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Carol’s Homework Assignment Post WIFYR 2

 Cinder: Book 1 of the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer419rjQNqYhL

First chapter is 16 pages.

The first line: “The screw through Cinder’s ankle had rusted, …” Quite the attention getter. There’s enough information given between the back cover blurb, the inside flap blurb, and the cover itself for us to know that she’s a cyborg. We don’t know how much, but we can safely assume it’s at least the foot.

The first page focuses on her removing her foot. She struggles getting the rusted screw out, then fighting with the other hardware and, finally, just letting her foot dangle from her leg by its wires. We discover not only her foot but one hand as well is artificial.

Second page begins a detailed point of scene. She has a stall filled with used android and other odds and ends electronic and mechanical in nature. We also get a picture of the stall’s position with relation to other stalls in the crowded market square in New Beijing.

Third page, also finishes with her removing the foot completely.

Because of children playing Ring Around the Rosy, a recently revived game originating during ancient plague times, there’s a hint of a plague or some other widespread health issue.

We are introduced to Sacha the baker and her disdain for Cinder because of her differences from “real” humans. There’s inner dialogue from Cinder indicating a few of the vendors in her area are aware of her differences and are somewhat uncomfortable with it.

Prince Kaito arrives with a broken android. (No, not his tablet, but a walking, talking android, or it was before it broke.) Cinder recognizes the Crown Prince, and the handsomest man in all of New Beijing. We deal with her stammering and fan craziness for a page or so.

For the next five pages we are filled with all kinds of things that might be wrong with the android: it’s old, the problem isn’t readily apparent, how was it acting before it stopped completely, etc., etc., etc. Along with the troubleshooting Q&A, we get a glimpse of character development and some insight into Cinder’s abilities. Possible spoiler: There’s more to her cyborg-ness than just her foot.

Cinder’s android assistant shows up with Cinder’s replacement foot. Cinder makes excuses claiming it’s for another client. Her assistant, though android, is smitten with the prince as well.

When all the arrangements are made for Cinder to work on the android and get it ready for the prince to pick up in a few days, the prince departs.

Shortly after his departure a scream is heard across the way. Sacha the baker has the plague… End chapter.

Okay, four characters in eleven pages. There were other people milling about, a group of kids, but nobody with any real presence, they’re there for point of scene. Sacha is removed from the equation fairly fast, so, basically, we have three characters who, from all appearances, will be central to the story.

There was a lot of useful information and character development in the first chapter. Some of it was a little drawn out, but informative nevertheless. Some things I can definitely take and use.

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Thinkin’ on Thursday: Thinkin’ Up More Mayhem

Easy as A, B, C . . . from BB

Did you try it? What??? Writing tense, exciting, possibly even mayhem-filled chapter endings?

This past Tuesday, I suggested that you do so and gave you examples of several books which used this technique to carry you past the last line of a chapter and into the next chapter — whether you wanted to go there or not!

I also quoted a number of ideas which ending each of many chapters in his The Maze Runner trilogy by James Dashner. This set was literally a group of three books you could not put down at the end of a chapter. And THAT’s how to keep your reader, well . . . READING!!!

Here are more of Dashner’s examples ‑‑‑ but hopefully, no spoilers. I’ll name several types of events at chapter ends — not in order and not telling you which of the three books they’re from. Additionally, I’ll keep them as general as possible. Think about what you can dream up to do to your characters that will hurt them the most, that will keep the reader going, even if it IS time for dinner, or bed, or (maybe) even homework! If you end each chapter with ideas like these, you may have a real page turner, or even that page burner:

  • a kid wakes up, in a huge “elevator:” NO memories of any past life (I know, I gave this one Tuesday too, but I sets the stage)
  • a kid fighting a losing battle with a mechanical monster is caught in a lightning storm which morphs into an invisible power field leaving him vulnerable to a white heat
  • a kid is promised a place of safety, but when a group gets there, they are met with only a sign that this is the right place: nothing else is there.
  • a kid is told that all current test subjects may be given their memories back; they must choose to participate or not; then choice is taken away
  • a kid discovers a small insect‑like device which spies on all of them in this strange place — meaning someone is watching them, probably 24/7
  • a kid in the midst of battle is hit with a burning power equal to 1,000 bolts of lightning, falls convulsing and with a total loss of vision
  • a kid finds out survivors have to go back to the beginning where they all met, were challenged, tortured, intimidated or even killed
  • a kid is frequently dazed by a rapid changing of loyalties among friends: who can he really trust?
  • a kid, after horrendous battles and fatigue, is warned in a dream state that things are “about” to get bad for him
  • a kid sees that everyone who’s been here for a while picks on the newbies ‑‑ even a sweet little kid who becomes his only friend
  • a kid is made to choose which of two friends will die immediately: he chooses, knowing the enemy will do the opposite — only he doesn’t
  • a kid is attacked, seriously injured by another boy who seems to have gone completely crazy
  • a kid, in an audience of survivors, is told that the rampant disease affecting and eventually killing much of the population also affects many of their number
  • a kid notices frightening sounds and smells, confronts a mechanical monster with the fate of another boy in his hands

If you didn’t try to write compelling chapter endings before, get to it!!! (And how do you accomplish this kind of angst in romance? Or fantasy? Or historical? Etc., etc., etc.?)

See you next for Spellbinder Saturday!

