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TICK-TOC!
Category: Writing
Tags: suspense thrillers plot device

TICK-TOC!   

There is nothing more motivating than a deadline. To me at least. It concentrates my mind in ways that having all the time in the world never will. For instance, right now I need to write a blog post about a writing theme, yet my brain, despite the deadline, and contrary to the above statement, will have none of it.

            So, I am trying that ol’ trick of just writing what comes into my head to get the juices flowing – another writerly strategy! The clock on the wall in front of me is ticking, ever louder, it would seem, counting out the hours, minutes and seconds until this piece needs to be published.

            Come to think of it, a deadline is also a great plot device. Just think of all those thrillers with ticking clocks. The hero – James Bond in every possible incarnation, Bruce Willis in Die Hard, and dozens of others – have to beat the clock to save the world, usually, from nuclear obliteration or, at least, from some very bad hombres. Nothing like sitting on the edge of your seat watching or reading those kinds of stories.

            Of course, we can probably think up some less explosive plots with deadlines that are every bit as gripping. Like a lover trying to prevent his ex-girlfriend from marrying the wrong guy. Or a divorced woman tracking down her evil-ex who has kidnapped her child before he can escape with said child who is desperately in need his asthma medications. How about a murderer who must be caught before he reaches his next victim? Mustn’t leave out the doctor stories where the clock is running to save someone’s life, maybe from a rare disease that they don’t know how to treat. Or a gun-shot wound that is killing a child, then cardiac arrest!   Tick-toc, tick-toc!

            The unrelenting march of time elevates suspense to almost unbearable levels. Just like yesterday’s Germany-Sweden football game, where the suspense lasted down to the closing seconds. Me? I couldn’t watch it. The stakes were too high for me to invest my nerves in. I left the room so Germany could win without me going into cardiac arrest.

            Hmm, I guess there is also a lot to be said for stories that, well, take their time, develop the characters, portray their inner conflicts and let the reader invest her emotions in the fate of these new friends. When that decision has been made, it’s high time to pull the battery on that #*! clock.

           

 

IT'S RAINING GREAT MASTERS! NOT. Monday's Motivational
Category: Writing
Tags: Rubens Turner Tate Britain Stadel motivation talent

I recently had the opportunity to visit the Peter Paul Rubens exhibition in Frankfurt at the Stadel Museum. A month previously, we visited the Tate Britain art museum in London to view the works of J M W Turner. Two hundred years separate Rubens (1577-1640) and Turner (1775-1851) and their masterpieces. However, what struck me about both of them – and one can probably extrapolate this to masters in every field of endeavor over the centuries – is that they did not "fall from heaven". In German there is a marvelous saying: "Es ist noch kein Meister vom Himmel gefallen." Literally: Masters do not just fall from heaven. No, it takes hard work, constant practice and a lot of passion to keep you at it. And yes, a bit of talent would also be helpful.

The commentaries accompanying both of these exhibits certainly confirm this. Although their styles and subject matter were completely different, Rubens and Turner had something in common: They travelled extensively to experience what other artists were doing or had already done, no doubt, with an eye as to what they could learn from them and build on. The Flemish Rubens spent a lot of time in Spain and Italy, studying the masters, even purchasing books of their sketches to copy and rework. Rubens, thus, learned from their techniques and developed them further until he came up with something uniquely his for his canvases depicting religious or mythological subjects. In the early nineteenth century, after having already entered the Royal Academy of Art in London at the age of fourteen, Turner began sketching his way around Europe, filling books with drawings to be used later for his large-format land and seascapes when he returned home to London.

Both artists kept developing their skills over decades, always with an eye to the current "competition", yet in reality, building upon what earlier generations of artists had achieved. It calls up for me the image of a young artist standing on the shoulders of a past master as he climbs towards genius.

What is true for the aforementioned Masters, is true for all artists, regardless of their medium – visual, acoustic or verbal – and regardless of their level of talent. One is capable of taking canvas and a bit of color to paint a masterpiece; another plucks sounds from thin air and conjures melodies; still another transforms words into poetry or tales of love and hate. Such a person seems, to me, a magician, for they create beauty from thin air. Yet he or she would have wasted their talent if they had not studied their craft and been disciplined by hard work.

What lesson I took away for my writing from my brief encounter with Rubens and Turner? To start with, I really need to work harder: read more (learn from the masters), write more (practice), rewrite more (kill those darlings). Please don’t think I dare compare myself to these all-time greats. Obviously, I do not see myself destined to be a Great Master of Anything, but I can make the most of the talent I may have, augmenting it with hard work and looking to the stars of literature for motivation.

Another adage Germans use and I find myself uttering almost daily is:

"Man lernt nie aus." –  You never finish learning.

This Week 12 March 2018 posted by Debbie Hubbard
Category: Site News

Blog – Maggie Shelton

Inside Lingo

Maggie hits the nail on the head when she offers us her insight on how difficult it is when we write to describe processes, even ones we think we know all about, using the precise vocab that only an insider possesses. As a driving instructor, she has all the right expressions for traffic situations. I know I have often floundered when trying to write about even some very everyday happenings without having quite the right idiom.

Monday Muse

Chris Nedahl challenges us to write about Mothering Sunday or International Women’s Day and then dares us to write a spy story. She rounds out her prompt with three photos to light up our imagination.

March Challenges brought forward from Jo and Nigel:

Horror Flash Fiction THEME: Horror story of a lone survivor on a deserted island. Deadline 31st March

National Flash Fiction Day: Deadline 17 March

THE MOMAYA SHORT STORY COMPETITION - Deadline 30 April

Stories of the Nature of Cities Urban Flash Fiction. Deadline 15 April

The Molotov Cocktail - Killer Flash. Deadline 20th April

https://darkregions.com/blogs/news/writing-contest-open-submissions-free-to-enter-with-1-000-in-prizes

www.sunstoryaward.wordpress.com/rules-and-prizes/

http://intercompetition.com/index.php/writing/ad/stories-of-the-nature-of-cities-2099-prize-for-urban-flash-fiction,970

 

 

And adding: www.ArtAscent.com themed call is BLACK. Closing date is 30.04.2018

Bragging Stool

Once again, the Adhoccers, Sue, Chris, Laura, Angela, and Crilly await your votes. http://adhocfiction.com/read/#FlashEbook

On the NOTICE BOARD

Vanessa is reissuing her novel The House of Zaronza in April with a brilliant new cover and some editorial changes inside. Wishing her good luck with its revival.

Also mentioned here was a slight mix-up on the planning front which has been sorted.

Jim is postponing his membership for a while for personal reasons.

Also, to be found here is the list of SECONDARY CONTACT DETAILS. Not everyone has posted yet. The link to the google doc will stay at the top of the Notice Board for easy access.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The House at Zaronza
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Break Out
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Big Book of New Short Horror
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