What Are You Working On?

This blog ended up being about sharing a series of writing challenges.  I not only like to read yours, but I like to try my hand at some too. (I did try giving Zeus a blog, but I was so late posting it, I was the only one who read it.)  So I’m hoping that when you accept writing challenges here, it adds to your writing momentum.

Which begs the question—what are you working on?  Tell!  Maybe we can give each other a boost and cheer each other on.  If you’re not working on a specific project, share your favorite writing dream. 

What are you working on?

65 responses to “What Are You Working On?

  1. I’m in FL and I’m working on my tan!! You can all cheer me on if you think it will help me get a deeper, darker tan.

    Actually, I did write a few verses of haiku WHILE I was tanning the other day. Even on vacation, I’m multi-tasking. Teehee!

  2. I am back to trying to write every day. Just as I establish that working on my computer at my writing desk works for me, I’m heading out to NYC (for the first time ever!) and will be writing in my old notebook/journal again. I am bringing Writing Down the Bones so I suspect my inner and outer journeys will be rich.

  3. Good book. I hope you stop to see some of the great art museums there. Or perhaps a concert. Both are great boosts for your creative side. So many ideas. Have fun!

  4. Ann, I just finished “Write your life story.” It was such a contrast from creative writing. Practically the entire class were middle-aged and had some astounding stories to tell. The tone was “gut level” with a sprinkeling of humor every now and then. I submitted the following for the assignment on how writing about family makes me feel.
    Feelings
    From 1973 to 1980, I lived in the abyss of prescription drug addiction. Antidepressants and sleeping pills were the fabric of existence. I sat all day staring out windows and counting off the minutes until it was time to take another pill. At the height of my sickness, I was taking thirty different kinds of pills per day. Each pill was designed to prevent me from feeling anything and they worked their magic until I could not speak or walk.
    I thank God daily for rescuing me from that Hell. However, when I finally regained my senses, I had the emotional stability of an infant. After so many years of numbness, every sensation was exaggerated and uncontrollable. I could go from sobbing to giddiness in sixty-seconds flat. The learning curve to emotional steadiness was an ordeal, especially for a thirty-something.
    When I write about the places and people in my life, I feel Blessed. Feelings, good or bad, have a value beyond measure in my life. I am Blessed.
    “I love writing. I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions.” James A. Michener

    • I am glad your back with us. I enjoy your writing. keep going you have a lotinside thats wants to come out.

    • I’m sorry to hear of the hard times you’ve been through. I also know what major depression is like from personal experience. We’re lucky to be where we are now, mentally and emotionally. We can appreciate living in the light after being way, way down.

    • How wonderful that you can tell your more complete story here. It’s quite inspiring to hear a story about mastering such a heavy burden, and then coming out on top. I always like to read what you write, PB. May you always put words onto the page.

  5. Ann I’m rewriting a few of my stories to add lenghth to some I used for courses. I am also waiting for your Writing Essentials course to start.
    I have a few idears i’m working on about my backyard friends.
    Writing has given me inner strength. At 64 years you would think i would have it but i didn’t. I lived in shadows of other people for a long time. writing has given me a self worth. I am happy now thanks to the written word. also photography is helping me. thanks to all.

    • Writing has and does wonders for me too. I’ve come a long way since my first writing class in 2006 with Ann. I’m so glad you’ve gained so much from the power of self expression through words put down and saved.

  6. Marion, I understand your statement of living in the shadows of other people, but i am so heartened that you found your own light to shine in with writing. I took Ann’s Writing Essentials, it is excellent. I think everything she does is excellent. Keep going my friend.

    • Thanks peanutberanski. I took alot for me to get into my own and i love the fact that people write back and help each other.. I’m looking forward to getting help here about my work. As many comments as it will take to get my writing up to a good standard. I also agree i took anne’s BWW course and loved it and the interaction of the students. Feedback good or bad is helpful in all ways.

