Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Quest for Story: #5 -- A Con Artist

(Photo by Chris J. Fries - 2012: Roadblock)

(This is post #5 in a quest to define what creates "a good story" -- the kickoff of this quest is HERE)

In earlier posts in this series, I hit the three key elements that must be developed to create a good story: Character, Plot, and Voice.  Now we're expanding some of those elements.

But, before I get into today's stop on the quest, I think there might be one question that arises during this series:

So what the hell do I know about all this, anyway? 

It's not like I've got a huge track record of published success, or years of experience in the publishing industry, or an MFA in Creative Writing from a well-respected university, or even a thick catalog of completed works under my belt.  So to anyone who wonders let me say, you're right -- it's a very valid question.  But it's also an easy one to answer:

Not much, really.  

I'm no expert by any stretch of the imagination, so don't take what you read in this series as anything more than one guy's opinion.

I've only acquired what I know about writing from a few college classes here and there, a lot of personal research, a commitment to learning all I can about writing, 45 years of avid fiction readership, and -- in the end -- a gut feeling about what seems "right," even if I'm still struggling to pull it off.

This series isn't meant to be a lecture from my blogging podium, and I hope it never comes across that way.   This is supposed to be a sharing of the things I think make up a good story, as I'm still learning about them. Basically, I'm a rookie writer still on my own personal quest for story, not a wizened old veteran pontificating about the vast experience I've gained from a lifetime of publishing. But I still think the quest is worth talking about, even if I'm not an expert.

Plus I'm always open to feedback, thoughts, debate, and any other enlightenment you might care to add. If you have experience in any of this, feel free to share it.  Correct me if I'm wrong, Fill me in if I'm missing something. Give me a well-deserved kick in the pants if I ever come across as sanctimonious or snobbish in anything I write.

So, with that out of the way, let's get on to stop #5 of the quest:

I think in order to write a good story, an author must be a skilled Con Artist.

No, not "con" as in "confidence", although there is certainly a need to be able to get your readers to trust you and to suspend their disbelief as they read your words.

What I mean is "con" as in


A good story must have conflict, opposition, and tension or it simply fails.  There doesn't have to be epic battles or global strife, and a good story certainly doesn't have to be depressing or dark.  But there needs to be at least something that is opposing the main character.  Something that they are struggling against, something that is trying to prevent them from going or getting where thy want, something that they must overcome.

Conflict and opposition are at the core of the plot. A plot with no challenges for the characters isn't really a plot.  It's just a series of events -- dull and lifeless.  There has to be roadblocks for the characters to overcome, or to at least struggle against.

Conflict can be broken down into three broad categories:

  • Struggles of one character against another.  "Man vs man" or "The Hero against The Villain" in all its variety, like Beowulf vs Grendel, Sherlock vs Moriarty, Ripley vs the Alien, or the Roadrunner vs the Coyote.
  • Struggles of a character against outside forces.  Some sources may break this one down into subcategories like "Man vs Nature," "Man vs Society," "Man vs Technology,"  and "Man vs Fate,"  but essentially it's any form of conflict where a character deals with opposition from some faceless force much larger than any specific antagonist.
  • A character's own inner struggles. "Man vs Himself."  A battle with inner demons, or a fight to resist the lure of something that will lead to significant consequences.  The inner struggle can often be the most dramatic conflict, and is a key part of effective characterization. But it is also the hardest to 'show' without resorting to 'telling' and exposition.
These three buckets are pretty wide, and yet there can still be overlap, and frankly -- there should be. Moby Dick might involve Ahab vs the Whale, but that whale can just as easily represent the force of Nature, God, or Fate. The same for Ripley fighting against that multi-jawed, acid-slobbering alien.  Luke vs Darth Vader succeeds because it also features the struggles of Luke vs the Evil Empire and Luke vs the inner pull of the power of the dark side.

