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Which genre suits your writing?

Here’s a question for all of you. Do you think about the genre of the story before you start writing? I do, IF, the story parameters call for a specific genre. You know, if I’m creating a story for a contest that specifies the genre, or maybe a writing challenge with a built-in requirement.

But honestly, I don’t think about my writing in any particular genre. I had to work hard to decide my trilogy was a legal thriller. The clues were in the courtroom scenes and the who-dunnit aspect of the story lines. Most of the time, I just lump my writing in the ‘literary’ genre.

However, when you look at the info-graphic I chose as the featured image for this post, you can see that the genre ‘thriller’ has ten sub-genres. Once you start to read this info-graphic and realize the implications, it is a little mind-blowing. Why? Because I feel that each sub-genre has, it’s own subs. You could drill down about two more levels and still not list ALL of the possibilities.

Should we still believe that there are only six essential stories to be told? I’ve read where you can categorize every story under the umbrella of a basic story line.

Now I have to wonder if that’s true. And if that’s not true, how do we find a simple way to determine which genre suits our writing?

just a few thoughts to ponder on a sleepy Sunday morning,

~Mustang Patty~

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My slightly twisted sense of humor

Why I find this meme hysterically funny

In case you’re wondering about my recent blog posts, I’m working through a 20-day challenge to blog every day and identify the best style, subject, and frequency that I would like to continue in the upcoming months.

And today, I’m explaining my sense of humor through a meme, and the story about me behind it.

I’m pretty sure you can tell I have a slightly skewed funny bone because, I get a kick out of how a missing comma can totally change the meaning of the sentence.

I finished a course on proofreading late last year, and I’m currently working on another. I wanted to take these courses primarily to be able to edit my work, but I’ve found a specialized market to proofread for others, too.

So, when I see a meme highlighting how lousy grammar can take any situation into a bad place, I have to share. (After laughing myself silly.)

There you have it. The very essence of my sense of humor is on display in this one little meme. Now, YOU know me a tiny bit better.

~Mustang Patty~

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2020 First Quarter Goals – did you meet them?

Is anyone else blown away because the first quarter of the year is almost over? Turning the page of my calendar this morning hit me flat on the face and left a mark.

When did this happen? And where did the time go?

Where are you in the projects you outlined for the new year. Did you have these goals written down? Or are you merely carrying a mental list in your head? (That’s not always the best plan, by the way.)

I’m proud of myself. I’ve managed to stay on track with the projects I planned at the end of 2019, but I’ve also added a few projects I didn’t even know about until recently.

These new projects aren’t little or insignificant, either. Nope, I’m steering the helm of an anthology of short stories for Indie Authors, and a collection of pieces written during this historical time, called ‘2020 Artists on Lockdown Collection,’ as a working title.

These two projects will produce a little bit of income for me and my sister’s company, Adams Creative Solutions, but more importantly, I will make real connections with the writers of short stories and essays on FaceBook and the other places where I’ve advertised.

Naturally, current events threw a monkey-wrench into all of our lives, but I’m doing my best to keep on track. Yes, I have ‘socially isolated’ to the extreme, and I was happy when every appointment in my calendar for the next three weeks canceled, but I’m accomplishing a lot.

So what are my big plans?

I finished and self-published ‘Innocent for the Moment’ earlier this year (February 2020,) and during the Camp NaNoWriMo, I will begin the rough draft for ‘Moment by Moment.’ I’ve set a goal of 60,000 words, which gives me an average of 2000 words per day. Honestly, I haven’t gotten as much of the planning I thought I would, so I think I may be ‘pantsing’ this one, though I just looked at the skeleton of the outline I started, and maybe I’m not in too bad of shape.

On New Year’s Eve, while the hubby and I discussed our plans and hopes for 2020, I decided I wanted to make this year the start of the ‘turning point’ in my writing. I’m going to find an agent to help me market ‘The Waiting Room,’ and I’m going to enter short story contests, along with others I see, and I’m going to push myself as if I had a full-time job where I was making a minimum of $50K per year.

This job, the best job I’ve ever had besides being a full-time Mom, —these things I do every single day are all about my hubby, my family, and me. I am working hard on the things I want to. I’ve spent the past two and a half weeks organizing my house. We only bought two new pieces of furniture, but it started a flow of organizational projects and a renewed zeal for life in me.

I’m excited every day to come into this office and work. I love the way we’ve organized my office now. It’s the best office I’ve ever had.

As we work through this final week of March, take the time to evaluate your goals for 2020.

Have you made any real progress?

Or are your goals the nebulous ‘someday’ kind of things?

