Returned

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My library/study, where I stare at the screen or paper and wait for the “magic” to happen.

I’ve been away for a couple weeks. Sorry about that. I had been worrying about a job interview I had and, maybe more than that, I got discouraged again. (Seems to happen a lot lately…)

I’m trying to force myself to ignore the negative voices in my head. You know which ones I’m talking about: the ones constantly telling you you’re no good and won’t amount to anything. I think we all have those.

In the same vein, I’m trying to get back to my roots, so to speak. It’s my dream to “save people” with my stories, yes, but hell, I just like writing. So, I’m still working on my short stories for my future collection, but I’m being cognizant of how awesome it feels to write them for me.

I’ve found some writers groups in my area. I have mixed feelings about the discovery. I’m totally stoked on one hand and can’t wait to check them out; on the other hand, I’m terrified I’m not good enough and everyone will laugh at me. (I have a lot of self doubt.) Gotta get my courage up.

Anyway, I just wanted to let you know I haven’t disappeared. I’m back with tutorials and tips, and maybe some writing, too. It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything.

Stay tuned….

J

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Wr.Tu.Th.: Plot Development

Welcome to today’s Writing Tutorial Thursday. Today it’s all about Plot Development.

Disclaimer: The information presented herein is based on what I, personally, have learned in my educational and professional careers. This tutorial is simply meant to offer some helpful tips.

INTRODUCTION: Usually, works of fiction undoubtedly include a plot. Characters can certainly help, but it is the plot—the story—that draws the reader into the imaginary world you create. It’s no easy task to develop a solid plot, however. Sometimes authors leave their readers frustrated and confused, with many unanswered questions.

Hopefully I can offer some advice to make sure you hit important plot points in your work.

1) What’s the point? The biggest thing you need to figure out is your novel’s main goal. What is your protagonist working toward? You need to figure out what the whole point of your novel is before you can do anything else. Sit down and brainstorm. Think about what purpose you want your character to fulfill, how he/she is going to do so, what obstacles will get in his/her way, and what the outcome will be.

2) Who’s in charge, anyway? Decide how you will present your story. Choose which point of view to use.

3) Know your characters. You should know the ins and outs of the characters you are using to propel your plot. (For information on developing compelling characters, see this tutorial.) Similarly, your characters should not just stand in the background. They should affect the plot through their actions.

4) Conflicts. Conflict is what drives your plot forward. You need your characters to go through constant struggles in order to get to the final goal. Sprinkle conflict throughout your novel so that the characters not only move the plot along, but also grow with the experiences. (Hint: Your subjects don’t need to overcome every obstacle. Show how they learn from failures and mistakes.)

5) Let it flow. As writers, we tend to think five times faster than our fingers can type. (Or, at least I do.) Don’t try to force your plot, though. Let it come naturally. Meaning, each event or action in your novel should lead effortlessly into the next. Nothing should be jarring. Remember your school essays: transitions between paragraphs! Well, don’t forget to link all the events in your novel together.

Likewise, the pace shouldn’t falter, either. It will probably speed up and slow down as the story progresses, but it should definitely not stutter out completely.

6) Proper placement. The climax is an integral part of your story. So far, what has happened in your novel has lead up to this, so make sure it matches the rest of the tone of your story. For example, you don’t want to fill pages with foreshadowing descriptions, convincing the reader that something dire is about to happen to the main character, but then simply say he caught a cold and had to stay in bed for three days. What a letdown.

7) Know when to stop. We all love our characters, but the time comes when we must end the story. Your character has to reach his/her goal sometime, remember? You don’t have to tie things up in a neat little bow (in fact, it’s more believable if you don’t), but you shouldn’t drag things out either. (For example: Your character has overcome the primary conflict of the story, but since you have developed him/her so well, your readers can imagine that he/she can triumph over other conflicts in the future.) If you want to keep writing your characters, consider a sequel. Don’t continue the story when the story has clearly ended.

So those are my tips for good plot development. Do you have any other suggestions? Questions? Let me know! Don’t forget that the way to better writing is by practicing.

Happy writing!

WTT: Read

It’s Writing Tip Tuesday. Today’s installment is about reading. You’ve heard the old adage: read. Well, it’s true:

Read. Read everything you can. The more you read the better you write.

When you read, you open your mind to new worlds, new people and new experiences. Not only is it fun, it gets your creative juices flowing and encourages you to come up with new ideas. So get out there and read!

 

Tiny Terrapins

Tiny Terrapins
JCD Kerwin

I don’t own a turtle.

I’ve never held interest
in a painted’s carapace, and
I’ve never been concerned
with chelonians in the park.

I haven’t got a tank
full of grimy, brackish water,
or heat lamps burning
above a mini desert.

Yet,
I know a little something
about hiding in yourself.

February 2016

ruMble junglE

ruMble junglE
JCD Kerwin

I like spaceships and caffeine
and I have no idea
what “normal” means.

I laugh at puns,
and think we’re overrun
with assholes.

My baseball hat
is part of my act
to be someone I am not.

Airplanes give me panic breath,
I always fear dark water depths,
and crowds make me very
nervous.

I can’t live without blasting
my ears full of tunes
because I think music,
can save me.

And if I may,
I feel the rain
is worth a hellavua lot more
than to ignore
with umbrellas.

I don’t think it’s wrong
to act along
with my favorite cartoons.

I’m quiet on the outside
but inside I hide
thunderstorms.

I hate talking on phones
and sometimes I want
to be left all alone.

I think maybe books
are the closest to Heaven
that I’ll ever be.

I always fear
what tomorrow brings,
but I still want to know
what’s around every corner.

I’m friends with monsters
hiding under my bed and
deep in my head,
calling to me in low whispers.

The light in the hall
is the only thing keeping
this dark world from creeping
into my heart.

I’d like to swing from stars,
and I often wonder
if Ray is happy on Mars.

I’m sure I dream too much
(I know there’s no such
thing as magic),

but maybe somehow, someday,
I’ll build a spaceship, and
sail far away.

(October 2014)