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~

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~

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~

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

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~

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

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.’

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:

T is for Time-bound

The last letter in SMART goals is the T. Not only does this represent the need for a deadline, but it also encourages the writer to explore their plan for a defined amount of time. In other words, each of your goals should have time-related parameters built-in. This gives you additional structure and allows youContinue reading “T is for Time-bound”

R is for Realistic

When we talk about a Realistic goal, the plan is achievable given the available resources and time. One way to test whether the goal is realistic is if YOU believe that it can be accomplished. Ask yourself: Is the goal realistic and within reach? 1.   In the last steps, a measurable and attainable number ofContinue reading “R is for Realistic”

A for Attainable

When doing any goal setting, you want to make sure that the tasks are truly something you can do. I think that an excellent example of ‘attainable’ is the challenge that many writers know of, and either love or hate, National Novel Writing Month, or NaNo for short. The challenge is to write 50,000 wordsContinue reading “A for Attainable”

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