Where Dreams Meet the Business of Writing

Posts tagged ‘Writers Zen blog’

Elements of Historical Fiction

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Elements of Historical Fiction

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Five or seven? Or more? How many elements of historical fiction are there? It’s said that the five main elements of a story are:

  • Setting
  • Plot
  • Characters
  • Conflict, and
  • Theme

A Writer of History wrote that there are seven elements. To the five listed above, they added two other elements:

  • Dialogue
  • World building

But then, they went on to add that historical fiction has one additional challenge. They write:

All writers of fiction have to consider seven critical elements: character, dialogue, setting, theme, plot, conflict, and world building. While every story succeeds or disappoints on the basis of these elements, historical fiction has the added challenge of bringing the past to life.

You can see their excellent post at A Writer of History.

Help Teaching has a fun little video clip about the elements of historical fiction. It’s geared towards students, but I still enjoyed watching it. It’s only a minute and a half. Check it out. See if it prompts any ideas for you.

https://youtu.be/2EpSrNHQOGU

Now I’m off to go contemplate about how I can put more effort into making sure that my writing brings the past to life.

 

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Words are Another Medium

Today I’m writing for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s blog hop. The first Wednesday of each month, we write in inspiration to a question posed by the group’s administrators. We don’t need to write in response to the question posed, but I like to use their query as the springboard for the monthly post.

This month the OPTIONAL IWSG Day Question is: Besides writing, what other creative outlets do you have?

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Words are Another Medium

Creativity has been part of my life for as long as I remember. Well, at least as early as sixth grade, when my mom taught me to knit and crochet. Then came sewing – on an old treadle sewing machine that my dad bought at an auction in Indiana for just a few dollars. Home Ec classes refined my sewing techniques and were followed with embroidery and some novice attempts at quilting.

iswg1.jpgThese early creative attempts with fabrics and yarns are probably why my favorite pursuits are in the fiber arts area. Several years of weaving classes plunged me further into the field of fibers and weaving soon turned to spinning, dyeing, and felting.

But, I’m a Gemini and I can’t do just one thing. So there’s also papermaking and altered books. These are even more fun with I can combine yarns and weavings into completed projects.

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But…behind Door C is glass! One glass fusing class was all it took and I had to get my own small kiln. What to make, what to make? Pendants? Buttons? Tiles? So much glass – so little time. And if I don’t feel like firing up the kiln, cold glass projects – like mosaic work – are satisfying too.

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And then there was the ‘Polymer Clay Phase’. More earrings to make. Pens to cover. Journal covers to create. Jars and tins to embellish. So many ideas and ways to play with this versatile medium.

But lately, I haven’t been spending much time in these creative avenues. I’ve been too busy crafting with another medium – words.

Writing seems more cerebral. It doesn’t seem to qualify as a creative pursuit. But it is. Writing is creativity expressed in another vein. Instead of acrylic paints, I’m using words to paint the canvas. The techniques are much the same – learning, crafting, and perfecting the skills. The editing is like sculpting with clay. Trim a little here. Pinch off this. Smooth this out. And soon, a completed project is ready and done. Only this one doesn’t hang on a wall, or sit on a mantle. This one is a stack of printed papers or a bound book. All the work of the same muse – Artistic Imagination.

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There’s Writing and There’s Writing

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Today I’m writing for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s blog hop. The first Wednesday of each month, we write in inspiration to a question posed by the group’s administrators. We don’t need to write in response to the question posed, but I like to use their query as the springboard for the monthly post.

This month we were asked, ‘How do major life events affect your writing? Has writing ever helped you through something?’

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There’s Writing and There’s Writing

First off, we’ll answer the easy one. How do major life events affect my writing? Pretty much, if they don’t merely slow my writing, they usually bring it to a screeching halt. It seems that I have a limited reservoir of energy. I can use it writing – or I can use it dealing with major issues. I don’t always have the resources to do both.

Has writing ever helped me through something? Yes. And, no. There’s two types of writing in my world. Journaling, which is private and therapeutic. And writing for the public eye, such as books, short stories, articles, and blogs.

