Do You Blog?

Today I want to talk about the very essence of why you’re reading this post. You might be interested in sports, politics, movies, or books. Whatever the topic of culture that has encapsulated your attention, there’s a blog about it. Yes, you’ll find most of what other people like to talk about, argue, and go back and forth with each other until they’re blue in the face. Blogging has so many purposes and I not only want to talk a little about these topics, but how they can relate to your muse and overall writing style. Also, I want to show you how I got to this point because all bloggers are writers and some writers are bloggers. Either way you slice it, writing is the core to why you are here, staring at your screen.

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Blogging helps us understand things that we haven’t mastered yet. They can include the previously mentioned topics or numerous other subtopics that cover every facet of culture out there. I’ve also previously talked about how inspiration fueled my muse to create characters, situations, and other aspects of the writing process. Would you be surprised that almost all bloggers use these same techniques to create the perfect blog post? I assume not. Much thought can be put into a blogpost. Some of us will take hours, and maybe even days to try and perfect the quintessential post. Some of us can just figure out a topic in seconds, then turn it into a quality post within an hour. 

Yes, maybe if you were the latter, you would be a lot more productive in your quest for a successful blogging experience, but either way you could find success when using the proper tools. Some of those tools include a better-than-good recall of popular, and not-so-popular, cultural aspects which could include movies, sports, music, and politics. The more you know, the easier it becomes.

Like U2 once said “Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own”.  Whether you are new to blogging or just haven’t mastered all the concepts yet, someone knows more than you. I will speak from personal experience. In order to get my blogposts into fully functional mode, I used the help of someone who knows a thing or two about blogging. I know the writing part, including how to use prose and display my knowledge of those cultural aspects, but I needed to tweak it. I wanted it to look good. My friend helped me out with the basics and what you see here was a product of my writing and his expertise.

Lastly, as you can see, there are many aspects to become a halfway decent blogger. It can come from inspiration, skill of writing, patience, knowledge of how to make it look “full” and stronger, and most of all, your valuable time.  So, whether you spend days on end creating the “perfect” blog post or finish a draft within an hour’s time, the same elements are at work in producing the results that you want and ultimately what your reader wants to see. In closing, I hope you enjoyed reading this blogpost about blogging; I put a good hour into creating it.

Paragraphic Rift: Have you imposed narrative Temporality?

7: Have you imposed narrative Temporality? 

What is narrative Temporality? 

Temporality and impermanence go together, for such is measured by the ticking clock, the circling shadow, the palpitating heart, or a single tear streaking down a lovelorn face. Sometimes a single moment can weigh more than the world. 

Into everyone’s life, a little rain must fall, yet rain is also needed in order to preserve life. Vitality spills from the elements and is tried by them, and then passes back into them, energy dancing in and out of existence’s frame. A mere blink and being comes and goes, with each unit following the prefabricated biological action. Such is maturation, it happens to everything before entropy hastens decline. This universal occurrence defines matter, but spirit is external, invisible, and marks the transitions as they click by. Like a cosmic hologram playing out timelessly again and again. 

Photo by Suzanne D. Williams on Unsplash

“The Hologram” 

Wise old timers see a rhythm or pattern in the lives they learn about so that at the end many say that life feels like a story, with chapters, dramatic themes, ups and downs, twists, and a hero’s journey in it for the bargain. Certain days meet certain nights, in an age of development, in a generation of particular bliss or tribulation, and the many are changed by another season turning in an uncertain world. Generation gap (external trial) or generational crisis (internal trial) bring hive-minded conformers or nonconformists who think free of the mind cage

Individualism is the prize of freedom, justice, and prosperity, and yet some people or concepts go far to set themselves apart from the many, under any circumstances or trials. These are influential characters: protagonists, antagonists, hero, antihero, villain, thrall, etc. 

