Some stories don’t really fit into a particular genre. My novel about Sifa and Peter is a story of family, misunderstandings, pain, and love. The novel’s premise is fairly complex, so this project is mostly on hold until my writing skills mature a bit more.Last updated: July 14, 2018 at 13:28 pm
- A Recent Writing Exercise: Beach Prompt (4/4/2018)
Some time ago I pulled this prompt from Writer’s Digest University’s “Showing Character Emotion“. As an exercise I recently wrote a snippet in response. It resonates with me because of the beach experiences of my childhood. The snippet is in draft form; I’ll be returning at some point to polish it by convey more emotion, directly and indirectly.
“Create a character who’s favorite place is the beach. Describe her thoughts as she stands on the sand and looks out at the ocean; use specific, imaginative, and active verbs.”
- Hurricane Snippet with Emotional Beats (12/20/2017)
- Journal Snippet: Eerie Setting (11/14/2017)
A road dead-ended quietly into a drab yellow stone plaza. Several structures of the same dusty dingy yellow stone, hundreds of years old, surrounded the plaza. Footfalls raised stale puffs of dust with each step.
To the east in the gloom stood doors to an old frayed church huddled against its larger looming neighbor. It was also made of the stone, but the thick, tall doors rose in dark wood gleaming despite the dust in the growing dark.
The air around lay dry and still. No wind blew, no breeze teased the dust.
The entrance reached over their heads. At a glance, the dark doors were at least nine feet. A pediment of sorts crawled and curled and curved its way up and over the doors in a half-moon arc. Inside the pediment’s half-moon shined defiantly two quarters of stained glass, like slitted eyes of a baleful being staring out from the church.
- Journal Snippet: College Friends Meet (10/14/2017)
She didn’t seem like the girl he remembered from college. She hesitated just a little, an almost indiscernible pause, each time before she spoke. Her only unguarded moment came when she met his wife for the first time. Her face lit up, and she smiled in delight.
She calmed slightly as she greeted T.
They all sat back down at the bar, H. standing between the two women.
He gestured at the bartender to order his wife a drink, and picked up his own glass, idly twisting it as he watched the others.
Her face expressed a calm warmth, and she was back to the slight hesitation before she spoke. She spoke clearly, in a low voice, unhurried.
The girl he remembered could babble on for hours.
- Sifa and Peter On Hold (9/16/2017)
I am putting my first novel, Sifa and Peter, on the back burner for now while I hone my writing skills. It’s become evident that the novel is rather intricate for a first novel. Take a look at my story premise:
A young woman damaged by her childhood and too eager to please, as well as a mother grieving from a damaging and traumatic genetic legacy of blood clotting, and a hard-working but selfish cousin, come together in during a family member’s crisis, coming to terms with not only family secrets but their past, their flaws, and the true desires of their hearts.
I’m going to take some time for shorter works. More on that to come.
- Writing Tidbit: Hurricane (Revised and Expanded) (7/8/2017)
Rain fell in a heavy cascade onto the windshield, a veritable waterfall that wipers battled in a futile effort. She peered cautiously ahead. Even at this slow speed, the wind still buffeted the car and shook it constantly. Her hands gripped the steering wheel tightly as she jerked the wheel back and forth in small, tight motions in a fight to keep the car in a relatively straight line.
“Just a little rain,” she said out loud. “What an idiot!” Her sarcasm echoed oddly, competing against the sounds of the beating rain in the otherwise empty SUV. “The idiot formerly known as my manager,” she added.
Her manager had seemed a decent enough guy when she had hired on last month, but in the last few hours her respect for him had plunged.
A stronger gust slammed into the car, causing it to shudder. She winced and gripped the steering wheel tighter, thankful for the bigger mass of the SUV rental.
Her whitened knuckles were a testament not only to the fury of the storm but also her fear barely held at bay.
Departing hotel employees, the latest weather report, and a late burst of sanity had finally prompted her departure, but drunk co-workers celebrating the hurricane waylaid her in the lobby. It took precious minutes to extricate herself and drive away.
Now the storm was almost on top of them all.
