After My Stroke: A Year of Possibilities 1

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Courtesy Pixabay

Author’s Note: After my stroke in July 2015 I had to think about how I would proceed. This project started out as a way for me to focus on writing. The year took a different turn for me. I spent two months relearning how to walk, talk, and type. A had a stroke at the age of 51. It became a rebirth.

After My Stroke: A Year of Possibilities

A year ago I started this experiment with a lot of promise in my mind; it felt like I would finally focus on something and complete it. Then work piled on and I set this aside. I could always come back to it because it was something for me.

The months rolled by and I found myself in Texas helping my son with a fireworks stand. Long, hot days and nights filled with outrunning the local flying insects. I still think about the bites on my leg. A few days after the 4th of July I was back in Nevada and working again. I sort of thought about this writing corner and promptly moved on.

A week later I was staring at myself in the mirror and wondering why one eye was closed and the other was bigger than a rabbit’s eye. I had caked blood on my ear and my head hurt.

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Finding the Character’s Pain 0

Sunshine and rainbows. We all would like to have a life free of stress and full of sunshine and rainbows. A life of bliss only leads to trouble. There is no excitement, no drama, no life.

Writers need to run as quick as they can from sunshine and rainbows. At least when developing a story everyone will want to read. Can the main character end up in a land of beauty and peace? Sure. Just don’t plan on writing a sequel.

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Courtesy Pixabay

Pain, wounds and disaster are what we need to strive for when writing a good main character. Give a character pain and a past full of strife, trouble, and challenges. Allow them to triumph. And then smack them again.

Wounds provide the best motivation to overcome an obstacle and move the story forward. Give your characters a reason to fulfill a basic need for love, faith, understanding, and belonging. Make this character pain so intense they must do something to overcome it.

Pain and suffering also suggests your character has a basic flaw that leads them to more pain. A character weakness that they must hide or tackle in order to move the story forward. Allow the character to show they have the strength to overcome their weakness.

The whole goal is to make the story move from scene to scene. The best way to do this is by finding the pain.

What are your thoughts about character development? Post your comments below.

Knight Approaches Softly 1

Sweet petals tossed on the marble
Broken and torn, they belie gentle dreams
Of failed promise and changed circumstance, the affronted deems

The vase lies shattered, broken, and cracked
A rose flows outward, its leaves bleed red
Thorns of deceit, the relationship dead

St. Valentine’s knight bends prostrate to reach
And seeks to recover the spilled flower breach
Smoothing each petal he positions each flower
Gently arranges each stem to lighten the anger
Erasing the tautness and softening the mood
A song of tenderness gifted, a faith in affection renewed

A flourish, a gesture, a new paramour’s kiss
Sweet release and dark pleasure, our lovers reminisce.

Copyright 2015, Michael S. Sommermeyer. All Rights Reserved.

Second Writing: Proofreading and Editing Skills 0

By all means write as fast as you can and put the words on paper. In the movie Finding Forrester, the fictional reclusive author William Forrester tells Jamal Wallace, “No thinking — that comes later. You must write your first draft with your heart. You rewrite with your head. The first key to writing is … to write, not to think!”

No thinking — that comes later. You must write your first draft with your heart. You rewrite with your head. The first key to writing is … to write, not to think!

The second writing comes through the proofreading, editing, and re-writing.

Too many writers get bogged down in re-writing each sentence as they write it. A missed opportunity to allow expression and creativity to flow on the page. Capture the spark of genius first and allow it to build. Stopping to edit just breaks the chain and makes it difficult to put down pages.

The story develops and becomes refined in the second writing. I like to let the story sit and ferment like a bowl of bread dough; it sits and bubbles until I have the time to return to make the loaves. The second writing allows you time to smooth out the wrinkles and improve on the structure. At this stage you notice the awkward phrasing, the empty dialogue, and the story weaknesses.

In the coming weeks, I plan to began writing a short story about a girl who comes to Las Vegas seeking revenge. Over time, you may notice the story will contain strikeouts and edits. I plan to keep those in there to show you how I am editing and re-writing the story. Of course, I would appreciate your feedback too.

Do you write like a whirlwind, or do you carefully consider each word? What are your thoughts on getting words on the page? Post your comments below.

A Tall Tale of Sin: Greyhound Arriving 0

I work downtown Las Vegas. For all of the glitz and wild scenes on Fremont Street, what is often overlooked is this town is a business. And that means for every cup tossed on the ground someone has to come along and pick it up. While the entire street is a stage, it still needs to rest, if only for a few hours between parties.

I’m also fascinated with neon and what it means. Las Vegas discards its neon signs; they can be found at the Neon Museum. Unfortunately, many of these signs no longer light up. I often wonder if each neon sign is waiting for someone to jump start their hearts so their lights can be alive again.

