Emotive Writing: One More Time with Feeling

Movies have music.  TV has directors. Artists have color and texture. What do writers have to create the perfect mood for a scene?

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Words.

Jan exited the front door of her house, headed down the sidewalk and entered the waiting vehicle with driver.  They drove down the street and around the corner and introduced the car to the Mack Truck parked in the road. Death came.

Um…okay. That is a facts only account.  How can we spice it up?  Let’s try adding some power verbs.

 2130922569_1e01da2b88 Jan slammed the front door of her house, bolted down the sidewalk and jumped into the waiting vehicle with driver.  They sped down the street and around the corner and smashed the car into the Mack Truck parked in the road. Death ensued.

Hmm, better.  How about some impact in our nouns?

Jan slammed the screen door of her home, bolted down the cobblestone path and jumped into the waiting Porsche with her boyfriend.  They sped down Maplewood and around the cul-de-sac and smashed the classic sports car into the Mack Truck parked in the suburban neighborhood. Death ensued.

Well, those are great word choices, but do you have a nagging impression that something is still missing?  If so, you are right on the money.  There is no emotion in the paragraph.

Emotion is a writer’s ticket to moving stories from newsprint to novel, from flat and bland to staggering depth.

Many writers struggle with emotion in writing.  They lack an intimate connection with the drama of the scene.  I want to demonstrate how emotion can change a scene.

3271754319_859a4d60f3Let’s take our improved scene from above and play around with the emotions.  See if you can identify the emotion evoked in each rewrite.  Then practice in your own works of art.

Screaming at her father, Jan slammed the screen door of her home, bolted down the cobblestone path and jumped into the waiting Porsche with her boyfriend.

“Get me out of here! I hate him!” She growled.

Jimmy smirked. It worked. He had succeeded in driving a wedge between Jan and her father. He shoved the gas pedal to the floor.

They sped down Maplewood and around the cul-de-sac. Scanning her long tanned legs, Jim’s gaze made its way slowly up to her face.  Perfection!  She was his possession now.  Dear Daddy was out of the picture, finally.

“JIM!” Jan screamed. He jerked his attention to the road just before he smashed the classic sports car into the Mack Truck parked in the suburban neighborhood.

“I knew you’d be the death of me,” he gurgled through blood soaked teeth as he watched Jan’s life seep into the concrete.

What did you feel? Disgust? Anger? Justice? Confused? Frustrated? This was an exaggerated example, butminor changes can evoke emotion.   Now, let’s play with the feeling de jour.

“Bye, Daddy, see you soon!” Jan slammed the screen door of her home, bolted down the cobblestone path and jumped into the waiting Porsche with her boyfriend.

Leaning over the console, Jimmy gently embraced her and kissed her lips, gazing into her eyes.  Heat spread through her skin at his touch.

“Are you nervous?” His voice was tender as he stroked her cheek.

“A little,” butterflies wrestled in her stomach. “But I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with you, Jimmy.”

He kissed her again, then started the engine to take them into their future together.  He laced his fingers through hers as they sped down Maplewood and around the cul-de-sac.

She leaned over and nestled into his shoulder, he was her soon-to-be-husband and the love of her life. He closed his eyes and planted a kiss on the top of her head.

“Jim!” she screamed. He jerked up just as he smashed the classic sports car into the Mack Truck parked in the suburban neighborhood.

The life they would never have flashed through her mind and she stretched a trembling blood-drenched hand to touch his cheek one last time.  They entered eternity, forever together.

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Emotion plays a huge role in telling the whole story, if we had changed our verbs in this example, we could have really created a softer, more romantic scene, especially with a slower more lyrical pace. Let’s try it one more time with a different feeling.

“Jimmy!” Jan squealed and slammed the screen door of her home, bolted down the cobblestone path and jumped into the waiting Porsche with her boyfriend.

“How’s my girl?” His eyes twinkled with mischief.

“I can’t wait to get to the beach! Party!” Jan reached down and pressed the button so the convertible top would roll back. She threw her face toward the sun and raised her arms.  Jim punched the stereo and Nicki Minaj blared into the blue sky.

Laughing and slapping playfully at each other to the booming base beat, they sped down Maplewood and around the cul-de-sac.

Jan sang and bounced along with the rap song. She rolled her shoulders and sent a wave through her arm to Jimmy’s bicep.  He bobbed his head to the beat and watched Jan maneuver through several crump moves.