An author must become a skilled artist at creating conflict within their own work, and the richer and deeper the conflicts involved, the more likely a piece of fiction is to elevate to "Good Story."


And a few other Blogging tidbits to share:

Milo James Fowler is holding  a contest at his blog In Media Res.  Visit to enter for a chance to win the latest edition of Bardic Tales and Sage Advice, which contains his story "The Second Option."

Milo is a very talented author whose stories I greatly admire.  His ever-growing body of work has featured such iconic characters as Captain Quasar, Mercer (seen again in "The Second Option"), and Coyote Cal.  Milo is also one of the lynchpins behind the Write 1 Sub 1 writer's group.

If you're unfamiliar with Milo's fiction, I encourage you to pay him a visit.  If nothing else, stop by for a chance to win a wonderful collection of great writing.

* * * * *

DL Hammond's WRiTE Club 2012 is going strong!  Having expanded the preliminaries to 36 rounds this year, DL is putting up a new bout each and every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. So far the quality of the entries has been fabulous. 

Each bout in WRiTE CLub lasts a week and feature two anonymous 500-word writing samples going head-to-head. Blog visitors vote for their favorite in the comments.  In October the preliminaries will finish and the next rounds will begin, pitting earlier winners against each other, with the final goal to come away with just ONE final winner.  The finals will be judged by an esteemed group of writers, agents, and others in the publishing profession. The list of  the preliminary winners so far is HERE.

Be sure to visit DL's blog Cruising Altitude 2.0 to read the entries and to vote for your own favorites.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Quest for Story: #4 -- In the Beginning...

(Photo by Chris J. Fries - 2012: Smokestack Sunrise)

(This is post #4 in a quest to define what creates "a good story."  The kickoff of this quest is HERE.)

In the last post, we completed the holy trinity of story:  Character, Plot, and Voice.  These three are like the body, mind, and soul of a good story, and so in a way, our quest is really complete.  Almost any other element of a good story can be considered a subset or a combination of these three.

And yet there is still much we could add.  Heck, if we wanted to, we could probably go on forever in an eternal quest, dissecting and detailing the minutia of each of these three core components and mapping out the multitude of ways they can interact.  

Thus is the career of a writer -- each new piece written adds another step in an author's own personal quest to use each of these elements to make a better story.  Not many writers reach a point where they say, "that's it -- the perfect story!  Now I never need to write another thing!" (The closest example I can think of might be Harper Lee -- after her masterwork of "To Kill a Mockingbird," she never released another novel.)

But I think for this series, it feels incomplete to quit now, and yet I'm sure no-on wants me to drone on endlessly about this stuff, so I'll be content to add another six or seven stops on the quest -- hitting some of what I consider the more important elements.  That seems to be about right...

So today, let's start at the logical place:  

The Beginning

Every story needs one.  Like the dawn of a new day brings boundless possibilities, the beginning of a story should also be filled with promise and potential.  It is the opening of the plot, the introduction of the characters, and the first exposure of the writer's voice.

Writers, editors, and publishers all speak of how important the beginning of a story is -- with a novel, a writer usually has a page or less to snag a new reader.  Every word has to shine, and by the end, the reader needs to be involved enough to wonder, "what happens next?" or they'll never turn that page.

Truthfully, the beginning of the story does not have to coincide with the beginning of the plot, and many times it's not.  The story introduction can be used to establish setting and characters, but even then, I think there should be hints of the underlying plot.  Story questions should be established that begin to intrigue the reader -- readers don't have endless patience, and even if you initially pull them in with voice and character, you soon need to establish the plot or you'll lose them.   

Whether it happens at the start of the story, or after an introduction to character and setting, the beginning of the plot typically is the "Inciting Incident".  What event happens to your character to incite them to action?  What forces them to begin down the path of your plot?  What is the 'call to action' that propels them forward, for good or ill? 

