Sunday, September 30, 2012

Grammar Corner - The tense you didn't know about!

I'm not talking of past tense, present tense, or even future tense. But rather, paragraph tense, or formally named tense consistency. When I was a sophomore in my Beginning Fiction Writer's course, there was a rule that was hounded into my mind.
Particularly the idea of -ed vs -ing and -ed vs -s 
But what about them!  What is so important about prefixes and suffixes, especially these two? That was what I wanted to know! Apparently a great deal! A common grammatical error that writers stand to make on a regular bases is forgetting their verb tense.  It is not something that many people - I know I don't - think about, because it just does not feel natural. However, for writing, natural isn't always how one goes and gets published.

So what can you do?

Stay consistent!  This very easy idea is actually very hard to execute when writing.  I myself have gone through several of my previous texts in order to check my own consistency. I will spare you the pain of such an experience.  How can you remain consistent? Make sure that if you have a paragraph/page/book that uses the -ed verb tense, keep it that way! Or if you have a paragraph/page/book that uses the -ing verb tense, stay consistent. This one little rule may surprise you in how often it is misused.

Keep in mind this does directly correlate to past, present, or future tense, and as that can change in a paragraph, well, so will your verb tense. Let's make it more complicated!

Let me give you an example so this is easier to grasp. This is a short excerpt from my own short story, "Shoes". Lo and behold I made this mistake more than fifty times in the first draft.
ex 1)"..."Chatty?" he asked, looking down at his older partner..."
ex 2)"..."Chatty?" he asked as he looked down at his older partner."
See the difference there? That small edit changed the entire tone of the sentence, and created consistency, whereas the other sentence led me into a five comma run on!

This is just a brief look at this rule, but for more on verb tense, I have provided a link below that discusses the real nitty gritty of the rule!
Verb Tense Consistency

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Writing Space

"That's my spot." ~ Sheldon, The Big Bang Theory

A recurring theme and a vital topic is that of a writing space, a place a writer feels comfortable and unencumbered enough to put black on white and practice their craft.  I lack this and so it has been a topic of much interest to me as of late.  In reading Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones and Wood's The Pocket Muse I encountered very similar ideas about what a writing space should be.  It should be a place that inspires you, that represents and augments who you are, that is orderly to a point but not pristine because immaculate conditions rarely produce art, and it should be yours.  Claim it with a name plate if you have to, this desk, corner of the kitchen table, spot on the couch, nook in the hallway is yours and yours alone.  I am considering making a space in the garage, but for now my 'writing space' consists of wherever the hell I can get a moment's peace and, of course, the library.  

Thanks to a good friend, I now possess a copy of On Writing by Stephen King and while I have yet to start reading the meat of the book, I noticed that even there, on the back cover, King makes mention of the all important writing space.  His assessment was that it should be a corner desk thereby sheltering one from the constant distractions of the world and allowing concentration and completion.  

Something interesting about the concept of having a writing space that is yours and yours alone is the necessity of leaving it.  Goldberg suggests finding a cafe to write in while Wood tells us that it's important to mix up the schedule a bit and try writing at a different place (park bench perhaps), a different time of the day (if you usually write at night, try getting up with the sun and see what happens), and also to write in a different style from time to time.  I understand that the real function of all of this is to rouse us out of our comfort zones and gain new perspective, new ideas, and perhaps reach a new audience.  But one must have a comfort zone in order to leave it, hence the importance of the writing space.  Do you have a writing space?  What is it like? 

Amanda LaFantasie (Skoora) © 2012

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

prompt-List of Truths

The Pocket Muse's Ten Commandments post, reminded me of this prompt from my first creative writing class in high school. This is also a prompt that I come back to every so often and re-do or re-read. It's amazing what values change and what don't.

Create a list of life's truths. Everything and anything can be included. These are YOUR truths. Pull from your experience and view point to create this list.

