Saturday, September 29, 2012

Hello Writers

By Keith N Fisher

I hope your projects are shaping up, and your writing dreams are coming true. Each week I try to post something that will be encouraging, and help to you pursue those dreams. In the past, I’ve written about subjects that were timely and well thought out. Many of those points are being now rehashed on other blogs. Some of them are being posted here.

I once heard a speaker in LDS General Conference address the question, why do church authorities rehash the same subjects over and over again. His answer was simple, we need to keep hearing the same messages until will apply them to our lives.

Many of us will hear, and even learn a concept, but resonance is not there for us, until someone else speaks about the same concept. Perhaps it was delivered in a different way. Perhaps, we are now ready. Whatever the reason, applying those lessons sometimes takes time.

This, and social networking, are two reasons writers continue to flock to conferences and seminars. Because of circumstances beyond my control, I’ve missed many of those conferences this year. I was looking forward to attending The Book Academy, at UVU this year. It was well planned, but I couldn’t make it.

So to all the friends I look forward to seeing at conferences, I hope you had a wonderful time. Please save your notes for me. I’m on my way out the door for a couple of days. No time to edit. I hope you can read this.

Good luck with your writing---see you next week.



Saturday, September 22, 2012


By Keith N Fisher

I used a word at critique the other day and the ladies thought I’d invented it. I let them think what they wanted because I wasn’t sure if I’d heard it before or not. I went home and looked it up in Webster’s.

Definition of Dunderhead: Dunce, Blockhead.

While pouring over my pages from critique group, I used that word to describe my writing. Even after al these years, I still make some of the same mistakes and I have to fix them after the ladies point them out.

I’m dunderheaded, but I’m not a total idiot. Some of those pages I brought, were actually first draft. I would’ve caught many of the repetitious words and poorly phrased sentences if I had gone through it. I’m dunderheaded, because I haven’t learned to avoid those mistakes in first draft.

Nevertheless, I panic at the thought of having to write completely solo. What would I do if I didn’t have my critique group?

Good luck in your writing—see you next week.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Another Perspective

By Keith N Fisher

Are you one of those who takes full advantage of a soda fountain? By that I mean, do you fill your cup, drink half, and fill it again?

I remember a time when I could buy a bottle of pop for a ten-cents from the machine at the gas station. Of course there was a deposit on the bottle, so we hung around until we finished.

Soda fountains were in hamburger stands and I don’t remember how much a drink cost from there, but it couldn’t have been much more. When they moved the fountain out for the public to fill their own cup, things changed. Some places offered a fixed price, allowing me to get free refills. Generally, cup size didn’t matter at those fountains. It was all you could drink anyway.

The all you can drink rule was a boon to the soda-drinking public, but it caused a greedy attitude. Now, there are many fountains offering a cheaper price for refills, but they don’t offer all you can drink.

While working in a convenience store, I watched customers come in, fill a cup with soda, drink half, then fill it again. I wonder how they justify their greed. It might be different if there was an, all you can drink sign, or free refills, but in my store, that wasn’t the case.

I also saw people taste different kinds of soda, change their mind, and not purchase a drink. Why would they buy one? Their thirst had been quenched.

Shaking my head, I ponder how our society came to feel so entitled? I remember my experience at the gas station and wonder if it’s a money thing. Then I realize wages were lower back then, the cost of living, far less.

Today, there is unrest in the world, political polarization threatening our republic, and many other problems to deal with. So, Why would I bring this up? What could soda fountain ethics have to do with writing?

Much of my writing is based on my life experience. My characters are modeled after bits and pieces of the humanity, I’ve seen. Plots are driven from my personal experiences and those of others. With so many different occupations under my belt, there is richness in my writing. I learned a lot about people while working at a convenience store. I learned a lot about drinkers when I managed a bar.

I’ve always been a meticulous observer. Therefore I thought I had a handle on human nature, but lately, I’ve been mystified. Humanity seems to have slipped a cog in the gears of life.

So I ask, What do you do? Does the self-serve drink machine offer an all you can drink invitation? Can you buy a bottle of pop and expect to get another for free?

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Cloudy Days

By Keith N Fisher

My day job is performed on the graveyard shift, so on days off, I can be found on my porch, at night, with the light burning. It’s a great time to write in peace and quiet. When insomnia keeps me awake during the day, I’m out there writing. This time of year, however, it’s hard to use it. The Sun’s position in the sky has changed. The roof doesn’t block the rays like in the summer. It’s hot and the glare renders my computer screen unreadable.

