Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Insecure Writer's Support Group for 5th November 2014

Anna Nordeman

IWSG - Insecure Writer's Support Group for November 2014

This is my ninteenth post for IWSG. Please read my 'news blurbs' after my main topic:
My main topic:

As I have mentioned earlier, I am so pleased to have discovered Roz Morris' how-to-write books (the Nail Your Novel-series), but am still open to reading other advice-for-writers-books.

And when I noticed words of praise for Roz Morris' book by author Lisa Cron, I figured if she likes Roz Morris' ideas, maybe she has some good ideas of her own. My instincts proved to be right. I have almost finished reading Lisa Cron's how-to-write book, Wired for Story, The Writer's Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence. It is a joy to read.

It sticks holes in many myths about writing and basically explains why stories are essential to our survival as human beings. Telling stories is one of the things that makes us different from other species; it makes us human, even more than our opposing thumbs. Why? Because our brains are 'wired' for story, we think better in terms of story; we need to have an emotional connection when learning; we need to see a pattern and to follow a logical cause-and-effect reasoning. Stories make us sit up and pay attention to important information that could save our lives. Good stories help us to think about how we could solve problems in the future, by letting us see examples of what can go wrong for other people -- without us being in any real danger ourselves.

According to Lisa Cron, if you want to be a successful author (whose work people actually read), telling a good story is more important than writing well. Many books to help author-wannabees, concentrate on grammar usage and correct metaphors, but don't explain what a good story really is. 

A key phrase in Lisa Cron's book is "information on a need-to-know basis". Our brains cannot retain more information than just four thoughts at a time. You shouldn't pack your novel with a lot of unnecessary information that takes the reader away from the main story and does not have anything to do with the protagonist or the problems that the protagonist must deal with or solve. Lisa Cron uses brain research and examples from literature and films to helps us understand how to tell a good story. (See pages 220ff.)

Lisa Cron's book, Wired for Story, lives up to its message. It is thought-provoking as well as thoroughly entertaining and fun to read; a non-fiction work that is a page-turner.

Examples of new light on old myths about writing from Lisa Cron's book:

MYTH: "Show, Don't Tell" is Literal --
Don't tell Me John is Sad, Show Him Crying
REALITY: "Show, Don't Tell" is Figurative --
Don't Tell Me John is Sad, Show Me Why He's Sad


MYTH: Writers Are Rebels Who Were Born to Break the Rules
REALITY: Successful Writers Follow the Damn Rules

The End

News blurbs:

*  November means NaNoWriMo for many of us writer-wannabees. Last year (2013), I did not even attempt to use NaNoWriMo to write a novel. This spring I started writing notes on index cards using Roz Morris' suggested methods (Read about Roz' how-to write-books here.) This year, thanks to Roz, I do have an outline to follow, so my chances are slightly better. But I still have the problem of looking for a part-time job and listing new items for my shops. Plus two school-aged children to rear. If time could be purchased in a jar, I would probably be cuing up to the counter to buy it.

My son, Erik, Maria (friend) & my daughter, Elisabet


*  Halloween came and went in a swoosh. If you are curious about how my children, Erik and Elisabet (12 and 10 years of age) celebrated this curiously foreign holiday here in Sweden, take a look at the photos here. We had everything but candy-corn, which I miss, and I didn't bother with a pumpkin-jack-o-lantern, even though tiny pumpkins are sold here too.

Daughter and Father

*  November first was my dear sweet father's birthday. He would have been 97 years old. I think of him often, especially when I read and write. I wish that I could talk to him about the books I read or the films that I see. He might have liked the Downton Abbey-series, that I only recently discovered on Since he was born in 1917, it covers a period (1912 to 1924) that he loved. Daddy was very much interested in WWI and its impact upon society; how it changed the way people lived and thought. 
Daddy loved England. He was sent there when he was drafted into the US army during WWII. He was impressed with land itself, and the ordinary English people. He loved the culture and traditions. And he was seeing them at a time when they were perhaps not at their best. Or maybe they were. Maybe World War II brought out the best in them, or at least in some of them. Of all of the organisations to help soldiers, a long way from home, he thought that the Salvation Army in England did the best job. This is my little tribute to my father's memory and to all of you wonderful people in the UK.