Beth's Prompt - Your Story's Song

Hello, thank you all for your kind welcomes to Detangled Writers, I am so happy to be here!  I was personally requested by Skoora to share this prompt with you all and I thought it would be a fitting first post.  This is a prompt I first tried in my Beginner's Fiction Writing class several years back.

The Challenge 

  1. Pick a song. Preferably a song that is not well known, overdone, famous or popular. (i.e. avoid bands such as Linkin Park, Evanescence, Skid row, etc.
  2. Make sure that the song has lyrics, this is crucial.  
    • A lot of good writing comes from classical compositions, however this is a prompt meant to be challenging, so adding the influence of lyrics will challenge you as a writer.
  3. Finally procure a prompt. The best way I've found to do this is have a friend suggest both the song and the prompt, or pick a song yourself and then go to a theme generator and randomly generate a prompt. This is a project meant to get you out of your comfort zone however it is also meant to be fun so just make sure to enjoy the prompt.  
Let me share a few examples, one is the prompt that Skoora herself gave me when I requested this prompt on my personal blog. This was a beautiful example, and this is a story that I am working on currently. This prompt is ambiguous in what it wants. 
Ex.) SONG: Donovan's, "There Is An Ocean." PROMPT: A man reflects on a battle (any battle you can conceive of) and as he walks through the quiet battlefield, he touches things (weapons, clothes, dead bodies prior to being carted away, etc.) and when he touches these things, he can see the past of these objects. Let the objects tell the story of why there was a battle. 
This next one is a less abstract prompt that tells you exactly what it wants.

Ex.) Emily Autumn's, "I Want My Innocence Back." - Write about the kidnapping of a child and the lengths a mother/father will go save that child.  
 The prompts may be as simple or complex as you want them to be. Challenge yourself. If you want to make it more difficult try to make the prompts and the song have a dichotomy - not the exact meaning, contradiction, etc.  Some ways to go about this is make your prose poetic.  To include lyrics from the song.  To use the lyrics to build dialog, or to use song lyrics to set up a scene and theme. Stephen King's, The Stand, is famous for using this technique in order to create abstract themes throughout the book.

Another famous Author, Joyce Carol Oates, dedicated a story to Bob Dylan, the short story is entitled, Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? - For Bob Dylan, This story focuses on the late 1960's, early 1970's when stranger danger became a realized threat in the United States. This story is widely available on PDF if you are interested in reading a wonderful example of music in prose.  Oates used an interesting technique of having the antagonist quotes songs in his natural speech, something very different than King's use of throwing songs into a scene, such as on a radio or The Walking Man singing.

Both are very creative uses of music to foster writing, and so I challenge you to try this yourself, and of course have fun!

Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? For Bob Dylan If there is any problem with me sharing this story here I will immediately remove it.  If not, please enjoy it. The Stand, can be found at any library or bookstore for those who have not read it yet and would like to. 
Music is the Life of a Writer This is the original blog post about this topic if you'd like further information on the premise of this prompt. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Prompt-Scrabble Game

This prompt I got from my advanced creative writing class in high school.
Play a game of Scrabble or Words with Friends. Write down all the words that were played and create a short story using all of the words.

Easier: Just write down and use the words that you used.

Vocab word of the week

This week's vocab word is:


  [pa-sey; for 4 also Fr.pah-sey]  Show IPA adjective, noun, plural pas·sés [pa-seyz; Fr. pah-sey]  Show IPA.
no longer fashionable, in wide use, etc.; out-of-date;outmoded: There were many photographs of passé fashions. Ithought hand-cranked pencil sharpeners were passé.
past: time passé.
past the prime of one's life.
Ballet a movement in which one leg passes behind or infront of the other.
1765–75;  < French,  past participle of passer  to pass

1.  old-fashioned, démodé, quaint. 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Homework Assignment-- Contributors' Page

So it's time to get the contributors' page up and going.
Contributors- Please email me author bio (around 250 words) on yourself. Please use third person and include what you write and where you are as a writer.
I already have everyone's goals which I will be include in the bios.