Photo by Mak on Unsplash

Seasons in life: 

1st model: 
  • Birth / Life / Death = existence 

  • Beginning / Middle / End = a story 

2nd model: 
  • Nut, germination, sprout, sapling, tree, nut = a forest 

  • Information, Transformation, Replication, Termination = life cycle 

A tree bears fruit of its own kind, and by such is it known. The soil in which its seed was planted suffered it’s germination, but how spitefully? How rich is the soil? How much rain found it? What of storms, frosts, fires, or plucking fingers? These factors shape the hologram of any growing thing, evidencing the holographic all. Adversity challenges through extremes and is marked by a seasonal yield. Crops are generations, and a generational account is a harvest tally. 

Seasonal Development of a subject 
  • Outer / Calendrical Time: important dates / durations 

  • Inner / Emotional Time: important moments / events 

Seasons of development illustrate generational/narrative Temporality, that which marks any progress of forms and or character/style. These things may offer generational bridges to be crossed, and on the echoing green there are no gaps or delineations. 

And so it is important to take youths and elders back to moments of temporal shift, so that generations have a common reference point, and a character may be humanized and relatable. A first drive/ride, a walk under summer’s moonlight, the heart shape encased initials carved into trees by youthful kissers, the field where a boy saw his first dead body, where a girl found her maidenhood, where the orphan childhood ended, or the dawning of war. 

That where is a when, and can be flashed back to or dreamscaped into developmental seasons/episodes whereby characters or concepts may be continually shaped. A scar. A favor. A smile. A good beating. How the growth weathers it’s environment reveals much about it’s nature/character. 

Development is disposition. Are they weathered, delicate, perfect, deficient? This suffering or treatment of growth and developmental concepts visits the heart space the way that timelessness does, but instead of coming from out of cosmic nowhere these factors are the product of a systemic wheel of seasons, and that difference is as important as it is opposite to Temporality. 

Natural themes predominate temporal matters, as opposed to supernatural or ethereal influences. We must simulate life experiences and so social development (or lack thereof) in our characters and or world, so that a sense of narrative progress and evolution may be shared with the reader. This is how living things in the text come to life, and how that character’s life is touched by temporality. 

Paragraphic Rift: Have you Weaponized the Core?

6: Have you Weaponized the Core?

What is the Core? 

The Core is value. Taking stock of what you have and remembering bereavements. It is defying the threat of preservation against opposition if it be by destiny, foes, or legal decree so that a narrative is humanized, or brought to a dehumanized state. Concepts like extinction, annihilation, devolution, damnation, etc, may be used as a proper crisis to test the core. The stakes must be raised in order to sync core values and elevate dramatic themes. 
Photo by Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash
Weaponize the Core 

In sci-fi like Star Trek, when the antimatter core is ready to go up, the mission is put on hold until the situation is resolved. Or… they have to abandon ship. There are even times when the ship’s core may be weaponized, and the order given for ramming speed or warp jump into a target. It’s all or nothing, do AND die, this done to pay a debt or buy time for a desperate plan. 

Such dire conditions bring dense gravity to the narrative and a sense of unexpectedness, which sometimes passes for surprise, but in either case, does not dump shock the reader. It is critical that the reader is drawn in by what is done to the core because it is their own core that is of chief concern. 

Empathy is needed in order for the flavor of hero, antihero, villain, etc to drive home what is at stake and so what may be lost. Like when a muse flash is obliterated due to a lack of paper or time. When we focus on forever in a departed now, what might be lost in a moment becomes precious. 
Weaponize to emphasize 

There is another core, one of liberty, morality, principles, and justice. If you see someone suffering, the instant reaction is to wonder why. Some have it coming for misdeeds wrought or crimes against the just and innocent, but “why” isn’t the point we are making here. The point is what abuse, punishments, torture, and incarceration do to both writer and reader. 
Empathic Index: 
  • broken anatomy – outer vulnerability  

  • parading anatomy – external vulnerability  

  • visceral anatomy – internal vulnerability 

  • diseased anatomy – inner vulnerability 

  • abominable anatomy – cosmic vulnerability 

Photo by Alexandru Acea on Unsplash
Such vulnerability should move an audience emotionally, or harden their hearts.  