I think the next thing I’ll discuss with you is how to set S.M.A.R.T. goals?

Until tomorrow,

~Mustang Patty~

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What to do when you’re STUCK – Part One

My blog for Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Starting today, I will be blogging about tips and techniques you can use when you get to a point where you and your writing are stuck. We all know the feeling. You’ve run out of ideas, words, and you’re ready to walk away from your project. Each Tuesday for the next several weeks, I’m going to help with some suggestions of what to do when you find yourself in that predicament.

In today’s entry, I want to look at a new thing I’ve begun to do when I’m sick of my current project for any reason.

I open the bottom drawer of my filing cabinet and grab the folder marked, ‘Old Stuff.’ As much as I wish it were more, I have just about everything I wrote from the time I was in my mid-thirties. The earlier stories and poems are lost.

The lessons to be learned from something I wrote long ago are many. First of all, there are outlines of book projects I never brought to fruition. When I read the idea for the storyline, I’m either excited or dumfounded. Why did I ever want to write about that? Or This is something I could do a great job with now.

I put what I deem ‘good ones’ into a separate pile, and they come out of the cabinet to my desk where I put them in the three-ring binder labeled, ‘Story Ideas.’

Within the day, I will take one of those new (old to me) ideas and work on a short story. The plans for new novels go on a list on my computer. I only work on one book at a time so that the idea may sit there for a while.

In addition to my writing abilities growing over the years, I’ve also developed a sense of what will work to carry the thought through characters, plot, beginning, middle, and end.

It’s easy to see where I got stuck on these projects. The common problems are

Too ambitious. I can see now that some of these plots were too advanced for me. At that point in my writing career, I didn’t have the knowledge and skills to work through such a complex piece. When I revisit these stories, I may try to build the story they deserve, or I might revise the plot or use parts of characters

Weak characters. With a new critical sense, I look at the characters and realize they are not three dimensional, and they aren’t capable of driving the plot. It’s nearly impossible to build a stable story arc without an energetic MC.

Silly things. For instance, I’ve noticed silly things that I have learned to avoid. My female MCs tend to have names beginning with the letter, J.

Setting. Whenever I come across how I tried to write an environment in pieces of the past, and quite often in my new work, I tend to tell rather than show. Consequently, I spend a great deal of time writing settings over and over. If I’m stuck, this is always a good spot to return to and work the piece once again.

Back in the early years of my writing, I would let these thoughts and stumbling blocks keep me from writing. I didn’t just stop where I was with that project; I might put everything away for months.

If you have a file of old writing, or the false starts of projects of the past, get them out. Take a look at your older work and see what you can learn.

Until next time,

~Mustang Patty~

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5 Criteria For Creating Successful Story Goals

In last week’s blog entry, I discussed the importance of Great characters to carry the plot for your short story by creating story goals. So, it logically follows that this week, I would focus on a few ways you can use to create successful story goals and keep your readers glued to the page.

5 Criteria For Creating Successful Story Goals

From the extensive reading I’ve done over the past two years, I found these five things will work to ensure your Story Goal will allow your MC to drive the plot.

1.  Possession Of ____________

Your protagonist must try to gain possession of something – an object, a person, or information.

2.  Relief From ____________

Your protagonist must try to gain relief from something tangible – a threat, an object, a person, an animal, or a condition such as oppression or persecution, and relief from something emotional – fear, pain, sadness, despair.

3.  Terrible Consequences If ____________

Your protagonist must face terrible consequences if he fails to achieve his story goal.

4.  A Worthy Motivation For ____________

Your protagonist must have a true motivation for pursuing his goal. These could include duty, freedom, love, honor, justice, dignity, integrity, redemption, self-respect, and survival.

5.  Face Tremendous Odds

Your protagonist must face tremendous odds. It should appear impossible for your protagonist to achieve this goal.

One way to create a great story is through the creation of a central character or MC with strong motivation. Using this motivation, you can build a plot that will carry the story to the end and fulfill your readers’ need for an outcome they can believe.

‘A central character wants something, goes after it despite opposition, perhaps including his own doubts, and so arrives at a win, lose, or draw.’

~John Gardner~

How do you know if your story goal is good enough to support your short story?

In evaluating your MC’s motivation, you should ask yourself if the story goal expresses strong needs for the character to obtain.

Is the storyline defined by one of the following?

Does your MC need to?

  • To get something physical.
  • To cause something physical.
  • To escape something physical.
  • To resolve something physical.
  • To survive something physical.

The Bottom Line:

If your story goal is physical, and if it meets these five criteria, you will have a solid plotting foundation for your story.

