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I Went to a Writing Group Today - June 12th, 2019

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I was not feeling it today. I had a tense political meeting on Monday that I gave a speech at, and I sat in this uncomfortable plastic chair for the meeting holding a lot of tension in my body. That threw off my spine. I went in for an extra adjustment the next day and it wouldn't adjust properly. If my cervical spine is out of place for too long it causes issues with my brainstem, and will start effecting my ability to cognitively function, which is just starting to happen now (it doesn't take long). And, I've been too busy to properly rest like this particular body design needs. So, I wasn't feeling it today, but I went to the writing group and had fun anyway.


Analiese came up with a prompt that included an educational piece. Here's the beginning of it.

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Conflict

In every story, there has to be a problem. The main character has to be challenged in some way or the story will go nowhere. There are four basic conflicts to look for that may face the main…

Leading a Writing Group - Session 2

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The prompt for today was dialogue. The story could be anything the kids wanted, it just had to include dialogue, or people talking. Some stories are all dialogue, some stories have no dialogue, most fiction writing is a mix. No matter what kind of writing you do, it's good to play with dialogue.


I find these types of writing exercises interesting. I usually have no idea what I'm going to do. If I do have an idea about what I'm going to do it always comes out completely different, nothing like I had imagined.

We talked about dialogue a little bit. I went over the idea of interstitial sentences because I thought Lexi, the 14 year old, would be interested in that. An interstitial sentence is when there is one sentence that starts with someone talking, then in the middle there's some description, and then the person is talking again. For instance, if a woman is standing at the fridge it might be like this: "John! I thought you said you were going to," she turned …

I Went to a Writing Group Today - May 22nd, 2019

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A couple of weeks ago I missed the Left to Write meeting. The next day my friend Jon emailed me and asked if I was going to come to the next one. I was sad when I realize that I had missed the meeting, I had simply forgotten to write it on my schedule. I think I made up for it today.


The meeting was at capacity today with 13 people in attendance. When I walked in I thought the entire table was already full because the only open seats had books in front of them. But, those seats were open. The book was the prompt; dun, dun, dunnn.

I sat down and looked at my book, "Ooh, 'The Law of Love' by Nora Roberts, one of my favorites." I'm joking. I can't remember what I said exactly, but I did mention that it was not a book that I would normally pick to read. I had the option to change of course, but I didn't want to.

Now, I've tried to read romances. I've tried quite a variety over the years. I've tried the classics by the Bronte sisters and Jane Auste…

Leading a Writing Group - Session 1

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It's an odd story, how I came to be part of a writing group yesterday.


I went to the Muskegon Comic Con event in the spring. It was fun. I walked into the game room and was greeted by a perky woman named Holly. She convinced me to join a one-off Dungeons and Dragons role-playing game. It's an activity that has always seemed fun, but I've never found the time to participate in that world.

I invited a few people and a couple of kids joined in. Yuke led our session while also managing the gaming sales table. It was a grand adventure that took us deep into a cave looking for buried treasure. Three of the five people came out alive. One girl was able to snatch some of the gold from us, but Xavier and I were able to get most of it. Xavier turned out to be Holly's son.

While talking to Holly after the game she mentioned that she runs a homeschool group that uses the Muskegon Fab Lab, where people can work with 3-D printers, laser etching, virtual reality systems, and more. I …

Tales Within Tales - Part 1 of ?

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Two weekends ago I stayed with my aunt to be closer to the wedding that I was officiating for my cousin. Since I don't have a radio in my car I had a few hours to think about writing ideas on the drive over. I've been wanting to try this crazy idea for awhile, so we worked on it while I was there.


I want to use fables and fairy tales in a multi-layered frame story. I'll talk about what that is in a moment. I wrote down the fables and fairy tales that jumped to mind.

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The 3 Little Pigs
Humpty Dumpty
Little Red Riding Hood
Goldilocks
Pietr and the Dike
The Fox and the Grapes
The Boy Who Cried Wolf

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A frame story is when you have a story within a story. For instance, you have a character walk into a bar and he starts talking to someone. This other person begins to tell a story. We become fully immersed into the other story and that's what the book is mostly about. At the end we usually pop back out into the bar scene before the book ends. Frame d…

I Went to a Writing Group Today - April 24th, 2019

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Should I go to the writing group today? That type of question runs through my head before all meetings and activities. Then, afterward, you never doubt that it was best to go. You can tell because you're re-energized. It was the same today.


I had a plan heading to the meeting, something I wanted to try. Neil Gaiman mentioned a good writing technique, coming up with a situation and then asking, "How did we get here?" You then construct the story leading to that moment. I wanted to do that. I didn't. Here's the prompt from today.

