Crafting a dialogue & nothing else

Writing for me has always been a release for daydreaming. Daydreams take on concrete forms of being when I write them down as stories. I have tons of stories that swim round my head, and have finally accepted that they’re just going to have to come out. I really don’t care in what format, just that these ideas and visions have an outlet. I can’t stand more than one voice [aside from my own] dropping thoughts inside my brain for longer than a week or two. So out it comes.

On that note, I have had this story idea for quite a few years, and have been working and playing around with it for the past couple of years… “working” in so far as I am making progress in stitching scenes together to flow as a narrative, as my earliest workings for this story were always only little poetic blurbs here and there. The vision of the entire story is hard to cut into words that flow in a linear fashion.

So along with my experimentation with what will probably turn into my very first novel, I have been reading anything I can get my virtual hands on related to crafting fiction.


One of these resources [Chuck Wendig’s list of ways to plan and prep your story] suggests the writer “let the characters talk, and nothing else”. This is the exercise (profanity ahead, be forewarned):

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Let the characters talk, and nothing else. Put those squirrely fuckers in a room, lock the door, and let the story unfold. It won’t stay that way, of course. You’ll need to add… well, all the meat to the bones. But it’s a good way to put the characters forward and find their voice and discover their stories. Remember: dialogue reads fast and so it tends to write fast, too. Dialogue is like Astroglide: it lubricates the tale.” ~Chuck Wendig

This exercise provokes thoughts like “what would the conversation be like” “would they argue, would they debate, would they scheme or plan together” etc. So I followed this format exercise for my 2 main characters, both of which had previously failed to pull my heartstrings in earlier writings. This dialogue exercise was perfect. It made me look at facets of these characters that I didn’t even know were there, and really tune into what they both want [their goals] and what they fear will happen if they don’t get it in this story… As well as the underlying desperation of it all.

The important aspect of this exercise is getting to know your characters [and getting them connected to each other] through their dialogue alone. There is no descriptor narration, no backstories, no outside plot narrations, just the characters’ dialogue to serve as the window view into their world. Through their words/dialogue, I can now hear their voices. I can hear dialect and inflection and tone, and I can hear the emotion in their voices now that I couldn’t hear before.

I found this so eye-opening that I really don’t know why I didn’t do this earlier. Just this little snippet of conversation has helped cement the main plot/conflict and story arc in my head that I feel a little more confident in its telling now.

I highly recommend doing this with your characters. It could even be applied to your main protagonist and antagonist having it out in conversation. Let them get to know each other. Afterward, they should be able to form clearer distinctions between their actions, goals, and how they view one another and their conflict.

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Endangered: a Sunday Short

I was inspired some time ago by all the recently published YA novels in the fantasy fiction genre. My last student that I worked with got me into the teen fantasy-romance, particularly following sagas of adapted folklore surrounding shifters, werewolves, and other lycanthropes. I normally wouldn’t have chosen to explore this genre at all, except I’ve been noticing the rise in its popularity among tweens, teens, and young adults. There’s not much in this world that could please me more than watching teen students willingly pick out fiction literature and actually enjoy it.

So with my newfound inspiration, I decided to explore the shifter/werewolf fantasy element, albeit with a twist. So without further adieu, here’s a recent flash piece I’ve been playing with, taking place in my beautiful Florida. This short definitely feels like the beginning of something bigger, so I’ll be brainstorming where to go with Mia’s story in the future.

In the meantime, enjoy, and be sure to click the links at the bottom of this post to explore the ever mystifying Florida panther, as well as the rich culture and history of the Seminole tribes of Florida.

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This was her favorite part. If there was something in the world Mia Thompson could love more than David Bowie’s music, she had yet to find it. Cranking up the volume on Moonage Daydream Mia sped her Jeep onto SR 29 North, toward home. She had just finished a particularly straining shift at the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge where she’d managed to land her part-time dream job, and she was anxious to get home. Mia had been floored when she was told she’d been granted her employment shortly after summer vacation had started. But today was a daunting day, and the thought of a warm shower and pajamas had its appeal.

Belting out the last of the lyrics, Mia began her routine of formulating her thesis of what would eventually become her entrance essay into the Biology department at the University of Miami. She hoped to present the research she’d been participating in at the Refuge: the growing pockets of small populations of endangered species native and unique to Florida. Using her data, she hoped to persuade a halt on agricultural and commercial development throughout the unprotected northern reaches of the Everglades she knew and loved so much. The land of her family. Her people, her mother would correct her.

