Jill Weatherholt

Writing Stories of Love, Faith and Happy Endings While Enjoying the Journey


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Inquiring Minds

Photo Courtesy of Photobucket.com

Photo Courtesy of Photobucket.com

I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.  ~  Albert Einstein

 

When I was a kid I loved the Curious George books. I was always curious what George would do next. He flew a kite, went to the beach, took a job, rode a bike and he even went to the hospital after he ate a piece of a jigsaw puzzle; he thought it was candy.

George had a desire to learn about everything. For a monkey, he was pretty smart; after all curiosity has been the driver behind the greatest discoveries in science, medicine and technology. George knew, without curiosity, there would be no creativity.

As a writer, curiosity allows me to venture into the “what if” of my creative mind. It encourages me to try something bold and different, especially when I attempt to craft the important opening line of a story. First lines draw the reader in and set the tone. Choice of verb and the number of words can suggest fast pace with a lot of suspense or a slower, more cerebral story.

To write a winning first line, I have to make my readers curious so they’ll stay with me. If I fail to intrigue and hook them in the early sentences, I haven’t done my job.

I’ve read many articles and posts about how agents never get past the first line or paragraph when they go through submissions. It’s all about first impressions. If I’m unable to make a good first impression, it doesn’t bode well that my story will get any better and my readers may start looking for the bad stuff.

Curiosity lives in all of us. As children, we embraced and pursued it. As I continue to write, I’ll think about George and his passion for the “what if.” When my opening line is read, I want the reader to think, “Oh, this is going to be good.”

Do you have a favorite first line? Perhaps you’d like to share a first line from your own WIP.


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Blogged Down

Photo courtesy of www.morguefile.com

Photo courtesy of http://www.morguefile.com

“It’s not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about?” Henry David Thoreau

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about my blog. Perhaps it’s because I’m approaching my one year anniversary, which is hard to believe. Bloggers create, write and follow other blogs for a variety of reasons. They might blog in order to promote their work, while others try to build a platform, as they write their novel. Some do it for money, some just for fun.

I began my blog eager and excited to build a platform because that’s what new writers are supposed to do. In order to gain followers, I was posting every day and blog-hopping like mad. It was exhausting.

It didn’t take long for me to become the burned-out blogger who was overwhelmed each time I opened my Gmail account. There were new posts to read and respond to. Because I checked the notify me of future comments box at the bottom of each post I read, my box was exploding with everyone else’s comments.

In addition to all of the attention I was giving to other blog posts, I still had to write my own posts and respond to those comments. I soon began to despise my blog. I work full-time and this blog was stealing any free time I had to work on my WIP and other short stories. I was tired and I wanted to quit.

But then, each week I read all of the wonderful comments from my regular followers. People who have the same passion for writing and reading as do I, many who have become friends. The encouraging words expressed in their comments keep me writing that next post. I’m sure I’ll find a balance, but I must make sure my stories remain my number one priority.

How are you feeling about your blog these days?


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Analysis Paralysis

Photo courtesy of Walmart.com

Photo courtesy of Walmart.com

“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing.”   ~ Theodore Roosevelt

When I was little, I loved sweet and sugary cereal for breakfast. My mother didn’t buy it often, but when she did, she bought the Kellogg’s Assorted Fun Pack. I loved all of them, so it was tough to make a decision. Frosted Flakes were great, and so were Sugar Smacks, but Cocoa Krispies turned the milk into chocolate milk, that was a bonus.

Recently I heard the average person can make up to 5000 decisions a day. Initially I thought there’s no way that’s accurate, but then I started to think. When I wake up in the morning, I decide to turn off the alarm clock, to get out of bed and to put on my slippers. That’s three decisions and my eyes have only been open for one minute. Our mind doesn’t see all of the little decisions we make as a big deal because it’s part of our daily routine.

A big decision I must make as a writer is whose point of view (POV) to use for each scene, unless I’m writing in first person, which I love. My job is to choose one character that will control the scene. I’ll ask myself who has the most to lose and to gain? Which character has the most important information to reveal to the reader?