Some genre fiction often starts with the plot very quickly  -- or at least much more obviously. Think of how many mysteries begin with the BOPO opening ("Body On Page One").  That's a pretty clear inciting incident.  On the other hand, many fantasy stories spend a lot of time world-building before establishing the plot.  In my opinion, sometimes too long.  I love to know the details of the world I'm entering, but I also like to have at least a few clues that suggest why I'm there.

It doesn't have to be as graphic as a murdered corpse sprawled out before the detective, and sometimes the best inciting incidents seem small and inconsequential until story events unfold that reveal them as the 'key moment' that initiated the plot.   

But whatever it is, that beginning of plot needs to have at least enough force to spur the main character into motion.  It arouses questions that must be answered, presents challenges that must be faced, hints at rewards that must be pursued, or reveals dangers that must be avoided.  It should also be something that catches the reader's interest and pulls them into the story along with your character.

It begins the story.  And the better the beginning, the better the story.

* * *

As always, your thoughts and comments are more than welcome!  Be sure to check back on Thursday for the next stop on our quest...

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Quest for Story: #3 -- Whisper, Growl, or Bark?

(Photo by Chris J. Fries - 2012: Seal Bark)

(This is post #3 in a quest to define what creates "a good story."  The kickoff of this quest was HERE.)

In our last stop of the quest, we added character and plot together to make the foundation of a good story. To me, these are the two interlocked aorta of the heart that beats at the core of a story, or to use my analogy from last time, they're the two lobes of the lungs that give the story breath.

Either way, with character and plot, a story begins to live.  It may lack all the details required to elevate it to 'a good story,' but if there is a compelling character and an interesting plot, then the story should succeed with readers at least on some level.

But for story to be 'good', more is needed.  The story may have lungs and a beating heart, but it still lacks a soul.

The third element of our quest must be added:


Like a soul, voice is elusive and ethereal. Ask ten authors what it is, and you'll likely get ten different answers. 

To use the picture at the top of this post, I think voice is how the writer puts his own seal on the story; how he entices it to whisper, growl or bark; how he encourages the reader to become a page-flipper; how he whisk-ers them along through the plot; how he...

Alright, I'll quit.  ;^)


To me, voice is style, both in terms of an author's conscious story structure decisions, and in that author's innate writing style.  It comes down to what the writer wants to do with the story, and how the writer carries out those decisions.

Story structure choices are things like:  
  • Should a story be written in first-person to intimately bond a reader to a character?  Or should it be written in third-person to provide some distance?  
  • Does the writer want to stay close to a single character through the entire story, or should different characters be used for sections, chapters, or scenes?  Which character?  Voice is heavily influenced by the character -- the voice used to tell the story of a hardened street thug will be different than that used for a cookie-baking grandmother.
  • Who is the writer's target audience? A story written for children will be structured differently than one written for adults, and the voice will be different too.  
  • Is there a particular genre the story falls into? For example, mystery and romance have some established conventions, so a story might be structured differently depending on which genre the writer wants to target, if any, or how closely he wants to follow those conventions, and again -- the voice will be different also.
Each decision the author consciously makes about story structure gives rise to its voice.

And yet there's more -- give Stephen King and Neil Gaiman the exact same characters, the exact same plot, and the exact same story structure down to every detail, and you will still get two distinct stories.  

Their voices will still be unique.

They will not choose the same things to describe or emphasize in a scene, even if they are describing the same scene. They will make different word choices.  They will have unique rhythms in their sentences. The way the story flows will not be the same.

Just because that's the way they write.  Their innate, inner voices are distinct and unique, and their stories will be too.

And they should be.  

In the hands of a confident author who is fully in the moment of the creative act of writing, voice will naturally come through.  It does take a while to develop, and that's why I say a 'confident' author.  Like confidence, voice only comes from practice and experimentation, but it does strengthen with every word a writer creates.

Voice develops as a deeply personal part of a writer. Because it comes from their soul.

And that's the only place that the soul of a good story can be created.