Blinking away the flare of sunlight reflecting from something enormous in the road in front of them, they smashed the classic sports car into the Mack Truck parked in the suburban neighborhood.

A blood covered beach ball bounced down the street and the mangled teens flew from the car and skidded across the pavement. Nicki Manaj “Till the World Ends” vibrated in the puddles of oil, gasoline, and blood.

6768927805_61c04d9a26Okay, well happy death is not exactly easy, but you get the idea.  So jump into your WIP’s and rewrite it one more time, with feeling!

Try your hand at creating a different mood for the scene above in the comment section below, or just leave a helpful hint that you have learned about creating the right mood in a scene.

 

 

SunglassesLaDonna Cole loves to write fantasy/fiction, songs, and poetry. You can read samples of her work on her author pageAmazon_logo-8.

Or at www.HeartworkVillage.com,

immortalportals@wordpress.com,  or connect at

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Career Killers

The holidays are tucked away for another year, we have survived the family gatherings, company parties, and our own inability to refrain from the decadent food stuffs.  Now, I’d like to help you survive in your career.

Writing is a business with the author at the center and just like any other business can be enhanced or broken by the CEO.   You as the author are the CEO of your business and your career swings on your decisions and actions.

With a well-kept secret degree in Organizational Management and a Nursing Specialty in Psychiatric Behavior and a writer by choice, I am in a unique position to give you some pointers on how to conduct yourself as a professional and bring life to your business of writing.

Watch out for these three career killing characters.

Self-fulfilling Sally

Dear Sally is an amazing writer, but she doesn’t know it.  She struggles with self-image and sees everyone as better, brighter, more polished. Her peers have poured praise into her, and she loves it, but deep inside, Sally knows it isn’t true.  She works hard at writing and has some amazing stories under her belt, but Sally won’t move forward.  She is stuck.  She may send something off to an agent or publisher, but something is always wrong with it, ensuring the self-fulfilling prophecy of rejection.  She is disgruntled and overly sensitive, and undermines her own credibility, setting herself up for failure.

Be aware of your own self sabotaging behaviors.  If the same outcomes repeatedly happen to you, take an inventory.  Make a list of behaviors that you may be rehashing and actively seek solutions to rid yourself of them.

Unprofessional Ursula

The life of the party, the class clown, or the easy breezy Ursula is the girl everyone wants for a friend.  She is funny, witty, and blast for girls’ night out.  With a ready quip, she keeps groups from becoming too intense. But Ursula can really bend a phrase and speckle it with interjections that aren’t appropriate for business conversation.  She types her email responses in all caps screaming at her readers.  She speaks/reacts before she thinks and puts words into the internet ether that she can’t bring back. If you follow her blog or Facebook account you will be inundated with her constant complaints of this person or that person or how she has been mistreated here or there. All those typed words, all of those status updates and blogs are read by friends and business acquaintances and they work to undermine her credibility and professional image.

Keep this mantra in your head.

“Don’t type it, post it, or say it until the emotion has faded.”

Another good mantra is

“Respond, don’t react!”

Even the most reasonable of us can be tempted to rattle off a response in an emotional knee-jerk reaction.  Make a habit of stepping away, pulling your hands away from the keyboard and not falling into the unprofessional trap of public ranting.  Spoken/Posted words that you can’t retract will crash your professional image if you aren’t careful.

Codependent Carl

Carl is a classic rescuer.  He doesn’t know it.  He thinks he is helping, assisting, teaching, or just being a good guy.  He will constantly go above and beyond the call of duty to win the praise and gratitude of his coworkers and friends. A People Pleaser with a capital “P,” Carl loves to be the hero and come up with fantastic and creative solutions to the group’s problems.  All is fine and well until his co-workers don’t respond to his helpfulness in the way he expected.  Then Codependent Carl crashes into a mess of “I don’t understand, I was just trying to help! I did it all for them! How can they treat me that way?”  It is a cycle that merry-go-rounds throughout Carl’s life, because he doesn’t know his behavior is codependent.

Whether you collaborate in a blog like the Blue Monkeys or coauthor a book, or manage a team of editors, proofreaders and betas, you are going to come across codependent behavior.  Maybe it is you. Maybe it is Ursula or Sally, but at some point it is going to be crucial that you recognize the codependent cycle and step off the merry-go-round.

Key emotions will flag that you have been sucked into a codependent cycle.

