Today is your Day…

Congratulations!

Today is your day,

You are off to Great Places

You are off and away!

So starts one of my favourite stories, for those that don’t recognise it, it is called Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by Dr Seuss.  My son was given it when he was a toddler and it is one of his favourites too.  It is about growing up and trying your best in whatever you do.  Another one of my favourites is The Lorax, which has a strong environmental message.

What I suppose I am coming to, is theme.  Whether you like it or not, all stories have a theme.  Sometimes you aren’t even aware of it when you are writing it, you just want to get the words out before your head explodes into a million pieces and makes a big mess… OK, well maybe that only happens to me.

Themes can be subtle, or they can be very obvious, like Dr Seuss’ books, which is directed at kids, but even as a teenager I didn’t fully understand the Lorax until it was pointed out to me.

So, with my story, which has no title at present, I have been thinking about the theme I want to have throughout my story.  And I have come up with Trusting others.  Which sounds like a strange one, but my main character has trust issues.  And because she is the head of an underground organisation, she is forced to rely on those further down the chain that she might not necessarily know.  She also holds a secret that if exposed could put the whole operation into jeopardy.  She meets a vigilante who is a double agent, and she struggles once more with trust.

I am looking forward to writing this story, and seeing what predicaments I can put my main characters through to see how they respond!

I intend on trying to write a blog a day, even if it just on word count update, so join the journey with me.

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Creativity Workshop – last review

Wow, hard to believe it has been three months, but it has been.

While I would like to say it has been successful, in some ways it was, but in others, it was far from it.  But I made it to the very end, even if only by the skin of my teeth!

My first block was on gothic tales, and I have one short story that is not completed.  While some might view this as a failure, I see it in a more positive light.  I now know what are the elements of a gothic story, and I am embarking on writing a Gothic Novel in October as part of the Gothic Novel writing month at Books Down Under.  I have the confidence now to write in this genre, and I have a relatively good story lined up too.

Next I focused on conflict, and various types of conflict.  I was writing on my SoCNoC Novel for KiwiWriters when I was doing this, so I incorporated this into my novel, and it worked.  I believe I have a better understanding of conflict within a story, whether it is situational, relational, intellectual, emotional.

My last group were themes, and I started by writing a novel with short stories, however the idea didn’t quite come off as planned, and will involve a bit more than just writing short stories.  It is something I wish to pursue, so watch this space.

Being a novellist, rather than a short story writer, I found the concept of writing one short story a week very tough, to the point that, while it was a great exercise, I think I will stick to my goals of one a month, and that way I won’t get burnt out and confused, or over stimulated.  As it is I have two novel ideas that are just vying for my attention, and no natural inclination to want to write at the moment.

I have enjoyed the workshop, and especially looked forward to the Saturday’s for the prompts, because some of them were so whimsical and amazing that story ideas just flowed.

Thank you very much Merilee for the time and effort you have put into sourcing the writers who have contributed to the weekly sessions and for your own writing and inspiring efforts.

Creativity Workshop – Reading Themes Review

Okay, so my mission last week was to read fairytales and see how their themes are written.  Some were obvious, some weren’t, and some had that many interpretations it really spun the mind.

Fairytales were originally cautionary tales that were passed down verbally from generation to generation.  It was in the late middle  ages that they were finally written down and grouped together to form collections.

I have learnt a lot about themes this week, and it was a refreshing change to writing (sorry Merilee, I think I am suffering burnout!)  So I will work on this again next week, with something a little closer to my heart, looking up Swedish / Norwegian stories to see what themes they had and see how similar they are to their European counterparts.

Creativity Workshop – Themes Week III

OK, so we are onto the third week of the Themes based short stories, and I am really getting into this.  Apart from the glitch where I have been telling the story rather than having it as a short story, I think I am over that now, and have some ideas of where I want to go.

So this week, as well as re-writing the stories I have already done, I also want to focus on two more stories – Stop trying to control the uncontrollable and you will be free and In all that you do, give generously.  These are two very important life lessons for me, because it took me a while to cotton on to them, but once I did, I have never felt more blessed than I am now!  Giving of my time, my resources, my money has really allowed me to feel more generous and the upshot is that I have more to give back when I do give generously!  Also learning to stop trying to control things, I have more time and effort to spend on those little things like reading to my son, listening to him talk about his favourite subjects (dinosaurs, whales or trains) or just sitting in the sunshine with my eyes closed and feeling the warmth on my skin.  Once upon a time, I didn’t allow myself time to do that because I didn’t have enough time.  Now I do!

So writing this week is going to be another fun week, provided I get work done!  With the school holidays it is going to be a challenge.

Creativity Workshop – Themes Week II

Okay, so last week I started on this themed stories that I am keen to work on, only because I really need to get a grasp of theme before I start writing rather than trying to figure it out afterwards.  Why is this important to me?  Well, being a less than logical thinker, I tend to do things the hard way, and I write and write and write until I am finished, then I tend to think – okay, so what is the plot? what is the theme? why did I give those characters those traits.  Normally writing is just a natural thing for me, although people who read my writing often wonder what planet I was on when I was writing,  but hey, I only write for my own enjoyment, (and I have discovered that I really would go mad if I didn’t write or be creative in some way – ask my husband!)

So last week I started this story about Sara, that I want to turn into a novel.  I did the set up story, where she had to move house, her mother is killed and she moved into a new place all within a three week period.  It came together so nicely that I even got to start on the next story – Love is Everchanging.