* * * 

Compelling character, intriguing plot, and a beguiling voice.  Put those three together, and you will surely get a good story, right?

Yes.  I think these are the three magical components -- the body, mind, and soul of a truly 'good' story.

But yet I feel our quest is not complete.  I think we need to delve deeper into these elements.  Just how do I know my character is compelling?  How can I make my plot intriguing? Is my voice really beguiling?

So for the next seven stops on this quest, we will peel back the layers of this holy triumvirate of good story.  Check back on Monday for the next stop, and in the meantime, your thoughts and comments are always welcome!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Quest for Story: #2 -- Forging the Chains

(Photo by  Chris J. Fries - 2012: Tangle of Chains)

(This is post #2 in a quest to define what creates "a good story."  The kickoff of this quest is HERE.)

Last time I posted about how important character is to a good story.  In my opinion, character is the most critical element -- for me, any good story must be anchored by a great character (you can read the full discussion about character HERE).

So if I have a great character, is that enough to make a good story?

Suppose I have a complex, fascinating, and dynamic character that any reader can bond with.  What if I then make a story about a nice quiet day in that character's life.  Maybe on that day, he's off work and decides to sleep in late.  Then he gets up, makes some toast, maybe reads the paper, perhaps watches the game on TV, and probably snoozes in his comfy chair during the middle of the game.  Later, he showers, warms up some leftovers for dinner, and then spends the rest of the evening reading a book before eventually nodding off.

End of story.

Think this rough outline will ever become a good story, regardless of how great the potential in the character?  Can we end our story quest with just character?

Absolutely not.

There has to be more to the story than just a compelling character.  There has to be events of significance which happen to that character -- events which have emotional impact, events which elicit reaction and involvement from the character, events which pull the character forward into a sequential chain of interlocked cause and effect that, in the process, sweeps up the reader and fully immerses them in the drama.

These interlocked chains of events are element #2 in what makes a good story:


To many people, plot IS the story.  Aristotle considered plot to be the centerpiece of drama -- it was the first element in his six components of tragedy (but he did put character at number two, so he also realized that no plot happens in a vacuum).  

Boiled down to its essence, the old 'genre' versus 'literary' debate really is about which is more important to a story: character or plot?  Literary styles tend to emphasize character;  genre fiction tends to emphasize plot.

Although I lean towards genre fiction, I also put character first, and that is where most of my stories start.  So to me, the literary vs genre argument is a bit like debating which one of your lungs is more important. Or which side of the coin holds the most value. 

A deep character that does nothing more than ruminate on their navel is dull and uninteresting; a whirlwind plot with a cardboard cutout for character is insipid and empty.

A good story needs both.

So it that it, then? Is our quest complete?

No -- not at all. We've established the foundation -- the two mighty pillars of character and plot -- but there is much that still needs to be done to flesh out the elements of a 'good story.'

I've done a little charting ahead of our course, and I'm expecting to hit (at least) another eight stops on this quest.  For one thing, just throwing out 'plot' is a bit too broad -- we need to do a little dissecting of this topic.

I apologize for the delay in getting this (Monday) post up, and I will do my best to have stop #3 up this Thursday.

Thank you very much for joining me on this quest -- Your thoughts and comments are always welcome!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Quest for Story: #1 -- Strength of Character

(Photo by Chris J. Fries - 2012: Cowboy Photographer)

(This is post #1 in a new series: The quest to define what creates "a good story.")

Creative writing is an art form, and there  is a subjective nature to the appreciation of art -- what one person finds incredibly beautiful might seem dull and unimaginative to another.  I don't think anyone can make absolute, universal proclamations about exactly what defines art, or what makes it "good," and unfortunately this is true for fictional writing also.  So I know going in that this quest to define 'a good story' is a bit of a fool's errand.

