen Lamb’s blog and her interesting article at warrior writers.org. As Ms. Lamb tells us,

 

“The synopsis strips away our pretty prose and all our verbal glitter and it lays our story bare…The synopsis is the skeleton of our story…

 

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Another blogger recently alluded to the fact that if we can’t contain our story down to a concise, intriguing, and “want to read” synopsis, chances of getting an agent to read it, is slim to none.

This seems unfair, you might cry. Feels so unjust. 

And you would have a point, to be sure. After all, our stories are our stories, expanse and hard-earned words all, and why should we have to boil it down to a nub?

But think of it from the Agent’s pov. As an Agent intern for the last 9 months I can tell you first hand; they are bombarded with stories from all over, their inboxes overflowing with literary goodness. And why should they pick yours to read over the others? I’ll tell you why. Because you’ve enticed them with the tale that can’t be tossed in your oh so short and sweet synopsis!

We all probably hate writing them, and cringe when having to cut out everything but the briefest brief. But it clarifies, optimizes, and increases your chances of getting read.

What’s your take on this? Luv to hear all about it. 

 

 

 

Monday’s Musing on the Mighty Blog…

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let’s make some noise!

Ahoy there mates, and happy Monday  again!

This muse comes courtesy of an inspirational post by Michelle over at the greenstudy.com (thanks much, Michelle). So, let’s make some noise…a blog kind of noise that is!

Much like these cool hands here, the blogger is just like the ultra hip D.J., spinning smooth tunes in some smoke-filled night club, just hoping to raise up those dead rebel-rousers out onto the dance floor. It’s all about making some noise, and knowing at the end of it you’re alive and other people are actually listening to whatever it is you’re putting out there!

Michelle’s post suggests that “At least once a year, if not more, I have to justify my reasons for blogging… Part of the reason is that I’m seeing longtime favorite bloggers close up shop or disappear in the vapors of the ethernet. It begs the question: what do they know that I should be paying attention to? ”

Good question, Michelle. And one that definitely needs the begging. Blogging is such a personal, up close and all, in your face kind of writing. Yes, there’s all kinds of bloggers. Some have more official, business marketing  agendas, and for others the experience is more akin to opening   up a vein and bleeding all over the pages, and hoping like hell noone crashes their after party. Yes, as Bloggers, we all want engagement. But when it becomes unstable, scary, or downright militant, who’d willingly sign up for that?

Michelle says she made a “half-hearted effort to set up Facebook and Twitter accounts, cussing through the entire process and attempting to change settings so that any public contact will be highly unlikely….and that maybe our word reservoirs have a limit, especially if one is an introvert.” Here here Michelle! I couldn’t agree more. I like you, like interaction with the peeps I want to interact with! Just not with the ones I don’t!

And as far a limit to our “silver tongue” well yeah. Kind of think maybe you’re right! Like you, I’m busy cranking out my first novel, and I’ve been given the sage advice by others too…Focus on the task at hand, and all the rest will follow!

So my Monday quest for you all is this…

Why do you blog? And what are you hoping to get out of it all???

Can’t wait to hear all your answers. I really, really, want to know!

 

So I’d finish that story but…

Hi all, and so glad to be back!

If you follow me you may have wondered why I’ve been MIA in the blogosphere for the last month or so. Well, thanks to several big events, including finishing up the semester, filing a thesis and slamming so hard on the kickboxing bag that two of my toes broke in half, I guess you could say I’ve been a little preoccupied. Pain meds can put a girl out of commission, but fast!

But thanks to a little time and TLC I’m on the mend and back on the writing wagon. And today I’m sharing an interesting guest article I stumbled across while perusing author Kristen Lamb‘s Blog, written by guest author/ teacher Dr. John Yeoman,  “Can’t keep up? 7 brilliant ways to finish your story.”  (https://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/2016/04/15/cant-keep-up-7-brilliant-ways-to-finish-your-story/).

