Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Morning Interludes

Letting the dog out this morning, I glanced at the back patio. The puddles on the concrete told me it wouldn’t be a good morning for walking. Suffice it to say, my dog decided it wasn’t a good morning to smell the roses either. Get out, take care of business, and Bark! Let me back in, Boss.

This morning, then, I decided to allow a quick moment for a detour. A concept, actually. It came to me while reading an interview of Michael Connelly in the October issue of The Writer.

Q: What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer?

A: Keep your head down and write. Write at least 15 minutes every day, because even if you only get 15 minutes, your mind has to churn the story… Write a story that you would want to read. Just you. It starts with writing for yourself.

Write every day. Nothing new there. We’ve all read, and heard, that same mantra before. But two other things struck me, the first of which was the “at least 15-minute” rule. Since I’ve been thinking hard about NaNoWriMo, I haven’t allowed my mind to drift off toward other projects. But, what if I could allow at least fifteen minutes (but not more than thirty) a day for writing something? What stories, or possible stories, could I come up with?

The second thing was to write a story that I would want to read. All too often, I’ve fallen into a trap of trying to write for others. Will this hook a reader? Will a reader believe this? Whether it’s a glitch in the logic, or some deep psychological issue for which I need counseling, I don’t know. Either way, it was refreshing to see another writer’s advice to simply write something I would want to read. Does this hook me? Do I believe this? Would I buy this if I happened to pick it up and read only a couple of pages?

So, today I made a cup of coffee and took a little time for a concept that I have called Morning Interludes. I have even started a file on my hard drive. They’re not much. They may not even be complete stories, yet. But at least the juices are flowing and I’m accomplishing some form of writing every day.

What follows next is today’s Morning Interlude, inspired by a photo I found in the same issue of The Writer. You’ll notice that it’s nothing more than a potential hook. But it’s not much, you might say. In fifteen minutes, is that all I could write? I know. It could use more descriptions—sounds, smells, touch. It could also use more exposition, like why this character decided to kayak in the mornings. However, with the extra hour I took to write and format this post, I didn't have time to write as much as I wanted. Plus, I am sorry to report that some of the sentences I wrote wandered too far from the main story and ventured into dangerous territory, i.e. a dark area of something I wouldn’t want to read. For their transgressions, those sentences paid a dear price. They were quickly bagged and tagged. I have a DELETE key, and I know how to use it. I am a merciless killer of words. Mwahahaha...

“Death Along The Niagra”

Finding the occasional dead fish, belly up, while kayaking was normal. In fact, it was expected. But nothing prepared Brooke for this.

She stopped paddling and coasted down the Niagra. Considering the thunderstorms that rolled through Tonawanda last night, the water was especially calm this morning, which allowed her eyes more time to wander instead of watching the cuts and pulls of the current against the hull of her craft. As such, it was easy to spot the kayaks, and not fish, floating belly up along the river's edge. And yes it was kayaks. Two of them, to be exact. One had been fully capsized while the other lulled on its side.

Brooke dipped the right tip of her paddle into the water, turned toward the shore, and pulled up.

This time, it was the floating hair, and not the kayaks, near the riverbank that caught her attention. Long and blonde. And the hair was still attached to its owner.


  1. You certainly wouldn't want the exposition at this part of the story. I really liked this beginning. At this point I don't give a damn about why she likes to kayak in the morning - I want to know more about the floating body! It's a great hook. Continue on! :)

  2. ooo, the hair still attached.

    nice for 15 minutes

  3. That's a great beginning, Stephen. I'd read on.


  4. I'm hooked, Stephen. Love this kind of story. Keep going.


  5. Laura: You make a good point. Thank you.

    Paige, Carol & Greta: Thank you for the feedback.

    Whether or not these interludes amount to actual stories or just exercises of the imagination, only time will tell. It is fun, though. Of the few I have done, I can easily see where they could lead to so much more. And that's the point. By drafting some situations that can be used for other pieces down the road, I can focus more energy right now on the NaNoWriMo project, and then come back to these after the NaNoWriMo adventure is complete. There should always be a second novel in the works. And a third, and a fourth...

  6. Very neat writing exercise, Stephen. I hope you are able to keep at it. Even if every one of them amounts to nothing more than a brief vignette, you will end up with treasure trove of ideas you can mull over and later develop into full blown stories or weave into something else you are writing. And this sample piece was terrific.