A little writing guidance grows a story

self-made

Writing styles are affected by various attributes such as genre, time and culture settings, social backgrounds, personalities of the characters, and the mood of a scene. Fiction offers a distilled representation of the ways in which writers are among the most significant touchstones in another’s life.  However, as much as a writer may have the zest and passion to write, there is always that time in the day when she or he asks  “is this story any good?”

Today’s post is dedicated to those writers that could use a bit of push in the right direction. The rubric below may help you get back your confidence. Getting opinions are helpful, but self-guided direction may be the first step to improving your story.

Directions: Reread your story. What do you need to do to make it better? Use this rubric to help you decide. Check the sentences that describe your story.

Looking Good!

The beginning makes my audience want to read more. It introduces the characters, the setting, and the problem.

The middle shows how the characters deal with the problem.

All of the events are in order and are important to the story.

The ending shows how the problem works out.

Details make the story come alive!

My characters have a voice, and the story sounds the way I wanted.

There are almost no mistakes in capitalization, punctuation, or spelling.

Getting Stronger

The beginning could be more interesting.

I haven’t told how the characters deal with the problem.

I forgot to include some important events.

The story doesn’t sound finished.

Details need to show, not tell, about the characters, events, and setting.

My story doesn’t sound the way I wanted.

There are a few mistakes.

Back to the drawing board

The beginning is boring.

There is no clear problem.

The story is confusing. Important events are left out.

The ending just stops. How does the problem work out?

Where can I add details?

My story is written in a dull, flat voice.

There are a lot of mistakes.

***

Wouldn’t it be nice if life had a rubric…but then perhaps it would be boring!

Spring’s molting season

IMG_2040Have you noticed that Mother Nature is often blamed for the trials and tribulations endured by everyday folks? But can you really blame those who are disgruntled…droughts, floods, blizzards, and humidity. It all adds up to a lousy drive home, a bad hair day, or even a back-breaking afternoon with a snow shovel.
But today, this blogger is going to turn the talk about our Mistress of the Seasons and offer good tidings; for it is springtime and everything is coming up “roses” (and other flowers!)

So, in honor of Spring and all its grandeur, here is a poem; take time out of your busy day and enjoy!

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when spring sheds

 

 

Esteemed thinker: Herodotus and the past

 

street sign

If you think you can escape the past, think again. We are reminded, though in a subliminal way, of those events or people who came before. In any town, hamlet, and city, one has only to look up at the street signs to be reminded of those who may have made a big or little mark in history. It is a way of honoring those who contributed to a community, a well-meaning intention to give recognition to a person. However, like landmarks, airports, and cities that were named after persons of notoriety, the past today has often little meaning and has become as commonplace as the billboards we drive by each day.

So, here’s to those who may have made a positive mark and those who remember the ones that came before.

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Today’s blog brings the esteemed thinker: Herodotus (c. 484 – 425/413 BCE) a writer who invented the field of study we know today as “history”. He is documented as being the world’s first historian, having authored of the first great narrative history written in the ancient world, the History of the Greco-Persian Wars. He was well traveled, going over the East, Egypt, North Africa and Greece. Acquainted with the Sophoclean circle, he joined the Athenian colony at Thurii in Southern part of Italy and died there before the end of the century. The information he gathered was derived mainly from oral sources, as he traveled through Asia Minor, down into Egypt, round the Black Sea, and into various parts of Greece and the neighboring countries.

Although there are some who claim that his narratives are all but fabrications of tales he designed, criticism of his work may have originated among Athenians who took exception to his account of the Battle of Marathon (490 BCE). While it is said that Herodotus makes some mistakes in his work, it is also believed that his Histories are moreover reliable and scholarly studies in all disciplines concerning his work continue to validate his most important observations.

And so we take time from our busy day to look back into antiquity, and read a snippet from his work, An Account of Egypt (440 BCE) Place yourself in this era, if you dare, and imagine how unbelievable his description must have sounded. I bring you the “father of history”, known only by one name, Herodotus.

“… Of the crocodile the nature is as follows: —during the four most wintry months this creature eats nothing: she has four feet and is an animal belonging to the land and the water both; for she produces and hatches eggs on the land, and the most part of the day she remains upon dry land, but the whole of the night in the river, for the water in truth is warmer than the unclouded open air and the dew. Of all the mortal creatures of which we have knowledge this grows to the greatest bulk from the smallest beginning; for the eggs which she produces are not much larger than those of geese and the newly-hatched young one is in proportion to the egg, but as he grows he becomes as much as seventeen cubits long and sometimes yet larger. He has eyes like those of a pig and teeth large and tusky, in proportion to the size of his body; but unlike all other beasts he grows no tongue, neither does he move his lower jaw, but brings the upper jaw towards the lower, being in this too unlike all other beasts…”

First Image: Street sign and houses, Yates Gardens 1920

 

Esteemed thinker: Louisa May Alcott

When it comes to hearty, size is not always the defining feature. Most of us have the perception that “big” equates to strong, however that particular idea is frequently a misconception. It is often in nature where we wsnow on crocusitness “small” being just as robust as  its counterpart. A mighty oak is surely a visual spectacle of greatness however; it is the tiny crocus that often seems to defy all weather challenges put forth upon it.