Need to Please:  an intense need for affirmation leads to over and above behaviors with a secondary gain of acceptance. The difference between an exceptionally productive employee and a codependent personality lies in the secondary gain.  Does the outcome equally benefit the entire group or mostly bring acclaim to the employee.

Guilt: even though you did not appreciate what your coworker did, you now feel guilty for stating your opinion.  A codependent personality cannot take “no” for an answer.  Anytime constraints are placed on their wonderful idea, they will have a meltdown.  Accusations, innuendo, and right out name calling will commence.

Shifting Loyalties:  Factions may emerge; this side against that side.  That is the greatest indicator that your team is about to blow up and take your career down the tubes. Stop the tidal rush to divide into sides.  Begin peace making speech. “There are no bad guys here.” “Everyone’s opinion matters.” “We can agree to disagree.” The best one I’ve found. “You are right. Let’s step back and take another look.”

Break the Cycle

 

Recognize the behaviors and step out of the cycle.  Prevent emotional hostages from being taken by closing down the rant asap.  Don’t apologize for having a contradicting opinion. You are allowed to voice an opinion with firm and polite conviction.

Step out of the cycle at any point to break the chain.

 

Managing a business can be time consuming and energy draining, especially for creative types. You have the power to make your career as a writer or break it.  Keep a watchful eye out for Self-fulfilling Sally, Unprofessional Ursula, and Codependent Carl and you will be on your way to managing a successful writing career.

What other issues do you see as potential career killer?  Share with us your insights on how to keep them out of our professional lives.

(Previously published on Read Write Muse’s former site.)

La

 

LaDonna Cole RN CM, CART, is a Registered Psychiatric Nurse and Care Manager, she obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Organizational Management from Covenant College and Nursing Degree from Midwestern State University.  Over the years she has Coordinated and Managed several fine arts programs, music departments, and nonprofit organization staff.  She currently resides in Tennessee and writes fiction as a second job to her Nursing Care Manager position.

Book Release! Through the Portal: A Read Write Muse Anthology

It has been a pleasure to be counted among the amazing group of authors at Read Write Muse. When we first started our blogging adventure over two years ago, none of us was published and there were only about seven or so of us. We’ve grown to a total of sixteen now and seven of us have been published.  Well, today that number goes up significantly. Thirteen of the sixteen current Musers are now published with the release of our first anthology.

Through the Portal is a collection of short story fiction, songs, poems, and inspirational non fiction united by the theme of a portal.

Through the Portal: A Read Write Muse Anthology

The portal experts at Read Write Muse invite you to escape into imagination through this portal story collection.

Jump through time to new worlds, indulge in pizza, chocolate, and romance. Fight evil villains, transport with innocent souls, and glimpse into that final portal awaiting us all.

Authors, bloggers, song writers and poets collaborate to bring you stories sprinkled with ethereal prose, whimsical humor, and heart pounding thrills. Through the Portal beckons you to unlock the adventure.
Including the works of Annie Adams, Andrea Asay, J.S. Bailey, LaDonna Cole, Katie Cross, Laura Custodio, Rob Holliday, S. R. Karfelt, Kelsey Keating, D. M. Kilgore, Emily Grace Ogle, Natalie J. Pierson, and Kimberly Robertson.

RWM will donate $1 per book sale to a cancer related charity for one year.

portal FB cover banner

 

 

Blue Harvest Creative, our publishing partners, have designed a gorgeous cover and interior as well as e-book and print campaigns.

D. M. Kilgore and fellow Muser has featured the Mad Musers on her Musing Mondays column at her web page. She makes us sound so good!

Six Word Synopsis from some the Portal Stories

 My Daddy’s Hands: Poem honoring fatherly influence on daughter.

Suzy Quimby Rides the Bus: Flash Fiction

Portal Potty: Epiphanies happen in unlikely places.

Love Unleashed: Don’t poke the momma bear.

My Promise: When the cared for becomes the caregiver.

Puddle-Jumper: Somethings even time-travel can’t change.

 Portly Portal Problem: Immortal human gets stuck in portal.

Rochelle’s Pizza Run: Sometimes acquiring pizza takes drastic measures.

The Wish: Lost souls and sidewalk chalk.

The Bridge: Love lives on beyond the rainbow.

Other Real: Another reality shares our space.

Shadow Land Motel: Some tourist traps are literal.

Halcyon Catholicon – Step right up, another life awaits.

With Heaven as My Guide: Imagination is a portal to adventure.