- Writing Excerpt: Sifa and Peter, Scene 1 (6/10/2017)
The two cousins completed their cooldown and headed back to Peter’s car. She breathed in the crisp air, craning her head to look up at the vibrant autumn light shining through the leaves. Far overhead in the blue sky a V of ducks headed southwest, honking faintly in the distance.
She suddenly pitched forward. Peter grabbed her arm to steady her just in time. “Careful!” he chuckled. “That sidewalk crack just attacked your foot.”
She ducked her head and blushed beet-red as her phone rang.
“Hi, Mom!” In the next instant, she collapsed onto a nearby bench, her face now unnervingly pale.
- Writing Excerpt: Sifa and Peter (5/20/2017)
The two cousins ran in silence born of long familiarity, finishing the last leg of their usual route as the sunrise glinted across the lake. Neither spoke until they were back in Peter’s car. Sifa leaned back against the headrest with her eyes closed as Peter started the car. After a moment, she looked over at her cousin in the driver’s seat.
“No problem.” He paused with one hand on the keys in the ignition. “What for?”
“I’m just really glad you’re you.”
Peter ducked his head in a short nod, then he whirled a hand in the air with a flourish as he said, “Well, I’m awesome. See, I put up with you.”
Sifa punched him lightly in the upper arm.
“Ow! No hitting the driver.”
“The car hasn’t even started yet, you doofus,” she laughed.
- Writing Status: S&P Progress (4/22/2017)
The first part, of three parts, of my novel about Sifa and Peter, is shaping up nicely. I feel like the section now builds the characters and builds up tensions for the upcoming conflicts in a decent way. I’m still struggling a bit with Laura’s story — how much to reveal about her personal tragedy in the first part. How much allusion versus specific detail should be included? How much should I unravel, or unveil, about her problems? After all, her story is not as prominent as Sifa’s, or Peter’s.
I may have finally found someone to review Peter’s work scene, someone who knows of the profession Peter has in the book. We’ll see!
- Writing Tidbit: Hurricane (2/11/2017)
A waterfall of rain cascaded over the windshield, the wipers battling futilely. She peered ahead cautiously, driving slowly and rocking the steering wheel side-to-side in tight, white-knuckled motion as she fought the winds.
- Writing Tidbit: The Tree (1/14/2017)
The tree stood as a large sentinel on the land jutting into the bay. It spread its large branches across higher ground slowly swelling from the flat land around, too gradual to be called a hill.
- Character Arcs and Story Structure (11/19/2016)
In addition to writing, I’ve been doing more research into story structure.
The problem is, my story doesn’t quite fit the standard model, as each of the three character arcs is well-formed enough to have its own introduction-conflict-resolution — but not at the same points in the overall story. I think I can strengthen each character’s arc to be more of a solid story, though.
As with all writing advice, I’m going to let it sink in and discard what doesn’t apply.
I also may have too many scenes that are too short. I’ll be looking at scene structure over the next month.
- Journal Excerpt: The Casual Spies (10/22/2016)
Why was she always such a dork in front of this man?
She went on.
“We were in the office. I was giggling with the other two office girls, typing away on a laptop. I was about to connect the special laptop when suddenly a manager came out of his office (it was a pocket office, not off the main corridor we had checked). We had no idea anyone else was left!”
“I had done a lot of giggling, explaining I had to fix the laptop before Monday.”
“The guy grabbed the special laptop to put it away. I looked at the time, saying I had to go, to come back the next day. My boyfriend (the same one I had chatted up with the girls about my mom not knowing about) was coming.”
“The guy was so suspicious. He found a bug on the edge of the keyboard. I was so wide-eyed and surprised.”
“I thought I wouldn’t make out, but Matt strolled right in and collected me. He was pretending to be the boyfriend.”
The elevator doors dinged.
“And where is he now?” he growled.
- First Draft Almost Complete (6/18/2016)
My first draft is almost complete. I’m so close I can see the light of day at the end of the tunnel. And it won’t be a train wreck! Well, only so much as first drafts are always train wrecks.
Then, it will be time to revise, and revise. I’m still not happy with Kindra’s profession. As a dynamic, assertive, no holds-barred, best friend of our protagonist, none of my job choices for her seem to fit: personal assistant to a wealthy woman, a marketing director (too close to Sifa’s profession), international spy, retail sales… maybe a nurse?
