Forgive my week-long absence. I'd like to say I've been busy, but I can't, for the life of me, put my finger directly on what I've been busy with. Life, I guess: living it and enjoying it.
Calvin and I celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary last weekend. Most of you know we met on match.com. That's right; Calvin sashayed into my mailbox on a jazzbeat and a smile. We were married exactly one year later. What a wonderful 7 years we've had with lots of laughter and hugging, shared memorable times, the work and trauma of moving from Columbia, Maryland to Lynchburg, Virginia, the excitement of traveling--Indiana, Baton Rouge and New Orleans, Paris, the Great Smokey Mountains, Florida, and Berlin--and the silent enjoyment of sweet everyday sameness. We've faced some medical issues: his diabetes and its effects, like periphial nerve damage and kidney disease, my thyroid disease with the subsequent "killing" of my thyroid gland and those scary mini-strokes. And we like to think we've reigned victorious over them--together. I've learned a lot from Calvin. He's helped me grow in a lot of ways. We support each other's dreams and, lucky us, those dreams are the same--to grow and achieve as writers.
We attended a writers' workshop where the speaker focused on things we already knew, but perhaps had strayed from. For me that meant going back through chapters already written and making sure those elements were correctly in place.
In a plot, there must be a sustained conflict. This does not mean a 300-page argument. There are many kinds of conflict: a battle with a disease, a divorce, a quest for a better job, the drudgery of a life gone bad, good forces verses evil forces, the battle of the sexes, surviving a catastrophy or battling one's demons. We must show character development. Our main characters have to experience personal growth or change between the covers of the book. Readers learn the true nature of the characters through their actions and dialogue, so make it real. Make your dialogue authentic. Remember that, in real life, people interrupt each other, they don't always finish sentences, nor do they use perfect grammar and, often, they don't say what they mean. Use this to your benefit! Make your dialogue snap with energy. Unfold the scene, a little at a time, by showing not telling. Avoid cliches.
Yesterday was probably the best day of writing I've ever had. I wrote slightly more than 3800 words. I was in a hurry to reach a scene that just popped into my head, but I had to write a long stretch of dialogue to reach the point where I wanted this event to happen. Since I wanted the conversation about an Indian child attending a white mission school, I had to do research online, searching for mission schools that accepted Indian children in 1860. My problem is I love learning something new, so even if the article didn't pertain exactly to my research, I had to read it...after all, I might garner a nugget of information to use later. My search turned into 3 hours of reading and repeating "Hunh!" to myself. Research--you gotta love it!
To all you Moms out there. Have a love-filled day tomorrow. I've been blessed with 3 children and 1 step-son. Each one a jewel, each one intelligent and talented, each one dearly loved for his or her uniqueness. I have a rich memory-bank of memories thanks to them. Oh, the stories I could tell!!
To all you special ladies, Happy Mother's Day!!!!