  7. Barbara Burris

    Right now, I’m working on three projects. Two are essays that ebb and flow and will come together one way or another in time. The third, I’m not so sure about. I’m trying to write my mother-in-law’s ‘history’. I have been using a book to stimulate thoughts for questions, but she often draws a blank on them, or doesn’t seem to want to answer. She is 88 years young, and quite a character. But she is not a person who collects details. She has traveled extensively throughout her adult lifetime, but when asked about her trips, has always been inclined to say simply that she had a good time or not. If not, it was sometimes because of a particular person in the group. She may tell one sentence about why this person bothered her, but nothing to make a story about. And at her current age, she probably doesn’t remember a whole lot anymore. She wasn’t a picture taker, either, so often spent weeks in exotic places without ever taking one photo that might stimulate other memories. To complicate matters a bit more, we’re trying to accomplish this task mostly via email because we don’t live near one another and when we do, there is always other family visiting so there is no time available for this project.

    I have about a dozen pages of quotes — answers to the questions posed about her childhood, family, etc. We’re working on the time when my husband and his siblings were children. I enlisted their aid in remembering events to stimulate her thoughts, but still, few details emerge from her viewpoint. So I’m left with a series of quotes, almost like a list, and not really any idea how to flesh it out, without getting too ‘creative’.

    If any of you have done this or something like it and have any suggestions, I’d really appreciate the help. Thanks!

    • Barbara, this sounds like quite an ambitious venture, especially without all the details available to you, but from what I’ve read of your work, I believe you will triumpth. You certainly are on the right track and I applaud your committment to finish this for your family. Well done my friend.

      • Barbara Burris

        Thanks, Peanut. Mom is very anxious to have something written about her and is a willing participant, just not always able. Unfortunately, we waited too long and there are no longer any other family members of her generation to help add to her memories or flesh them out. I still am in a quandry about the voice to use. I have a beginning I like in her voice, but feel awkward continuing, so this will probably take some time. Thanks again for your encouragement!

  8. I’m cleaning my kitchen.

    Well, the sun is back in my valley for the first time since November and it makes spring cleaning compulsory. Inside each cabinet and out, appliances, walls, etc., they will all be getting some TLC.

    Unless the muse shows up, that is — and she’s muttering in the background about a couple things– the OCD might spread to the rest of house. Doing anything outdoors, like picking up litter along the highway, is out of the question with five to six feet of snow on the ground.

    I haven’t ignored writing totally, though. Since mid-December, I have been copying the travel journals off my blog, formatting them with photos, printing them on special two-sided paper, and then having them bound. I’ve been giving them to friends who were on the various trips with me. So far ‘Ive made multiple copies of nine different books. Very time-consuming.

    I think the muse got a little bored with the old stuff, the been-there-done-that writing.

    I’m also taking both Introduction and Intermediate Word 2010 at ed2go, specifically to learn more about formatting. Waiting on a nearby shelf is Microsoft Publisher and Adobe Photoshop Elements 10.

    Back to the kitchen.

    • Dear Gully, I am enchanted with your Blog and have suggested it to many of my friends, who are equally enchanted. Thank you for sharing your eloquent writing and breath-taking pictures with the world. Maybe you should post a picture of your clean kitchen when you’ve finished.

  9. Hi Ann. Thanks for asking. I’ve been working on my 2010 NaNo novel trying to make it presentable. I think its working, slowly. Still have my blog that I post to, but have just renamed it from Parrot Writes to Linda Writes because I’ve begun to submit some of my children’s stories to agents and need a more presentable moniker. I’m currently enrolled in Beginners Guide to Getting Published. Have also been entering contests – a goal to get out of my comfort zone AND enjoying participating on your site. It does make a difference! THANK YOU

    • Linda/Parrot, I am heading to your blog right after I post this. I am a big fan of your writing and look forward to reading anything you are working on. My vote is to keep the “Parrot” but I am only just another scatter-brained creative writer….What do I know?

