(Today we're delighted to share a guest post from Post Falls, ID, writer Jessie Gunderson, cross-posted with permission from her fun and informative blog, Blog Schmog. Jessie writes mainly inspirational fiction and poetry. She's currently hard at work at two important creative projects: (1) a political suspense novel, and (2) her fifth child, due in February!)
Learning the craft of fiction is sometimes a tricky and expensive business. But we are on a single income budget with a whole passel of kids to boot, so "expensive" and "my own ambitions" (no matter how noble) don't go together.
That's why Amazon, the library, and author/agent blogs where the craft of writing is taught and discussed are places I like to frequent.
Although, the howling toddler flopping at my feet as I attempt to type this quick post is making me reconsider other options: check into a loony bin, fly to the moon . . . .
The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman is a hand-me-down book from an author friend of mine. But don't let my worn copy deceive you. It is well-loved! This is a great instructional resource to keep and refer back to.
Each chapter addresses a topic aimed at "staying out of the rejection pile" with examples of errors, ways to fix trouble spots, and then ends with a lesson to apply to your own work in progress. From presentation to dialogue, and on to more advanced techniques like pacing, this is an invaluable resource. It also happens to be concise, and chapters move along quickly so you can learn a lot in a short amount of time, especially if you apply the end-of-chapter lessons.
Your Mission #1: Here is a lesson from my reading that I enjoyed. Join me if you like by leaving your "homework" in the comments below or on a blog post and linking back.
Lesson from the chapter on setting:
Lukeman challenges writers to train themselves to be attentive to their surroundings, and by learning to better observe, infuse richer settings in their writing. Find ten unusual details in the room you are in and write them down. It doesn't matter how small. Then see if you can convey a feeling or leave an intentional impression about the setting using these details.
1. Dust clung to the blades of the fan.
2. A candle tipped out of rank on a wall sconce of otherwise tidy crimson candles.
3. Laundry spilled out of the hamper, slumped like an old man, weary and tired.
4. Neatly stacked books occupied every flat surface, holding up random wads of this and that.
5. A well-loved quilt was spread over the stilted log bed.
6. Pages from Parents Magazine littered the floor.
7. A white scratch marred the wall painted with midnight forest green.
8. Grandmother's old rugs made a cozy place for feet to land on the hardwood floor.
9. The faint smell of heated rice and lavender filled the small space.
10. A lone wooden block lay abandoned in the corner.
Your Mission #2: What can you gather from my surroundings?