Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Here is the result of the Writing Outside Your Comfort Zone challenge. You will notice it is NOT historical fiction, but it is not my standard science fiction either.

"To the casual observer I appear calm, peaceful as I sit here in my chair. My hands rest on my lap, one folded over the other, every part of me at rest. My shoulders, neck and lips are relaxed and my eyes gaze out the front window as I watch the clouds drifting by. Yes, at a glance I seem tranquil.

Inside I am a raging animal, running full speed ahead trying to escape my fear and anger. Thrashing, flailing, arms lashing out at anything that comes too close. The echos of my rage reverberate through my very bones and I feel an intense need to crush or shatter something. While trembling inside, I slowly, languidly stretch my fingers, then my arms, finally standing up and walking into the kitchen. The dishes must be cleared away, appearances must be kept.

To the casual observer I appear calm, dutifully caring out my responsibilities, but inside I continue to weep and wail as my soul slowly dies, trapped by convention and expectation."

It isn't bad, but it feels flat to me. Perhaps it is because it is so generic and there is no character developement. So, how do we make it better? We ask questions, lots of questions.

1. Who is this woman and what is she afraid of? Angry about?
2. Why does she feel she needs to hide her true feelings?
3. What conventions make her feel trapped?
4. Do those conventions make other women/people feel trapped?
5. What is expected of her and why does that bother her?
6. What will happen if she continues to hide her true feelings?
7. What will happen if she opens up and makes changes in her life to feel happy again?
8. What changes will she make?
9. How will those changes affect the people around her?

Do you get the idea? Questions are the foundation of good writing. As a writer we have to learn to ask the questions and find unique and satisfying answers. That is where the work begins and how the story unfolds.


  1. Hi, Charity. Thanks for following my blog! You've got an interesting scene here - the line that most stuck with me was, "The dishes must be cleared away, appearances must be kept."

    I LOVE your cakes, by the way. That snickerdoodle cake looks delicious and Suanna's Masquerade is beautiful. It would have fit right in at my wedding, actually:)

  2. Charity,

    I'm so glad you did this with me! I think your questions are terrific too. They're really important to keep in mind when writing and something writers of all levels should ask. When I used to teach English, each of my students could have used this checklist. And me too. :-)

  3. Thanks Krista! I love doing cakes almost as much as writing. It is a great outlet for creative energy.

    Margie--I'm hoping to catch a few more challenges you throw out. :)I think it will help me be a better writer to think outside my comfort zone. My friend Kristi suggested I start looking for a good conference to attend as well. I'm ready to get serious about this journey.


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