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




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



Fri, Apr 05 2019

Story legacy

Last night we attended a dinner and meeting where part of the table decor included items made by one of our members who recently passed away. Many of us remarked that it felt as though he had left part of him with us, a legacy of his care and his craftsmanship that we could always point to as we held him in our hearts.

People talk about the universal theme of a piece of fiction and how important that theme is. I'm beginning to think that a univeral theme may be important, but the real thing I want to leave with the reader is a legacy that he or she can carry around for a very long time. The legacy takes the story beyong universal. It becomes personal as it bumps up against their life and values and mirrors what they hold dear in their path in life.

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



Tue, Feb 26 2019

What do locals call that mountain, or is that a swamp?

Yesterday I was rearranging some items in the house and I got stuck because of approximately two inches of space. I went ahead and did the cleaning I could behind furniture and small items that had already been moved, but those two inches really put a damper on progress. I felt stuck.

This was all resolved later in the day when I had help (and a couple of extra tools) moving one large item in order to gain that other two inches of space. But it reminded me of times when I get stuck on a piece of writing because I can't come up with a character name or I can't readily fill in all the details of a story setting. It's easier to give up than to keep working around the issue. If I had taken that attitude while rearranging the items at home, we would have fallen over a dozen things on the way to bed last night. I didn't abandon the project, but I did what I could and I also made sure there was not some good reason why the detail was not working for me.

When I can't name a character in a story, I try to take a good look at the attributes and basic ego of the character to make sure I have the right charactor for the job. When I can't get a mountain backdrop to easily fit into the setting, it may be that the mountain really isn't there. The setting may need to be a flat plain with no mountain around.

Before I abandon a story next time, I plan to pause first and take a good look at why this or that detail just isn't showing up. I may not have the right focus or truth in front of me to get that job done.



posted at: 10:53 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry



Fri, Feb 08 2019

A real-life lesson in timing and foreshadowing

I had a mammogram about a week ago. I wouldn't usually share this personal information, but I wanted to talk about timing and foreshadowing. They had the results of my scan within a few hours, which startled me. In the past, it would take a matter of days to be able to read the results. I experienced a bit of alarm, having gotten a boring old printed letter in the past (in an envelope they'd had me address to myself in the imaging center). When the results appeared by that evening, I thought it might be a sign that I needed to pay immediate attention. It turned out that my results were just about as boring as in previous scans. It's just that the tests are so precise now that, in most cases, they can interpret them quickly.

Have you ever been watching a film or TV show and seen a shot of a paper being put into a coat pocket? We've all learned that there is some reason why we're being shown that movement. What happens if they keep showing us the pocket in several scenes and we never see any reason for that pocket being forced into our view? We feel cheated later. Conversely, what heppens if we see a paper and we see a coat pocket, but we never see them together? Don't we keep trying to figure out the reason? Or, if the film doesn't show the paper going into the pocket at all and a big plot twist later reveals the importance of that paper going into the pocket at a specific time, we end up confused. If the tale-teller waits to long to show the paper going into the pocket we feel as though the whole show is oddly paced, as though the story lacks a pacing that we can feel and lean into for a big finish.

Foresahowing is an effective tool when writing a story, but we shouldn't cheat the reader out of the fun of guessing why the clues matter. Nor should we jar the reader out of the world we've given them to move through and enjoy.

posted at: 13:19 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry



Quote Of The Moment
Kindness is in our power, even when fondness is not.
--Samuel Johnson
Categories
Arts and Entertainment
Food
Health and Fitness
Miscellaneous
Playing
Politics
Religious and Spiritual
Science
Writing Life
Some of the Blogs I Like
Adrian's Science Fiction Starter
Angelahoy.com
angelweave
annecentral
Big Stupid Tommy
Blog Catalog
Christina Waters
Detectives Beyond Borders
Faith in Fiction
The Fire Ant Gazette
Jay Michael Rivera
Keystone Military News
Orange Crate Art
PI Buzz
Rabid Librarian's Ravings in the Wind
San Diego Soliloquies
TED Blog
Blog Resources and Blog Tools
The Ageless Project
Blogarama
BlogPulse
BlogShares
BlogSweet
Listed in LS Blogs
Kmax
The Blog Herald
Listed on Blogwise
Ping-o-Matic!
Some of my other web pages
Deb's Monthly Review
Stories
Deb's Writer Cam

Writer Links
Writers' Resources
Hatch's Plot Bank
Instant Muse Story Starter
The Memes List
General Store
Stetson Hats
Levi Strauss & Co.
Jaxonbilt Hat Co.
River Junction Trade Co.
Head 'N Home
Archives
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004
December 2003
November 2003
October 2003
September 2003
August 2003
July 2003
Hang Hat Here
Write Lightning button       RSS         email Deb

Follow me on Twitter


Stealin' copy is as bad as horse-thievin'
and cattle rustlin'! Lightning may strike
such varmints when they least expect it!