Key words:

 

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Thinkin’ on Thursdays: Quotes and Clichés

Easy as A, B, C . . . from BB

Found an interesting juxtaposition in a couple of articles in an old copy of The Writer (Oct.2011) today. Brandi Reissenweber, a writer and teacher of writing, answered a reader’s question (p. 7): how do I know when something is a cliché? The other by John K. Borchardt (p. 13), a freelance writer, was tips on getting quotes that “sparkle.”

Let me share a few of their ideas – this time in just one article:

Basically clichés are familiar, standard ways of saying something, like “tall, dark and handsome,” “worked like a dog,” or “her heart skipped a beat”. You know, the words everybody uses. They’ve been “arranged” in this order by someone else, probably a long time ago. You can get away with them in dialogue, since otherwise it would sound unreal, but keep them out of narration. One that drives me up a wall (and that’s a cliché itself) is “She sat bolt upright in bed.”

Now for tips on quotes:

  1. Find unique quotes. (You know, that are not clichés.)
  2. Plan interview questions: write them in an outline or logical order.
  3. Listen for potential follow‑up questions, even if they’re not in your planned “order”.
  4. Use the phone or meet your source face to face.
  5. Use a recorder: reword questions as necessary to clarify quotes as you go.
  6. Begin by putting your source at ease by showing you’ve done your homework.
  7. Leave your own opinions and biases out of the interview: learn from the source.
  8. Look for fresh expressions that reveal source’s personality or important points.
  9. Double check your quotes; phone/email sources to check clarity, accuracy.

That’s it: go out and get an interview ‑ and don’t include your source’s clichés, or any of your own!

See you next on Spellbinder Saturday!

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Thinkin’ on Thursday: Did You Hear THAT?

Easy as A, B, C . . . from BB

Dialogue usually comes fairly easily to me. I was a drama director in Utah’s high schools for 20 years and a debate coach for 20 as well — sometimes both at the same time, sometimes just one or the other. I’ve done a fair amount of acting and have done readers’ theater-type productions which I’ve designed, cast, directed and acted in. Often, with my students. Plus, I like to talk. And I talk a lot.

But I know dialogue’s not as easy for some writers. Here are some things to try to spark your interest in getting dialogue right:

  1. Take an old favorite book. Re-read it now, but only the parts which are dialogue. Even try to ignore the tags like “he said,” etc.
  2. Watch an old familiar movie. With the sound turned off. Make up what they could saying, even if you know it has nothing to do with the plot. If you have a spouse or good friend, do it together, with each of you supplying the dialogue for a different character or characters. (OK — there will probably be a lot of laughing too — but try to concentrate on making the words flow.)
  3. Sit in a food court at the mall, or a restaurant at a busy time of day, like the lunch-hour rush. Try to look like you’re writing a letter or doing homework, but really listen to the broken and half-sentences, interjections (remember? Oh! Wow!  WTF??? — sorry, but you’ll hear that one a lot . . . and worse — etc.) If you can, keep your back turned to a couple or small group; listen and try to imagine what they all look like, what their relationships are, etc. Keep a sharp look – out for people who look, age-wise, etc., like they could “be” your characters.

When you’ve tried these out, write some of them into your current manuscript. Or start a new project with something you “heard” while keeping your ears open. What are the little nuggets you’ve discovered that can help enliven the dialogue between your characters.

Happy Dialoguing! (You’re welcome.)

See you next for Spellbinder Saturday!

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Wednesday’s WIPs: WIPping Up Interest in a Minor Character

EASY AS A, B, C . . . from BB 

 ’Alo!  C’est moi, the Bensch Wensch!  Not CC.  As I was telling you a month or two ago, sometimes we have to fill in for one another.  Family emergencies, and all that.

So I’m two weeks early, and would love to have had more time and, therefore, more to report.  That given, what I do have to report is good.  When last you heard from me, I was scrambling to get 20 pages of my WIP sent in to WIFYR (by now, dear regular readers, you know that means Writers and Illustrators for Young Readers).  The good news is: I made my deadline that night and sent the pages.

The count several days of non-stop work, work, work!  Supposed to do 5 to 7 rewritten pages every day through that week’s workshops (where we were in wonderful classes and sessions from 8:30am until after 5:30, with homework to do before the next a.m.).

And, more good news: I got most of that done and turned in.

I also wrote a little blog after it was over that I had tried an experimental assignment on the last day of class: write one scene in a different POV; i.e., 1st person instead of omniscient, or 3rd person instead of 1st, or from a different character altogether.  I tried the latter, at 5:00 a.m. the last day.

And that encompasses my next good news: though I was afraid it maybe didn’t even make sense, when I read it in class, they loved it.  Including my stellar teacher, Cheri Pray Earl.

This minor but interesting and quirky character made a raft of changes to my story, and it’s all good: she became one with the Story Teller I’d introduced at the beginning of Chapter One.  She became a close relative of the Hero.  She took on magical qualities I had heretofore refused to acknowledge she had.  She will be the Hero’s key to finding his magical way to the Princess.  And she will aid the Princess in finding the Hero again when he is lost to her.

Pretty good for a “minor” character, don’t you think?

Oh.  And the title has changed from the mundane, boring (and possibly derivative) Over Hill, Over Dale, and Back Again to Glass Mountain Princess.

Now, all I have to do is write all that into the narrative—oy vey!

See you day-after-tomorrow for Friday’s Friends!

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