A mural of the golden tree spread across the wall. With absent minded ease, he rose from the edge of the bed and stepped over to the wall. His hand outstretched, he caressed the painting of the tree. Its golden leaves just as shiny here as in person. But, how can that be? It’s a painting.
A knock at the bedroom door shook him out of his thoughts, and he spun his head in the direction of the knock.
“Yes?” asked Charlie. “Come in.”
The door inched inward and a woman’s well groomed brunette head peeped around the edge. “You’re awake,” said the woman. “I’m Tulsie.”
“H-hello. I am Charlie. H-how long have I been asleep?”
“Two days. We were starting to wonder if you were going to wake up. The doctor came over to look at you.” She walked over to him and reached slight, delicate fingers up to his temple. “I must say, that bump looks much better.”
“It hurts like hell.”
Tulsie gasped and stepped back a couple steps, touching folded hands to her chest. “Must you speak that way?”
“Yes. We don’t speak that kind of language in this house.”
“Oh,” replied Charlie taken back just a bit. “Where I come from it’s no big deal. But I do apologize if I offended you.” An uncomfortable minute passed as no one said anything. Then, indicating toward the painted golden tree on the wall, “Do you know about this tree?”
“What about it?” asked Tulsie.
“How is it you have a painting of it on your wall?”
“It’s just a tree.”
“No, it’s not. Who painted it?”
“My cousin. Raymond Bleaker Sr. So what?”
“This tree really exists. It grows on a farm of a friend of mine back in Oklahoma. Wait. Where am I anyway?”
“Who is your friend?”
“Ray Bleaker III.” A chill ran up and down his spine. What are the odds he wakes up wherever in the house of the cousin of his friend’s grandfather? “Ma’am? Please tell me where I am.”
“In my house.”
Charlie scrunched his lips and a heat rose in his cheeks. “I know that. Where is your house, besides on a street in a nice little town. Where is this place? What’s the town or city, or whatever?”
“You don’t have to be so rude in your speaking sir. A simple question and in a nice manner would suffice,” explained Tulsie.
Charlie pasted a fake smile across his cheeks, “Ma’am? What town and state am I in?”
“That’s much better. You are in a suburb of Dallas, Texas,” replied Tulsie. She sauntered over to mural of the golden tree and flipped her delicate fingers in its direction. “Ya know, this tree has been in my cousin’s family for generations. It’s original name was the Time Travel Tree.” Her gaze went from the tree mural to Charlie and morphed into a leer. “You are in 1956.”
Charlie ran his fingers through his dark hair, staggered to the bed and sat back down on the edge. “How do I get back to 2022? Wait, I need to find Rays farm. That’s where the tree is. He said it’s like 200 years old. I’ll just go back there and touch the tree.”
At that moment the same little boy he’d seen holding the ball in the front yard of the house, when he arrived two days ago, walked into the room holding the same red ball.
Tulsie walked over to the little boy and fumbled her fingers through the little boys hair. “This is my cousin’s boy, Raymond Jr.” Then she threw a pointed stare at Charlie. “And, no, you cannot find the tree at my cousin’s farm. It isn’t there.”
“But it’s there in 2022. Ray said it’s over 200 years old. Trees don’t get up and move.”
“Well, he’s right. It is 200 years old. But the tree moves itself every so many years. So you’ll have to find it. How you do that is up to you.”
“But I thought you said the tree has been in the family for generations.”
“That’s right. I did. You appear to be a smart man. Confused at the moment but smart nevertheless. Figure it out.”
(To Be Continued)
I had a conversation with a first time story writer yesterday. She told me she has a problem with stopping shortly after she starts a story, then she never goes back to it. I asked her what was stopping her. She told me it was the dialogue. When I asked her what specifically about dialogue she was having issues with, she said it was difficult starting it and how to use it.
To be honest dialogue can be confusing to someone who has never written it. There are rules that apply. I’m only going to hit on one here. I went over this with her yesterday, and it cleared up so much for her.
Dialogue Tags—A phrase that precedes, breaks up, or follows dialogue and indicates who is speaking, how it is being delivered, and whether or not a new speaker is talking.