(Also, I went sporting this cool temporary tattoo done by a friend that says "Once upon a time..." across one forearm, representing the start of an unfinished story. I also have broken chains around both of my wrists representing Prometheus bound and unbound to the rock cliff by the tyrant Zeus in punishment for giving the gift of fire to mankind.)

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Left to Write 4.24.19 Prompt
Craig’s List Missed Connection
Below is…

Creating a Comic Book - Dungeon Buddies - Part 3 of ?

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We have a solid idea for page 1. We also have pieces and parts about the whole plot. Today I want to work on fleshing out the whole plot, which I'm thinking about as 10 issues of about 20 pages. The immediate scenes after our opening page are pretty obvious, but the overall story is still a little blurry in areas and I want to iron that out so that my first time through is decently smooth with, foreshadowing and such.


Here's page 1. Then I'll start working through trying to piece this whole epic story together.

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Page 1

Panel 1: Top third of page. A mountain ridge with two shadows walking along it, a soldier and a witch. Kind of dark and mysterious, ominous.

1. Narration: After the alliance won the war, the grand council sent a soldier and a witch to hide the Gauntlet of Kings in the X Mountains. Many had gone looking for it, none had returned.

Panel 2: Bottom two-thirds of page. Gauntlet floating above display mantel in the middle of the cave. Lut and Gaza on …

Trying to Understand the Romance Genre

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I don't really understand the romance genre. It seems too much like it's the same story over and over again. It's less like characters acting in the world than a plot with whoever thrown into it. In the end I think the whole thing centers on value, like the rest of life.


I posted this in a romance reading group a couple of months ago. People seemed to think it was about right.

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Does this ring true for the reasons behind this trope?

A young, attractive woman is pursued by two men. (Because she wants to feel valued.)
After some internal turmoil she chooses the more powerful, wealthier, and more dominant man. (Because she wants to feel valued by a man that she values, which is a man that is effective in the world.)
As the relationship develops he learns to value her so much that he loses much of his dominance and now sees her as an equal. (Because she wants to be as valuable as the man she most values.)

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This can change somewhat, and those are the be…

Story, Drama, Conflict, and Suspense

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Let's stress test my unique ideas of story and drama. Then we'll look at coming up with more useful thoughts about suspense and conflict.


In my article "What Is a Story?" I came to new definitions about story and drama that I think get to the very root of the issue.

A story is the representation of a change, or set of changes, resulting in a steady state.

Drama is the potential or actual change to a thing of value, in its value.

My friend Jon liked the article and sent me a message about story. His favorite author George Saunders gave this example of what a story is at a seminar he attended.

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a.  Not a story:  "the cat sat on the mat."
b.  A story:  "the cat sat on the dog's mat."

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This was my off the cuff response.

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That's interesting. See, I would say that's an idea for a story. I've seen several writers do this. They're examples of the difference between a fact and a story, as Aaron Sor…

A Short and Not-Sweet Story

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Two days ago I was driving to my writing group. My mind was wandering and I was thinking about different ideas. When I got to the group and the doors were closed I realized that we didn't have the writing group this week because the library is having a book sale. Nevertheless, the idea for a short intense story was already turning over in my mind. I will see what it comes to here.


Let's begin.

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Prologue
This story has a tragic ending.

May 3rd
He had never seen something so beautiful. The brilliance of her smile was beyond that which could be achieved by any mortal woman. It was not just the smooth lines of her lips. It wasn't just the soft vibrant glow of her cheeks, or the way her eyes lit up. It wasn't even the smell of her hair as the wind played and twirled with it. There was something more. Something beyond words. Her mere presence was a heavenly gift to be cherished above all else.

May 18th, Six Years Later
He stared down into the coffin, unsure how …

What Is a Story?

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Most answers to this question don't seem very good. What Is a story? I will try to do better than I have seen.


There are a few different categories that answers fall into. There are the dictionary answers. Here's one: an account of imaginary or real people and events told for entertainment. It seems okay.

There is the classic idea of character, setting, and plot. That seems a bit better. Writer Brandon Sanderson expands on it a bit in the course he teaches at Brigham Young University. He includes conflict and the framework that the story is told through, e.g. tense, point of view. So, maybe we could sum this up with something like "the conflictual intersection of characters, setting, and plot told from a point of view in space and time." I've never heard anyone else say it like that, but that seems pretty good. I came up with a way to say four of these with a word that starts with A: agent, arena, agenda, antagonism. So that's cool.

There are a ton of these f…

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