Write Lightning is a blog from writer Deb Thompson.
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(Some links or topics may not be completely kid-appropriate.)




Wed, Sep 18 2019

Writing is not difficult, until it is

Writing is not difficult, unless you don't care. Mediocre writing is not difficult, until you care. Producing a work of compelling writing that makes people want to keep reading it is nearly impossible, even when you do care.

posted at: 10:33 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry



Tue, Jul 23 2019

Is lowering the bar to entry leading to less quality fiction?

We are having a new roof put on an outbuilding this month and are having to deal with a refrigerator issue that requires taking everything out of the refrigerator. Writing time this month is restricted, to say the least.

My thoughts have been with the explosion of ebooks in the past couple of yearss. The whole idea of self-publishing carries a lot of caveats, but I've seen some ebooks that needed more editing and rewriting than they received. Because of that, I'm having second thoughts about it all. I still think I might try writing a book intended to be distributed as an ebook. What I don't want to do is assume that a less expensive method of producing a fictional story should be an excuse to skimp on the editing.



posted at: 11:38 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry



Tue, Jul 09 2019

Stories are about people

The longer we live, the more fascinating people we meet. People who might appear uninteresting at first become deep and multi-faceted as we learn more about them. Part of the success of franchises such as Star Trek is the idea that even alien beings we've never seen before become more real to us as we learn their strengths and their foibles. A being who might seem aloof, superior, and impervious to human weapons at first encounter may turn out to be susceptible to certain spectrums of ultraviolet, the common cold virus, or puppy love. It's what eventually makes them relatable to us as readers and viewers. The same is true of characters we create as writers. We reveal their strong points and vulnerabilities as we unfold the story in much the same way as we get to know friends over a period of time.

posted at: 10:28 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry



Thu, Jun 13 2019

Stuck sitting in a waiting room, hungry, with crabby people? Good.

Weaving life with work is often difficult for the general population. We talk about a life-work balance, but it usually becomes a time management issue. Writers have some of that to think about, but writers can weave life with work in a way almost no one else can. A file full of headlines straight from world news can spark an idea for a story. Our own bout with food poisoning or a car accident can help us describe a character's difficulties with more realism. Unrequited love is easier to write about if you've known the heartache. That half-year you spent helping feed volunteers was not only experience. It could become the time in a story in which your character meets someone who will become a major influence in their life. Or, they might turn out to be a serial killer.

The next time you're stuck in traffic and see people arguing in the car next to you, use the moments to wonder how it could go in a story. Are they about to end a relationship? Is their child in the hospital with them wanting to hurry to their baby's side? Are they plotting a bank robbery? What about that guy in front of you who won't stop texting and driving? Is he selfish and careless? Is he about to miss a flight to an interview for his dream job? There's always more to the moment than there seems, if you're a writer.

posted at: 11:03 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry



Thu, Jun 06 2019

Intoxicated writing

We hear rumors and myths of writers who drank a little or a lot, among them Truman Capote, Raymond Chandler, Jack London, Dorothy Parker, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Charles Bukowski, and Jean Rhys. Some writers are said to have used illicit drugs, lit one cigarette off another, abandoned their families or lived lives filled with debauchery, racism, and paranoia. These notions are not limited to writers, but writers are often viewed as quirky adventurers whose exotic tales of fiction are surpsassed only by their own globe-trotting life-styles.

Many writers actually spend long hours each day alone in a room while the rest of the world goes whizzing by them as they try to pen something worth selling so they can continue to buy cat food and afford to send the kids to science camp for another summer. They often do this while holding down other jobs that supplement their predilection for at least one meal a day.

Recently, I looked up the drinking habits of several well-known writers and was disappointed to find that some of the degrading rumors were probably true. I can't imagine writing with any clarity while sipping on whiskey, but perhaps I have a fragile blood-brain barrier. I can be persuaded to indulge in coffee with a little cream. Bottoms up.

posted at: 11:30 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry



Wed, May 22 2019

Hunger strike or food fight? Famine? Fasting? Festing?

A worker on a girder high in the sky carrying a handled lunch box filled with deli sandwiches and a thermos of steamy coffee fills the mind with a scene. Now picture a worker carrying a colorful insulated bag full of yogurt and fresh fruit. How does the scene change in your mind? Is the second worker a petite female or a burly man trying to fend off a heart attack? Or did the second worker just happen to trade lunches with someone on this day? We think we know, but food choices can be incredibly personal and can be influenced by medical issues, cultural background, peer pressure, childhood memories and financial changes, among other things.

What and when and how your fictional characters gather, prepare and consume food can tell readers a lot about their situation on any given day. Description that includes one or more food scenes lets the reader experience another whole side of a main character. If a bomb attack occurs during a trip to an outdoor market, one is likely to never forget such a day when one visits other outdoor markets. A minor, but significant, character will be imprinted on the reader's mind if that character is always seen cutting chunks of green apple with a pocket knife as he or she stares at the main character.



posted at: 11:36 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry



Fri, May 10 2019

But this is my job, even when I'm not doing it.

I've been increasing the nonfiction work, using small notations best described as the sort of snippets one might pop into a journal. I don't know whether this is a writer form of procrastination to avoid confronting my fictional pieces or represents an actual shift in work focus.

What I have learned over time is that hitting a wall with a piece of writing is a signal that I've been forcing something that either isn't ready or isn't there. We tend to have relationships with our works in progress, cathecting with the work as we go or as we don't go. (Scott Peck spoke of cathecting and how humans sometimes confuse it with mutual affection.) Friendships wax and wane, last a short time or many years, grow with time or fade with separation. And so, to be certain I haven't given up on this or that piece, I need to revisit its essence now and then to be certain it's still relevant and alive for me.

In the end, it's much of the same old tune that plays when people ask writers when we're going to get a real job. If you have to ask, you probably won't understand our answers.



posted at: 11:40 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry



Quote Of The Moment
Don't flatter yourself that friendship authorizes you to say disagreeable things to your intimates. The nearer you come into relation with a person, the more necessary do tact and courtesy become. Except in cases of necessity, which are rare, leave your friend to learn unpleasant things from his enemies; they are ready enough to tell them.
--Oliver Wendell Holmes
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Stealin' copy is as bad as horse-thievin'
and cattle rustlin'! Lightning may strike
such varmints when they least expect it!