AdministratorAugust 16, 2021 at 9:21 pm
Here we’re going to dive in with our first guided writing exercise by learning two crucial S’s of writing a good story: Sequence and Staying on Track. https://vimeo.com/588007279/8a036b1174
Feel free to post your work in this thread–we’d love to see it! 😍
MemberAugust 18, 2021 at 1:38 pm
My ears sift through the strange sound in a haze. It’s vague and subtle. I rub my eyes harshly with the back of my palm. My sleepy brain is trying to make sense of the scene around me, while I gradually land back on earth. It’s 9:13 AM. My husband Yossi and I are enjoying a much-needed vacation in an L.A. hotel. As the annoying sound persists, I sit up on the bed confused, trying to put the puzzle pieces together. Yossi is up already and is getting dressed rather energetically. The sound is still very low, and he looks exceptionally calm and oriented. As if to clarify my suspicions, the alarm in our room starts blaring. Reality suddenly strikes me. Fire in the building! Face aghast I dive out of bed. There is clearly a fire blazing nearby. Although I don’t smell any smoke, my sense of survival is activated. I run around the room in an attempt to get hold of my socks. Within seconds I find them and shlep them on. My heart is practically beating out of my chest. “Heiliga bashefer I’m going to be a good girl, help us get out fast!” I whimper hoarsely. I can’t help but notice Yossi smirking ever so slightly at my temimos’dig prayer. I zoom to the door, frantically opening all the locks. I notice the evacuation map firmly attached to the door. A quick glance shows our room is right next to the staircase. Thank you, Hashem! I send the door flying open. “Where’s Yossi Tatta in himmel? Doesn’t he notice the ground below us is burning?” I venture back into the room and find a man looking for his pants. I’m on the verge of passing out. “It’s here!” I blurt out throwing his pants into his folded arms. He’s not satisfied. “This is the weekday one”. “Who cares! Just come!” I shoot back in utter panic. But it’s shabbos and wearing shabbosdiga pants is clearly important to him. After some thorough searching, he finds the shabbosdiga pants and puts them on. I’m tempted to go for a mad dash out of the building, but the thought of leaving Yossi behind makes me shudder. “Come!” I wail peeking into the room, my knuckles white around the doorknob. I’m relieved when Yossi finally decides he’s ready to evacuate. Legs feeling unsteady against the ground and eyes glossy I trudge down the stairs with Yossi leading the way. The world around me is blurry, and not only because I didn’t yet put on my contacts. When we’re halfway down, Yossi turns around to face me. “Did you take the keys?” I didn’t. How could I anyway in the whirlwind of confusion? Who can think of petty things like these when you’re running for your life? Keys? Seriously? His practicality boggles my shaken mind. “It’s amazing how he doesn’t lose his cool in the most chaotic circumstances!” I admire him silently. Or maybe is just the fact that he’s a male and I’m female.
AdministratorAugust 21, 2021 at 10:40 pm
A false alarm is definitely fine for an ending. I’d love to hear how you take us through the heart-pounding action to that final, “what a relief!” conclusion, @youngmom !! And hon, you ALWAYS pass, nothing to do with my wise advice, because you are, very simply, a STAR! 🌟⭐✨🤩
MemberAugust 19, 2021 at 9:05 pm
I have been meaning to write a short article about my father during the war but I never got round to it because I kept stopping to do research to make sure the story matched the relevant dates. Your tips gave me the idea to first research the history and then begin to write. So the following will probably only make sense to me and will not bear relation to the story but will help me get started. Thanks
10 Nov 1938, Krystalnacht
Nov 2 1938, Hungary was granted one-quarter of Slovak and Ruthenian territories. Cut off from parents. Him in Czechoslovakia. Parents in Hungary
April 3 1939, Arrived in England Erev Pesach
England accepted students. Studied electrical engineering.
March 15 1939, German troops marched into Czechoslovakia
3 September 1939, The United Kingdom declared war on Germany.
War work in metalworking company
May 1943 Married
1944 Erev Pesach. Joined army.
This is so important, @ritagross ! You took this amazing step of outlining your story which means that you’ve paved the way to WRITE your story!!! Once it’s all laid out it is so much easier to conceptualize and then dive right in. Wow!!! Please let us know how you’re getting on with this. Looks like such an important story to tell.
MemberAugust 20, 2021 at 1:38 am
Riva!! This was just delicious, if I may say so! (Yeah, food can be delicious too 🤣!)
Though I’m not going to do this exercise (now), I had to comment on this video! It’s so clear, and your warmth and care definitely shine through! Your kids have an amazing mother! I can’t wait to read it! 😍
MemberAugust 20, 2021 at 4:23 pm
Thanks Riva .Looking forward to your future posts !
Question : Can the assignment be done for fiction as well ?
AdministratorAugust 21, 2021 at 10:49 pm
Great question! So I’d say for sure you can use this exercise with fiction, @Newcomer ! Quality fiction should also be organized in terms of timeline, but you can often take more liberty with meandering (so long as it lends itself to the piece, of course!), since you don’t necessarily need to be as hyper-focused on your message as in non-fiction.
