Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Write In Your Sleep

There is something beyond our mind which abides in silence within our mind. It is the supreme mystery beyond thought. Let one's mind rest on that and not rest on anything else.

-Maitvi Upanishad

I suggest we can write without use of a pen during our sleeping hours, provided we can tune in to a greater reality.

I first became familiar with Random Access Memory (RAM) and Rapid Eye movement memory (REM) when I managed a string of mattress stores and attended sleep shop seminars and conventions.

The study of sleep is a fascinating science, leading to a better understanding of how we can maintain better health through better sleep and to take it a step furhter, we can obtain a higher level of meditation and at the end of the day, we become better writers (even if we use hackneyed phrases as I just did).

Psychiatrist, psychologist and a wide variety of professionals were consulted over many arduous hours of experimentation to arrive at worthy results I am about to share with you, without hooking you up to machines to monitor your brain waves and vital signs. Assuming your mind is at least as stable as my own (probably better), I think you, too, will have favorable results.

Of course, the seminars were designed to allow mattress manufacturers to make commercial claims and manipulate a body of research to sell beds, however, I will provide you the jist of the research pertinent to good sleep, improved meditation techniques and better writing.

1) Acquisition-refers to the introduction of new information into the brain.
2) Consolidation-represents the process by which a memory becomes stable.
3) Recall-refers to the ability to access the information (whether
conciously or unconciously) after it has been stored.

Almost anything you are struggling with in your writing can be often resolved during sleep, provided the problem is known to you. For example, if you can identify the problem in your concious mind, you will be open to the process of Acquisition, step one above.

Here's how it works. Before calling it a night, write out the challenge, longhand. Maybe there is a problem with the story you are currently working on. Maybe the story is not paced properly. Is it moving too fast or too slow? Perhaps, a piece of dialog isn't working out. Maybe you aren't sure you should keep a particular scene or eliminate it.

Write it down.

Don't try to figure it out - that's the job of the unconcious mind.
Have a hot cup of tea. Read aloud what you have written and take a deep breath. Now, forget what you have written.

Pick up a favorite novel and read yourself asleep, but remember this: Don't move when you wake up. Sy it aloud, "I will not move when I wake up in the morning. I will remember the solution from my dream."

I am not ashamed of this exercise. On the other hand, of course, my family is accustom to my behavior and would be concerned if I were not running a high temperature and talking to myself. If your family members are equally understanding, then try this exercise.

Where were we? Oh, Write down the solution as soon as you get it.

It's that simple.

I alluded earlier to the two forms of sleep, REM and RAM. This research dates back to Homer. People often wake around midnight before succumbing to the second sleep. In The Haunted Mind, Nathaniel Hawthorne referred this sleep as "The Watch." He commented on this middle of the night conciousness as follows:

If you could choose an hour of wakefulness out of the whole night, it would be this. Since your sober bed time, at eleven, you have had rest enough to take the pressure off yesterday's have found an intermediate space, where the business of life does not intrude; where the passing moment lingers, and becomes truly present; a spot where Father Time, when he thinks nobody is watching, sits down by the wayside to take a breath.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Explore Your Dreams

Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset.
-Rabindranath Tagore

A #2 pencil and a dream can take you anywhere.
-Joyce A. Meyer

A rich source of new material is within us,trying to be born. Come along with me for a moment to explore this gold mine of creativity and transcendence.

In the words of my beloved nephew, Derek Irving, "Life is constantly speaking to us."

Dreams offer a a most sincere revelation, a database of knowledge pertinent to our lives and beyond. There are hidden messages in dreams, and with just a little specific knowledge we can begin to explore a rich exciting world of the unknown.

Dreams are to the individual what myths are to civilization. A world of symbols expressing a spiritual underlying reality, not an aspect of reality, but a reality more prominent than the literal truths we so embrace.

For example, Buddhist explore the knowledge of nyo ze factors which include, influence, power, latent reality and manifest reality. (I'm not Buddhist, but I'm making a point). Now, bear with me. We have become more rational and intellectual through the developments of science but I humbly submit we have lost something in the process. We have become rich in knowledge and poor in wisdom. Science surrounds that which is manifested or understood. If you are not yet published, you are yet, a writer. Your talents are neither latent or made manifest to the world. The space between the two realites is the center of our power, governed only by the individual. Our best writing happens at this point. A deeper truth resides in the dimension we dismiss as illusion, fantasy or a distorted dream.

So it is with all dreams. Extroverted thinking in the conscious world tells us about events, history, people and politics, but the intuitive self opens us up to universal forces that underlie our existence in time and space. Our dreams have little to do with us as we know our conscious selves, the lower self. Our dreams tend to relate to the the universal history of humanity, that interdepent connection that binds us, that intuitive intelligence that realizes we are all sisters and brothers.

Its not necessary that you or your character actually interpet the dream, but the act of pondering the dream reveals character. All that matters is what we felt in the dream. The dream is a way to color the emotion. Dreams are usually profound and larger than life. If we can tap into the feelings of the character in the dream and develop a sense( not an interpretation)of its symbols, we may discover a resourceful system that has enshrined wisdom in every time and culutre.

What lies latent in your character's subsconcious

Friday, October 21, 2011

Devour the Scene

I absolutely love Joyce Myer. Here's a quote from her.

A #2 pencil and a dream can take you anywhere.
-Joyce A. Myer

Write wherever you are. Whether you are in a park, on a boat or at the golf course. Stop for a moment and absorb the scene. Do not try to make sense of the piece. Simply write notes, using key words to describe what you see. Later, you will recall details from the same scene to invigorate your imagination.

In a park scene for instance, you might note the following. Trees. Mostly oaks. Scattered pines. Box hedges at the far side. Children kicking soccer balls. Screams. Birds chirping. Crowded parking lot. First day of Fall.

You get the point. Scenery gives us the effect of the actual motif.

You might want to extend this exercise. For example, what kind of birds are in the park? What is the state bird...the state insect? What types of trees are indigent to your area?

Is there a pond nearby? Tell me about the ducks. Are children trying to catch them? Let's explore the smell of leaves, freshly cut grass. Let me feel moisture from the pond or hear an occasional duck flapping its wings.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Why I Love My Fellow Writers

I love writers because I love words and the potential to ride them vicariously throughout the world. I am helplessly romanticized by the sometimes clever use of written and spoken language. I love writers because we have a unique appreciation of life, not unlike all artist, but unique in our expression.

