Of Ghosties and Ghouls

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As the title says, ghosties – ghouls not so much.

When I was a small child, my mother and I visited a neighboring farm. They lived in an old and typical two storey farmhouse.

We sat in the kitchen, and the ladies had tea. As they visited, I saw an old lady, and I said to my mother, “Mommy, who’s that old lady that went into the cupboard?”

The cupboard was a large wardrobe-like affair with drawers and a big door. I remember to this day that the little old gray haired lady walked slow, and with a cane.

The adults had not seen anything.

Another instance that has no explanation, is one that my mother had when she was a child. She grew up in a farming community. This would have likely been in the 1920’s.

Her father, my grandfather, took the girls along when he went to harvest some fields at an abandoned property.

That night, when everyone went to bed down, there was the sound of horses’ harness, jingling and coming up the lane.

Grandpa got up and looked out the window of the old house but there was no sign of anyone.

He laid down  and reassured my mother and her sisters that there was no one there.

Once again, the little group tried to sleep. Once again, they heard the harness jingle that indicated someone was driving up the lane.

Once more, Grandpa got up and went to look. There was nothing to see.

In the morning, the family gathered up their things, and they left the house and property.

Grandpa never went back there.

My mother told me this story and she said that no one ever had an explanation.

I wonder if the deserted property was left by someone who didn’t want to leave. And they returned…..in spirit.

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Moving Day and Writing

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I am preparing to move, and I had a staging expert in, to help sort out what should go where, for the sale.

As I read through the recommendations she made, in regards to sorting, making rooms look good to prospective buyers, and donating to charity what I can no longer use or need to keep, it occurred to me that this process is somewhat like editing one’s writing.

As I edit, I pare down the too long sentences, substitute better words, add descriptions and overall, make the piece more attractive to agents and to readers.

I am now off to sort through what is the result of thirteen years in one residence.

Keep editing those drafts!

Plots and Outlines

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Some writers create an outline of the story, before they begin to write. Others are knowing as “pantsers” and prefer to write and plot as they go along.

The main thing to remember about a plot is that it should generally follow these guidelines, whether planned ahead of time, or as the work progresses.

Three Act Structure

Act One is the Set up

  1. Beginning
  2. Inciting Incident
  3. Second Thoughts

Climax of Act One

Act Two

  1. Obstacle
  2. Obstacle

(these obstacles are ascending action)

The Midpoint (a big twist)

  1. Obstacle
  2. Disaster
  3. Crisis

Climax of Act Two (this is the height of the story)

Act Three is the Resolution

Descending Action as Climax of Act Three

followed by the wrap up and the End.

I tend to write and create as I go along. The characters, so far, have taken on their own personalities and behaved as they wish. I do not plot an outline ahead of time. That is for later, once the main part of the story is written. This has served me well and I don’t think that I will try a plot line in advance, any time soon.

 

Fostering and Critiquing a Story

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I admire those parents who bring children into their home who are in need of foster care. For the majority, the home atmosphere and gentle parenting is beneficial to the children and the act must give the parents involved a feeling of satisfaction in doing a good thing.

I consider the stories that I write to be in need of care too. When a reader picks up one of my stories, they are, in essence, adopting, or fostering, if you will, that story, for a short while.

Of course, a reader will either dislike or like what they read. The writer must take a chance, and offer their stories up, with that in mind.

Recently, on a review site, a critique of one of my stories referred me to a movie from 1972 and suggested that I had plagiarized the tale. Of all things! The person who wrote the critique even went so far as to give me a link on IMDB to the movie synopsis.

Of course, it turns out that I have never seen the movie, nor read anything by the author behind the production. I was angry, but succeeded in accepting the poorly written critique with, what I hope, was some grace.

Just because that one person appeared to dislike what I had written, and compared it to an existing theme, doesn’t mean that the next reader will dislike it too.

It has been said that there are no new stories, only new ways of telling them.

I believe this to be true. The basic outlines have been posted on the web in many places.

Wikipedia: The Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations

I think that when we write, we need to find our voice and just tell the story, in our own individual way.

That critique was a reminder of that.

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