Tag Archives: Tips for writers

Randy-Author:when out of ideas, start with a word

      When I sit in front of my computer with nothing to say, a good place to start is with a word.

      Now my word for today is “stump.”  The word just came to me.

     Stump tree a tree trunk elm desire yes desire O’Neill burn fire stump on the stump political season on fire speech stump lost a leg in the war got cold feet. O’Neill lost his leg in the war and covered his stump with a sock use a sock before he got his prostheses.

       O’Neill lost his leg in the war and met his bride with a Christmas stocking over on his stump.

       O’Neill lost his leg in the war. His bride bought him a stocking for his stump.

       O’Neill lost his leg in the war and tried to put a sock on the leg he lost. The foot that he lost felt cold so he asked for the sock. The sock had to be a Christmas stocking to fit his stump.

       O’Neill lost his leg in the war and tried to put a sock on the foot he lost. The foot felt cold so he asked for the sock. A nurse found a Christmas stocking for his stump. She asked…it could be a he…he asked how’s that. That’s good. Anything for service men. Anything?

      O’Neill lost his leg in the war and tried to put a sock on the foot he lost. The foot felt cold so he asked for the sock. A nurse found a Christmas stocking that would fit his stump. He put the stocking on the stump, made it all comfortable and snug, and asked “how’s that?”

      “That’s good. Now I’m ready for Christmas.”

      “You weren’t ready before?”

      “No, I had frost bite. Can’t you see that? You’re suppose to be a nurse.”

      O’Neill lost his leg in the war and tried to put a sock on the foot he lost. The foot felt cold so he asked for a bigger sock. A nurse found a Christmas stocking that would fit his stump and put it on it, making it all comfortable and snug. He then asked, “how’s that?”

      “Warm and comfy. Now I’m ready for Christmas.”

      “You weren’t before?”

     “Before I was freezing, now I’m ready to see my bride. Think she’ll like the Christmas wrapping?”

      “I think she will. In fact, I know she will. Women like bright colors. If I know women…

      “Is that why you are nurse?”

      “Yes, and that’s why I like to be around women.”

      O’Neill lost his leg in the war and tried to put a sock on the foot he lost. The foot felt cold so he asked for a bigger sock. A nurse found a Christmas stocking that would fit his stump. He put the stocking on the stump, made it all comfortable and snug, and asked, “how’s that?”

      “That’s good. Now I’m ready for Christmas.”

      “You weren’t ready before?”

     “Nope.”

      O’Neill lost his leg in the war and met his bride with a Christmas stocking on his stump. She was the nurse who first came to his aid. Boy, he really desired her.

     And so forth!

     Randy Ford

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Randy-WRITING 101 Assignment One

      At my age I wonder why I would want to start over?   At sixty-five, why do I think about finally writing that autobiography, the first assignment I would give playwriting students?

      First off I haven’t looked at myself very thoroughly, not that I could do that honestly.   Sure, I’ve written about what I know, written about my background, written plays and short stories about it.   But as an autobiography, I have not explored myself enough to really know…I mean really…what is peculiar about me.   I haven’t written enough to get beyond the superficial nor have I had the courage to delve into the contradictions that make me who I am.   I haven’t been able to move past the censor inside me and put on paper what’s there.   The perspective to look at my life from different angles: to look from the inside and the outside, I’ve lacked.   I haven’t been detached enough.   I’ve been too focused on publication.

      If I can, I need to set aside my emotions, perhaps as in shame, the shame over stealing something, those dirty magazines from a drug store, more importantly my emotions about my dad’s reaction when he found them stuck under my mattress.   It is the long-term implications of that incident that I should give myself permission to write about.   But my father was obsessed over what our neighbors would think if they saw those pictures of naked women hanging on my bedroom wall.   I remember the lecture he gave me.   I can still hear it as I’ve heard time and time again the moral tone of his argument, exaggerated by ten by now: that as a Christian I should never masturbate.   I remember him taking the magazines away, which taught me one thing: it didn’t pay to bring the crap home.   I’ve had my mouth washed out with soap for swearing.   Now I swear all the time, silently.

     An assignment: write an autobiography: several different versions of every incident.   Maybe it can take different forms, without paying attention to spelling or punctuation.   Write it quickly.   Make it long.   Use an internal dialogue, stream consciousness, allow whatever happens happen.   Look for those surprises.   Symbols.   Archetypes.   A father who believed in spanking but couldn’t handle his kid without hurting his own hand.   God, help him.   God, forgive him for not being able to talk about sex.

  Will I do it?   I don’t know.   Randy Ford

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Matt Freese-comment on writing a short story

     Randy, I got it.   You are telling the story or reminiscence to yourself.   If your goal is to write a memoir or a personal essay, so be it and appropriate; however, it is a very rare story that does not have dialogue to advance it.   It was Poe who argued in his essays on short story writing that everything that appears extraneous to the aim of the story must be jettisoned; that a story has to have a bullseye as its end.   That is why if you read the House of Usher it will fall apart if your remove any paragraph.   The writer’s goal is to be a lapidary which is brutally hard because it requires concision; my stories are faulted sometimes because I leave so much out; and that is why poetry itself is the most perfect form if in the hands of the great poet. In short stories the cliched rule is that less is more, but how to determine that is the artist’s holy grail. consequently I try to come up with a terrifi first sentence and then a terrific ending sentence — and sometimes when the gods are good to me, I compose both those sentences before the story is written — see “I am rectum” in the Tetralogy and the last word is “Amen.” Enough.   Hope you get my story and respond to it.

Matt Freese 

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