It takes time and astute attention to both the spoken and written word in order to catch that which is easily missed. We writers catch poetry as it is happening. We observe the romance of language and give a great deal of attention to the observation of human beings, of animals and of nature. Writers are in tune with life.

Like falling in love, creating a book is not something that just happens. It is the result of a latent need that perfectly unites us to the world, pulling us from an abyss of conventional living and into a world of discovery. We are in a constant state of change...moving from something to something. Every artistic discipline requires this hybrid nature, and for every discipline there is an opposing side, the side that does not believe...that does not create and does not live in the present.

The other side of romance is naturally, banal. To a romantic a flower is enchanting. To the banal the flower is a colorful plant that will fray and die. The romantic appreciates a moment in time. She loves the present moment for whatever it presents: a blooming flower. The banal is not moved by the present because his perspective is of the future: the plant will die, or of the past because it was just a bud or just a seed.

He does not smell the flowers; he smells dead pedals.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Hooray! Another Complete Manuscript

I am nearly done with two manuscripts, soon to be published. The first is 'Learn Spanish, 6 Months to Fluency," to be published by Christmas. The second manuscript is an inspirational book made of prose and poetry. Echoes of the Soul.

Completing these manuscripts has been an arduous task, yet I have learned much in the process. Thanks to Marcel Crespil,PhD. whose help has made the diligent process far more exciting. Without his help, 'Learn Spanish,' would have been extremely difficult and the work certainly would not have come to fruition so fluently.

For those of you who desire to learn Spanish, this is the book for you - not because I wrote it, but because it is a most proven method of learning. When I learned Spanish in school, the process was a difficult undergoing and frayed by the many past tense Spanish verbs. The attempt to learn the fourteen different tenses at once stagnated my ability to grasp the language with authority. Although, I understood the language for many years, I could not speak Spanish competently.

I started all over using a different learning module and became fluent in six months. You can, tool!

After reflecting on the old process which impeded my ability to speak, coupled with the input of language professors such as Dr. Crespil, we have eliminated most of the learning pitfalls common to most English speaking natives. The first ten followers of this blog who send a request via this blog or my email ( will receive a free copy of Learn Spanish, complete with the book and audio CD.

Thank you for your support.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Mesmerize Your Reader with Historical References

Most of us can remember what we were doing during critical moments of time in history. Our readers will reflect on those moments as we inculcate those themes into our writing. Don't be afraid that you will lose the reader to nostalgia - you will not, provided your writing is compelling. There is a natural propensity for readers to become caught up in memory. If handled well, they will get caught up in your story.

Let's take 9-11-2001 for example. For those of us who lost someone during that most terrible catastrophe, this missive may not incite good memories. I think of Salman Hamdani each time I revisit the thought. Salman was a police cadet who lost his life trying to rescue victims at point zero.

Here's where I'm going with this line of thinking. One can set a story before, during or after 911. A good writer can transfer the emotions from this setting to some other place, thus capturing the reader in a way the reader feels what you (the writer) feel.

Here's an example.

It was a week after the twin towers fell that he joined the U.S. Marine corps. Seven years later he was a celebrated Green Beret. Now, some ten years after the fact, he was deployed just beneath the mountain, in a place he could not talk about.

He led the squad of seven very special soldiers along the east ridge. They walked, keeping their shadows against the hillside. The trail was quiet. They had not communicated verbally during the last six miles. Six miles...a piece of cake for a green beret. Neither man had yet broken a sweat and probably would not for the next four miles of the journey, a journey that would make history. He stopped,gave a hand signal and darted into the hillside.

Within 3.2 seconds none of the seven men could be seen, not by the human eye, not by thermal technology and certainly not by the camera beneath an approaching enemy helicopter overhead.

He tossed a small rock from his hiding place and repeated the exercise each ten seconds over a full minute. Six rocks later, the men presumed their positions.

They were four miles from putting an exclamation point on the history of terror as we know it.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Pen Pals, A Door to Characterization

Step outside the box to stimulate story ideas.

The advent of electronic media (email) has drastically decreased original letter writing in content and frequency. Techonology has contributed to the demise of this form of art, but this need not be so. I suggest you hone your writing skills by developing pen pal relationships.

There are several benefits to this exercise. It helps to develop characterization in many ways. For example, when communicating with someone you don't know, you are compelled to ask leading questions leading to characterization and vicarious experiences. For example, I write to several inmates (using my p.o. box address, of course). I find it interesting to discover a new world of people with a variety of different experiences. These are people I would not likely meet in my world, however, there is a tremendous mutual benefit involved. Many inmates are lonely and communicative.

I chose to write to first time offenders who were convicted for petty theft because - at the time I began - I was working on a story about a group of thieves. I honestly shared my research interest as to not take advantage of them. Obviously, I do not use their names and personal information in my writing, however, I do capitalize on their experiences. Consequently, I also correspond with their counselors which opens up a brand new window of creative opportunities. For example, a good corrections counselor became an invaluable resource to me in terms of providing background to the frame of mind of people who commit particular types of crimes. This relationship further helped me to create a profile realistic to particular criminal behavior dynamics. For example, a thief must first judge its prospective victim, criticize the victim and find fault before s/he can move forward with a plan to steal.

Here is one way a writer might develop psychological characterization of a thief, taken from a story I am writing:

He felt the lady totally ignored him. He walked by her in the grocery store. He spoke to her, twice. You'd think she would have the decency to nod her head, half-smile or in some way acknowledge him. She did not. That's why he made his play; after all, he knew where she lived. He had a plan for her.

Notice how this passive creates suspense and characterization in a single paragraph. You'll need to step outside of yourself to effectuate the psychological profile. In other words, you do not want to think like normal, law abiding citizens. Get inside the character's head. Great writers like James Patterson, Thurber, and Dickinson are masters of this technique. Read them. They tend to pull us so deeply inside the character's thoughts that it becomes frightening.

I will add more examples and ideas in future post. Until then, write.

Creating Unforgetable Characters (Essential Writing Skills)

Friday, April 1, 2011

Completing the Novel

Hello Everyone,

I have been happily swamped with the completion of The Doctor's Vice, lately. I'm fudging here a little, because it is not yet complete. I am working on the final draft, however and it will be done by the end of the year.

I was busy bouncing between two incomplete books. You know how it is when you need to put the manuscript aside for a while to gain a new perspective, right? Well, I sat it aside for two months and now I'm banging away.

