Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Exciting the Senses

Senses can excite!

Creating a world that is richly laced with the senses is what your reader wants. Have you ever read a story with none of the senses used? I bet it was a pretty boring story, eh? Senses bring your story to life in ways generic writing never will.

When we talk, we use our senses don’t we? When we communicate what we saw today, or heard on the radio, or ate for lunch etc. etc., we use our senses also. So why when you write wouldn't you want to leave the reader with a rich frothy taste in his mouth and weave your images into his mind like a finely crocheted afghan?

The best lesson I learned in writing was making use of the senses. It livened up my work like a fourth of July fireworks display and made my words dance to their own lively tune. This is what I want YOU to accomplish in YOUR writing.

When I was young, I remember my mother telling me to, "Act like you have some sense." If she only knew, I write like I have some sense, six of them to be exact.

Senses ~ Sight, sound, smell, touch, taste, and the unknown.

Sight ~ The light shone through the window. The rays danced on the floor. The mountains basked in the glory of the dappling sunshine.

Sound ~ The drumming of my heart was enough to keep me awake. The shrieking car peeled out of the parking lot. The church bells played a somber tune.

Smell ~ Ahh the fresh aroma of newly cut grass. The scent of grandma’s apple pie wafting through the open window has me wanting some. The tang of vinegar tickled my nose.

Touch ~ The hairbrush was rough on my scalp. The stucco wall left dimples in my hands when I fell into it. The cars hood was scorching hot!

Taste ~ The dill pickle was bitter after eating pretzels. The lemonade was sweet to my tongue’s palette. Grandma’s apple pie tasted delicious after it finally cooled down.

Unknown ~ I wonder if the sun always does a pirouette across the waves?
I’m wondering if Grandma is thinking about me up there in heaven.

The unknown is the tricky sense that we use to bring home our thoughts. The unknown can be as exciting as the rest of the senses if used wisely. Use it in your writing so the reader can touch base with you, the narrator. It gives the reader a glimpse into your thoughts.

Can you see what is in front of you right now? On your desk?
Can you smell the pans that you left on the stove from tonight’s dinner? Old coffee sitting in the coffeepot?
Can you taste the leftover spaghetti in your throat? A lit match might leave a sulfuric taste.
Can you hear your computer humming? A fire engine racing by?
Can you feel the stiffness of your chair and how it is making your butt hurt?
Do you ever wonder what it would be like if you won a million dollars? Can you imagine what life is like on other planets?

Bring it home for me. Take advantage of the six senses in your writing. Make your writing jump out and speak to me. Go ahead, I know you can do it.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Breaking Rules

Breaking Rules.

I think it is cute when I see a toddler walking over to the cupboard door and trying to open it when he knows he isn’t supposed to. That is what toddlers do. Most moms are one-up on them though and have placed safety locks on the doors. This is when the tantrum begins because toddler kid can’t get his way.

Writers are not toddlers by any means, but they do need someone to tell them, "Hey that’s not the right way to do that." Or maybe, "Could you try it this way?" The writer doesn’t lose his/her temper they just drink in the gained knowledge and move on. Lesson learned.

Newcomers to the field of writing think it is cute to break the rules. They prance around with the, "I can do what I want" attitude. Then as soon as someone corrects them, they run for the hills to bury their head deep in the soil.

Writers need to be tough. A thick-skinned writer is like a desert lizard, they can take the heat all the while bathing in it too! Just remember that you are not a toddler and that you will continually need to learn and take big sips of the cup of knowledge. Place your hand out into the open air, letting someone grab hold of it as if to guide you.

Never fear criticism, never fear writing, always embrace the tree of life. It might have splinters but you’ve learned a great deal and will carry the experience with you a lifetime.

Today’s words:

dalliance (dah-lee-uh ns)
1. to dawdle
2. amorous toying: flirtation

halcyon (hal-see-uhn)
1. calm; peaceful; tranquil:
2. rich; wealthy; prosperous:
3. happy; joyful; carefree

miscreant (mis-cree-uh nt)
1. a disbeliever; heretic
2. villain

prevaricate (pri-var-i-cayt)
1. to speak falsely or misleadingly; deliberately misstate or create an incorrect impression; lie.

rectitude (rek-ti-tood)
1. rightness of principle or conduct; moral virtue: the rectitude of her motives.
2. righteous

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Poetry Sunday ~ Tears

All rights reserved: copyright © Joni Zipp

Like icy clouds that form in the sky,
drops of pain creep from my eye.
Weightless they form a fluid stream;
life has forced a layered seam.

Tears are like capsules, of liquid release.
Hidden by lids they secretly cease.
The eye a doorway of repressed emotion
that drops a brew of poisoned potion.

Salty tears run evermore
softly sounds pound the floor.
Dripping echoes of seated pain;
seeping slowly a fluid rain.

The tear is weightless in its stand.
Lapping forth like waves on sand.
Going alone down the wrinkled aisle,
seeking to ride the sorrowful mile.

What will stop this rippling river?
Depths of joy I must deliver.
I raise my eyes to the skies above,
my tears become His kiss of love.

All rights reserved: copyright © Joni Zipp

Saturday, October 25, 2008


You need to smile!
If you see a friend without a smile; give him one of yours.” ~proverb

After I retired, my wife insisted that I accompany her on her trips to Wal-Mart. Unfortunately, like most men, I found shopping boring and preferred to get in and get out. Equally unfortunately, my wife is like most women - she loved to browse. Yesterday my dear wife received the following letter from the local Wal-Mart:

Dear Mrs. Townley,
Over the past six months, your husband has been causing quite a commotion in our store. We cannot tolerate this behavior and have been forced to ban both of you from the store. Our complaints against Mr.Townley are listed below and are documented by our video surveillance cameras.

1. June 15: Took 24 boxes of condoms and randomly put them in people's carts when they weren't looking.
2 . July 2: Set all the alarm clocks in Housewares to go off at 5-minute intervals.
3. July 7: Made a trail of tomato juice on the floor leading to the women's restroom.
4. July 19: Walked up to an employee and told her in an official voice, 'Code 3 in Housewares. Get on it right away. '
5. August 4: Went to the Service Desk and tried to put a bag of M&M's on layaway.

6. August 14: Moved a 'CAUTION - WET FLOOR' sign to a carpeted area.
7. August 15: Set up a tent in the camping department and told other shoppers he'd invite them in if they would bring pillows and blankets From the bedding department.
8. August 23: When a clerk asked if they could help him, he began crying and screamed, 'Why can't you people just leave me alone?'
9. September 4: Looked right into the security camera and used it as a mirror while he picked his nose.
10. September 10: While handling guns in the hunting department, he asked the clerk where the antidepressants were.
11. October 3: Darted around the store suspiciously while loudly humming the 'Mission Impossible' theme.
12. October 6: In the auto department, he practiced his 'Madonna look' by using different sizes of funnels.
13. October 18: Hid in a clothing rack and when people browsed through, yelled 'PICK ME! PICK ME!'
14. October 21: When an announcement came over the loud speaker, he Assumed a fetal position and screamed 'OH NO! IT'S THOSE VOICES AGAIN!' And last, but not least .
15. October 23: Went into a fitting room, shut the door, waited awhile, then yelled very loudly, 'Hey! There's no toilet paper in here!'

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Character Building

Do you have a character that is just a loose ink spot on your page? Have you tried to build your character up so that you can get inside of his or her head? Why not try looking into your character’s head, write down pivotal elements of their personality and build yourself a character that a reader will absolutely fall in love with.

Your reader wants to connect to your character. By making them believable with human characteristics that are usually flawed characteristics, our reader can join in the journey your character is taking.

Take a look at the people surrounding you every day. Don’t pick a specific person and make that person your character with a twist, (you might offend the person.) But take that person, let’s call him Fred who sits behind you at work. Then take John who sits in front of you. One likes to chew and crack gum, the other despises gum cracking. Here you have two different personalities clashing.

Merge these two into one. Be creative so that neither of the two can even remotely guess that you used them as ‘character references’. Notice idiosyncrasies in people. As you become aware that you are hunting down traits for a character, you’ll notice more.

Give your character personality, whether it is a high-strung business man or a homely waif living on the streets. Make their personality individual to them. By fleshing them out you are building yourself a character.

1. Give your character a good strong name. Mary is overused. A strong named character is a way to spell success!

2. Give them a birthday and astrological sign. Help define who they are through an astrological analysis.

3. Give them a quirky trait. Do they have a tic? Is their sixth sense finely tuned?

4.Give them a background. Did they grow up rich or poor? Were they in a religious family or not?

5.Give them dreams. Are they an optimist or a pessimist?

6.Give them a phobia. Noting their fear of something (like all of us) we will relate to your character through this fear.

7.Give them physical characteristics. Define who they are by the way they appear. Their hair color, nose size, ear size, color of their skin, birthmarks, height, weight and any other feature that might stand out in your mind.

8.Clothe your character. They will need clothes and it is your job to dress them. Will they wear a tailored suit? A poodle skirt? Hip-huggers? Remember the ERA of your piece and dress them accordingly.

9.Give them siblings or make them an only child.

10.Now give them a mind. Live vicariously through this person that you have created. Bring them alive through the magic of your words.

You have now created a character! With a little work, your character might become the next Odd Thomas!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Poetry Sunday ~ Society's Demon

Society's Demon
All rights reserved: copyright © Joni Zipp

Darkness creeps across the earth,
giving rise to lustful birth.
Inner demons taking self worth.
I cringe as the demons win.

Rituals, blasphemy of every kind,
idols of worship to steal the mind;
searching for solace they hope they find;
demon’s corrupting my kin.

Gracing the plains, the wind, the rain;
the demon erupts no one left sane.
Often grappling with inflicted pain.
Legions of demons veiled in sin.

Run my brothers, my sisters, my friend,
heal thyself; try hard to mend.
To you my blessings I will send.
Allow lucent Light freely in!
All rights reserved: copyright © Joni Zipp

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Quotation Saturday

Zest. Gusto. How rarely one hears these words used. How rarely do we see people living, or for that matter, creating by them. Yet if I were asked to name the most important items in a writer’s make-up, the things that shape his material and rush him along the road to where he wants to go, I could only warn him to look to his zest, see to his gusto.
~Ray Bradbury

The unconscious is the ocean of the unsayable, of what has been expelled from the land of language, removed as a result of ancient prohibitions"
~ Italo Calvino

"It is not the voice that commands the story: it is the ear"
~Italo Calvino

Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader. Not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon.
~E.L. Doctorow

Talent alone cannot make a writer. There must be a man behind the book.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing.
~Benjamin Franklin

My mother drew a distinction between achievement and success. She said that achievement is the knowledge that you have studied and worked hard and done the best that is in you. Success is being praised by others, and that's nice, too, but not as important or satisfying. Always aim for achievement and forget about success.
~Helen Hayes

It's hard for me to believe that people who read very little - or not at all in some cases - should presume to write and expect people to like what they have written. Can I be blunt on this subject? If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time - or the tools - to write. Simple as that.
~Stephen King

I would hurl words into this darkness and wait for an echo, and if an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight, to create a sense of hunger for life that gnaws in us all.
~Richard Wright, American Hunger, 1977

Friday, October 17, 2008

Funny Friday

How many screenwriters does it take to change a light bulb?

Answer: Ten.

