Advice on Writing

Here is some very good advice regarding story beginnings from Creative Writing Now:
Do you have trouble with story beginnings?
The first thing to remember is that you don’t have to write the beginning of the story first.  You can always go back and write it later.

So if you’re stuck with the beginning, don’t let that stop you from writing the rest of the story.  In fact, it’s generally easier to come up with a great beginning once you know where your story is headed.

When you’re ready to start working on your beginning, here are some strategies that often work well (Note: these aren’t rules, only suggestions!):

– Start with dialogue or action.  That is often more engaging than beginning with description or background information.
– Start with a conflict.  Give your character a problem right away to get things moving.

– Start in the middle of the scene.  You can fill in the background information later.

– Start with something mysterious.  Raise questions in the reader’s mind that you’ll answer later in the story.
In case you’re looking for writing ideas this week, here are some first lines that you can use to begin stories of your own.
1) “Don’t move,” he whispered.
2) The scream sounded far away.

3) I turned away before she could see my face.
4) If it hadn’t rained that night, everything would have turned out differently.
5) My fingernails scrabbled against smooth stone.

6) It got harder every time.
7) The strange blue light shone through the trees.
8) It was the opposite of love at first sight.

9) “I don’t know him,” I said.
10) Someone, or something, was watching.
Happy writing!

All the best,
Nancy

Character Development: Traci Williams

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Photo Credit: brooklynbuttah.com

Traci Williams stepped off the curb between two parked cars on the street opposite her brownstone apartment in Brooklyn. The space between the two cars suggested a car had been parked there. From the corner of her eye, she noticed a yellow cab’s right indicator beginning to flash. Scanning the left side of the street for traffic, Traci walked toward her apartment with her keys jingling between her fingers. She looked up at her apartment on the second floor and thought about the lunch she had left on the kitchen table that morning. Her eyes moved to the apartment below hers and thoughts of her landlord pushed everything else out of her head. She wondered if he was home and what he was doing.

“Look out!”

She did not know in which direction to look, but at the sound of metal scraping metal, screeching tires, and the smell of burn rubber, she spun back to the right. An orange-colored Jeep Wrangler was heading towards her. It clipped the yellow cab and didn’t stop. The cab came to a sudden halt. A small Asian man jumped out cursing and waving his fist until he saw the jeep heading for her. Traci registered all of this, but could not find the will to get out of the street. Her right leg seemed glued to the pavement. Actually, it was her whole right side that was frozen. Hoping the Jeep would screech to a stop or go around her, Traci prayed for divine intervention. Her first thought was that the driver was aiming for the parking spot, and she was in his or her way. Parking was a nightmare in the neighborhood, with residents sometimes having more than one car per household. Holding her breath, Traci braced for impact. Her heart hurt from the rapid beat knocking against her ribs. Staring death in the face, everything slowed down. Silence filled her ears. Her eyes burned and felt like they were going to pop out of their sockets. Her mouth opened, and she twisted her upper body with her palms open and out, as if to push against the hood of the car.

The impact, when it came, pushed the air from her lungs and propelled her backwards away from the speeding vehicle. Her shoulder ached, and she stumbled. The impact had not been from steel, but muscle. Opening eyes that Traci did not realize had closed, she saw a white tee shirt and flexing muscle under dark skin. A woodsy scent filled her nostrils and made her dizzy with an unexplained desire to hold on tight. Her black, high-heeled boots knocked against the raised sidewalk. Then her world seem to tilt, as she was lifted up on a hard shoulder. Her eyes staring at a tight ass and then the ground below. Her keys fell from her fingers as she opened her hand to grab the trim waist. Bracing her hands on the kind Samaritan’s broad back, Traci tried to look toward the road, but her vision was blocked. A hard band was across her knees. “Excuse me.” Traci’s voice came out husky. Clearing her throat, she tried to get the attention of her savior. “Could you, please put me down.”

