Z Is For Zoom

Congratulations! You’ve made it through Z and so have we! Today’s post comes courtesy of fantasy and sci-fi writer Rowanwolf of A Jar Of Fireflies
Z is for Zoom
And I don’t mean that nifty upbeat kids show, either.
As writers we need to be aware of the different perspectives we create each time we ply our craft.  Writing is a multi-faceted enterprise, no matter how you look at it, overlapping meanings and techniques and goals.  So, Z for me stands for zoom in/ zoom out  which is how we can move through these different levels of language.
We can zoom in very close to capture each individual word.  Poetry is written in zoom-in mode.  Each word  like a drop of water, individual, unique, chosen as much for sound as for meaning laid in place like pieces of a mosaic. We seek to capture a reader’s attention, their eyes and ears.
But it’s not just about the words. So we zoom out. Words paint scenes. To capture a reader’s emotions we sweep them up in the storm of a potent moment. Tying all the smaller elements together, writers rain powerful words in short bursts.  That’s why they call it flash fiction, it’s a flash flood of emotion, here and then gone.  As writers we strive to say as much with our words as what we leave out.
Now that we’ve seduced our readers’ senses and their emotions, we zoom out again to take them on a journey.  We show them a world they’ve never seen – our world, the one we painted with our flashes of prose. Gathered together, the scenes flow like a river and immerse our reader in it. Good writers dunk their readers in the feel of our characters’ minds, the dangers they face, the funny moments and the sad. They forget they have tea. They forget they’re on the couch. They forget there were only going to read until the end of the chapter.    
Finally, we zoom out again to focus on how the overarching story lines come together, plot and subplot.  The water droplets that rained into scenes, combined into rivers of character, pace and predicaments flow together. If we’ve done our job well, we finally capture the reader’s heart. Our words have become a world, an ocean they can return to and swim in any time they choose.  I’m sure you’ve read those books. The ones that live in inside you long after you’ve stopped reading them. The ones you put on the shelf but can’t put out of your heart.  The ones you quote, the ones you dream, the ones you compare your life to.  That’s the big picture.
As a writer, each of these is a skill and each of us has different strengths.  But to capture a reader’s heart, a true writer zooms in and out between the specific and the grand to write something readers will take with them when they go. And honestly, isn’t that part of why we write, to make a beautiful impression on another soul?
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Thanks so much for letting us be Kern’s wingwomen and helping her finish out the A-Z challenge! It’s been an honor and privilege to help and and to meet those of you who stopped by to read and say hello. 🙂

Y Is For Yearning

Hopefully Kern will be back to her blogtastic self soon, but in the meantime, it is an honour to be stepping into her shoes for a day on the A-Z blog challenge. 

Y is for Yearning

“Yearning:  to have an intense feeling of loss or lack and longing for something.” 
What does yearning have to do with writing?
For me it’s to do with where the urge to write comes from.  It’s motivation.   It’s drawing down from a deep place. 
Sometimes I write just for fun, because something intrigues me or in response to a prompt.  But my best writing comes straight from the heart and out through my fingertips, an emotional response to something recent or distant.   However oddly it’s packaged, it explores something I miss or something I experienced.  It’s intense.  It’s hungry.
I came across an author on t’interweb recently whose writing had been inspired by a dear friend she had lost.  She wanted to explore the life she should have had, if she hadn’t been prematurely snatched away.
When I look at my writing, I can see themes emerging (some subtle and some not so subtle) which are personal to me.  I’ve written relationships that never were and I’ve turned situations inside out and on their head to give them a different ending. 
The death of a friend two years ago brought on a huge spate of creativity.  I filled the Nicky-shaped hole in my life with letters and stories, each capturing little flickers of the person she was and should have been. 
Threads like this, both joyful and sad, run throughout all my stories.  More often than not this is unconscious, pulling on something from the far distant past.  Stories enable me to create choices without number, a myriad of alternate universes.    
Writing is transformative.  It is a kind of alchemy by which every experience can be drawn out and reshaped, created afresh.
Like rich, dense chocolate scoffed by a premenstrual woman (a touch of autobiography here, right?) through the process of writing yearning becomes fulfilment, satisfaction, relief.
Y is for Yearning.  One of the most powerful influences of all.