Important Questions: Do we care about what’s happening? If not, why not? Do they, the victim, have it coming? 

According to each person’s deeds and intentions, that is how people should be treated, and when that treatment is deformed, distorted, or warped by agenda or hatefulness, a character (or culture) may be traumatized by abuse or violated through an unjust ruling. Out of suffering comes great measures of behavioral accentuation, for good or evil, and so one of a kind characters, nations, or situations may emerge. 
  • Trauma as (is) teacher 
  • What is a sacrifice? 
  • How best to assign value to blood? 
  • Violence, violation, deprivation, intimidation 

When writing fiction, you cannot get away from themes of violence, sex, and conquest. The body is THE common ground, for embodiment of spirit is synonymous with being alive. Many such themes have suggestions, implications, and out and out consequences for characters and plot so that the narrative gains mass. 

The artful wielding of trauma, or an escape from its possibility, brings a lot to the table for readers. Losing a hand, an eye, a child, a kingdom, a planet, a parent, a bride, can make all the difference in a character’s life, altering them in ways that otherwise would never have been possible.  After all… Do any of us truly know what we have until it’s gone? 

This Trauma as (is) teacher thing sounds cruel or demented from the outside, or at the very least a bit overboard. However, when it comes to myth and that which is mythic, there is no such thing as overboard. All the fables, myths, legends, and fairy tales are blood-soaked and reaching into incubus. Are we not to learn from and build on these elder Texts, just as our famed literary masters have done? 

No author mindful of cultural backlash is trying to trigger someone, yet the form of myth compels said author to explore beyond the expectations set by creative yesterday. That is why genre and demographic funnel audiences the way they do. No one wants to ruin someone’s day, yet all the greatest tales in mankind’s library touch us so because they are at least brutal, and at worst traumatizing so as to be remembered always… The collective core having been weaponized against an engaged audience for their entertainment and inspiration.

Pass It On: Can’t Write? Don’t feel like Writing? Write Anyway.

We all have days when we don’t feel like writing. Things get in the way. The kids need something, and they always need something. Your mom calls and asks you to help her with something she saw crawl out from under the sink. Or you might not be in the mood.

Writing as Therapy

Do yourself and all of us readers a favor. Write. Write even though every fiber of your being screams that you don’t have the time, or that what you’ll write will be crap. It’s okay. Write the crap and get it out of your system. Who knows? Some of that crap could lead to something interesting.

There’s a concept called “free writing.” Free writing is where you sit in a quiet space with a pad and a pen. For ten minutes up to thirty minutes, write down whatever comes into your mind. The key is to get the pen moving even if you write about not having anything to write about. You will soon be writing something. Free writing is used a lot by psychic mediums to pick up a presence in a place where there is a haunting, but it’s also beneficial to free your mind from the clutter.

Let the Ideas Flow 

Stuck somewhere that is not usually a proper place to write? Write in this place whether you’re waiting for someone to finish their shopping or at the hospital’s emergency room. Pull out your journal and write something. It’s good therapy that can clear your mind and also take your mind off of worrying needlessly. Writing is good for the soul, and your thoughts never have to leave the journal.

Let your finished draft rest for two or three months. I know that’s hard, but absence makes the novel grow better. If you now look at your work as a reader, you’ll see what works better for the story. While you’re waiting, play with the story in a separate place. Where are the characters now? What were they doing before you set pen to paper? Are there other adventures waiting for your people now that you’ve gotten them to your story’s end? Think about it. What harm could it do to combine writing therapy with character and event exploration?

Are you stuck on where to take your current story? Take the opportunity to write out possible ideas for your characters and their predicaments. Even if your ideas make no sense or don’t fit with the story you’re writing, that’s okay. Write it out. You may find another story waiting for you in your rambling thoughts.

