Every month, SCBWI provides a writing prompt for its members. The top entry is chosen to be featured in their monthly magazine. Maybe it was the inspiration from the recent conference I attended, or maybe the connection I have with my pets, but I felt compelled to enter.
This month’s writing prompt was to convey the bond between a child and an animal in 100 words (or less). Here was my submission:
I told Dad I’d be brave for Oscar.
Every night, Oscar would lay by my pillow, his paws around my wrists. He’d purr until I fell asleep.
Now, he lay under fluorescent lights on a steel table, about to sleep forever.
“Time to say goodbye, Casey,” Dad’s whispered.
I leaned close to Oscar’s face, his clouded eyes focused on mine. I stroked his fur softly and sang “Three Blind Mice” one last time. As I pulled away, Oscar wrapped his paws around my wrist and lick my thumb. The tears fell, but my smile was the last thing he saw.
Every year, the holiday season throws a wrench into my writing. My kids are out of school, relatives come into town to visit, and all the other related festivities. All the joy and celebration makes it near impossible for me to carve out writing time.
For me, taking an extended period of time away from my story leaves me with a type of plot amnesia. I look back through what I have written (more about on another day) and try to remember all those good ideas I had a few weeks ago. Maybe its all the eating, drinking and being merry, but I lose direction on “what’s next.”
Instead of feeling frustrated, I decided to buy a bulletin board and index cards. For an afternoon, I created a road map for my story. Chapter by chapter, I listed key plot points, so if I am wondering where I am going next, I can check the board and get to work on creating.
Each writer is different, so the board and card approach may not work for you, but find out what does. Having a clear picture of where you are heading next will lead you to completing your manuscript.
As a new author, I spend hours reading blogs, interviews and books on the right way to write. Even conferences provide a line up of agents, editors and published authors telling you what to do and what not to do. After a while, it’s enough for a writer’s head to spin.
What I have found is that if you ask enough agents and editors, you will get conflicting reports. I believe that is why many rejection letters state “this isn’t the project for me.” Your manuscript, your story, your style hasn’t found the right home. Continue reading
There is a phrase misquoted by many that proclaims that a rose by any other name is still a rose. While it isn’t quite what Shakespeare wrote in Romeo and Juliet, it still is a valid point. You can call a rose a banana, but it wouldn’t change what it truly is or take away from its beauty.
Does this hold true for literary characters? Let’s look at a few examples. Would Severus Snape seem so mean when we first met him if his name was Bill Jones? Would we care as much about Katniss Everdeen in the beginning pages if her name was Ruth Schwartz? The right name helps define a character and forms an impression on the reader. Continue reading
Occasionally, life provides enough distractions, obligations, and crises that my writing becomes that thing I really want to do/need to do, but can’t seem to get to. When this happens, all the momentum and mojo that was once flowing from my fingers onto the computer screen gets lost.
At times like these, I find myself typing and deleting, staring at the screen like it has betrayed me. In order to move forward, I have to find something to supercharge my creative juices. While I have yet to find a vitamin supplement or super food to provide that spark, I have discovered two things that inspire me to get back on the proverbial horse. Continue reading
I had the opportunity last week to attend a webinar hosted by Kristin Nelson, President of Nelson Literary Agency. While the topic focused on first pages across an array of genres, a comment she made stuck in my head. She mentioned that capturing the MG voice is the second toughest thing to do in writing, hardest is writing a picture book. Continue reading