June 3 question – Writers have secrets! What are one or two of yours, something readers would never know from your work?
I’m going far off topic today because I’m an intensely private person and especially fierce about guarding my privacy online. I like to keep the illusion that my secrets will stay mine. True, it feels a bit futile in the Time of Alexa and Google Location Services but I find I can’t shake my Luddite tendencies when it comes to this topic, so here we are.
Instead I’d like to bring the focus to the #muted movement on social media. Basically, what this means is taking a back seat and letting marginalized voices step forward in my place, using my inherent privilege to amplify their stories. People of color are literally being murdered in my country and it’s not okay. It will never be okay. It is not a society I want to live in. If you’d like to help this change, here are some options for you:
If you’re interested in some tactics to take practicable action right now, may I suggest this list from Racial Equity Tools.org
If you’d like to support authors who write romances featuring non white characters, try this list from Book Riot (Alyssa Cole, Courtney Milan, and Jeannie Lin are particular favorites of mine!)
Maybe fantasy and SciFi are more your style? Check out this list of upcoming books from Den of Geek
YA is doing an especially wonderful job of attracting and promoting fantastic POC authors. Check out this list of books from Epic Reads and put some money towards these writers. Their list unaccountably left out my favorite author, Mark Oshiro, so I’ve fixed that lack.
Addressing systemic racism can start early, at home, with this list of children’s books from Embrace Race.org
And last but not least there are a lot of vetted organizations you can donate to in support of the movement happening right now, here’s a good starter list. Always do your due diligence before donating, of course.
This is an Author Toolbox post. The toolbox is a free, monthly, open sharing of information between authors here on the Wild Wild Interwebs. Topics cover everything from writing basics to editing, querying, marketing, and publishing. There are over forty of us now, blogging away like helpful little bees. Come join in!
After months and months of agonizing and writing and editing and changing and freaking out and writing some more, my newest book is done. Finished. FIN. Clocking in at 51K, the book is crammed full of love, silliness, superpowers, and the reason supervillains don’t wear yellow. I rewarded myself by sending it off to an editor, so I can find out exactly where I did everything wrong, and buying three new books I’ve been wanting for my Kindle. And then I realized . . .crap. I have to write thenext book.
I already have an idea (or six) floating around waiting to land. In fact they’ve already landed, usually as I’m trying to get to sleep. The problem right now is— how do I get this party started?
I need an inciting incident. And I need it to be incendiary.
The inciting incident is the pebble which gets the story avalanche rolling. Reedsy Blog defines it as “the narrative event that launches the main action.”
I like to picture the inciting incident in my mind as the match touching the end of the fuse. Which will wind and twist and spark all the way to the explosive BOOM of the climax. The image helps remind me that all of the story is interconnected.
It generally happens in the first act of the story, because it propels the action.
Okay. Cool. I know what an inciting incident is. But…how do I write one?
You’d think I would know the answer to this with six finished manuscripts under my belt. SURPRISE! I feel lost every single time I stare at that blank Word document getting ready for a new story.
So off I go to consult my colleague Mssr. Google. After perusing lots of articles (most of them directed towards aspiring screenwriters, but hey) I’ve written a bit of a list to help get started. Please feel free to keep and use it yourself if you’re also getting started on a new project. The Flying Wrestler‘s Erik Bork, Write-L.A.Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and Margaret Moore (romance author) are my main sources for this post. If you’re in a fact chasing mood yourself I really recommend taking a look at their sites.
Types of Inciting Incidents
The Worst Possible Thing has happened
Example: the definining thing about your character is suddenly taken away (like their identity, well being, or mission in life). Woody’s position as Andy’s favorite toy is taken away when Buzz arrives in Toy Story. Bilbo is dragged out of his comfortable Hobbit hole on an adventure in The Hobbit.