Poor Winston Churchill: Drawing From Experience to Influence Your Writing

Previously, I talked about how movies, TV shows, and other media influence our writing process. Today, I want to talk about how your own past can influence your muse. I want to touch on things that not only inspired me to write about, but briefly shed a light on how some of the best have drawn from their lives.  The written page can also transcend to the big screen when it comes to this.
My first example comes from the “king” of horror himself, Stephen King.  When reading one of his novels, I came across an excerpt regarding his thoughts on personal inspiration.  He disclosed that when he wrote Pet Sematary, he was inspired by events of his own life. He went into detail about the setting of the story and how it related to the very home that he and his family purchased a very long time ago.

A True Horror Classic

Some of the details that he disclosed involved the big rig trucks featured in both the book and the movie. So, you might have been sitting on your couch in front of the TV or resting on your bed after reading a few chapters when thinking, “Where does he come up with this stuff?” Indeed, some of the best don’t even have to tap into their imagination to come up with the material for their manuscript or screenplay. He got away with it, but was honest in the process, giving credit to his own past experiences. Now, I would like to share with you a couple of personal experiences that influenced me to write. One of these moments came from a dream I had as a young adult. I wrote a scene recently about a robot from the future. In the dream, he was slowly making his way in the direction of the story’s main protagonist. Even though this dream lasted just seconds, it inspired me to write about it more than 15 years later! It was the perfect fit. I was able to successfully draw upon the dream and make sense of the narrative at the same time. A second experience I had was based on an early childhood memory. My recall is not that bad as I was able to use an event from when I was about three years old. I was in the pool messing around with the other kids. I mixed it into the protagonist’s life story and it once again fit like a glove! A good memory can go a long way and help to inspire even the most minute experiences in your manuscript or screenplay. Whether you’re Stephen King or even a writer who has yet to be published, these examples will hopefully inspire you to tap into a part of yourself that has been dormant for quite some time. Also, maybe something tangible like a high school yearbook or a class photo can help your muse. Just remember the next time you write, keep that pen or cell phone handy. Even an idea within a fleeting moment might change the direction of your work.

Pass It On: Some Positive Quotes for Writers

Writing is an intense and rewarding solo effort, as much as musical composition or painting is. There are no partners or helpers in any of these arts, nor can there ever be. The creation of music, painting or a story can only come from a single hand.

Just as Gershwin could only create the magnificence that is Rhapsody In Blue, so it is that a writer has to tap into their own mind, experiences and talent to craft something that they can only hope someone will want to read.

Writing can be a lonely, frustrating business, but don’t get me wrong. Some writers need that. Others need a more positive mindset. With that in mind, I’ve compiled a list of quotes from and by authors about their craft. It is my hope that you will find them inspiring to your inner genius.

What Inspires You?
Writing is something you do alone. Its a profession for introverts who want to tell you a story but don’t want to make eye contact while doing it.”John Green

I write for the same reason I breathe – because if I didn’t, I would die.”Isaac Asimov

Read a thousand books, and your words will flow like a river.” – Lisa See

The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.” – Terry Pratchett

You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.” – Octavia E. Butler

You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.” – Jodi Picoult

Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. There are no exceptions to this rule.” – Stephen King

Write a short story every week. It’s not possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row.” – Ray Bradbury

There is only one plot – things are not what they seem.” – Jim Thompson

Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.”Stephen King

Some writers confuse authenticity, which they ought always to aim at, with originality, which they should never bother about.” – W.H. Auden

Read, read, read. Read everything – trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.”William Faulkner

If you write one story, it may be bad; if you write a hundred, you have the odds in your favor.”Edgar Rice Burroughs

Serious writers write, inspired or not. Over time they discover that routine is a better friend than inspiration.”Ralph Keyes

The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it ­honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.”Neil Gaiman

If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”Stephen King

Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” – Louis L’Amour

The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” – Sylvia Plath

Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” – Anton Chekhov

I’ve always been into ‘fast-paced, don’t bore ’em, keep it moving along, stick with the story.’ You know: tell a story the way I want to hear a story.”James Patterson

