Posts tagged ‘fiction writing’

Quality Christian Fiction: A Prayer from a Friend

This is not mine, but the ache of every Christian writer.

My friend Jackie Lea is amazing, both as a writer and a woman. Is her heart’s cry, which places the echoes of mine so fully into words, the same as yours? Read her prayer/post here.

http://lightsallaround.wordpress.com/2012/08/15/quality-christian-fiction/

P.S. You should also check out the rest of her blog. It will give you writer’s envy, but it is so worth it. Gorgeous stuff!

Are You Awake?

The good news is, if you read my last post, I found a book that can hold my interest. Maybe even awes me a little. Forbidden by Ted Dekker is my latest binge, and I’m almost through it in two days of on and off reading. The bad news is, he stole a concept that I had played with about three years ago, just waiting until I had time to write again before it became anything more concrete and serious. Figures.

Image

“Pain is in the mind.” Says Inception… a movie about dreams. Hmm.
Snagged the photo from greenteamovie.blogspot.com

Anyway, now that the reading update is out of the way, I want to discuss another topic with you. After dinner this evening, my family launched into a discourse on weird things that humans do on a regular basis. We ended up on dreams, when my brother mentioned that he has felt pain before in his dreams. I have as well, and my dad, while my mom sat by and looked skeptical. She had never had anything like that happen before, and then we debated for a long time whether one had to experience a sort of physical stimulus in order for the brain to misinterpret it as pain, or if it could conjure the idea of pain in the mind, being felt in the dream, disappearing upon awaking. Needless to say, we came to no conclusion.

But that had me thinking: do you think we experience anything during our waking hours that is conjured by the mind? It may not be real at all. Maybe we’re dreaming already, waiting to wake up. Do you think we could experience things differently? Is what we feel, see, think, hear in dreams really so far removed from reality?

I’m not going to go into weird psychological stumblings about whether what we see or not is real. How do we really know what we think we really know, and such. But what if our brain did conjure some things? Oh look, I tied it back to Ted Dekker again. Maybe you all should just read Forbidden. Maybe this would make a little more sense. 

Do you think you’re really awake? Are our dreams as ethereal as we make them out to be? 

How about this: are you ever inspired to write because of dreams, no matter how dumb or uninteresting the initial dream might have been?

A Glimmer of Whimsy

What’s on my mind today? Whimsy.

My idea of Whimsy. Thanks to my lovely friend Jackie for putting these pictures on her Facebook page for admiring pleasure

It’s kind of a word that insinuates (at least in my mind) rainbows, strange little bunny-like animals, maybe a few hippie spirals, and cotton candy blue. It means sparkles, maybe even a caffeine high. And giggling. Lots of giggling. But as I sat down with my senior writing project, I began to wonder, why is so much fiction today so depressing? And why should I write that way?

A couple weeks ago, I sat in the lovely chapel at Northwestern College listening to Leif Enger (best-selling author of Peace like a River, which regrettably, I have not yet read) speak about his writing process and his thoughts on what writing should be. I think what stood out to me the most was his references to whimsy in the life of the writer. I actually had the chance to go up and speak to him the next day and discuss writing with him and my frustration with depressing literature, especially for young adults. While I can’t repeat here exactly what he said, since I don’t accurately remember his quote (and he could say it better than I could even think to write), he said that while life is gritty and sometimes harsh, there are glimmers, moments of true delight and whimsy, and that I shouldn’t forget to write about those times too.

He used the word whimsy to describe delight. Those two concepts had never truly connected in my head before. So what is whimsy? It’s the moments that glimmer, the ones that make tuck your knees to your chest and curl your toes, grinning like a child on her birthday. It’s a moment of innocence, watching a girl twirl in a white sundress with a bouquet of dandelions in her hand.

Then realizing that the girl is you.

The Hunger Games: Twisting Out of Corners

One of the Movie Posters, taken from http://www.fushionmag.com/ May the odds be ever in your favor.

