Monday, September 26, 2016

How Do Your Characters Stack Up? Using Real Life Events in Fiction Stories

You are as happy as you can be: your story, be it short story, novel or novelette, is finally finished. However, when you are using real life events as a source of inspiration, you may not always get a true-to-life effect. Before you send your work to a publisher, first check if the story makes sense as it does in real life.

In order to reach the final draft, you need to be tough with yourself and cast an editor's eye over your piece. Although real life events have their own logic, when you read your story from head to tail for the first time you will surely notice some plotting errors. However, there are other vital points you should check off when comparing your version of the story to the events that inspired you.

1. Is the behavior of your characters as believable as it should be? Bear in mind that in fiction, the people you describe rarely, if ever, act "out of character." If your character behaves differently, you have to be attentive to this and ask yourself whether this corresponds to a real life pattern.

2. Do your characters relate to each other as they should? As in real life, events in your story may influence the attitudes and emotions your characters have towards one another. Real people would always mention events that happened to them within the story -- make sure your characters do, too.

3. Do your characters manifest believable reactions? If in the same type of situation your character is once enraged and the other time annoyed, there is something wrong. If you have a real person in mind, you should be aware of the fact that real people are usually constant in their reactions.

4. Do readers understand what your characters are doing at the precise time they are doing it? You need to make clear what happens in your story, otherwise your readers will lose the thread and your story may be lost altogether. When transforming reality into fiction, make sure you don't forget any relevant links, so as to avoid alienating your readers.

5. Are your characters where they should be? You may easily have a character in two places at once if you do not control this critical thread. Especially if you have one or several subplots at the same time, you need to pay extra care as they can quickly spiral out of your control.

Checking all these points will take you a lot of time, dedication and effort. However, is you fail to make sure that your story makes sense according to the real events, you will only manage to waste your own time. Editors expect stories that hang together.

Copyright © Shery Ma Belle Arrieta-Russ

About Shery: Shery is the creator of WriteSparks!™- a software that generates over 10 *million* Story Sparkers for Writers. Download WriteSparks!™ Lite for free at

Monday, September 19, 2016

Tips to Help You Find Your Writing Voice

Editors and readers alike will usually ignore the voiceless writers who write stale, uninteresting articles. What everybody is looking for is a fresh voice that will get readers' attention.

Basically, your voice means your style, the manner in which you're writing and you feel most comfortable writing. No one will be really able to define what a writer's voice is, but everybody knows it when they see it.

Finding your writing voice can be a difficult and complex process. Believe it or not, even the famous writers took years to find their voice. Writing courses and workshops can help writers find their voice. However, there things you can do starting right now to find your writing voice.

Here are some tips on how you can add your own voice to your written work:

1. Be original. Many new writers follow in the footsteps of the established writers they admire. This may often result in plain lack of creativity for the writer. So try to break any patterns you have by writing something original and new every time you start to create.

2. Write from the heart. If you don't feel what you write, if you are not in touch with yourself, probably your readers won't be either. You'll find your voice in the most intense moments -- when you feel like grabbing a pencil and writing away.

3. Simple is better. Many writers strive to express themselves in complicated ways. But keep it simple and write as you speak. Record yourself speaking and then compare it to your pieces.

4. Learn to edit. It is easy to be carried away once you start writing. Sometimes, you may need to cut some of the pieces you have written just to add more value to the essence. Your voice will come through if you continually distill your writing.

5. Don't listen too much to your inner critic. Your inner self could give you constructive criticisms, but it could also prevent you from finding your voice. Listen to your inner critic, but don't allow it to interfere while you're still in the writing process.

6. Be open. Learn to open yourself every time you write. Reveal your innermost desires, hopes, fears and dreams. If you feel embarrassed, perhaps it's your voice showing up.

Now that you have some ideas about how to find your voice, discovery will be a lot easier. What are you waiting for? Start writing and finding your voice!

Copyright © Shery Ma Belle Arrieta-Russ

About Shery: Shery is the creator of WriteSparks!™- a software that generates over 10 *million* Story Sparkers for Writers. Download WriteSparks!™ Lite for free at

Monday, September 12, 2016

Thunder When the Universe Burps: A Creative Writer-cise

Nature is a wonderful inspiration for any writer. In this mini writing workshop, we'll wax some poetic prose.