Example: your character joins/is thrown into a group, setting, or institution which either seems like a dream opportunity (and will turn out to be the exact opposite) or seems like the worst place to be (and will turn out to have unexpected benefits). Mike and Sully desperately try to work their way to the top in Monsters Inc. Ariel wants to join the ranks of humanity after she falls in love with a human in The Little Mermaid.
Example: an enemy directly threatening your character arises. This is a super common movie theme, everything from The Matrix to The Avengers to Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho utilize it. Romantic suspense novels, like Adriana Anders’ Whiteout, use it too.
Example: your character’s deepest, darkest secret is exposed to everyone, or comes back to bite them hard.The 40 Year Old Virgin beats the hell out of this idea. Sarah’s selfish wish gets her brother abducted by goblins in Labyrinth. In romance it could be a secretly failing marriage which needs a dose of good ol’ sexual healing, like When The Duke Returns by Eloisa James. Or something like a mistaken identity, or a secret baby plot.
Example: your character finds out a fact about their life or past which changes everything. In Halloweentown Marnie finds out she’s a witch, from a family of witches. In The Parent Trap, Sharon and Susan meet at a summer camp and figure out they’re identical twins, separated at birth. Percy Jackson discovers he’s a demigod in The Lightning Thief. Beth Randall finds out she’s a half-breed vampire in Dark Lover by J.R. Ward.
The Best Possible Thing has happened
Example: an opportunity for a new identity or way of life comes along for your character/a new mission for them to undertake appears. Emma Woodhouse decides to happily marry off the neighborhood in Emma by Jane Austen. Maria is hired as the nanny for the seven Von Trapp children in The Sound of Music.
Romance Specific Example: Your character encounters or has a ‘meet cute’ with someone who seems like they could be perfect. Of course it won’t be that simple! Steve saves Mary’s shoe from a runaway dumpster in The Wedding Planner (I adore that movie and always will, fight me on this, I dare you). To avoid suitors or marriage, Maddie has sent letters for years to a completely made up Scottish beau, ‘Captain Logan MacKenzie’. But surprise! The Captain is a real soldier, got every single letter, and appears on her doorstep insisting she keep her promises in When a Scot Ties the Knot by Tessa Dare. Honestly the meet cute is a romance staple and coming up with the obstacles which separate your characters after the meet is most of the battle anyway.
Example: Something unexplained and MAGICAL happens to your character. Cora wakes up one morning in an alternate magical reality to find out she’s switched places overnight with her otherworld twin, who is married to Prince Noctorno (oh and btw he hates his wife) in Fantastical by Kristen Ashley. Jenna is sick of being a teenager and gets everything she thought she wanted in 13 Going on 30. Fletcher’s son gets tired of him lying and wishes he would only be able to tell the truth in Liar Liar.
Example: an opportunity arises for your character to do the one thing they’ve always wanted. Obstacles making this harder than they hoped will abound. Charlie finds a golden ticket in Charlie and The Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. Lucy has the chance to land her dream job, if she can only beat Joshua to get it, in The Hating Game by Sally Thorne.
Happy Book Birthday to a fellow eXtasy Books author! In honor of her latest release, I’m hosting her on the blog today and sending sincere congratulations.
Be advised this is a mature book with adult themes, as are all eXtasy Books titles. Mostly, if you’re under 18 and wanting to read this book, the answer is no. Them’s the rules.
First, welcome to the blog, Elizabeth! I’m getting a strong ménage-á-trois vibe from this sexy paranormal cover. Or is it more of a reverse harem situation?
Thank you very much for hosting me here today. I’d like to introduce you to my GLBT paranormal shifter romance. It’s not a typical ménage, no. But it’s also not quite a harem . . . you know what, I’ll just let the blurb speak for itself.
Sounds like a good idea. Take it away!
William Shakespeare said All the world’s a stage, but he hadn’t counted on shifters under a theater’s hot lights. Lovers Sam Hightower and Grant Newsome live for the stage. Although they have enjoyed the wanderlust of traveling theater for many years, each has grown tired of the road and wants to settle down. They also have a secret. As shifters and no part of any pack, they are lone wolves in every sense of the word. The full moon brings out the beast in them.
