A few things have been on my mind this week as the winds have howled in the Midwest and the angel of death has apparently passed over our planet as a whole once more. Not sure they’re related, but you tell me.
It seems we have dodged the apocalyptic bullet again, avoiding Judgment Day as predicted by yet another false prophet last Saturday (May 21). Yet if you ask the folks in Joplin, Missouri (or Indianapolis or Mississippi or Alabama or, hell, Japan, for that matter), maybe the Day came after all. What else do you call it when a black, writhing monster a mile wide sweeps through your city and leaves nothing standing? Or a relentless tide of water, washing through towns and over fields, taking houses and crops, pasts and futures?
Maybe the end has come and we’re not even aware of it. Too few are righteous enough to qualify for the Rapture. All of us are left here below to endure the consequences of our profligate lifestyle—the storms and disruptions of global warming, the protests of a damaged Earth. Just as the Day of Creation might have taken eons, the Day of Judgment could be a gradual process, a global reckoning for our collective environmental sins. In which case the old admonition of my grandmother to “get right with God” might not be such a bad idea—and fast. (Photo courtesy Reuters)
Quick—what comes to mind when you read those words? The pool opens? Barbecues, picnics, sales at the mall? A three-day weekend, maybe, or the traffic on the interstate. Way down the list, you’ll probably come to the real reason for the holiday—the honor we pay to the men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Military and veterans’ groups organize activities for the day, but unless we’re part of those increasingly smaller segments of society, we tend to pay only slight attention to them.
Maybe Memorial Day is more personal for you. Maybe a father or grandfather, son or daughter, brother or sister or friend gave all he or she could give so we could have the chance to see the promise of our Constitution come to its fruition. But even if that is not so, take a moment this weekend to find a quiet place where such sacrifice was made here on our own soil—at Lexington or Concord, at Gettysburg or Shiloh, at Birmingham or Memphis or Pine Ridge or Wounded Knee or Manzanar—and thank the spirits that linger there for what they have given our nation.
Actions I've taken as a writer. Where am I? What am I doing?
What am I doing? Writing, revising, writing, typing, revising, typing . . . well, you get the picture. With two contest deadlines looming on May 31, I’ve been reworking the first 5000 words of my second novel, Trouble in Mind, in hopes of making a better showing than in earlier outings. I could have just tweaked my earlier entries to reflect the feedback I was getting, but something told me I needed a radical renovation to get at the heart of what was bothering my readers and judges.
Don’t get me wrong. Half of those who read the entries gave me perfect, or close to perfect scores. But if the others were sniping at small things, couldn’t find my H/H’s motivations, got distracted by “too many names”, saw clichés and plot holes, then I hadn’t done my job in carrying them away with the story. So I went back to basics.
Show don’t tell. Goals, motivation, conflict. Every word counts. Active, vivid verbs. Five senses. Pacing.
Oh. And that romantic connection. A tough one when my hero and heroine haven’t met in the first 5000 words. I have to find a way to foreshadow the attraction, as well as the obstacles to their relationship. See GMC.
Gee, it really sounds like I know what I’m doing, doesn’t it? Hah! Knowing what to do and actually pulling it off—two entirely different things.
We'll comment back to our co-bloggers on things they've posted on their journals.
@Laurie, I’m always amazed at all the stuff you’re doing and the wealth of information you’re able to come up with. Can’t wait to see pics of the new addition to your family. But since you mentioned your puppy, I guess I can say that I’m getting a new kitten in a couple of weeks, the first cat my husband has conceded to in years. (Must’ve been that anniversary mojo!) Blanca is too young to come home yet, but I’m already as excited as a kid at Christmas! (Oh, and I love my Kindle, too. Wait ‘til you discover its uses for reviewing manuscripts!)