I would like to hear from those of you who enjoy thrillers. I would like your feedback on a couple of chapters. I should warn you however, some chapters are quite graphic.

Hooray for me......I'm getting it done.

Final Draft Version 8

Monday, February 28, 2011

What does your Antagonist/Protagonist Believe, Philosophically

The philosophy of my antagonist Smitty is as described below. He, Smitty, may very well believe he is not philosophical, but everyone some extent. If you believe or disbelieve in something then you are philosophical to the exact extent.

Here's how Smitty thinks: Life is about pain. Every experience is based on our need to eliminate pain, to make pain more bearable or to escape pain altogether. The thought appears pessimistic on the surface, because vanity demands that all is well with us. The reality is that there is a price to pay for whatever we want. If we make choices based on the concept that the end is more important than the means, we sacrifice integrity and through this act of vanity, we sometimes sacrifice our soul.

The price we pay based on immoral choices is much greater than that which we bargained for. The price we end up paying is much greater, because vanity like evil is a most demanding master. This thought does not irritate Smitty in the least. It should. The thing is, due to his background of struggle and poverty, he is willing to pay almost any price for a few years of luxury, even if it means sacrificing his soul. It's a natural conclusion for Smitty because he does not believe in the hereafter, nor does he care.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Say What You Mean

Choose your words carefully. Not any word will do. Keep it simple (K.I.S.S.) but effective.

Words are like medicine or bullets, depending on your perspective. The point is few words are absolutely synonymous. Meaningful connotations rest in the root of words and its significance is not always hidden. Meaning is more apparent to people who speak the language from which the root word originated. Whether we use words in a narrative or from spoken dialog of a character, it is important to choose words commensurate with the speaker's personality and equally relevant to the subject.

For example, You can say you like something, someone or an event, or you can say you were enchanted by it. Can you feel the difference? The impact you feel derives from the latin root of word encantador which means charming or delightful.

Encantar (latin) means to cast a spell on or to bewitch. In light of this explanation, would you rather you spouse confess he likes you, or that he is enchanted by your presence?

The above example reflects emotion and subjectivity, however, words convey practical significance, also. Words are important in business communication. For example, consider the word "authentic." This word will imply a hybrid thought. The writer should be cognitive of the presented duality: authentic and artificial. Let's say you were to invite a business personality to an event. If you are competitive you will want to point out precisely why you are inviting this person, beyond consideration of her/his general professional credentials. For instance, if you needed a doctor, why this particular doctor? Well, he specialize in surgery and surgery is the nature of your interest. Not good enough. There are many surgeons.

If you want to genuinely flatter this person and provide a real service to your audience, then bring the topic to a personal level and use words that describe your insight. For example, I invited another published writer to crit my work, not simply because she was published. The fact that she wrote thrillers, also, is important but that was not good enough. I invited her (begged her) to help me because she was particularly strong in areas where I am weak. I pointed that out to her as we spoke. "You provide a genuine benefit to me particular to my weakness."

Can you see how this word "genuine" implies an open end question and provide intelligent exchange?"

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Top 20 Opening Chapters/thrillers

Here is a list of the top 20 opening chapters I have discovered. If you find more challenging openings, please let me know. I would love to see them. Obviously, there are many good books with interesting and well written first chapters. We are looking for the most compelling opening chapters in thrillers for this exercise, however a couple books are selected from a different genre. Go to and read those first chapters.

Here they are:

The Water's Edge by Karin Fossum
Hardball by Sara Paretsky
The Unquiet by John Connally
The Listener by Shira Nayman (no killing, just great suspense)
The Watchlist by Jeffrey Deaver

The 5th Victim by Jeffrey Deaver
Last Girl Dancing by Holly Lisle
Tonight You're Mine by Carlene Thompson
Homicidal Intent by Vivian Churn
Hit & Run by Casey Moreton
The Confessor by Daniel Silva
The Guesser by John Connally
The Hard Way by Lee Child
The 9th Judgment by James Patterson
Double Take by Catherine Coutler
The Inquisitor by Peter Clement
The Escape by Dr. Marcel Crespil
Jar City by Arnadul Indridson
Skinny Dip by Carl Hiassen
The Shack by William P. Young

Saturday, February 12, 2011

How to Write Extremely Colorful Dialog

I challenge you to complete an exercise in dialog, only. No tags or blocking (that means no 'he said,' she said" etc.)

Try to evoke character, conflict and plot.
Create a conflict using only two individuals.
Do not use narrative or exposition, dialog only.

Run it from one to 5 pages. The idea is to see how well you can create fast moving dialog without exposition. Use no description of the surroundings unless it is done through relevant dialog.

This can be a short story, the beginning of a novel or, perhaps the start of a novel.
Terry Bisson did a great job with this in his short story, "They're Made of Meat."

Here is an exercise I completed which I will use in an upcoming novel called Bank's Vice. (Let me know if you accept the challenge).

“Why are you looking at me that way?”
“You know more than you’re telling us, don’t you?”
“Like what for example?”
“You know who did it.”
“I don’t know anything. “
“Then tell us, why did you run?”
“You came down the alley driving like crazy. You didn’t have any sirens on. How was I supposed to know you were cops?”
“You could have jumped out of the way if you thought you were in danger, but you didn’t. We chased you damn near two miles on feet, all the while screaming, police stop. But you didn’t stop did you?”
“What do you want from me?”
“Names. Addresses.”
“Like I said, two guys were running from the building when I got there. I didn’t see their faces.”
“And you didn’t have a conversation with them?”
“No. I don’t usually stop armed men and make friends with them.”
“Then why would someone testify that you did?”
“Who said that?”
“Did you?”
“Did I what?”
“Did you talk to the killers?”
“Someone saw you talking to those men in front of the library, yesterday.”
“Yesterday? Yes, I …I talked with two strangers ….at the….library, yesterday.”
“Why did you deny it?”
“I didn’t deny anything. Are you trying to tell me those strangers are the same men who killed those people tonight?”
“Who said someone was killed?”
“I heard gunshots. People often die from that you know?”
“How many shots did you hear?”
“Five. Six or more. No more than ten.”
“But probably more than five?”
“I thought you said the men were fleeing the building when you arrived.”
“They were.”
“But you heard shots. How much time exhausted between the time you heard the shots and the time you saw the fleeing men?”
“Where were you when you heard the shots?”
“Just around the corner. About ten feet away.”
“And then you approached the building?”
“You put yourself in harms way after you heard the gunshots?”
“I work there.”
“So, because you work there you decided to walk in the directions where you heard the shots.”
“You weren’t afraid.”
“I guess not.”
“You weren’t afraid of the bad guys, but you ran from us…the cops? Do you own a gun?"
"Let me guess. A nine milimeter. Silverplated?"
"Where is it?"
"It was stolen."
"Did you file a police report?"
"No. What are you getting at?"
"I'm getting at two men. Men you know. Men who killed tonight."
"You're not planting this on me. I don't know anything about it. I was simply going to work when the killing started."
“What time do you normally report to work?”
“Seven forty five.”
“Seven forty five sharp over the past three years isn’t that right?”
“But you were late today. Why?”
“I stopped for donuts.”
"Any reason why we would find a 9 milimeter silver plated pistol ten feet from where we stopped you?"
"I don't know what you're talking about."
"Any reason why your fingerprints should be on it?"
"I don't know what you're talking about."
“ Donuts. Where?”
"Where what?"
"Where did you stop for donuts?"
“Krispy Crème.”
“Which one?”
“The one on Peachtree and tenth.”
“Will anyone remember you?”
“I don’t know.”
“Do you often stop there?”
“Why stop by this morning?”
“I was hungry.”
“Those men, the suspects stopped by Krispy Crème this morning, also. The clerk said there was a third man. Know who that might be?”
“I wanna see my lawyer.”
“You’ll need him. Stand up and turn around. Put your hands behind your back.”