Procrastinating is the thing

Yep...that's what I'm up to this week

Focus-- It has been difficult to focus these last couple of weeks. Be it unstable family issues, a trip to a library that resulted in borrowing more books then necessary, or changes at work that is leaving us a person down for the last two months and will continue until at least mid-October. In short, I have had other things on my mind. AND it doesn't help that any time I sit down to write I end up making a to-do list and brainstorming for the blog. Not to say that the research or blogs or other websites, school programs, and ear tagging other authors, editors, agencies, and trying like crazy to think of a discussion question for the facebook forum aren't important. Maybe at this point less is more. Maybe I need to take a step back instead of throwing myself completely into this writing world.
I've been thinking on my novel-- less thinking and more writing is needed. I've started questioning the pacing-- perhaps starting in another place and lengthening the time between the scenes I already have written down. Maybe I should write it slower, having scenes that introduce the politics of the world. The worse part is that I still don't know what happens after I get all my characters in one spot, let alone what the ending should be. I'm even questioning if I should write a fantasy novel since I haven't read the genre in awhile.
Maybe putting aside the creative writing is my next step. Maybe I'm at the gathering stage where random prompts are key and not trying to write anything more. Yet writing on random prompts really is the only thing I've written on in six years (minus two NaNoWriMo attempts). And frankly I'm tired of that state; I want to finish and craft something.

so this is the small goal for my week- set up writing nights two times a week. This will make me focus on just the creative writing.
Natalie Goldberg's advice on giving yourself a nudge on your writing.
…I will tell you a few tricks I have done in the past to nudge me along:

1. I haven’t written anything in a while. I call a writing friend and make a date with her to meet in a week and go over our work. I have to write something to show her.

2. I teach writing groups and have to do the assignments I give the class. I didn’t wait for years of writing before I began to teach writing. I was living in Taos, and there were few writers there ten years ago. I needed writing friends, so I began women’s writing group. In teaching them, I learned to write. Baba Hari Dass, an Indian yogi, says: “Teach in order to learn.”

3. I’ll wake up in the morning and say, “Okay, Natalie, you have until ten A.M. to do whatever you want. At ten you must have your hand on the pen.” I give myself some space and an outside limit.

4. I wake up in the morning, and without thinking, washing, talking to anyone, I go right to my desk and begin writing.

5. These past two months I have been teaching all day, five days a week. I come home very tired and resistant to writing. There is a wonderful croissant place three blocks from my house that makes the best homemade chocolate-chip cookies for thirty cents. They also let you sit there and write forever. About an hour after I am home from work I say to myself,“Okay, Natalie, if you go to the Croissant Express and write for an hour, you can have two chocolates.” I am usually out the door within fifteen minutes since chocolate is one of my driving forces. One problem: On Friday I had the nerve to have four cookies instead of my quota of two, but anything to get me writing. Usually, once I’m in the midst of actually writing, it’s its own greatest reward.

6. I try to fill a notebook a month. There’s no quota on quality, just quantity—a full notebook, no matter what garbage I write. If it is the 25th of the month and I have only filled five pages and there are seventy more to fill by the end of the month, I have a lot of writing ahead of me in the next five days.
Excerpt from Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down The Bones: Freeing the Writer Within
Goldberg, Natalie. Writing Down The Bones: Freeing the Writer Within. Boston: Shambhala, 1986

Saturday, September 22, 2012

aimeeelizabeth's Homework Update

     Dani's homework for me a while ago was to backup my writing using drives or email. I have done that, and more. My good laptop ended its existence more than 2 months ago, and I lost about thirty pages of the novel I have been working on. Thankfully I sort of remembered what happened in those pages, so it was not as bad as it could have been.

     I did my homework. I have the book saved on 2 drives, 2 email addresses, as well as a hard copy. When I write a few pages I print them out. I have to say, I really like having a hard copy of my work. The only problem is where to store it. So far the book is 537 pages I think. More than a ream of paper. But, it's all right. I can take that with me to writing night sometime and read through it, make notes, laugh out loud at the things my characters say.

