Monday, November 21, 2011

Hold My Hand

The elementary school nearby has weekly 'Fun Runs' during the months of November and December. Students who sign up, run one mile around the school grounds after school. Backpacks line the school walls all around the playground. Children huff and puff and race and giggle.

At the end of the run they receive a plastic footprint from the principal to go on their 'Fun Run' chain. Each week it's a different color. They can also buy otter pops for a quarter. It's all very exciting. It's also tough to run a mile all at once when you're in the lower grades of elementary school.

Recently, I spotted a boy and a girl, jogging along together holding hands. I  would guess the boy to be a third or fourth grader and the little girl probably a first grader. I'm certain it was not 'true love' on the playground, but rather a brother and sister, the older brother looking out for his younger sister. It was a very tender moment for the 'mom' part of me.

So what makes it successful? What makes the kids come back each week?

It's well organized. The path is clearly marked by bright orange cones. There is a reward at the end. But most of all, there are cheerleaders. Teachers and staff, parents and fellow students are out there cheering everyone on, encouraging them to finish. Literal and figurative hand holding gets them through to the end.

As a writer, there are so many ways my hand is held and I know one day, I will get to that finish line. Are we almost there?

A huge THANK YOU to all of you for your support and encouragement and believing that I can do this. Write on my friends.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Grammar Song

Just in time for the holidays, here is a song I found at the Literal Minded blog about helping verbs.

Helping verbs have their place (or they wouldn't be so popular--look, I just used two of them). In our writing, they are great starters, but because they are passive verbs, there is usually a better way to say it.

Let's look at some simple examples:

She was crying. Tighten that baby up: She cried. Or better yet, show us rather than tell us: Tears streamed down her rosy cheeks.

I am so hungry=I want to eat everything in sight.

I have to go=I went=I ran out the door to the safety of my car.

Now it's your turn. Here is a line from my current Work In Progress: He was far more fascinating than the cash register. 

Re-Write away in the comments my friends.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


It's November! Wow. Soon it will be Christmas. I'm so NOT ready for that. The year has flown by. It's been full of fabulous blessings and scattered with a few challenges. That's where I'd like to go with this post: challenges.

Martin Luther King Jr. said, "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."

How does this relate to our characters? Our characters should learn and grow over the course of their story. In order to do this, they need challenges. (Real life is like this, too).

Let your mean streak run wild, hold your characters' feet to the fire. What's the worst that could happen in that scene you're writing? Throw a wicked curve ball at your protagonist. What will they do? Will they run and hide? Will they face the challenge? I don't normally advocate meanness and torture (read this previous post about mean girls), but let loose, have some fun tormenting them. Let them show us their character.

A common saying in our community is "I/you can do hard things." When my children complain about a difficult situation, I quote that line to them and remind them that they CAN do hard things. They hate it when I'm right and storm off to do whatever it was they had attempted to avoid. So, make your 'babies' do hard things, in the end, they will thank you.

Write on my friends!