Even though their work as gaffers—lighting techs—puts them in contact with a large variety of willing, sexy men and women to share their love, they prefer men. They find a dancer, Luke Pearce, who makes their blood run hot, but Luke has a secret of his own to test them. Add scenic artists and lovers Charlotte and Lina to the mix, and you have a wild and sexy fivesome.
To spoil their fun and to their surprise, Sam and Grant discover another shifter in their midst, but this young person is so inexperienced and terrified she could expose them to the human hunters and get them killed. How can Sam and Grant protect themselves as well as the people they love?
Fascinating! I haven’t read a five-way in quite a while. Where should interested readers look to find this title?
“After many decades, Grant had grown weary of running and hiding, and that evening drove his melancholia home harder than ever.
There he sat with Sam in the Portland forest, part human and part wolf, smoking and drinking, waiting for their meal to appear. Grant sat in front of Sam while Sam rubbed his shoulders.
So much had changed over time. Now, he relied on his iPhone to keep track of moon phases. Before his trip to Freiberg, he hadn’t even noticed the moon in the sky at all. No matter where he lived or toured, he had taken to hiding out in the nearest forest on those couple of nights each month when the blood lust took over his mind and body. No one was safe when he transformed, and he did what he could to avoid harming people. A deer or stray dog quenched his blood lust while he hid from the world in the safety of the deepest area of the forest, waiting until the full moon decayed the five percent he needed to be out of trouble. He only transformed at night, and his gallon jug of monkshood rye alleviated his symptoms somewhat, but in the end, he knew he was a danger and needed to hide, not only to avoid killing people but to keep away from the local authorities.
He crouched on the forest floor, swatting the black flies that bit through his thick fur. He wished there were some way of reversing the curse thrust upon him. He wanted nothing more than to sit at home with Sam, drink some beer, and watch a porn flick while making love to Sam again. He cursed his bad timing and rotten luck. He could say “if only” until the tides reversed. Nothing would change the fact that he would go feral every full moon. While he accepted his fate, he did not like it at all. Each full moon he fell into a rage that often came with thoughts of suicide, but when he thought of Sam and his sweet nature and even sweeter body, he realized he had reason to stay alive.
Sam sat next to him, smoking a cigarette, and Grant handed him the jug. Why did Sam seem to take to the change better than he? Or did he really take to it better? What if Sam only pretended so that Grant wouldn’t feel so bad? Misery loved company, but Sam, being a good-natured sort, didn’t wallow in sorrow. He considered the moonlit change a monthly inconvenience, much like some women considered their menstrual cycles. An irritant. If only Grant felt the same way.
Sam gulped as he drank, making slurping noises that grated in Grant’s ears. Sometimes Grant considered the potion the only control he had over his life.
“I feel miserable. I hate the full moon,” Grant said. “Sometimes I just want to curl up and die.”
“It will last only another day or two and then things will be back to normal.”
“What kind of normal is this kind of life?” Grant let his chin rest on his chest as Sam rubbed the kinks out of his shoulders. “My entire body hurts. The monkshood rye helps, but I’m as sore as I know I’ll be every month.”
“I know what you mean. We need something strong for the pain, like morphine, but I don’t know where to get it.”
“I’d rather have cyanide.”
“Don’t talk like that. We can get through this.”
Grant groaned in ecstasy as Sam’s fingers rubbed down his spine. Even though his entire body ached and he wanted to do nothing more than sleep for the next two days, his cock reacted to Sam’s amorous touch, growing larger and becoming sensitive to the slightest touch.
“Hey, I found a great movie for us to watch,” Sam said. “The Brotherhood of the Wolf. I figured it was the perfect movie for our time of the month.”
“Never heard of it.”
Sam turned to Grant and gave him a look Grant was all too familiar with. It was the you’ve got to be shitting me look, since Sam enjoyed relishing in the ways of the world much more than Grant . . . “
Thanks, Elizabeth! Do you also want to tell us a little bit about yourself?
