Music Mondays Part XX

Well, it’s been a long couple of weeks. Whether you follow American politics or not, and no matter your opinions for or against the president elect, I feel like we all just need to relax. Unwind. Take a breather. Think about your loved ones. Drink some tea. Listen to this calming instrumental playlist I made just for you.

And, of course, write.



Happy writing!:)

Writing Kindling #11

Writer’s block may seem like a terminal illness, but sometimes the smallest of sparks can “kindle” your craft. Today we have the digital painting “Salar de Uyuni” by fromsky.

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“Salar de Uyuni” by fromsky

Ask yourself: Who are they? Where are they? What are they feeling? What are they about to do? Write about who they are, what situation they are in, and what they will do next. It can be a poem, short story, long fiction, anything — let the kindling commence!

I’d love to hear what you come up with. Feel free to share your writing in the comments!

Music Remembers

Baseem split the cherry between his fingers. Red juice stained the grooves of his thumb and dripped off the end of his fingernail. He rubbed the pads of his fingers together, mashing the berry into a raw, bloody pulp. When he was finished, he flicked the mangled remains off the side of the deck and held his hand up for me to see.

Ya amar, do you hear it?” he asked.

My flute felt cold between my fingers, and I lowered it to my lap. “Hear? Don’t you mean see?

“No, hear. I have wondered if you can hear it too, the way I can. If when you press your lips to your reed and blow you can hear the colors, or at least imagine them before they erupt like spitting embers from your instrument.” He rotated his wrist in front of his face, studying the red seeping down his palm. “When you played the friscalleto, I heard this precise shade. Cherry red. Like the wine we acquired from Donnalucata. Like the poppies that covered the hills beyond the beach. Like the fire that —”

I turned my head away, and I hated myself for the bitterness that glassed my eyes. “I hear no colors, signore. I am afraid that the visual arts are not my area of expertise.”

“Ah, but music is the highest of all visual arts,” Baseem said, his eyes smiling. “You know better than anyone, Ludovica, that music remembers. Music is memory. And what is memory if not visual?” He crossed the deck towards me, taking heavy, deliberate steps with the heels of his boots. “There is an aching in your compositions. A red. A remembrance. You must hear it.”

Mama’s ribbon. Papà’s steamed crab. Cosima’s rosary beads. Orazio’s blood.

I flooded my face of expression.


An excerpt from a work-in-progress.

Music Mondays: Part XIX

Admittedly, the following two playlists accompany a very specific genre for writing. However, medieval and early European music can fuel more than your mere historical epic — it can serve as a calming motor throughout your day, from its mathematically exquisite stanzas to its lulling Gregorian chant and lute-work.

Take more than just a step back in time with these mixes. Submerge yourself in the Dark Ages, for all its grit, orthodoxy, and simplicity.



Happy writing!:)

Writing Kindling #10

Writer’s block may seem like a terminal illness, but sometimes the smallest of sparks can “kindle” your craft. Today I bring you a list of ten 1-2 sentence writing prompts that will help build up your white blood cells and give writer’s block a good kick in the pants. Copy them, tweak them, consider them, leave them. It’s up to you!


  1. The doctor kept the room uncomfortably warm.
  2. They took to each other like wick and flame.
  3. She dunked the silk dress in oil.
  4. He shrugged, unconcerned, and plopped the dead rabbit at her feet.
  5. She only now seemed to realize the blood down the front of her shirt.
  6. His eyeteeth glisten when he smiles.
  7. “You straddle conclusions like a horse,” she accused.
  8. All he cared about was the flame in his gut that licked against his insides, telling him to burn, to burn until there was no fury left.
  9. His voice went for the jugular.
  10. The stones of the floor looked to be swelling, changing, climbing towards her face as she turned down the hall.

I’d love to hear what you come up with. Feel free to share your writing in the comments!

Happy writing!:)

How To Describe Characters Like A Boss

Jasmine had an hourglass figure and blonde hair. She was beautiful. She had smooth, flawless skin and big, baby blue eyes that were a window to her soul. She stood in the doorframe like a model.