Having been stuck myself many times, and in fact currently stuck somewhere in the middle of what started a very promising story, these tips couldn’t come at a better time. And I’m willing to guess we’ve all been there at some point. You know the story. You get part of the way through what you think is going to be a terrific read. Great story line, clever opening, interesting characters. But then somewhere along the line, boom! You’re stuck in writer oblivion, with some combination of paralyzing fear that the end won’t match up to your exciting start and or that the plot lines won’t converge into reason but instead morph off into convoluted confusion making your reader want to run screaming for the nearest exit.

But, never fear, Dr. Yeoman’s tips are here to save the day, especially tips # 2,”Devise your own Scrivener program and #3, “Try the ‘bricolage’ technique.” In tip #2, Yeoman writes:

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” Imagine a corkboard on your wall. In one corner, you’ve pinned character descriptions. In another, scene settings. Somewhere else you’ve stuck pictures, plot outlines, dramatic incidents, crumbs of dialogue… links to web resources…videos and even music…Now imagine that corkboard on your computer. Here’s the link to Scrivener…  Once learnt, it’s wonderful. Problem is, Scrivener takes time to learn…too technical for newbies and its built-in word processing program is, compared to Word, primitive. Solution? Build your own Scrivener using the ‘sticky notes’ utility that may be on your computer right now.”

Great advice, which this past winter, I tried. Gave it a valiant effort, but, as he points out, there’s a definite learning curve to learning Scrivener. And try as I might, I couldn’t muster the patience to sort it out. And working on an Apple meant the “sticky notes” utility Yeoman talks available on Microsoft’s PC, wasn’t an option. However, I found an alternate, more simple version of Scrivener called Storyist, (a good comparison of the two is here at http://theroguewriter.tumblr.com/post/69136060617/storyist-vs-scrivener). Indeed, a less intense, simplified format, easier to digest and quicker to get up and running. It  may not do every single thing that Scrivener can, but it has enough similar features to make your story easy to organize and visually keep track of, like a corkboard, and separate character and scene sheets and is well worth your time looking into. A tad more expensive, but for those of us who get overwhelmed with too many details, it is a great option and will help keep you on track.

As for Yeoman’s tip #3, writing your main plot points, and even as I do, chapter summaries, on index cards is just plain brilliant:

“Stop scribbling on paper. (Those little bits get lost.) Start writing on file cards. Why? Cards are durable. You can keep them in your handbag or back pocket, ready to hand for whenever an idea strikes you. As soon as they bulge out of your pocket, toss them on the carpet and play solitaire.”

I started doing this about six months ago, on the advice of another award-winning author. Only I do them one for one, that is one chapter summary for each side of a card. I write as much as I can scribble onto one side of a 4′ 6 plain index card. That way, I’m forced to capture the essence of my chapter in as few words as possible and can then organize and re-shuffle them at will as a sort of guidepost through my longer works like my novel. That way I can quickly flip through them to look for plot holes, character inconsistencies and chapter points of view. This keeps me on track and reminds me of both where I’ve been, and where I’m going. Worst case scenario, if I need to take a long break from the work I have my story organized into small chunks that can smooth out getting back into it. And like Yeoman notes, the cards are easy enough to cart around, keep in your backpack and jot down new ideas as they strike. And if the muse isn’t striking, well there’s always that card game to deal out.

I’d love to see some action here and here all about your own methods of madness for finishing those tall tales. As always, all thoughts are welcome!

Ciao for now, 

Lisa

Monday’s Muse, and Workshop Woes…

 

 

Hi all.

For today’s Mondays Muse, we’re going to back to school.

 

Or rather, as in my case, still there, slugging it out. I like to think of myself as an MFA pawn, deep in the trenches, surviving by gut and instinct, and just trying to dodge all the bullets being thrown my way. 

This month I was blessed enough to have been invited to guest blog on Wendy Van Kamp’s site, nowastedink.com  . You can find my whole piece, Workshop Woes by Lisa Ciarfella there. It gets into the nitty gritty of it all, and hopefully inspires some can do attitude with a much needed dose of positive vibes for those of you who going through it too. And even for those of you who aren’t…us writers are all the same. We all need to feel wrapped in comforting prose from time to time, by people who get it and embrace what we’re trying to create, instead of those at odds with our dreams.

As you will see, most of my last year and a half has been spent trying to figure out where those bullets were coming from, and which direction to duck next. But survive I have and as I sit cranking out what’s left of my thesis under the serious deadline gun, just thought I’d take a quick break and share some of those trials and tribulations with you all.