     Thank you for the homework, Dani.

The self editor at work: Writer Vs. Grammar: The Fragment

     How does one go about editing their work? I know people who will edit as they go. There are a few who wait until they are done. Then there are those who write one draft, call it perfection, then whine when others find many issues.

     I edit as I go most of the time. Then I read through once I'm done, then I email it off to people who know better than to say: "Wow, this is the most brilliant thing ever!" I am horrible at catching the little things. I have a tendency to add letters to words: and instead of an; that kind of thing.

    Grammar? I can honestly leave it. I ignore a lot of things that come up during grammar check. I am not writing a term paper or thesis, therefore, I do not care if I have a fragment. Especially when writing dialogue, or when I am in a character's head. It's not that I don't think grammar is unimportant - it really is. But I find that there has to be leeway when writing fiction - urban fantasy is what I am doing at the moment.

     If I was writing an epic tome of literary abandon, or writing a technical paper or manual, then I would really hunker down on my grammar. I would not have as many - if any -  fragment sentences. I know a couple of professional tutors that would absolutely cringe at some of the stuff I write. Because according to them, (male and female) there is no reason to not follow the rules of grammarians everywhere. I happen to disagree. I do not write for the academic masses anymore, nor am I trying to write the Great American Novel.

     I have gone out of my way to split my infinitives, misplace modifiers, and so on. But, my writing is heavy on the dialogue. And characters do not speak perfect grammar. Sometimes they don't even use the right words. But I feel that is what makes characters more identifiable, more realistic.

     Now, there is a difference between completely foregoing all grammar rules and bending a few here and there. I like to bend. And when the people I have reading my work give me their thoughts and critiques, grammar is never an issue. Sure, there might be one or two things that I didn't catch the first few rereads, but all in all, it is not that big a deal. Most of the feedback I get deals with issues that I have brought up myself.

    I know that having a degree in writing and literature makes people think that your writing should be flawless. No writing is. And there are many well known authors who make grammatical errors. So, when you are asked to read someones work, or are in the process of editing your own, take care in how you address what you think are grammatical errors. Remember the genre you are reading, as well as the way the writer goes about telling their story. Not every rule applies to every piece of writing.

     So, as I get ready to edit the novel I have been working on, I have to keep this in mind. I will make the best effort I can to catch all of the added letters, the weirdly worded sentences, as well as the parts where it becomes obvious that I was half asleep when I wrote it. Because, when you feel that you have done your best, that is when to let your baby have a sleep over at a friends and hope that everything goes the way you want.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Pocket Muse Excerpt: Ten Commandments


  1. Don't wait for inspiration; establish a writing habit.
  2. Take time off.
  3. Read voraciously.
  4. Shut out the inner critic.
  5. Claim a space.
  6. Claim some time.
  7. Accept rejection.
  8. Expect success.
  9. Live fully.
  10. Wish others well
Excerpt from Monica Wood's The Pocket Muse: Ideas and Inspirations for Writing
Wood, Monica. The Pocket Muse: Ideas and Inspirations for Writing. Cincinnati, Ohio, 2002


These are the commandments that Monica Wood prescribes for fellow writers to have a happy and fulfilling writing life and in this list is the summary of a good deal of the lessons contained within her book.  I thought it might be interesting for us to compile individual ten commandment lists and then make a master Detrangled Writer's Ten Commandments list as a compilation of our own experience, drives, and writing desires.

Amanda LaFantasie (Skoora) © 2012

Thursday, September 20, 2012

New Contributor

Please join me in welcoming our newest contributor, Beth/Tory Kasper!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Pocket Muse Challenges: Egg-timer and Emails

First challenge: Egg-timer

Set an egg timer for forty-five minutes, and don't get out of the chair until the timer dings.  Even if you sit staring at the page the entire time, you're ingraining a habit.

Chickens and fraidy-cats may begin with five-minute segments.

