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




Wed, Oct 25 2017

Gullibility vs. naivete

A thesaurus will probably tell you that gullibility and naivete are similar. I suppose they are. But I think of gullibility as the thing that people possess when they pass along as truth a meme/photo on social media without checking to see whether it's real. Naivete is different to me. When a reader/viewer/listener suspends belief in order to enjoy the spinning of a good yarn they have naivete. They're both traits that one chooses to possess, but the former speaks more to me of a lazy, biased choice, while the latter ssems to me a temporary opennesss to a new experience. Maybe society shapes the difference in the two words?

posted at: 10:35 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry



Mon, Oct 02 2017

Unseen characters

We recently had a chance to attend a live music performance with friends. It was all wonderful, but one of the songs was a duet in which the male singer was supposed to be apart from his female partner for the first part of the song, coming out into the open only later in the piece. There was brief joking between the conductor and the male singer, and then the singer put a hand on the fabric-wrapped tent pole as if he was hidden behind a tree. We all laughed because he was perfectly visible, but he managed to make the situation work with his voice, acting skills and his body movements as he finally came out from behind the tree that wasn't really there at all. We were with him. We were on his side.

When we tell stories, we sometimes elect to omit certain details about a character until later in a story. Sometimes it works better to keep certain details in the forefront of the reader's mind. At other times, revealing those details in a sudden moment well into a story can enforce sympathy/empathy. It can even give the reader more reason to dislike a character. We might not let the character give us this information, but instead let other characters' dialogue or the action itself spell out the added details.

In the case of our singer, we had to allow him his moment of breaking character in order to give us enough information to understand his placement in the scene and to pull us a bit closer into suspension of disbelief so that we could go on to enjoy the rest of the performance. It's similar to the sort of thing an actor does when they turn abruptly from their placement in a scene and proceed to speak directly to a live audience or a camera (or twirl a mustache to elicit boos, in the case of a villain in a melodrame). It often startles us, but it's also very effective in taking us to new heights in terms of accepting the truths behind the story.

posted at: 15:02 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry



Mon, Sep 25 2017

Thanks for the intro. Now go away.

Has anyone else out there every tried to write a story and then realized you had created a dull major character, so you switched their place of prominence with that of a seemingly less important character? I did this recently and it gave my story new life. It felt as though Friend A had introduced me to Friend B, who was more interesting and in tune with my personality than Friend A would ever be.

posted at: 11:13 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry



Mon, Jul 17 2017

What does it mean to be a published writer?

While Samuel Clemens left us with a wealth of literature, his brother Orion Clemens' autobiographical writings were written in relative obscurity. He tried to mail them out and then they were lost (and probably found) in Grand Central Station in New York. It could be said that he was unpublished, but if someone found the writings now Orion would probably become a celebrated American author, if for no other reason than that his work took on a story of its own as he attempted to get it into a willing publisher's hands with the assistance of his brother. Barbara Schmidt fills in a lot of the story in this article. Reading it may make you feel better when someone asks whether you are a real, published author, since that designation is rarely as simple as it sounds. And there's always the fun of answering a complicated question with yet another convoluted story and letting the questioners figure out for themselves whether they are clever enough to understand your answer.

posted at: 14:21 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry



Wed, Jun 14 2017

Call it this or that or any old thing.

Does anyone else jot down possible titles when not actually writing prose?
I find them to be useful story-starting phrases.

The Pedantic Carver
Loose Shoes
Welcome to Springfield
Mud in My Pocket
Caravan
The Rail Splitter's Son
Old Habits and New Faces
Casting Aspersions
Treasure on Bronze Mountain
Chimneys of Hope

These are random. If they happen to match anyone's stories, it's coincidence.

posted at: 15:31 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry



Tue, Jun 06 2017

Cake Paragraphs

Paragraphs in prose have some parallels to writing down a cake recipe. You need to provide full information to the reader, including specifics to define your scene and characters, adding adjectives when it's helpful, grudgingly including a rare dash of adverbs when absolutely necessary and saving any frosting or sprinkles for a bit of balance and color to define your voice. Use as many words as you need to use, but use them with purpose and precision. Put aside the notions of a soup-from-leftovers, with everything possible grabbed up and tossed into the mix and not a thought for the final product. Concentrate instead on making every word of a paragraph an ingredient that results in the reader taking one exquisite bite after another.


posted at: 12:55 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry



Tue, May 16 2017

Influence

We all have giants who rose out of the crowds of our past and carried us on their shoulders toward the goal of being the people we're meant to be. Whether they knew it or not, they made our work better and so their influence lives on in the things we do.

One of my giants recently passed away. Ecclesiastes 9:10 tells us "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might, for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave, whither thou goest." Thankfully, that doesn't mean influence ends with death. You may be living a life right now that is watched by someone who thinks of you as a giant helping to boost them to great things.

posted at: 15:03 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry



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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!