I’ve learned to love cloudy days. Not only do the clouds cancel the rays, but it’s also cooler. Not to mention, the romance and inspiration of possible intermittent rainfall.

So how is your writing going? Have you ever wondered why you felt a need to pursue such a non-lucrative career? One of my teachers in junior high told us, when asked, that he chose his occupation, because of the example of one of his teachers. He went on to curse that man, under his breath.

Like my teacher, do you curse the muse? Do you wonder why your characters won’t leave you alone? Do you edit your manuscript in frustration, thinking your story would be told better, if only you could write more effectively?

Of course, money, or the lack of it, enters into the question. I admit to envisioning large royalty checks, when I started. Making a living at my chosen occupation was part of the dream too. To be fair, though, it is possible, but not in the market I write for. So why do I do it? Why do you do it? I’m reminded of the first writer’s conference I attended and looking out on the sea of faces in the room. I realized they had all been touched with the same inexplicable need, and I was part of a large movement.

Now, I sit on my porch and wonder. Why do I feel such passion about writing? Should I do like my teacher and curse the muse for making me want to write? Its funny how our lives change over the passage of time, isn't it?

Okay, enough, of this heretical attitude. I am a writer because I want to be. How could I not? I’ve got a disease deep in my blood, and it won’t go away. Like alcoholism, my addiction is the source of great highs and lows. When I’m on the pinnacle of my writing, the highs are so exquisite, life could not be better.

Perhaps my bout of second-guessing is caused by fatigue. Could it be the cloudy day? After all, depression, in comic strips has always been depicted with a cloud above the depressed subject’s head. Still, I love cloudy days during this time of year.

Good luck with your writing---I hope I didn’t depress you---see you next week.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

My Almost Accident

By Keith N Fisher

As Writers we pride ourselves on being able to suspend disbelief. If a reader can feel connected to it, no matter how far fetched the idea, we are successful. The problem we run into, especially with critique groups, is flawlessness. We aim for a perfect balance between facts and the worlds we create.

I’m sure you’ve read stories and been frustrated because someone kills a man with a pistol at three hundred yards. Also, when a character travels to your hometown and walks into a building that doesn’t exist. What about when a cell phone rings and the story is set in nineteen-seventy?

These things slow a story down because, readers try to fit facts into their own experience. Even though it’s fiction, they can’t stand to read inaccuracies. Readers know you can’t get seven shots from a gun that only holds six.

Creating a plot that will suspend disbelief is difficult. Doing it well, however, delivers the reader in the palm of your hand. I’ve heard that one of the most asked questions by visitors to Nauvoo, Illinois is “Where was the Steed home?” It must be very gratifying for Gerald R Lund, who created The Work and the Glory.

I am one of those who count shots while watching The Rifleman reruns. You see I know a Winchester 30-30 only holds eight rounds. I’ve written about getting facts straight and I continually add to my knowledge of real world facts. I agonize over plots when I have to send a character to a town I’ve never been to. I know that some reader will balk at my representation.

Facts are restricting, but a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. I had an experience while driving to work the other night that made me think.

I’ve always driven defensively. If a car stops suddenly, my instincts take over, and help me initiate a solution. I’ve hit the breaks and swerved before, but I never would’ve believed what happened the other night, would happen.

It was dark, and I'd just left the house. I hadn't buckled my seatbelt yet. I was traveling at thirty-five MPH. Suddenly, a dog was in front of me. At least I think it was a dog. There were kids on the sidewalk and I had a split second to avoid killing the dog. My reaction was to swerve, which I did.

The next thing I knew, I hit the passenger door with my shoulder and I watched my truck get closer to the parked cars on the other side of the street. Miraculously, we missed the cars. I slid over and took control again.

The feeling of being thrown into the passenger seat and watching my truck drive itself shook me. Until the other night, I would’ve scoffed at my story. I now, understand how so many people end up crossing the median and rolling their cars on the freeway.

You might be reading this with an insolent attitude, because you knew this could happen, but would you believe my story if I put in fiction? I wonder how many would. It’s hard for me to describe the feeling of being thrust into the mercy of centrifugal force. I was in an everyday situation, and I thought I had control.

The point I’m laboring over in my disjointed epistle, is consider the experience of your intended reader. Will they be able to suspend disbelief and accept your version of realty? Will inaccuracies creep in, taking them out of your story? Be careful with details like my almost accident. Most people would be able to place themselves into the story, but others might not accept it. Then, again, how do you know?

Good luck with your writing---see you next week.