- Short Clips from the Novel (5/21/2016)
I had to cherry-pick some of these clips to avoid spoilers. Enjoy!
She breathed in the crisp air of fall as she craned her head up. The vibrant light shone through the leaves. Overhead in a blue sky a V of ducks headed southwest, honking faintly in the distance. Autumn was one of her favorite seasons.
They sat, mother and daughter, in silence together in the dull beige waiting room. They watched the hospital staff walking back and forth. Sunlight streamed in a small window nearby, dimmed more and more by clouds passing. The wind was picking up and tossing the tops of the trees back and forth.
Friday night came, and the crew were hard at work. Just outside town an accident sprawled across two lanes of interstate. Cars slowly edged by in the farthermost lane, traffic already heavy for tomorrow’s festival made heavier by the accident. The sky darkened, and the wind picked up speed.
- Yellow Stone Church: A Journal Excerpt (4/1/2016)
I’ve mentioned that many of my ideas come from dreams. Earlier this year I woke up after dreaming up a setting. No full story, mind you, but just a very specific location. Here’s what I wrote up in my writing journal:
They had found a new location for their little church.
A road dead-ended into a yellow stone plaza. Around was an entire complex of made of yellow stone mortared into place hundreds of years ago.
To the west were the doors to an old little church, built into the larger complex. It was also made of yellow stone, but the thick, tall doors were made of solid dark wood smooth from the ages.
The doors were about six feet tall, but over the doors was a built-in pediment of sorts, made of the same wood, curving up and over the doors in a half-moon arching over the door. Inside the half-moon were two quarters of stained glass, small but blending in nicely over the doors. The whole entrance was about nine feet tall.
Across the courtyard to east was a tall wall, about fourteen feet tall, also mortared with yellow brick. It ran from the courtyard northwards, pacing the edge of the street for at least a block until the street cornered to the left. Southwards, the wall ended in a large archway, opening onto some greenery. A path on the other side of the walls lead north through the trees along the hilly banks of the river. The path soon curves and slopes downwards, meeting the river’s edge, water lapping peacefully.
If you continue south from the courtyard, passing the archway and enticing path by, You pass by some small rooms of the complex built into the south side of the courtyard. This part of the complex rises at least two floors above the courtyard and attaches to the southeast edge of the church, continuing along the south side of the church.
Past this narrow wing, you face directly to the south, where another, slightly wider wing of the complex has windows out onto the park on the east side, and windows out on to a small lane running north-south on the west side. The small lane is bordered on the other side by a canal.
Another courtyard of sorts faces you as you turn west. On this little section of land are several small outbuildings. The one on the right, closest to the narrow wing, is for the church building.
Behind the sheds the water of the canal laps peacefully.
- Character Notes: Laura Havenaugh (3/5/2016)
Here are more notes from my novel in work, this time in connection with Sifa’s mother, Laura Havenaugh. Want to know more? Have a suggestion? Feel free to comment below.
A somewhat short, somewhat thin, not-fat woman with long dark hair, slightly curly. Light olive skin. Suffers from inherited genetic problems including excessive blood clotting that caused her miscarriages. The genetic problems were probably due from ancestral inbreeding in a small rural community in the hills.
- Sifa and Peter: A Note about Sifa (2/26/2016)
My upcoming novel has a full cast of characters. The Havenaugh family includes our protagonist, Sifa: her mother, Laura, and her father, Mac.
Sifa is blonde, twenty-three, thin, of medium height. She is a little shallow in terms of her relationships and is too easy to please. She rationalizes these faults in terms of her faith, but it really is due to selfishness and fear.
Circumstances force her to mature.
- Back to Sifa and Peter (2/22/2016)
Now that my short story is submitted, I’m back to development on my novel about Sifa and Peter. I had already written the core scenes, so my next pass through will be adding more of the settings for each scene. I also need to develop some secondary characters in the story. Sifa’s mother may have a story more predominant than I thought.
- Sifa and Peter: A Novel (2/20/2016)
Currently in development is a novel about family, tragedies, and falling in love. It’s about coming of age, about fears, about secrets. It’s about genetic defects and illness. It’s about love and happiness.
More about the cast of characters soon.