Join me next Monday when we will look at another aspect of creating a GREAT short story.

~Mustang Patty~

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Every Good Story has A GREAT Character

With the announcement about the upcoming Anthology of Short Stories for Indie Authors, I find myself thinking about what it takes to put together a story. In the case of the short story, the writer is forced to create a hero who is three-dimensional. The success of the story rests firmly on the shoulders of your MC.

In an earlier post, I talked about how stories are character-driven. As such, each story centers around your main character. In a short story, it is critical for you, as a writer, to understand what motivates your MC.

As authors, we want our characters to be believable and, more importantly, to make sense in a fictional universe. The best way we can accomplish this is to understand how our MC relates to the world. How would they react given any situation? (There IS a purpose behind completing Character Questionnaires.)

I write mostly legal thrillers, and I know my readers will want to know ‘the why’ behind why the characters in any story committed their crimes.

It is the motivation that I build the story around. Occasionally, there seems to be no right or logical reason for the actions. But as the story develops and we learn more about the hero and their life, things become clear.

Remember that fiction is truthful more than actual life. In the real world, people can do random things without reason, but in a story, your characters should have a purpose.

Your readers read fiction because it is not like real life. They want a story that makes sense.

So, what Is Motivation?

According to Oxford Dictionaries, it is: ‘A reason or reasons for acting or behaving in a particular way.’

As F. Scott Fitzgerald said, ‘Character is plot, plot is character.’

If you understand what motivates your characters, it is much easier to create a plot for your story.

With great motivations, your characters will take action. It is the action that leads to conflictconsequences, and sacrifices. It is these things that will keep readers invested in the story and care about your character. The ability to overcome these obstacles and learn about their strengths and weaknesses leads to character development. Readers love this.

And if the reader loves it, they will keep reading, turning the pages, and remembering the author who brought them real emotion.

Your character needs to be compelling. Give your MC a mission, and they will drive the story. Your character’s mission is the backbone of the plot.

The mission acts as a heartbeat in your short story. With each thud, your MC works to achieve success. You can hear the blips on the EKG as the character moves in logical steps from the beginning, through the middle, and finds the climax of the story.

A lot of things can be a goal or a mission. But in this case, it is imperative to remember that motivations only work if they matter and if the character has something to win or lose. As an author, you need to understand what the consequences are for your hero if they fail to meet these goals.

Therefore, motivations need to be complicated and irrational, but they need to be believable.

I think the best motivations are those that have both physical and emotional elements. Think of the addict (physical) who needs to get clean to be happier (emotional.)

To help you to jump start your short story, I have a list of the kinds of motivations I think will help you develop a strong story line.

  1. Plotting revenge.
  2. Surviving a disaster.
  3. Surviving a disease.
  4. Surviving a breakup.
  5. Saving the world/town/community.
  6. Saving a loved one.
  7. Saving themselves.
  8. Saving a relationship.
  9. Building a better world.
  10. Pursuing a love interest.

Once you begin to think about these types of story goals, your mind can come up with more and more. Remember that you can make these motivations positive or negative, depending on your character.

Every good story has a GREAT character. These heroes have the strong motivation that allows you to build a plot that will take you from the beginning to the end of your story.

Stay tuned for more tips and techniques on building a great story. I’m very excited to see the submission of other writer’s short stories.

Come join me on the journey!

For more information about the 2020 Indie Author Short Story Anthology, go to: http://www.adamscreativesolutions.com

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What makes a good short story?


Over the next few months, I will be featuring ideas about writing the Short Story. As some of you know, I’m working with Adams Creative Solutions on the 2020 Indie Author Short Story Anthology.

We are hoping to gather forty short stories from authors that range from 500 to 5000 words. The criteria to submit YOUR SHORT STORY is all spelled out on:

www.adamscreativesolutions.com

The owners of Adams Creative Solutions are sponsoring the production of the Anthology.

I guess the first thing to discuss is HOW LONG is a SHORT STORY?

According to most of the online articles and short story writing classes I’ve taken, the short story ranges from 1000 to 7500 words.

A short story is a love affair; a novel is a marriage. A short story is a photograph; a novel is a film.       ~Lorrie Moore~

What is a Short Story?

The best and most straightforward way to describe a short story is:

  • It’s short
  • It has an impact and a meaning
  • It should be memorable

Maybe a better description of the short story is to call it an anecdote or relating an incident. The short story allows the writer to use direct language to get your Protagonist from Point A to Point B.