But just like the elements of form, composition, color, and others can be used to assess the quality of visual art, there are concrete elements of creative writing that can still be discovered, detailed, and discussed as being key in turning a piece of fiction into 'a story.'  There are specific things that can be done with these elements to make the story be the best it can be -- to give it artistic life and maximize its emotional impact, so that it resonates as deeply as possible within the hearts and minds of readers.

That's what this quest is all about.  To find those writing elements and to point out a few ways to use them to their fullest potential within our stories.

Luckily, this isn't entirely uncharted territory.  People have been writing stories as long as there has been writing, and the art of story-telling goes much farther back than that -- to the earliest humans, gathered around their fires, sharing tales of love and loss, supernatural beings, and heroic deeds.  We've had a long time to figure out some of the things that work best in our stories.  I'm not going to have to make all this stuff up.

But this is still a noble and worthwhile quest, I think.  Shall we venture forth?

* * *

Our quest begins with what I consider to be the most important element of all creative stories:


I think any successful story must be about someone.  There has to be a central character or group of characters to anchor the story. They 're the ones who we follow through the events of the story.

Our main characters don't necessarily have to be human.  They can be animals or aliens, supernatural creatures or sentient machines.  But regardless of their form, they still need aspects that the reader can relate to and identify with, and the more deeply the better -- even when the main characters are not human, we need to see the humanity within them.

They can be heroic or heinous, but they need to be someone we can bond with and care about.

They should be identifiable and easy to pick out -- story works best when we can clearly follow the characters who serve as our guides.

They must be interesting -- our main character should be unique, or at least find themselves in a unique situation. Just like the gentleman in the picture I took at the top of this post, a main character is most effective when they capture our eye, attract our attention, and raise our curiosity:  Who is he?  Why is he there? What is he doing?

Our main characters also come to life when they're complex and multifaceted.  The hero should have a few flaws; the heinous anti-hero should absolutely have some redeeming qualities.  We are all imperfect beings, and it is usually easier to connect with characters who are also imperfect.  A story may call for our heroes to be truly heroic, or to maybe have an obvious central trait that is noble and ideal -- bravery, strength, or intelligence, for example. But there should still be a few cracks in the hero's polished armor, if only for us to better relate to them, and to allow us to cheer as the hero manages to overcome their flaws.

We should be able to see our main character's inner self, either explicitly through their thoughts or words, or implicitly through their actions.  If they're struggling with inner turmoil, weighing heavy choices, and fighting personal demons -- and most definitely, they should be -- we need to know about it.

The goal is to rouse curiosity and encourage empathy within the reader, to incite and strengthen a bond between them and our main character.  To reach the point where the reader recognizes, understands, and cares deeply about our fictional protagonist.

If that happens, the foundation of a 'good story' is surely laid.

* * *

Next Monday, we will continue on with part two of our quest!  Until then, here's an epic scene from another famous quest to tide you over:

"What Is Your Quest?"

Monday, August 13, 2012

Onward Through the Fog: The Quest for "Story"

(Photo by Chris J. Fries - 2012: Morning Fog)

So in my last post, I wrote how a chance auditory tidbit from NPR had resonated with me. Hearing, "all that matters is that it's a good story" during an evening commute stuck with me, and it reminded me of the importance of story in the works I write.

Yes, a successful story still takes finely-honed skill to write, so I absolutely agree that every effort a writer makes to improve their prose is a needed one -- I am continuously working to refine my craft and I know that it is vital to do so.  To use a 'guy' analogy:  A story is like the design of a football play. The play is the blueprint for how each player is expected to perform his part, but it still takes skillful execution to bring that blueprint to life.  And just like there's a difference in how a play will turn out depending on whether you have Peyton Manning or your local high school's JV quarterback under center, there's a difference between how two writers will accomplish a story, depending on how well they have mastered their writing craft.

Still, not even Peyton Manning can save a poorly-designed play, and no writer can overcome a weak story, regardless of how well-written it is.