Instead of responding the man placed his big hand on her butt and… Was he rubbing her ass? Traci tried to rear up. She could feel her face on fire. Her ass felt cold. Was her ass outside? Her skirt fluttered as a gust of wind moved through the Street. Traci shivered. The thought that her ass was out for everyone to see was mortifying. “Excuse me. Could you please put me down!” Was that a laugh? Traci swore she heard a snort from the man holding her. The indignity of the whole situation made her try harder to get out of his arms. She was not a thong type of person, but it would be just her luck that the one day she wore one her butt was being exposed to all her neighbors. A thought hit her then, what if her landlord was getting an eyeful from his home office window. The thought of him seeing her ass made her actually squirm, and she felt a rush of liquid flood her nether lips. In reflex she ground her aching mound on the shoulder of her rescuer. Pushing frantically and kicking her legs, Traci tried to convey her need to escape the gentleman’s hold.

“Quiet!” Rumbled a recognizable voice. Slumping in Raun’s hold, Traci realized that God had saved her from certain death by vehicular manslaughter only to kill her with humiliation. She was draped over her landlord Raun Hartman’s shoulder. His hand covering her exposed buttocks. The wind picked up, shaking dry leaves from the sparse trees. He spanked her repeatedly as he and the wind played some type of patty cake game.

“Are you both alright? That guy had to be drunk,” stated the Asian cab driver.

“Or a moron,” replied Raun.  “Did you get the license plate?”

“Nah. Looks like he was heading for your girlfriend though.”

“I’m not his girlfriend!” Traci did not know why she felt the need to state that with Raun’s hand now rubbing her ass, as he talked to the cab driver.  No one seemed to be paying her any attention.

“Looked that way from where I was standing as well.” Addressing Traci, Raun asked, “Do you have any enemies?”

“He probably wanted the parking space and I was in his way.” Even to her own ears it sounded like a stupid excuse to deliberately run someone over for a parking spot. And why didn’t he stop to find out if she was okay like the cab driver?

“He gunned his engine when you stepped off the sidewalk,” pointed out Raun.

“Maybe it was an old person who got confused by the pedals.” It seemed more plausible that that was the case. There have been a lot of fatalities lately caused by distracted or confused drivers. There was an old man who tried to park in front of a Baskin Robbins and by accident pressed the gas and killed a seven year old boy when he crashed through the front window of the store. Why would someone want to hurt her anyway? She was a Kindergarten teacher for Christ sakes. What could be more wholesome than that? Raun and the cab driver had to be mistaken.

The cab driver said, “he’s lucky there wasn’t any damage to my car. Ford is producing–”

Raun interrupted the cabdriver to ask Traci, “What are you doing home so early anyway?

Sighing Traci wished she was facing Raun to give him a dress down. It was simply demeaning to be draped over his shoulder with the cab driver and God knows who else staring at her derriere. Raun jostled Traci to get her attention. I’m not going to answer until he puts me down.

“You there! Wunna blocking de sun from reaching my babies.”

Traci turned her head toward the newcomer. Mrs. Holtz was wearing one of her usual colorful muumuus. The background was red with large white hibiscus flowers. On her feet were matching red flip flops. Her head scarf seem to be from the same material as the dress. Hanging her head Traci looked away from the ornery woman. At first learning that Mrs. Holtz was Barbadian, Traci had been excited to meet her, but that woman was as contrary as all get out. She was one of those Bajan old timers who chased children out of her yard or off her sidewalk. The only thing she seemed to care about were her flowers and plants. Her husband having passed two years ago. Raun said Mr. Holtz gave up his family and religion to be with her. They never had kids. Many times Traci tried to befriend the woman only to be snubbed. Traci had to admit defeat after a week.

“You know that all you bamsy outside?” Grumbling under her breath, but loud enough for Traci to hear, Mrs. Holtz asked, “Why any woman would insist on wearing floss panties I could never understand.” Shaking her head she walked to the side of her property and disappeared as quickly as she had come on the scene. Traci banged her head against Raun’s back.

Raun finally slid Traci down his body until her booted feet touched the ground. The only problem with that slow action, the front of Traci’s skirt went up with her descent. Raun tried to help push down her skirt and somehow his fingers brushed against her swollen nub. Jumping back Traci twisted her ankle and would have fallen on her butt. Raun grabbed her waist to stop her from falling. Sighing Traci shoved at his big hands that seemed to span her small waist. His thumbs caressing over the little bulge of her belly. The cab driver cleared his throat. Traci caught him smiling before he bowed his head at them, mumbled something and walked away.