Yuck yuck yuck yuck yuck. Blech. That has got to be the most disgusting, shallow character introduction I have ever written because that, my fellow scribes, is an example of everything you should not do if you want to describe characters like a boss.

The above paragraph showcases what I consider to be the five venial sins of writing description. I call them venial because while it is very easy to lean on these tactics as a crutch, you are not doomed to a fiery pit where all bad writers go for using them. Hark, the Stellular Scribe sings, for I bring you glad tidings! There is hope after all, so long as you refrain from the following:


1. Describing Inactively

 

Jasmine had an hourglass figure and blonde hair.

Even if your sole goal is to write a piece without narrative or plot, simply slapping on any ol’ description out of context won’t give an accurate portrayal of the character. Remember, describing looks should serve to enhance the reader’s image of the physical, mental, and practical aspects of the character. A character isn’t her appearance. A character is active and engaged in the story. The way the above sentence sits, Jasmine seems like more of a storefront display than an actual person.

Also, hourglass figure is a horrid cliché and it should be discarded immediately.

Solution: Describe Actively

Jasmine twisted her blonde hair with a lazy finger. Her free hand rested in the curve between her hip and ribcage.


2. Writing Vaguely

 

She was beautiful.

There’s nothing wrong with calling a character beautiful or ugly or old or young. But that’s only in the subjective sense — perhaps when another character is describing her or she is being observed on the basis of beauty alone. Here in this introduction of her character, “beautiful” is too general. A bird can be beautiful. A couch can be beautiful. What determines her beauty?

Solution: Write Specifically

She looked at him much like an artist critiquing a student’s painting — with an air of impressment, but mostly fond amusement at his folly. There was something stunning about the way she studied him.

(Ha! Bet you didn’t see that one coming. Remember, physical characterizations don’t reveal everything.)


3. Overstuffing Adjectives

 

She had smooth, flawless skin and big, baby blue eyes that were a window to her soul.

You’re introducing a character. Not playing thesaurus bingo. Tacking on adjective after adjective can make the description feel forced and unrealistic, and it will quickly cause the reader to lose interest. You are no longer writing about a person — you are writing a laundry list.

In the end, you’ve got to pick the most important traits and stick with them. In our example, describing Jasmine’s “eyes” makes much more contextual sense than informing the reader on her “smooth, flawless skin.”

Solution: Less is More

It was as if her eyes, sheer as sea smoke, revealed her every judgement.


4. Abusing Clichés

 

She had an hourglass figure […].

She had […] eyes that were a window to her soul.

Clichés are the devil. Ok. Maybe they’re not that bad, but it can begin to feel like torture for a reader to read the same recycled, thrown-up, washed-out descriptions over and over and over again.

Solution: Avoid Clichés At All Costs.

That’s right. Just don’t even touch them. Not. A. One.


5. Characterizing Flatly

 

She stood in the doorframe like a model.

And we’re back to describing a storefront display. Try to reveal some emotion in your descriptions. These are people you’re writing about, and most people aren’t very hard to read. Everyone reveals emotion in some way or another.

Solution: Characterize Emotionally

She leaned against the doorframe almost like a model posing for a magazine cover shoot — but somehow, she looked effortless. Completely unaware of her own natural grace. Bored, even.


And thus we go from

Jasmine had an hourglass figure and blonde hair. She was beautiful. She had smooth, flawless skin and big, baby blue eyes that were a window to her soul. She stood in the doorframe like a model.

to

Jasmine twisted her blonde hair with a lazy finger. Her free hand rested in the curve between her hip and ribcage. She looked at him much like an artist critiquing a student’s painting — with an air of impressment, but mostly fond amusement at his folly. There was something stunning about the way she studied him. It was as if her eyes, sheer as sea smoke, revealed her every judgement. She leaned against the doorframe almost like a model posing for a magazine cover shoot — but somehow, she looked effortless. Completely unaware of her own natural grace. Bored, even.

Voila! Now we have a character who the reader can care about, someone he will want to know more about.


Go forth and spread the good news, dear scribes — so that everyone can describe characters like a boss!

© 2016 Stellular Scribe