  10. Thank you everyone!
    You have inspired me. I’m meeting my daughter in NYC to celebrate our (95 combined – she’ll be thirty) birthdays and just now realized that my writer’s sensibilities are more awakened and acknowledged than ever before. Thirsting for the experiences to come!

  11. Currently, I am not working on anything (I don’t know if my technical resume counts).
    Some time in future, I want to write stories about my childhood and my daughter’s Tooth Fairy episodes.

  12. SC, I encourage you to write about both, it is good for your soul.

  13. Fred!
    da?….. What up? You have never been at a loss for words prior…
    I’m working on an advanced fiction class that is NOT the same experience thus far as our BWW, which I loved. Small class, no one seems to be talking to anyone. Only 14 people. Bugger. Trying to keep the story going.

    • LS,

      I had a helluva time trying to get into this site to post. Da was a test. I suppose I could’ve posted test, but Da sounds so Russian. The Writing Essentials class is also quieter. Not the same as BWW at all.

      Well, what are you working on? Here’s another short piece dedicated to my son.

      Apricot seeds are bigger than they ought to be. I know because I swallowed one. Nine years old and as stupid as a career politician, I chewed the pit, sucked it, tongued it back and forth until it plunked into the abyss. I told my Dad, who promptly called Doctor Vern Wilson’s office. We’d go the following day. I’d likely die in the night.

      We walked a mile to catch our bus, and motored to the doctor’s office located in the shadow of the Iowa State Capitol. After a breathy chorus of open-wide AHHH-ing, the doctor said not to worry. The seed would discover an escape route. I felt twenty pounds heavier on the ride home.

      I’d heard about stomach acid and hoped it would make the thing go away. Better it dissolve than to squeeze it out centimeter by gory centimeter through an orifice ill-equipped to handle a football size pit. I could feel it, more like a howitzer shell, moving downward, curly cuing through the small intestine to the large bowel, soon to come a-knocking on sphincter’s door, when I’d have to deal with it.

      Days passed, but not the seed. I vividly dreamed how I’d feel, everyone in the neighborhood looking on, my Dad, bathroom plunger in hand, flailing away at my naked buttocks. I was mortified. My mother wanted to give me castor oil. I had other ideas. Imagine trying to bathe a twenty-legged cat with saber tooth fangs. I’d rather have had my butt, not only plunged, but sucked out with a vacuum cleaner at the State Fair grandstand, than take castor oil.

      I remembered watching a dog that had ingested a peach seed. When delivery time came, the animal shook like a washing machine on spin cycle with a quilt wadded up on one side. It whined pitifully, and after a long bout of scraping its fanny across the ground, propelled by its front legs, the beast gave birth to a bloody, dung-covered mass that made me blanch and blow chow.

      Weeks trudged by. Still no sign of the atom bomb in my large bowel. I was not the only one suffering, though. Dad nervously called Doctor Wilson and explained the situation. Silence, then Dad told the phone, “Three weeks ago.” Longer silence. “Okay, thanks Doc.” He hung up. “Doctor says it’s already gone. Takes two or three days tops. You pooped it and didn’t even know it.” The mortar shell had exited without a whimper.

      I should have been ecstatic, soaring with joy, but all I felt was disappointment. My fate would not include a visit by local newspaper and radio news reporters asking about the next entry into Ripley’s Believe It Or Not. No vacuuming at the State Fairgrounds. The only chance I would ever have at fame was now forever buried in the three-holer out back. Worse, my little sister related her blabby seven year old version of the story in Sunday school. I became more famous than I could have dreamed.

  14. Oh Fred,
    That was so enjoyable.
    It made me remember when I pressed my face on a screen door trying to ferret out my big sister from her friend’s house. I got stung by an unseen bee. I sucked him in while I was howling and his little bee legs turned up on my tounge, making me an instant neighborhood ledgend. I looked like that one kid from the Fat Albert cartoons.
    How old is your son? I bet he treasures these stories from you. Lucky Kid.
    I think we had majic in a bottle with our BWW class. I miss Cankerworm, Papa Smurf, Kalypso, PMFOTF, all of them. I’m glad you showed up here.