I do happen to have an author bio for you.
Elizabeth Black writes erotica, erotic romance, speculative fiction, fantasy, dark fiction, and horror. Her erotic fiction has been published by Xcite Books (U. K.), House Of Erotica (U. K.), Circlet Press, eXtasy Books, Ravenous Romance, Riverdale Avenue Books, Scarlet Magazine (U. K.), and other publishers. She also enjoys writing retellings of classic fairy tales, including her two self-published fairy tales “Trouble In Thigh High Boots” (Puss In Boots) and “Climbing Her Tower” (Rapunzel). An accomplished essayist, she was the sex columnist for the pop culture e-zine nuts4chic (U. K.). Her articles about sex, erotica, and relationships have appeared in Good Vibrations Magazine, Alternet, CarnalNation, the Ms. Magazine Blog, Novelspot, The Erotic Readers and Writers Association Blog, Sexis Magazine, On The Issues, Sexy Mama Magazine, and Circlet blog.
This is an Insecure Writer’s Support Group post. Once a month, authors from all over come together and post in a hop where it’s safe to admit that this writing job has its bad days. There will be listicles, support, and digital shoulders to lean on.
The Question for May is: Do you have any rituals that you use when you need help getting in the writing ZONE?
I got some wires crossed and accidentally answered this question in last month’s post so you all already know that I am an anti-ZONE sort of person. Instead, this month I’ll share what I do that reliably helps me to get out of a writing slump/blue period/seasonal depression zone.
Sometimes it takes one step to lift me out. Sometimes I have to use several steps, or all of them. Still other times, I have to go through this whole sequence a few times. The end result, though, is they work for me. If they sound helpful, feel free to steal them for your own dark times. We’re all in this together.
Step one: Accept that rainy, bad times happen. No really, they do. No matter how mature or well adjusted I think I am. Perhaps for no reason, other than that it’s been a while and my hormones feel like slapping me upside the heart. It’s okay for there not to be a reason. I don’t have to pretend I need one.
Step two: Take a break. No writing for a little while. If the voice inside won’t stop telling me how awful everything I’m trying to write is, it’s time for a break. Fifth rejection in a row, or a manuscript that didn’t even make it to the final round of a RWA contest . . . yeah, it’s time for a cooling-off period from the Doubtful Voice which sings the same old tune over and over.
Step three: Deliberately look up all of the things I’ve done right. Dig out that old critique feedback that was so nice. Look up my name in the one RWA contest that I did place in. Reject the idea that the good things are few and far between. There’s that little voice again, and I’m going to ignore it AGGRESSIVELY.
Step four: Read something funny. My poison of choice is Terry Pratchett. Watch something sweet, or inspiring. Enchanted (from the gif above) is a fantastic choice for this. Take a walk. Sunshine preferred, but I’ll take what I can get.
Step five: Work on a different project. Pick a writing prompt or stumble on a meme that really speaks to me and just let words flow. This project might never go anywhere or be published and it doesn’t matter. Just gotta get those words gushing again.
TLDR; I just cried for thirty straight minutes. Everyone who said I would love Stranger Things was so very right. You know who you are, and you have my complete agreement, and what have you all done to me.
The Upside Down
First thoughts: I am not emotionally prepared for any of this. Bring it on.
We’re starting with a big, brutal helping of THE TRUTH for “Papa” and I could sit and watch nothing but Joyce laying into him for a straight day. She doesn’t buy his lines for a second. If he thought Mama Bear would be an easy target he was so very wrong. I also have to hope that Hopper knows what he’s doing as he’s making deals left and right with Assassin Granny who is more than ready to kill him instantly. But he does get both him and Joyce into the Upside Down for a rescue attempt, so I’m calling it a net positive.
Unwise Scientist: “BTW the atmosphere is toxic, put these hazmat suits on.”
Joyce: “WAT the FUCK my SON has been in there for a week!”
