Monday Motivations

On Thursday, I quoted Barbara Poelle:

“If you’re struggling with a character, write 20 things that the reader will never know about your character. These will naturally bleed into your writing and provide a richness even though you don’t share the detail”. 

I’m always encouraging my students to work on character biographies. Knowing your characters intimately will help you to bring them to life in the book itself. The wonderful Lynn Love contacted me with some great advice to build on this:

“For the book I’m currently writing, I made lists of over 100 questions each for both of my main characters, from obvious things such as what job they do and what papers they’d read to childhood memories, what sweets they’d like and what they were like at P.E at school! Most of it isn’t creeping into the novel, but it gave me a good idea from the start what they were like instead of having to write my way ‘into’ the characters as I went along as I have before. It’s like cramming years of getting to know someone into a few hours – character speed dating.

“My list of questions was pretty random – from how the MCs feel about each other to whether they prefer new Star Wars or old and whether they’d be any good as members of a pub quiz team”.

So my Monday challenge is for you to either come up with some questions for your characters (the more unusual the better!) or to write a poem/story about a character called Bob. Have fun!  

Last week’s prompt was topical with bonfire night lurking round the corner so my writing prompt was for you to write a poem/piece of prose up to 300 words on the following theme:

Fireworks

Your piece didn’t have to be about November 5th; you could interpret the theme as you saw fit. Here are your varied pieces:

EDC Writing sent in a poem in super speedy time:

You lit the fuse
It would be rude
To be a hissing squib
As Catherine wheel’s
Her fire sparks fly
He captures each
As words.

Jason Moody was also swift to respond:

A flash and a bang
Children scream, rockets cry
The vast inky darkness
Becomes kaleidoscope sky.

Helen Gaen’s is true to life:

Fireworks shower
knots of fear – terrified dogs
cry out, quiver, shake.

Now for more of Rajiv Chopra‘s fun Mary Jane series:

The night was young, and the fireworks were starting to go off. Damn us Americans, thought The Bat, and, damn Alfred, and his British customs. Why do we have to celebrate Guy Fawkes Day? I can set off enough fireworks if I want to.

“Sir, are you aware that some believe that Guy Fawkes Day is actually an arrogation of a much older, Celtic Pagan festival called Samhain? Festivals, sir, pass on and transmogrify into new forms, even though the roots remain the same. It is a pity, sir, that we forget the roots, while seeking out new forms, and bless the Gods of modern day television. Alas, sir, Guy Fawkes Day will be taken over by that American abomination called Halloween. Samhain is forgotten, and so will Guy Fawkes Day. Which is why, sir, we must preserve what tradition we can.”

Alfred’s smiling and unctuous face peered at The Batman and Poison Ivy from above a tray filled with whisky and ice, as the two prepared for a quiet, fireworks filled evening at home.

Indeed, the fireworks were magnificent. Not so far away, The Band of Black and Red stopped their rickety little van, to gaze up at the sky, as the black ink of night was temporarily blotted away by flashes of light.

“Coo, I do love a good show, do I,” said Frodo to Sam.

“Do you remember The Wizard?” asked Sam, as he remembered the nights of celebration in the Shire just before the passing of The Third Age.

The nostalgia that was filling their hearts was rudely shattered by the Joker screaming, “Damn The Bat,” as a bat-like display of fireworks suddenly filled the sky.

“Yeah,” snarled The Spider. “Damn that Bat.”

“We have competition,” he said.

They looked grimly upwards at the sky.

Neel Anil Panicker sent in this gripping story:

COME, LIGHT MY FIRE

Tonight’s the night when it may all go up in flames. My dreams, my desires, my love, even my soul. I am in the garden, looking out at the wondrous skies, illuminated with the sounds and lights of a million projectiles.

It’s the festival of lights, the triumph of good over evil. For me too it’s an upheaval – of not just this night but for all nights to come.

Inside, on the cot, lies in wait Aslam.

He is my husband’s brother. Tonight I am to marry him.

“Aren’t you ready yet? The maulvi is due to arrive any time soon.”

That’s Fatima, my mother-in-law. Her sound bite, more declarative than interrogative.
She may be pushing the wrong end of seventies, but neither her tongue nor her hands have lost any of their razor sharp speed.

An imprint of her stout legs on my sallow cheek is proof of her prowess.
Boom, boom…bang, bang!

The decibels levels been up like this, always. This being a border village precipitates matters.

Rockets, shellings, mortars – I am used to these deafening sounds – all par for the course.

Out there, beyond the garden, around those fields, among the bushes, hides Sailesh, my lover.

In my womb, I hold his baby – our child.

My eyes scan the dark.

A strobe of light circles the magnolia flowers to my left.

It’s my cue.

I step out, careful not to trip in the dark, gingerly holding onto the ends of my bridal dress.

I don’t look back, I simply move on – to my new life, to freedom.

I am leaving behind still-born memories of my ‘husband of one night’ before he was called to war, never to return (missing, presumed dead, absconding – I just don’t care!).

Suddenly all around me bombs explode, rockets blaze up the sky.

