I’ve seen jokes and memes all over social media that describe how being self-isolated or “quarantined” during this COVID-19 pandemic has had one of two effects.
The first has been an overwhelming feeling of being trapped or imprisoned, with no opportunity for social interaction. If you have kids, and they are home, they have to be fed and watered, educated, entertained, and of course, experience some quality time with you. Even if you don’t have kids or parents in your home, there’s always laundry and dishes, all those things on your to-do list you’ve been putting off until you had “time.” Things like home repairs, organizing, binge watching all those programs and movies, you’ve recorded, and naps . . . yes, naps. The thing is, you aren’t trapped.
The second feeling has been one of great relief, as being shut up in one’s domicile provides the writer with the opportunity to get that story or book onto paper (or at least into the computer’s memory.) This second opportunity can also be seen as the chance to see ourselves in the mirror of truth.
Let me put it this way: Let’s assume you are a serious writer, whether it be a journalist, essayist, short-story author, non-fiction, or fiction novelist. What exactly has been keeping you from writing that thing you write? Is it your job? There’s that daily commute that can eat up a couple to several hours each day. Does the boss hover over your shoulder so you have no chance to put down a few paragraphs each day? Is it your chores, like taking the kids to school or daycare, picking them up, and taking them to their extra-curricular activities (soccer, dance, scouts, etc.?) Do you have a second job?
During the time we are all confined (at least, we should be) have we learned anything about ourselves and our writing process?
In that vein, there is another advantage to this situation—that is being able to read your WIP out loud to yourself or to those at home with you. Reading your work aloud helps you catch the rhythm of your writing, especially in early drafts. Though you may not be commuting, those hours can be spent refining dialog, grammar and even some holes in story or essay.
If you happen to live alone, you may have access to a recorder or use your computer to record and playback what you’ve read aloud. Even if you aren’t ready to read it to the world, your family and yourself are all great critique partners.
Go ahead and read—aloud. You’ll never go back to just reading over the page.
We are starting a new series of murder mysteries taking place in the1960s. To make the story real we must research what life was like in that decade. After all we do have to dress our characters!
The 1960s fashions for women showed a major change from the 1950s strait-laced, conservative styles to the relaxed, youthful, even unisex styles of the 1960s. In other words, wardrobes had a major overhaul in just one decade.
Skirts changed from the swing skirt in the early 60s to straight (pencil) to A line shape by the end of the decade. And the hemlines were raised drastically as the decade continued.
Casual dress became more and more popular. Women were more comfortable wearing Capri’s, bell bottoms and shorts even at social events.
Couples wore matching clothes or unisex clothes which sprang up in the mid to late 60s. Teenagers to young adults jumped on the unisex look.
The little black dress came into fashion for cocktail parties while the evening/ball gowns started with a layer of lace ending the decade with classy one-layer dresses with stylish decoration.
Bell-bottoms became fashionable for both men and women in Europe and North America. They flared out from the bottom of the calf and had slightly curved hems and a circumference of 18 inches (46 cm) at the bottom of each leg opening. They were usually worn with Cuban-heeled shoes, clogs, or Chelsea boots.
The Empire waist style dress became very popular, reflecting the less strict social mores of dress from the 1950s (cinched waist). The 1960s women’s fashions considered women’s comfort and individual style as opposed to the earlier decades.
An interesting note: Capris’ acceptance in the United States was influenced by the 1960s television series The Dick Van Dyke Show. The character Laura Petrie, the young housewife played by Mary Tyler Moore, caused a fashion sensation by wearing snug-fitting capri pants.
However, things get in the way, i.e. work. We all dream of the day when we can make enough money to survive by writing. Until that day comes (if it ever does), we need to keep our full-time jobs. We wrote and published our first five books working full time.
This year we’d like to share a few jewels that worked for us during those hectic days of working and writing.
To get started with a new story, we used a log line formula that worked well. Even before you outline your story, write your log lines and make it specific. The formula is Setting, Protagonist, Antagonist, Conflict, Motivation and Goal. Once you are satisfied with the Log Lines keep them in front of you the whole time you’re coming up with your outline. It will keep you focused on the story.
In 1955, The hunt for a missing Marine and stolen diamonds (Goal) lead Private Eye Skylar Drake (Protagonist) to Las Vegas (Setting) where a crime boss (Antagonist) forces him choose between the right and wrong (conflict) side of the law before it’s too late.