First, pick a number from 1 to 7:

1. earthquake
2. sunrise
3. volcanic eruption
4. lightning
5. rainbow
6. thunder
7. hurricane

Next, create 2 lists for the natural phenomenon you chose. Brainstorm for 5-10 minutes for each list.

For List 1, brainstorm for action words associated with the natural phenomenon you picked. For instance, what do you see, hear and feel happening when it thunders?

List 1 (action words):
explode, clap, boom, crack, shatter, burst, break, detonate, bust, shake, reverberate, applause

For List 2, pretend you are seeing/hearing/experiencing the natural phenomenon for the first time. You don't know what could be causing it. What's causing the thunder? List all the reasons you can think of.

List 2 (causes):
avalanche in heaven, a million stomping feet, clouds slapping hard against each other, angels gung-ho on the drums, God drops a giant bowling ball, the sound of ants walking magnified a billion times, universe burping, a giant fist smashing through the firmament

Got your lists together? Now it's time to combine the words and ideas from the lists you generated. Create lines from the combinations. (Note: You do not have to combine exact phrases.)


A million stomping feet shake the heavens.
The sound of ants walking a million times magnified.
Clouds detonate to begin an avalanche in the sky.
God drops His giant bowling ball and strikes.
Clap, applause! The angels are gung-ho on the drums.
A giant fist smashes the horizon.
Break the firmament with the universe's booming burps.

Leave your list for a bit -- an hour, a few hours, a day or so -- and then come back to it and revise. Revise until you're satisfied with the lines and images.

Congratulations, you've just created your first visual poem. If you're up to it, create visual poems for the other 6 natural phenomena.

And here's a suggestion: Gather a group of friends and create your lists together. Collaborate on visual poems. You'll be pleasantly surprised with the images you'll be able to come up together. And if you're a parent, try it with your kids.
Copyright © Shery Ma Belle Arrieta-Russ

About Shery: Shery is the creator of WriteSparks!™- a software that generates over 10 *million* Story Sparkers for Writers. Download WriteSparks!™ Lite for free at

And if you want 3 writing *sparks* delivered to you every day for 31 days, check out WriteSparks!™ Daily HERE for info on how to get started -- it's free :o) Thank you again for reading. I hope you're having a productive day/night!

Monday, September 5, 2016

Does fear lurk in your kitchen of enthusiasm?

Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, it's important to write with clarity, not with vagueness. By communicating yourself in concrete, specific images, you help your readers understand you (and your poem/story).

Today's activity has two parts. You may or may not do the second part, if you'd rather concentrate on the first part. Don't skip the first part, though, because the second activity relies on what you'll be able to concoct in the first.

So crack your knuckles, pull out your keyboard (or sharpen your pencils) and let's begin.

First, pick a number from 1 to 5:

1. cave
2. garden
3. backyard
4. kitchen
5. teacup

Next, you guessed it, pick another number from 1 to 5:

1. joy
2. enthusiasm
3. relief
4. love
5. gratitude

Combine your two choices and you're off! What's your location? In a cave of love? Have you ever found yourself in the kitchen of gratitude? How about finding relief in a teacup?

Brainstorm and list specific/concrete images for your place. Concrete images can be anything -- fictional, nonfictional, whimsical, philosophical, you name it. You can come up with a list by asking yourself:

  ~ What happens in the garden of joy?
  ~ What's cooking in the kitchen of gratitude?
  ~ What happens after you drink in a teacup of relief?
  ~ How is it to be inside the cave of enthusiasm?
  ~ What things would be happening in the backyard of love?

Brainstorm for at least 5 minutes. Don't worry if the first few images you brainstorm are bland. As your list grows longer, the more interesting your images will become.

The first part is metaphorical and you'll likely find yourself writing a poem. However, you take your piece where you want to. If at any point in your brainstorming, you get a story idea, then by all means, pursue it.

Now for the second part. Are you ready? Again, choose any number from 1 to 5:

1. hate
2. guilt
3. pride
4. anxiety
5. fear

Now put the emotion you chose in your location/place. Plop it down, drop it like a bomb, sneak it in, etc. Make this emotion "disrupt" the generally feel-good ambiance of your place. It's the conflict.

What's pride doing in your backyard of love? Why is fear hanging about in the cave of enthusiasm? What's guilt doing in a teacup of relief? Again, brainstorm for reasons or for the things this disruptive emotion could cause.

