Saturday, May 30, 2015

This is it!

Well, it's almost the end of May, which means that the deadline for my initial submission to the Terry Pratchett memorial anthology is coming due.  Instead of working through the Writing Excuses Master Class, this week I'm going to be working on my submission.  It requires a brief author bio, a two-line synopsis, and a 500-word writing sample.

I'm planning to use some of my edited Nano work as my writing sample, so below is the draft of my bio and synopsis.  I'd really appreciate any feedback you guys can give me on this - just remember I have to send this off by Sunday!

Author bio:

Stephanie Wood Franklin has been telling people she'll be an author since she was eight.  She lives in Seattle with her husband and two step-cats


Julia needs to fill the gaps in her memory. She encounters Dr. Evans, a psychiatrist with a unique treatment for memory issues, and ends up travelling the labrynthian halls of her mind, finding out why some doors should remain locked.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Writing Excuses Master Class - What Do I Do With All This Blank Space?

This week's episode title is basically what I ask myself every time I go to write a new blog post.  The writing prompt:

Write your first thirteen lines, and see how much you can fit into that space—character attitude, point-of-view, mood, genre, conflict, setting, and more.

Julia kept her head down as she walked the windy streets of Seattle. She still wasn't sure if she was doing the right thing, but the ad had been clear that no "therapy" would take place without the introductory evaluation, and she needed the cash. She hadn't expected her food costs to go up so much when she went vegan, but everything meatless was so much more expensive than she had imagined. She was starting to wonder if fitting in with the popular kids at school was truly worth it.

She found the office - at least, her phone told her she was in the right place. When she looked up, all she could see was a narrow townhouse in a neighborhood filled with similar buildings. Hesitantly, Julia started up the steep stairs to the front door, double-checking the address against the ad again.  It wasn't until she was on the front stoop that she saw the sign, almost hidden by ivy - "Dr. Laura Evans, psychiatrist". Emboldened, she knocked on the grey wooden door, straightening her wind-blown hair as best she could. She was about to knock again when the door opened, revealing a small Hispanic woman who appeared out of breath. "Hello! So sorry to keep you waiting! Just had to clear things up. You're Julia, yes? Come in, come in!" She moved out of the way, ushering the girl in.

That was so much harder than I thought it would be!  So, you tell me - how did I do?

Friday, May 15, 2015

Writing Excuses Master Class - How Much of the Beginning Needs to Come First?

Two posts in one week?  Look out - I'm on a roll!  (Of course, now that I've said that...)  The writing prompt this time:

Start writing your story! Write 500 words, focusing on just one of the promises you've identified for your story. Then stop, and start writing another 500 words with a different promise. Aaaand then do it a third time.

For the sake of brevity here, I'm going to aim for 250 words each instead of 500, and working on two promises for now.  So, looking at the promises I outlined last time, here we go:

Promise: I want the reader to be uncertain of what exactly happens in the main character's mind.

Julia found herself in a dark hallway, with doors on either side.  The doors looked vaguely like the ones that had been in the house where she grew up, painted wood with silver handles, but only the doors closest to her had any kind of detail.  She decided to pick a door at random and see if she could get in - she didn't see any locks on the doors, but she had no idea if they would open or not.

The door on the left opened easily, swinging inward to a brightly lit room.  Squinting, Julia walked forward, though she stayed on the other side of the threshold.  She wasn't entirely sure what would happen when she left the relative safety of the hallway, but she wasn't willing to test it just yet.

After a moment, Julia's eyes grew accustomed to the bright light, and she realized it was the sun.  The door appeared to open to the outside world, showing a park with several trees and some small children running around them.  Not what I was expecting, Julia thought to herself as she stuck her head through the open door.  The closer she looked, the more she realized that she recognized the park - she'd spent many of her summer days here when she was a child, playing tag around the trees like the children on the other side of the door were doing now.  Without thinking, she crossed the threshold and stood fully on the other side of the door.  It swung shut behind her.

Promise:  I want the reader to fear for the main character's sanity.