I think I’m going to jump on the bandwagon… I read The Hunger Games. I saw the trailer for the movie coming out on March 23rd, 2012, and decided that if I was going to see the movie, I might as well know how well it compares to the book, which has been a best-seller in the world of YA lit. Needless to say, I read the whole thing in two afternoons, during which absolutely no homework got done.

This might be a good point to insert a DISCLAIMER: I’m going to start talking about the book now, and I am not responsible for the comments that may pop up regarding spoilers for the book or the movie. My point here is to start conversation, so if you’re worried about reading something that will ruin the end of the book/movie, you’ve been warned.

Anyway, I just wanted to point out that Collins did a masterful job with the book. While not particularly exciting in terms of diction or word choice, the voice was in first-person present tense (a voice very difficult to pull off). Plus, the words, dialogue, and descriptions all match beautifully with her portrayal of the main character, Katniss. I was immediately drawn into the story, what with my identification with Katniss, as well as the present-tense voice that keeps the reader involved in every aspect of the story. Then, there’s the TWIST ENDING! Oh my goodness, I had some suspicions about the reversal of the rule put forth in the middle of the Games, and that it would be reversed, but I was so scared that she was going to kill off one or two of my favorite characters!

To stop my ranting, I have to applaud Collins for backing herself into a proverbial corner, plot-wise. I wonder, did she plan how to end it when she arrived at that point in the story, or did she have to think on the spot? Many characters have done this to me; then I have to find a way to keep them out of the trouble they instigated. Is it risky for writers who don’t plan out their books, but more write on the fly, to let the plot drag them into situations such as the showdown on the last day of the Hunger Games? What is the effect on readers if the writer does not satisfactorily resolve such a situation? Also, why create a character like Katniss, who doesn’t even understand her feelings throughout much of the book? Are characters who do not know their own minds more relatable, or just more fun?

You can comment if you’re stoked about the movie too. Oh, and when it comes to getting tickets for opening night, may the odds be ever in your favor.

Thankful for the Unseen

What I am thankful for? Right now, the joy of imagination. The incredible experience of seeing what others cannot. I don’t think we writers understand how beautiful it is to be misunderstood. Just because we don’t see things the same way doesn’t mean we aren’t seeing. Another blog I was reading today reminded me of that. Her writing is lovely as well; here’s the post that inspired me, if you want to check it out (http://prayersoflight.blogspot.com/2011/11/world-of-dreamer_21.html#.TssiU1Zn2Ag).

But really, when people scrunch up their noses when you describe how winter smells, or if lines tug their foreheads when you say that a song sounds like a color, or when one picture erupts into glass shards that melt into a world in your mind, what do you think? Are you thankful that you can see the magic flitting behind each shape? There is something magical about the imagination, something svelte and radiant. And when I describe an emotion as a scene, while I might be the only one who can see it, I am thankful that I can see it.

Found this on Christine Lusk's Pinterest site of "Lovely Stained Glass." Check out more here: http://pinterest.com/christineann/lovely-stained-glass/

Writing, then, is the beautiful struggle to help others see it too. What do you see that others do not understand, yet they know that they long to behold? How often do you take your imagination for granted? I know I do, nearly every day. A great imagination is a gift, one that cannot be taught or given by man. It has the power to go beyond words, so that even the finest wordcrafting is insufficient except to describe a small corner of a cathedral, a marble chip that is glorious, but does not reflect the stained glass windows. I am thankful for the chance to see the windows, even if all I can describe is the pattern they illumine and spread on the floor.

In honor of Thanksgiving, I want to know, what are you thankful for?

