Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The 5 Necessary Elements to Captivating Writing (Hint: at least 3 get overlooked.)

Goodreads asks lots of great questions. Some I answer seriously. The latest question was, "What's your advice for aspiring writers?" and I wanted to share my response, incase it can help you love your writing and love writing more. 

In a nutshell, this is the be all end all of advice. And it isn't only for aspiring writers, it's for all writers. Everywhere. In every phase. A great reminder that, when we write, we write with a burden. And it requires all of what we are. 

Here's my Goodreads answer:
Open your senses.  
Really open them. Take some menthol to the nasal passages. Smear some wasabi on your tongue. Walk into a fabric store and touch everything, but wash your hands first.
Experience your life through your senses. Pay attention to them. Pause when you hear a train whistle. Look at the details of a painting that you've seen a hundred times before. Stare at it again. Look for the things you missed. Scrutinize the paint strokes. Focus on the canvas fibers. Invision the artist's vision take shape, stroke by stroke. 
And then restrategize. 
Shuffle them up. Use senses in a situation that don't relate. What did that painting smell like? Was that wasabi a pasty, tired green or was the green vibrant with life? Did the menthol taste like biting into an avalanche? 
Okay, skip that last one. That could be toxic. 
When you write, you are the gateway for your reader to experience your story. You and you alone can do that for them. Otherwise, they are limited. They cannot smell, taste, touch, hear, or see your story. For all practical purposes, they are void of all five senses and cannot stimulate them except through you. 
You are their surrogate. Feel for them. Smell for them. Listen for what only you can hear and describe it. Go out there and eat that menthol.
Again, you probably shouldn't do that. 

Homework, if you want some:

When we tell a story, we often share our emotions, our thoughts, a few visuals, and that's where it ends. We leave a lot of flavor on the table that could be added. Next time you sit down to write a story,  as an exercise, focus on one sense, like hearing. Think about the scene: What do you hear? Focus on that sound. Is it alone? Does it have company? Is it why we - or, for fiction, our characters - feel and think what we do? What affect does the sound have on the emotion of that moment? Tell your reader what you hear as if they've never heard a sound of any kind before. 

And when you do, send it to me in the comments! Because I want to hear it, too. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

You wanna win, don't you?

Of course you do.

Enter below by clicking the "Enter Giveway" button (or clicking HERE since it's not showing up on some systems) for a chance to win an autographed copy of Not Another Superhero, along with a personal note from me about... well, I'll think of something.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Not Another Superhero by Tara Lynn Thompson

Not Another Superhero

by Tara Lynn Thompson

Giveaway ends June 10, 2016.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Thursday, April 28, 2016

What difference could you possibly make?

She looked across the table at me and sighed, "I just don't know where to start."

Me either, come to think of it.

We were discussing the world and all its juicy problems. My friend wants to be involved, wants to reverse the destruction she sees, wants to push back all that is crippling the sense of right and wrong in the world.

Me too, come to think of it.

So...where to start?

We've made an overwhelming mess of things in our world. We have debt we entered into willingly while being unwilling to pay it. Stress we're stressed out about. Language police and protests against any police. Destruction that is called free speech. Free speech that is called destructive. Haters who hate the haters. Lovers who love too freely. Mysterious diseases. Mysterious legalities. Mysterious national borders. Freedom to enter any bathroom of our choosing but a lessening right to privacy. Rape that isn't rape rape and marriage that isn't marriage marriage. People seeking offense in anything except that which is offensive. And politics. Always the ever present seepage of politics into every aspect of our lives, whether it's in the laws that govern poorly, the burdens we are legally required to carry that are not our own, the disagreements that divide us, or the words we are and are not allowed to speak.

Yeah. It's ugly.

My friend wants to make a difference. And, let me be brutally honest with you here, she may not. Nothing we do may have any affect at all.

But that's the risk, isn't it? The not knowing if it matters. The unknown results. The hidden destination. We aren't asked to control the outcome, God simply asks us to be obedient. To do what is placed before us, what we know is right, whatever we can do, and to let Him handle it from there.

Results are His territory and the destination is His design. We're not responsible for our impact, only our actions.

My job is to trust that. And to trust Him: in my world, my life, and my future. When I do, shockingly enough, the mess doesn't seem so big anymore.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

21 years ago today. One small, untold story.

The man backed his pickup into the parking space and jumped out. Then he went to work.

In the bed of his truck was a gas grill, along with dozens and dozens and dozens of uncooked hamburger patties and hot dogs ready for cooking.

David Lopez, the President of Southwestern Bell Communications, walked out of his building, the one known as One Bell, the one that now houses Oklahoma City University's School of Law, the one - at that moment - with busted windows and traumatized employees, the one on 8th and Harvey, the one down the street from the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, the one that would become the Command Center for rescue workers until every last Oklahoman was brought out.

Lopez, having just been knocked out of his chair by the force of the explosion, exited the building and saw the man.

"You can't park here sir," Lopez remembers telling him, a story he recounted to me a few years ago during an interview. A story he used as an example of all the many incredible stories that happened on that day in 1995.

Instead of leaving, that man, who still remains nameless, heated up his grill. He turned to Lopez, who remembered his simple response, "He said, 'We're going to be here awhile and people are going to get hungry.'" Then he went back to cooking.

He was one of thousands who responded on April 19th - 21 years ago today - without direction or authority. Simply to be a good neighbor. To help.

They call it the Oklahoma Standard, this neighbor helping neighbor attribute. May we never lose it. More importantly, may we spread it to every corner of the world we can. And, in so doing, tell them where it comes from: a Savior who loves at all times and inspires us to do the same.