Characters Demand Attention

Haikuandydotcom sends a daily Haiku if you sign up for it. Today’s makes a good writing prompt.

chinese restaurant

the future manager

refills our water

Makes me wonder about the future manager. Does he/she know about the future promotion? How long will it take? What is the character like, kind or ruthless? Is there an internal struggle? Perhaps accomplishing success in a restaurant doesn’t satisfy the deep desire to do other work. What does the facial expression look like? What is revealed by the body language as the water is poured?

I sense the character emerging but I have to say “later”. I already have characters clamoring for attention. Hada wants to be published this year. Lilli wants her story completed since she’s ready to redeem herself from her deeds in Hada’s story. Jill wants to time travel, but she sits in an outline.

Maybe someone else will be inspired to write about the future restaurant manager. I’d love to read the story.

Sun Dog, our Sun's Loyal Companion

Sun Dog, our Sun's Loyal Companion

This sun dog was seen over the S.F. East Bay on June 18, 2013. It is the result of sunlight refracting through tiny ice crystals in the atmosphere usually when cirrus clouds are present. The nickname “sun dog” comes from the halos next to the sun being like loyal dogs keeping pace with their master.

They often are considered good luck if you see a real one. It “followed” us from one East Bay town to the other for most of the mid day.


THEMA is a literary magazine that requests submissions every four months with target themes.  July 1, 2013 is the due date for short stories, essays, poems, photographs, and art that relate to Ten Minutes is a LONG time!

Requirements:  The premise must be an integral part of the plot, not necessarily the central theme but not merely incidental. They prefer fewer than 20 double-spaced pages. The website is themaliterarysocietydotcom. No readers fee and no e-mailed submissions.

Arleen Eagling, one of the members of my critique group and a member of the Dublin Polish Your Fiction class, had a story accepted for the newest issue with the theme, A Week and a Day. Her story is called “Half a Good Chance”. The outstanding cover illustration is by Suzanne Stuhaug.

Litotes Rhetorical Device in Writing

Litotes consists of an understatement in which an affirmative is expressed by negating its opposite. Examples: Hada was not unaware of Samuel’s manipulation.

She didn’t dislike it.

Lev was not a little upset.

Litotes describes the object to which it refers not directly, but through negation of the opposite. The meaning is not clear. The reader stops to understand. Why use it if it stops the reader?  If used in the right place and not often, litotes helps to make a statement in a fresh way.

Anadiplosis and When to Use It


Anadiplosis is a rhetorical device that repeats the last word of one phrase, clause, or sentence at, or very near, the beginning of the next sentence. The main point of the sentence becomes clear by repeating the same word twice in succession.

An example from HADA’S FOG:  “Hada’s immediate reaction to Lilli’s announcement wasn’t from shock. It was from anger. Anger at herself for denying the inevitable.”

 Stella Cameron uses anadiplosis in NOW YOU SEE HIM: “It’s early, early enough the breeze through jasmine doesn’t take the edge off last night’s scents of booze, sweat, and urine.”

 We avoid echo words in our writing. We attune our ears to recognize them in others’ work and in our own, especially when we read our stories aloud. However, with anadiplosis, we use echo words on purpose to create a powerful sentence.

 Find a paragraph in your WIP where you want to add more impact. Select the word you want to impress upon the reader. Write it at the end of one sentence and echo it at the beginning of the next.

 Do the two sentences work better as a closing to the paragraph, at the start of the paragraph, or in a paragraph on their own?

Rhythm, Cadence, and Beats in Writing

Rhythm, cadence and beats are a powerful series of three (see previous day’s post) to keep in mind when you write your novel, short story, essay, and of course, poetry.

Remember “Lions and tigers and bears. Oh my!”  Dorothy, the Scare Crow, and the Tin Man sing this line along the Yellow Brick Road. (Notice there are three friends.) The order of the three animals has rhythm, cadence, and beats. If the order is switched around, it doesn’t sound as good, i.e., Bears, lions, and tigers. Oh my!

Poets are aware of the importance of rhythm, cadence, and beats. Fiction and non-fiction writers can develop an awareness of matching the rhythm of sentences to the beat of the action. Develop a cadence ear by reading work aloud to see where a revision of a sentence can make a difference in the flow and the sound. It might be only the order of the words that need attention.

Meghan O’Rourke calls it the “musicality of prose”. She suggests listening for the “duh-duh-dum rhythm and uses a line from Marilynne Robinson’s book, HOUSEKEEPING as an example: “To crave and to have are as like as a thing and it’s shadow.”

Do you hear it?