To the Victors Go the Stories

What is history? Okay, I understand this is a weird question, seeing as this blog is to do with writing. But think about it for a minute or two… who writes history? We’ve all probably heard the saying before, that history is written by the victors. Whoever has the biggest stick has the greatest say, yes? So here’s the big question for today: Is a history textbook any less fiction than a well-researched historical fiction novel? I once read a high school advanced placement American history textbook that said that the main reason the pilgrims came to America in the first place was to seek out wealth, land, and especially gold. This class was also taught by a teacher who tried to convince every one of his students that all of the major battles, natural events, and celebrations in the history of the world could be linked to the guady orange chair in his classroom, which had been omitted from all textbooks for the sake of its safety (so, you might want to take his opinion with a grain of salt). On the other head, I’ve grown up believing (and reading in historically accurate, well-researched novels and textbooks alike) that the pilgrims immigrated to escape religious persecution and begin life in a new land so they could worship how, when, and Whom they pleased (I’ll restrain myself from going into a rant about corruption and power grabs in the church that lead to that decision).

This is how it REALLY happened... thanks to http://www.paintmonkeystudios.com

We know that whoever wins the battles wins the right to portray the victory in whatever way they want… as well as the defeat of their enemies. How do we know that it is objective in history and what is made up? Everyone has a viewpoint or prejudices of some kind, and those beliefs transfer into your writing. It’s impossible to stop them. You can research and learn all of the different theories and accounts of every major (and sometimes minor) event that happened in recorded history, but so can the historical creative writer. And who can say that what an author writes about in a novel didn’t actually happen, if not in specifics then perhaps in general?

We’ve been going over this in a couple of my classes lately, and I might be doing a project on it, so I’d love to hear your thoughts. Also feel free to post any articles that might deal with this topic. Hope I didn’t step on too many historian’s toes with this. Oh well, I’d love to hear disgruntled thoughts as well. Just please be respectful and please don’t rant. Let us reason together, not rant.

*Disclaimer: The only book that this does not apply to is the Bible. I believe that everything (including historical narratives) written in the Word of God is 100% true, since it was inspired by God and written through human channels, not by humans who decided, “Hey, I think this is what God might want other people to know. Let’s write a book on it.” I have multiple reasons why I believe this to be true. If you’re unconvinced, ask me sometime.

Wired for Narrative

Okay, writers! Or readers, for that matter. You all rock and would probably enjoy this exercise too. I would be sooo happy if you tried this and told me what happened afterwards. I picked up this fun little exercise from one of my writing profs this week.
Go and find an antique/old/vintage picture, preferably not related to you or your family. The more obscure, the better. If you can’t find one, maybe you could just use one of these pictures… (picture1 picture2 picture3 picture4 picture5) I suppose any picture would work, really, as long as you don’t know anything about it or the situation in which it was taken. But please feel free to find your own, one that piques your interest.

Then after that, somehow turn it into language. Yes, I realize that’s vague. My prof did that to all of us in her class too. How does the picture speak to you? Just let me know. And try it before you read the rest of this, otherwise it will kind of defeat the purpose of this post.

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Did you try it? Let me know in the comments. You may now proceed to the rest of my tirade.

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Poetry escapes me. I try reading it, and the only thing I’ll pick up on is how it makes me feel (which, most often with contemporary poetry, is just plain frustrated). What makes good poetry? I’m personally a fan of the classic poetry of the Romantic and Victorian eras (“She Walks in Beauty” or “The Lady of Shallot,” anyone?). I’ll definitely read Tennyson, Keats, and some Byron, but this new stuff is just too abstract.

Maybe it comes with the territory of being a fiction writer; I love having a story in poetry. Modern poetry doesn’t always do that. It doesn’t even make sense. For instance, The Loch Ness Monster’s Song by Edwin Morgan. I just don’t understand.

Do you yearn for narrative, or is that just a majority of my class at my college? What do you think drives humanity towards narrative, and what makes narrative so addicting or magical for you?

And just out of personal curiosity… do any of you make up stories for random people, houses, or scenes that you see while driving or walking or sitting in coffee shops? Just wondering if I’m alone in this or if it’s a semi-common thing. Thanks!