Next Saturday, I will demonstrate how to make the reader remember you forever, based on the machinations of this type of dialog. See post February 19, 2011

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Succeed In Writing Because You Love It

Your gifts will make room for you and bring you before great people - Proverbs 18:16

This post is just a kind reminder of what you already know.

Don't worry about agents, publishers, genres nor question who will read your book. That is stinking thinking and ultimately counterproductive to success.

Just write it. Make your story the best it can be and don't worry about the results. After all, we can't control results. To think so is a grand illusion. We do have control over the chapters we write, the characters we create and the overall input we invest in the written product.

The only secret to success is to do what we love. We must do what we were born to do. God did not give us talent to waste. He gave us this gift so that we can positively impact the lives of others. The above subtitle bears repeating. Your gifts will make room for you and bring you before great people.

There is a space reserved at the top for each of us who live out those most viable principles of success. A study of extremely successful people share those principles in common. Here they are.

* Do what you love.
* Do your very best.
* Reach out to others with an open mind and pleasing personality.
* Give of your talents freely to help others.

Many successful entrepreneurs tend to give the above advice in many ways. Stanley Marcus, founder of Neiman Marcus stores will tell you "Take care of the product and it won't come back. Take care of the customer and she will."

He's simply giving us his perspective on the above formula: love what you do and create the best product possible. The customer, in this case, our readers will come back because we have loved our work and made it the best it can be.

On the contrary, do not write anything you don't believe in. Here's a case in point. Last year I was asked to ghostwrite a book for a handsome amount of money. I needed the money but I rejected the offer because the nature of the book was opposed to everything I believe in. It would have been a poor use of time and spiritually unproductive to entertain the thought beyond the time it took to thank the gentleman for the opportunity and dismiss the idea. I am not bragging, as it was emotionally taxing to have been exposed to an offer to which I am so opposed, especially because it involved a good deal of money. Here's my point. If we compromise on principle, we block out that space in which our gifts are creating room for us.

There is a new book entitled, "Do You," by Russell Simmons. Mr. Simmons is a man who was born broke, surrounded by shady characters in business, yet he became a billionaire at a relative young age. I plant to read this book, thoroughly during my next trip to the library and I will probably purchase it for my collection.


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Magical Power of Perspective

Have you found the magic? The good news is that you don't have to look for it. It will find the real you. Now, that's the trick. The operative phrase being: the real you. Someone once said that if you don't know where you're going any road will get you there. Hackneyed? Yes, but it's equally profound.

If we are spiritually connected, our true destiny will find us. If we can overcome the gravity of materialism and people worship, we will find diamonds in the rough by way of the people we meet, the ideas and values we embrace and sometimes, even in our dreams.

The Buddhist believe strongly in the power of what is called Nyo Ze Factors. Here they are: nyo ze so, nyo ze ze , nyo ze sho, nyo ze sa, nyo ze in, nyo ze en, nyo ze riki, nyo ze ka, nyo ho and nyo-ze-hon-mak- -kyuoto. These are ten factors of nature, designed to expiate one's bad karma caused by one's negative thoughts and behavior. Interpreted, they represent: Appearance, Nature, Power, Influence, Internal cause, Relation, Latent effect, Energy and drive, Manifest effect and Consistency from beginning to end.

When I lived in Los Angeles (where I grew up) many of my friends were involved in Hollywood, one way or another. I loved them, but I never had an interest in Hollywood. That factor probably helped to produce our friendship in an abstract way. For example, when out in public with them, I observed first hand, the pathetic nature of star gazers and paparazzi. While I don't feel sorry for my most fortunate friends, I understand the madness. They could not sit down to a decent meal at a restaurant without the gazes and inteterruptions. Because I am not famous, I saw upfront what we regulars must look like when mesmerized by famous personalities. What does that have to do with writing? Everything. Read on.

During my visit to the far east, Seoul Korea in particular, I attempted to soak up some Eastern culture. Oh, how we are so different in the west. It is relatively enlightening to ensue the other side, to peruse a different perspective on life, a perspective diametrically opposed to our own. It's okay, don't defend yourself, just travel with me, vicariously, for a moment and bring your main characters along with you.

Before leaving for Korea, I spent time with a good friend of mine who happens to be a world re known businessman. As we spoke in a hotel lobby, a few people gathered around. Simultaneously, there were two businesspeople next to us who drew a large crowd of Americans. They were attracted to these gentleman because the men were famous. They listened to my friend for a moment, then returned their attention to the famous personality believing they would learn more from him. Little did they know, my friend, Nolan, was far more famous, more successful, more generous and knowledgeable in business than all of us combined.

Later, I asked Nolan why he had not mentioned his background (or his last name) when I introduced him. He responded, "...because I already know who I am."

The point of the story is that we in the west perceive value based on notoriety, material and commercial success. Although, individuals who rightfully exemplify those values are worthy of honor for their accomplishments, and although they have much to offer, it does not mean they are spiritually appointed to encourage each admirer toward his or her destination.

The nyo ze factors mentioned above are designed to put us in the company of the right people at the right time.