(I love the little taunt that Monica Wood adds to this challenge.  I think that creating a habit for writing is vital if you are going to be productive.  It is like going to a gym/recreation center: you have to set a schedule and go, no matter what.  Even if all you do is walk slowly around a track or just sit in the hot tub for a while, you still need to go.  Develop the habit.)

Second challenge: Emails

Don't check your email today until you've written three pages.

(This is a way to create another helpful habit, putting work before play.  I don't know that most of us would be able to put in three pages before tending to email, but maybe make a work count goal or a goal of however many pages you are able to before succumbing to curiosity.  If email doesn't work as a reward in this challenge, use something else, such as television.  Tell yourself you can only watch T.V. after you've written a thousand words.  Basically, use the things that distract you to keep you on track.)

Excerpts from Monica Wood's The Pocket Muse: Ideas and Inspirations for Writing
Wood, Monica. The Pocket Muse: Ideas and Inspirations for Writing. Cincinnati, Ohio, 2002

Amanda LaFantasie (Skoora) © 2012

Belated Vocab word of the week...

Sorry for the delay...

This week's word is:


  [sahy-kluh-pee-uhn, sahy-klop-ee-uhn] Show IPA
of or characteristic of the Cyclops.
sometimes lowercase gigantic; vast.
usually lowercase Architecture, Building Trades formedwith or containing large, undressed stones fitted closelytogether without the use of mortar: a cyclopean wall.

~Taken from

Monday, September 17, 2012

Pocket Muse Excerpt - Maintenance Schedule

I've been perusing The Pocket Muse: Ideas and Inspiration for Writing, and I thought this excerpt would fit in perfectly with our goal oriented blog.  The following is Monica Wood's recommended schedule for writers. Some of these goals are things that we would have to work up to, but I feel that this schedule is a good goal/challenge for all of us. 

  • Once a week: Skip to the next part of whatever you're working on, no matter how stuck you feel.
  • Once a month: Write all day without talking to anybody.
  • Every three months: Send something out for publication, just to keep your hand in. 
  • Every six months: Clean your workspace: Pitch obsolete files, lumpen draft, rejection slips, leaky pens, old mail.  Clear away the dross, and you'll be able to think more clearly.
  • Once a year: Take a chunk of time, whatever you can afford - three full days, minimum - and go someplace where your writing will not be disturbed except for eating and sleeping. 

Excerpt from Monica Wood's The Pocket Muse: Ideas and Inspirations for Writing
Wood, Monica. The Pocket Muse: Ideas and Inspirations for Writing. Cincinnati, Ohio, 2002

Amanda LaFantasie (Skoora) © 2012

Saturday, September 15, 2012

A treat from a favorite author and marketing ideas

Not too long ago I saw on facebook that one of my favorite authors, Katie MacAlister, was having a contest. It seemed that she had too many of her books lying around her house and she wanted to give them away to her readers. There were rules of course. If you entered the contest you had to also list the name of a friend and you couldn't pick which book you received, it would be at random! And she was going to pick winners at random.

Well, I said 'What the heck, why not', and sent all the necessary information plus the name of a friend who I thought might like a book. I don't exactly have the best of luck so I figured I probably wouldn't win. Then just the other day when Skoora and I were on our way to run some errands I got a package in the mail! It was two books, both the same, both signed by Katie MacAlister, one for me and one for my friend! I think Skoora was a bit more vocal with her excitement than I was but I think that was due to my shock.

Not only is this a really awesome surprise that made my day but it's also kind of a good way for Katie MacAlister to market herself now that I think about it. She's already got a pretty loyal fan base and what a neat idea on how to expand it by having her fans spread her books to their friends in such a special way. I really think this was a good move for her especially since she's got a new series coming out next year.

So maybe we, as aspiring authors and writers, should look at how some of our favorite authors market themselves. I know some do freebies they send out (book plates, book marks, silly and fun tattoos), some have a small selection of merchandise, stuff on cafe press, do books signings, go to conventions, and even do something as simple as answering reader e-mails even if it takes them awhile. And many have websites, do pod casts, and make book videos.