When your story is ready for rewrite, cut it to the bone. Get rid of every ounce of excess fat. This is going to hurt; revising a story down to the bare essentials is always a little like murdering children, but it must be done.”  Stephen King

Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don’t see any.” – Orson Scott Card

First, find out what your hero wants, then just follow him!”Ray Bradbury

If the book is true, it will find an audience that is meant to read it.” – Wally Lamb

Your intuition knows what to write, so get out of the way.”Ray Bradbury

I think all writing is a disease. You can’t stop it.” – William Carlos Williams

A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” – Richard Bach

I believe myself that a good writer doesn’t really need to be told anything except to keep at it.” – Chinua Achebe

Do you have a favorite writer’s quote? Share it with us on our Facebook page or over on Twitter!

The Strong Female Character

I think you would be amazed at the notion that if you create a character, in some capacity, you might begin to feel for that character.  The whole concept of character development is initially intended to make the reader want to root for them in one way or another.  But what if you had read 300 pages of a novel and all of a sudden you begin to feel for the character? It’s typical for a writer to become vested in said character, but to a reader it’s somewhat different.

If you can pull off good character development, then getting the reader to buy in might be easy, but it can be difficult.  Use of emotions and dialogue can press the issue when creating a character’s persona. You want your character to have layers. You want them to care about others and be cared for in the same notion.  Without these, it can be quite difficult to root for that particular character.  Build their persona with experiences in the novel. You can even do it with flashbacks. 

Laura Linney’s character on Netflix’s Ozark
is a great example of a strong female character.

Most importantly, you want the reader to care about what’s happening to all of your main characters. Without that care, they might as well not even read the book.  What’s the purpose? If we don’t care about the character, what is our purpose of reading it? That is the most important aspect of the book.  Any author can conjure up a good setting, action sequence, or tangible description of a character’s being.  Here are some pointers as far as what to look for in developing a character we want to root for.

First, build a foundation with a detailed description of not just what they look like physically, but also their personality specifically. For example, in a novel I’m working on now, we are introduced to Amanda Smith,one of the main protagonists, but the character development doesn’t focus on her. It focuses on her mother. We know Smith can be tough as nails and not take any flack from any opposition. Where does she get it? You guessed it. From her mother. Forming a relationship indirectly in that fashion gives us an idea of the family dynamic.

Next, we use dialogue to really get in the head of her mother.  She’s a cool customer when she needs to be. Her dialogue shows it. An excerpt from the novel shows us that she knows when to do what she has to do. “Get your ass in here now, Amanda Smith. You’ve got a lot of explaining to do!” or “Denise Smith slowly sipped her golden, brown tea.” This builds consistency throughout the novel.  It’s actually an inconsistent consistency, but it works. She can be a hard ass in one scene but, low key in the next. It’s all part of character. The behavior becomes a “consistent thing” as you go deeper into the novel.

Lastly, I want to share that I’m guilty as charged. I feel for her character and haven’t even finished the novel yet!  I want to know what she eats for breakfast and what she’s going to do when she finds out that Amanda has yet again skipped detention to go to the mall with her friends. I give a crap about what she wears around the house and what her favorite TV show is, whether it’s The Wire or Ozark.

Point made. This is what happens when the author grips you with good character development. I sure hope a good future awaits Denise Smith!

