Turning Current Events Into Crime Stories

I like to choose current events to write about, sometimes developing them into crime stories.  Some of the ones that I have written about in the past can still be used today are:

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1)  concealed weapon laws

2)  road construction

3)  road rage

4) the cost of allergy drugs, and their effectiveness

5)  the rising cost of health insurance and its cause

6)  how one’s credit report can be marred and/or fixed

7)  child neglect

8)  new diseases

9)  popular diets

10) life as an American

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Is It Important to Be Concise?

 

Yes, vigorous writing is concise.  Paragraphs should have no unnecessary sentences, and sentences should have no unnecessary words.  Although you want to be concise, you want your writing to come to life, and the reader to feel he has actually stepped into the writing.  A few colorful phrases here and there are enough to bring a piece of writing to life.  Some check points to make writing more concise are

1)  Check your lead.

2)  Can you condense the first couple paragraphs into one or two sentences?

3)  Are you using too much unimportant detail?

4)  Are you over-explaining?

5)  Are you sermonizing?

6)  Avoid clichés.

7)  Are any sentences 25 words or longer?  Shorten them.  (A nice sentence length is 17 words).  Try to vary sentences–one long, one short.

8)  Use a one-sentence paragraph here and there.

9)  Use concrete details to show a character in action.

10)  Eliminate the word “that” if a sentence makes sense without it.

11)  Use contractions.

12)  Put yourself on a word budget.  Don’t use 20 words if five will do.

 

 

 

 

Producing Ideas Through Questions

Do you have writer’s block? Here is a list of 15 questions that may help your produce more ideas.  Write a paragraph or two for each question.

1)  What is your background?  (family, ethnic, religious, geographic).

2)  What have you done that is unique?

3)  Where have you been that’s interesting?

4)  Whom have you learned things from?  (as a child, as an adult).  

5)  Whom do you know?  (people around you, celebrities)

6)  Have you overcome a problem that faces a large number of people?

7)  From experience, do you know how to do something better, cheaper, or easier than anyone else?

8)  What’s wrong with your life?

9)  What do you want most in life?

10)  What are some of the important times of your life?

11)  What interests you?

12)  Have you had an adventure so unique, exciting or humorous that people will be interested in hearing about it from beginning to end?

13)  How do you overcome boredom?  Depression?  Frustration?  Sadness?

14)  When did you first fall in love and why?

15)  What is your favorite holiday and what does it mean to you?

Writing a Process

A process is most popularly a “how-to” piece, a set of step-by-step instructions of how to make something, or do a task.  It includes steps and actions that end in a desirable result if followed correctly.  Therefore, it is important not to miss any steps.  The explanation needs to be complete and accurate, and be in chronological order.  Sometimes steps can be grouped (such as in baking a cake, the groups would be the cake and then the icing).  A good writer also defines terms that could be unfamiliar to the reader, anticipates any difficulties, and tells the reader what to do if something goes wrong.

Hands writingSome possible topics are:  a recipe for a favorite food, how to change a tire, how to assemble something, how to be a working mother, how to give a party, how to clean the house.

Comparison and Contrast:

Comparison and Contrast shows both similarities and differences.  The writer needs to be fair with comparison-contrasts, and must follow a pattern of organization (either by point or by subject).

Possible topics are:  any past versus present topic (cars, relationships, attitudes), what something was thought to be like and then what it was actually like (college, relationship, marriage, vacation), two competing products (or places, eating establishments, dogs, methods of doing something), two contrasting people (by profession), two contrasting emotions (terror and fear, infatuation and love).

Writing a Narrative

To narrate means to tell a story or to give an account of.  A narrative takes many forms:  a novel, short story, biography, or even autobiography.  When you write a narrative, you should try to re-create a story or experience in a way that the readers can imaginatively participate in it or relate to it.

When writing a narrative it is important to use specific details, to limit the subject, and of course, to write the narrative in some logical order.

Some possible topics to write on are personal experiences that stand out in the writer’s mind as being significant, and firsts (first date, first day at college, first job).

Where and how to get ideas is important for a writer’s success, because without new and interesting ideas, it’s difficult to spark a reader’s interest.

A special job, a unique personal experience you’ve had, special interests, hobbies or places you’ve been, are all good sources for ideas.

Ask yourself these questions to see if you have anything in your life that is of particular interest.

1)  What is your background?  (Family, ethnic, religious, geographic)

2)  What have you done that is unique?

3)  Where have you been that’s interesting?

4)  Whom have you learned things from?  (As a child, as an adult)

5)  Whom do you know?  (People around you, celebrities)

6)  Have you overcome a problem that faces a large number of people?