Check it out, see what people are doing.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Grammar Corner: A couple of commas

In the past I have been called, quite appropriately, a genuine Comma Queen. It is not a title of honor.  As a Comma Queen, I was under the impression for a very long time that you always, no exceptions, had to put a comma before or after the adverb 'too.'  (Don't worry, I wasn't putting commas around 'too' when used as an adjective.)  When using 'too' as an adverb, it turns out that obsessive comma use is up to the author.  According to Grammar Girl:

The word “too” is an adverb that indicates “also” or “in addition.” It most often shows up in the middle or at the end of a sentence. Most of the time you probably won't use a comma with “too” because your sentences will be chugging along without needing a pause. So you could say, “I too like reading mysteries” or “I like reading mysteries too.” If, on the other hand, you want to emphasize an abrupt change of thought (1), you do use commas, which, among other things, are used to indicate pauses: “I, too, like reading mysteries” or “I like reading mysteries, too.” In these sentences, you are adding a pause to create emphasis.
On a similar note, commas after 'of course' are optional depending on what you want to convey.  However, you should use commas before 'of course' pretty much every single time.  "It's only natural, of course." Times to use a comma after 'of course' include when using it as an aside or to draw extra attention to it.  The comma draws a natural pause and can create drama, unexpected tension, etc.  "Of course, the only way back is by going forward."  If you remove the comma then it becomes a statement of obvious exasperation.  "Of course the only way out is by going forward!"  Look over your 'of course' sentences and if a mental 'duh' would make sense at the end, then you probably don't need a comma.

Amanda LaFantasie (Skoora) © 2012

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Random Syntax prompt from Natalie Goldberg

Try this. Take one of your most boring pieces of writing and choose from three or four consecutive lines or sentences and write them at the top of a blank piece of paper.

Okay. See each one of those words simply as wooden blocks, all the same size and color. No noun or verb has any more value than the, a, and. Everything is equal. Now for about a third of a page scramble them up as though you were just moving wooden blocks around. Don’t try to make any sense of what you write down. Your mind will keep trying to construct something. Hold back that urge, relax, and mindlessly write down the words. You will have to repeat words to fill a third of a page.

Now if you would like, arbitrarily put in a few periods, a question mark, maybe an exclamation mark, colons, or semicolons. Do all of this without thinking, without trying to make any sense. Just for fun.

Now read it aloud as though it were saying something. Your voice should have inflection and expression. You might try reading it in an angry voice, an exuberant, sad, whining, petulant, or demanding voice, to help you get into it.
Excerpt from Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down The Bones: Freeing the Writer Within
Goldberg, Natalie. Writing Down The Bones: Freeing the Writer Within. Boston: Shambhala, 1986

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

What are your deep dreams? prompt by Natalie Goldberg

Deep Dream painted by Javier Martinez
I asked my Sunday-night group (many of whom had been doing practice writing for three years), “Where do you want to go with writing? You have this strong creative voice; you’ve been able to separate out the creator and editor. What do you want to do with it?”

There comes a time to shape and direct the force we have learned. I asked them, “What are your deep dreams? Write for five minutes.” Many of us don’t know, don’t recognize, avoid our deep dreams. When we write for five, ten minutes we are forced to put down wishes that float around in our mind and that we might not pay attention to. It is an opportunity to write down, without thinking, wishes at the periphery of our perceptions.

Reread them. Start to take your dreams and writers seriously. If you’re not sure, if you honestly don’t know what you want to do, start wishing for a direction, for your way to appear.

