8:12 a.m. — Atlanta
listening to Jefferson Airplane singing White Rabbit
Hello, all. I hope your autumns [or springs] are developing nicely. For those who live in the mid-northern states, I hope you and yours were not around the late season tornadoes. Weather, as an element, is used in fiction as a structural device, both for continuity and, often, to reflect or parallel what is happening to the protagonist. The way someone eats tells us more about a person than almost any other action.Hence, you will find both as part of the patterning in the following exercise.
Poets: Write a poem where your speaker is eating and describing the weather. Allow us to see that the way she eats and the weather somehow parallel something on her mind. You may also choose to do this with a third person point of view, in which case the speaker describes a character eating and mentions the weather outside. The speaker may, or may not, know what is on the character’s mind, but should give us a sense of something.
NaNoWriMo-ers: This exercise shows how much of a story you can tell by stringing out a sequence of events in a repeating pattern. There are two parts to this pattern. One part is the meal; in each step, you will describe people eating a meal. The other part is the weather outside and the person’s physical, or mental, health. Perhaps these two are related –inner and outer weather– perhaps.
You are writing parts of a story, so don’t fall into the trap of listing details, or of telling us by telling us. Tell us by showing through actions and sensory details.
The best way for this exercise to work is to use the novel you are working on now and write these steps for it. Quantity is the goal for each step. Just keep writing. You can always cut and edit later on.
Be sure to answer all the little questions in each of the following five steps–although not necessarily in the order they are asked… feel free to add any aspects.
Select one of your favourite characters, or create a new one — even, choose someone you have been wanting to turn into a character, but the exercise works better with a character you know well, or a character you’re not sure about but want to develop.
Choose a starting year. Note that the dates in the five steps, run from September of one year through July of the next. Keep that in mind.
1. It’s Wednesday morning, 12 September, ____ (of whatever year fits your character). Your character is having breakfast alone. Where is s/he? What is s/he eating? What is the weather like outside? How is your character’s health? Expand on this breakfast.
2. It’s Friday noon, 19 December of the same year, and your character is having lunch with someone. Where are they? What are they eating? What is the weather like outside? And how is your character’s health? Expand on this lunch.
3. It’s Saturday night, 28 March of the following year, and your character is having dinner, alone. Where is s/he? What is s/he eating? What is the weather like outside? And, of course, how is your character’s health? Expand on this dinner.
4. It’s Monday, 11 July, later in the same year, and your character is having breakfast. This time s/he is with two people. What are they eating, doing, talking about? What is the weather like? And how is your character’s health? Expand on this breakfast.
5. It’s Tuesday morning, 12 July — just the next day — and your character is having breakfast alone. Where is s/he? What is s/he eating? What is the weather like outside? How is your character’s health? Expand on this breakfast.
Continuity is vital both for holding a story together and to make a reader feel they are reading a narrative written by someone who will not drop a string.
I shall see you Thursday for Part 2, Narrative Structure; Friday for the prompts roundup; and next Tuesday for an image prompt.
Happy writing, all.