Getting this blog out on Thursdays isn’t working for me. Most of you seemed to prefer Sunday night, too. So, I’m returning to publishing late Sunday nights for Monday mornings. Look for my next post this Sunday/Monday.
In the meantime, I’m posting a photo here as a story prompt. Here are some ideas, but don’t limit yourself to them:
What is happening here? What has just taken place? What is about to occur? Create a realistic story, a fantasy, a fairy tale or a horror tale. How did these figures/puppets get here? Are they sentient or simply dolls? Tell a story in which the figures are not what you’d expect. Make them main characters or minor props. What role does the setting play in your story? When and where does the story take place? Make the mood be as it appears in the photo or change it drastically. Add a specific item that changes everything. Who will tell your story?
Have fun with this! I can’t wait to read your work!
After the recent horrific terrorist attacks, it’s comforting to remember someone who advocated change without assassinating cartoonists or eradicating entire towns. We celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday. King was electrifying, and as a speaker he drew on his experience as a charismatic preacher. He also pulled from an enormous stock of rhetorical devices to add even more creative power and evoke emotion. His now-famous “I Have a Dream” speech, delivered on August 28, 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D. C., employed dozens of these, including charged words (last week’s topic!). Continue reading What Martin Luther King, Jr. Can Teach Us About Creative Power Writing
What do the words and phrases in the above columns have in common? They are “charged words”—words and phrases that, by their very sounds, definitions, connotations, or denotations, evoke a strong emotion in the reader or listener. Note the variety of emotions represented here—the horror you felt on 9/11, your anger at the racial epithet, your delight as you sang with Mary Poppins, the excitement you’ll feel when you win the lottery (even a dollar!). Continue reading The Shocking Truth about Charged Words
When I wrote my “Je suis Charlie” blog post last night, I was unaware of the latest Boko Haram atrocity, its worst ever. Beginning last Saturday, January 3, and continuing for five days, these terrorists raided the town of Baga, Nigeria, slaughtering everyone and burning the surrounding villages to the ground. At least 2000 were massacred and the town of 10,000 is empty, as everyone who could, fled. Boko Haram has terrorized Nigeria for five years; in 2014, they killed more than 10,000 people.
Today, more than a million people gathered in Paris in solidarity with the 16 who died in the Charlie Hebdo assassinations. The Baga slaughter didn’t even make most news outlets. Nigeria’s own president expressed sympathy to the French government, but said nothing about Baga.
In my blog post, my main point was that people were on fire over Charlie Hebdo because of the freedom of speech connection. However, my secondary point about third-world terrorist attacks being ignored by the West (and in this case, even by the country in which it occurred!) is certainly borne out by the lack of news coverage of this event. It took nine days for me to even learn it had happened, and this only occurred because I subscribe to a service that supplies me with human rights articles. So maybe it wasn’t just the freedom issue.
Unless you’ve been toasting s’mores under a boulder, you know that on January 7 terrorists assassinated twelve people at the Paris offices of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. Two days later, they took hostages at other locations and executed four before being killed by police. At least 21 people were injured in the attacks.
Reaction was immense and immediate. By Wednesday afternoon, “#Je suis Charlie”had been tweeted more than 3.4 million times. Reddit gave its mascot a “Je suis Charlie” card. The Simpsons had Maggie hold a black banner reading, “Je suis Charlie.” Newspapers and magazines the world over used the slogan as a banner across their websites. Continue reading Je suis Charlie
Happy 2015! Have you broken all your New Year’s resolutions yet?
Did you make any writing resolutions? Did you resolve to write more frequently? To send your moldering manuscript to publishers? To join a writer’s group? To take a writing course? To start that blog? Guess where I came up with those ideas? Heh heh.
Only 8% of people keep their New Year’s resolutions, says health and policy writer Dan Diamond. In Forbes, he cites research from the University of Scranton that suggests most of us fail because we make promises that are all-but-impossible to keep, like that of the mother of four who teaches school, but resolves to write for six hours a day. Continue reading How to Make a Writing Resolution You’ll Finally Keep
With the Polar Express bearing down, there is someone who will look beautiful and calm (she finished her shopping in October) with a box of homemade, decorated cookies; presents in paper with lots of of ribbon and bows; handsome sons and pretty daughters all dressed up; and no money worries.
Then there is that woman who will trudge through Toys ’R’ Us sans makeup to find that last Frozen gift; burn her one and only batch of chocolate chip cookies; stab the air with the scissors, Psycho-style, as the gift bags run out before the pile of presents, threaten to take back the kids’ gifts when they peek in the closet, and beg the post office to lose the bills in January.
Did you catch the I Love Lucy Christmas Specialon December 7? The one-hour show comprised “The Christmas Episode” and “Job Switching.” In the latter, Lucy and Ethel tried, but ultimately—and hilariously—failed to keep up with the chocolate factory’s conveyor belt. A poll by the Paley Center for Media named the scene the “funniest TV moment of all time.” Indeed, one of the funniest shows of all time.
One of the unfunniest things writers deal with is punctuation. No one wants to interrupt a good idea wondering whether to insert a comma. But punctuation isn’t meant to make life miserable. It’s meant to clarify meaning. Consider the following: