The First Paragraph

Welcome to another Wednesday! And thank you for inviting me into your life. I’m glad to be here, and I value your friendship. Snow is in the forecast for Central Pennsylvania. I guess it’s that time of year. There’s nothing we can do about it, so let’s get on with some quality time.

Our topic for today, The First Paragraph, applies to all writing but especially to fiction writing. We all know, if you don’t grab ‘em in the first few sentences, you probably won’t get your reader back. It’s imperative we have a good opening line. So how do we accomplish that? Let me share four thoughts.

1. Begin with action. I’m not saying it has to be a knock-down, drag-out fight, but give your audience a sense they are in the middle of something. Stay away from backstory and setting. Weave that in as the story grows.

2. Introduce your main character early. Generally, he/she should be the first character introduced. Allow your opener to focus on him/her and set the tone for the rest of the story. I’m a stickler for names. Be sure to name your characters appropriately.

3. Don’t describe; layer in. Whether it’s setting or backstory or present action, don’t simply describe it, but reveal it a little at a time. Your reader will thank you as they subconsciously take in the details.

4. Show, Don’t Tell. We have certainly been through this before, but as in number three, don’t just give statements or facts. Allow your audience to see what is happening, not just hear about it.

Well, it’s time to prepare for the coming storm, so I gotta go. Enjoy your week. I’ll see you in seven!

WFK

Revisiting The Voice

It’s been five years since I published The Voice. Here’s the opening scene.

All was silent once again. Peter McClanahan struggled to stand. The fiery pain engulfed his body, but he knew his only hope was to make it back to town. He stood. The dark woods swirled around him. The only sound now was that of an owl in a nearby tree – “Who? Who?” As if to emphasize its point, the owl repeated the question – “Who? Who?” Peter had no answer for who or why or anything else. Dizziness swept over his body, but he fought his way to the old farmer’s field at the edge of the woods.

He tried to hurry as best he could through the standing corn, but the continual contact of the stalks brought a searing, hot pain to his many wounds. Each step brought a pounding to his head. Each breath brought him closer to exhaustion – and death. If he could get through the field, he would be able to reach the town and hopefully get the help he so desperately needed.

Blood was pouring from more than one open wound. Just how much damage was done, he didn’t know. He had never felt so weak. Nothing seemed real. Reality left him in the woods. But by now the town was in sight. He could see the glow of lights over the horizon as he pushed on.

Peter stood at the corner of Green-Briar and Meredith Roads. The pouring rain began to collect in puddles around his feet as he leaned against the street lamp for support. How he got there, he didn’t know. The last five hours of his life were non-existent. Now at 1:00 a.m., the bewildered boy stood on the verge of collapse.

One car passed – then another. Both looked and drove on. Finally, a white Chevy Cruz slowed and pulled over to the curb. The woman on the passenger side rolled down her window to ask Peter if he needed help. Then she screamed.

“Call 911! Call 911!” She yelled to the driver. Blood flowing from Peter’s multiple wounds tinged the puddles a diluted red as the rain continued to fall. His faded, pale face told the story. Confusion. Pain. Trauma. – Coming death.

I run my stories through ProWritingAid.com for editing. Just for fun, I ran the opening scene through PWA again. Flag after flag popped up. I plugged in their corrections and said, “No. No. That’s not how I want it.”

Online editors have their place and can be helpful, but they don’t live where we live – the place where the writer and reader meet. Most technical errors I make are on purpose. It’s part of my voice, my style, whatever you want to call it.

My voice is my voice. Your voice is your voice, and it’s individual and unique. I’m not about to let any online editor silence my voice.

Today’s lesson – write from the heart. That’s where you, the writer, will meet your reader.

To see more about The Voice, go to the resource page, and I’ll see you next week. Have a great one!

WFK

In the World of Make-Believe

I’m baaack – after some time off to celebrate my 41st wedding anniversary with my wife. She deserves something special. She’s put up with me for 41 years.

I’m not sure how I came to start my blog with the local weather report, but here goes. Central PA is experiencing rain and temperatures in the high 40s. So who really cares, right? Okay, let’s move on to why we’re here. Today’s topic is sci-fi and fantasy.

Before we begin, I’d be the first to tell you, sci-fi is not my genre. The closest I come to it is the book, The Voice, where Peter McClanahan takes a trip into the future to hunt down yesterday’s killer. I’m fascinated with time travel, but that’s as far as my sci-fi or fantasy writing goes.

Here’s the thing. If you’re going to build a fantasy world, it has to be believable. Consider:

Was your world always the way it is now? If not, what changed it. How was the world before? What caused the change in your fantasy world?

How much of your world do you need to show to support the story?

What about the lay of the land? Mountains? Deserts? Forests? It’s your world to create. Just make it believable. Don’t get carried away. Just add enough to give the big picture.

How about the weather? Does the weather play a part in the reshaping of your world? If so, how?

Where are the borders? Maybe they exist here on earth, or on another planet, or somewhere in deep space.

What do your characters have for resources? These can be things known to us now or something from your imaginary world.

In presenting your new world, please show us, not tell us. And we don’t want to just see it and hear it. Let us smell it, touch it, taste it. Bring your magic to life.

Okay, some things to think about. Now, get busy and see what you can do, and as always, I’d love for you to leave your thoughts in the comments below. Until next week . . .

WFK

Time for a Break

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It’s time to shut things down for a bit. Every October I take a break in honor of many years of being married to the greatest girl in the world. This year we celebrate 41 years of marriage.

That being said, I’ll be away from the computer. That means no Wednesday updates for the next three weeks. My next scheduled post will be October 27. Sorry for any inconvenience, and you can always order from the Books and Resources page.

Have a great October! I’ll see you the 27th.

WFK

Just Curious

Weather Report: Pennsylvania should find its Indian Summer in about two weeks. Until then, it’s autumn all the way. I was out for an early walk this morning. The stars were gorgeous, the air so fresh. The temperature, a brisk 45 degrees. I love this time of year. Enjoy today with me!

Okay, so I’m curious. What motivates you? I’m not talking about just writing. I mean, what motivates you in life? What is it that gets you up in the morning – maybe to take an early walk underneath the stars?

It could be writing. But it could also be several other things. Look at it this way. Symptoms tell us we have a disease, or at least, that something is wrong. The symptoms are not the disease, but they result from a disease. Or to simplify it, the fruit is not the root.

What I’m asking is why do you write? Where does the fruit of writing come from? Writing is a symptom, but the root goes much deeper. We all have unique experiences. We travel life’s path on different roads. Yet for many of us, the path leads to writing.

So I’m curious about your road. Where did it all begin, and what stops have you made along the way? What detours have you taken? What moves you on? I think these are questions worth considering because no one just sits down and writes. Consciously or subconsciously, our writing comes from the path we have taken. It comes from the root of our lives. It’s a symptom of something much deeper. Look at yourself. Where have you been and where are you going? In one way or another, you’ll see it in your writing.

Enough for now. I’ll see you next week. Same time – same channel.

WFK

Common Inspiration

It’s a rainy day in Central PA, but autumn has finally arrived. Another month and the leaves will be full of color. The air is fresh and invigorating. The clear night skies reveal the Milky Way in all its glory. I love the fall.

The change in weather inspires me every year. What inspires you? Let’s be specific. What inspires you to write? Leave me your thoughts in the comments below.

We can find inspiration in many common places. One of my favorite places to look for inspiration is music. Depending on what I’m writing, I can always find some music to go along with it. In the novel, Pinpoint Analysis, the story line came first. The book is about a marine biologist, Les Griffin, who finds himself beneath the Bermuda Triangle in an attempt to save his daughter, who has been abducted by the devil. The song Ready for the Storm by Dougie MacLean inspired me to write the chapter where Les comes face to face with the evil that holds his daughter captive.

Sometimes the music comes first, as in Machan’s Tale. I love Celtic music and the history of the Celts. When I heard the song, Ghost of a Rose, by Blackmore’s Night, it was a no-brainer. I had to write a story based on the Celtic tune. The song inspired the entire first chapter.

In another of my Celtic stories, Cadeyrn’s Tale. the song, Ride On inspired the chapter where Cadeyrn loses his love. Several songs paved the way for Stage (f)Right.

Ideas can come from TV shows and movies, from every day experiences, from strangers on the street. A true story I read inspired Peter McClanahan’s character in The Voice. Inspiration can and does come in many forms from various sources. If you’re looking for inspiration, just keep your ear to the ground. It will be there.

Okay! Leave me your thoughts below and I’ll see you next week.

WFK

Writing and Schedules

The sun is shining in Central PA today. A gentle breeze is blowing. Fall is in the air. This is my favorite time of the year. Soon the Appalachians will be ablaze with color. Love it! Okay. Okay. So what about writing and schedules?

I would like to recommend that writers follow a set schedule – but I can’t. Usually, in the life of a writer, there is more than just writing to be concerned about. There are families that need to be added to the schedule. Outside work frequently takes precedence. We must allow time to take care of our bodies and spirits. In short, life can become terribly busy, and often it is busier than it is meant to be. So what’s the solution?

I have none.

Because of several other responsibilities, it is impossible for me to schedule my writing to the minute, or even the hour. I have a weekly schedule, however. Like right now. Wednesday is my day for adding to my blog. Thank you for being a part. Friday is my day for working on my Sunday sermon. And of course, Sunday is my day for giving the sermon. Except for my Sunday schedule, I set nothing in stone.

