5 Elements of Writing Craft

melanievlogan:

This is a great post for beginners or anyone who wants to get a better understanding on the elements of story.  Thanks for the insight!

Originally posted on Global Mysteries:

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th-1Writing craft consists of the basic elements that make our story readable. It consists of strategies such as plot, characterization, dialogue, pacing, dramatic structure, and point of view. Here are 5 elements of writing craft with a brief definition of each. In future blog posts I will explore each element in greater depth.

Plot is a roadmap from the beginning of a story to its resolution. It is a sequence of connected, causal events that lead to the final dénouement.

Characterization is the process an author uses to reveal the personality of a character either directly (author description) or indirectly (the reader must infer what the character is like). The descriptions may include how the character speaks, thinks, feels and acts. How others perceive the character as well as his physical appearance are part of characterization.

Dialogue is the way characters communicate. It may be conversation between characters or it…

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Unexpected Reunion

Image: Listovative

Image: Listovative

Cara, Liz, and Evonne headed out after work for happy hour. After all, they had something wonderful to celebrate – Cara’s promotion.   Well, it really wasn’t a promotion. More like a temp being made permanent. Cara was happy that she didn’t have to job-hop anymore.

At The Bar & Grill, the ladies took advantage of the drink special which just happened to be Cara’s favorite – margaritas. After a couple of pitchers, they were all feeling liberated and free. But none were as spontaneous as Cara who decided to join in on karaoke.

She strolled to the front, skimmed the list of songs, and one jumped out at her. “One Week” by Barenaked Ladies. Cara smiled big with a slight giggle. She hadn’t heard that song since her junior high days. She still knew the lyrics by heart so she told the coordinator she didn’t need the screen.

She took her position on stage and began to sing. She did well at first. Spouting out words that were second nature.  “How can I help it if I think you’re funny when you’re mad? Trying hard not to smile though I feel bad.”

Then Cara threw a blank. She couldn’t remember the next part, but a guy leaning against the bar did. He walked towards the stage and stood in front. “I’m the kind of guy who laughs at a funeral. Can’t understand what I mean? Well, you soon will.”

Cara picked the song back up after the courteous vocal nudge from the handsome man. As she continued to sing, she felt awkward. She tried to focus her attention on Liz and Evonne, but she could feel this man staring at her.  She tried to avoid looking at him, but took a quick glance. He was singing right along with her.

***

In school, there was a guy that everyone called a nerd. He was really smart, but had a face full of pimples and the most ridiculous looking glasses. Cara couldn’t remember his name, but she did remember a particular incident.

It was one of the times when she and a few classmates sat on the school lawn listening to music. “One Week” played. Cara was the only one in the group who could sing the entire song all the way through – correctly. The nerd, whose name still escaped Cara, walked over and joined in with her. He knew the words just as well as she did – maybe better.

She smiled at him then, stood. She was shocked that someone else knew the song. They faced each other, dancing as they sang. The other classmates looked on with disgust. Not because of the song or even Cara.   More so because she was singing along with the guy that no one else accepted.

When the song ended, Cara invited him to sit with the group. The others either gave a scowl or said something harsh to let him know his best bet was to move along. He looked hurt. The nerd, who Cara’s still trying to remember his name, turned and walked away. Cara looked on with sorrow, then at the others with anger. She grabbed her belongings and left.

***

When the song had ended, the man helped Cara descend the one-step stage. “You did great up there!”

“Well, I would have flopped if you didn’t help me out. Thanks for that.”

“Just history repeating itself.”

“Huh? Do I know you?”

“Cara, it’s me. Julian. From Maymont Junior High.”

Then it finally clicked. Jelly Jules – or so the others had nicknamed him. Boy, had he changed. Cara bet none of the folks from junior high would make fun of him now. Julian was truly an ugly duckling turned beautiful swan.

“Hi Julian! I didn’t recognize you. How have you been?”

“I’ve done pretty well for myself. I own this restaurant, “ he motioned with his hands.“ I’m not surprised you don’t recognize me. I was quite a sight back in those days.” Julian seemed to be upbeat, though Cara’s recollections of the past were anything but. “So what have you been up to?”

“Well, I just got hired by the Egleston and Myers law firm around the corner. I’m a paralegal.”

“Oh, well, congratulations! I’ll buy you a drink.”