  15. LS,

    I’m glad you made it, too. I have missed the BWW bunch as well. A few have joined the Writing Essentials class. Maybe they’ll find us eventually. Gene said he would come here. Haven’t heard anything from him yet. I’m astonished at how a few individuals, totally unknown to each other, can form a bond like this. This is my first experience at blogging, on-line social interaction or whatever its formal name is. Margaret Mead would be fascinated. Crap. My age is showing. You working on anything?

  16. This is the most absurd thing I’ve ever said, and believe me, that is no small claim: I’m working on a novel. ( Horror/Fiction. )
    I’m trying to make sure it is more horror, less horrifying.
    You?

    • Wow, a novel. That takes some chutzpah, LS. I’m proud to know you, and from what I know about you, there’s no great surprise here. You, novel…a match made in heaven. Was your short piece from BWW an excerpt?Please post a little bit now and again. I’m working on more short pieces. One theme seems to rear its ugly head more than any other. Fear. I was afraid most of the time during my childhood. I’ll probably end up in analysis and commit suicide by eating an old copy of War and Peace. Stay in touch.

    • LS,

      What happened? You go underground?

      • Boy, am I glad to see you. I did kinda fall into a hole. There is a new client at work who lives on “the coast”. This fella can’t keep track of a 2 hour time zone difference and has my home phone number. As such, I’ve done what every self respecting dabbler would do, I gave him rabies in first person, present tense, and gout in third person limited.
        I started thinking about First Person and Third Person Limited in writing and reading. What do you think? I would like to hear from anyone willing to chime in on it as well..I’ve been writing (so far about 2000 words) in TPL, and then went back and changed it all to First person. I like the intimacy of first person, and the sense of immediacy it gives, but I get tangled up and blue trying to avoid the “I” traps. I’m torturing myself in phrases. Thoughts?

  17. Fred,
    I’m not a big social networker either. In fact, I try to keep my head down since there are always a zillion BWW postings to respond to every day. But somehow I couldn’t resist this blog. You’d think I’d know better! It turns out any BWW’er who finds their way here and has the pluck to post is sharing stuff I enjoy reading. Apricot seed? That should make the bricolage list of mundane items. You hit this one out of the park. I hope you’ll try more!

    • Thanks, Ann. I’ve wondered since the start of BWW how on earth you manage to keep up. You make the craft easier to understand and more fun. Encouragement is a wonderful thing.

  18. LS,

    Since I’m focusing on this series of first person vinagrettes, I can’t offer much insight. However all the prose I wrote prior to this was easier in third person. My lack of experience is showing. Keep going.