Hotspot – The portal between places is thin.

Chocolate Brimstone: Boy seeks comfort over father’s death.

Machination – Some portals should never be opened.

Staring Down the Portal: Death’s face can be intimidated.

You don’t want to miss this lovely collection! Check us out here.

BLANK

Today is the release of Blank, a shieldmaiden’s voice by S.R. Karfelt. I had the pleasure of beta reading this prequel to WOA and S.R. Karfelt does not disappoint.

Some people have a hard time fitting into the world.

dog_tagsAll of her life Carole Blank has been a little faster, a little stronger, and a little uncooperative. The voices in her head want her to follow their rules, and although they’re usually right, Carole doesn’t always listen.

As a Marine, Carole’s unnatural abilities and penchant for fighting are useful. Unfortunately, her inability to follow orders over the demands of the voices gets her into trouble.

Enter Lieutenant Colonel Ted White, a man she is inexplicably drawn to. A man who sentences her to the life of an assassin, while denying her the only thing she’s ever wanted—him.

Follow the journey of a woman born in the wrong world, as she fights for a place to belong and sacrifices everything for those she loves.

BLANK is a prequel and Book Two in the Warrior of the Ages series.

Rarely do you find a story that takes you so deep into a character’s psyche and setting. You will taste the coconuts, feel the grit of sand, flinch at the insult and injury, and beg her to heed the voices. You are going to fall in love with this beautifully written story and heart breaking protagonist.

See my interview with S. R. Karfelt on ObeytheMuse.com

Stephonjeep

Get Your Copy TODAY! I know I am. Click yes!

Blank cover

Let My People Go

 

columnsDesert heat broiled the air between the Pharaoh and the stuttering man at the bottom of the polished palace steps. Familiar eyes buried in creased skin and crass beard flashed recognition of the ruler’s inner conflict.

“Let my people go!” His voice was strong. No stuttered phrase, powerful audacious words poured from the intruder.

“Brother,” the Pharaoh stepped toward the man who was once his childhood playmate, sure he could be swayed to reason.  But the quartz in his dark eyes and the shift in his squared shoulders spoke otherwise.

The Pharaoh pressed his forehead to the cool stone of the massive column that supported the vaulted ceiling.  Smoothed with exacting precision and carved with intricate detail, the colossal column had stood for generations, unyielding, unwavering, and indestructible. The very traits of a good Pharaoh, it represented strength and endurance. Its carvings carried the story of his people, the soul of the Egyptians.

What story will I pass down?  Will it be one of power or one of defeat?

He ran his palm along the smooth pepper-flecked red stone of the column, calling through the ages to his ancestors to speak to him through the stately and graceful curve of the Palmimmovable monolith. He dug his fingertips into the trenches of carvings of the gods of his people.  He ran pensive eyes up to the palm that splayed to support the beam of his mighty palace. This behemoth pillar stood firm, the representation of his heritage, endurance.  His mind became as unbending as the granite beneath his fingers.

He snapped black eyes to the insolent man in front of him and spat. “I WILL NOT, let your people go.”

***

Can you see the column at the Pharaoh’s finger tips? Did you visualize it as the description poured out?  Did you feel you were standing there stroking the stone with the Pharaoh?

I did.

No, I really did.  I have a confession to make.  I robbed the British Museum in London, England. I walked right in and sauntered right out with invaluable artifacts. Before you call MI-6, let me explain.

The Heist

It was late. The museum was about to close. I had scurried around corners, up endless stairs, trailing behind five nimble teens, who were determined to see The Rosetta Stone, Egypt, Japan, and the Greek marbles before we had to leave. We snapped shots of mummies  and Samurai swords in a blur of activity, then we walked into a room and paused between two enormous stone columns. I looked down at the plaque, gaped in shock then reached out.  I touched the column that Moses stood before as he uttered the famous words. “Let my people go.”  It was a defining moment. The experience ran through the tips of my fingers and planted itself deeply in my soul. I stole away with the magical moment and I am undoubtedly richer because of it.

Experience is the ink with which the writer bleeds onto the page.

Without touching, tasting, feeling, smelling, living in the moment, we have trouble with description. We have to experience things, in order to fill our imaginations with fuel to write.

 

 

The Exodus

How do we capture, then release these experiences into our writing?

Retain

Drop the moment into your long term memory when it happens and rehearse it.