And off they go on walkabout in The Upside Down, where we immediately get a flashback to Hopper’s past, to crush my heart into tiny pieces. Oh god I can’t take these revelations about Hopper’s daughter and him crying in the stairwell. It made me start crying, although I tried to hold it back so I could focus on what was going on.
Back with our monster-hunting duo, Jonathan gets cockblocked by Steve “I Creep on You Through The Window” Harrington in the most awkwardly timed decent impulse ever. Seriously Steve pushes inside and immediately you can watch the realization dawn on his little face: his girl is into sacrificial rituals and he probably barely escaped with his life. Bad timing level: expert because the Hellflower shows up at that moment.
Steve: “There is a set BEAR TRAP in the HALLWAY what the everloving kind of kink is this?!”
Steve’s suffering makes me feel better, though, because I am a bad person. Do I have to LIKE Steve now? Seriously? I still don’t ship him with Nancy.
H E L P Eleven is squishing brains inside skulls now and I don’t even know if I can feel happy about this! Oh god oh god oh god Eleven! This is so disturbingly cathartic. Also “Papa” done fucked up and she wants Mike now. Because Mike gives her, you know, kindness and compassion and Eggos and basic human decency and other unnecessary things. Karma comes for “Papa” in the form of a rampaging Demogorgon and it is glorious. I’m not disturbed about this bit.
My feeling of triumph is immediately squashed, though, because they find Will in the Upside Down and it’s not okay. Nothing is okay. There’s a tube thing in his mouth and he’s not breathing and nothing will ever be okay again. This is all juxtaposed with flashbacks to the death of Hopper’s daughter and you better believe I started sobbing at this point.
Elven and the boys are trapped in a classroom, guns apparently have zero effect on Hellflowers from other dimensions and . . . wait . . . goodbye, Mike? As in, she’s gone? Eleven sacrificed herself? ENDLESS SADNESS and I’M ANGRY AT EVERYONE RIGHT NOW. Still crying.
Will starts breathing again and guess what, I’m still a tearful mess.
I need a hug. And a tissue. And then another hug.
The Loser’s Club and their happiness a month later as they smash out a great D&D campaign was so good for my heart. (Still crying, softly.) But the moral of the whole story was that if you baseball bat the face-hugging flower monster you get the girl. Happy Christmas. I STILL DO NOT SHIP THEM, OKAY.
We’re left with two extremely intriguing cliffhangers, involving Eggos left in the woods and Will possibly still being connected to The Upside Down. Oh you clever cliffhanging bastards, now I have to watch Season Two. I must.
This is an Author Toolbox hop post. Every month, the hop supports writers of every stage with resources, ideas, inspiration, tips, and tricks for any and all comers. Join us here at author Raimey Gallant’s website.
We’ve been here before (in 2018 with A Modern Slang Dictionary for Your Writer Toolbox) but guess what. It’s 2020 now and the slang has changed! Why does it change so fast? Is it only to annoy us elderly folk? Is it a result of instant globalized access to multiple languages, media, and cultures? Business Insider.com says; “Though many of these terms have been around for decades, oftentimes derived from the language of black and queer communities, online spaces have made the spread, appropriation, and evolution of language more rapid than ever before.” Personally, I think they’re on to something.
However it happens, the end result is there are new terms popping up every year, and some of those terms could be fun for you to use in a book. Have at this list, with my compliments.
Yeet/Yeeted: Oooh, yeet is a fun one. It can be an exclamation, expressing happiness or determination. It can be a noun. It can be a verb. It’s very versatile! Currently, it’s mostly used to mean someone discarded something at high velocity, or left an uncomfortable person/situation at high velocity. The overtones of “Yeet” mean power, victory, a sense of self care, throwing your whole soul into it, and adrenaline.
example: “Esme felt smothered by her controlling boyfriend so she broke up with him yesterday and yeeted.”
example 2: Kids throwing their homework into the trash at the end of the school year: “YEET!”
