Write Lightning is a blog from writer Deb Thompson.
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Fri, Dec 27 2013

Go ahead. Think about it. Say it? Maybe not.

Writing during the holiday season is tough for many of us. There tend to be other things that pull on our time andt cause our writing focus to take second place and even sixth place. What this busy season can be, however, is a great time to observe human nature. If you find yourself standing in long lines you can hone your people watching skills. Could that woman with the two small children be going to see her mother for what will turn out to be their last Christmas dinner together? Does that flight attendant go duck hunting with politicians in her spare time? Is the man in the drug store checkout line buying glycerin as a rubber stamp accessory for his wife's Christmas stocking or is he working on some incendiary device?

One does have to be careful about verbalizing these observations. I recently mentioned the fact that a certain architectural nook would make a great place for a hidden gun case or a small safe room. It can be a hard lesson for some of us to remember. When in imaginative mode, resist the temptation to describe everything as though you're walking through a spy thriller. If you think out loud too much, it makes people wonder what you've been up to in real life.

posted at: 10:56 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Tue, Dec 17 2013

Pressure fits perfectly into a writer's tool belt.

Our day-to-day pressures often consist of little things that influence bigger decisions. If you're trying to help a child with homework while you're battling sinus pain amd trying to cook dinner plus give a pill to a reluctant cat, it's probably a rotten time to concentrate on making an offer on that house in the beautiful neighborhood with the great school. But, wouldn't you know it? That's when the real estate agent calls to say that you've got to make a lush offer in the next hour or you risk losing out to an all-cash buyer.

When your main character is stressed in all the ways you can reasonably pile onto her fictional life, that's the time to force her to choose a direction at that big fork in the road. It's one more way your readers will identify with the kind of pressure your character is facing. Sometimes we (rhetorically) ask if our already difficult day could get any worse. If we ask that about our character(s), the answer is, "It can, and it should."

posted at: 10:07 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Fri, Dec 13 2013

Structure: When is a wall not a wall?

We're making some changes to the area between our kitchen and dining area and so I've learned more about terms such as "header" and "weight-bearing". One can't go tearing down walls in a house without considering the overall structure. I also think of story structure. There are things that don't make sense in fiction unless we consider overall plot delelopment. We can't just go killing all the characters without a master plan, unless killing all the characters is our master plan, in which case we would still need to consider the order and nature of their departures.

In addition to all this, I thought of a more practical relation to plot. In mystery and horror novels there are occasionally people who are killed and have their remains sealed inside a wall. If you use this particular plot device, do not be so foolish as to choose a 1940s bungalow in California. The walls are likely to be a mere four inches deep. The only way your character would fit...well, let's politely say that the details would matter as much as major plot elements. A wall to the wise is sufficient.

posted at: 10:51 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Wed, Dec 11 2013

Living as we ought to write

I had a chance recemtly to preach, so to speak, to someone who was going through a series of decisions. I resisted, remembering that a good storyteller remains committed to telling the story without injecting the writer's own moral viewpoint. When I resisted being an "expert" in this particular case, my friend and I became free to share as peers, rather than one of us assuming we knew more, knew better, than the other. Good storytelling technique, it turns out, can also serve writers well in day-to-day life.

posted at: 07:34 | 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!