Smiling to herself at the thought of her mother and what she’d surely be cooking up for dinner, Mia let herself relax and enjoy her familiar surroundings. State Road 29 was a country road and mostly straight traveling, leading south toward Ave Maria, Alligator Alley, and her lovely Refuge and the Fakahatchee Strand, with occasional bends along the way. Travel about an hour southwest, and she’d hit Naples and Marco Island. North brought her to LaBelle, and Miami was only a two hour drive southeast.

Soon the wetlands started giving way to drier land, offering up sand pines, saw palmettos, sawgrass, scrub oak and the occasional live oak draped in Spanish moss. The road started the last of its bends here, where the air was growing still and humid. Mia breathed it in; she loved this place. And she was going to save it.

Halfway through Changes, Mia turned her headlights on, cursing the longer than usual shift. Should’ve called in, she thought. She hated driving this last stretch of road into Immokalee in the dark. She sped up, shifting to fifth, hoping a little more speed would get her home sooner.

As she rounded another curve, she spotted a creamy blur dart across the road and into the brush, heading east. Into the gathering shadows. Slowing down enough to see the spot where the thing ran, Mia looked for a place to turn around. Using an old gravel trail as a drive, she reversed and headed back to where she remembered seeing what she could have sworn was a panther. She’d been waiting and watching these areas her whole life practically, and she wasn’t going to let the opportunity slip by. Especially since the elusive cats tended to stay within the bounds of the refuge. She had never heard of panther sightings this far north, but this area was virtually uninhabited by humans, so the possibility that it truly was a panther was quite high.

Pulling off to the shoulder, Mia parked the Jeep and cranked up the emergency brake. Flashlight and cell phone in hand, she headed toward the edge of the pine and oak and alligator grass. The flashlight’s beam only illuminated a small portion of what looked like a deer trail, though Mia wasn’t sure. She’d be late for dinner, but she very much wanted to see if she could spot the big cat. So she took a steadying breath and stepped onto the scrubby trail.

[Featured image, Florida panther, courtesy of FloridaPanther.comRead about this endangered species here.]

[Read about the Seminole Reservation in Immokalee,the history, and culture.]

The Enchanted Well

The Enchanted Well is a flash piece which was inspired by the graphic featured below. I wrote the story based on the overall feeling of the picture: an enchanting and magical realm hidden beneath the village well. Since I began playing with this piece, I’ve tried revisiting the source where I got the original picture, and alas, could only find a Pinterest board which included it.

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But upon typing enchanted well into the search bar, I found pictures of–quite literally–an enchanted well. Located in Chapada, Diamantina, Brazil, the Enchanted Grotto (or well, or pool), is a natural underground cave pool that offers a truly ethereal way to escape society. All links to photo sources are included at the bottom of this post. Enjoy!

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The Enchanted Well

Nothing out of the ordinary ever happened in Windfall, but lately there was talk going around that strange beings had been spotted at the forest edge. They’d come at dusk, was what the townsfolk claimed. Appearing as the sun sank below the horizon, barely visible as hazy shapes among the trees.

There were more shapes materializing with the dusk shadows, more coming the last few days. At least, that’s what Tara had been told. She simply rolled her eyes at such nonsense. She didn’t think anything supernatural came out of the woods at dusk, but her neighbors believed in their superstitious notions like she believed in logic. And logic told her it was just the weather and change of season that brought their uneasiness and suspicion of everything around them.

So when Tara walked to the well in the center of the village on a wondrously sunlit Friday morning, she had no way of knowing that her life was about to change forever.

For the townsfolk also whispered about the well; whispers that deep down in the well, deep into the womb of the earth, lay a cavern. And that cavern, Tara would soon learn, held secrets to which humans have sought answers for thousands of years.

Nothing gave away the well’s secret, though, as Tara reached the bucket and began lowering it into the well’s shadowy depths. But then something happened. A faint glow, otherworldly and deep amber in color, began to coalesce toward the bottom of the well. As Tara lowered the bucket the light grew brighter, illuminating the contours of her youthful face, sending luminous amber light washing through her golden hair. It felt warm, warmer than the sunshine.