Lewk: Adjective/noun. Basically a fancier, cooler way to say “look”. A signature physical trait or carefully composed outfit with personal flair. A fashion statement based on a theme or meant to invoke a certain emotion. I see this one used on Instagram a lot, often by the wonderful Jonathan Van Ness.
example: “Honey, your lewk! It’s giving me serious Stranger Things, Season Two feels.”
Spon Con: Abbreviating “sponsored content”. It’s a quick note that what you’re posting/talking about is sponsored so your followers are aware, as per FTC guidelines on clear and conspicuous disclosure of promoted content. Often influencers will put Spon Con, or the equivalent #ad in a prominent place.
example: #SponCon. Let me show you my daily face care routine, starting with this awesome organic cleanser.
Flex/Flexing/Flexed: Lean into, show off, emphasize, gloat. Mostly used to indicate someone is bragging about something. It originated in rap, as far back as Ice Cube and the Geto Boys, and has started coming into more commonplace use.
example: “Look at them walking around in cloth of gold. With a peacock on a diamond leash! Okay, somebody’s flexing and doesn’t even want to hide it.”
Stan: Noun or verb. A portmanteau of the words “stalker” and “fan”. Somewhat unfortunate for people actually named “Stan”, sorry about that. It means what you’d think, an overzealous or obsessive fandom/fan actions. Interestingly, the origin is also attributed to the 2000 song Stan by rapper Eminem, about an obsessive fan’s tragic actions. Possibly someone realized it made a perfect mashup of stalker and fan afterwards, and added it to the definition.
example: “She has so many stans on Instagram, don’t even try leaving a mean comment. They will jump all over you.”
example 2: “You know I totally stan Flula Borg, he is hilarious!”
Thirsty/Thirst: Synonym for “horny” in some contexts, but also for “eager to get something” or “desperate for attention” in others. Context is key, here. The goal of the eager actions determines which meaning thirsty has.
example: “Your gym selfie has me . . . mmm, thirsty.”
example 2: “There are SO many selfies on the beach in this account, thirsty much? You parched, honey.”
Ok, Boomer: Slightly pejorative retort. Used to dismiss perceived narrow-minded, outdated, judgmental, negative, or condescending attitudes, ESPECIALLY when the perceived attitude comes from a person of the “Baby Boomer” generation. Essentially, when something would take hours of deconstructing ingrained misinformation and ignorance to correct, and you’re not sure the person you’re educating would listen/care anyway, saying “Ok, Boomer” is a way to brush off whatever it was and move on.
example: “In my day people just said things and there was none of this social justice warrior nonsense. Kids these days are too sensitive.” “Ok, Boomer.”
Periodt: “Periodt” is a word used at the end of a sentence, meant to add emphasis to a point that has been made. A more extreme or intense version of “period.” Once this word is used it is over, done, finished, extinguished.
TLDR; Playing with my emotional strings like that, how dare you, Stranger Things? Will is caught! And Joyce & Hopper are caught! And Nancy & Jonathan are off monster hunting AGAIN! And everything is too tense for my heart!
First thoughts of episode seven: LUCAS TO THE DAMN RESCUE! YAS. Stalker Repairman and His Candy Van Brigade are coming and the kids have to run/bike for it. Eleven’s face when she sees “Papa”, ugh, just stomp on my heart already and be done with it. Anyway, they paid their special effects team well for this show and it was worth every cent.
Everyone apologizes and for a brief, shining moment all is right with the world. Ahhh. But of course that lovely soft feeling cannot last.
Joyce and Hopper go to rescue Jonathan from the jail and, unwisely, a deputy tries to get in her way. She was ready to kill a HELLFLOWER with an AXE, dude, you will not be a challenge.
Just when I decided to hate his guts forever Steve has sudden decent impulse. Damn it, pick a character direction, Steve! I don’t want to trust you but you’re looking all earnest and remorseful and stuff and I don’t know what to think.