7)  From experience, do you know how to do something better, cheaper, or easier than anyone else?

8)  What’s wrong with your life?

9)  What do you want most in life?

10)  What are some of the important times of your life?

11)  What interests you?

12)  Have you had an adventure so unique, exciting or humorous that people will be interested in hearing about it from beginning to end?

13)  How do you overcome boredom?  Depression?  Frustration?  Sadness?

14)  When did you first fall in love and why?

15)  What is your favorite holiday and what does it mean to you?

Character Sketch

The Character Sketch exercise is a great way to focus on a character (real or fictional, or a combination of both).  Answer the following questions about your character.  If you don’t have a character in mind, make up the answers and you will find you have developed one.

1)         What is the sex of your character?

2)         What is the age of your character?

3)         How tall is your character?

4)         Is your character skinny, trim, or heavy?  

5)         What is the character wearing?  What is the style of his/her clothes?  Are they clean?  Or dirty?  Torn?  Patched?

6)         Look at the character’s shoes.  What kind are they?  Tennis shoes?  Boots?  Heels?  Are they new?  Well worn?  Polished?

7)         Look at the character’s hands?  Are they baby soft?  Work worn?  Dirty?  Well-manicured?

8)         Is the character wearing a ring?  What kind of ring is it?

9)         Is the character wearing a watch?  On which wrist?

10)       Is the character wearing other jewelry?  A bracelet?  A neckchain?  Beads?  Earrings?

11)       What is the character’s hairstyle like?

12)       What is the character’s hair color?

13)       What color eyes does the character have?

14)       What is the expression in the character’s eyes?  Is it sad?  Is it happy?  Do you see pain?

15)       Look at the character’s nose.  Is it big?  Small?  Crooked?

16)       And the character’s ears.  Are they big?  Small?  Do they stick out?

17)       Now look at the character’s mouth.  Is there a smile?  A frown?  Can you see the character’s teeth?  Is there anything about his/her teeth that is noticeable?

18)       What is the character’s favorite saying?

19)       What is the character’s favorite thing to do?

20)       What is this person doing now?

Write About Your Dreams

Did you have a great dream last night that has been weighing on your mind?  Do you think to yourself:  what a story!  Well, it just may be that.

Your dreams can be an excellent source for creative ideas, particularly for fiction stories.  You can sometimes make yourself have dreams by changing sleeping place, as it can cause dreams to happen more spontaneously.  Also, sleeping longer than usual can cause dreams to occur, as most dreams occur in the lighter stages of sleep before awakening.

I get some of my ideas for fiction stories from dreams, many that have been published.

I have also written, and have published, a couple children’s stories which were based on re-occurring nightmares I had as a child, one in which  I dreamt I fell in a manhole, and it was the same underneath as it was above, except that different people lived in my friends’ houses, which confused me, and I fought over a ladder with a woman I believed was a witch.

If you have a difficult time remembering dreams before you have a chance to write about them, make some notes as soon as you wake up.  Also, keeping a notepad by your bedside is a good idea.

Basic Writing Exercises

If you have writer’s block, here are a couple basic writing exercises to help you jumpstart your writing.  I have used these; once you use them the words will start flowing. 

First Exercise:  Choose a chair in the room to write about.  Use your imagination and write about anything connected with the chair.  For example:  how it got there, the chair as an antique, or the chair as a childhood favorite.  Write a paragraph of at least five sentences; giving yourself 15 minutes to complete it.

Second Exercise:  Write a paragraph describing “where you’d like to live happily ever after.”  For example:  someplace where the weather is nice, a favorite vacation spot, at home, or even in outer space.  Read it aloud or to someone.

Blair London Short Story

Have you always wanted to help an author come up with a story? Now is your chance! Grab your cup of coffee, turn your phone over or on do not disturb and get to work!

Help Blair develop a short story by writing your own continuation. Participants are expected to further the story based on the latest contributor’s content. Please keep in mind the following rules:

  • Submissions cannot contain excessive curse words, sexual content or other inappropriate actions.
  • Submissions should be 100 words or less.
  • Submissions should be a continuation of the story. Do not stray too far from the current storyline.

*All submissions will be reviewed prior to being published as part of the story.

SHORT STORY images

Melissa was in another one of those moods, and not knowing what to do or where to go, she went into the local coffee shoppe she was passing, thinking that a latte sounded good.  As she was sipping her coffee drink, her cellphone rang.  She looked at it; her anger rising as she saw who was calling.  She flipped it over in an attempt to ignore it, while those around her began to look her way.  Feeling uncomfortable, she quickly gathered her belongings and stormed out of the shoppe.