"They are looking to be sold," Nolan said. I did not understand his conveyance at the time, but I do today.

After visiting the far east, substantially, I began to grasp a part of universal wisdom which we rarely confront in the west. It is not about commerce. Our calling in life is not written on a brochure. Enlightment is not sold. Great fictional characters and great books emanate from the hearts and minds of passionate people, long before they become famous. The greatest works of the masters are often unseen, unread, unspoken. Some of John Lenon's greatest music was revealed after his death. The same will be manifested in Michael Jackson's music. The same is true among painters such as Rembrandt and Van Gogh. Their best work was done long before fame was realized. Tiger Woods best golf game took place during a causal match with friends, not at The Masters. As readers and writers, part of our call to destiny is to enjoy those diamonds in the rough, before the necessity of commerce destroys genius given to increased public appetite calling for prolific production, rather than quality art created in solitude free of commercial coercion.

So, consider the characters in your story. Are they more prone to follow the crowd, or, are they spiritually inclined to find themselves? That's a question we might put to our characters, and more importantly, to ourselves. At this point, our characters begin to grow and so does the writer.

One should be oneself, because others are already taken.

Buddhist believe in what is called "yo ze factors." Those are fundamentally, spiritual elements in the universe that affect karma. Among those factors are: influence, manifested reality, latent reality,

Friday, January 28, 2011

Creative Writing Success

I absolutely guarantee you will become a better writer, immediately after executing this half hour exercise.

Write a 5 to ten page dialog involving only two characters. Do not use dialogue tags (he said, she said, he replied, etc.)

Try to evoke character and conflict and plot using dialog only.
Avoid long analog expositions
Use context, not explanations.

Here is an example of an exercise I created. I will use it in an upcoming short story.

“Why are you looking at me that way?”
“You know more than you’re telling us, don’t you?”
“Like what for example?”
“You know who did it.”
“I don’t know anything. “
“Then tell us, why did you run?”
“You came down the alley driving like crazy. You didn’t have any sirens on. How was I supposed to know you were cops?”
“You could have jumped out of the way if you thought you were in danger, but you didn’t. We chased you damn near two miles on feet, all the while screaming, police stop. But you didn’t stop did you?”
“What do you want from me?”
“Names. Addresses.”
“Like I said, two guys were running from the building when I got there. I didn’t see their faces.”

“And you didn’t have a conversation with them?”
“No. I don’t usually stop armed men and make friends with them.”
“Then why would someone testify that you did?”
“Who said that?”
“Did you?”
“Did I what?”
“Did you talk to the killers?”
“Someone saw you talking to those men in front of the library, yesterday.”
“Yesterday? Yes, I …I talked with two strangers ….at the….library, yesterday.”
“Why did you deny it?”
“I didn’t deny anything. Are you trying to tell me those strangers are the same men who killed those people tonight?”
“Who said someone was killed?”
“I heard gunshots. People often die from that you know?”
“How many shots did you hear?”
“Five. Six or more. No more than ten.”
“But probably more than five?”
“I thought you said the men were fleeing the building when you arrived.”
“They were.”
“But you heard shots. How much time exhausted between the time you heard the shots and the time you saw the fleeing men?”
“Where were you when you heard the shots?”
“Just around the corner. About ten feet away.”
“And then you approached the building?”
“You put yourself in harms way after you heard the gunshots?”
“I work there.”
“So, because you work there you decided to walk in the directions where you heard the shots.”
“You weren’t afraid.”
“I guess not.”
“You weren’t afraid of the bad guys, but you ran from us…the cops? Do you own a gun?”
“Let me guess. A nine millimeter. Silverplated?”
“Where is it?”
“It was stolen.”
“Did you file a police report?”
“What are you getting at?”
“I’m getting at two men. Men you know and met with yesterday. Men who killed tonight.”
“You’re not gonna plant this one me. I don’t know anything about it. I was simply going to work when the killing started.”
“What time do you normally report to work?”
“Seven forty five.”
“Seven forty five sharp over the past three years isn’t that right?”
“But you were late today. Why?”
“I stopped for donuts.”
“Any reason why we would find a nine millimeter silver-plated pistol ten feet from where we stopped you?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Any reason why your fingerprints should be on it?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Donuts. Where?”
“Where What?”
“Where’d you stop for donuts?”
“Krispy Crème.”
“Which one?”
“The one on Peachtree and tenth.”
“Will anyone remember you?”
“I don’t know.”
“Do you often stop there?”
“Why stop by this morning?”
“I was hungry.”
“Those men, the suspects stopped by Krispy Crème this morning, also. The clerk said there was a third man. Know who that might be?”
“I wanna see my lawyer.”
“You’ll need one

. Stand up and turn around. Put your hands behind your back.”

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Creative Writing Critique for Thrillers/Suspense/Mystery

Perfect your writing skills by joining a crit group. I write thrillers/suspense and some mystery. I will crit the work of experienced thriller writers. I also recommend you do the same. This is an effective means of refining your writing skills. Acquire sound feedback and develop greater insight into your strengths and weaknesses by getting involved in a good writers crit group.

Although, my interest is in thriller/suspense, as you know, we can learn much from writers of any genre, romance, horror, YA, etc. I am personally concentrating on thriller/suspense because I have a novel written and nearly ready to publish.

Should you find an interesting group along those lines, please notify me at

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Top 20 MFA Programs in Creative Writing

There is not a federally sanctioned accredited body to actually rank creative writing programs in terms of an MFA program, especially in creative writing.

This ranking is based, in part, upon the reviews of published authors who have read books by authors from these universities coupled with the results of avid readers of fiction who were impressed to the extent that they surrendered rankings based on their readings. We then followed up by contacting those authors to arrive at the schools to which they attended and/or earned an MFA in creative writing.

We took into account that many world renown authors do not have an MFA, therefore, we asked them "Which school would you attend toward earning an MFA if you were just starting out?"
Rankings are strongly dependent on the success of the MFA students toward publishing and gaining national recognition for their novels. Again, many famous authors do not hold a degree in the arts. That's one reason their evaluations of schools is necessary.

We credit the following resources for their contributions: Poets & Writers Magazine,, acclaimed novelist and The Atlantic Magazine.

We dissected a preponderance of information to arrive at this list. Here they are in the order of their rankings.