So knock yourself out with this writing activity. If you'll excuse me, I need to make sure there aren't icky wiggling worms of anxiety and fear trying to make a home in my garden of enthusiasm.

Copyright (c) 2004 Shery Ma Belle Arrieta-Russ
Shery created WriteSparks! - a software that generates over 10
*million* Story Sparkers for Writers. Download WriteSparks! Lite
for fr*e -

Monday, August 29, 2016

What if your brain was up for auction?

This writing activity was inspired by Dido's song, Life for Rent. The song's chorus goes:

    If my life is for rent and I don't learn to buy
    Well I deserve nothing more than I get
    'Cause nothing that I have is truly mine

[ Complete lyrics at ]

*If the link above doesn't work, try going to Google and searching for "life for rent dido lyrics" (without the quotes). You'll find plenty of sites that have the lyrics.

Read the chorus a few more times before continuing with this article. It'll get you in the mood :o)


Done? Let's forge on.

It's pretty straightforward imagery -- Life is likened to a commodity, one that's for rent, and that premise (or metaphor) is supported by the last line: thus, saying that if one's life is for rent (and one doesn't learn how to buy things), then nothing he (she) has is really his (hers).

When we break it down, it's cause and effect, or an if...then relationship. One thing causes something to happen. Or this is the reason that thing happened. If you do this, then that is the result. You get the drift :o)

Now, here's what you're going to do. You'll play the "if-then" game. The resulting "if-then" fragments will be the basis of your creative pieces today. You can take them anywhere you want them to go. Consider this simple writing activity the sparkplug that inspired the lift-off, the conductor's baton that got the orchestra playing, the little grenade pin that slipped... Ok, I'm sure you get the drift ;o)

First, pick a number between 1 and 10:

1. eyes
2. vocal chord
3. brain
4. thumbs
5. skin
6. toenails
7. heart
8. lungs
9. legs
10. ears

Got a number picked? Good! Now, apply any or all of these to the body part that you picked:

- lease, auction, bargain/sale, barter, evaluation, adoption

You'll come up with something like these:

- If my brain was up for adoption...
- If my brain was up for auction...
- If I were to barter my brain...
- If I were to lease my brain...
- If anyone could get my brain at bargain price...

Next, add the second part -- the "then". What happens? To you? To the body part? To Donald Trump? To life on earth? Come up with not just one reason; come up with many! Preposterous reasons, serious reasons, wacky reasons, out-of-this-world reasons.

If your brain was up for auction,

- What would happen to you?
- What would happen to the person who'll own it?
- What would happen to the people who may or may not value
    the things (memories) in your brain?
- What would happen to your memories?
- What would happen if none of the bidders met your
    minimum price or reserve?

Too weird for you? OK, then give this one a go. Pick a number from 1 to 10:

1. loyalty
2. honesty
3. summer
4. weekends
5. name
6. ambition
7. career
8. love
9. job
10. bachelorhood

Again, apply any or all of these to whatever you picked:

- lease, auction, bargain/sale, barter, evaluation, adoption

And you'll come up with:

- If my loyalty was up for sale...
- If I were to barter my loyalty...
- If my loyalty is up for evaluation...
- If I were to have my loyalty adopted...
- If I could lease my loyalty...
- If my loyalty was up for auction...

You know what to do next ;o)

That's it. Have fun auctioning off those body parts! :o)

Copyright (c) 2004 Shery Ma Belle Arrieta-Russ
Shery created WriteSparks! - a software that generates over 10
*million* Story Sparkers for Writers. Download WriteSparks! Lite
for fr*e -

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Dyslexia Discussion - you won't want to miss!


Please join Marsha when she welcomes Joy Wood and Ciara Knight on Thursday August 18th at 9PM EST 8 PM CST 7 PM MT 6PM PST.

They will be discussing the Gracepoint school and how children can develop leadership skills while being educated. The school opened in 2012 with great success. Gracepoint is open to students in grade 1 -8.

link to the show

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

WOI - Special - A Brothers Badge - Host - Marsha Casper Cook


Detective Michael Glade, with the San Antonio police department, has wandered onto the dark side and has run afoul of the Mexican Mafia. He battles his family and feelings while riding his collision course to its ultimate outcome.