A different process for everyone, some use notebooks to scribble details down as they experience them. Some take pictures. I actively observe and purposely give myself phrases to remember.

Stonehenge LaDonna Cole

Stonehenge
LaDonna Cole

Fetid stench

the lichen encrusted stones

Swirling iridescent colors

intense longing from a place of depth, l I thought I was being turned inside out

Recall

Recalling the specifics when you get to a desk or computer can be strenuous. We are tempted to just write past the experience and move on with the story.  But if we will just pause, pull up the experience in our memories and ruminate on it a moment, we will begin to remember particulars. Detail is what differentiates a good piece from an excellent piece.

 Pause

             Pull up

                        Perceive

                                   Prognosticate

                                                             Prose

Release

Give your character permission to access the memory and play with it. Have the Pharaoh sink his fingertips into the column. Let your secret spy experience free fall through her own personality. Let the spittle and fetid breath of the gorilla blow back the hair of your protagonist. Give them permission to access your experiences. Let them be free to respond to the input in their own voice. What might have been exhilarating for you may be exhausting to your character.  Let her go, let him experience it through her/his own personality.

British Museum

British Museum

Let your people go!

 

LaDonna Cole in front of lichen encrusted stones of Stonehenge.

LaDonna Cole in front of lichen encrusted stones of Stonehenge.

 

See full article from Obey the Muse dot com.

Peacocks and Prose

Have you ever had the feeling someone was watching you? You know that weird sensation that creeps up the back of your neck and makes you turn your head to search out the culprit? That happened to me one day while I was at my desk.
My spine tingled and I slowly turned my head to the window beside me to see two beady eyes staring at me, 15 inches from my face. Those eyes were attached to a peacock.

A peacock!baak

He turned and strutted forward through the alley and was followed by a train of peacocks and peahens. I stepped outside and watched them strut through the neighborhood around the corner and over the back berm in a colorful parade. Occasionally, they would return and meander along the same path. Such pride and confidence exuded from them, I felt like a commoner along the procession route of a royal caravan, gawking at the splendor of true beauty.

Well written prose often leaves me feeling the same way– in awe of the author as they strut across the page in phrases as colorful as a peacock’s quill and words so flowery and exquisite that tears sprinkle. But how do we, as novelists, get out of the way and let the story shine through without our pride parading through the pages like proud peacocks? A difficult task, but if we can master the art of prosaic storytelling, then we might actually have a reason to strut.

Here are some tips to fill out our tail feathers and help us become the “Cock of the Walk” in prose.

peacock

Quill 1: BE CLEAR

The best prose is constructed in a way that is easy to follow. The meaning is clear and the words don’t distract from the message. Roz Morris says it this way. “Good prose doesn’t try to put up barriers. It might make interesting word choices and deploy an image stylishly, but it wants to be understood – deeply and completely.”

Murky example: Washing her mane, the rain barrel water became clouded spilling it over onto the pernicious puddles of printed mud and squishing between his appendages.

Say what? Who washed whose hair where and why do we care about mud squishing? The murky example has unmatched phrases and modifiers. We get the idea of the picture the writer was trying to create, but since it is so poorly constructed and the word choices are sketchy, it leaves us confused and frustrated.

Pristine example: Jose scooped a bucket of water from the rain barrel and poured it over Lisa’s head. Rivulets cascaded down her shapely back, dripping into the cloudy water and splashing over the edges of the wooden slats to the muddy red dirt…

All of the phrases have proper modifiers and it is clear to the reader who is doing what and where. It makes us curious and leads us forward into the story. We don’t get tripped up by the word choices and we know this is about two people in a specific place and time, doing a specific action. Even better, we want to know more about Jose and Lisa’s relationship. The writer led us down a path, stimulated our curiosity and encouraged us to turn the corner to see what comes next.

Clarity in writing is our first quill.

peacock

Quill 2: HIDE YOUR RESEARCH

Even the most experienced writers have a tendency to show off their hours of research. Unless you are writing a term paper for a college professor or a professional journal, we really don’t want to see facts spilled out on the page. It becomes preachy and disrupts the flow of the story. I know you put in hours and hours of research for a single sentence sometimes, but it’s better if we aren’t made aware of it. Don’t make your reader think, “Ooooh, this guy is a great researcher.” Keep the reader engrossed in the story.

Preachy example: Kim earned her nursing degree, that took her two years at a fully accredited school before she could take her NCLEX test for state licensure, so she knew exactly what symptoms of the diagnostic code for Undifferentiated Schizophrenia were present in her step-father.