MemberAugust 20, 2021 at 4:53 pm
I don’t outline!
Or maybe I do. But I call them brain dumps 😂. And they look something like this (fiction):
Story #1 Raincloud (this brain dump is all imagery. Works for me!).
Rain glittered the asphalt pavement and freckled the wood picnic tables.
Snacking on ice cream 😊
Rain dripping through sunshine
Wind passing overhead
Between broken clouds
Light and fleeting
Little brother pointing out that she’s been dropped by her BFF:
“Can I have a sip?” Oren appeared between broken clouds and fleeting rain. I let him drink from my water bottle without wiping his mouth first, because the feeling of being needed mattered. He drank rapidly and swiped his lips with the back of his hand. “Victoria has a new friend,” he observed.
I followed his gaze examining Victoria. Giggling with Ilana. Planning their summer in sunshine with a splash of ice cream on the side.
Appearance of rainbow
Symbolism: Cleansing, rebirth,
Feeling abandoned, replaced.
Story #2: You Burn; I Bleed. (This has more substance. You’re welcome 😝)
Girls use up their paints
Refuses to sell her art. Terrified of putting herself out there 😱
Row of unsigned canvases
Oh! This: I watched her regard the row of canvases lined up on the floor against the wall. All like beautiful young ladies dressed in colorful coats with lovely pink lipstick and floral scarves wrapped around their necks. None have my signature yet.
Blue and purple imagery (bruise/injury)
Foreshadowing of burning disaster!
Discovery of The Crayon 😝
“There’s a box of broken crayons here,” I offered, opening the drawer. “But they’re kind of useless.
“Useful,” Kay corrected. She crouched down near me and scooped up the bits. In her palm, the crayons looked like shredded rainbows.
Meaning of word crayon: Edwin Binney joined the French word “craie,” meaning stick of chalk and “ola” from the word “oleaginous. (not useful 🤣).
Melting down the crayons (to boil down our ugly parts into something beautiful kind of thinking).
Burning: I opened my mouth to say something poetic and meaningful as the tray tipped and splashed, encasing Kay in a fire of molten color.
Chanukah time? Fear of flames?
Imagery of feeling exposed examples (looping skin wounds with fear of sharing her art).
a. Auctioning my art was like standing onstage with my skin off and guts exposed.
b. Kay and I dumped our findings on the table and started slitting the wrappers off the crayons with sharp knives until they all stared back at us, shiny and blushing.
Will sell her artwork to cover her friend’s skin grafts?
Where does her fear come from?
All for now!
AdministratorAugust 21, 2021 at 10:47 pm
Okay, can I do a little dance here because I am FLYING HIGH on this totally brilliant, megawatt creativity, kaleidoscopic, blazing neon, shining post, @fiction-fangirl !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WOW!!!! And I also call them brain dumps!! 😚 This is incredible. I can’t stop thinking about the rain-freckled picnic tables. And the crayons staring back, shiny and blushing……… This is CRAZY!!!!!!!!! 🏆 The juxtaposition, the imagery, the themes, the sophistication. YUM!!!!!! And, of course, greedy ol’ me wants way, way more!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 😛
MemberAugust 26, 2021 at 9:35 pm
Thank you gals! This story is developing supppper slowly, so here’s a bit of what I got so far. Fun fact: The characters decided to turn back time and drag the story into the 1970s. Just following along for the ride:
Nobody uses crayons anymore, but Kai and I did. We were seventeen; too old to be coloring, but we already squeezed through all of Kai’s oil paint tubes, and then scraped out my watercolor palettes.
“My savings are trickling out,” she said through a mouthful of brushes. “What about you?”
I ran my fingers over a stretched cotton canvas. “This is my last piece.”
Kai sighed. “How many paintings do we need to sell in order to buy more paint?”
I laughed. “I’m not putting my stuff for sale.”
Kai rinsed the brushes under warm water with her back to me. “Why not?”
I opened the desk drawer and felt around. My nails scraped something hard and waxy. An indigo crayon. “I don’t feel comfortable putting myself out there.”
Kai didn’t answer. The sound of the water hitting the stainless steel sink sharpened. Rough handling the brushes will ruin them.
“You’re angry.” I sketched a timid blue moon in circular soft strokes. The gritty canvas shaved tiny stubs of wax with each swipe.
She didn’t disagree. I watched her regard the row of canvases lined up on the floor against the wall. All like beautiful young ladies dressed in colorful coats with lovely pink lipstick and floral scarves wrapped around their necks. None have my signature yet.
“An artist is who you are, not what you make.”
She yanked the faucet knobs to shut the water off and whirled around. “Rain, what’s your point?”.
I didn’t have one, except that my art was personal. Auctioning my art was like standing onstage with my skin off and guts exposed.
