Writing Tip

Placeholder ImageSmall Moments

“Small moments” is a phrase I am borrowing from elementary school teachers.  To teach kids how to write a story with a beginning, middle, and end, the teachers tell the kids to pick a small moment from their lives, like losing a tooth, riding a two-wheeler for the first time, a special gift, etc.  Choosing a small moment to write about is good advice for any beginning writer of any age.  To qualify as a small moment, the event should have taken no more than a half hour of time and should have happened to you personally.

When you write down your small moment for the first time, you can either write just a summary with a beginning, middle, and end, or you can write the whole event as thoroughly as you can.  Follow whichever approach feels more natural to you.  If you take the first, your summary is your outline to which you will add details.  You may want to write several versions, each a little more detailed than the last.

Personally, I like dumping everything on a page and then going back and editing.  My background as a librarian might have something to do with my preference.  I always liked to weed out of a library’s collection any old, damaged, or unused books, and I apply the same principle to my writing.  I like to whittle down my writing until every word left is, ideally, necessary and working at maximum strength.  I find it more difficult to add details than delete them.

While you are working on your small moment, you may find you want to fictionalize it.  That’s fine.  If you share your work, just make clear to your readers whether it is fiction or nonfiction.  However you choose to develop your small moment, keep working on it until you are satisfied with the results.


Scripture Saturday


On Thursday, I went to the Decision America rally on the state house lawn.  I had never been to something like that and didn’t know what to expect.  I was glad the speaker Franklin Graham did not endorse any political party.  He led prayer, and his basic message was to pray about how to vote and then be sure to vote in all elections, not just the presidential one.

The news estimated that 8,000 people attended.  I think that was a great attendance for noon on a weekday.  It was very encouraging to see so many Christians from different walks of life in one place.  The only things I can compare it to was a Billy Graham crusade I attended in Cincinnati around fifteen years ago and a United Methodist world conference I went to in Cleveland in 2000.  The choir in the church where I grew up was invited, with many other choirs, to sing during the opening service.  It was very moving to take communion during that service with Christians from around the world.

Fake Fridays

Art forgery

Art forgery has always been a crime that has interested me, and one of the most notorious art forgers is the subject of a very good book, The Forgert’s Spell by Edward Dolnick.

During the 1930’s and ’40’s, Hans Van Meegeren was a Dutch painter who fooled the art world with his paintings that were credited to the 17th century Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer.  He didn’t copy existing Vermeers and try to sell them.  He painted works on new themes and said he had “discovered” unknown Vermeers.  Hermann Goering, second only to Hitler in the Nazi party, bought one of his fake Vermeers as a genuine one.  Because of this sale, when the Netherlands was liberated, Van Meegeren was charged with working with the enemy.  To save himself from being labeled a traitor and possibly executed, Van Meergeren had to prove he was a forger.

To learn more, check out this book’s site on Goodreads.

West Virginia Wednesdays

img_20161005_0001Dolly Sods

This may be my favorite place in all of West Virginia.  The Dolly Sods Wilderness area is part of the Monongahela National Forest.  Its 17,371 acres straddle the county lines of Tucker, Grant, and Randolph counties, and it is the highest plateau east of the Mississippi.

I have visited twice and want to go back.  Because of its altitude, plants are found in Dolly Sods that you would expect to find in Canada.  Dolly Sods is the southernmost edge of their range.  I took a dirt road up to the plateau, and once up there, I felt like I must have traveled to Canada because the plateau has so little in common with the valley below.  The plateau has a rolling, wavy look as huge boulders break up the ground cover.  I climbed out on the boulders to take my photos.  The most interesting characteristic of the Sods are the one-sided trees.  The wind blows so strongly up there that branches can grow only on one side of the trees.  Those trees alone give you a feeling of being some place wild and special.

Another interesting characteristic that you  won’t find in many national forests are unexploded shells.  During World War II, soldiers training to fire artillery and mortars used the area as practice range, according to Wikipedia.  Even though work has been done to find and detonate left over shells, there are still warnings to stay on existing trails and only camp at existing camp sites.

To learn more, visit this site of the USDA Forest Service.img_20161005_0002img_20161005_0003img_20161005_0004img_20161005_0005

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