Need Writing Inspiration? Try Travelling

Sometimes, when writing, the words flow like water from a broken spigot. You see the scene clearly in your mind. The setting is perfectly situated. You hear the character’s words directly from their mouths. You devise a perfectly pithy way to describe how they are dressed. And all you have to do is transcribe what you see in your mind’s eye onto the page.
But other times, the process is…not so smooth.
So what should you do in times like those, when you need a fresh perspective on the world? Maybe go out and get an actual fresh perspective by travelling.
Visiting new cities and faraway lands is a great way to kick start your imagination. Did you know that Cinderella’s castle was inspired by a real castle in Bavaria? Neuschwanstein Castle, right on the southern border of Germany, is a famous tourist destination and includes a precarious walk across a bridge that provides a breathtakingly spectacular view of the castle. Not many people will see it in their lifetimes but as Cinderella’s castle is the first image shown in almost every Disney movie, its legacy will live on, just because an animator was inspired by Neuschwanstein.
It really is spectacular, but that bridge leaves much to be desired.
Recently, I used my vacation to New Orleans as the inspiration for a short story to be included with our Corporate Gothic anthology. “The Doll With Scorch-Mark Eyes” takes a few of the sights and locations I experienced when I visited NOLA a few years ago. I only used snippets from the time I was there, but the memory of that vacation is what spurred the idea of the story. Would I have written that story if I’d never taken that vacation? Possibly, but it wouldn’t feel as authentic as it does.
I could write 1,500 words on these beignets alone
Now I understand that going on exotic vacations on a whim just to find a little bit of inspiration to breathe life into your writing is a bold thing to say. Not everyone has the resources to do such a thing. Of course, there’s the monetary constraints; travelling is expensive and a lot of people are lucky to visit even one foreign country in their lifetime. Or hell, even another state.
There’s also the notion that not everyone can get away from work. Not all jobs provide vacation time and a paycheck is necessary to keep the lights on. But there are other ways to experience different settings that don’t require a massive financial output.
(And yes, we’re currently in the midst of a global pandemic. That is a definite hindrance to travel. But hopefully that won’t last forever and we’ll be free to move about the planet once again.)
You can always just travel someplace out of your regular zone. Breaking out of a rut often requires moving out of a comfort zone, so something as simple as visiting another city is enough to spark the imagination. Take a day trip and drive, or hop on a train if you live close to a station, to your nearest big city. I happen to live equidistant to both Manhattan and Philadelphia so my options are open to me. But can you make a trip to Boston? St. Louis? Miami? Then do so. Sure, the price of gas is a burden and finding parking is a hassle but is it worth it to kindle your art?
Maybe you’re too far from the city. Try visiting a local park. Look at the trees around you. Smell the aroma of the flowers in bloom. Bring a few slices of bread and sit on a bench, feeding the birds. Getting away from your regular environment, like the drab walls of your local coffee house or the stale air in your home office, can bring an exciting change of pace. Who knows what kind of story it could ignite within you? Perhaps a children’s book where a fish helps a squirrel rescue its nut from the depths of the pond. (I call dibs on that one, though.)
But there’s another method you could use to experience new surroundings: Google Street View.
Google Street View allows users to upload panoramic shots of different locations. So if, for example, you need to know what the buildings around Wrigley Field look like but can’t make it to Chicago, Street View has you covered.
It’s not perfect, though. There tends to be a lot of bodies littering the landscape, and less visited places will likely have few, if any, pictures available, but that means that more touristy locations will have an option of different views, which gives you a variety of input. I’ve used Street View a few times to give me the sense of certain buildings that I’ve written into my stories.
Maybe you’re writing a story about New York City and a scene takes place in Central Park. Pull up Google Street View and you can get a bugs-eye view of different areas of the park. You can see the Alice in Wonderland statue from down on the ground, and get a feeling of the surrounding land. See the children climbing up onto the mushroom and getting in the Mad Hatter’s face. These little flourishes can add life and majesty to your story and you can get them without even leaving your house. And if you’re stuck, fire up the old Street View and type in a landscape; say Alcatraz. Seeing three stories of cell stacked on top of each other might give you a great hook to write a sequel to The Rock.
Or use it to check out the Balto statue in Central Park.
Every writer gets stuck in their career. It can be debilitating if you let it or it can be a sign that you need to break out of the routine and try something new. If you have the resources and the wherewithal to visit a new place, you should. You never know what it might spark within you and add to your craft. But if you don’t have those resources, you may just have to think outside the box a little. There are always ways you can experiences those new locations that fit within your budget.