  19. Ibby, Bibby Miney Moe
    “Morning Peanut, want your usual?”
    “Well, actually, no Libby, I’m in the mood for something new and different today. I feel like living life on the edge. How about coffee, two over easy, two strips of well done bacon and wheat toast?”
    “ Wow, that is radical…wheat toast. I’ll be right back with coffee.”
    I had arrived at The Olymipa,( our town’s 100 year old soda shop/candy kitchen) around 7:30 am, writing notebook in hand, anxious to get started on the assignment.
    “Here you are Pea, best java in town. What are you writing today?”
    “I’m here on a clandestine mission for class, I need to eavesdrop on an interesting conversation and turn it into a story.”
    “Cool! David- Paul and Larry are in the far corner battling over what the Supreme Court will do with Obamacare. Why don’t you move closer to them?”
    David-Paul and Larry are local jurists who are charter members of the Contrarian Club. What one says, the other will debate in heated opposition.
    “No thanks, that’s too much hot air for this task, besides I have a word limit. I’ll just sit here, eat, and see what fate brings within ear shot.”
    Even before my eggs hit the grill, the Writing Gods smiled down on me with the arrival of the Three Old Blisters, Lola, Madge and Vergie. They positioned their walkers and cane against the wall and took the booth behind me.
    As Libby came to warm up my coffee, she leaned close to my ear and whispered, “You won’t have to eavesdrop with the Blisters. Would you like earplugs with your eggs?” Giggling, she stepped back and took their orders.
    “Morning ladies, what can I get you today?”
    Libby brought the trio a round of coffee. The clanging of their spoons against the mugs sounded like the opening bell of the World Heavyweight Championship in Madison Square Gardens. I grabbed my pen and readied myself for round one.
    Vergie threw the first punch with, “I didn’t understand a word he said…not one single word.”
    “Who?”
    “Weren’t you paying attention in the car? For heaven sake, Lola. Her grandson, Justin. Now pay attention…For heaven sake.” Madge seemed a bit more agitated than usual.
    “Yes, Justin. He wants me to get on The Facebook, thought it would be good for me.”
    “I don’t trust things like that, Madge said. I think The Facebook is what is wrong with kids today. They go there for dirty pictures, that’s all.”
    “Dirty pictures? Why would Justin want me to see dirty pictures?”
    Lola chimed in, “I told my Nancy not to get the kids hooked on fancy phones and fancy computers. She said they needed them for school. What a load of malarkey. I raised four kids and they couldn’t call me every four minutes. Besides, those things are so expensive. But she said she went on the computer and found one of those I-Pod Pad things real cheap at the Ibby Auction.”
    Libby thought they had called her name, so she came running.
    “Ibby Auction, what on earth is that? Vergie asked.
    “Did you want something ladies?”
    “No dear, we didn’t say Libby, we were talking about that computer place where you can buy cheap stuff, the Ibby Auction.” Madge clarified.
    “Ibby?” Libby asked. “ I think you mean E-Bay not Ibby.”
    “Ibby, Bibby, Libby, makes no difference..it’s still smut.”

    • Peanut,
      I’ve been reading and writing all evening, and sometimes I get print overload. But this was worth it. Loved the ending. You are always fun to read. Are you pursuing any publishing or just having fun goofing around?

      • Thank you Ann. I cannot imagine how much you must read and comment in the course of one of your classes. I am actually considering taking BWW over again, just to see how I would react to the promptings now, but I don’t want to contribute to your work load. I have sent several stories to contests, two magazines and two publishers for anthologies. Nothing yet…but I got one rejection that was so encouraging and lovely, I felt quite overjoyed by it’s tone. I absolutely love GOOFING AROUND HERE! Happy Easter my friend.

  20. LOVE it, Peanut! Smiles throughout!

  21. Pea,

    Beautifully done. Dialogue flows from you. Nothing forced. It’s all very natural, believable. Thanks for the lesson.

  22. Ms. Peanut,
    You know how when you watch a really good movie, you sort of cease to be and you become part of what you are watching? Well, that how I felt while I was reading this. I felt like a went to breakfast with a good friend, and I can’t tell you how much I needed that today, thanks…

  23. Thanks All for your kind comments. Happy Easter.

  24. Lots of people take BWW twice. The surprise value is gone, but then you’re wiser about using the assignments to good advantage. Never worry about my work load. I used to wonder why I couldn’t cut back on my replies a bit, but I can’t. It’s a labor of love. When students thank me, I reply, “It’s my pleasure.” And I mean it.

  25. (I’ve been in the hospital since a week ago Wednesday. I had heart surgery on Saturday, so this is what I’ve been working on)

