Wednesday, April 27, 2016

First Page

If you could have the first page of a book painted on a wall in your home, from what book would it be?

Thursday, April 14, 2016

AF Jr. Writers' Conference: Bruce Call

How do you come up with ideas?
  Think, notice
  Take a look around

How do you get past writer's block?
   Take the first step -- get yourself in front of the computer or with the pencil in your hand.
(example:  people who want to run

How do you motivate yourself?

How long do you write for each sitting?
    Writes three or four hours at a time.

How well do you develop your stories before writing?
I have a plan, a goal, many of the things that will take place.
(I can't wait until tomorrow so I can find out what happens next.  Similar to when you are reading a book -- you want to know what is going to happen next -- often surprised.]

How do you create empathy in your books?

What can I do to be a better writer?

How long does it take you to write a novel?

For adolescent novels, likes to write each chapter so a reader can read it within about ten minutes.

How many drafts do you go through?

How do you know your novel is ready for publication?

How do you publish a book?
You can publish it on Amazon -- with your parents help.

Can a young writer like me get a book published?

What's your favorite genre to read?   (only sci fi by Orson Scott Card, horror Stephen King
action, adventure, mytery
Alistair McClain --

What's your favorite genre to write?

What makes a great story?  

Characters                  Plot                                                                Technique

The Hero                    Call to adventure                                             4 to practice today
The Nemesis              a clear goal
The Mentor                obstacles
The Sidekick              a point when it seems that all is lost
Others                        final victory

Writing Exercises 

  1. Write 
  2. Technique 
  3. Rewrite

Writing exercise #1  (empathy)  

The Hero of this story is a 13-year-old boy named Burke.
Burke explores an abandoned old house.
In an empty back bedroom, he steps to the far wall.
When he turns around, a large, mean, growling dog
stands in the doorway, blocking his exit.

Write a paragraph describing how Burke felt all alone, trapped by that menacing dog.  4 minutes

Technique #1  Show, don't Tell

I look at the hole again.  Goose bumps rise on my pale arms, and my stomach lurches.  If I don't do it now, I won't be able to do it at all.  I swallow hard.

. . . and I drop into darkness.

Rewrite, using sensory descriptions.  4 minutes
What did you like?  
used descriptions that are things the reader has  experienced -- example heart pounding in your head
used different senses -- smell, sight, sound
frozen in your mind -- feeling/touch -- warm breath of dog

[When you read your own writing out loud, you put emphasis where it belongs.  A good writer makes the reader put the emphasis where it belongs.]

Writing exercise #2

Every good story includes
a Nemesis (opponent, adversary, rival, or villain) and a Sidekick (friend, pet, R2D2).
Write a paragraph describing either the Nemesis or the Sidekick in a story you've already written  of are writing now.

Technique #2  Use other senses to describe characters 
sight   hearing   smell  touch   taste

Shakespeare -- female character
Beatrice [Act 2, Scene 1]
How tartly that gentleman looks
I never see him, but I am heartburned an hour after

Charles Dickens
describes Scrooge

"Oh! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster. The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, shrivelled his cheek, stiffened his gait; made his eyes red, his thin lips blue; and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice. A frosty rime was on his head, and on his eyebrows, and his wiry chin. He carried his own low temperature always about with him; he iced his office in the dog-days; and didn't thaw it one degree at Christmas.
External heat and cold had little influence on Scrooge. No warmth could warm, no wintry weather chill him." (1.7-8)

Rewrite -- You cannot use the sense of sight 

Share -- 
What did you like?  

C.S. Lewis -- describing spirits -- could see or not see them, like dirt on a window

Writing exercise #3

The Hero of this story is a seventh grader (boy or girl) who is so quiet and shy that he/she is almost never noticed by people.  The Hero would like to have friends, but has a hard time even speaking to others.
Write the first scene in the story where we meet the Hero.

(Hero here means protagonist -- the main character -- may not be very heroic, may even be "bad.")

Technique #3  Make us Care about the Hero

[One way  to make us like the Hero is to make the nemesis clearly bad.
Have another character in the story care about the hero.
Nemesis can be likable in some ways -- Apollo Creed in Rocky] 

  • make the character likable
  • make the character powerful
  • make the character funny
  • putting the character in jeopardy/danger
  • undeserved misfortune
  • liked by others 
The main character is speaking 
The Lightening Thief 
"Look, I didn't want to be a half-blood.
 If you're reading this because you think you might be one, . . . . 


Use at least one of these elements:

likable        powerful    funny     in jeopardy          undeserved misfortune       liked by others    

[Important element in a story can be the  between the power of the nemesis and the power of the hero.]

The hero of this story is Kyle, a 14 year-old-boy.    The nemesis devises a cruel challenge for Kyle: he msut scale a hundred-foot rock cliff with no ropes, and he must do it before the sun sets.  Otherwise the Nemesis will kill Kyle's goldfish.

Write two paragraphs about the first half of Kyle's dangerous climb up the rock cliff.

for each sequence, every para graph but the Last ends in disaster

This is a sure-fire way to build tension.

She couldn't breathe. The river of water forced her down, down to the very bottom, held her there and wouldn't let her go, wouldn't let her push to the surface.

Rewrite the two paragraphs describing the first half of Kyles climb
This time, both paragraphs end in disaster.

(Note to teacher: Get the PowerPoint from Mr. Call.)
Teach how to comment on what you like about writing -- specifics -- not just "good description"

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Advice to a Young Writer

Advice to a young writer: One day, you will find yourself involved in a serious discussion about whether a period should be italicized. This is perfectly normal.
 -- David Lubar 

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Monday, March 28, 2016