Mesmerized, Tara leaned over the edge of the well, trying to get a better look. She was tempted to reach out and grab the shining tendrils of light. Silly, she thought, I must be mad. She backed away from the edge, as she was frightened of the implications of falling into that unknown and pulsing light. Still, she couldn’t bring herself to abandon her view–or the bucket–altogether.

She peered over the side once again, but this time something in the light had changed. It had turned an unearthly and beguiling deep emerald, beckoning her to lean further down; so badly she wanted to see what was spinning in that refracted light.

And then she fell. Screams issued from her throat, high pitched and wretched, as she plunged into the whirling light. Tara’s screams were clipped short as her fall came to an abrupt end with a splash. She’d found the bottom.

She kicked to the surface of the subterranean pool, gasping for breath. She was surrounded in deep amber and shimmering emerald. Wide-eyed and speechless, Tara darted a glance left, right, up, taking in her surroundings.

As she tread water to stay afloat, panic seized in her chest: the townsfolk had been right. Something extraordinary had happened in Windfall. Was happening. And she was now right in the middle of it.

[Photo credits: Carson-Dellosa Publishing on Pinterest, and read about the journey to the enchanted pool on Vialli Photography]

Freyja’s Chosen

‘Tis savage, it is, the way you mortal men war among yourselves. Your lives are fleeting, in an instant created, and in an instant destroyed. You war and raid and praise in Our names, yet you know not the true faces of Us. We are not as your mortal minds conceive Us, and in your ignorance, you’ve built a fancy that your blood oaths and sacrifices keep us sated, keep us above you and benevolent.

We are all around, beneath the Mound, within it, and above it. We are neither benevolent nor malevolent. We are the Stars, the Sun and the Moon and the tides that bear down on the coasts of the Land you claim as yours. The Land you fight to conquer. We were here long before you, Mortals, and we shall be long here until the day of doom upon the world, and ever after Ragnarok takes us all into the Chaos.

But ’tis the ferocity…your ferocity in your battles that belies your honor, your heart, your need to believe. You worship Me, you worship my Maidens Valkyrie, as if honoring us on the field of battle will sublimate and separate you into a Clan you cannot possibly perceive.
Still I watch you call your Kith and raise your Swords and Shields, and still I do not turn away, because it is Love I see mortals live and die for; Love that forges hearts of steel and Spirits of iron; Love that gives me longing to invite you Warriors into my hall to rejoice your valor. Odin has his pick over Mine, but those I choose are those that hold Love above all else.

Mine own are Warriors who have not forgotten that it is Love they fight for, even in Death.
Because of this, I choose to praise your deeds as you praise those of the Gods. Because of Love, dear Warriors, I choose to open My Hall to your kind, calling you home to rest where you will meet your Loves left behind when the world dies to ash.

 

 

~Líadan Rán~

A Writer’s Paradise

Images of crisp air and seductive sunshine pervade my thoughts whenever I travel to the edge of the peninsula that is Pinellas county, Florida. I let myself be washed away, renewed, just as the small swells of waves here at this tiny little slice of writer’s heaven.

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Freyr’s boar seem to watch me as I pour out my collections of observations, like silent and pale guardians of my written creations. The scent of petunias drifts to me, delicate on the breeze that sets the wind chimes to singing.

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I find inspiration aplenty, people and cafes and nature…always nature. I love the way the sea speaks, the way the birds soar and dip on the wind, and the way I feel sheltered in my thoughts.

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I’m not the only one who wanders around, absorbing all there is to absorb, and turning it into stories.

This is my own writer’s paradise. For some it’s a Parisian balcony above a swirling activity of city-dwellers, for others it’s a holiday cabin in the Vermont state forests. For me it’s right here: guided by the scents and sounds amid the laid-back activity of this little city’s inhabitants, watching everything for the three days’ time I’ve allotted myself over the weekend.

I love to listen, to watch, to think up stories in my head about the people, the place, the Nature all around this little tropical retreat.

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And think up stories I have been doing. I’m playing around with short fiction and flash fiction, while tying myself to the computer and various notebooks with intentions and daydreams of writing an actual novel.

But for now, the short stories and my poetry fulfill me. The book is more of a pleasure for me; a way to keep writing and writing with no end or beginning clear to me. So for now, I soak all this inspiration in, and let it manifest within my words.