Excerpt from Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down The Bones: Freeing the Writer Within
Goldberg, Natalie. Writing Down The Bones: Freeing the Writer Within. Boston: Shambhala, 1986

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Writer's Best Friend

They say that total immersion is the best way to learn a language and what is writing but the purest expression of any language?  If a writer truly wishes to hone their craft, then what better way to learn the craft than by immersing themselves in the black and white of text on paper?  Libraries are a writer's best friend.  There is something magical about writing in a library.  Before the internet, before search engines, before Q&A sites and major online information hubs, there was the library and that is where a writer would go to learn what kind of weapon their character might use, to learn the laws that their bad guy might break, to learn of the clothing worn in Victorian England, and to find inspiration on every shelf.  Lately, my cohort and I have been frequenting our local library not only to borrow books, movies, and music, but also to get some writing done.  Surrounded by thousands upon thousands of novels, periodicals, picture books, and reference materials I was finally able to clear my head and concentrate enough to write out the entire outline of my grad school admittance essay.  It is a few drafts of polishing away from ready.  

The best part of writing in a library is that you are never short of information or inspiration whether your aim be nonfiction, fiction, poetry, or research paper.  There is joy in wandering the aisles and taking in the sheer magnitude of words and lives behind those words.  And if you have an idea of what you're looking for, you can seek inspiration in a more direct way.  If your character is a fly fisherman, Mr. Dewey Decimal can help you find detailed books on the subject.  If your character reads nothing but Agatha Christie, you might browse the mystery section and put yourself in your character's shoes as you gaze upon the myriad of Marples and Poirots lining the shelves.  I browsed the catalog today in hopes of finding inspiration directly relating to the craft of writing and found a variety of books, some of which came home with me.  These look incredibly promising for anyone writing mystery, murder or mayhem: 

Cause of Death 
Deadly Doses 

These are the ones I ended up borrowing today.  So far I am extremely impressed and inspired by 'The Pocket Muse.'  I will be sharing some of the ideas contained within this book but I recommend everyone take a gander at it for themselves.  Dani has shared a variety of information and prompts from Natalie Goldberg's book, 'Writing Down the Bones,' and I have been so impressed and excited by what I've seen that I couldn't leave it there on the shelf once I found it.

The Pocket Muse 
Writing Down the Bones 

Finally I would like to propose a challenge.  I challenge you (contributors and readers) to spend some time this week in a library.  Perhaps you have some time set aside specifically for writing. Why not spend that time in place where authors are immortalized, remembered, and born?  Even if you don't go there to write, take a stroll through your public library and just see what kind of treasures you stumble upon.

Amanda LaFantasie (Skoora) © 2012

Obsession List prompt from Natalie Goldberg


Every once in a while I make a list of my obsessions. Some obsessions change and there are always more. Some are thankfully forgotten.

Writers end up writing about their obsessions. Things that haunt them; things they can’t forget; stories they carry in their bodies waiting to be released.

I have my writing groups make lists of their obsessions so that they can see what they unconsciously (and consciously) spend their waking hours thinking about. After you write them down you can put them to good use. You have a list of things to write about.
Excerpt from Natalie Goldberg's Wild Writing Down The Bones: Freeing the Writer Within
Goldberg, Natalie. Writing Down The Bones: Freeing the Writer Within. Boston: Shambhala, 1986

Stuck in Writer-land or Answering the Question of Why

     What do you do when your main character refuses to talk to you? That is the trouble I have been having with my favorite elf, and main character for this book, Zel.

     Now, admittedly, real life has been a big problem for the past year and a half. Between my mom have shoulder surgery, me getting pneumonia, my sister having a stroke, my mom having double knee replacement surgery, to my dad having a mystery illness for the past eight months, life has been really rough. And my writing has taken a back seat.

     But now things are looking up. So naturally, when I want to write, when I have the motivation, my character stops talking to me. This is the book that I want to get done. I have the previous two already finished and edited. I have about 100 pages left, and I know what will happen, but the journey to the end has hit a major roadblock, and I have two flat tires and no jack.

     It would be easy for me to put this book on the back seat and play with other worlds and characters, but I NEED to get this book done. I WANT to get this written.

     The past few weeks I have been fighting with Zel. his mouth is full of peanut butter and he has been mocking me. So how do I get him to cooperate? How do I get him to talk to me? 

