Looking Back on 2014 with Poetry

Just a quick scribble here to say “Hi!” and remind y’all that the Review and Renew Writing Challenge is still ongoing over at Jill Jepson’s site. Daily exercises delivered to your inbox to energize your new year of writing.

I puked up a “poem”  for the writing prompt and thought I’d share it with you.

Gears

My year of writing was like rusted gears. Still moving, still grinding away, still propelling this busted machine forward, but screaming and flaking and smoking all the way. Exhausted. In need of repair. In need of replacement parts. In need of a break. In need of a new roadmap to tell me where the fuck I’m going. Fuel. Sweet holy fuck I need fuel and better shit than what I’m burning. I got a warning signal flashing and pinging away but I can’t figure out what’s broken. Keep stalling and skidding out of control and I pray to the traffic lights and guard rails that I don’t crash cause I’m fairly sure these airbags don’t work.

I didn’t lose my train of thought. I know exactly where the fuck it is. It jumped track and rolled over into my field of dreams, crushing innocent bystanders. It’s up to the maintenance crew now to put it back together and give ‘er a push so I can get going again. I can’t do this by myself; I’m a terrible mechanic.

Some days, I need a jump-start and some days I need a goddam tow. But I can’t stop ’cause parking is too expensive here. I need a real repair, not a fucking MacGyver. This wreck isn’t gonna be fixed by hanging a new air-freshener on the dash.

Deus Ex Machina – Short Story

Author’s note: This piece parodies the Final Fantasy video game series and similar Japanese Role-Playing Games. Those who are familiar with this genre will probably get a few more of the references than those who are not. Nevertheless, I hope you enjoy.

Deus Ex Machina

When I became an adventurer, I had no idea what it meant. The weathered parchment tacked up on the town hall’s message board was laced with bold-faced lies with all its talk of “saving the world” and “bringing evil to justice.” Had it been honest, the job description would have been more akin to “trekking through every back-water gods-forsaken village and hamlet in the kingdom and doing everyone else’s work for them.” Continue reading “Deus Ex Machina – Short Story”

My Year as a Freight Train

I was going to take the day off, really, but then I came across an answer I wrote to a writing exercise. We had to pick a metaphor to describe what our 2013 year of writing was like. This is what I had to say:

 

My writing year was like a freight train.

My writing year was like a freight train. Heavy with a long, long train of baggage, yet moving fast. Unstoppable. No matter what obstacles came across the track, I ploughed through them. No time for bullshit or bitches. Drama-llamas smeared across my grill, eyes wide with the revelation that I stop for no one when my dream is on the line. I got a schedule, and your whining and excuses are not important.

Chugga-chugga-chugga-chugga ain’t nobody got time fo’ that.

Sometimes, it went too fast for me, but there was no stopping it. I just had to hang on. No time to watch the scenery blur past except for one stop to refuel at the station of August.

Gods, I needed that.

When I came back from KG, I found the balls to take on yet more cargo. Every deadline met with clockwork-precision. Every hand on board needed to make this machine move. The conductor waits for no one and yes I did leave behind those who slacked off at their posts. If you want to be the boss, you’ve got to act like one.

I came to the end of the line, all wheels screaming and sparking and now I’m fucking HERE, but don’t you dare think I’m staying for good. Once I’m offloaded, I’m gonna get my ass turned back around and go back for more. Oil my joints, fuel me up, and get those cargo cars queued up nice.

I’m ready, 2014. Destination: Sequel. Let’s fuckin’ go.

Sculpting a Soul: Emotions That Define a Character

Here is a writing exercise to help you get to know your characters better and give them more depth:

Perhaps you know your character well. Perhaps you don’t. Either way, our emotions and our reactions to them say a lot about who we are especially when those feelings are particularly potent. Take this list of strong emotions and consider what could possibly trigger each of them in your character:

  • Fear
  • Anger
  • Sorrow
  • Pain (Physical or emotional)
  • Desire (Sexual or otherwise. It could be greed or a strong craving.)
  • Love
  • Elation

Write a short scene for each of these emotions. What makes your character feel this way? How do they react? What happens to their body? To their thoughts? Remember that emotions tend to be complex things and are often linked together. Does a particular feeling lead to another? (Example: Does the character get angry when they feel frightened?) What do they decide to do? If it’s a negative emotion, how do they cope?

Can you think of any other emotions that might be provocative? Feel free to leave comments and, as always, make good art!

Stepping Into the Scene: A Writing Exercise

So my writers’ circle had a meeting this evening and we did a really interesting exercise I’d like to share with you because it was extremely effective for me as well as the other members who participated. If you’re good at visualizing things during meditation, you’re already way ahead of the game here. If not, it might be something you’d like to try.

What we did was this: each of us picked a scene from a project we were working on. Didn’t matter if it was a main project or something pulled from the back-burner … or dusty broom-closet. Then, we designated a mat on the floor to be our working space. One at a time, we would sit while another member read out the scene we had selected while we sat, eyes-closed and listened, visualizing the scene taking place as clearly as possible as though we were watching it take place in the space of the mat in front of us.

Then, the author of the scene would step onto the mat, assume the position that the character was currently in and proceed with the scene from its beginning to its conclusion.

If it were just that, it would be an interesting roleplay/guided meditation session. But that was not, in fact, all there was to it. The other members of the group asked questions of the character to which the author (in the character’s shoes) responded based on what they could see, hear, smell, etc. They asked questions about what emotions the character was feeling, what they had done previous to that scene, what they planned to do afterwards and what was currently weighing on their mind, what they were wearing, what everything around them looked and sounded like, all while one member of the group took notes on everything the character said. (It’s a good thing we can all type really fast!) Together we wrung all the details out of that scene that there was to be had and saved the information to be used by the author later.

The beauty of this exercise is that one can squeeze precious details out of a scene that seems dry and uninteresting. One can connect with a character or a situation that feels distant or a bit fuzzy/unreal and bring the scene to life.

The end result? I stepped onto the mat with a vague character concept and a few bits of plot strung together and exited the mat with a fully developed novel plot and fleshed out character with believable emotions and motivations in 45 minutes. This was the equivalent of months worth of work for me. And it was FUN.

So, if you can find some friends to help you out with this endeavour, I heartily recommend it. Good luck!