Journaling helps me through things. But that isn’t writing that I share with anyone else. Now, later on, after that difficult part of life has passed, then I may use some of that for fodder for the public writing. For instance, in 2010 I had a Sudden Cardiac Arrest. My heart stopped beating on an airplane. That incident took me about two weeks to even come to grips with what had happened, let alone dealing with all the associated emotions that arose. Did my journal get a work out that year! Now, once the intensity of the moment subsided and life stabilized back to a routine (and I’m talking a few years here), then I began publicly writing about it. Several times I’ve even excerpted short snippets from my actual journal, but only in short selected sections.

But for me, I need a lot of processing time between the actual event and publicly writing about it. Sometimes I even need this transition period to even be able to talk about it with someone else. But, that’s me. I’m usually a private person and don’t easily show others the open shards of my heart. So I’ll show you some of my writing – the other – that’s tucked away on a shelf to rarely see the light of day. I guess it just goes to show that not all writers are open books.

 

Check out more Insecure Writer’s Support Group posts here.

No Thank You

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Today I’m writing for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s blog hop. The first Wednesday of each month, we write in inspiration to a question posed by the group’s administrators. We don’t need to write in response to the question posed, but I like to use their query as the springboard for the monthly post.

This month we were asked, ‘What publishing path are you considering/did you take, and why?’

Although I typically go with the proposed question for the month, this month I’m going another route and talking about something else. Rejections.

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No Thank You

Being an insecure writer – which is why I love this group so much – I hate rejections as much as anyone else. Especially on those days where several of them hit your inbox so close together. It can feel crushing and can make me feel inadequate and less confident.

I read another viewpoint of this last week though that is changing how I think of it. The author mentioned that rejections aren’t a reflection on you or your writing. It’s simply a ‘No Thank You.’ They likened it to going to a restaurant. Your heart is set on a certain dish. Perhaps you’ve been craving a nice, juicy steak. The server offers you their special – grilled salmon. Maybe you don’t like fish. Maybe you do, but it’s just not what you want for that meal. So you simply say, “No thank you.”

She asks – does the cook break down in tears because you ‘rejected’ their offering? No. It’s not a rejection of their cooking, their skills, their talents, or their person. It just doesn’t fill a need you have at that moment.

I need to apply this attitude towards the rejections headed my way. It has nothing to do with my talent, my work, my piece, or my person. It’s simply a ‘No thank you. Not right now.’

 

Check out more Insecure Writer’s Support Group posts here.

How Many Sarah’s Can You Have?

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Today I’m writing for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s blog hop. The first Wednesday of each month, we write in inspiration to a question posed by the group’s administrators. We don’t need to write in response to the question posed, but I like to use their query as the springboard for the monthly post.

This month we were asked, ‘What’s harder for you to come up with, book titles or character names?’

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How Many Sarah’s Can You Have?

A Sarah here, a Sarah there…how many Sarah’s can an author have? This month’s question for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group was an easy one. Definitely choosing names are more difficult for me. The titles always seem to come with the germination of the book idea itself. And while they many change as I work on and complete the book – that is rare. I almost always go with my first instinct for a title.

But names, that’s where my own personal difficulty lies. I don’t have problems with naming characters, it’s just that I seem to always go to the same names. Sarah and William seem to be particular favorites to me, but I have no idea why. It’s like I have this internal list of ten to twelve favorites that my brain always accesses first. On my short stories spreadsheet, I had to add a column for main character names, so I don’t repeat names.

Another small glitch I find is that I can easily end up with two or three character names that all begin with the same initial. If I don’t consciously watch it, I’ll have Sarah and Sam with a dog named Spot. It must be that alliteration fascination coming back to haunt me.

Alas, if these were the only troubles I had to contend with, I’d be one happy author. Names I can change all day long. Now if fixing plot holes and characterization problems were just as easy.

Check out more Insecure Writer’s Support Group posts here.

 

Deadlines Banish the Cloudy Days

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Today I’m writing for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s blog hop. The first Wednesday of each month, we write in inspiration to a question posed by the group’s administrators. We don’t need to write in response to the question posed, but I like to use their query as the springboard for the monthly post.

This month we were asked, ‘When your writing life is a bit cloudy or filled with rain, what do you do to dig down and keep on writing?’

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Deadlines Banish the Cloudy Days

I wish I could say that my writing journey is all sunshine and roses. Not a peep of clouds here, thank you very much. Alas, I can’t say that. Truthfully, there are days that I question what I’ve been doing the past three years. I question the wisdom of my choices. I question whether or not to continue. I mull over the options of going back to a full time, punch-the-timeclock job.

