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

Tue, May 16 2017


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: 16:03 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Tue, May 02 2017

If you think your writing makes a difference, you're right.

A lot of my original ideas for blog entries become completely changed so that they no longer resemble the beginning thought. Their point (or theme) is often cocooned inside layers of time-stamped language. This whole fact sometimes bothers me. A blog entry doesn't become a novel to be fleshed out and honed into a story. Each entry is a moment, something to be tossed up in the air and let go like a cottonwood seed, carried on currents of air across the internet, unlikely to take hold and grow in any one particular place. I want theses entries to mean something, something important. But they probably don't. Still, it sems important to write them and send them on, even though I might never know of any difference they made in the universe. It's not so much the result that matters as the process itself.

posted at: 16:11 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Mon, Apr 17 2017

Never trouble trouble till trouble troubles you (unless you're writing a tall tale)

Most of us try to keep our days simple most of the time, unless we're addicted to dysfunctional living. But writers have to be constantly on the lookout for trouble. The romantic picnic under a lofty oak tree has to be interrupted by a hailstorm, an invasion of ants or a pesky little brother with a pea shooter. A warm gathering at the Kentucky Derby needs a horse doping or a hat-slapping quarrel between sisters to keep a reader interested in turning the page.
For best results, we should always be applying Murphy's Law and repeating as often as necessary, even a little more when possible.

posted at: 13:26 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Tue, Mar 14 2017

Nix the glour with baling powder and asalt

The recipe typing continues. There are crazy typos that come with typing recipe-related terms. To keep from being tired of working on the recipes, I often note the funnier terms that end up in the files.
Garlix, perhaps an antiquated plural for garlic?
Beta butter, which could be bypassing alpha butter in favor of beta butter?
Chopped muts, which probably means short mutts?

posted at: 12:48 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Wed, Mar 08 2017

Was that a falling knife you just caught in your laundry basket?

Writing is serious business, but it's also fun. I can be working on some remarkably sad story when I get the urge to insert some giggles. After all, real life is not one long uninterrupted tragedy, unless you happen to be a dedicated pessimist. Life's funniest moments often come sandwiched between lost jobs and orphaned puppies. It's the treatment of events that creates tragedy or comedy. Watch a comedy on TV with the sound off and you'll find that it feels a lot more serious than when it's frilled with sassy dialogue and quirky music. A lot of stand-up comedians will tell you that it's the unfortunate events in life that gives them most of their material. When some scene gets so serious that we can't seem to resolve it or frame it in proper context, maybe a good old-fashioned pratfall will give a scene the grounding it needs in order for the reader to stay engaged.

posted at: 15:21 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Tue, Feb 28 2017

What's really in the scene?

If you watch a favorite film several times you may begin to notice more about the way the background in scenes is presented. Are there two characters in a shot? Are they in front of a crowd of background activity? Camera work usually handles details that make it easier for our vision to accept a sceme as natural. When two characters have a conversation while crossing a city street we accept the noise, traffic and pedestrians as part of a busy city intersection, even if the background is in softer focus. If we suddenly took away all the background activity and showed those same two characters against a backdrop of deserted streets our mind would start to assume other things about the scene. Maybe it's too early for traffic and crowds or maybe it's the weekend. As the shot widens out we might find that there is no one else in the whole city at all, due to evacuation or alien abduction. Without cameras, it's up to the writer to help a reader picture the context in which the characters are presented. We don't have to provide every single detail when we describe a scene in a written story. Four pages of written description are going to be tedious and may ruin the pacing of the story. But a few well-chosen details can help the reader's mind fill in the rest of the setting naturally with their own imagination.

The more exotic the setting, the more details one might need to set up a scene. Most of us have crossed a street in a large city, but if the story takes place in 3012 the reader may need more background description in order to accept the scene as a natural one. The same might be true of a city set in early Athens. Decide which details will give your reader the best chance to build the scene in their mind and make them feel like part of the action.

posted at: 14:52 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Tue, Feb 14 2017

Writing and the art of lawn maintenance

Just as writers in snowy spots have to stop writing to go shovel snow now and then, writers in California have to stop writing to go mow lawns now and then, even in February. It's a struggle to keep one's head in the game while filling up the yard waste can with trimmings.

One of ways I make the yard time do double duty is to consider setting details and to notice my characters' habits in depth. Would my characters plant tulip beds or cactus gardens? Would they revel in digging into rich compost piles or would they sneeze and run inside at the first sign of spring pollen?

If you're working on a mystery, you might learn to not have a killer try to bury a body beneath a plum tree, unless you want them to get caught in the process. (Plum trees behave more like shrubs than trees and their roots can be too tangled and dense to bury anything bigger than a field mouse.)

The whole thing does underscore the habit that writers have of making everything about writing, even when one is not actually sitting and writing. Going off into the weeds may be literal, but it doesn't have to be figurative unless you let it.

posted at: 13:13 | 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!