    I come from a long line of the “culinarily inept.” The Litmus Test for cuisine around our family table was “Is it edible?” We never thought in terms of tasty or even nutritious, it simply had to be non-poisonous. I am not proud of this family stigma, but the Beranski womenfolk were always talented in other areas.
    My mother did manage to mater Macaroni and Cheese, which she would “spice up” with beef jerky for special occasions. We called it MacJerky. Neighborhood kids never ask their moms if they could eat at Peanut’s house and my mother was never pressured to contribute anything for the bake sales at school. Surprisingly, there was a positive aspect of growing up in a gastronomical wasteland; it perfectly prepared my pallet for the nondescript substance that is Hospital food.
    “Hello, Nutritional Services, do you want to place an order?”
    “Yes, this is Beranski in ICU# 3, I would like some breakfast please.”
    “Yes, Ms. Beranski, I have your chart up in the computer. When was your surgery?”
    “Saturday.”
    “Have you moved your bowels yet?”
    Even though I was still in the fog of post anesthesia, I found that question a bit off-putting. You would never be asked that at the Russian Tea Room.
    “I think so.”
    “What would you like to order?”
    “I want two scrambled eggs, bacon, well done and a cup of coffee, please.”
    “No.”
    “What?”
    “No, you cannot have that.”
    “OK, an English Muffin with strawberry jam, a banana and coffee.”
    “No.”
    “Alright, French toast, fruit cup and coffee.”
    “NO.”
    “OK, let’s take another avenue here… how about you tell me what I can have.”
    “Cream of Wheat, plain, or Quaker Oats, plain. No coffee, decaf tea only.”
    “What about a glass of orange juice?”
    “NO.”
    “Well, I guess I’ll have a big mess of Quaker Oats with a morphine chaser.”
    “We will get that right up to you Ms.Beranski, and thank you for calling Nutritional Services.” (like, I had a choice of caterers to call.)
    Breakfast arrived within the hour. Carrie, a lovely young lady from the kitchen staff, placed the institutional green tray on my bedside table. As she lifted the metal covering from the bowl of Quivering Quaker Oats, a single puff of steam made its escape toward the ceiling.
    “Boy, that steam is sure glad to get of there.”
    Carrie laughed, “Yeah, this stuff looks disgusting, but it doesn’t taste as bad as it looks.”
    “Thank goodness for that. I will need some utensils.”
    “OH, Duh…I’m sorry.” Carrie reached in her pocket and retrieved a napkin with the utensils.
    “What is this?” I asked.
    “Oh, that’s a ‘Spork’….you know, spoon / fork. We use those with the runny foods. Do you need any help eating?”
    “Only if you’re willing to swallow this for me.”
    “You’re so funny…no thanks, I had my breakfast already. Bon Appetite.” Carrie chuckled and continued on her rounds.
    As the first sprok-full of gruel passed my lips, I was transported back in time to a Dickensoinan workhouse with Oliver Twist. But unlike him, I would not be asking for MORE.

    • Peanut,
      Little-known fact. The original stage version of Oliver contained a song (instead of “Food, Glorious Food”) called “Don’t Be Gruel”. True, I swear.

      • Thanks for the info Fred. I love the show Oliver and Food, Glorious Food is one of my favorite songs, but I would love to hear “Don’t Be Gruel.” sounds like something Elvis would sing.

    • that is a fun story. the hospitals can be a rude place. they wake you up to give you a sleeping pill. You are funny and i truly enjoy your take on life and what it throws you. Please know we are all thinkiing of you and hope your recovery is speedy and full. I too am glad they did not get your sense of humor. Our a real treat.

  26. Sounds like they didn’t accidently take your humor or creativity during surgery! Hope you are well on the way to recovery and home soon. Having worked in hospitals my whole 38 yr career, I can attest to hospital food. The pits, even when they try to make it presentable.

  27. Oh my, Peanut! My cheeks still hurt. Good thing I haven’t fully resumed my exercise program or my abs would be locking up too.

    Speedy recovery! I LOVE reading your stuff!

  28. Peanut,
    You are one tough, funny cookie. To come out swinging with material this funny after major surgery is an inspiration. Thanks for another lesson. I’m not a fan of comparisons, but this is Bombeckian, at the very least.