(1)The University of Iowa - Iowa City
(2)The University of Michigan - Ann Arbor
(3)The University of Virginia - Charlottesville
(4)The University of Houston - Houston
(5)Boston University - Boston
(6)The University of Massachusetts - Amherst
(7)John Hopkins University - Baltimore, MD
(8)New York University - New York City
(9)The University of Texas - Austin
(10)The University of Wisconsin - Madison
(11)Cornell University - Ithaca, New York
(12)Brown University - Providence, RI
(13)Columbia University - New York, NY

(14)Indiana University - Bloomington
(15)Syracuse University - Syracuse, NY
(16)The University of Georgia - Athens
(17)The University of California - Irvine
(18)The University of Oregon - Eugene
(19)The University of North Carolina - Greensboro
(20)The University of Utah - Salt Lake City, Utah

Most Memorable Single Line in Opening Chapters

There are many strong lines in opening chapters. The thriller and horror genre, by nature requires shocking openings, however, there are some writers who simply have the knack for grasping the readers attention right away, without compromising style or flow of the story. The writers listed below are among them.

I dare say this is an exclusive list, but it is the best based on the books I've read to date. There is much yet to read. I will update this list to the best of my ability and rank in order as I discover more. If I have missed your book, forgive me, and please make suggestions as I will read it.

These rankings are obviously based upon my judgment, however, for whatever it is worth. I write and read thrillers, religiously.

Here's a line within the opening chapter of The Listener by Shira Nayman. It moves me for reasons I will not explain because I want you to discover it for yourself, otherwise, it's like attempting to explain the meaning of a particular painting, subject to interpretation.

The doctor is visiting an asylum where she treats patients. Patients are on the grounds working with hoes and rakes. I think it's clever that the author, Mrs. Nayman did not mention the doctor's name, but kept us in the story. Here it is:

...perhaps the smell of fresh dirt really is a primal palliative that makes a mockery of our talking cure.

The author followed up with tremendously suspenseful dialog. Check it out at

Creative Writing: How to unlock your imagination, develop your writing skills - and get published

Monday, January 17, 2011

Shira Nayman Speaks

Welcome Shira Nayman, Author of The Listener and Awake in the Dark. The Listener is a great read. Many of us have read it. To those who have not, I strongly suggest you pick up a copy. The Listener is in my personal library along with books by James Patterson, Stuart Woods, John Cannally, Lee Child, Sarah Paretsky, Karim Fossum and more. As you know, I absolutely love The Listener.

Here is a copy of the missive Shira sent me in response to our blog post entitled, Words Matter.

Writing Matters
Reading your latest blog posts….
What amazes me about Sarah Palin’s response to the shootings in Tucson, is her self-absorption, defensiveness, and utter lack of proportion. When six innocent people have lost their lives, and other lives hang in the balance, as a result of the shootings, to focus on her own grievances about the press, and to make reference to an accusation—“blood libel,” that invokes the deepest, most destructive kind of religious prejudice and persecution, and resulted for generations in countless murders and untold suffering—reveals a tremendous amount about the person doing the speaking: about her ignorance, selfishness and compromised character. You are very right that writing—words—matter; and as a sage philosopher of the twentieth century remarked, when listening to someone, one must always remember who it is who is doing the speaking. I suppose the point here is that we assess people who are in the public eye based on what they say and what they do. We know Sarah Palin through her actions and through her words—both of which reveal a comprehensive portrait of a person whose astonishing egotism is only overshadowed by a truly impressive ignorance.

When we fall in love with a speaker—or writer—we fall in love with a way of seeing, a point of view. I have often thought that being a writer is not so much an occupation (though it is also that) as a mode of being, a way of experiencing the world: not so much a skill set (though it of course involves skills) as a spiritual condition. The writers I admire and connect with appear, from early in life, to have an intuitive understanding that words matter; that what we say and how we say it has an impact on who we are, and on the world. Jean Paul Sartre cogently talked about how when we take on and espouse a belief, we are, in a sense, defining how we believe the world should be: we are declaring this is the idea or belief we would have all of mankind think or believe.

(Back to Palin—in this sense, when she put cross-hairs over those congressional districts, the implicit intention is that this is a vision she would have all people share; in declaring this image as representative of her and her views, she is propagating a vision of political discourse and response, she is setting forth her prescription for political rhetoric, which includes a call to citizen involvement—a declaration to supporters that this, too, is how you should think, this, too, is how you should act in relation to your fellow citizens. Of course, she could not “know” that a mentally unstable person might literalize her call; however, any savvy politician—and surely, she would consider herself savvy—knows that there are wayward elements in the population, extremists and the easily-influenced-unstable, which is why responsible politicians steer away from the potentially incendiary. In this sense, figures in power do indeed have a responsibility to speak and act with forethought, with knowledge, with awareness that their words and actions can have wide impact. An important aside here, is that as a doctor would be irresponsible, indeed, culpable, if she remained ignorant on matters that affect her patients—a heart surgeon, for example, not staying current with new developments in her field—so a politician who is ignorant regarding matters that deeply impact her job (such as having an awareness of basic geography, or of the meaning and deep resonances of hot-button historical flags such as “blood libel”) is not only irresponsible, but also to some extent culpable, given that this ignorance has consequences. The words and actions of any prominent political figure obviously have very-real potential impact on the public’s views and actions.)

When reading a novel, my internal sensors hone in immediately on what feels like the pulse-point of the writer’s soul; I sense, pretty quickly, if this author is on a hunt for some kind of truth—or more concerned with fancy-footwork and impressing. I suppose it’s not unlike when one meets someone new and immediately finds one’s intuitive faculties sniffing things out. Who is this person? What kind of a journey is he embarked upon? What kinds of moral stances does she take in life? How does she treat people? How does he understand the world and his place in it? We may not go too far down that road in every chance encounter, but for me, those kinds of questions always hover beneath the surface, certainly an any encounter that is prolonged; it is based on such delicate judgments that we decide if we are going to take this person into our lives.

When I pick up a novel, I find those same kinds of fibrillating assessments coming into play; and when I fall for a writer, I fall hook, line and sinker. When I tell my husband that I’m taking a new, already beloved book to bed, I mean this in the deepest sense; I am in some way making this author my lover, if to be one’s lover means to commune in the most profound way, spirit touching spirit, all the way.