1st draft. Hero changes light bulb.
2nd draft. Villain changes light bulb.
3rd draft. Hero stops villain from changing light bulb. Villain falls to death.
4th draft. Lose the light bulb.
5th draft. Light bulb back in. Fluorescent instead of tungsten.
6th draft. Villain breaks bulb, uses it to kill hero's mentor.
7th draft. Fluorescent not working. Back to tungsten.
8th draft. Hero forces villain to eat light bulb.
9th draft. Hero laments loss of light bulb. Doesn't change it.
10th draft. Hero changes light bulb.

The Interview

The CIA had an opening for an assassin. After all of the background checks, interviews, and testing were done there were three finalists: two men and one woman.

For the final test, the CIA agents took one of the men to a large metal door and handed him a gun. "We must know that you will follow your instructions, no matter what the circumstances. Inside this room you will find your wife sitting in a chair. You have to kill her." The first man said, "You can't be serious. I could never shoot my wife." The agent replies, "Then you're not the right man for this job."

The second man was given the same instructions. He took the gun and went into the room. All was quiet for about five minutes. Then the agent came out with tears in his eyes. "I tried, but I can't kill my wife." The agent replies, "You don't have what it takes. Take your wife and go home."

Finally, it was the woman's turn. Only she was told to kill her husband. She took the gun and went into the room. Shots were heard, one shot after another. They heard screaming, crashing, banging on the walls. After a few minutes, all was quiet. The door opened slowly and there stood the woman. She wiped the sweat from her brow and said, "You guys didn't tell me the gun was loaded with blanks. I had to beat him to death with the chair."

A child came home from Sunday School and told his mother that he had learned a new song about a cross-eyed bear named Gladly. It took his mother a while before she realized that the hymn was really "Gladly The Cross I'd Bear."

Monday, October 13, 2008

Funday Monday!

"The world is full of poetry. The air is living with its spirit; and the waves dance to the music of its melodies, and sparkle in its brightness." -- Percival
Word words words…they are like a fluent stream to the writer. We need words as much as we need air to breathe. It is through the written word that we convey a message, usually a vital message that sometimes a spoken word can not bring about.
To a shy person, the verbal words spoken come out in a mere gibberish flow. To a writer words become a tool. One that creates something like the saw cuts wood and the hammer pounds the wood and lets not forget the glue that will bind the wood together making for a stronger piece of art created by the carpenter.
The writer is the carpenter of words. He will carve, saw, shape, form and glue a story together like a finely crafted, artistically molded armoire. The components that make up writing are words, structure, form and style. Without these powerful elements honed and perfected, your written words will not be as effective.
What can a writer do to perfect his written words? Well he or she can master the art. Look at writing as a craft to be mastered. Read everything and anything about what goes into creating and building a story and maybe if you’re lucky, the artist in you will come forth giving the world a display of excellence. Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but to the avid reader, beauty is in the eye of the WRITER!
And what is the Writer’s first mode of operation? WORDS! And what do we do with these words? FORM SENTENCES!
aggrandize - (uh-gran-dahz)
1. to widen in scope; increase in size or intensity; enlarge; extend.
2. to make great or greater in power, wealth, rank, or honor.
ambience – (am-bee-uh ns)
The special atmosphere or mood created by a particular environment
droll – (drohl)
1. amusing in an odd way; whimsically humorous; waggish.
2. Archaic. to jest; joke.
gratuitous – (gruh-too-i-tuh s)
1. given, done, bestowed, or obtained without charge or payment; free; voluntary.
2. being without apparent reason, cause, or justification: a gratuitous insult.
paragon – (par-uh-guhn)
1. a model or pattern of excellence or of a particular excellence.
2. to compare; parallel.
3. to be a match for; rival.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Poetry Sunday

The Soul’s Descent

Plummeting downward I watch it fall,
the deep abyss, the shadowed wall.
Gripped by pain and tidal emotion.
Wrought with fear an inner devotion.

In this fissure of my being,
analyzing all I'm seeing.
Foulness of vengeance lurks throughout,
seeds of hatred sprinkled about.

