May 15 – birthday of L. Frank Baum

Today is National Chocolate Chip Day, Police Officer’s Memorial Day, and the birthday of L. Frank Baum, Katherine Anne Porter, Paul Zindel, Mary MontaguArthur SchnitzlerXavier HerbertMax FrischNancy GardenLaura Hillenbrand

Tip: Don’t add a main character or even at the end of the story that solves everyone’s problems – that’s cheating your reader and is bad form. Anyone who’s at the end should also be at the beginning. Especially if they’re important to the solution.

Thought: “Writing is conscience, scruple, and the farming of our ancestors.” – Edward Dahlberg

Teaser: Today is the birthday of L. Frank Baum. He was a prolific writer, but his most famous work is The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Most people only know this story through the movie, but there is an entire series of works set in this fantastic world. If you were a character in an Oz book, who would you be? Why? What would you do? Create an Oz character and write a short scene with this character.

May 14

Happy Mother’s Day to those who care for children, whether they be mother, father, grandparent, or other caregiver. And to those “mothers” who will never be one, may you find some happiness in today as well.

Today is Dance Like a Chicken Day, Mother’s Day (second Sunday in May), and the birthday of Hal Borland,

Tip: The first page should introduce major characters, the setting, and the story question (what’s going on). If your first pages start with backstory (what happened before your story took place), you’ll lose your readers fast. Backstory can be added in later, not at the beginning.

Thought: “Most writers write badly because they tell us not only their thoughts but also the thinking of their thoughts.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

Teaser: Use the following in a scene: tickertape, okapi, ballroom, “You’ve been chosen…”

May 13

Today is Birth Mother’s Day (Saturday before Mother’s Day), Frog Jumping Day, International Migratory Bird Day (second Saturday in May), Leprechaun Day, National Train Day and the birthday of Daphne Du Maurier, Roger Zelazny, Francine Pascal, Rachel IngallsAlphonse DaudetLeighton GageArmistead MaupinMarv WolfmanCharles Baxter

Tip: What is the conflict in your story? (And yes, there should be some). Figure out what the problem is, make it worse, up the ante, and make it look like things are going to fail before you bring them all out on the other side.

Thought: “In a mood of faith and hope my work goes on. A ream of fresh paper lies on my desk waiting for the next book. I am a writer and I take up my pen to write.” – Pearl Buck

Teaser: Write a short story where all the action happens during a dark and stormy night.

May 12 – National Limerick Day

Today is Child Care Provider Day or Daycare Provider Day, Fatigue Syndrome Day, International Nurses Day, Limerick Day, Military Spouses Day, and the birthday of: Edward Lear, Dante Rossetti, Leslie CharterisCharles Biro

Tip: When you’re ready to start writing, you can review what you did the day before, but don’t edit. Get the words down first. You can come back and edit later.

Thought: “The really great writers are people like Emily Brontë who sit in a room and write out of their limited experience and unlimited imagination.” –  James A. Michener

Teaser: In honor of Edward Lear, this is National Limerick Day. Stretch your writing brain and write a limerick about writing. A limerick is a humorous poem consisting of five lines. The first, second, and fifth lines must have seven to ten syllables while rhyming and having the same verbal rhythm. The third and fourth lines only have to have five to seven syllables, and have to rhyme with each other and have the same rhythm. For instance (from Edward Lear):

“There was an Old Man with a beard
Who said, ‘It is just as I feared!
Two Owls and a Hen,
Four Larks and a Wren,
Have all built their nests in my beard!’”

May 11 – birthday of Irving Berlin

Today is Eat What You Want Day, Twilight Zone Day, and the birthday of: Irving Berlin, Mari Sandoz, Stanley ElkinRose AuslanderCamilo Jose CelaFrancisco Umbral

Tip: Before stopping for the day, ask yourself a question about tomorrow’s scenes. (What is the character feeling at this point? How are they going to get out of this mess?) Write it down and sleep on it. You might be surprised what your brain comes up with overnight.

Thought: “If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading or do things worth the writing.” –  Benjamin Franklin

Teaser: You’ve gone to see a psychic who will answer your deepest question. What do you ask?

May 10

Today is Clean up Your Room Day, National Receptionist Day, School Nurses Day, and the birthday of Monica Dickens, Jayne CortezJean MairetJohann Peter HebelBenito GaldosCaroline B. Cooney,

Tip: Do yourself a favor and start doing crossword and other word puzzles. They will stretch your vocabulary and help with your writing.