“What are you doing?” she asked. She pointed at my canvas with her sponge. It was covered in mother-of-pearl bubbles.
“I’m using crayons. At this point, any medium will work.”
She kept staring. I stopped coloring and picked my head up. “I should find more crayons.”
“We have,” she said. She looked at me strangely. Like we were on the cusp of uncapping a two-thousand-year-old vial of untouched purple dye reserved for a king’s royal cape.
“There’s a box of broken crayons here,” I offered, opening the drawer. “But they’re kind of useless.
“Useful,” she corrected. Kai crouched down near me and scooped up the bits. In her palm, the crayons looked like shredded rainbows.
“You want to melt them.”
She grinned. “Economic and beautiful. Everybody loves melted crayon art.”
Maybe she was right. We foraged around for crayons first in her house, and then in mine. I stole the glow-in-the-dark kind from my little sister’s backpack. Kai picked out the black ones from her father’s pen cup in his home office. I even went on a fishing expedition in my mother’s sewing kit to draw out her collection of white crayons she uses as chalk to mark hems on my robes.
“What are you doing?” Lani, my older sister asked, chopping beets at the kitchen counter. With every thwack of the knife, the beets squelched and bled. Next to the cutting board, a bowl of peas waited to be shelled.
“Looking for crayons.” I pulled open the kitchen junk drawer. One purple, two magentas. Score.
“Groovy!” Lani trilled. Her long blonde pigtails smacked her shoulders every time she turned her head.
“Are you using the oven?”
“No.” She waved her knife. “I’m making a beet salad. Antioxidants are good for the body.”
“Whatever.” Lani was a weirdo health nut.
“Taste it. It’s good.”
Kai and I dumped our findings on the table and started slitting the wrappers off the crayons with sharp knives until they all stared back at us, shiny and blushing.
“I love crayons.” Kai exhaled with pleasure.
She giggled like a kid as we mixed and matched colors in compelling patterns and inserted the crayon tray in the blazing oven.
“Sometimes we have to boil down our ugly parts until they morph into beauty,” she said as she took out the tray after the oven timer beeped. I opened my mouth to offer something equally poetic and meaningful as the tray tipped and splashed, encasing Kai in a fire of molten color.
AdministratorSeptember 14, 2021 at 5:09 pm
This story, this absolute work of art, has been sitting on a shelf in my mind for a long time and I wanted to comment on it so badly but it never happened. Today is the day, that auspicious day, when I must do justice to this masterpiece by adorning it with the accolades it so deserves.
@fiction-fangirl , just INCREDIBLE!!!! The prose, the imagery, the scenes, I can’t!!!!!!!!!!!! This is writing of such delicious caliber that I am savoring each word. Please GIVE US MORE!!! Oh–and get this thing published. Yesterday!! ✨🌟🤩
MemberAugust 23, 2021 at 8:00 pm
Hi! Here’s the half baked story .Still thinking how to bring it towards the conclusion , which will be Zissy learning that she cannot do-it-all and her own family comes first ,thus handing guardianship of Chemda back to the social services agency after the 30 day trial period has ended.
First a disclaimer : I am in no way intending to paint a negative picture about the difficulty of adopting or raising a biological special needs child . In fact, I’ve dealt with numerous kids of all ages for whom I still have a soft spot and am still toying with the thought of expanding my family by adopting a special needs child . My plan is to write the story with allot of positivity and love and to illustrate that overexerting oneself for chesed leaves them depleted and ends of being destructive rather than the opposite .
· Zissy meets with social worker and 7 yr Chemda with Down Syndromes. She’s inspired to adopt her and remembers on the way out she forgot to confirm with her husband Aryeh.
· Zissy is nervously preparing the girl’s room. She arrives with the social worker who hands her over Chemda’s file. The girl won’t move until Zissy offers cookies and milk and she eat a dozen. Zissy shows her around but she’s stubborn as ever, clutching her blanket. The other kids (6 kids all ages) come home and zissy introduces them to the new sister. Awkward shyness. Kids start nagging but Zissy is too busy trying to make Chemda comfortable. Zissy opens the file and reads that chemda is Lactose intolerant and speaks a total of 30 words.
· Suppertime. Chemda is upset that the chicken is touching the snap peas salad. she throws the plate and wails. zissy is trying to appease her and has no time to talk to the kids, but she throws back her chair in anger and it lands on boys’ foot who shrieks in pain.
· Family is preparing for cousin’s wedding. Chemda is nowhere to be found. They search frantically and find her in the basement guest room bed after half hr. Takes a while to convince her to join everyone. They arrive after the chuppa.
· Zissy kvetches to Aryeh about her hard day in the park. Chemda wanted the bathroom a few minutes after they arrived, and the kids were disappointed that she left them with the older sister. When she was back, she was busy keeping an eye on her and was frustrated. Aryeh says the rebbe called again to check if they already started with the specialist for Chezkie’s kriah problem. Zissy says she forgot and can’t push another weekly duty into her schedule.
Lemme hear your thoughts!