Sure, Wednesday is my day for the blog, but what time? It could be 6:00 am. It could be 3:00 pm. Who knows? That is not necessarily a bad thing. It just works for me. It allows me to get the writing done, but still take care of the things in my overly busy life. The important thing is that I write. And the important thing is that you write. If you call yourself a writer, that’s what we do.

If you can stick to a schedule, that’s wonderful. Just write. If you can’t, that’s wonderful – just write. Just write because that’s we do. See you next Wednesday.

WFK

Welcome, Ida!

Well, the remnants of Ida hit Central PA. Rain and wind everywhere. I am thankful I don’t live in Louisiana. My prayers go out to you folks down that way. I know this is a writing blog, but sometimes other things just become more important. This is one of those times, and I need to vent. If I offend you, I apologize in advance, but I’m not sorry for what I’m about to write. Regardless of your political affiliation, we need to admit that our beloved country is in serious trouble.

My heart breaks for my fellow Americans and those who stood with us who are trapped behind enemy lines in Afghanistan. It should never have been. Our leaders have shown carelessness, a lack of planning, and a complete disregard for human life.

We have transported to the USA at least one hundred men listed on the Terrorist Watch List. Our borders are wide open for other terrorists to enter, not to mention the drug and sex traffickers. Another 9/11 attack is being planned as we speak. In eight short months, our nation has fallen, almost to where there can be no recovery.

Our enemies and allies mock us. The crown is slipping fast from the head of the once-great America. I still love this nation, but I’m also embarrassed for her.

I could feel hopeless, except I know how the story ends. What is the eventual outcome for America? She will be destroyed at some future point. Today’s current events have been foretold in Bible prophecy thousands of year ago. A look at the daily news confirms once again that God sees all and will right all wrongs at His soon return. Before Him, no one will stand on their own merit. Our only hope is in Jesus Christ – not in a government, not in a religion, not in ourselves.

Whether you choose to believe it, the fact is Jesus Christ is the only way to peace and the forgiveness of sins. Praying doesn’t cut it. Church attendance doesn’t cut it. Baptism, communion, trying to keep the Ten Commandments don’t cut it. Jesus said, “. . . I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” The only way of salvation is to have a personal relationship with Him.

If you’re not sure what I mean, please allow me the privilege of talking with you further. Just email or message me, and I’ll get right back to you. In these ugly days, your eternal destiny is something you can’t afford to overlook. Thank you for allowing me to rant. Until next week . . .

WFK

PS – If you’d like more information on the destruction of America, I’d be glad to send you a free copy of my book, The Death of America. Just let me know.

Busy! Busy! Busy?

Unfortunately, I have nothing new to report except that I have nothing new to report. Each year in September, our church hosts The Great American Fast, and this year is no exception. It is a major undertaking, and there is so much involved behind the scenes. So I’m busy, busy, busy. So I need to hurry.

But before I leave you for another week, let me ask you, are you busy? Or are you just busy? I mean, in your busyness, are you accomplishing your goals, or are you just wasting time, filling it with action but not really going anywhere? It happens. So investigate what’s going on in your life and make every moment count.

Okay – gotta get going. Have a busy and productive week. See you next week. Maybe things will have slowed down.

WFK

What a Character!

Welcome to my Wednesday – and yours. Here’s hoping you had a great week! The weather for today? Pouring down rain. At least maybe it will cool down a bit. It’s been very humid lately.

So, let’s talk about characters this week. Nothing holds a reader’s attention like an intriguing plot. But truth be told, the plot won’t be intriguing if the characters aren’t believable, if they aren’t three dimensional.

Give them a name that fits the story. If you set your story in the present, you probably wouldn’t give them the name Bertha or Gertrude. Nothing wrong with those names, but mostly, they were popular in a different era. If you’re writing a piece of historical fiction, you no doubt would not use names like Paisley or Nova. Perhaps Eleanor or Grace would fit better.

Be clear about their age. Is he an elderly man or a teen girl? That sounds a little obvious, I would think, but all too often, age can be confusing and the plot ruined, especially in a short story.

Describe them physically. We need to picture your character in our mind, but please show, don’t tell. Use action and dialogue to give us that clear picture.

What about backstory? Think about their hometown, their type of home or neighborhood. How about relationships, either past or present?

What kind of job do they have? How do they dress? What kind of friends do they hang with? How about their religion? Hobbies? Favorite sports? How do they perceive themselves? How do others perceive them? Are they humorous? Serious? Fearful? Self-confident?

Don’t apply these thoughts to your protagonist alone. Build a life-like backing cast as well.

Okay. We’re done until next week. See you then.

WFK