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All posts for the month June, 2012

What Does This Say?

Published June 8, 2012 by Ms. Nine

You’re not new to writing.  You’ve been writing most of your life.  Everybody writes, even if it’s only a to-do list.  My granddaughter is only four and she writes her name followed by all the letters she’s learned so far.  She hands me her completed page and asks, “Grandma, what does this say?” What does this say?  Indeed, when the writer wants the reader to find meaning in her written word, a loop is formed.  The reader and the writer are one and the same.

Finding meaning is a scary prospect.   What does your writing mean to you?  Is writing a requirement for your day job?  What do you need to write?  A report?  A progress note? An invoice?  A manifest?  If you don’t want to ask the reader what does this say, then your writing becomes an artifact, a crumb in the continuum of man’s time on Earth.

When I was a full time teacher of 152 children, I wrote curriculum content, lesson plans, grants, progress notes, emails, and countless other written works necessary for the job.  In my spare time, I started writing a novel.   For the first time, I wanted to know what does this say.   Then the idea struck me.   I’m happiest when I write for myself.  In March, I left my teaching position to write full time.

For me, the transition from full time teacher to full time writer is a strange and astonishing journey.  What’s most astonishing is the freedom to write and to create my own schedule for doing it.     

Do you have a writing schedule? What does it say?

On a good day, here’s mine:

5:30AM – 10:00AM

     Turn on computer, check email, write blog, read other blogs for inspiration.  Think about what does it say.

10:00AM – Noon

     Take a coffee break.  Do household chores.  Write more.  What will this say?

Noon –lunch break.

12:30PM – 3:00PM

     Think and write more.  What does this say?

3:00PM – 5:00PM

     Write more. Read what I’ve written while preparing dinner and finishing household chores. Try to answer the question what does this say.

After 5:00PM

     Stop writing.  Stop asking what does this say.  Spend time with family. 

At bedtime

     Ask what does this mean.

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Thanks for stopping by! 

Foreshadowing, the Ties That Bind

Published June 5, 2012 by Ms. Nine

     Foreshadowing is necessary to add suspense, connect scenes, and convey information that helps the reader understand what comes next.  If you don’t use it, your reader will disconnect.   

     So, what is foreshadowing?  Think of foreshadowing as signposts in your narrative that lead the reader to a destination in your story.   The signs can be expressed in the setting, in a set-up scene, in dialogue, or in symbolic objects (and lots of other ways!)

In this post I’m going to have a little fun with foreshadowing.

Foreshadowing in the setting:

     Marcy woke up to Here Comes the Sun playing on her ipod alarm clock.  The bright tempo and lyrics bounced her out of bed.   Indeed, the sun streaming through her bedroom windows reflected the song’s sentiment and convinced her that today, she too would shine.  Last night she had worked on her portfolio long after Jay Leno said goodnight.     Now it pulsed on her laptop, a dazzling multimedia presentation.    This morning, she didn’t break the eggs, her coffee perked to perfection, and her toast didn’t burn.  Today will be different, she told herself as she pranced into the shower.   A few minutes later, she donned her only power suit, a coral skirt and blazer trimmed in navy blue.  Grabbing the flash drive and gathering her scattered papers into a folder, she headed out the door.    Carpe Diem!

{—this might be Marcy’s best day.}

Foreshadowing in the set-up scene:

     Marcy gripped the steering wheel of her Honda Civic as she rolled down Main Street at the tail end of the noon rush.   Why would anyone schedule an important meeting at one o’clock?  People are either sleepy from eating lunch or tired and hungry from skipping it. Well, that’s corporate thinking for youEither way, I’ll show them my prospectus and they’ll be eating out of my hand.  She squeaked by three traffic lights just before they turned red.  Bolstered by this good karma, Marcy was certain her interview would result in that promotion – Senior Merchandiser for Kmart’s Kitchen and Bath Department.    She turned right onto Crawford Street with five minutes to spare.    Those five minutes would be eaten up by red police lights flashing in her rear view mirror and the burping, sick horn of a police warning signal.

{—Marcy is going to be late.}

 

Foreshadowing in dialogue:

     Marcy rolled down her window as the officer approached.  “Is there a problem, officer?” she asked in a friendly way.

     “License and registration, please,” the officer replied, all business like.

     “Sure.” She fumbled through her purse, and then handed the items to the officer.

     “Marcy McDonald?  The break light on your passenger side is out.  I’m issuing a citation; you’ll have five days to fix it.  You’ll go to traffic court with proof of the repair and pay the fine.  Understand?”

     Marcy nodded.  

     “One more thing,” the officer continued, “are you planning on parking in this area?”

     “Yes.  I have a meeting in that building,” she said, pointing to a high rise across the street.

     “Then use the off-street parking.  There’s been a rash of break-ins at the municipal parking lot during the afternoon hours.”

     Great! I’m already late.  Finding an off-street space is next to impossible!  I’ll take my chances, carry mace, and lock my doors.

     “Thank-you, officer,” she said, flashing her friendliest smile.

{—Marcy is going to be very late}

 

     In my writing, foreshadowing is often constructed during rewrites.   How does foreshadowing work with you?  Do you write phrases about the future? Do you write changes in setting that guide the reader to a future event?  Do you write scenic elements that suggest emotions, emotions that are tacked on to what comes next? 

Share some examples of your foreshadowing by posting a comment.

Thanks for reading!

 

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