One thing to keep in mind is that you don’t necessarily have to use dialogue tags in each piece of dialogue. When there are two speakers, use a dialogue tag in the first two to four pieces of dialogue, then stop for the rest of the characters’ conversation. Trust me, the reader will be able to follow who is talking. But, to remind the reader of the order of who is speaking, add a dialogue tag or two somewhere in the middle of the conversation. Normally, two people in a dialogue speak every other piece of dialogue unless otherwise indicated. See example below:
“Let’s get cracking,” said Jack. “These leaves aren’t going to rake themselves.”
“Really? Do you have to be so bossy? I mean, there isn’t a whole lot to do here. Besides, mom said it was optional, and I choose to meet Kayla at the lake,” said Jim.
“Mom will appreciate it so get busy.”
Jack thrust his rake to the ground and stalked after his brother. Upon reaching him he grabbed for his shirt. (Indicator that disrupts the dialogue order of who is to speak next).
Jim spun to the right and watched his brother tumble to the ground. “That’ll teach you.” (We know it is Jim speaking here because this sentence is in his point of view at the moment. Therefore, no dialogue tag is needed).
Jack stood and glared at Jim. “You’re an idiot.”
“Maybe so. But at least I know how to have fun.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” asked Jack wiping sweat off his brow. (Reminder of who is speaking next).
“Ever since dad died, all you do is work. You used to have fun. We used to hang out together.”
“Yeah, well things have to get done around here. Someone has to do it.”
As you can see in the example above, other indicators, other than dialogue tags, can indicate when someone is talking (But that’s for another blog post; you got a taste of it here). The idea is to make the dialogue between characters flow. You don’t want it to be choppy. So use the dialogue tags wisely. It takes practice. Also, next time you’re reading a work of fiction, pay attention to the dialogue tags and how the author uses them.
Sin is but a shadow
that lingers when we fail,
a monkey hanging on our backs
when our life sets sail.
We cannot let it go
no matter what we do,
just look to Christ your Savior
because he died for you.
Ya know, there always seems to be that one chapter or scene that seems forced. Now, we all know creativity can’t be forced. But, sometimes it just is. So how do you get past that? Sometimes you just can’t. You have to wait. That was my day yesterday. I sat down to continue working on chapter 37. At first I couldn’t think of anything. My characters were standing around getting ready to do a fight scene, but they wouldn’t do anything. This writer’s mind was stumped. To rectify this problem I put on some fantasy music hoping this would stir the creative juice pot. It did to some extent, and I completed 600 words. Am I happy with it? Eh. Maybe. Maybe not.
One has to consider what is going on around them that might be a cause for the creativity rut. Part of our house is being renovated, so there are workers here during the week. I am taking care of the business end of this renovation. You know, phone calls, questions, updates, paperwork, etc… I think this has much to do with throwing monkey wrenches into any creative situation.
The show must go on. Keep writing even if it’s a slow and/or disruptive day. The story must get written.
Charlie woke with a start and sat straight up. A dim sliver of light worked its way through the slight parts in the dark curtains. He reached a hand to his left temple and the slight bump and winced as a shooting knife like pain coursed from one temple to the next.
“Damn, where am I?”
His attention floated around the room as dusk continued to take over through the window. He was alone. A chest of drawers stood opposite the the twin size bed beneath him. He felt around the soft feather comforter covering the lower half of his body. The light, airy plushness beckoned him to lay back down and fall back to sleep, but no. He had to stay awake. He had to get out of there, but where was he. This wasn’t his room.
Another twinge of pain stabbed his temples once again. “Ahg!” He threw back the rest of the comforter and swung his legs over the side of the bed opposite the window. His tennis shoes sat neatly on the side of the bed, so he reached down for them as a small hand poked out from under the bed, grabbed the right shoe and yanked it back.
Charlie scrambled to the floor and got down on his hands and knees. Peering under the bed, he saw nobody. He shot upright standing on his knees. His head swam and a nauseating wave clutched his gut causing him to dry heave. He squeezed his eyes shut once more and breathed deep wishing the sickening feeling to subside. As he did, he listened for movement in the room. Nothing. He opened his eyes slow and gingerly gazed around the room. No one was there. He eased himself back down to look under the bed. No one. As he eased his head back up, the side of his right cheek smacked into two shoes. His shoes.
“Ok. I’m having hallucinations. That or I’m still sleeping and dreaming I’m awake. Where did my missing shoe come from?” he said aloud. “Great, I’m talking to myself.”