Once there lay a fluent stream,
drought and hunger fuse a team.
Lust it lingers in this pit.
I try to flee...but here I sit.

Liquid anger claws at me.
My very essence squints to see.
Howls and screams; a wailing sound,
crimson walls melting 'round.

Fires racing, torments edge,
keeping me from realities ledge.
I struggle within this master’s plane,
as wilted red walls fall down like rain.

My soul has found a resting place.
Torrents of tears stream down my face.
Trickling along like glistening sand,
pain is held in the palm of my hand.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Quotation Saturday

Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand. ~George Orwell, "Why I Write," 1947

One must be drenched in words, literally soaked in them, to have the right ones form themselves into the proper pattern at the right moment.
~Hart Crane

Let me walk through the fields of papertouching with my wanddry stems and stunted butterflies....
~Denise Levertov, "A Walk through the Notebooks"

When you are describing,A shape, or sound, or tint;
Don't state the matter plainly,
But put it in a hint;
And learn to look at all things,
With a sort of mental squint.
~Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (Lewis Carroll)

I'd rather be caught holding up a bank than stealing so much as a two-word phrase from another writer.
~Jack Smith

There are men that will make you books, and turn them loose into the world, with as much dispatch as they would do a dish of fritters.
~Miguel de Cervantes

How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.
~Henry David Thoreau, Journal, 19 August 1851
Sit down, and put down everything that comes into your head and then you're a writer. But an author is one who can judge his own stuff's worth, without pity, and destroy most of it.
~Colette, Casual Chance, 1964

The good writing of any age has always been the product of someone's neurosis, and we'd have a mighty dull literature if all the writers that came along were a bunch of happy chuckleheads.
~William Styron, interview, Writers at Work, 1958

Friday, October 10, 2008

Funny Funday Bookworm Friday!!!

Sorry for my absence this week to all of my fans. You know who you are. Today I am combining three days into one post! Whew! (Coming up for air)
I hope you enjoy! ~~~ Joni

Funny Bone Friday

Scribbling scribblers getting paid….
Three boys are in the schoolyard bragging about their fathers. The first boy says, "My Dad scribbles a few words on a piece of paper, he calls it a poem, they give him $50."
The second boy says, "That's nothing. My Dad scribbles a few words on a piece of paper, he calls it a song, they give him $100."
The third boy says, "I got you both beat. My Dad scribbles a few words on a piece of paper, he calls it a sermon and it takes eight people to collect all the money!"

The beginning of sibling rivalry…
A mother was preparing pancakes for her sons, Kevin, 5, and Ryan, 3. The boys began to argue over who would get the first pancake. Their mother saw the opportunity for a moral lesson. "If Jesus were sitting here, He would say 'Let my brother have the first pancake, I can wait'". Kevin turned to his younger brother & said, "Ryan, you be Jesus!"

Growing pains…
At Sunday School they were teaching how God created everything, including human beings. Little Johnny, a child in the kindergarten class, seemed especially intent when they told him how Eve was created out of one of Adam's ribs. Later in the week his mother noticed him lying as though he was ill, & asked, "Johnny what is the matter?" Little Johnny responded, "I have a pain in my side. I think I'm going to have a wife!"

A storm erupts…
One summer evening during a violent thunderstorm a mother was tucking her small boy into bed. She was about to turn off the light when he asked with a tremor in his voice,"Mommy, will you sleep with me tonight?" The mother smiled and gave him a reassuring hug. "I can't dear," she said. "I have to sleep in Daddy's room." A long silence was broken at last by his shaky little voice:"The big sissy."

Bookworm Thursday…

Description from: The Writer’s Store
Robert Olen Butler, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, has been praised as the best living American writer. During his prestigious career, he has taught graduate fiction at Florida State University-his version of literary boot camp. Now Janet Burroway, author of the classic text Writing Fiction introduces her edited transcripts of Butler's thought-provoking lectures.