I fgure, a lot of you out there, can relate!  I mean, MFA or not, who among the writer camp can’t say they havent’ encountered at least a few of these situations along the way…it’s all part of the writers journey. Good, bad, or ugly, writing is like a wash/dry cycle. You wont come out the same way you went in. And over time, that’s probably a good thing!

Back to the thesis now, banging it out, one key at a time.

See you on the boards soon,

Ciao for now, and darkly yours,

Lisa

 

Fun Flash Fiction Fridays…

BPM’s – Hey Mr. DJ…

(by yours truly)  

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Image courtesy of DJ Nederland (@NLDJTwitter

Bill sat high up in his DJ tower over looking the frenzied dance crowd down below. He had just started spinning Madonna’s Vogue and the players on the floor were hitting some serious poses. One guy had his right arm up in a salute and the chick he’d been slapping around had her face down in his crotch, tongue going up and down fast, in perfect time to the beats, pretending to do the nasty.

Her licks looked like they were coming in right on target, about 125 per minute. The tongue never seemed to slow down.

Another couple on the floor was bee bopping in 2/4 time and was swinging his partner round in circles like a rag doll. But they were hitting their marks perfectly every time. Not bad considering he had to get her all the way around to land it. But that Janet Jackson crew over in the far corner carving out a semi perfect rendition of Rhythm Nation, now they were impressive! Banging it out on the down beat, 130 beats per minute exact.

Boy, were they ever on point! Looked like their troupe had been practicing since they were born. Not a foot out of line, not a step right when it should have been left. A precision drill team, hitting their marks, spot on every time. Bill would have to stay on his game to keep this this crowd grooving happy.

He leaned down to pick out the next set of discs. Let’s see. Kool and the Gang’s newest on the Celebrate CD was calling to him. It was 125 to 135 BPM’s all the way, right on track with what the crews were slamming out down below. But to be sure, he needed to count it.

He grabbed the massive headphones and stuck them on his ears. Madonna shouted in his left ear, while K and gang rang in his right. He counted, drumming the reps out with his fingers.

              Eight reps per set, eight sets per move, two moves per step down below. 130 beats per minute That’s what he was going for. A disco ball flashed in his face. He squinted and held out the left ear to hone in;

              95, 100, 110, 120, Nailed it! With a flick of his wrist, he spun the disk round hard and let her rip. 

              Let’s Get this party started, ya’ll.

 

 

This week’s Monday Muse, and last night’s escapade…

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So, last night’s real life crime drama played out before my eyes as I rode along LBPD’s finest set of real life police characters in Signal Hill. Many thanks to Officer Taylor who chauffered me along all night and patiently and kindly explained how things work out there in his nightly world of cops and robbers. And kudos to the bad guys we had first hand dealings with who made my night and caused me to take lots and lots of handscribbled notes in the dark as we drove around and arrested, searched, and seized the stuff HBO movies are made of. Here’s a recap of my notes and some of our best scary, or rather shady, moments:

“Just arrested a dude shoplifting at home depot, and brought him in for booking..the kicker was, his wife sat chain smoking outside waiting on us, and yelling the whole time for the car keys so she could bail…

Earlier we busted down the door in room 12 at a motel 6 where a bunch of tweekers were out on bail and had warrants for possession of firearms. 
When we went inside, there were glass pipes and the smell of smoke everywhere…they sat out on the curb, cuffed and waiting….
The tall tattooed one in the middle had a brick of Mary Jane bigger than a basketballl…
Looks like he’s going back into the system…Too bad he just got out 3 weeks ago…

Definitely gonna be a long night… more fun and games ahead, as this shift lasts another 12 hours, and we’ve barely just started…

This just in…Gotta go now and chase down a guy reported wandering around with a gun at Mcdonalds…”

Gotta say, I came home pumped at midnight, and wanted to do it all over again! In fact, I’ve already got another one in the works with LBPD so stay tuned for more on this score!

 

Hope I gave you all something to muse about on this lovely Monday Morning!  

What’s your Monday muse??  Jump on in here, the water’s warm!