He plunked his butt back on the edge of the bed and put his shoes on, then he eased himself upright and gasped at the sight on the wall.
(To Be Continued)
Projects I am currently working on will be coming to completion in the coming months. Please see the list below.
- My novel: The Cross’s Key. I plan on this being published in August. However, issues have arisen with our house which may cause some delays (I hope not). But if there are delays, it will be published in September.
- My book of poems: Hanging by His Hand. This will be published in September.
- My book of short stories: Lights of Fantasy and other Short Stories. This will be published in January 2023.
Letters form on ruthless tongues so sweet,
singing words of love from hardened hearts,
hoping one day you and I may meet,
living ever after ne’er to part.
But you mean not these words of silk,
just stringing letters from hardened hearts,
laughing with intent to bilk,
leaving souls as empty parts.
“Ya know? I’ve often wondered where people go when they touch this tree,” wondered Charlotte.
“You want to find out?” asked Ray with a smirk.
“Hell no. I might never come back.”
Charlie landed on his butt with a skid across a bed of gravel. His hand scraping across the stones as he reached to stop himself. He came to a stop but remained where he was for a few minutes catching his breath. His heart hammered from the rush of adrenaline caused by the split second trip through…..what? Funny what split second timing can do to a body. He swiveled his head from side to side taking in his surroundings.
He sat in the middle of a gravel road in a residential area. Small single story homes stood side by side on both sides. A light blue house stood on his right with a yellow 1955 Chevy Bel-Air in the driveway, while a dark gray house stood on his left with a boy of about 8 or 9 standing in the yard; a red bouncy ball resting between his hands. Charlie threw up a slow, nervous wave and nodded his head. The little boy remained still, watching him. He rose to his feet and walked over the boy. As he reached the curb, he glanced down the street and stopped short. Most all the driveways had cars from the 1950’s.
With his attention remaining on the older model cars, he continued toward the little boy, forgetting there was a curb. He tripped up to the sidewalk as a result and landed on his front. His arms having flown forward, skidded along the pavement in front of him. His cheek landed hard and morphed into a twisted expression as the momentum drove him forward along the cement.
For the second time within minutes, he moved to stand up. The world around him spun, as he lifted his head from the sidewalk. His vision blurred and faded to black.
(To Be Continued)
Let’s say you are writing a novel or something shorter such as a novella. As you’re writing chapter 20, you forget about some details you wrote in chapter 3 or maybe 4. Because you forgot what was in chapters 3 or 4, the information you write in chapter 20 about the same details may be contradictive. Maybe this is happening in different places throughout your book (these are called plot holes or inconsistencies). There are three ways you can fix this.
- Keep track of the information in each chapter on note cards and keep them handy as you write.
- Don’t worry about fixing them until you finish your first draft, then go back to the beginning and read each chapter, keeping track of the details as you go by writing little notes in the side margins on what information needs to be fixed. Then fix them.
- Have another person in addition to yourself read your first draft to look for these issues.
If you don’t fix plot holes, your readers will end up not being very happy with you. You want to make sure the read for them smooth. You don’t want them to have to stop and wonder.
“Huh, we should be so lucky,” Ray whispered back.
“Charlie,” said Charlotte. “Why do you want this tree so bad? You know how stupid an idea it is to uproot a tree hundreds of years old and replant it? Seriously now, it would kill it.”
“A clipping would be just as nice,” responded Charlie.
“That won’t work either,” Charlotte rolled her eyes.
Charlie swung to turn and stopped himself, as a leaf hanging from the tree caught his attention. His right foot slid toward the tree, then his left foot followed. He continued with this slide step until he was close enough to grasp onto a leaf. His head tilted to the right as he studied the leaf.
“Should we stop him, Ray?” whispered Charlotte to her husband.
Ray massaged his chin with his thumb and forefinger, “I don’t know if it would do any good. He’s done been pulled right to it. I say let him go. Maybe he’ll come back, maybe he won’t,” Ray whispered back.
The golden leaf sparkled and twinkled in Charlie’s eyes. A yearning dug deep within his heart. He must….. His hand reached up, clasped on to the leaf, then his body from his hand to his feet shot into the leaf in one blink.
Charlotte walked over to the leaf that took Charlie and studied it. A smile played across her face.
“Well? Is he there?” asked Ray.
“Oh yeah. Face and everything.”
(To Be Continued)