“Why are you home so early? Are you feeling okay?” Raun grasped Traci’s chin staring down into her eyes. His dark brown gaze making her feel queasy. It felt like a thousand butterflies were fluttering their wings in her stomach. Her breathing speeding up. She wanted to pull his head down and sip at those gorgeous lips. He was too handsome for his own good. Instead of pulling Raun’s head down and searching the caverns of his mouth, Traci pulled at his hands forcing him to release her as she widen the space between them. “I’m fine! I just came home for lunch.” Starting across the street Traci stopped to look both ways repeatedly. Traci was not over her upset of the earlier incident with the jeep. Her horoscope said that she should stay off the street. What kind of horoscope was that? How can she stay off the street when she had to work? Where was the reading that said that she will win enough money so that she will no longer need to work, hence she could stay off the street?

“Come on. Nothing is coming.”

“My keys.”

“What about them? Did you lose them?”

Why did he always think the worse about me? “No. They fell when you picked me up.” Granted I’ve fell in front of him a few times. I’ve also exposed myself to everyone in the neighborhood, but that had been his fault. If he hadn’t kept me over his shoulder for God knows how long, no one would have known that I was wearing a thong.

“For the love…” After searching a few minutes, he bent down and picked up the keys. Traci stared at his tight ass. She felt like spanking it. Where had that thought come from, and what do I know about spanking some guy’s ass? It did look biteable though, hard and high. Maybe he did a lot of squats. Would squats give you a taut bum? She could still remember him swatting her own bum, as he had tried to get her skirt down. Holding her bum in his large hands had also made her want to wrap her legs around his waist.

Now he was looking at the side of one of the cars involved in the car swipe. Traci could spend all day watching him move, but she had to get back to work, and she had not even eaten her lunch as yet. She still had to heat it up, and then take it to work. Too much time had passed for her to watch the show she had planned to watch while eating at home. What was the man doing now? “Excuse me? I need my keys!” He was on all fours looking under the car. He returned to a standing position. The keys jangling from his finger tips.

“What do I get for returning these to you?”

“A big thank you and a see you later,” Traci replied with exasperation. She did not want him to know that she found him attractive. God forbid that she did. She did not even know how to kiss. Maybe she should review how to kiss on YouTube. YouTube had everything. Google and YouTube were her go-to websites when she needed to know something. Thank God for them otherwise she would be lost.

“That’s it? Not even a kiss for saving your life.” He smiled and Traci realized that he had dimples. He was bow legged, tall, lean with muscles and hard abs, dark sexy eyes, and now dimples too? All the attributes she found attractive on a man. Was this the man her horoscope kept telling her about? Traci thought he was way out of her league.

“I’m going to be late. I still need to eat my lunch.”

“How about a rain check?” He held her keys out to her, but still had a firm grip on them.

“Um… sure.” Traci reached for the keys, snatched them out of his hands, ducked her head, and ran across the street to her apartment. Looking back at his winking dimples, Traci sighed, unlocked her door, and entered her apartment, closed the door and leaned against if for a few minutes to calm her racing heart. I’m in big trouble.

Book Review of “Love is Blind”

Lynsay Sands knows how to weave an intriguing story. As a spectacles wearer, I was along for the ride, and saw through Clarissa’s eyes the blurred world Ms. Sands created.

Optimism was the theme to Love is Blind. We need more kindness in the world. I see so much hatred on Social Media and newspaper comments. Strangers cursing each other over a difference of opinion. I recommend this book to everyone in the entire world. Talk  and listen to each other instead of yelling. Try to see the other person’s perspective instead of passing judgement. Be kind to others, as you would like them to treat you.

The only problem I had with Love is Blind was when Clarissa was making out with Adrian wearing glasses. Adrian was in focus, and she claims she could see him clearly. I can tell you from personal experience that you can’t see anything once your spectacles begin to fog up. You have to take them off or wipe them. Kissing causes your glasses to fog up unless it wasn’t a hot make out session.

Other than that one inconsistency, I enjoyed Love is Blind tremendously. I got Lynsay Sands’ message on love and tolerance.