Julia tried not to panic when she realized the door was closed, but she could still see it in the middle of the park.  Strangely, none of the children around were reacting to a freestanding wooden door in the middle of the grass - they just ran around it without truly acknowledging either it or Julia.  She found herself drawn to the biggest of the trees, where most of the children seemed to be gathering to listen to an adult.

Julia realized that things were coming into clearer focus when she walked towards them, almost like a camera lens that is focusing on the subject of a photo.  From a distance, she could hardly tell if the children were boys or girls; now that she was standing amongst them, she could see the freckles on their faces and the fly-away hairs escaping from different braids.  Looking up, Julia recognized the adult under the tree.  "Ms. Harris!" she called, waving to the older woman.  Even though Julia had been in Ms. Harris' day camp every summer for ten years, the woman looked right through her with no sense of recognition.

Julia dropped her arm, moving to the side so she wouldn't be in the children's way as they sat down in the grass around Ms. Harris' feet.  Not that they would notice if I was in the way, she thought, grumbling as she took her own seat on the outside of the circle of children.

Sitting where she was, a bit further away from the teacher, she realized that the woman didn't quite look like Ms. Harris after all.  The hair style and color was the same, but Julia couldn't quite make out the features of her face.  When she spoke to the children, Julia was shocked to realize that she couldn't understand what the older woman was saying.  Julia shook her head a few times, trying to clear her head, but still, everything sounded just...wrong.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Writing Excuses Master Class - Project in Depth: "Parallel Perspectives"

Once again, I'm demonstrating just what a clever woman I am.  I apparently missed a writing prompt, so pretend this one happened before the last post, yes?  They actually tie together pretty well, and I'm hoping they'll help with the synopsis for the anthology submission I'm still working on.  The writing prompt:

Decide on the promises you want to make to your readers in your story. Then outline according to those promises.

Promises, promises.  OK, here goes:

I want the reader to be curious about the idea of memory monsters.
I want the reader to be uncertain of what exactly happens in the main character's mind.
I want the reader to root for the main character/narrator as she travels in her own memory.
I want the reader to fear for the main character's sanity.


  • Meet Julia (main character/narrator)
    • Recently moved to a new town
    • Finds herself flashing back to things she doesn't actively remember
    • Decides to seek help
  • Meet Dr. Evans
    • Psychiatrist Julia is referred to
    • Specialist in memory recovery
    • Decides to take Julia on as a "challenge"
  • First session of "Evans method" of treatment
    • Dr. Evans sends Julia into her own memory
      • Described as a hallway full of doors
        • Behind each door is another scene/memory populated by memory monsters
      • Julia meets younger version of herself as a guide
    • Dr. Evans decides to pull Julia back before she's ready
      • Wants to know what happened, Julia can't describe beyond what we saw
  • Second session of "Evans method" of treatment
    • Julia decides to go back into her memory on her own
    • Encounters memory monsters that don't want to be found
      • FIGHT!
    • Comes out of it, but not sure who won the fight

Friday, May 8, 2015

Writing Excuses Master Class - Story Structure Q&A

It's time to try writing some fiction again, I believe.  I came across this call for submissions for an anthology in honor of Sir Terry Pratchett, and I think I want to put together a submission.  My only concern at this point is that it's meant to be humorous, and being funny on the page has always been a struggle for me.  Hopefully, the master class writing prompts will help me get back into the swing of things.  The writing prompt:

Make a list of all the awesome things you want your story to accomplish. Then put them in the order in which you want them to happen.

Since the theme of the anthology is memory, I want to use something I wrote a while back for Nanowrimo as a starting point.  (That link doesn't include the whole draft of the story - I should probably get on that.)  Of course, that story ended up turning into a horror tale, and I'd like to avoid that.  Still, there are some things I can play with:

Patient gets into her own mind consciously
Patient interacts with her own memories
Therapist finds way into patient's mind
Hide and seek with memonsters (memory monsters, the things that make up memories in one's mind)

...clearly, I still have some work to do on this.  At least it's a start?