After finishing Joseph Roth’s two masterpieces—The Radetzky March and Job—I came across another of his books in which there was a photograph of the author, circa late 1930’s, sitting on a suitcase at a train station in Germany, a notebook in his hands. Staring into the grainy, black and white snapshot, I found the tears welling—and cried for an hour or more, I couldn’t stop. Here was this man, with whom I had just had a passionate affair of the spirit; here was his gentle, troubled, fiercely intelligent face, the light of a pure and troubled soul pouring across the decades right into my own, the force of his honor and courage in what was a pained, lifetime search for truth so powerful it knocked the breath from me. My husband came into the bedroom to find me sobbing; years ago, he might have found cause for concern. This time, he only shook his head kindly and patted my hand. “Joseph Roth,” is all he said. I nodded, miserable and inspired, shattered with the pain and joy and troubled, ecstatic journeying which is the work—the life, the soul—of Joseph Roth, comforted to be joined in this strange, enlivening, darkened cave and to have my husband beside me, looking at the flickering, shadowy images being projected onto the wall.

Look forward to further writing insights from this wonderful author.


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Writing, A Most Honorable Art

Here is a poem I wrote sunday morning. It is a poem about us....about all writers gifted with an insatiable need to write, a master class if you will. Because we are so spiritually masohistic, I believe we deserve an occassional inspiration that reflects upon the nobility of our profession.

(c)copyright 2011 Hamdani

Wisdom of the Pen

We are quiet blessed you know,
an enigma manifested by the words we throw,
an intangible skill, clothed by precepts of magic.
By stroke of pen worlds are changed,
thoughts transformed and convictions,
thwarted and so compelled to travel vicariously
to places a land of open minds.

Oh, how we discover the province of freedom!
Roads yet unmapped. Once closed minds
now filled with doors without knobs,
windows without locks, illustrated by faces without color
...a cleansed soul that knows not hate.

In the beginning, God created us in his likeness and in his kind,
Aha! By stroke of meaning undefined...we create worlds without war,
giving birth to disincentives to conflict by reflection
and we find that all is settled in time.

Oh, Mighty pen, most distinguished warrior!
How wise you are to enter stubborn hearts and minds,
a valiant sword transforming beastly ideas
from muddy waters to wine.

Sanity and peace emerge from your tracks-
footprints that should have been conveyed by soldiers;
victories acknowledged by ink...a spiritual technology
thus soldiers blood made obsolete
and individuals, families, cities and nations made free,
one-by-one by stroke of your intangible genius.

Oh, fellow writers, how we meditate gracefully
in supplication to the voice of reason
as the breath of God most high forms the next season
with the clay of words otherwise forgotten,
made immortal by a message betrothed to history.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Creative Writing, The Color of Difference

Discover the hidden treasure in our differences by interrogating your characters. Show no mercy when doing so. Probe, diligently to discover your characters sense of prejudice. How does s/he judge differences?

Focus on the positive aspects of "difference." Where there is difference, there is opportunity. Differences in people creates interest. Let's take a look at the difference in individual traits, culture, sexual preference, race and language to name a few. In each case, our minds are opened to different perspectives, therefore, we grow. In the heart of our differences lies the key to strength, better communications and an overall superior cognitive intelligence. Obviously, difference is relative. For example, I am American and I'm sure most people from other countries will consider I have an accent. Obviously, accents are relative. By understanding the words I pronounce boldy and by observing words Americans do not pronounce with a strong "accent," non english speaking people develop an insight into how english is properly spoken. By paying close attention to a foreign accent, the foreign language in question becomes easier to learn. This happens through the process of assimilation. The mind naturally, gravitates to difference in that it will grasp difference unequivocally.

It is what we have learned (our beliefs) that determines whether "difference" is good or bad. The mind does not distinguish positive from negative.

Because we Americans make up a diverse society, we have come to appreciate the strengths and spiritual values of difference. I consider us a microcosm of the human universe with all of its pecularities. When focusing upon what makes a character tick, we see common human motivations at play. As we look across a disparity of nations, we see that there is no difference in the human make-up, psychologically, physiologically, spiritually or emotionally.

Human prejudice is the gross result of the judgement of differences. Principally, sound and sight triggers deceptions pre-embedded in what we have been taught. We hold strongly to the traditions of what we have been taught because we believe that traditions define us. I challenge you to reconsider. It is by tradition that the better person remains undefined.

Okay, now let's take a look inside the mind of our characters with the above understanding in mind. Let's cast a blanket statement and then begin to make it more narrow, develop more perspective and allow our character's to grow. People grow by having held onto beliefs that were eventually proven untrue. which of your beliefs have changed over time?

We grow when our experience (reality) contradicts convention. We become better people when tradition is challenged by change. If this subject frightens you, you should look in the mirror and ask, " What am I afraid of?"

The measure of a persons ignorance is in direct proportion to the gravitational pull of tradition that does not pan out in reality. Let's view this thought in light of controversy. That should wake us up. Let's take interacial marriage, for example. I bet you have a few thoughts there, don't you? Ok. sure you don't. I believe you. It's okay, you can put the mirror away, if you don't like what you see.

Let's try another angle, here. How about same sex marriage? It doesn't bother you, does it? Good. A good question might be, " Why does that bother anyone? "

Ok, since you're fine and spiritually unencumbered by ignorance, let's move on. How about religion? Touchy, isn't it. Yet, God calls all of us his children. If we know that then why are we afraid?

God saw the intrinsic value in difference. Maybe, that's why he made Cardinals (red birds) and bluejays (blue birds) and a great variety of birds indigent to particular areas. If we saw a flock of blue jays fighting with a flock of red birds, we would consider this a freak act of nature, wouldn't we? Of course, because we are a more intelligent species, aren't we? Yet, we war and raise hell based on our differences. Have we not learned anything after so many years on this planet? We have unwritten laws with invisible guards standing at the door in the hallway that separates people. We say we are free, yet we remain at war. We say that we believe in a loving God, yet we hate. And the religious people? God help us. No institution known to man is more segregated than the Christian church. Difference should enlighten us. An intelligent perspective of difference should (at worse) unite. At best, it separates an actualized individual from a puppet.

How does your character respond to such controversy? Hmmm.....who is she, really?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Psychology of Sex, God's Greatest Invention

The Question of God: C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud Debate God, Love, Sex, and the Meaning of LifeSex As God Intended

The first known act among people on earth involved sex. Irrespective of ones religion, the annals of history, the genesis of mankind and one of the most potent sources of inspiration If I could give God almighty a gold medal, I would. It would be engraved: In honor of the World's Greatest Invention. If i could email him, let's say, at, I would and with tremendous gratitude.