In essence, the short story has a few key characteristics:

  • A single main character (Protagonist)
  • A simple plot structure
  • A Clear Beginning, middle, climax, and end

There aren’t usually sub-plots, and the secondary characters are one-dimensional. Within the limited word count, you only have time to build ONE character. This multi-dimensional character will change during the story.

So, the main character at the beginning of the story should not be entirely the same person at the end. Something happens at the core level.  Something around them OR within them changes. Your main character gains insight or changes direction. The Protagonist grows or weakens because of the dramatic event at the center of your story.

So, that’s all for today. I’ll be back next week with the top reasons to write short stories. The most important is for YOU to be included in the 2020 Indie Author Short Story Anthology.

Until then, enjoy your writing adventure,

~Mustang Patty~

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Calling All Short-Story Authors!

For more information, Email patty@mustangpatty1029.com

Would you like to get your BEST short story put into an Anthology of Facebook writers?

My Partner company,

‘Adams Creative Solutions,’

is putting together an Anthology of Short Stories.

Submissions are open to the writers and groups

I’m a part of as ‘Mustang Patty Talks.’

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Do you want to be a Writer?

I think it’s safe to say that if you follow my blog or belong to any of the Facebook groups I’m a part of, then you want to know more about the writing process.

According to national statistics, approximately 89% of the populace wants to write a book—they are sure they have something to say. The sad statistic is that only 1% of the original 89% will actually write a book. The numbers decrease when you look at a second book ever being written.

Why?

There are people who do not realize that writing is hard work. It takes a great deal of determination to bring the words from your imagination to the blank page. Not only is it hard work, but there is also a learning curve.

The learning curve I’m talking about is what it takes to turn your thoughts into thoughts that other people can understand. Communication of your ideas is key, but it does take learning the skills of writing.

Today, I have a blueprint of how you can learn to write or improve your writing skills.

First of all, pick up a good Style Guide. There are several around, but I think ‘Elements of Style 2017,’ is the easiest to start with. It uses the same principles as ‘Element of Style’ by William Strunk and E. B. White, but it includes some of the recent changes to the writing style.

Next, look for an online writing course. There are a ton of them available online, and they vary in cost and what you need to do. (I have found a few free ones, but you don’t always get good feedback on your writing.)

Subscribe to Grammarly. I’m not saying you should install Grammarly and use it and never learn the rules of the writing highway. No—use Grammarly as a tool. There are both free and paid subscriptions.

Organize your work. If you use a computer, create a file for everything you write. Back it up with a thumb drive. One of the most horrible things to happen to a writer is the loss of their work.

There are online tools like Evernote and Scrivener, to help you. While Evernote is a note-taking guide, Scrivener is used for the creative writing process. It includes built-in formats to plan your plot, character, theme, and a lot more.

Lastly, look into the writing organizations available to you. Use Google Search and hunt for the one you feel would fit your needs.

The more you build your writing world, the more you will feel like a ‘writer.’

I hope this helps some of you who are ‘stuck’ in place and wondering where to go.

Until next time,

~Mustang Patty~


Older Blogs:

A Life-changing Event and a Quote

“You can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will. Writing is magic, as much the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free so Drink. Drink and be filled up.” ~Stephen King~

During the summer of 1981, my life was full of turmoil. I considered leaving my teenage marriage of five years, and try to find some happiness. I wasn’t content with my life, and I certainly wasn’t getting any closer to my goals being married to my first husband.

In the spring of that same year, I’d attended a concert to see Harry Chapin live in a small venue in Seattle, Washington. We had front row seats, and though I was familiar with ‘Taxi,’ ‘W.O.L.D,’ and ‘Cats in the Cradle,’ I didn’t know too many of Harry’s other songs.

That concert in March of 1981, just a few months before his untimely death, Harry Chapin became a vital person in my world. He inspired me to pick up my pen again.

The songs I heard that night were stories written to music. He wove parts of life into an intricate tapestry of melodies. I was entranced. Tears rolled down my face when I heard ‘A Better Place to Be’ for the first time.

But it was the ending of that concert that moved me the most. Harry was out by the concession stand as he told us he would be as he and the band left the stage.

Now, during the concert, since I was in the front row with my then-husband, Harry noticed me. He saw me because my face reflected all of my emotions as I listened to his stories.

I was too late to get one of the ‘Harry Keep the Change’ t-shirts, but the pile of his poetry books stood high, and I grabbed one and got in line.

For a brief time during the concert, I had an incredible vision. In it, Harry and I walked together in a garden of beautiful flowers. Each flower represented one of his songs. Then we walked to a far corner of the garden, and the soil was plowed and ready for planting.

“What’s this?” I asked.

“This is your garden, Patty.”