Because I have been trying to thrash out a novel as well, I have decided to work on two short stories a week, because I have been doing 10k a week on average, so I want to keep up the momentum.  This week I think I will focus on : friends – because with recent events in my life I have realised just how valuable friends are.

Sara is turning into quite a troubled twenty something, who thinks that her life has just crashed in on her, and it has, but she will come out the other end a stronger person because of all the interactions she has.

I have also decided to do away with the words of the week, only because I have found that while I can use them, they don’t easily lend themselves to what I want to write, and I have found that if I try to work them in, I lose the thread of my story.

To go with my new buoyant mood, I have also updated my page.  As much as I love my “Bridge of Serenity” as I named it, I thought I needed something that reflected the changes I am making in my life, and I liked this one instantly!  It has an Asian feel without being too over the top.  So for now, this is my new page.  Enjoy!

Creativity Workshop – Themes

Okay, so for the final 6 weeks, I am going to work on themes.  Why 6 weeks?  I will explain later.  First, let’s explore themes.

So theme – I have often written a story and wondered what the theme of it was, and it wasn’t until looking back over it, that I have found my theme.  So for this exercise, I wanted to be more conscious of my theme.  Therefore, I found an interesting website that clearly explained what theme was:

The theme of a literary work is its underlying central idea or the generalization it communicates about life. The theme expresses the author’s opinion or raises a question about human nature or the meaning of human experience. At times the author’s theme may not confirm or agree with your own beliefs. Even then, if skillfully written, the work will still have a theme that illuminates some aspects of true human experience

OK, so the theme is really what the entire story is about (as opposed to plot, which is how your story moves along).  So does one identify a theme in their (or anyone elses) story?

Sometimes the theme may be clearly stated. More often, the theme is implied or suggested through other elements. In fact, you can determine the theme by looking closely at other literary elements involved, such as, characterization, setting, events, point of view, tone, irony, imagery, etc. In other words, theme is illuminated through these literary elements.

Courtesy of http://www.schoollink.org/csd/pages/engl/lesson5.html

So to find a theme, keep reading.  Sometimes it isn’t until you get the end of the story that you find it, sometimes it runs throughout the story.  Some themes that are common are love, friendship, family values, morals, death, sacrifice.

Okay, so I had this dream a couple of weeks ago, about this hallway, that spirits channelled down, sort of like a grand central station.  But they stopped to tell tales of their lives or to provide lessons they had learnt and wanted to pass on.  The more I thought about the idea, the more it grew on me, and a novel has just about sprang out of it.  So, I have a title – Life Lessons from the Dead and the overall story is about Sarah Wilkinson (an old family name that just seemed to lend itself to this story) who is grieving for her mother who was killed by a drunk driver.  So the overall theme of the story will be about forgiveness.

The brief of the story is this:  Sarah has to move into the house, and finds a book – the book of truths which is blank, but each time she meets a spirit person and listens to their tale, she finds a new truth added to her book.  I have a list of 8 subthemes which will be the basis of eight characters that visit with her, although no doubt I will think of more.   To give you an idea, of the truths she learns, love is everchanging, have something to believe in… these are simple things that people should live their lives by.

I am quite excited about this whole concept, as each story will be a complete short story on their own, but will be linked together by Sarah’s own battle to accept her mothers death and to learn forgiveness.

This weeks story will be setting up the tragedy and meeting Sarah Wilkinson, and to make this story different, I think I will try writing it in first person and see what happens.

And of Course, who could forget the words for the week – I wish I could!

vernacular \ver-NAK-yuh-ler\, noun:

1. The plain variety of language in everyday use.
2. The language or vocabulary peculiar to a class or profession.
3. The native speech or language of a place.
4. Any medium or mode of expression that reflects popular taste or indigenous styles.

adjective:
1. (of language) Native or indigenous.
2. Using the native language of a place.
3. Using plain, everyday language.

quintessential \kwin-te-SEN-shel\, adjective:

Being the most typical manifestation of a quality or a thing

festoon \fe-STOON\, verb:

1. To adorn with hanging chains or strands of any material.
2. Dentistry. To reproduce natural gum patterns around the teeth or a denture.

noun:
1. A string or chain of flowers, foliage, ribbon, etc., suspended in a curve between two points.
2. A decorative representation of this, as in architectural work or on pottery.
3. A fabric suspended, draped, and bound at intervals to form graceful loops or scalloped folds.
4. Dentistry. The garlandlike area of the gums surrounding the necks of the teeth.

indemnity \in-DEM-ni-tee\, noun:

1. Protection or security against damage or loss.
2. Compensation for damage or loss sustained.
3. Something paid by way of such compensation.
4. Legal exemption from penalties attaching to unconstitutional or illegal actions, granted to public officers and other persons.

oscitant \OS-i-tuhnt\, adjective:

1. Yawning, as with drowsiness; gaping.
2. Drowsy or inattentive.
3. Dull, lazy, or negligent.

hegira \he-JAY-ruh\, noun:

1. A journey to a more desirable or congenial place.
2. The flight of Muhammad from Mecca to Medina to escape persecution a.d. 622: regarded as the beginning of the Muslim Era.

amok \uh-MUHK\, adjective:

1. In or into a jumbled or confused state.
2. In or into an uncontrolled state or a state of extreme activity.
3. In a frenzy to do violence or kill.

noun:
1. A psychic disturbance characterized by depression followed by a manic urge to murder.

One of them I use for work anyway (indemnity), and there are a few there that I know, so perhaps it won’t be too hard this week… yeah right!