  29. I may have to try some MacJerky with a nice Merlot.

  30. Any advice? I’ve been working on a short story for a long, long time. Until two months ago. That’s when I quit. Been told I have vivid scenes, great characters, nice description, etc. Thing is, my story seems to be lacking in plot. Since the abrupt halt on my writing, my mind has been driving me crazy trying to come up with a better, deeper plot. My mind tells me I was apparently born plot-less. My mind tells me what good is great scenes and believeable characters is there is no plot. So, what do I do with these scenes, descriptions and characters? Tell them to take a hike and leave me alone? Or continue writing scene after scene with the hopes of a plot plopping onto my laptop by way of a magic carpet? Does anyone else have problems like this? Or am I the only soul living blandly without a plot. This is so frustrating because it’s caused me to shut down and not be able to write a single word. Well, except for this posting. And I’m still sitting here postponing clicking the Post Comment box. It’s been fifteen minutes so far. But I’m going to do it this time. I mean it. Here I go. Just one more deep breath for courage. Just click it, fraidy-cat.

    • Hi Kathy,
      First of all, please don’t stop writing. I think all of us have been, or currently are in you situation. What we have been taught is that story is an emotional journey and plot is a physical one. To me, what you have is the most imortant part. Now you just need to make decisions on where it will take your MC. If the point of all stories is change, -I’ve read that a million times- let that be your north star in driving your plot. Set up, struggle, climax. Sounds simple enough. This being said, wouldn’t it be great of our Ann taught an advanced fiction writer’s workshop? I so miss you Ann! Good luck Kathy, and keep going!

    • I have a couple of thoughts for you. First, get your characters into trouble. Wreck the car. The dog dies. Ben loses his job. Jessie falls in love, but not with her husband, and he is eyeing that local waitress anyway. Now what? You have created a lot of good material, but plots are about struggles and how we live through them. So make trouble!

      Sometimes plots are subtle, like in Garrison Keillor novels from Lake Woebegone. But even in his mundane Minnesota town, people drink too much, hate their siblings, lost their jobs, run over dogs, fight over religion, drop out of school, start up dumb businesses that inevitably fail. But through all this, the characters struggle, and the main character struggles most of all, perhaps just to grow up or even survive one more year.

      What matters is taking a struggle that means something to you. Otherwise, you’ll get bored with the story. So hijack some issue that’s been on your mind, and use that. It can be something that bothers you or intrigues you.

      You can also play, What if….? It’s a kind of brainstorming where you just keep filling the rest of that sentence:

      What if Kathy falls off her chair and breaks her leg?
      What if Kathy finds a huge gold nuggest in her potato patch?
      What if Kathy gets lost on a hike into the mountains and has to eat bugs?
      What if Kathy finds that hiding under the kitchen table is the most soothing place to sit?

      And do keep going.

  31. Kathy,
    Some questions: What is your plan for this story? Do you want to get it published? And, how do you know your story has no plot, or too shallow a plot? Did the same people who told you that your scenes, descriptions, and characters are vivid, great, and nice also tell you your plot “seems” to not be good? Or is it your own critical side blasting away at you?

    If there is someone you trust to be objective, show that person your story. Nearly every good book I have read on the subject of writing suggests this approach. Weigh that feedback into the mix.

    If you still feel your story is short on plot, follow Ann’s excellent advice. If you haven’t already, use some drama from your own life to spice things up.

    My gut tells me your story is pretty darned good. Show it around a little bit. You have worked on this tale for “a long. long time”. You can’t make it an orphan now. Kathy’s in charge. You are writing it, not the other way around. Good luck.

    • Kathy, Isn’t it wonderful to have so much good advice to put into action. Ann and Fred have hit the nail on the head. I just know that you will not be plotless for long. Best wishes as you tackel this little bump.

  32. Kathy, I don’t know nothing about writing because I’m a very beginner but what if you were to share a couple sentences or key words and let these guys storm the bastille? Sort of like one of Ann’s exercises. Or like galumphing. or something…

  33. I had a few minutes last night to read all these great responses. And I am chomping at the bit to reply back with some thoughts and reactions. But I don’t have time right now–have to get going to babysit grandson. Tonight, I will get back here and respond. But you guys have given me a kick in the rear and I feel like maybe there’s just a little hope that I can continue to work on my story. Thank you all for your encouragement. I’ll be back….

