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JPC Allen Writes

Inspiration for Beginning Writers

DSC_6334_smallWelcome to my writing pages. This is a new adventure for me as I delve into the realm of the World Wide Web!    The main focus of this page is to explore ways beginning writers can find inspiration.  You’ll also find information on the novels I am working on.  My schedule for posting is:

Monday Sparks: Writing ideas to fan your creative flame

Tuesdays and Thursdays – Writing Tips

Occasional Wednesdays – Facts about West Virginia, the setting of my books

Occasional Saturdays – My faith walk as a Christian

You may also find me on Facebook at JPC Allen Writes.

Featured post

Monday Sparks — Writing prompts

img_20160817_0004Following on the advice Mr. Young gave in his post on Almost an Author, go somewhere, inside or out, and study it for a full minute. If you are like me, it might take you awhile to clear your mind of all competing thoughts, but keep focusing until you can study a scene for a full minute with full concentration. Then take notes on what you see. Don’t try to write full sentences. Just write down your impressions as accurately you can. You can even make up words if that helps you capture the scene.

Once you think you have observed all you can, you can use your notes later to flesh out a properly written scene. Your notes are like a sketch an artist uses for a more detailed work.

Writing Tip — Guest blog

blogging-1168076_1280I am posting today instead of on Thursday because my guest blog is publishing today on Rebecca Water’s site, A Novel Creation. I met Becky in my writer’s group and she kindly offered to let me guest blog. She is the author of Breathing on Her Ownwhich is women’s Christian fiction, and three books about writing, Designing a Business Plan for Your Writing, Marketing You and Your Writing 101and Writing with E’sI am in the middle of reading Marketing and find her advice very helpful.

Writing Tip — Evoking Sight

watercolor-2332129_12803I really like the post on Almost an Author using sight in our writing.  You can read my comment on the exercise Mr. Young proposes. It’s extremely useful to remind writers to slow down and truly observe a scene.

Most of us write by sight. What kind of writing you do effects your visual descriptions. Novelists can add more detail than a short story writer, but a short story writer may come up with an extraordinarily vivid description because of the constraints of the form.

One area of sight I want to improve is the use of color in my writing. We are so used to seeing color that we take it for granted unless the color is unusual in some way, especially ugly, pretty, vivid, and so on.

G.K. Chesterton used color very effectively in his writing. I discovered him through his Father Brown short stories. I tried reading them at twenty and didn’t understand them at all. But I did remember his descriptions of landscapes. When I went back to the stories years later, I could appreciate them so much more as well as his skill in writing with color like a painter.

profession-1923499_1280Here are some of my favorite examples from the short story collection The Innocence of Father Brown:

“They awoke before it was daylight; for a large lemon moon was only just setting in the forest of high grass above their heads, and the sky was of a vivid violet-blue, nocturnal but bright. ”           From “The Sins of Prince Saradine”

Describing a duel : “Everything above them was a dome of virgin gold, and, distant as they were, every detail was picked out. They had cast off their coats, but the yellow waistcoat and white hair of Saradine, the red waistcoat and white trousers of Antonelli, glittered in the level light like the colors of the dancing clockwork dolls.”       From “The Sins of Prince Saradine”

“In the cool blue twilight of two steep streets in Camden Town, the shop at the corner, a confectioner’s, glowed like the butt of a cigar. One should rather say, like the butt of a firework, for the light was of many colors and some complexity, broken up by many mirrors and dancing on many gilt and gaily-colored cakes and sweetmeats.”      From “The Invisible Man”

My favorite story by Chesterton is “The Three Horsemen of the Apocalypse” collected in Thirteen Detectives. The plot hinges on the fact that in the late nineteenth century, army uniforms were based on regiment colors, not the terrain where the army was located. The ending is a tremendous paradox, a speciality of Chesterton’s, and I never saw it coming, but once it arrives, it makes perfect sense.

Tomorrow I have a guest post on a friend’s blog, so I will talk more about colors in my own writing next week.

Monday Sparks — writing prompts

boys-2141589_1280With summer starting on Wednesday, I thought an acrostic poem to the season would be appropriate. Here’s mine:

Summer

So much to do

Uunder the hot sun,

More

Mmuch more than I can

Ever get done.

Ready, set, go!

Writing Tip — Favorite Stories — Andrew Klavan

51gk8tm5wilSince I have only read two stories by Andrew Klavan, I can’t call him a favorite author, but I have enjoyed  his YA Christian fiction novel If We Survive and the short story “The Killer Christian”.

If We Survive is told from the point of view of sixteen-year-old Will who, with two other teenagers, a college student, and their pastor, is on a mission trip in a South American country. Right before they are scheduled to leave, a communist coup takes place. In the small village where they were staying, the rebels target them because they are Americans. Their only hope of escape is the ex-Marine who is their pilot.

I like If We Survive for several reasons. It’s one of the few YA Christian fiction novels I have found that has a realistic setting – no fantasy or science fiction elements. It also has a male protagonist. If a YA novel has a contemporary setting, it is usually a romance told from a girl’s point of view. The action sequences held my attention and are very appealing for a teen audience.

Will is written in a way teens can relate to, but I wish the supporting characters were more distinct. I do like the change Nikki goes through. The other female character seems to good to be true, but Will is describing her and he has a crush on her.

To learn more, check out If We Survive on Goodreads.

8487876I was introduced to Mr. Klavan in the short story collection Christmas at the Mysterious BookshopThe title of Mr. Klavan’s story “The Killer Christian” caught my attention. Then I read the first paragraph:

“A certain portion of my misspent youth was misspent in the profession of journalism. I’m not proud of it, but a man has to make a living and there it is. Most importantly, I learned how to be painstakingly honest and lie at the same time. That’s how the news business works. It’s not that anyone goes around making up facts or anything – not on a regular basis anyway. No, most of them time, newspeople simply learn how to pick and choose which facts to tell, which will heighten your sense that their gormless opinions are reality or at least delay your discovery that everything they believe is provably false. If ever you see a man put his fingers in his ears and whistle Dixie to keep from hearing the truth, you may assume he’s a fool, but if he put his fingers in your ears and starts whistling, then you know you are dealing with a journalist.”

With an opening like that, I had to read more. I won’t tell you any more about the story but if you like to read Christmas stories at Christmas, save this one as a present for yourself. The ending, in keeping with Christian beliefs, is great and always moves me. It’s one of my favorite Christmas stories.

 

 

 

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