The kids are hiding out when the Government Men finally find them but it’s okay because Hopper shows up just in time for some problem-solving! Me *trying to sound stern but still laughing*: “Hopper, you cannot solve every problem by punching it.” Hopper: *punches the problem until it goes away*
And then finally, FINALLY, we are sharing our information as Joyce, Hopper, Eleven, and the rest of the kids all sit around Joyce’s kitchen table and brainstorm. It’s coming together! Upside down road trip to rescue Will, coming right up! Please? (Also, can Hopper, like, be Eleven’s dad now? He would be roughly 1001 times better at it than “Papa”. I’m just throwing it out there.)
We discover in this episode that ten o-clock at night is always a great time to call your science teacher to learn how to make a sensory deprivation tub. Always. I really love it when a show can take moments that are critical for plot development and make them funny. It’s one of my favorite tropes. Is it a trope? Oh, well, it is now.
Nancy and Mike: *make pact to tell each other everything and keep no secrets from now on*
Also Nancy and Mike: *Immediately break pact*
Joyce gives El love and encouragement for possibly the first time in her life. I just wanted to lie down and sob with a combination of relief and pain at this point. This could very well be the first time Eleven has been touched with kindness in her entire life and it HURTS to know that. For her new friends she goes hunting through the Upside Down, alone, looking for our two lost members. We all knew Barb was dead but FUCK that was disturbing. RIP Barb.
Eleven does find Will (alive, at the present moment) so all is not lost. But there seems to be a problem with his hiding place being discovered by a rampaging Hellflower . . .
Wait—do not end there!
No, no, don’t do that! Do Not do this to me, Stranger Things, I swear . . .
The Insecure Writer’s Support Group meets (online) on the first Wednesday of every month. During these especially scary days, it’s nice to know you’ve got a group like this at your back. If you haven’t already, come join!
April 1 question: Do you have any rituals that you use when you need help getting into the ZONE? Care to share?
Why, yes, there is indeed a no-fail ritual I turn to and I would be delighted to share.
First, what you need is a good knife sharpener. Chef quality, if you can. You’re going to want a really good edge. Next you’ll need a good narrow filleting knife. None of those big ol watermelon chopper kinds, finesse is needed here.
During the next gibbous moon (waxing gibbous, definitely) head for any swampy, rich, muddy area close to you. Getting out of there with dry boots is a bad sign, I mean the kind of place that actively tries to suck your shoes off and eat them.
Bring a good reusable shopping bag, two green bell peppers (pasilla will work as a substitute), two spiders (doesn’t matter what kind), an empty container, lots of string, and a snack, cause this will take most of the night and self-care is important. (I suggest tacos.) The container is for blood. Blood will flow as streams for this ritual. When you find a good area to set up your trap you’ll need to leash the spiders and tie them to . . . oh.
That’s the wrong ritual. Wrong one. Sorry, friends.
Ahem. In actual seriousness, I have no ritual to get me in the Writing Zone. I just . . . do not have one. Nor have I found one that works every time, because discipline and consistency are kinda anti-SE traits, and this is something I know to be true about myself after 33 years on this planet. I am a vague, oblivious, socially anxious, kind of ditzy, unorganized person with a bad short-term memory. I have developed life-hacks and habits to work with and/or minimize (cause this kind of personality doesn’t get the bills paid, yo), but I don’t have one magic bullet fix for my writing life.
The closest I get to a ritual, and if you want to steal this idea please do, is this: I always go back a chapter or two and re-read what was happening before I start writing.
*shocked gasps all around* I know, I know, this goes against current writing advice which is all VOMIT WRITE DIRTY ON THE FIRST DRAFT and NEVER SELF EDIT YOU INSECURE MUFFIN and YOU CAN’T EDIT A BLANK PAGE. Yes. Totally. I agree 100% if this kind of get-it-down-on-the-page works for you. But it does not work for me and my Dory-memory self.
