Tuesday, May 27, 2014

In Jayne's World, we have to write...

Jayne Martin offers up a challenge this morning to get us writing after the long weekend.  (There was a weekend?)  

Per Jayne:
The challenge:  Write a story (beginning, middle and end) that hints at a larger story, but is complete within itself, in 25 words or less.  The most famous piece of hint fiction was written by Hemingway:
            For sale:  Baby Shoes.  Never worn.
Hint Fiction demands reader involvement.  “Why were the baby shoes never worn?” we’re left to contemplate.   It hints at much more, yet is complete in and of itself. 
Write your story on your own blog, then come back here and link up your post.  Be sure and visit everyone else’s offering and support your fellow writers with a comment.  If you don’t have a blog, you may leave your story in my comment section below.  Write and post as many as you want.   Link-up will be active through June 1st.  
Have fun!
Want to know more about hint fiction?   Visit Robert Swartwood's Hint Fiction website by clicking here. 
Here's mine:

Second Thought

Smelly toes, phlegmy cough, blanket hog. Where's dinner? he mumbles, shuffling in.  Eyes meet. He strokes my cheek. Memories swirl. Arsenic in my pocket weighs.

Join the fun.  Write your own, visit her site, and "link up:" HERE

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Coach Your Story Like Your Name is Erik Spoelstra

This article is reprinted from Flash Fiction Chronicles. It appeared during the NBA play-offs in 2012. I don't remember which game it was--maybe game 5?--II wanted to post it again since we just may have another Heat v. Thunder play-off.

What a terrific game.  I just hope the Thunder can come back so the series goes to seven.  Nothing like great basketball to get me thinking about teamwork and how it applies to writing. The writer is the coach.  The team: each member is a story element and they must work together to WIN.   (Indulge me here.  Everything seems like a metaphor for writing to me!)
Think about it.  The coach is the one who teaches, guides, plans, shapes, and has a heart attack when all the teaching, guiding, planning, shaping doesn’t work.  The team has potential, it may even have talent, but if left to their own devices, the members might play well, might even be brilliant, but going all the way, reaching for that trophy?
The big man might not let the others play because he never gives up the ball.  The point guard might try to get everyone to pay attention, to work the ball around to the player with the best “look,” but maybe there’s a bumping battle for position in the key and the player misses the pass.   You’ve heard it before from the master himself, Michael Jordan,  ”Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.”  And whose job is it to bring teamwork and intelligence to the court?  The coach.
So how does that apply to writing?  You guessed it, the author is the coach.  He or she is the person in charge, the one who makes the tough decisions, who inspires, motivates, and keeps everything on track.  The starting team includes structure, language, content, theme, and characters with dialogue, setting, clarity, metaphor, and imagery coming off the bench.
The coach puts his first team on the court.  The best players, but he has to switch them out when something isn’t working and he has a strong bench to do so.  Maybe for one story, language is the focus–the element that never lets the author down,  for another, structure, but no matter what strategy the coach decides will work, he has to count on all the elements to do their part.
I love Blake Griffin.  Watched him in the NCAA championships and there was something about him that stood out (damn good basketball) and I remembered him, so when he ended up on the Clippers, I was excited.  We went to a couple games and the Clippers suddenly had enough  talent that we dared to hope they would be contenders, but they didn’t always play as a team.  Whoever had the ball tended to shoot.  There was little working around the floor and while Chris Paul and Blake Griffin might be two of the most talented players in basketball, they could not bring it in the end without the rest of the team.
The same is true in putting together a story.  An author might be brilliant with words, stringing them together like easy lay-ups, but a story needs more than pretty words.  It has to have meaning.  It has to stir something in the reader.  Occasionally, of course, an imagery-rich story might be enough, something there beneath the lines that works for many readers, but we’re talking about the long haul here, making it to the finals, to the championship. Sharp original language is like having a superb big man.  You might win over fans for a few stories, but at some point, the  author needs to send in the rest of the team.
Language, structure, and content need to work together and still have room for the other elements to play their part in order for a writer to produce championship work.  Writing is like coaching.  You can’t just put your best two players in the game and hope they can bring home the  NBA Trophy while you cheer them on.   You need to coach everyone on the team.  You need to get each one to contribute the best version of their skills to the play.
If you saw the game last night, important plays were made by bench-warmers Nick Collison for the Thunder and Norris Cole for the Heat.  And what about Mario Chalmers?  We expect to be cheering Dwyane Wade and LeBron, but Bosh?  And while Russell Westbrook scored a valiant 32 points, the Thunder lost because yes, late in the game, his team ran out of gas.
So enough of this.  You get the point. We writers need to consider how all the elements of a story can contribute to the overall story and while one or the other may dominate, it is the contributions from the bench that will often carry the day.

Friday, May 09, 2014

Podcast Interview-Robert Swartwood Asks Me About WCB

Robert Swartwood, the USA Today bestselling author of The Serial Killer's Wife, The Calling, and Man of Wax asks some good questions about What Came Before including how serialization of the novel came about.  The podcast is available at his website HERE.

Robert’s  work has appeared in The Los Angeles ReviewThe Daily Beast,  Postscripts,  ChiZine, Space and TimeWigleaf, and PANK. He created the term “hint fiction” and is the editor of Hint Fiction: An Anthology of Stories in 25 Words or Fewer. He lives with his wife in Pennsylvania.