Monthly Archives: March 2013

Lesson 43 of Writing Do’s and Don’ts

Lesson 43

Remember, the key to a great story is a character who wants something and has impediments along the way. This combines plot with character development.





We’ve said this is a rule than can be broken, but don’t tell too much. Let the reader discover what the truth is. Use a combination to make your story work.

Here’s an example:

TELLING: When I was ten, my mother had a nervous breakdown. She didn’t come out of her bedroom for three months. She became overwrought by the slightest thing.  It was a difficult time.

SHOWING AND TELLING: When I was ten, my mother had a nervous breakdown. She didn’t come out of her bedroom for three months.

“Come in,” she said one day, seeing me lingering at her doorway.

“How are you today, Mother?” My tone was hesitant as I walked into the room.

She mumbled something so I walked closer and sat on the edge of her bed.

“What are you doing?” she screamed.

I jumped up.

“What are you doing?” It was more of a shriek this time. It brought my dad running.

“What’s the matter? What happened?” he asked.

“She sat on my bed.” My mother pointed an accusatory finger at me.

By then I was cowering by the Chinese lacquered chest of drawers.

“Go downstairs, honey,” my father said to me. He looked so distressed I began to shake.

“You have to change the sheets,” my mother said. “You have to change the sheets.” Her chant followed my down the stairs.

DO: Tell to get important information in the story without stopping the narrative line.

DON’T: Tell too much. Stop and show what is happening. Let the reader be there, on the scene.

Show what is happening between the son and his mother.

Show what is happening between the son and his mother.

Writing Aerobic: Far from the main street…


Peter needs a kidney transplant. He’s 10 on the list, but his kidneys are failing fast.

Maddie needs to get a college scholarship. She’s the child of a single mother. Her interview is in a week, but she doesn’t know how she can get there.

Sheila needs to get her husband to the emergency room. They’d been at the mall when he started  feeling ill. They are in the car and he’s passed out.

Seeing Daylight, Saving ?




Last night I wrote on my Facebook page; “I’m not ready for daylight savings time. It’s too early in March. The thought is adding to my depression. Leave nature alone.”
Now, it’s 5:16, the next afternoon and I have time to write this and then go outside to sit and read for an hour. Hey, I’m liking this daylight savings change.
Speaking of change, a couple of hours ago I told my husband I needed to change the clocks. He said, “Why? Just leave them like they are and you won’t have to change them back again.”

What’s scary is that for an hour, I thought this made sense. Then I wished I was a quick thinker and had said to him, “Seriously? We don’t change back for 8 months. I know time flies when you’re older, but that’s a huge chunk of a year, not chump change.”

As usual, my curiosity sent me to Wikipedia to learn more about daylight time. I learned: The modern idea of daylight saving was first proposed in 1895 by George Vernon Hudson [] and it was first implemented during the First World War. Many countries have used it at various times since then. Although most of the United States used DST throughout the 1950s and 1960s, DST use expanded following the 1970s energy crisis and has generally remained in use in North America and Europe since that time.

So, that’s the facts. But what I really was reacting to last night was the feeling—the feeling that time is going too fast. I wanted to put the brakes on. I really wanted to put time in a savings account. Like I could.



Medicare Mamba, Moving On Down

Last weekend, my husband and I drove up to L.A. to visit with two of his kindergarten classmates. Here’s a photo of him with his arms around two of his John Muir Elementary School buddies, Cheron and Jane.


People have been amazed when I say that’s what we did last weekend—I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because the kinders are now elders, and still kicking? Maybe it’s because it seems incredible that people can stay in touch after so many years? The group actually reconnected during their 50th Reunion They created an e-mail group, which is in constant use so they’re in constant contact. A group of us (spouses, no matter what age, have become honorary members as you can also see in the photo) got together last summer and the summer before in Seattle. Jane lives in England a good deal of the time so she couldn’t be there. It was great that we could have dinner while she was in Los Angeles.

I’m finding as I age that I need the connection of old friends more than I used to. Shared history is irreplaceable. We went to a party on Tuesday night where we saw some folks we hadn’t seen in 20 years. Some people didn’t recognize me nor me them. Yikers! Stories flew around the table with lightning speed and gales of laughter. Episodes in our history we’d forgotten were brought up and mulled over. We caught up on children and grandchildren, too. And discussed the bizarre and frightening illnesses we’d had and the meds we now take. Seriously? There were more Stents in that living room than iPhones. That’s when I finally admitted we were getting old.

So what’s old now? I just heard that 80 is the new 50. Really? I’d love that, but truthfully, I was still very fit at 50. I believed then, I wasn’t going to have cottage cheese thighs or flabby arms. No, no—not me. When these body changes seemed to appear over night, I was in shock. How could it happen? Getting old was for others. It didn’t seem a realistic possibility for me. Ha, ha. Guess who the joke was on?

The good news is that I’m really getting into aging. Someone in their 90’s recently said to me, “Oy, let me tell you. Bette Davis was right. Getting old is not for sissies. Don’t get old.”

“Are you kidding? I want to get old!” I replied. “I don’t want to die young, for goodness sake!”

The older person had to turn down her hearing aid—I guess I was loud in my vehemence.

Being Medicarees, my contemporaries do have a tendency to be self absorbed. Small ailments we wouldn’t have noticed before are making us edgy. Have a headache? Better have an MRI in case it’s a brain tumor. Hands shaking? Better have a Pet Scan in case it’s a neurological disorder.

Also, we’re seeing that the yellow brick road doesn’t go on forever. There’s an end and it’s getting closer. A lot of us are trying to get trips in before we’re on walkers. I was always the timid sort, but lately I’ve been exploring my inner adventurer. We just returned from New Zealand, where we did a glacial landing on a heliocopter.



Getting back to Moe’s kindergarten friends, Cheron, who is in green in the first photo, and her husband, Bill, just hiked the GrandCanyon. I want to do that, too. They did it in ice and snow with Crampons. (That word is so not part of my vocabulary, I thought it was spelled: Clamp Ons, like something you’d clamp on your shoes.) Unlike those hardy souls, I will be looking for a perfect Spring day. But I’m going to have to hurry. My time frame is getting narrower.