No, i'm not carrying on about anything that may have happened last night. I am simply inspired by some of the great authors I've read lately, many of whom are relatively unknown, but their work is second to none. Among those writings I've found a most fascinating common denominator. It exist somewhere between romance and exotica. This is not going to be a sexually inflamed post, so hold onto your pants.

It is the compilation of scenes leading to romance that intrigues me most. The intellectual foreplay between characters who are not yet intimate can be promising. Even if nothing develops between them, the idea of what might happen creates romantic suspense. On the light side, author, Kathy Herman hinted at it in her novel, "Never Look Back" (Multnomah Books 2007). Her characters, Ivy & Rue pulled it off with classic appeal.

It's not the simple act of sex that makes a character exciting, but rather, the energy and passion we readers sense in the interaction of personalities involved. It represents a most profound representation of the old cliche, "anticipation is greater than realization." Rarely, is the physical manifestation greater than passion, an ongoing intimacy that far outlives the act.

I am not a clinical psychiatrist or therapist, however, my undergraduate degree in the field does allow a layman's insight adequate to build realistic scenes and plausible characterization with the help of practicing professionals. The end result is a scene that actually jumps off the paper. The use of passion helps us to arrive at authentic cliff hangers at the end of a chapter or scene.

Allow us to sneak inside your characters mind. What is her sexual fantasy? Let's hear from a pro. "Sexual fantasizing is a natural human phenomenon similar to dreaming," says Wendy Maltz, M.S.W. and co-author with Suzie Boss of the newly released book, Private Thoughts: Exploring Women's Sexual Fantasies.

Readers like to go behind the scene and discover what the character is not willing to otherwise reveal. I suggest we writers encroach more upon the characters privacy. What does she think is right or wrong about sex, for example. What were her past sexual disappointments like and which did she enjoy most? Take us there with your writing and we will not put your book down.

Character Definition

We can better demonstrate the psychology of our fictional character by exaggerating his emotional attitude toward sex. Maybe, he is so wrapped up in the idea of making money that he neglects his wife, sexually. Maybe, she has made her career a priority and waits too late to start a family, in her opinion. Maybe, she believes their is a value in suffering, or maybe she is practicing the moral extreme. Explore it. In the words of Pamela Madsen, Fertility/Sex educator, blogger, author of Shameless and founder of The American Fertility Association, "suffering is highly overrated and unnecessary."

Does your character suffer from this self imposed prison?

Sexual Motivation

Explore what motivates her, sexually. You might start by asking that question of yourself. I understand that you are not your fictional character, but you are human and therefore share, at least, some of the same motivations. Take myself for example, I am strongly attracted to intelligent women who are spiritually balanced. Such stimulus is the beginning of a demonstration of passion toward such a person. I might project this source of stimulus upon a fictional character by having his or her partner naturally exhibit intelligent interpretations of simple ideas.

For example, a lady to whom I am attracted, is intellectually inspiring, spiritually reflective and has an aura of quiet sophistication. A nude woman could not move me more. Below is part of a genuine conversation i had with this person, leading to something quiet special. I hope it helps you toward building more romance, passion and sexual intimacy among your characters. Again, i believe God's creativity toward creating people and then sex is a viable path toward understanding who we really are.

She is a native Spanish speaker and my first language is English. We are discussing language but our mutual interest far exceeds the veneer of our dialog.

Here it is:

Me: Pronunciation in Spanish is quiet challenging. It has been an eye opening experience.
Her: How?
Me: Because I have not only learned the language, but it has given me insight into the culture
in terms of how others feel, think and process information.
Her: Interesting. Tell me more, Barry.

Me: I am learning from the mistakes of native Spanish speakers who are learning English. I
think we learn more from our mistakes and failures than from success. The teachings of
success are limited and not always transferable.

Her: I agree...non-transferable due to a wide disparity of human ingenuity, background,
aptitude, etc.

Me: ...the way nouns proceed adjectives in Spanish and (Le, Te, etc.) is quiet formal.

{at this point I began to address her with articles and words that are informal, such
as "tu" for you, rather than "usted."}

She: Is that part of your attraction?
Me: Yes, there's a certain stimulus involved there, isn't it.
She: Yes, it is elliptic in nature.
Me: Elliptic in that in can be inseparable of the person...the source of an attraction.
She: Tell me more.
Me: I think you know.
She: But, I don't guess.
Me: Ok. So i am very much attracted to you.
She: You're making my day.
Me: There are many things different about you that I find fascinating. Do you know what they
She: Tell me.
Me: Part of it permeates from your culutre. For example, of the (hacerse, ponerse, volverse a
convertise) many ways of expressing change and adaptation, you are more inclined towards
the spiritual, the unwritten, the unspoken genuine communication. And I talk too much, some

She: But I'm not complaining.
Me: I hope you realize where this is going. But, you're not a guesser, so I'll tell you.
By the way, I'm often wrong about practical things but equally right about the spiritual,
sensory based stuff.....the abstract....the genuine.

She: So, tell me.
Me: If i could turn back the hands of time, I would place more value, principally, upon
intellectual impetus
She: Really
Me: Energy
She: Wooowww. That's great.
Me: Inspiration....
She: Thank you
Me: Reflection
She: So, am I to understand you've turned back the hands of time and embraced those values?
Actually, Barry, you have long ago done so. That's who you are.

Me: I guess so. That's what I value above all.
Above money.
Above beauty.
Above all. (all of which describes you, of course)

Romance builds. The best that sex has to offer is often implied.

Color Your Writing with Controversy

" You know what piss me off about white people?," Jane Doe asked.

How about that for an opening line? Make it controversial and color your writing with interest.

Maybe, Jane Doe was Latino and lived in a small southern American town. Maybe, there was a small concentration of Latinos there. Perhaps, a crime took place. The townspeople were disturbed. The sheriff could not find the culprit and the people needed a scapegoat. They blamed her brother, Jose Doe. I know it is an old plot, but it is real. Real people with real blood running through their veins experience such injustice everyday, worldwide. Allow them to "happen" on paper.

Get in touch with broken characters. Talk to people you meet and look for it. Who knows, you may be the turning point toward their healing. I'm not suggesting you "fix" people, however, I am suggesting you observe "brokeness." Most of us are or have been broken somewhere throughout life. Have you ever had a broken heart? I'm willing to bet you were not the most pleasant person to associate with at the time, were you? Okay, take that thought and exaggerate. This will help towards character development.

Okay, get busy. Write.