I’ve been pondering an idea for a while that will take more effort than a 1,000 word short story. Not quite a novel; I think it’s more of a 60-page novella. However, it will take some time to write and I may need to draft it in smaller assignments.

Clearly this story will have some fantasy, crime, and drama.

So what will follow is a serialized short story and a way for me to plod along until I finish it. Short of NaNoWriMo, I tend to drop the ball and there are lots of stories I have written waiting for a finish. My two NaNoWriMo efforts still need me to edit them; those stories may never see the light of day! Too many half-baked ideas waiting for an editor. With this project, I anticipate it will be a forced march of sorts to reach the finish line. Hopefully, it doesn’t end up in a trash can.

Each segment will be like a short chapter with the main title “A Tall Tale of Sin” preceding the current effort.

I plan to discuss my story idea and share my planning. Frequently, I may update this post to add character sketches or to expand on the idea. By the way, you can find the tools I have created to help me write here.

Planning

That’s a Wrap 0

His knee slipped and he hit the door frame hard.

“Son of a bitch!”

The unbalanced bag of dog food pulled him around the frame and into the stucco wall. The dogs bounced below his feet threatening to entangle him further. His knee and this new bump on his head each provided an equal measure of pain.

He let out a sigh.

Unfortunately, the abuse returned in the shower with the knee giving out again slamming his body into the wall. Another bump on his forehead.

“This getting old sucks,” he shouted through the glass panels.

Two more near slips and he was done. He climbed out of the shower wet, went back to bed, and called it a day.

Copyright 2015, Michael S. Sommermeyer. All Rights Reserved.

Character Introductions: Backstrom 0

Bones is one of my favorite police procedurals, although not as dark as the richly-disturbing Criminal Minds, with humor, well-written characters, and charm.

Last night, Bones writer-producer Hart Hanson brought to life Detective Everett Backstrom, a Fox-TV series titled Backstrom based on a Swedish book series by Leif G.W. Persson.

Backstrom has a bit of a House feel to it, with the lead character, played marvelously by Rainn Wilson (The Office), and full of wonderful writing. For instance, we immediately understand Det. Backstrom has problems, quirks, and a biting humor. Continue Reading

Character Sketch 0

Your job, as a writer, is to introduce your characters in a way that:

  1. is interesting
  2. brings them to life for the reader
  3. conjures up an image that is as close as possible to the way you see them in your mind
  4. gives the reader more information than just their physical appearance – i.e. also gives an insight into their personality and what drives them

Your job is to let every sentence earn its keep – not just telling us what happens, but leading us to other understandings as well. Use this as an opportunity to enhance the emotional depth of the piece. Describe actions that lead to reactions. Avoid the easy descriptions, the cliches, and the stock phrases. Put yourself in the heroine’s mind. Imagine what she’s thinking. Help the reader to experience her emotions and to see what she’s seeing. It’s a lot of extra work – but your writing will leap up a couple of levels.

The False Ending 0

I have mentioned that many stories fail to gain traction in the second act. This is where the viewpoint character forgets why they are in the story. Of course, it is the writer who has forgotten; either by writing by their pants or failing to plot in enough conflict to keep the story moving forward. Stories thrive on conflict and bad things must happen to the hero before it all ends up as good and satisfying.

That is why within the second act, is the false ending. In fact, you might say this is the top of the hill. And this is why screenwriters call it the midpoint. Everything works up to the midpoint and then tumbles down into the depths of hell before the beginning of the end.

Screenwriters know they must take the viewer to the first turning point within 12 pages. Novelists also incorporate a turning point before the end of the first act. The second act is reserved for the hero doing heroic things; nothing can go wrong. And then it happens: the midpoint. Writers reserve the midpoint for the center of the story and add the ultimate conflict for the hero to face.

The midpoint is when the girl discovers the guy is hiding a secret girlfriend (who usually is revealed in the third act as his sister). Or at the midpoint, the hero faces emotional or physical death. Will she make it? Keep watching. Everything is revealed in the third act.

A good midpoint incorporates a false victory for our hero; she defeats the bad guy, only to discover a badder bad guy is standing behind her. Another excellent midpoint is to have the hero face ultimate disaster; the singing cowboy movies called this a cliffhanger. Finally, a midpoint should provide the ultimate obstacle in the story. What happens to give the antagonist the upper hand? What is the chink in our hero’s armor?

Midpoints add conflict, which is the main reason anyone reads a novel or watches a movie; they want to see the hero defeat the antagonist. They want to see the hero survive the midpoint.

How have you used this technique to infuse your stories with conflict? Reply below in the comments.