The crocus is one of the first blooms appearing even as early as January; a time when most dwellers of North America are still donning winter coats. So don’t be surprised to see these flowers’ colorful little “heads” pop up out of the ground before all the others… and they will remain faithfully in bloom, with buds held high defying its covering of snow, gently unfolding towards the sun as if they were sunbathing on the beach!

Today’s blog brings you the acclaimed American author, Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888). Born in Germantown, Pennsylvania, she is best known for her novel Little Woman. Alcott’s parents were progressives for the time, taking part in the mid-19th century social reform movement, supporting the abolition of slavery and even acting as station-masters on the Underground Railroad. They were also active in the temperance and women’s rights movements.

Louisa May Alcott was educated mainly by her father, although Thoreau, Emerlouisa may alcottson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Margaret Fuller were family friends, also providing her lessons. She began writing when she was young, and she and her sisters enjoyed acting out some of her stories.

During the American Civil War, she volunteered to sew clothes and provide other supplies to soldiers. Including volunteering to be a nurse in Washington, D.C.

Her career as an author was wide spread, including stories and poems. A lesser-known part of her work are the passionate, fiery novels and stories under the pseudonym A. M. Barnard. In her later life, Alcott became an advocate of women’s suffrage, and was the first woman to register to vote in Concord, Massachusetts.

From her novel, Little Men (1871) I now bring you a quote; few in words but mighty in spirit…like the crocus.

 “Love is a flower that grows in any soil, works its sweet miracles undaunted by autumn frost or winter snow, blooming fair and fragrant all the year, and blessing those who give and those who receive.”  

 

Featured Today! Orphan in America

Orphan in America featured on www.ebooksoda.com… a terrific UK site! 

 

BookExpo foreword Booth

ebooksoda link to Orphan in America 🙂

 

Writer’s resource and reader’s companion

OnceUponCover_Small

Once Upon a Time Words:  Definitions of Often Read but Seldom Spoken Words

One Upon a Time Words is a helpful word source for authors looking to enrich and authenticate their writing. Whether it is placing the reader in the Middle Ages or the turn of the century, incorporating realistic jargon and language is essential to dialogue, setting, and characterization.

Once Upon a Time Words is your straightforward, easy to use reading and writing companion. Ideal for all ages, it is a reference guide designed to meet the needs of those who wish to define retired, obscure, and not often spoken words

Now Available at the Kindle store for 0.99!  

Quick link to the kindle store!

When it’s Fall

For those of us who are in the throws of falling leaves and are waking up to trees exchanging leaves of green for colors of harvest, today’s post brings to you my poem… “When it’s fall”….

©nl avery

©nl avery

John Burroughs and between seasons

must be fall_with nameWe, meaning those of us who reside in the western hemisphere, are between seasons; for sometimes it is as warm as a summer day and the next it is cool and fall-like. And though there is no name for this in- between season, the trees seem to agree. One has only to look around and observe that many of the leaves have not made up their minds either as to what season it really is.

The red maple, for example, presents her foliage as half-green and half-orange. The green leaves are hanging on to their end of the summer color as stubbornly as a child who refuses to eat his or her vegetables. But, like the child that will eventually have to complete the meal, these leaves will eventually have to submit to the inevitable by exchanging their dwindling summer green to a more glorious golden orange. It is a wonder that we too are not sure what to do about our own apparel…whether we should keep our t-shirts in the drawers or remove our sweaters from the cedar closet!

So, like those who look to the groundhog to determine the length of winter and are sadly disappointed that he will not come out of his warm burrow, do not rely upon the metamorphosis of leaves for the official start of autumn. But rather, it will be Mother Nature, like the stern mother that she is, who will cast her seasonal spell upon us, and we will awaken to the harvest days of fall!

John burroughs 2Today’s post is a return visit from the esteemed thinker: John Burroughs (1837-1921) a man who reminds us to observe and take time out of our hectic day to enjoy earth’s free gifts. (And who does not like something for free?) Born in Roxbury, New York he is known to us as an essayist, environmentalist, and conservationist. His union with nature was prominent in his work and his writing.

And so I bring you a snippet of his lovely words from his book, Under the Maples…which is most fitting for today!

“The time of the falling of leaves has come again. Once more in our morning walk we tread upon carpets of gold and crimson, of brown and bronze, woven by the winds or the rains out of these delicate textures while we slept.

How beautifully the leaves grow old! How full of light and color are their last days! There are exceptions, of course. The leaves of most of the fruit-trees fade and wither and fall ingloriously. They bequeath their heritage of color to their fruit. Upon it they lavish the hues which other trees lavish upon their leaves. The pear-tree is often an exception. I have seen pear orchards in October painting a hillside in hues of mingled bronze and gold. And well may the pear-tree do this, it is so chary of color upon its fruit.

But in October what a feast to the eye our woods and groves present! The whole body of the air seems enriched by their calm, slow radiance. They are giving back the light they have been absorbing from the sun all summer…”