“I’m here with someone. Well, actually, two someones.”

Julian looked puzzled.

“We’re celebrating, but it would be great if you joined us.”

For a split second, Julian’s façade faded. He had turned back into the pubescent boy from ole.

“That’s ok. It was really great to see you. Maybe we can get together some other time.”

As he was starting to turn to leave, Cara placed a hand on his arm, “Julian, it’s ok. You can join us.”

“You sure?”

“Yes, I’m sure. “

Julian and Cara walked over to the table where Liz and Evonne sat. After the introductions, the group talked about Cara’s performance and how she and Julian knew each other and the song. At one point Julian and Cara took a selfie to further commemorate their reunion.

As the time drew nigh, Liz and Evonne decided to leave, but Cara and Julian were so caught up in conversation that they didn’t notice the co-workers had left. In fact, the restaurant staff had cleaned and left with Julian and Cara still rambling on at their table.

Finally Cara looked at the clock on her phone. It was after two in the morning. She had to be up at six. Julian ensured she was ok to drive and then walked her to her car. There was silence, but the look in their eyes spoke volumes. There was definitely an attraction.

“Cara, it was really great seeing you again. I hope we can do it again sometime.”

“I’d love it.” Cara tilted her head to the side and gave Julian a flirtatious smile. He returned the favor.

“Great! Would…it be ok if I called you?”

“Sure. What’s your number?”

“Five five five one eight seven two.”

Cara dialed to make sure Julian’s phone rang. It did. He locked her number in.

Cara gave him a hug, then entered her car. She quickly sent a text with an attachment, then drove off.

Ding.

Julian looked back down at his phone. He opened the message.

Here’s to new beginnings!” Below the text was the picture from earlier in the night of Julian and Cara, cheek to cheek, smiling.

Julian grinned, making a motion as if lifting a glass to toast, “To new beginnings!”

Need Writing Help?

melanievlogan:

It’s good to have a helping hand.  That’s why I’m glad there are writers like Renee Bell who offer assistance.  Thought I’d pass along the word.

Originally posted on Renee Bell's Book Reviews:

As a writer myself I know it’s hard sometimes to find the right things for your story. Or maybe there’s something you’d like to do but you don’t know how too. We all get stuck sometimes. That’s why I am here! I am offering writing tips to anyone or would like help! Just contact me here with your question or email me at reneebellreviews@yahoo.com and we’ll get started!

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Anyone But Me: When Wishes Come True

dandelion_blowing_in_the_wind-t2Janet was having a lousy day at work. First, it was the end of the month – the busiest for someone in the accounting field. She was having a hard time balancing the books, and on top of that her manager, Barbara, needed her to prepare a major report for upper leadership. And just when things couldn’t get more hectic, her mother called with yet another hypochondriac episode. Janet looked at the clock. It was just 9:00am. She dreaded what the rest of the day would entail.

To help calm her nerves, Janet went to the break room to grab a cup of coffee. As she poured, a bubble of hot liquid splashed the front of her pink blouse. She couldn’t believe her luck. She put the cup down and picked up several napkins nearby. As she dabbed at her shirt, she could feel that the liquid was just as hot as her temper.

Janet took several deep breaths before picking up the half-filled cup of coffee and returning to her desk. As she sat and swiveled towards her computer, she noticed the voicemail light taunting her. She feared who might have left the message, but figured it was probably her mother again. She dialed in, but received a greater shock. It was a paramedic. Janet’s mother was being rushed to the hospital with heart attack-like symptoms.

Janet froze in place, but her head and nerves were racing 100 miles per hour in several different directions. When she finally gathered herself enough, she grabbed her purse, informed Barbara, and headed to the hospital.

On the drive over, Janet prayed that all would be well with her mother. She felt guilty that she didn’t believe her earlier. She had cried wolf so many times before that it was hard to know when she was really telling the truth.  This was one of those moments that Janet hated not having family or at least a sibling to help her deal.

After 3 hours in the hospital emergency waiting room, it was determined that Janet’s mother had a bout of anxiety and gas. Janet was furious, but tried to keep her composure in front of the hospital staff. However, on the ride home, she let her mother have it.

“Mom, you know the end of the month is really busy for me. Why would you do this?”

“Watch your tone, young lady! I’m the parent, here.  I wasn’t feeling good. I told you that this morning.”