From Where You Dream re-imagines the process of writing as emotional rather than intellectual, and tells writers how to achieve the dream space necessary for composing honest, inspired fiction.
Proposing that fiction is the exploration of the human condition with yearning as its compass, Butler reinterprets the traditional tools of the craft using the dynamics of desire. He offers invaluable insights into the nature of voice and shows how to experience fiction as a sensual, cinematic series of takes and scenes. Offering a direct view into the mind and craft of a literary master, From Where You Dream is an invaluable tool for the novice and experienced writer alike.


" In his book, From Where You Dream, Robert Butler encourages writers to explore the motivation and inspiration behind the act of writing. He asks them to delve into the creation process and experience writing as both a discipline and an art. I really enjoyed this class because it enabled me to work through the preliminary process of dreamstorming a story before actually writing it. I also reaped the benefits of good feedback on my stories from fellow classmates and the class mentors."

Funday Monday Word day

idyllic -- (ahy-dil-ik)
1. suitable for or suggestive of an idyll; charmingly simple or rustic
2. of, pertaining to, or characteristic of an idyll

idyll -- (ahyd-l)
1. a poem or prose composition, usually describing pastoral scenes or events or any charmingly simple episode, appealing incident, or the like.
2. a simple descriptive or narrative piece in verse or prose.
3. Music. a composition, usually instrumental, of a pastoral or sentimental character.

ideal -- (ahy-dee-uhl)
1. a conception of something in its perfection.
2. a standard of perfection or excellence.
3. a person or thing conceived as embodying such a conception or conforming to such a standard, and taken as a model for imitation: Thomas Jefferson was his ideal.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Poetry Sunday ~ O Soul of Mine


O Soul of Mine
All rights reserved: copyright © Joni Zipp

O fretful soul of mine that grieves,
is it thou that freely leaves?
Lost amid the fruitful wine,
fleshing over such fragrant vine.

Wilt thou remain a mystery?
True divine I never see?
Or wilt thou rain on me with blessing,
teach me yet another lesson?

Scouring through the murky mire;
passion snared for earthly desire.
O valiant cross that I must bear,
my heart entwines in thy snare.

O earthly soul for all I gave
dwells within a darkened cave.
Allow thy raiment of purity,
seep in through my elegy.

Permit thy light to shine on me,
O soul of mine I thrive on thee.
Bequeath me with thy shield of glory.
Release from me this inner fury.

All rights reserved: copyright © Joni Zipp

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Quotation Saturday

I want to write books that unlock the traffic jam in everybody's head.
~John Updike

Drama, instead of telling us the whole of a man's life, must place him in such a situation, tie such a knot, that when it is untied, the whole man is visible.
~Leo Tolstoy

No one means all he says, and yet very few say all they mean, for words are slippery and thought is viscous.
~Henry Brooks Adams, The Education of Henry Adams, 1907

The time to begin writing an article is when you have finished it to your satisfaction. By that time you begin to clearly and logically perceive what it is you really want to say.
~Mark Twain

Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement; then it becomes a mistress, and then it becomes a master, and then a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster, and fling him out to the public.
~Winston Churchill
A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author.
~G.K. Chesterton

Novelists... fashioning nets to sustain and support the reader as he falls helplessly through the chaos of his own existence.
~Fay Weldon

Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depth of your heart; confess to yourself you would have to die if you were forbidden to write.
~Rainer Maria Rilke

Books want to be born: I never make them. They come to me and insist on being written, and on being such and such.
~Samuel Butler

It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn't give it up because by that time I was too famous.
~Robert Benchley

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Bookworm Thursday

Well here I am starting yet another named day for my blog.

This one is going to be called Bookworm Thursday!

What IS bookworm Thursday?

This is where I will list books for the craft of writing. Instead of just highlighting them in an individual blog. I thought I'd try this. They will all relate to ONE of my blog posts.

Here goes:

Books on Query writing is up first.