Musings from the Desk

Probably the question writers get asked the most is, "How did you get to be so beautiful?" No, actually that one is topped ever so slightly by, "Where do you get your ideas?" But I think fiction writers spend more time thinking about structure than they do plot. Even more than they spend thinking about fashion, hair styles, makeup, makeovers, or which Olsen twin they would like to look like most.

I have plenty of ideas - ideas are everywhere. I can read something or overhear (okay, eavesdrop on) something and a scene, or a character starts to form in my heavily caffeinated brain. Plot is not my problem. (Good plots...well, that's a whole different discussion.)

But structure! Structure is something my brain spins round and round like a Rubik's cube. At the moment I am getting back to work on novel #2 (still nameless the poor thing) and I seem to be spending all my time thinking about structure. I have long discussions with myself about what is the best way to tell this story. Who is telling it? Is it happening now? Or did it happen long ago? Do I tell it in order? Or would it be more suspenseful for the reader to tell it out of order? Finding the right structure is a little like finding the right box to wrap a gift in.

There are so many, many ways to tell any story. It's finding the best way to tell it that separates a good story from a great story.

(By the way, if anyone knows of a good or interesting book for writers on structure, please tell me about it. I am seriously obsessing right now. I get like that. And if you have any beauty tips you'd like to share, hey, leave a comment about that too.)

Random Writing Exercise # 19

Hemingway once wrote a short story in just six words. Here it is:

"For sale: baby shoes, never worn."

Can you tell a story in six words? If your brain freezes up at the thought of that - can you describe your day in six words? Can you write your memoir in six words? Can you describe yourself in just six words (make me proud - only use positive words!).

If this becomes addictive to you, or you want some inspiration check out Smith magazine where they took Hemingway's idea and ran with it. It's a cool website. They also have a couple of amazing anthologies of six word stories.

Week 69

Clarissa leaned closer to the stranger and asked him to repeat what he had said.


It's a glamorous life I lead! Today I am being interviewed on The Book Chick blog. Check it out here.

Thanks Jonita! I had a great time on The Book Chick blog!

Book Review

There is a review of my novel, The Last River Child over at the The Book Chick blog. Check it out here.

Description Exercise

I love it when a writer can bring a character to vivid, over-the-top, technicolor life in just a few sentences. Check out this example from Canadian writer, Guy Vanderhaeghe's "The Watcher".

"Easily six feet tall, she carried a hundred and eighty pounds on her generous frame without prompting speculation as to what she had against girdles. She could touch the floor effortlessly with the flat of her palms and pack an eighty pound sack of chicken feed on her shoulder. She dyed her hair auburn in defiance of local mores, and never went to town to play bridge, whist or canasta without wearing a hat and getting dressed to the teeth. Grandma loved card games of all varieties and considered anyone who didn't a mental defective."

Brilliant, eh?

Too often description of characters are limited to just physical characteristics, especially when the characters are first introduced. For this exercise I would like to you to think about how you usually describe a character and try something new. Something bolder. Strive to write a description as original and interesting as your character, just as Vanderhaeghe has done. He could have simply told us Grandma was big strong woman with red hair that liked to play cards, but what a loss to literature that would have been.

Try describing:

- a neighbour
- your grade seven teacher
- a cashier from the supermarket
- your favourite uncle

Week 68

Henrietta stood nervously on the railway platform watching the passengers disembark.

The Chance the Say Hi

There is a new exercise - a Valentine's Day themed exercise even, but you have to scroll down a bit for it. See it? It is Random Exercise # 18. For some mysterious and frustrating blogger-logic reason it is down there beneath Wednesday's first line post. I couldn't figure out how to get it up here where it belongs, then finally decided it was just easier to create a new post to tell you about it. Which also gives me the chance to say hi - hope everything is beautiful in your world at the moment. I am working like mad on a grant application. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Week 67

Dolores could not remember ever feeling so tired.

Random Writing Exercise # 18

In honour of Valentine's Day lets write a love letter. But not a usual love letter. I want you to write the love letter you would most like to receive. Who would it be from? What would it say that made your heart catch, your soul soar?

(Happy Valentine's Day everyone. I admit I do not like the commercialization of, well anything, really - but a day devoted to love can't be a bad thing. As long as you stay focused on the love and not the heart-shaped box of crappy chocolates. Now go spread some love.)


"We can do anything we want to if we stick to it long enough."

~ Helen Keller

Posing as a Famous Writer is Easier Than You Think

I am on vacation. Just a short one - a long weekend in Ottawa, the capital of Canada. This morning, after a coffee at Bridgehead (a truly great coffee shop, by the way) and before skating on the Rideau Canal (the purpose of my visit) I stopped in at Chapters, one of the large chain bookstores here in Canada. I found the fiction section and saw they had three copies of my novel, The Last River Child on the shelf. Since I was feeling confident this morning I approached a salesperson, introduced myself and offered to autograph the copies. I don't do this as often as I probably should. Mostly because I don't usually feel confident enough to. But every time I do manage to work up the nerve the exact same thing happens, and I am always amazed.

Take this morning for instance: the sales woman was thrilled to meet me, she introduced me to a few of her coworkers, found me a nice pen to sign with and put a few of those fancy stickers that say "signed by the author" on the cover of my book. Did you spot it? The thing that always amazes me? No one has asked me yet to prove that I am Lori Ann Bloomfield. They just take my word for it that I am the author.

This amazes me. Truly. It makes me want to pretend to be all sorts of people and do all sorts of things. I mean, how much could a person get away with? If they had the nerve. Which I don't. But I enjoy dreaming about it.

Random Writing Exercise # 17

This is an exercise about love. About passion. I want you to take a walk and observe the people you pass. When you find an old person who looks interesting to you (it can be a man or a woman) study them for a moment. Who was their greatest love? Who touched their heart like no other? Were they loved in return? Or was it unrequited? Did they spend their life with this person? Or was it a brief love affair? Write it down.

Week 66

I had been following the man with the tartan umbrella for nearly an hour when he surprised me by entering a lingerie store.