Best wishes,

First Commenter:
Book Lover

Friday, 31 October 2014

WEP-Challenge for 31st October 2014 - Ghost Story

Welcome to WEP's Challenge for 29th-31st October, Ghost Story.

For some reason, October's spooky challenge is usually the high point of our writing year. Halloween is the one night of the year when ghost stories are expected - within the English-speaking world.  Here in Sweden, Halloween is a newly introduced way of celebrating a holiday that used to only consist of lighting candles on graves.


I tried writing a ghost story, but my heart was just not in it. What I am offering are some photos documenting my daughter, Elisabet, and her schoolmate, Maria, together with my son, Erik, dressing up and going around our neighbourhood 'trick-or-treating'.

Elisabet and Matilda, the cat, before Halloween make-up.

When Elisabet told me that they were going to do this alone, without an accompanying adult, I said no. They are only ten years old and these are apartment buildings, in the middle of city, not a suburban development or farms, where everyone knows everyone.

For two days, I helped Elisabet draw pumpkins, print them out and hand-colour them to make 'Happy Halloween' - cards. (One of the reasons why my ghost-story never was finished. Oh well. Probably no great loss.)

Notice the black nail polish om Elisabet's fingers. I applied it.


We went to the toy store to buy a new Halloween costume, black garb including a witch's hat with attached green-coloured wig.

Maria and Elisabet apply make-up for their scarey roles.


Erik as the Grim Reaper!

Maria in the middle has chosen to be a vampire.

Halloween make up inspired by the green-faced wicked witch of the west from the 1939 film, The Wizard of Oz. Many of you may remember this film. I do. This is Margaret Hamilton, who played the double role of Miss Almira Gulch / The Wicked Witch of the West. (I'm looking for a photo of Margaret Hamilton with green face makeup, but can't find any.)
Click on image to get to Wikipedia

Maria threatens to drink my blood. Elisabet casts a spell.
Click on image to get to Amazon UK

They are off, and the weather has been unusually mild.

My trio marching towards their first victims.

Surprisingly, they were given quite a lot of candy! I expected them to come home empty-handed, as this is too new of a practice. It is not a Swedish tradition, and I have mixed feelings about its introduction. But since I took a course in ethology in my youth, I understand that there is always a reason for why people start celebrating holidays.  My immediate guess is that this is a tradition that appeals to the 'tweens', or 'pre-teens', eight to twelve year-olds, just my children's age right now. 

There is a Swedish begger-tradition, with the children dressing up as Easter-witches with broomsticks and copper-kettles, and go around giving neighbours handmade cards with 'Glad Påsk!' (Happy Easter!) on them. But this is a tradition for small children, and mother usually tags along, at a distance if nothing else.

My guess is that Halloween appeals to pre-teen children because it is a first step toward independence. And there is so much from the outside world (read= English-speaking world) that supports the mythology of ghosts, witches and vampires, that are the stock characters for this holiday. And it feels a little dangerous for a ten-year-old to dress up like a banshee and actually knock on neighbours' doors.

I compromised. I let the girls do this if they let Erik go with them.  

Erik claims that celebrating Halloween comes from Germany. I'll have to check on that. The Christmas tree came from Germany with Martin Luther. Or so my mother told me once when I was a child. I'll have to check on that too.

When  dividing up the spoils of the afternoon (they came home before dark), they put everything that they did not like in a pile -  liquorice, tough so-called chewy sticks, sour drops and bad chocolate - and gave it to me. Thank you sweetums!

Dividing the spoils

Word count according to WordCalc: Not Applicable.


Best wishes,

First Commenter:

Rainforest Writing


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