“I’m sorry about my tone. But not what I said. You never feel good. You call and then it turns out to be nothing. When you do that it makes me second guess you. One of these days it will be something real and I’ll think it’s nothing major.”

Janet’s mother sat in silence, contemplating what her daughter stated. She was fazed at first, but then dismissed the comment thinking that her daughter should run to her aid whenever she called.   When they arrived at her mother’s home, Janet helped her get settled then headed back to work. On the ride, she hoped that things at the office would be better than before.

Janet stayed late to make up for the time that she was gone and also to get as much work done as possible. She printed off the report for upper leadership and headed to Barbara’s office. While setting the report on Barbara’s desk, Janet noticed a picture of a family complete with dog sitting on the steps of what appeared to be a mini-mansion. The face she recognized was her manager. Janet assumed the others in the picture were her husband and children.

As Janet looked around the office, she noticed several things – a picturesque view, wall full of degrees and accolades, expensive pieces of art, and more pictures on shelves of a family that vacationed together and seemed to love and enjoy each other. Janet felt a pang of envy that turned to hurt. She walked out of the office, shoulders slumped, headed back to her desk. The original plan was to work another hour, but she just wanted to go home. She grabbed her purse and left.

At home Janet stewed in her funk. She looked around her small, lonely apartment. There had been no vacations since the field trips in high school. She had been the poster child for workaholics since then. She worked two jobs with a full courseload in college, and she never was a social butterfly, let alone a beauty queen. These further drove her towards being successful in something – unfortunately it was work.

Janet chose to close it down for the evening. She took a shower hoping it would improve her mood. Instead it left her to run down a rabbit trail of other things that were wrong with her life like being close to 35 without any prospects for dating or a family let alone any adventures of her own. Well, her mother’s presumed ailments did give some spice to her life. “Why can’t my life be different?”

She put on her bed clothes and slid under the covers. Her last thought before dozing off was, “I wish I’d wake up tomorrow and be anyone but me.”

The next morning, Janet arose and went to the bathroom to start her routine. She scratched her hip, yawning as she groggily opened her eyes and looked in the mirror. She jumped back then leaned into the mirror, touching her face. She couldn’t believe it. She was Barbara.

Janet sat on the side of the bathtub wondering what she should do. Her first thought was to call in sick. She couldn’t go into work looking like Barbara with a Janet mindset. But she was curious what Barbara’s life was like. She dared to venture to her home. She’d wait long enough to ensure that everyone had left for work or school.   She hoped that Barbara’s family would be like any other and leave a spare key in a flower pot or under a mat.

The community was gated and Janet didn’t have a gate key or pass. However, the guard recognized her as Barbara and let her in. As Janet drove into the subdivision, she was in awe at the massive homes and manicured lawns. When she pulled up to Barbara’s home, she felt excited and somewhat nervous about being there. She took a deep breath for courage, then exited the vehicle to follow the brick sidewalk to the front door. She lifted one of the flower stands and sure enough, there was a spare key. She only hoped they didn’t have a security alarm.

Janet’s hopes were answered. She made her way into the home without incident. As she looked around, each room looked as if it were a picture from a magazine. Everything looked expensive. She found the family room and saw even more pictures of trips and excursions – some with her husband and kids and others just adventures for the couple. Janet plopped down on the sofa wishing this life could really be hers and not just that she looked like Barbara. Then she heard a noise. It sounded like the garage door was opening. She scrambled to find somewhere to hide. She found a hall closet off from the kitchen.

“Hello! Is anyone here?” The male voice boomed as he took steps to inspect the home.   He checked each room not sure who he was looking for, but knowing that someone had to be around.

“I thought you said no one would be here. Who’s car is that Thad?”

“I guess the cleaning lady, but I don’t see her.  Barbara and the kids left over an hour ago.”

“Should we stick around? I mean, I’d hate for anyone to catch us.”

Janet tried to remain as still as she could, but even she could figure out that the pair wandering around was Barbara’s husband and mistress. There was silence, then noises that sounded like kissing. She cracked the closet door slightly, and her eyes saw what her ears already knew. The couple had begun to remove each other’s clothes without a thought that someone may walk in and see them on display.