     I have started with little things. I've read back through the 485 pages I already have. And I've picked up on a few little quirks that he has deigned to let loose. So I pounced on them. Zel has a problem trusting people. He said so himself. So the question beckoned: Why? Why does he have a trust issue? How has he been able to keep this from his sister and father and the rest of his elven fellows? This little word - why - has broken through Zel's silence. I know more about him now. I know why he doesn't trust people, and I know how to help him conquer this.

     Discovering this new personality trait of my main character has led to many other discoveries by other characters. I have discovered what is MOTIVATING more characters, even minor (for the moment) characters.

     This is what I was stuck on. I didn't know how to motivate Zel. I didn't know how to make him talk to me. But once I figured it out, he opened up. I can have my bizarre conversations with him - and they truly are bizarre. I have latched on to another facet of his personality, and I can weave more of his character into the upcoming situations. He is not the brash, confident elf everyone thinks he is. But that is what he wanted everyone to see.

     The lesson I learned is to not give up on a character, chapter, novella, or book because my character is being stubborn. You have to dig deep into your character, find out what makes them tick. You have to answer the question of WHY? Why did they say this? Why are they doing this? Why do they want to do this?

     My elf talks to me now. I know why he feels the way he does, and I know how to help him. Everything else is coming together, and hopefully I will have this book finished by the end of the month. That is my goal.

     So if you get stuck, ask your character why? Why are they being stubborn? By digging deeper into your character you learn so much more about them. They are your creations - your children - and you need to understand them. Motivation is the key.

A Few Good Contributors

Seeking Contributor to join the Detangled Writers website

We are looking for self motivating, dedicated creative writers that are willing to prioritize their work and educating a writing community. Contributor must be able to actively participate in both postings and comments.     

  • Comment and/or post at least once a week
  • Ideally write, once a month, an article/post on the writing process, a review of a writing resource, Q&A of an author, type of genera, elements of writing etc.
  • Have an idea for a weekly post such as prompts, vocab list, or grammar corner
  • Must be willing to read other Contributors', members', and Facebook forum friends' work in both beta reader and critic review (possibility of two pieces a month maximum 30 pages a piece).
If you have the time and energy to commit to this,
Please send a personal writing goal list, author bio, and desired results on joining the Detangled Writers blog to We have space for two more contributors.
If you don't have this type of time, but would still like to add blog posts on topics of your choosing, we are adding a Special Guest 'Contributor.' Just send your 1,000 words or less blog post (write it in the email-- no attachments please) to the same address as above with a short author bio and we can see what we can do about adding it to the blog.

Grammar Corner: Rather or Whether

Which to use: rather or whether?  At the crux of the debate are the phrases: rather or not (vs) whether or not. A friend and I discussed this recently and so I decided to look into this conundrum, since, as evident through the auto complete feature of the Google search engine, many people have wondered the same thing.  My results are as follows:

rath·er  adv.
1. More readily; preferably: I'd rather go to the movies.
2. With more reason, logic, wisdom, or other justification.
3. More exactly; more accurately: He's my friend, or rather he was my friend.
4. To a certain extent; somewhat: rather cold.

wheth·er  conj.
1. Used in indirect questions to introduce one alternative: We should find out whether the museum is open. 
2. Used to introduce alternative possibilities: Whether she wins or whether she loses, this is her last tournament.
3. Either: He passed the test, whether by skill or luck.

Rather describes the stated or understood verb while whether provides choices.  Always use whether when saying 'whether or not.'  For more information on the debate of rather or whether, you can always Ask the English Teacher, and for expanded definitions, usage notes, and synonyms please visit

Amanda LaFantasie (Skoora) © 2012

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Vocabulary Word of the Week!

This week's word is rapacious because it sounds sexy in my head and when it's spoken. 


  [ruh-pey-shuhs]  Show IPA
given to seizing for plunder or the satisfaction of greed.
inordinately greedy; predatory; extortionate: a rapaciousdisposition.
(of animals) subsisting by the capture of living prey;predacious.
-Taken from