Busy! Busy! Busy?

Unfortunately, I have nothing new to report except that I have nothing new to report. Each year in September, our church hosts The Great American Fast, and this year is no exception. It is a major undertaking, and there is so much involved behind the scenes. So I’m busy, busy, busy. So I need to hurry.

But before I leave you for another week, let me ask you, are you busy? Or are you just busy? I mean, in your busyness, are you accomplishing your goals, or are you just wasting time, filling it with action but not really going anywhere? It happens. So investigate what’s going on in your life and make every moment count.

Okay – gotta get going. Have a busy and productive week. See you next week. Maybe things will have slowed down.



What a Character!

Welcome to my Wednesday – and yours. Here’s hoping you had a great week! The weather for today? Pouring down rain. At least maybe it will cool down a bit. It’s been very humid lately.

So, let’s talk about characters this week. Nothing holds a reader’s attention like an intriguing plot. But truth be told, the plot won’t be intriguing if the characters aren’t believable, if they aren’t three dimensional.

Give them a name that fits the story. If you set your story in the present, you probably wouldn’t give them the name Bertha or Gertrude. Nothing wrong with those names, but mostly, they were popular in a different era. If you’re writing a piece of historical fiction, you no doubt would not use names like Paisley or Nova. Perhaps Eleanor or Grace would fit better.

Be clear about their age. Is he an elderly man or a teen girl? That sounds a little obvious, I would think, but all too often, age can be confusing and the plot ruined, especially in a short story.

Describe them physically. We need to picture your character in our mind, but please show, don’t tell. Use action and dialogue to give us that clear picture.

What about backstory? Think about their hometown, their type of home or neighborhood. How about relationships, either past or present?

What kind of job do they have? How do they dress? What kind of friends do they hang with? How about their religion? Hobbies? Favorite sports? How do they perceive themselves? How do others perceive them? Are they humorous? Serious? Fearful? Self-confident?

Don’t apply these thoughts to your protagonist alone. Build a life-like backing cast as well.

Okay. We’re done until next week. See you then.


Everyday Life – What’s Your Story?

Well, so much for the fall-like weather. The scheduled real-feel for the day is 100 degrees. There is always something for everyone in Pennsylvania.

For sure, some of you are older than I. But also for sure, I’m older than many. I can honestly say as I enter the winter year of my life that life’s been good. There have been times there was extra money in the bank, and times I didn’t have two nickels to rub together. There have been periods of near-perfect health and many nights spent in the hospital. I’ve experienced love and I’ve faced rejection. There have been moments of success and moments of dire failure. My emotions have run the gamut from exuberant joy to extreme pain. I feel complete.

So, what about you? What’s your life’s story? What have you learned from everyday life? Tell us about that one defining moment that changed your life forever – that point of no return.

That’s the beauty of the written word. You can literally share a part of you with those who are in need. Write about the hurt, the loss, the victory, the overcoming. There is someone that needs to hear from you. You can help a floundering soul gain strength from your experiences. Share your rejection, your determination, your courage.

Someone needs you, so don’t hold back. Maybe it’s time to write your memoir or maybe you’d rather put your story into fiction form. That’s what I did in my book, Jacob’s Ladder, but either way, get it out there.

Transparency is what it’s about, and transparency can make some very good reading. Your life’s experiences may be someone else’s answer. Go for it! Until next week . . .


Things Are Getting Tense

What’s up with the weather? Lately the days have reminded me of September and October. Color has appeared in some of the foliage. That’s okay. I like the fall, but I wonder what October will bring. Regardless of what it’s like in your area, I hope you are continuing to use your God-given gift of imagination. Whether you write or just read, your imagination is a necessity, so use it wisely. Now on to our topic – tension.

I don’t doubt that what every writer loves to hear from their audience is, “I couldn’t put down the book.” There may be several things that enter that mix to cause that reaction, but one of them certainly is tension.

When you think about it, most fiction carries the same plot. Your protagonist needs or wants something and sprinkled throughout are obstacles attempting to prevent his/her attainment. Yes, your characters have unique personalities. The twists and turns may different from other books. Particular obstacles line your pages. But is that enough?

Probably not. It’s tension that keeps the pages turning. Consider the following:

  • Ask yourself, what’s the worst that could happen? Then deliver. Put your character in an impossible situation that only gets worse as the plot progresses. Let the bad guy temporarily win. A hostage is held at gunpoint. What’s the worst that could happen? Remember to show, not tell. But remember also that if the hostage is your protagonist, you need to create a way for him to escape.

A peeping Tom appears at a window. What’s the worst that could
happen? Keep it clean, but be sure to bring out the emotion of that
terrifying moment.

A child is abducted in a supermarket. What’s the worst that could happen? You decide, then make it happen.

  • Create tough situations. You may love your characters, but put them in some uncomfortable circumstances.

    Your protagonist’s boss just fired him and the bills are piling up with no relief in sight.

    An arsonist burns a homeless shelter to the ground. Tough situation – now what’s the worst that could happen?

    A coworker flirts with your character and wants to spend time with him. The problem is, he is happily married, but the pressure is getting heavy. Is he willing to risk it all, or remain true?
  • Raise the Stakes. It’s not enough to just add tension. Things have to be getting worse for character as the story progresses. It may even be a they lose all hope situation. Perhaps the villain kidnaps your main man to get him to cooperate with his evil plan. When your character doesn’t give in, your antagonist reveals he also has his wife and family locked away in another room, and anything but complete obedience will bring them death as well. Keep it going. Fill the pages with tension, and your readers will read.

Okay, that’s enough. I’m going to go enjoy some of this fall weather. See you in seven.