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“You enter the extraordinary by way of the ordinary.” ~Frederick Buechner

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


If memory holds our emotional reservoir, both personal and public, what happens if it is erased? There are many real situations that cause partial or permanent amnesia: trauma—emotional or physical, stroke, surgical procedures, and aging. Do we become a different person? Can one lost memory impact all who we are in our character? Why do we struggle so hard to hold on to them even when difficult or painful?

Then as writers we can add in all the fantastical and sci-fi versions too. Think of Farscape with Scorpius chasing astronaut John Crichton across the universe to extract wormhole technology from his mind.

One of the story threads for Season Five of Doctor Who is his realization of a crack in the universe. The Doctor began to recognize that if it reached a person they would no longer exist, as if they’d never been born. He tried to convince a young woman to hold onto the memories. If she could keep hold of them then the missing person would still exist in her heart.

Journal Prompt:

If you knew that a special memory would be erased forever, what would you do to hold onto it? Write a scene where your character discovers what you have done and reacts to it.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Within the same day work, worship, chores, commitments, family, friends, all have the potential to bring a blessing or brokenness. But we keep moving at such super speeds that we forget our emotions, our hearts, and our wills need time to catch up.

We must pause to map out the internal territory and make adjustments, before we derail. Or head in the wrong direction because of miscommunication and misunderstanding. It can require a quiet listening that goes far inward. And where do we find the time for that level of reflection?

In the painting Automat by Hopper, the woman is alone, both physically and emotionally. Invisible questions flutter in the still moment. Did she choose this moment of isolation, or has it been forced upon her?

Often we resist isolation because the silence can overwhelm us with a passionate barrage. Or we prepare one deliberately, because we know that the next step we take, the next word we speak to ourselves, or another, will result in life-changing relationships. Sometimes the solitude is painful. Sometimes it leads to a restored peace. But before we can take the first step we need to read the map.

Journal Prompt:

For yourself, or for a character, choose a heartfelt incident experienced within the past week and sift through all the feelings. Does acknowledging them allow resolution, or is a follow-up conversation required to confirm a decision?

For a character, expand into both a positive resolution and a negative one.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


“What is art but a way of seeing” –Thomas Berger

Poets use metaphors to present life in a new perspective. Painters and photographers capture fleeting moments. Their images connect us through time. And our curiosity flares when a particular portrait or landscape causes us to pause, to focus.

Sometimes we are caught by the effect and study the craft. Sometimes we are caught by the mood and wonder at the story behind it. Automat by Hopper provides that moment in time to see.

An attractive woman sits alone in a diner, late at night, holding a coffee cup. The room is well lit where she sits, but outside the window only darkness. Has she missed her train? Is she waiting for an arrival? Did someone she loves leave, and she can’t bring herself to go home?

Next to her is a bowl of colorful fruit. She wears a green coat, edged with black fur at neck and wrists, and a yellow hat with a broad rim encircling her head. The table is round, white-topped, also edged in black. Black chairs. A yellow heater. Black doors with a yellow bar.

She is alone. Her isolation frozen in stillness.

If you were to capture this image as a word metaphor, what would you say?

Journal Prompt:

Write up a paragraph of internal monologue as she convinces herself to leave the diner, OR a paragraph that begins with her standing up—what happens next?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


What makes the Titanic so noteworthy among so many sunken vessels?

Mystery feeds our curiosity and our desire for knowledge. Whether the mystery is a crime, or a search for science, or to understand a new language, it sparks an interest. We become motivated to listen, to study, and to invest ourselves in the outcome.

Mystery with mythic impact pulls us into both story and illumination. Characters and readers dig deeper to discover truth.

In the novel Elidor, Alan Gardner uses disbelief to bridge, first, the children’s entrance into the land, and then, Elidor’s entrance into their own world. The characters repeatedly insist these things can’t be happening, that there must be an explanation, or it was a dream. With each major transition in the story the disbelief, the impossible, is emphasized. Dealing with the impossible heightens the action, as well as the mystery.

Roland, the youngest, alone continues to insist on examining the odd occurrences and trying to find a solution. Over and over the children try to ignore, forget, disbelieve the strange circumstances surrounding them, but with each impossible occurrence they are forced back into their relationship with Elidor.

At the end, what cannot be explained or necessarily believed is real.

And sometimes the questions raised still simmer, as in the Titanic. Questions continue to keep its tragedy of interest a century later.

Journal Prompt:

Write your own possible reasons for questions surrounding the pendant. 1) What reason did her fiancée really have for purchasing it? 2) Why did Rose keep it hidden all those years? 3) Why did she throw it into the ocean, and not give it to her granddaughter or a museum? Write your ideas from a character perspective, and a plot perspective.

"The Seeker" Rachel Marks | Content Copyright Marcy Weydemuller | Site by Eagle Designs
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