Really? Is that what you want us to take out of this story?

Engrossing example:

“Aliens?” Kim clarified.
“Yes, they’re running through the back door with pink umbrellas!” Her stepfather’s eyes bulged and he pointed with one hand and protected his face with the other.
Kim whirled around, there was nothing coming through the back door. She slowly turned back to face her stepfather and chills crawled up her spine. He was hallucinating!  Years of nursing school lectures kicked in and she was overwhelmed with a sense of dread. Dad was schizophrenic!

Details add flavor to the story, but too many unnecessary facts will lull your readers to sleep or give them unexplainable urges to fling your book across the room.

peacock

Quill 3: KEEP THE BEAT

Words have not only rhyme, but rhythm. Listen to the pace your words are setting. Are you creating an intense scene? Your pacing should be quick and the rhythm choppy. Do you want to pull the reader into a melancholy mood? Long pensive sentences that evoke emotion are needed.

Tosca Lee is genius in this excerpt from Havah. Take note of the rhythm and movement of the words and how they evoke a certain feeling.

“A bird trilled. Near my ear: the percussive buzz of an insect. Overhead, tree boughs stirred in the warming air. I lay on a soft bed of herbs and grass that tickled my cheek, my shoulders, and the arch of my foot, whispering sibilant secrets up to the trees. From here I felt the thrum of the sap in the stem—the pulsing veins of the vine, the beat of my heart in harmony with hundreds more around me, the movement of the earth a thousand miles beneath. I sighed as one returning to sleep, to retreat to the place I had been before, the realm of silence and bliss—wherever that is.”
Lee, Tosca (2010-07-16). Havah (p. 3). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Could you sense the pulse of the words? She has used the feel and cadence of words to create an ethereal sensation of birth into a new world.

Now, in contrast read this example. Try to spot the mood that the author, Heather Burch creates in Halflings.

“Exhaustion squeezed each muscle, depriving them of strength. Likewise, it pushed at her consciousness, promising failure. When she thought her lungs might literally burst, a momentary, blinding flash of light sparked above her, as if the universe were snapping a picture of her dilemma. Within seconds of the spark of light, a sound descended.”
Burch, Heather (2012-01-31). Halflings (Kindle Locations 47-50). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

Quick paced, choppy consonants, we are running along with the character.

Now read this excerpt and see if you can spot the problems with rhythm.

“I needed to keep running away! Trying to escape from the weapon wielding intruder was difficult at best, heaviness settled around me drifting down on the backs of wafting snowflakes, tiredness overcame my senses and weary muscles strained to carry my body away from the murderous assailant. How had this happened? My imagination surged trying to make some semblance of reason as I continued forward in my hasty and unsighted escape to freedom’s beckoning voice.”

In this paragraph we understand the character is running away from a murderer, but we don’t get any urgency from the sentence structure and word choices. There is almost a sauntering feeling to the words.

Compare to this account:
“Run! Move those feet! The murderer lunged closer, his knife scraped my leg. I leaped away and tore through the snow covered parking lot. Tired, exhausted, I forced my legs to move. The murderer chased. Why me? Why did he choose to come after me? I dashed into the ally, bounded over a fallen trash bin, and streaked toward freedom.”

We are carried away with the character, immediately immersed in her panicked retreat. Instead of gathering facts, we feel the urgency.

Listen to the rhythm of your words and use them to create emotion, atmosphere, and moods in your prose.

Keep these three quills safely tucked into your collection of ideas and knowledge. When the time is right, pull them out, dip them into the ink well of your muse and write better prose. Before long we will have a train of Prosaic Peacocks to strut around the publishing world.

What Quills can you share with us to help improve our prose?

Images from Word clip art.

The Muse in My Closet

There is a little fairy that lives behind the curtain next to my desk.  Tucked in the darkness of the space-saving-organizer-unit, she hibernates unseen most of the time.  I call her Gladys.  She is timid and happy to stay sequestered away most days.  It is difficult to do my job without her and often I have to coax her out of the closet with chocolate.

I am a writer and Gladys is my muse.Muse

Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could call on our muse to come out and sit on our shoulders while we write?  Then tuck her away in a closet until the next time we crack our knuckles to type in our novels.  The muse in me is a persnickety little creature who shows up in the weirdest moments; when I am in the tub, or sound asleep, or driving, those times when finding a keyboard to type on are nearly impossible.  This causes a big problem.  When I need to write, the muse is often absent.