So as a writer, I always want to make sure my story is the focus, and that it is the best it can be?  Absolutely!

OK -- sounds great!  Make the story the centerpiece, and make it a good one.

But, ummm...  Just what is a "story", and how the hell do I know if it's a good one?

Is it like 'art' or 'pornography' in that it can't be defined, but that "you know it when you see it?"  Is it something shrouded in a subjective fog of perspective, and it's hopeless to even attempt to define it since it's different for every person?  Does it require a forage into the misty forest of aesthetics and philosophy to even begin to understand what makes a story and to tell if it is "good" or not?

Well, it's not like I'm an expert. After all, as a writer I'm still clunking away, striving to get my first story published -- good or otherwise.

However, I do think I can break through the fog at least a little, and perhaps shed some light on defining just what a story is. And I might even be able to at least highlight a few key elements a story needs in order for it to aspire to, you know, "goodishness".

But this will take way more than one post...

So I welcome you to join me in an upcoming series as I take my sledge-hammer of rookie-writer understanding and try to do delicate neurosurgery on just what makes a good story.  I have no set schedule -- this may take the next two posts, or it may take the next twenty.  I'll shoot for a new post every Monday and Thursday as we work  our way through it.

I'm looking forward to the journey, and I'd be extremely happy to have you travel with me.  Your thoughts, feedback, and comments are always welcome on each and every stage of the trip.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Keeping Them Until the End

(Photo by Chris J. Fries - 2012: Sunset Swing)

Driving home from work the other day, I was flipping through channels on the radio and caught a snippet from NPR's "All Things Considered".  They were just finishing up a segment and asking for listener input for future entries, and something that the announcer casually said really grabbed a hold of me:

"...and it doesn't matter if it's funny or sad; all that matters is that it's a great story."

Although I'm but a still-developing writer, I have learned first-hand how much hard work goes into turning a concept into a finished piece of fiction.  I've agonized over word choices, phrasing, descriptive details, character traits, dialogue, setting, back-story, pacing, and every other nuance of painstakingly-polished prose. In my quest to make everything I write be the best it can be, I've often zoomed so deep into the details of my writing that I've felt like I was tweaking the pixels on each individual letter on my computer screen.

And, yes --  it's absolutely neccessary.

But that cast-off statement from my evening commute also reminded me of the real goal -- why I do it.  It's the whole freakin' reason why anyone would want to read something I write; why they might get wrapped up in it; and why they'd hopefully want to stay with it to the very last word, like beach visitors hanging on until the last few rays of a setting sun.

Not the wording, not the tidbits of description, not the nuances of character, not the subtleties of setting. 

It's the STORY!

I want my writing to tell a compelling story -- something that pulls my readers in and entertains, amuses, and immerses them.  A story that keeps them involved and invested, from word one right through to the very end.  

Of course, I want it finely crafted, too.  I'll still need to polish my prose right down to the pixel-tweaking level.

But only because that's something that the reader really notices if its wrong.  When everything works, the writing serves mainly to let the story come shining through, right up until the very last glimmer before "The End".

The story -- that's all that matters.

So what do you think?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Gone For Today -- Olympic Replay Post!

Hi!  I'm not here today -- I'm over at Nicole's Write Me a World, adding my post for her Olympic Blog Relay. 

I invite you to pop over HERE and check it out!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Store Your Waste!

(Photo by Chris Fries -- 2012: Universal Waste Storage)

Here’s a piece of unsolicited advice I'd like to offer you:  

Save your garbage; don’t throw out your trash; store your waste!

So what’s up?  Am I suddenly changing the format of this writing blog to give you a green message about recycling and environmental responsibility?

Nope, I’m talking about your writing, and my message is this:  Don’t hit delete on any writing files you’ve created.  Hold on to them.  Save it all.  Create your own "Universal Waste Storage" system and hoard your cast-off writing in it.