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Get well soon Kern!

X Is For X-Rays

As we head into the final stretch of the A-Z challenge, team Covering For Kern brings you a post by our resident Brewed Bohemian Jenn, a writer whose storyteller’s signature is as wondrously delightful as the kiss of a red velvet cupcake is to the taste-buds.

This post might actually need to go under U for Unusual.  X  could get you steamy dreamy alpha males engaged with fair damsels  but in my post  you get x-rays.  That’s right, the science geek prevails.  Let me explain; no let me sum up. 
When I begin brainstorming an idea, the concept usually hits me full on like a Mack truck – BANG.  A robust fleshy picture of the whole shootin’ match pops into my head. For a moment there is excitement and what ifs or how abouts while I grab ahold of the vision.  Inevitably though, I have to sit down to write.  That’s when I start looking at the bones of the idea.  I strip away the pretty parts and fancy notions to make sure the story itself has a strong foundation.  It won’t do much good to write a beautiful world if it has to limp along on crutches due to bad femurs. 
Each section of a quality story connects.  The character bone’s connected to the plot bone; the plot bone’s connected to the arc bone; and so on.  Taking a composition x-ray helps show where big things will break or where small interdependencies will falter.  It guides putting the story together in the right way so it can stand on its own.  Some writers do this with outlines or nodes; I prefer to use a skeleton for laying out my thoughts.
Of course like any radiologist, I have to wear protective gear when x-raying my brainchildren.  As a writer I find it hard to let go of ideas, even bad ones.  Before x-raying, I have to put on my shielding coat so I can withstand the scrutiny.  I also need to stand behind a plexiglass review window so I am more detached.  The blur of the plexiview makes it easier to decide when something is too broken to fix. 

This method doesn’t always find the kinks but it does bring major issues to the forefront so I can brace and cast as necessary. 
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Thank you for stopping in to read our guest posts and for your continued support of our sidelined Kern. 🙂 

W is for ‘What If’

Welcome to another edition of Holding Down The A-Z Fort on behalf of Kern! Today’s post comes to you via the erudite and effervescent Meg McNulty of Darcy To Dionysus
I’m not a science fiction writer.  I wish I were.  I love science fiction and fantasy, I love alternate histories and parallel universes.  I wish I could create them (one day I will, oh yes).

What are writers in those genres?

They are the masters (or mistresses) of “What if?”

Fiction-wise, a “What if” moment is that instant when two separate atomic nuclei collide in a great big explosion of ideas.  Your musings catch fire and suddenly you have the golden heart of what will be a plot.

In On Writing, Stephen King talks about Carriebeing a composite of ideas. You can imagine the thought process there: 

  • What if there was an incident in a girl’s locker room?
  • What if the girl was telekinetic? 
  • What if…

If you’re stuck, suffering from writer’s block or at a difficult patch in your work in progress, asking yourself “What if?” can be a device to break through the wall.  It allows you to consider roads less traveled, to identify twists and turns and to challenge yourself to rise above the obvious.

This could be at a fairly prosaic level: What if her brother was an enemy not an ally?

Or at a more fundamental / revolutionary level: What if Superman had landed in Russia not the USA?

That second one is in actuality the basis for an utterly awesome graphic novel called Superman: Red Son which takes “What if?” to dizzying heights.  

In fact, if sci fi writers are the most overt masters of the “What if?” question, comics absolutely own it.  Marvel has a whole line of graphic novels called “What if?” which explore “the road not travelled” by its various characters. 

So next time you’re struggling or trying to grasp that golden idea for your next book, look at something – anything – and ask yourself “What if?” 

You never know where it might take you!

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Thank you for your continued support during Kern’s absence. If we cross our fingers, perhaps we’ll have her back in the driver seat on the heels of Z!