Thought: “It takes a lot of energy and a lot of neurosis to write a novel. If you were really sensible, you ‘d do something else.” –  Lawrence Durrell

Teaser:Answer an unanswered question in a familiar novel – what happened to Rhett when he wasn’t with Scarlett (Gone with the Wind)? What would have happened if Romeo and Juliet had lived? Who makes Batman’s costume?

May 9 – Guest Post – The First Sentence

 

What do you get when you get five authors in a bar at a conference and someone challenges them to each write a story starting with the same sentence? You get “The First Sentence”
The First Sentence Final (1)  Vicky Burkholder, Misty Simon, Victoria Smith, Natalie Damschroder, and Allison Hanson were at a conference in New Jersey a few years ago and were talking about how, if you give a bunch of authors a starting sentence, they’ll all write something unique. And Misty said, “We should do that!” And we did! Eventually. We have 5 novellas all starting with the same sentence and all incredibly different. We are REALLY proud of what we’ve done, so we hope you’ll check it out.

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Today is Lost Sock Memorial Day, National Teachers Day, and the birthday of: J.M. Barrie, Richard Adams, Mona Van Duyn, Alan Bennett

Tip: Are the type of writer who likes to “out there” – sitting in the coffee shop with noise and chaos around you, typing away like crazy, or are you the type who likes to cocoon? Figure out what type of area works best for you and figure out how to get it.

Thought: “Talent is like a faucet, while it is open, one must write.” – Jean Anouilh

Teaser: Finish this: I closed my eyes, I held my nose and took a drink…

May 8

Today is Iris Day, No Socks Day, V-E Day, World Red Cross Day / World Red Crescent Day, and the birthday of: Edward Gibbon, Irene Hunt, Peter Benchley, Elizabeth Becker

Tip: Stuck on something? Take a break and try something different. Try writing a well-known fairy tale from a different point of view or take a walk. Anything to move your brain from the current issue to something inane. Sometimes a change is all we need to jumpstart ourselves.

Thought: “A superhuman will is needed in order to write, and I am only a man.” Gustave Flaubert

Teaser: Use the following in a scene: black light, springtime, clock, “I knew it was going to be a bad day when…”

May 7

Today is National Tourism Day and the birthday of Robert Browning, Rabindranath Tagore, Archibald MacLeish, Willem ElsschotGene WolfePeter CareyMichael Rosen,

Tip: Find a schedule that works for you. Writing three pages in the morning doesn’t help your writing? Then don’t do it. Write at night. Write at lunch time. Write in the wee hours of the morning. Can’t do 3000 words a day? Then do 50. The point is—just write. Not everyone’s schedule works for every person. You are unique, so should your schedule be.

Thought:  “Actually if a writer needs a dictionary he should not write. He should have read the dictionary at least three times from beginning to end and then have loaned it to someone who needs it. There are only certain words which are valid and similes (bring me my dictionary) are like defective ammunition (the lowest thing I can think of at this time).” –  Ernest Hemingway

Teaser: Write a letter to your grandchild (or other posterity) explaining why you write what you do and giving him or her advice on living a creative life

May 6

Today is Beverage Day, Free Comic Book Day (first Saturday in May), National Tourist Appreciation Day, National Nurses Day, No Diet Day, and the birthday of Alain-Rene Lesage, Gaston LerouxChristian MorgensternHarry MartinsonAriel Dorfman

Tip: Practice your dialogue. Read it out loud. Does it sound like real people talk? Or is it too stilted and formal? Or maybe too slangy? Listen to how it sounds.

Thought: “A lot of people say you can’t teach writing, but I’ve never felt that was entirely true. You can’t make a great writer, but you can teach discipline, at least through example, and that’s the biggest part of writing, I think. If you don’t have the talent, you’ll probably figure out sooner or later that writing’s not for you, but you’ll never know if you don’t make a serious commitment to it.” – Dave Weich

Teaser: A publisher has bought your novel but you have to write a short bio for the back cover. What do you say? Write one now and file it for when this happens.

 

Today is the birthday of Gaston Leroux, a French author famous for “The Phantom of the Opera” and “The Mystery of the Yellow Room”. Do yourself a favor and read one or both of them. He was an amazing storyteller.