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The Positive Slant On Business had “Spreading Love Through Business” about how we can use love to be more successful in business.

The Positive Slant On Writing featured “Absorbing Criticism,” inspired by a Hillary Clinton quote, about how we can use criticism in writing and in life.

Here on The Positive Slant On the Path, in “Physical Evidence of God’s Existence,” I spoke of how I see evidence of God everywhere. And how science even backs me up!

From the Files, Rants and Raves “Fanning the Flames of Fiction,” reflects some thinking and talking I’ve been doing lately about the joy of Fiction, for writers and readers alike.

It is, officially, NaNoWriMo. That’s National Novel Writing Month.  Though I think this is a noble endeavor, I haven’t yet been able to wrap my mind around the practicality of writing an entire novel in a month.  Being a strong believer in rewriting, I’m not sure I could do it.  However, I see the value in that even if one comes out with a hastily tossed together first draft, it’s a whole lot better than none.  Having something in the works can provide ample motivation to keep going.

But, alas, though I have a novel, it has taken me far more than a month to write it.  Started in the early 2000’s and put on a shelf somewhere mid-way through the decade, to make room for more practical writing assignments.  I’ve resuscitated it over the last year or so and making slow, but steady progress, through the monthly meetings with my blessed critique group. Giving much of my time to non-fiction writing these days, it’s not always easy to find time for fiction.  This constant attention keeps it in my life.

This is why I’ve set up my own National Novel Month (NANOMO)  exercise.  I’ve fashioned it to fit into my schedule and style.  My process is simple: Every day I must do something on the book.  It doesn’t matter how much. Some days I work on organizing the scattered papers. Another I might write a whole chapter.  I could take notes on what is to come or read a few pages of notes.  It’s okay if some days all I can do is think about it for a few minutes.  It doesn’t matter what I do or how much time I spend.  It’s about giving attention to it each and every day.

The point of this, as Julia Cameron says in Finding Water is, “it does add up.”  I plan for as much of the long Thanksgiving weekend as I can to work on it.  Last year, when I did this, I was raring to go by the end of the month!  My small efforts every day had built into a head of steam.  I dug in and got a whole lot done!

It’s a good lesson in perseverance.  Whatever you pay attention to adds up.  You can use this for all kinds of things like making money, improving your look, or getting into college.

I honor the Novel this month by choosing to give it my time every single day.

This is, I believe, what got me to fall in love with writing in the first place.  I tend to think it’s easier to generate with fiction, but maybe it’s just long form writing that fuels it so well.  But anything, really, can pump the steam.

It happens when you spend enough time on a project.  I’m not sure of the exact number of hours.  It probably varies by the assignment, hormonal levels, time of year,  temperament, etc.  It no doubt differs from person to person.  From time to time, too.  Others may use different words to describe it. I only know what it’s like when it overtakes me.

Whatever I’m working on dominates my thoughts. It fills my head.  I can’t wait to get back to it!  I wake up bursting with ideas.  I hear passages or dialog in my head when I’m in the shower.  When talking to others, I’m usually working out how this could fit somewhere.  I’m even more in need of pen and paper than usual.  I’ll use cocktail napkins, paper towels, scraps of paper, paper place mats, matchbooks, whatever I can get to capture the ideas, revelations, understandings, new twists that come spilling out of me.

This steam not only takes over thoughts.  It is also the fuel that propels me forward.  I can get so much done with it pumping!  Whip through first and second drafts, full chapters, complete essays.  It may well push me through to the end.  Or until something comes along that lets the steam out. . .

I believe this is why National Novel Writing Month – November – is so important.  It’s a wonderful steam generator.  I intend to take up the challenge again this year.  The way I do it may not be as disciplined as some.  My process entails doing something on the project, no matter how small, every day.  By jove, by the time the 15th or 16th rolls around, my head is full of steam!

Shall we call it another illustration of my first rule of writing: Nothing Breeds Writing Like Writing.

Wouldn’t it be cool if you could plot all your conversations?  Not knowing how the other person will respond makes it hard to write a script for it. But as a writer of fiction you have the ability to play with the possibilities, to make guesses.  Perhaps in this practice we will find the seeds for better conversations off the page.

There are as varied methods of this as there are stories, . Every author has his or her own way of doing things.  But I think the main points are as follows ~

1)  You need to decide what it is you want to occur in the conversation.  What is the outcome you’d like? Where do you want it to leave everyone and the story?

2)  Be clear on the points each participant must make.  This is where the careful plotting goes on.  What needs to happen first to move the conversation logically and easily into the next? Think about what’s possible and what’s probable for all.  What are the needs of each person here?  What are their motivations?

3)  Listen to what the characters have to say.  Don’t be addicted to it finishing up a certain way.  The characters might have their own ideas about where it should go. You can always backtrack and adjust.  But allowing a new direction or new path to form if the characters choose it can take you to interesting places. Your characters may well  know more than you do.  If you’re not so sure about where the conversation ends, imagine the possible results from it.  Does this new angle make more sense, add a new twist?  Sometimes you may find that it does.