What do I do to keep writing? I can’t say that I consciously have a plan in place to keep me moving forward. Sometimes the deluge of the current storm gets me in a funk and I don’t write. Sometimes for a few days. Occasionally the funk period has lasted a whole week. I wallow in the mire and waste away far too many hours playing mindless computer games. One weekend I binge watched a whole sitcom season in three days.

Fortunately I have several pre-committed deadlines already in place. I have a monthly newsletter, Back Story. I have my weekly reader’s newsletter, Trisha’s Tidbits. I’m in a weekly writing group, Tuesday Tales, that writes to a word or picture prompt each week. And, the first Wednesday of each month? I need a blog post ready for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. So after a few days of inactivity and slothfulness, one of these standing deadlines rears its talon and snatches me back into the writing game. Usually I find once I’ve written the 300-800 words needed for one of these projects, my self-pity party is over and I’ve placed my ‘Writer’ hat back on my head and I’m pounding the keyboard, the fears, insecurities, and doubts vanquished once again.

 

Check out more Insecure Writer’s Support Group posts here.

Third Times a Charm #IWSG #Nano #Nanowrimo

Today I’m writing for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s blog hop. The first Wednesday of each month, we write in inspiration to a question posed by the group’s administrators. If we want to. We don’t need to write in response to the question posed, but I like to use their query as the springboard for the monthly post.

This month we were asked, ‘Win or not, do you usually finish your NaNo project? Have any of them gone on to be published?’

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Third Time’s a Charm

National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo – or NaNo as many call it – descends every November, sending scads of writers into a writing frenzy. Today, the monthly posting day for our IWSG blog, coincides with Nano’s kickoff.

The goal sounds simple. Write 50,000 words in a month. Only a mere 1,667 words per day. You write fast and furious. Banish your inner editor to oblivion for 30 days. Then, after the New Year, take your project and begin the editing and polishing process. For your month long effort, you end up with a nice novella, or a good start on a larger novel.

Only 1,667 words a day. Piece of cake. It’s easy. Right?

It is. Until you try to put it into practice.

Unfortunately the rest of the world doesn’t stop for our writing marathon. Jobs continue. Family life continues. Children and spouses still want fed. They still want clean clothes. Pets still want attention. And then there’s the holidays beginning to edge out all available time. Thanksgiving, with its many family obligations is towards the end of the month and Christmas is breathing down our neck like a demon. We’re trying to write, knowing that we should be buying gifts, addressing cards, and any of the other holiday tasks that multiply like breeding rabbits on steroids.

F&S coverIt took me three times before I completed the goal in 2013 and hit 50,000 words. Or, to be more precise, 50,333 words. My project that year was Fat and Sassy, a story of my grandparents and their six children (one of my mother), mostly set in the early 1940’s. Taking tales of the past – mostly from my mom – and fictionalizing them into this book was very rewarding. It took another three years though before the project was completed and published.

In 2009 I tried Nano for the first time with Three Bags Full. I made it to 19,000 words. In 2012 I tried again with Prissy and Paige and made it to 24,625 words. Yikes! Better, but still not there.

Then…ta-da! In 2013 I finally made it!

I participated for the next three years, and made it each time. In 2014, A Better Life A to Z made it to 50,602. In 2015, My Wildest Dream hit my highest mark at 57,823. In 2016, Peonies & Peppermint reached the goal at 52,087. Alas, a computer crash wiped out A Better Life and My Wildest Dream. Since I had a pre-publication obligation to Amazon to upload My Wildest Dream by a certain date, I frantically wrote for several weeks to try to recreate that book. (Writing more furiously even than I did during Nano!) If I failed to upload the book, I’d lose the ability to offer prepublication deals – for a year I think. So there’s a book there, but I don’t promote it and need to either take it down, or add to it.

This year, starting today, I’m working on another project, Every Day’s a Good Day, which I’ve talked about writing for three years now. It’s time. And I need the kick in the pants that Nano gives us. And I’ll make it again – even if I have to use a dirty little trick. The book is about working in a retail environment and maintaining a positive attitude. ‘Retail’ is a word that will come up often. So, if instead of writing ‘retail’ I write ‘retail-job-that-sucks-the-living-life-out-of-mere-mortals’…I get 11 words instead of 1. That should help me stretch and reach that goal of 50,000 words in nothing flat!

 

Check out more Insecure Writer’s Support Group posts here.

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