Trust me on this.  Because it's amazing how even your most hated, pathetic, useless piece of written dreck may ultimately prove valuable to you someday. 

Revisit your waste storage from time to time, and with a fresh perspective you may discover that an old idea thrown away as pure crap will suddenly seem workable; a forgotten rough character sketch might now seem rife with possibilities; a cast-off snippet of schlock scenery will now magically inspire a whole new story.

Often we're too hard on ourselves when we're struggling through the creative process, and when things bog down, we're tempted to throw everything out as worthless and start fresh.  I absolutely understand, and many times starting fresh is the only way to go.  But I'm telling you, don't throw everything away -- file it in your personal waste storage site and leave it for later.

Someday, when the phoenix of a great story re-emerges from the ashes of a piece of writing you once considered garbage, you'll be very happy that you stored that trash. 

It's happened to me, and I can almost guarantee it will happen to you.


Blog News:  5x5 Fiction No More...

I just discovered that a micro-flash web site has recently closed its doors and I wanted to take a brief moment to mourn its passing:   Angel Zapeta has decided to hang up his 5x5 Fiction blog -- read the story HERE.  Angel's site put out four wonderful issues of micro-fiction all done in a specific 5-line, 25-word format.  His site was also one of the first ones that ever accepted any of my writing, so I hold a special place in my heart for it.  

I thank Angel for all he did with the site and wish him well in the future.


Olympic Blog Relay Update 

On a more positive note, Nicole Singer's Olympics Blog Relay at her Write Me a World blog is going really well!  I hope you get a chance to check it out -- there have been some great posts by both Nicole and several guest bloggers.  Upcoming,  DL Hammons will be posting on Sunday (8/5), I'll be there on Monday (8/6), and Alex Cavanaugh will add his piece on Friday (8/8), so I invite you to stop by as we all blog about the Olympics and writing.  ;^)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Cultivating the Crop!

(Photo by Chris Fries -- 2012. Amish Farm)

Around here, most of the summer has been spent struggling through a drought.  The ground has been painfully dry and farmers in the region have had to take extra irrigation measures to cultivate their crops.

I’ve had my own drought this summer – despite good intentions, my writing output has dwindled and I’m at risk of letting several things wither and die on the vine.  I need to start taking my own extra irrigation measures to cultivate my crop of writing.

One of those measures is to begin defining concrete and specific writing goals for each month, and to share them here for added accountability and weight.  I’m hoping that having publicly posted deadlines will help add some irrigation to my arid field of writing output.

So for the month of August, my ten specific writing (and blogging) goals are to:

  • Give my short story “Too Quiet” a final once-over and resubmit.
  • Finish the editing of the revised “Waiting Backstage” short story and resubmit.
  • Complete the requested revision of “Apologies” and resubmit.
  • Write at least one new short story or flash piece and submit.
  • Create at least one micro flash piece and submit.
  • Finish the outline for the revision of my WIP novel, and revise at least the first chapter.
  • Complete the post for Nicole’s Olympic Blog Relay and submit to her for posting on August 6th.
  • Vote on each entry in DL’s WRiTE CLUB 2012 competition (twice per week).
  • Add a new post on this blog at least once each week (preferably twice).
  • Read and comment on at least ten blogs I follow each week.

Maybe having defined and documented goals will help motivate me and – more importantly – help keep me focused on my writing amid the craziness of everyday life.

* * * * * * * *

In other blogging news, Gina at The Diary of a Writer in Progress recently gave me a couple of blogging award HERE – the"Fabulous Blog" ribbon and a "Be Inspired" award:

OK, the "Be Inspired" award, has a, ummm, less-than-inspiring badge, doesn't it?  But the awards themselves were kindly given and I will graciously accept them with a sincere "Thank You!" to Gina.

The rules for these are to simply thank the person who passed them on to me (done), and then pass them on to six other deserving bloggers.

So the six I nominate are:

Congratulations to each of you!  You all deserve the blogging recognition!