I need to hit the refresh button before I can go forward, and that’s how I write. As I read through what I already finished I slip back into the world I was creating, remember where I was trying to go, and recollect what steps were next to get me across this constantly rushing torrent of ideas. It’s like shifting from park into drive for me, and it’s something I need.
Will it work for you? Maybe. Also perhaps not. We all hack out the words from the Idea Mines with a different pick. But I will enjoy visiting your blogs today and hearing what works for you. Happy IWSG Day, writers. Stay safe and healthy.
TLDR; Help us Lucas, you’re our only hope. I was brutally attacked by FEELS in this episode and I don’t know if I’ll survive.
First thoughts of the episode: I want to know if Nancy’s okay! I’m going to regret this! But I want to know!! Oh god I’m already regretting this! Help!
I did live through the terrifying part where Nancy & Jonathan are trying to find each other, including yet another jump scare. The music just adds to the tension by a factor of twelve, may I say. Then, as my heart rate is finally slowing again and the monster hunters are dealing with their trauma, Steve pulls an Edward Cullen and regrets it immediately. Just accept you’re an awful boyfriend and move on. You have no idea what Nancy is going through right now. Or Jonathan, for that matter, who proves that he can just be quietly supportive and not pushy, EVEN SLEEPING IN THE SAME BED. Take notes, Steve Cullen.
Meanwhile Mike feels guilty about El, which he should, damn it. She overreacted to Lucas and should definitely apologize to him, but you YELLED at her like a huge meanie and I am mad at you. Never yell at my Eleven. Don’t even look at her in a mildly mean way. Give my El all the hugs and the loves and the kindness and absolutely no yelling. Dustin comes over and lays down some truths in his lisp and Dustin, I love you. (Please don’t die.)
Undercover Assassin Granny shows up at Mr. Clark’s house and my first thought was, “Awww, man, bullet to the head. Farewell, Mr. Clark.” Damn it, why did I admit to liking Mr. Clark, I know better! But he gets to live because she merely wants the names and addresses of all the kids, which is WORSE.
Turns out Eleven spent the night in the woods and she’s having a serious moment. It couldn’t be clearer that she feels like she’s a monster. Her stealing scene was awesome, although I was uncomfortable with her being forced to shoplift. Somebody fucking take care of her right, for once! Poor baby. And there were Eggos again. They haven’t been as critical as I was led to expect with all the memes.
In the very first miss-step I’ve seen the writers make, Joyce and Hopper go on a road trip to see Exposition Lady™ as she explains all of Eleven’s/Jane’s/Stolen By the Government’s backstory in one big infodump. I’ll allow it because there really is a ton to get packed in there and they kinda need it.
Then complete misogynistic douchery comes to play in Hawkins Indiana and all I could think was; STEVE YOU FUCKING TWATWAFFLE. Public slut shaming? That’s your big move here? REALLY? And the heavens opened and from them rained a Nancy bitchslap, which was so well deserved. Steve pushes his already crappy luck and in return gets his ass kicked by Jonathan, which he also deserved. I ain’t even sorry. The Nancy and Steve ship has officially sunk for me. Full speed ahead, Captain Jonathan.
As if that wasn’t enough, what kind of middle-school bullies are they growing in Hawkins? This little dude (he has no name in my head beyond “Bully”) pulls a damn knife on my nerds! A switchblade! Slow it down there, this ain’t The Outsiders, JD. For real. My school mostly had people, like, calling you names and chasing you into the bathroom, what the hell is in the water in Hawkins? Mike risks his life to save Dustin (he was totally going to die) and then El saves him in the coolest scene ever.
Feelings attack me as they group hug. I’m not tearing up, you’re tearing up. So dang much happened in this episode and all of it hurt and I’ve definitely been smooshed by a train made of feels.
And . . . we end on yet another cliffhanger with G.I. Lucas as our only hope. He’s put the clues together and he’s the only one in a position to warn the other kids as they troop home, all unaware of Stalker Repairman and his Candy Van in the front yard. Things are definitely rushing towards the climax and the tension is almost visibly ratcheting up.