How do we encourage our creativity to appear when we need it?  Here are a few simple steps to coax Gladys out of the closet.

Feed Gladys

Just like any other fairy, Gladys needs nourishment.  She doesn’t eat peanut butter sandwiches (contrary to popular opinion). She needs inspiration. Three particular morsels will nourish Gladys above all others.

     Nature: The beauty of creation, vast and powerful, will give my inner muse weeks and weeks of creativity.

Hammock view
The ACTUAL view
from my hammock!

It doesn’t have to be the Grand Canyon or the white sands of the Bahamas, just the view from my hammock is enough to purge the dull and help my inspiration soar to new heights.

Plus it’s free! Even better!

Find a cozy corner of nature near your neck of the woods and invite your Gladys to come out to play.

     

     Art: Creativity begets creativity.

Another way to encourage inspiration is to indulge in various art forms.    I love to listen to or play music, engage in the dramatic arts, (opera, plays, the symphony, rock out at a Red concert, or simply play the Civil Wars on my MP3.)  I douse myself in beautiful paintings, colors, photographs. One live Celtic Woman concert gave me inspiration to continue a 5 book series.

Potter piano
Art passed down through my family.

There are so many ways to indulge in artistic expression, find your favorites and fill your down time with artistic activities that will feed the machination.

     Books:   There is nothing better for enhancing your writing, than reading those who do it well.

Every writer has his own way of putting words together.  Read them, chew on them, read them again, study them, take them in.  I read my favorites up to 5 times.

  • the first read through is quick, just for the story
  • the next time I try to get inside the author’s head (plots, world building)
  • then I will read to absorb the voice and points of view
  • again for the flow, the pacing, the vocabulary.

Each repeat brings new revelation.  If you want to be a writer, study successful writers.  Feed your muse with jobs done well, teach her how you want to write.

Discipline Gladys

Oh that minxy little muse will lure you into all kinds of resistance!  She must be controlled.  My worst distraction is when she decides I need to sketch out my characters, or scenes.  I am a terrible drawer…zero skill…but Gladys insists on making me draw, paint, decorate, rearrange, sign up to direct the church play, spend hours at the piano or guitar or ukulele.  All fine and dandy, but I should be writing!  Not playing around with Gladys!  She is a mischievous fairy and lures me away to la la land every chance she can.  So, I must set boundaries for how much time I will allow Gladys to monopolize.

“Gladys!”

“Lalala…doesn’t your pretty blue guitar need new strings? Let’s string her!”

“Oh, yeah, I guess I need to… GLADYS!”

“Hey, look!  We could paint a butterfly on that board and it would make the Scriptorium so pretty!”

All things
Gladys actually got me on this one!

“oooOOOooo, yeah!  I have just the shade of blue in my paint box!  What? NO! I need to write, Gladys!”

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*Gladys will take me for long journeys down distraction lane, if I don’t rein her in and make her behave.

Daily talks with Gladys

It’s fun to think of my creative side as a playful fairy, but the truth is I do recognize a higher power at work in me at times.  A separate and other author of creativity. Without him there is nothing fresh or creative in the entire world.  One writer said it like this.  “If He would decide to hold his breath, all flesh would perish and man would return to dust.”  Without his breath, (the word inspiration actually means ~to breathe in) creativity ceases to exist.

reaching
Creation of Man Michelangelo
Public Domain

So have daily talks with your true inspiration, your higher power, develop regular spiritual interaction with your muse.  As He breathes creativity into you, your words will become inspirational and significant.

Each writer has rituals that work best to release creativity into artistic words.  Ask your fellow artisans what they do to keep creativity high, then try it.  The muse demands attention, I can’t wait to see what she inspires you to do.

Now, I am off to find Gladys…where did I put that chocolate?

Please share the one method that works best for you for keeping your creativity fresh.

I am LaDonna Cole and I am a Blue Monkey, Writer, Nurse, Therapist, Mom, and Ukulele singer extraordinaire!  I write fiction/fantasy including Heartwork Village Stories, The Blood Singer, The Sisterhood of the Sword Saga, and many other yet-to-be-seen-by-the-human-eye works. Check out me and my imaginary peeps at www.HeartworkVillage.com,immortalportals@wordpress.com, and www.facebook.com/LaDonnaColeAuthor

This blog first published on ObeytheMuse.com

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