But if you’re not completely sure take some time to analyze it.  The new direction might  look cool just because it’s surprising. (Especially if you’ve been heading down the same road for awhile.)  As the author you must make this call.  It is your story.  Is this new perspective really what’s best for the story, for where you want to go?  Like the way I must weigh the thoughts of my writer’s group.  If I have three comments – sometimes all different – I know I must step in and make the choice on how it will be changed.  It has to be my call.  (Hint: If more than one person finds something wrong, there is a problem that must be fixed. As the author, though, you need to choose how that will happen.)  Do so even with your characters’ ideas.

4)  When you’ve finalized the plot, envision the exchange to see where their bodies are. Body language can show motivation in ways words cannot.

5) Read the conversation out loud to see if it makes sense.  Maybe even enlist others to play the roles!

If you’re going to have an important conversation with someone where you are not the author, it can be helpful to follow these rules, too.  Think about what you wish to cover in the discussion, what your points need to be and where you’d like it to go. See if you can guess others’ motivations – what are they looking for?

In your next conversation watch carefully, with a writer’s eye to see how it turns out.  Listen well for what the other person’s motivations might be.  Make choices in the moment. Just like fiction, you may need to stay open for the track the conversation takes, despite your desires.

In all conversations, if you stay open to what the others’ needs might be, you can mine rich material for your characters and write more true-to-life conversations.  Paying attention to your own needs and those of others can make your real life conversations more effective.

Be ready to take off!  Whether you are are reader or writer.

I took a journey through someone’s rant about a ruefully justified killing. Comfortable, easy language enticed me with its scent.  The bite of sarcasm, like the perfect spice, made it more palatable.  (Though in many ways, more dastardly.)  Just a simple essay, a small piece of candy, less than 600 words with quotes (and zero calories!).  Took me, happily, to the center and back of a vulgar issue.  And left me feeling richer for the experience.

Other journeys are much longer to faraway places, in distant parts of your imagination. Through a complicated series of thoughts and feelings, swirling around punctuated actions.  From the Himalayas, to a left-handed world, or through a Geisha house, into a school of witchcraft and wizardry.  Kinda leaves you breathless!

It’s not anything less than an adventure for the writer, either.  Anyone who’s ever played with fiction knows the trip through a story is always one of discovery.  Nuggets appear along the way which help the author to see things more clearly. Giving the story better legs to stand on.  Even in dry old non-fiction, shining insights and dazzling connections arise that hadn’t been noticed before.  The lay of the land can shift and change many times from one side of any piece of writing to the other.

Journaling takes me on a journey through my head and heart. It’s always filled with surprising twists and turns as I come to know the pathways through my own inner landscape.

Words stand ready to take you wherever you may wish to go.

I feel blessed that I can do a variety of writing styles.  For a living, I write for business.  Marketing, technical, and content.  Which is, if I may say so myself, a nice range.

But I also really love writing from my heart for this Blog and some of my other projects like the book I’m working on called “Love Letters From Your Soul.”  I hope someday to publish a commercial personal/spiritual growth book.

Fiction probably brings me the most joy and delight.  I love to write rock fiction, or what I like to refer to as romance and passion in the exciting (and now relatively extinct) music business.  With, I always hope, a bit of growth mixed in.

I have to admit, more often than not, I am reading a spiritual/personal growth book.  I do get  into fiction now and again, though. I count myself as a Harry Potter devotee.  And I can gobble up books on Arthurian legend.  Not averse to a good cozy mystery either.  I have seen more than my share of movies and amazing films.  Soap operas have been my secret pleasure for years.  And am proud to count many fine story tellers among my close friends.  So I do know a thing or two about story.

For many years I held the notion that nonfiction expands and fiction is merely an escape.  But I am changing my mind about that.  I’m coming to see that fiction plays an important role in our growth as human beings.

Fiction, when done right, gives an intimate views into the minds and hearts of others.  We feel a connection with well crafted characters.  We see parts of ourselves acting through the story. And parts of others we know.  We may not like them all, but we can come to understand a little more about why they do the things they do. Good fiction makes clear the character’s motivation.  If you don’t buy that you’re unlikely to enjoy the story.  It’s like Science Fiction:  If they give you a good basis for belief, you will follow a good writer just about anywhere out there.

It is a study in understanding.  In the best cases, it can open us up to the experience of being the same. Seeing how we all share the same DNA and our motivated by many of the same things.  Even someone who appears to lead a live very different from ours.  It creates bridges into other worlds.  And has done so long before the Internet.

Story is a very powerful tool for learning, history, growth and motivation.  At the heart of all stories is a person, an entity, a living, breathing creature.  Relationship and struggle are the playthings of story, reflecting life as we know it.

At its best good fiction gives us a view of oneness. It talks of unity and how we are all the same.  The more we can feel that the better for all of us (for the one of us.)

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