Emerge Unstoppable in 2011!

Emerge Unstoppable in 2011! That's my mission this year. Join me as I blog about life during divorce, raising a three year old, and the fight to live one's dream of being a writer, a graphic designer, a prayerfully a success at it all.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Malleable Monday - "A" is for Abstract

Welcome to Malleable Monday and the first letter in the new writer’s alphabet. This is for those folks who desire nothing more than a cliff to take a leap of faith from. This is not a lesson in the business of publishing, nor is it necessarily about craft, but more the direction and motivation new writers need to put pen to paper and get writing.

“A” is for Abstract, as in “to think in the abstract.” It means without reference to specific circumstances or practical experience (Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition 2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009

Let’s start with the simple idea of letting go of what we know and experience everyday and delve into abstract thinking. I’m certain in each of you the same school of thought has been implanted – writers write what they know.

Is that true? It is entirely possible. The difference between a fantastic fiction writer and anyone else is their ability to take everyday experiences and spin them into the abstract. Say, for instance, you take a walk early one morning (a bit of my own advice for new writers) and on your walk the air is thick with moisture and carries with it the rich, hearty smell of bacon frying in the pan. It’s a lovely experience, no doubt, but if it inspires you to write something what will that be - I smelled bacon on my walk this morning. A good start, but go one conceptual step further.

Are you a Sci-Fi writer? Maybe the rich, hearty smell is the smell of the 900-foot tall spindle trees on your planet that reach into the atmosphere to feed off grease-filled troposphere. If you’re a romance writer, maybe that’s your overnight conquest in the kitchen courting you with his culinary prowess. Or, if you write suspense, that could be something other than bacon frying in the pan, if you know what I mean.

Point is James Cameron didn’t make Avatar a grand success by producing a story about a marine who was dispatched on a mission during wartime to find his loyalties lie with the people he is charged to eradicate. Though touching, we often experience war, growth, and relationships in person or on the evening news. No, James Cameron made Avatar a captivating story by creating a visually fantastic world we were unfamiliar with, and drawing us into stunning characters we could relate to like a paraplegic marine thrust into a computerized capsule in order to take on the identity of his enemy. Does your protagonist have to be blue in order to encourage emotion? Absolutely not, but your story has to be fresh, different, an original idea from your brain containing imaginative, thought-provoking content, characters and scenery.

Does the idea of abstract thinking test you? Good. Sometimes the best things in life come out of challenge. Try reinventing yourself at forty, or making a career change at fifty-five. Sure it’s difficult, but who said rewards come easy.

Now, it’s time for you to join the conversation. Whether you are a new writer or someone who has published thirty books, if you’re reading this take a minute to share one teensy-weensy abstract thought. Pick one of the following basic subjects: 1) Bright yellow daffodils lifting their heads to the noonday sun; 2) an azure sky filled with fire; or 3) the sound of silence from a snow-covered mountain top and write the abstract start it inspires in you. Go all out! Put your craziest, weirdest, most out-of-the-box thoughts into a sentence or two and comment. Let’s see what our peers have to say.

Until Wednesday, I remain Unstoppable


  1. Don breathed in the cold mountain air so deeply his sinuses hurt. The blue sky here at the peak of Mt.Credence was so clear, the air so thin, the snow so blindingly white-- he felt upside down somehow, as if he'd taken a dive into a pool and landed on the bottom of dry concrete, looking up.
    Silence pressed from all around. He took another deep snort of air, just to hear the sound of his own breathing, to make sure he was there, somewhere, present and alive.
    Or was he?

  2. The day was hot, too hot for the middle of March, but there it was, and so it must be. No cloud touched the crystalline blue of the sky, a blue that radiated and sizzled in its intensity. Without warning the rumble of thunder reached across time and distance to announce the approach of wet and dark, even though no visible sign reinforced the statement. A patch of yellow daffodils lifted their heads to the noonday sun, looking for reassurance. Blades of grass whispered to each other inquisitively. Could relief be on its way? ...

  3. Pam and Megan...fabulous! Thanks so much for playing along. You both write beautifully. I however use "ly" words. :-)