  34. ok, I’m back. Today, I’ve been thinking about all these suggestions you all have so kindly given and I am not sure if my story actually fits all the criteria of a short story. I wrote it in 1st Person–the main character telling the story is a nine year old girl who witnesses an “incident” while visiting relatives with her parents. This puts her in a real tough spot and she has to decide what she’s going to do about it. Whatever she decides to do, it’s going to cause huge problems for both families. The incident is quite traumatic for the main character, something that is going to affect her for the rest of her life. Most of the story is the mc telling her story of everything she sees, hears, and thinks of the relatives around her and especially her mother.

    Although there is action going on, I think my story leans more towards being character-driven. And I’m not real sure I’ve accomplished that as deeply as I would like to. I’m thinking I need to “layer” them more, write more that will show why they think or act the way they do, etc. I believe I can do that but at the same time, my concern is not keeping my story tight and to the point like short stories are supposed to be. Short stories are not easy to write–I keep wanting to let the story sprawl out in different directions.

    I know of a couple of people that might possibly agree to read/critique this thing. I do need someone to be totally objective about it. I just have to muster up the courage to ask them. I’ve worked on this story for several years and I will not allow it to become orphaned. It may never be published but I’d sure love for it to be. And even if it never gets published, I am glad I wrote it because it does mean something to me. For one thing, I’ve written a story that has a beginning, a middle, and an ending. Not an easy accomplishment coming from someone who tends to stays hiding “under the table” most of the time. Right, Ann? Another thing, these characters are very real to me (they won’t leave me alone!) But I don’t want them just being themselves in my head, I want them being themselves and real on the page.

    Your comments and suggestions have gotten me excited again about my work-in-progress and that’s a pure miracle.

  35. That doesn’t sound plotless to me, it sounds like a great story. Just add some corn starch to thicken it up a little.

    • Corn starch! Of course! Why didn’t I think of that? This weekend, I’m going to get a big bowl and a big spoon and start stirring. I keep reading over everyone’s suggestions and hopefully can incorporate them into my story. And I’m also checking into a critique workshop that’s coming up this month so I can get different opinions and feedback on what’s working and what’s not.

      One other thing. It’s just my opinion and you know what they say about opinions but…just by reading some of your comments at different posts here at Ann’s, you have a real gift for writing. I don’t know what your definition of a beginner is but I don’t think you’re it.

      • Thank you Kathy, what a nice thing to say. Your story reminds me a little of “Atonement.” Maybe your MC, under stress, will divert blame or modify the facts and then has to live with the lie and watch the consequences of her actions on innocent, (and the guilty,) parties throughout the years. Then on her deathbed her fat nephew steps on the air hose and she dies before she has a chance to confess.

  36. What am I working on? I am at a Chinese buffet. I have had the sesame chicken, General chicken, hot and sour, wonton, egg roll, and a few I can’t spell, but I still want more, it all looks so tantalizing, I know I’m full and the tastes are all running together but I can’t help myself, my chopsticks are clicking like a ticker-tape. I’m 64 years old and I’ve just started writing and I can’t stop writing about events and people in my life. Dozens so far; all about two or three paragraphs each. I’m thinking about throwing them all together with a trowel into a book and calling it A Day at the Asylum.

    • I can’t believe you just started writing. I think you’re making that up. I love your type of humor. It hits where it needs to hit. Right on the mark. Keep writing those snippets about people you know–throw them in a book! Can I be in your “A Day at the Asylum”? Thing is, I promised someone I’d write something from a prompt “If I was really wild, I’d…”. So far, I can’t come up with anything. But I did have an extraordinary dream last night, very unlike me, so I guess I could write about that!

      Your suggestion for my story has sent it in a whole different direction. A fat nephew stepping on the hose–that is hilarious.

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