A-Z Series: Week F

F“If a story is in you, it must come out.”
-William Faulkner

Word of the Week: 
Feckless. Someone who is feckless is weak, helpless and feeble. Maybe they’re feckless due to old age, an accident, or perhaps they’re just scared of everything. Literature has been brimming with feckless characters throughout history, some stay that way, but others grow into powerful characters through the circumstances their writers put them through.

Tip of the Week: Fight scenes. You’ve been building tension between your protagonist and your antagonist for umpteen chapters. Everything has been beautifully building up to the moment when they finally meet to throw punches, cross blades, have an old-fashioned shootout at the saloon, or a battle for the ages amongst the stars—I don’t know, it’s your story.

Now that the moment is here, you lay it all out meticulously. You do not want the reader to miss a single sidestep, you want them to know exactly the way in which The Light Prince grips his sword.

Don’t. Just don’t. Your reader does not need to know, nor do they care, that your antagonist took three and a half steps to the right and then stumbled two feet backwards when the four-foot blade of your protagonist struck his shield which weighed 17.25 pounds. That minutia might matter to you, it might help you visualize the fight in your head – but what matters to your reader is the emotion in the scene.

Let your reader feel the bitter torment in the pit of The Light Prince’s stomach as he plunges his sword, the one his father bequeathed to him, into his brother’s, The Dark Prince, chest.

Sure, you can let the saloon tables and chairs fly as our hero cowboy has had enough of the crooked Sheriff’s dirty tricks. Demolish the place. Let us see our hero’s anger and fury, but perhaps we don’t need to know that he tossed twelve chairs and three tables – just chairs and tables. Let your reader create much of the scene for themselves.

Most importantly, the side effect of not focusing on the smallest physical details of the fight is that you’ll be more likely to use the fight or action scene as a way to further the plot. The crooked Sheriff, in a fit of rage, shouts out a secret that will help our cowboy save the town… the Dark Prince admits he’s actually a girl and the Light Prince’s sister with her dying breath… you get the idea. This will have a much bigger impact if your reader hasn’t just sludged through paragraph after paragraph of useless directions and units of measurement.

Through the powers of the internet and YouTube, I am going to employ Jenna Moreci to tell you even more about fight scenes. Be forewarned, if foul language offends you, don’t watch.

I love her vlog.

Resource of the Week: FirstWriter. [Also find them on Twitter here.] This website has pretty much one goal: Turning writers into authors. You can find countless resources here from agent listings to writing competitions to editorial services. Need to learn about copyrighting and why that is important essential to you as a writer? FirstWriter explains it.  Having all of this information in one place is quite handy.

Spotlight of the Week: Some of you know her as perhaps the most powerful chipmunk on the planet Earth. This week I am pleased to introduce you to—as if you don’t already know her—Rebecca Frohling! She’s a writer, actress, and a mother who knows and understands the importance of caffeine!

1.| In what genre do you write?

About the only consistency to my work is the format it takes: plays and short stories. I can’t seem to break from that, as of yet. As to the plots and such, I tend to follow whatever idea happens to strike; definitely not the sort to plot things out, I like discovering the story as I go. That said, an awfully large amount of my works end up having a twist or two- I do like to take the audience by surprise, or at least make the attempt.

2.) Of all the characters you have created, which would you most like to spend the day with? Why them and what would be on the itinerary?

Ooh, tough one. I don’t want my characters to feel slighted! But, put to the wall, my shortlist would be:

a. Zoe Grackowski- 11 y.o. special effects artist, enthusiastic and optimistic

b. Heaven Ravenscroft- lead singer for the Undead Hillbillies, the number one industrial goth bluegrass band in the county, also enthusiastic, optimistic, and rather spacey

c. Declan Patterson- unemployed actor (but I repeat myself) TOTALLY not addicted to pills, ditto the enthusiasm and optimism (I love characters like these)

d. Bev Swenson- Senior Aunt who dispenses wisdom and highly outlandish stories about her life

e. Conrad Belvidere- antisocial inventor; not much of a conversationalist, but I just loooove him so much!

3.) What is your biggest source of frustration with the whole writing process, and do you have tips for other writers to overcome it?

Biggest source of frustration for me, being a stay-at-home mom of three, is getting time to have a coherent thought, let alone write! Can’t help others with that much, I’m afraid. I have read that many have problems with writer’s block. I don’t; because I generally have around 30 (not a typo) projects going simultaneously. If one’s not working, I just switch to another. It keeps those mind wheels going.

4.) If you could have dinner with any author in history, who would it be, why, and what would you hope to take away from the experience?

Oh gosh, another difficult choice! I’m going to go with non-fiction writer Margaret Visser. Her anthropological or sociological or what-have-you works on the origins and history of everyday items/rituals are brilliantly absorbing. Every paragraph holds so much information. The woman wrote a whole book on why we say thank you! And it was fascinating!

5.) What’s a little-known fact about you? Explain or elaborate. (Special talents, non-writing hobbies, etc.)

How about my story of rubbing elbows with fame? 😃  I have a degree in film- not unusual or even unknown in itself, and I didn’t use it for much. But I did get to intern, right out of college, for one weekend on the filming of a children’s video. It starred a very young pre-known Mandy Moore (didn’t meet her, they filmed her scenes before I got there), and Butch Patrick of The Munsters fame. Lovely man, very professional, said the basement where we were working was “just like Grandpa’s” lab or shop or whatever (I haven’t really watched the show). Also, Luke Halprin (of the show Flipper) was the cinematographer. I was too shy at the time to talk to either of them, but at least I have a story to tell!

Thank you so much for stopping in for Week F! Gee, I sure hope to see you next week!

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