Write Lightning is a blog from writer Deb Thompson.
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Tue, Jan 28 2014

What's really going on with the State of the Union

When writers listen to US presidents deliver their respective State of the Union addresses we tend to think of sentence structure and grammar. It might help to think of these speeches more the way we would think of a query to an editors or a pitch to a filmmaker.

Some of what we hear will be a series of statistics on how things have been going for the past year. Some of what we hear will be observation and an interpretation of what things are like now. Some of what we hear will be justification for whatever President Obama hopes to see happen in the next year or two. (This would be true of anyone holding the office.) Facts, interpretation of history and present conditions, idealism and thinking habits are interwoven into a speech that reflects the deliverer's social, political and personal background.

You could make the speech more interesting and personal this evening by imagining how you would deliver the review and projection, based on your own observations, or even from the point-of-view of your son, daughter, worst enemy or best friend. All these speeches are stories of a sort and each speech tells us something about who the speaker is. Our own filters, as we listen, tell us more about who we are. It's a good exercise in how speaker and listener, or author and reader, work together to make the speech into a dynamic piece of literature that will be catalogued as part of history.

posted at: 10:49 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Fri, Jan 10 2014

Flood, famine, pestilence and other party poopers

Stress can be a writer's best friend or worst enemy. It's easy for stress to distract us from the task at hand. But if it brings on deep emotion it can be a force to enhance a story in the same way that actors uses past personal experiences to drive a scene for maximum effect. We should't lose sight of our objectivity as we relate a character's experience, but we can certainly harness our own personal stress to the character's angst in a sort of orchestrated empathy.

If the stress is so great that we absolutely can't handle objectivity at that moment, it might be nest to set aside the fictional writing for a short time and describe in writing the way the stress is affecting us. We'll get a release by writing about what's bothering us. And we'll maintain a professional space between our immediate stress and our current characters' experience. This probably won't work for every situation, but it might be a viable solution when there are just too many distractions to make concentration possible. Even a neurosurgeon would have to take a pause if the medical building exploded. We just have to make certain we don't use every bump in our day as an excuse to wander away writing.

posted at: 13:20 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Wed, Jan 08 2014

The long and short of it on one of those days

Current writing projects include several works I can leap into and out of when I have only a few minutes to devote to writing. It means that longer projects may have to wait a few days, but it would be too easy to get out of the habit of writing daily if I ignored them altogether, so I always have a character description, blog entry, poem or other item I can plop onto the work table of the mind and develop. If I waited until I "had time" to work on the longer projects I might get nothing done at all.

The real challenge comes when most of a whole day gets stolen with the likes of a leaking water heater or other emergency. Again, I could easily do no writing. What I try t do on those days is keep my head in the game with lists or notes that allow me to use the current crisis as fuel for some future project. This might involve the research required to solve, or find an expert to solve, the real-life problem. It might involve getting in touch with feelings that would apply in the course of describing a fictional character's tale. The goal is to use life interruptions as an excuse to write something, rather than an excuse not to write anything.

posted at: 11:19 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Wed, Jan 01 2014

New Year energy

If you begin a diet, an exercise program or a new novel today, you're probably not alone. The momentum created by a new calendar prompts many to start new betterment projects. Assembling fictional characters and giving them marching orders to start living a life worth reporting fits right in with the theme of new beginnings. Is it cliche to begin today? Possibly. Does it work? There's only one way to find out.

posted at: 08:12 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

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Stealin' copy is as bad as horse-thievin'
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such varmints when they least expect it!