Lost in the gun shots that follow are the crazed shrieks of my mother-in-law, soon to be ex.

The fireworks have just begun.

Geoff Le Pard has written a very strong piece. Please have a read:

https://geofflepard.com/2016/11/04/an-absence-of-fireworks-microfiction-shortstory/

Please visit Steve Walsky‘s  site to read his lovely poem:

https://simplicitylane.wordpress.com/2016/11/01/november-fifth-poem/

Visit Simon Farnell‘s site to read something a little different:

https://sfarnell.wordpress.com/2016/11/06/ester-newtons-monday-motivations-fireworks/

***

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29 Responses to Monday Motivations

  1. Sacha Black says:

    I like questions that get to the core of them, like, what would you die for! Bit deep but hey!

  2. Simply-Me says:

    Thank you for sharing, loved Neel’s story and I’m left hanging for more.

  3. EDC Writing says:

    One for now I ask most characters “why are you still here?”

  4. Jason Moody says:

    Esther, you ask so many dazzling questions regarding our writing, what of yours? What follows your book of shorts? What Rowling-slaying work is keeping you up at night?

  5. DrEMiller says:

    Reblogged this on Write of Passage and commented:
    Today’s Monday Motivations from Esther Newman comes in the fifth paragraph. Be sure to read the whole post, including how today’s motivation was derived (thank you, Lynn Love!) last week’s submissions.
    Esther, thank you so much for writing tips and a motivation! You’re the best!

  6. Rajiv says:

    Ho, ho ho!! You are wicked! But, I may prove to be more wicked yet!

  7. Annika Perry says:

    A strong collection of writings, Esther which all thoroughly deserve to be show-cased.

  8. Pingback: neelwrites/fiction/mondaymotivations/bob/come,lightmyfire#02/09/11/2016 | neelwritesblog

  9. Thanks Esther once again giving us another thought provoking prompt. I am humbled by the responses. So I thought of doing a full fledged series titled ‘ Come, Light My Fire’. This submission is in continuation of the earlier post titled as above.
    https://neelwritesblog.wordpress.com/2016/11/09/neelwritesfictionmondaymotivationsbobcomelightmyfire0209112016/

  10. Rajiv says:

    Here is the next instalment!

    I can’t believe that this is number 14!
    “Who’s Bob?”, asked Harley with some suspicion in her voice. She did not like the idea of Mary Jane taking a shine to a man – or woman, for that matter – and Bob’s name had come up a couple of times during Mary Jane’s mumblings in the night.
    “Bob?”, asked Mary Jane with a from. She paused, “Oh, Bob!”, she said, her face suddenly clearing. “Bob was my priest and confessor as a child. I think I dreamt of him last night.”
    “And, of what did you dream, my dear”, asked Harley, snuggling up to her.
    “Oh, I dreamt I was in confession again”, sighed Mary Jane. “I dreamed that he asked me many questions.”
    “What kind of questions?”, asked Harley, running a finger slowly down between Mary Jane’s breasts. Mary Jane smiled, and arched her body at the touch, and then continued.
    “Oh, I dreamed that he asked me many questions, which is strange. I don’t remember him asking me many questions when I was a child. But, he had lots of questions for me now.”
    “He asked me if I believed what I was doing was good. He said that when I was with Spidey, I was a good, law-abiding citizen. That now, I seemed to have abandoned everything, and gone off on a reckless path. Where would this path lead me? Did I choose to go on this path, or was I seduced into travelling along these new roads? Was I truly happy, in my heart of hearts, and was I going to abandon my principles altogether?”
    She paused, as Harley’s tongue gently rolled around her nipples. She sighed and stroked Harley’s head, enjoying the sensations that were rippling up and down her skin and nerves. Her fingers caressed Harley’s back, and she closed her eyes, allowing herself to be consumed by the sensation.
    “And, then what?”, asked Harley, looking up, almost slyly.
    “Yes, he continued along this way, and then asked if I thought I was proud of myself now”. Harley’s head moved down, but Mary Jane’s hand arrested the downward movement, and looking into her eyes, she said, “I told Bob that I don’t care if I am damned to Hell or whatever he had in store for me. I told him that my path may be reckless, but it is my path. I told him that I love you deeply, and it is with you that I will travel down the roads and highways of life. This is what we have chosen together. This is what I told him, and then he asked me if I missed my life with Spidey.”
    “I laughed out in my dream, and told him that the old life was dead. The new Mary Jane, the true Mary Jane had been born. He then asked me one last question – whether I was convinced that this Mary Jane was truly authentic. To which, I screamed at him, and told him to get out of my subconscious.”
    She stopped speaking, and kissed Harley Quinn with a hunger that was more intense than it ever had been.
    This, my friends, is where we leave them for now. You, gentle and foolish reader, can use your imagination to create a picture of what you think they did next. I, Loki, shall not indulge your salacious fantasies.

  11. Simon says:

    Nice easy one this week. I’ve got a story up my sleeve with my Halloween Story a ghost called Bob:
    https://sfarnell.wordpress.com/2015/10/31/halloween-the-ghost-called-bob/
    😝

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