Janet felt disgusted and angry. Even though it wasn’t her husband, she liked her boss and thought she deserved better. Then the phone rang. Thad and the woman jumped. Then started back fondling each other. A few moments passed, then Thad’s cell phone rang. He didn’t want to stop, but knew if he didn’t go about things as if it were a normal day, he’d get busted.

The call came from the private school where the children attended. His adolescent son had been fighting yet again. The principal needed Thad and Barbara to come to the school right away. As much as he hated to, he had to end his playdate to tend to family.

“When will it ever be just you and me?”

“These things take time. I can’t just up and divorce my wife right away. I have to make sure it’s a clean break. Don’t want her coming after me for alimony and child support.”

“So what are you going to do?”

“Haven’t quite planned everything yet, but was thinking about a boating trip where a little mishap takes place.”

Janet couldn’t believe her ears. Not only was Barbara’s husband a cheating louse, but also one capable of murder.   After Thad and the woman left, Janet slowly stepped out of the closet. Not for fear of being caught, but rather in disbelieve and feelings of sorrow for a woman’s life she admired.

On the ride home, Janet wondered how she could tell the real Barbara the details she learned. Would she even believe it? She had to do something. She didn’t want Barbara or her children hurt let alone killed.

This dilemma plagued Janet for the rest of the evening.   It tired her out to the point that she decided to take a cat nap on the couch. An alarm began to ring after what seemed like five minutes. Janet jumped up, noticed that it was daylight, and then ran to the bathroom mirror to see who she was. She was Janet – in fact, the same Janet that had the coffee stain on the front of her blouse. She realized that it was all a dream. And real or not, she found herself thankful for the life that she has.

When A Screenwriter Finishes The First Draft Of A Screenplay by Barbara Nicolosi and Vicki Peterson of ‘Notes to Screenwriters’

melanievlogan:

One of my major writing goals is to write a book and have it published (to rave reviews and every copy sold). :-)  I’ve already begun, but still a way to go with getting it out to the masses.  But on a secondary note, I would really like to see my book or something I’ve written on the small or big screen.  I don’t want to get my focus too divided, but for curiosity’s sake, I did watch a couple of the Film Courage videos just to get an understanding of this area.

So today’s tip is for those of you ambitious to see your work on the screen.  The post is via Film Courage.  Enjoy!

Originally posted on FilmCourage.com Videos:

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Eyes Wide Shut: The Plight of Everyday People

Image: Clker

Image: Clker

The world today encourages us to be independent, open-minded, and look for wealth or exposure as a way to happiness.   Along the way, we’ve stopping loving or caring about our fellowman. In fact, we often don’t take the time to get to know our neighbor let alone our fellow man.

Our world has grown quick to hurl judgements and criticisms rather than a helping hand or just a listening, understanding ear.  Sometimes it feels like there is little regard for humanity anymore.  Stereotypes seem to be the new rule with dire consequences.  Reading or viewing the news shows us that.

What I feel we fail to realize is that everyone on this earth is a human being – needs air to breath, food and water to eat/drink, and has blood coursing through veins.  But somehow we get caught up in the things that create division  like race, gender, socio-economic status and so forth.  I can’t help but feel that these are the things that feed fears, assumptions and judgments, and cause a lack of love and compassion for one another.

Awhile ago, I wrote about a childhood experience where I had my first taste of racism. Unfortunately it wasn’t the last.  Throughout my elementary and high school years, I often had to prove myself academically and by talent.  No matter how well I excelled, I faced those that just couldn’t get past skin.  And even in my adult years, I encountered situations where gender was an issue.  Women were often hired for certain roles and only promoted but so far (if at all) regardless of education or experience.

Going through these types of things could cause anyone to have a tainted view – judging a group of people by the actions of a few.  But what does that solve?  Who does it help?

We may have differences (i.e. our appearance, environments, and upbringings), but there are similarities too.  Like health crises, financial woes, desires for love and happiness, life frustrations, and everything in between.  Maybe if we took the time to get to know those around us, we’d see that we’re not that different after all.

So here’s the challenge. I encourage everyone that reads this post to look within for your “isms” that may fuel judgments or negative criticisms of others. .  Put yourself in the shoes of those to see how it may feel to hear or be treated in a certain manner.  The goal of this is to open eyes to be more considerate and compassion towards others – to help this world be a better, more positive place for everyone.