Private Detective, Skylar Drake (Protagonist) stumbles onto the murder of the mother of a famous Hollywood family (Setting) where he meets the perfect woman but suspects she could be involved (Conflict). He must solve the murder (Motivation) and keep the high-profile family from becoming front page news (Goal) in a city where the forbidden is accepted and games played are for keeps.
Now this does not mean you can’t add to or subtract from your log lines as you write. It simply means the log lines help keep you focused on the main idea for the plot and/or characters. We also made an in-depth character study of the main and secondary characters for reference when writing dialogue.
Keep up the good writing.
Initially, the innovative Corvair was manufactured and marketed as a 4-door sedan.
The compact Chevrolet Corvair was designed to compete with Volkswagens in the US market.
The 1960 Corvair went on sale on October 2, 1959, and was the first American compact sedan with a rear-mounted, air-cooled engine, unit-body construction, three-across seating, and the availability of an automatic transmission. Only four-door sedans were available at first, then came the 2-door coupe, convertible, 4-door station wagon, passenger van, commercial van, and pickup truck body styles.
Though inspired by Volkswagen’s four-cylinder engine, Chevrolet engineers used Porsche engines as a guide.
To stay competitive with the VW Beetle, the new Ford Falcon, and Plymouth Valiant, Chevrolet chose to cut corners right where it showed: on the interior. The basemodel 500 was particularly drab. Everything inside was gray, both the fabric and vinyl upholstery and black rubber floor mats. The 700 models came with three interior colors from which to choose. Extra-cost options on both the 700 and 500 models includedthings we take for granted today, like sun visors for both driver and passenger, armrests, or a cigarette lighter.
The Corvair sales took a significant upturn when the Monza coupe debuted at the 1960 Chicago Auto Show.
Though the Monza would rewrite what everyone’s idea of a Corvair was an alternative to the typical front-engined American family cars of the period.
The death knell for the Corvair came when Ralph Nader’s 1965 book “Unsafe at Any Speed” claimed that the car’s design that incorporated swing-axle suspension created a far greater risk of the vehicle rolling, which he described as “the one-car accident.”
Even though the suspension had been redesigned for much better handling and safety, the damage was done. Nader’s book became a best-seller, but in the consumer’s mind, the reputation of the Corvair was tarnished forever. Chevrolet ceased production of the Corvair with the 1969 model.
Writing a book is a work of love. However, things get in the way, i.e., work. We all dream of the day when we can make enough money to survive on our writing alone. Until that day comes (if it ever does), we need to keep our full-time jobs. We wrote and published our first five books working full time.
This year we’d like to share a few jewels that worked for us during those hectic days of working and writing.
Most authors have characters, plot lines, or dialog running around in our heads most of our waking hours. How can you keep those great ideas from floating away until you can sit down and put them in your manuscript?
You need to keep a pad and a pen or pencil on your person at all times (unless you have a tablet or are a thumb master on your smartphone.) When one of your characters starts talking to you while you are waiting in a checkout line or at a long traffic light, you’ll be prepared to take a few quick notes for later.
At the office, you can always scribble a few notes while on hold or while sitting in a conference room waiting for a meeting to start.
My wife, Janet, learned on her sixty-minute work commute that sometimes traffic would come to a complete stop for fifteen minutes or more. She was able to jot a few notes or whole scenes while waiting for the cars to start moving again.
The same holds for waiting in the doctor or dentist’s waiting room. Rather than thumbing through four-year-old magazines, work on your story…whether its fiction or non-fiction, medical office waiting rooms are great. They have comfortable seats, good lighting, and are usually quiet.
A popular place to write while on your lunch break is a coffee shop or diner. If you choose to eat by yourself, you can have a whole table to spread your materials on while you eat and write. We’ve done this, and it works out well.
If you pack your lunch, hotel lobbies are a great place to write, and people watch. Some great character studies can come from watching travelers.
At this point, you might ask what’s wrong with just going home at lunchtime to write? The reasons are as simple and as complicated as, children, chores, pets, mail, television, and internet can all be distractions, plus—unless you live very nearby, you use up precious time going there and back.
If you happen to be traveling alone or with a writing partner (in my case—my wife), your writing can begin with an Uber, train, or taxi ride where you don’t have to concentrate on the time or driving. At the airport, you can pull out the trusty note pad and pencil while waiting for your flight to be called.
Inspiration can also flash into your mind at any time, so be prepared, and you won’t be saying, “I should have written that down.”
The bottom line is you don’t need to be at your computer at home. You can slip in a few minutes here and there to keep your writing momentum going.
Keep up the good writing!
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