Next, I’ll decide which character has the most potential to learn or to grow. My POV characters should not only have a stake in the plot, but they also need to have a character arc. They must be different at the end of the story than they were at the beginning.

My last decision is which characters are the most compelling. As a reader, this is important to me. Which character do I want to know and become more intimate with? As a writer, which character do I want to get to know inside and out? Which character has the deepest flaws and is constantly facing obstacles? This type of character will resonate best with my readers and I’ll enjoy telling their story.

Decision making is a fundamental part of being a writer. We’re continually making decisions about the whats, whens and hows of our work. If only it were as easy as deciding between Frosted Flakes and Cocoa Krispies.

How do you decide which character will control the scene? And I have to ask, when you were little what was your favorite sugary cereal?


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Stop the presses!

Image courtesy of www.morguefile.com

Image courtesy of http://www.morguefile.com

A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author.   ~  G.K. Chesterton

 

In honor of National Book Lovers Day, I decided to take inventory of the number of books on my “To Be Read” bookshelves. Honestly, I was shocked by the total. My bookshelves are exploding with books. And I can’t ignore the stacks around the house that resemble the Leaning Tower of Pisa. After taking count, I’ve come to the conclusion, I’ve got a problem, I’m a book hoarder.

I’ve always loved to read. When I was in the third grade, I purchased my first book, Stuart Little, with my allowance. Even now, I can still picture the inside of the bookstore on that rainy Saturday evening. Once home, I got cozy with a blanket and devoured the book. So began a love that would last for decades.

The origin of National Book Lovers Day is generally unknown. There’s disagreement over the exact day. Some sites have it recorded as the first Saturday in November, but the majority says, August 9th. Being a true book lover, it doesn’t really matter, I love books every day.

Since e-readers hit the market, I swore, I would never own one.  My love of paper books couldn’t be replaced by an electronic device. I love to hold a book in my hands, feel the page turn and smell the newness. I’m eating my words now, two weeks ago my Kindle arrived by UPS and I love it.

I love to read at night, so it’s perfect. The best thing about my Kindle is, after counting all of my unread paper books, which topped out at 243, I can hide my addiction on this small handheld device. Technology is wonderful.

Does anyone else have a book hoarding addiction?


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Monumental Fears

Image Courtesy of morguefiles.com

Image Courtesy of morguefiles.com

I was never afraid of failure, for I would sooner fail than not be among the best. ~ John Keats

Since I was five years old, the dream has been the same. I’m at the top of the Washington Monument. I step onto the escalator, misstep and fall to the bottom. Of course there’s no escalator in the Washington Monument, but that doesn’t keep my dream from feeling real.

As a result, I’ve been terrified of escalators my entire life. I go out of my way to search for an elevator, even steep stairs frighten me. I know I’m not alone, everyone fears something. Some common fears are death, loneliness, heights, commitment, germs, airplanes, the list goes on. There is even a fear of being afraid, it’s called phobaphobia .

Lately a fear of inadequacy has become an obstacle in my writing life. I fear that nothing I write is good enough. I asked myself, “Why would someone want to read what I write?” I question whether I can write something again that’s worthy of publication. This fear has stifled my creativity.

I started to think back to when I first started writing; before I had to worry about goals and conflicts. When I didn’t know what POV or a story arc was. This was before I studied books on writing and took on-line classes. Before I entered contests or had my work critiqued by a professional and before I was published.

Back then, the words flew on to the page. Yes, it was terrible, but it was fun. I wasn’t overwhelmed by all of the rules. I felt free to let my imagine fly. I was fearless. Now I use my fear to keep me safe. If the story isn’t finished, then I won’t have to send it out and find out it’s bad. If I don’t know it’s bad, I won’t have to face the fact that I’m a terrible writer. These fears have become my protecting shield.

I may never overcome my fear of escalators, but I will be bold once again with my writing. I’ve taken inventory in the fear department and I’m going back to the basics. I want to have fun again. When I’m having fun, I tend to be more creative. So, my future projects will be written purely for the joy of writing. If something gets published along the way, that’s icing on the cake.