“My garden?”

“Yes. When you start writing, you will have a beautiful garden filled with your words and the stories you create.”

“Yes. I can see that.”

After a moment, I asked him, “Do you really think I can?”

“I think you can do anything you decide to try. And I know you are a great writer. Remember the stories you wrote when you were a kid? You could make your mother, your aunt, and your grandmother cry with one story. Imagine the impact you will have on the world.”

“Me?”

“Don’t be modest. Yes, you.”

When the concert was over, the vision of Harry and I in the garden vanished.

Finally, it was my turn to pay for my book and have it signed by Harry. He gave me a knowing smile when he took the book from me.

I felt as if he’d glimpsed a part of the vision. At that moment, I knew he and I traveled together over space and time. In fact, we’d done it many lifetimes before.

After he signed my book, Harry looked directly into my eyes.

“May I?”

He’d said he would kiss all the pretty girls, so I wasn’t astonished when he started towards me while giving the book back to me. What did surprise me was the way he grabbed me and leaned me back into a dip.

The kiss was magical. In those brief moments, I felt our souls greet one another. I felt like I was home after a long time of being on my own.

Now, my husband stood in the concession area and watched the kiss. He didn’t say much. He didn’t say much over the long ride back to Bremerton, where we lived.

Harry’s kiss and presence in my life lingered. He awoke the part of my brain that loved to write. I started to journal again. I always had a notebook with me, so I wouldn’t miss the opportunity to write down a phrase or an idea. The author in me was awake for the first time since I was sixteen.

On July 16, 1981, Harry died in a freak car crash. It seems that the Volkswagen Bug he was driving lost power while he was in the far-left lane of a highway. The tractor-trailer truck behind him hit his car from behind, and Harry left this world.

When the news came on the radio while I was on my lunch break, I felt as if I’d just lost the most critical person in the world. I was bereft as if I lost my spouse or best friend.

And then in the most generous spirit, I’d ever known from him, my husband of five years went to the record store and bought me every Harry album he could find.

It was definitely a case of ‘too little, too late,’ but now, even after forty years, it still makes me smile to know my first husband truly cared. He just didn’t know how to love.

In that September, I left my husband. In the few possessions, I took from our house were the albums and the books I’d been toting from place to place since I was sixteen years old.

Among my treasures, Harry’s book of poetry topped the list. I didn’t have very many things in that little studio apartment, but that memento sat proudly next to the small B/W TV I bought at the local K-Mart.

In early October, a woman I worked with brought me a large bag full of novels. She knew I was going through a rough patch, and she also knew I loved to read. I was delighted and took the bag home with me.

It was Friday night, and the winds was howling outside. I was glad for something to do, so I looked through the bag until I came upon one of Stephen King’s early novels. I read ‘Salem’s Lot’ from cover to cover that night.

Now, I didn’t sleep very well, but in the forward, Stephen King spoke to his love of writing and how it made his life possible.

Suddenly, I was back in that walk in the garden with Harry. Only now, Stephen King was with us, too. And they both told me how important it was for me to share my stories with the world.

Thirty-six years later, I self-published my first novel. Having the ability to write full-time because I left the workforce at the end of 2013 and went on disability, finally gave me the time I wanted. Time to concentrate on writing.

And I think about my two heroes a lot.

If you could stand in my office at any point during the day, you would hear Harry’s songs playing on my desktop computer, compliments of Spotify. It may not be all Harry, all the time, but not single day goes by without me hearing ‘A Better Place to Be’ at least one time.

Stephen King is still alive, and his books come into my life as something new is published. But nothing in his work inspired me as much as Harry’s songs did—until I read the following quote,

“You can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will. Writing is magic, as much the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free so Drink. Drink and be filled up.” ~Stephen King~

Yes, writing is magic. Drinking this special water of life sustains me.

I am a writer.

2020 Short Story Anthology


Anthology Details

There is a $40 Entrance Fee

to cover costs of Editing, Proofreading, and Formatting

(some scholarship funds are available to qualified entrants)

The purpose of this Anthology is to give Authors of Short Stories a Place to publish their work.

All submissions due by May 31, 2020

One-half of the entrance fee is due with submission of your short story, and the balance will be due on August 31, 2020


The book is limited to a maximum of 40 Short Stories between 500 and 5000 words

Authors are permitted to enter a TOTAL of TWO stories. (The Second story’s entry fee will be $20)

Please JOIN the Facebook Group

‘2020 Indie Authors’ Short Story Anthology’

for all updates


Message Mustang Patty on FB, OR Email Admin@adamscreativesolutions.com

with

additional ???s