I’m participating in the A-Z Blogging Challenge this year. Lawsy, what was I thinking?
I blame it on Colin! I’ll be blogging mainly about Civil War tidbits or pieces from The Rain Crow, but there may be a surprise here and there.
I’m working on The Rain Crow, my Civil War novel about my Confederate lady spy and boarding school operator and her fiancé who is a scout for Col. JEB Stuart. I also have another historical novel about the west in the works. So, I have plenty on my plate, but I thought about an exercise we did at the Compuserve Books and Writers Lit Forum a few months ago. It’s the Alphabet Exercise. That’s sort of like what we’re doing with the blogging challenge.
In the exercise, the writer goes down the alphabet writing scenes or bits of scenes for characters in their work in progress or something entirely off the cuff.
I didn’t think I’d get much out of it, but I wound up going through the alphabet for three characters and it was remarkable. One thing I tried to do was stretch myself a bit and include words I might not normally use. I’m not advocating peppering ten-dollar words on every page, but expanding your normal vocabulary isn’t a bad thing.
I suggest every writer keep a running list of words they run across they like. Write them down along with the definition. Use them in a sentence to fix them in your mind and grow your writing toolbox.
So, here are a few examples.
These are for Lorena, the heroine in The Rain Crow.
F is for filemot. I pulled Mr. Stossel’s books from the crates and stacked them in columns around me until I was imprisoned in print and began my search. For what I didn’t know exactly, but I felt sure the books held a clue to the man. I needed to know before Mr. Jenkins returned and took possession of the volumes. The classics, many in Latin, I set aside. I know well what they held as Papa had insisted I read them all, as if I needed encouragement. Though he could not read well himself he enjoyed listening to me. Others were ancient, creased with use, and filemot with time. These were the books that would reveal Stossel. It was here I set my sights.
S is for squabby. The vagrant in front of the tea room passing out tracts for donations was squabby as the Shetland pony I kept for the children. He even had that shaggy pony look about him. His hair and beard were unkempt, as was the rest of him, and unfashionably long. The common cry in these times was to know a man by his buttons, whether he wore the US or CSA brass as calling cards to his inclination. If that were so, this man was unidentifiable. No two buttons on his tattered coat matched.
These are for Trelaine, my pirate in Far Rider.
F is for flummoxed. The guard looked completely flummoxed. There he stood in front of the most wanted pirate in Tamarland who should not be in the governor’s palace at all. Pirates, after all, were supposed to be on the seas somewhere wreaking hell and havoc. “I think this is where you’re supposed to try and arrest me,” Trelaine offered helpfully.
P is for pheasant. She rode through the gate, haunted and hollow. They all were. Blood dried on their armor and clothes dyed it almost black in places. Many of them were wounded. Those who were whole seemed distant, as if something were missing, a piece of their soul, their joy, all of their innocence. Wedged in the side of her helmet was the ragged remnant of pheasant feather.
R is for ruffian. The innkeeper turned back to the local he’d been visiting with after announcing he didn’t serve ruffians. Trelaine cocked his head sideways, suddenly interested in more than a quick meal. He nodded to his men who cleared everyone away from the center two tables, then turned back to the protesting innkeeper. “I’ll have you to know we are not ruffians. We’re pirates. Now we will require some polite service, decent food and drink, or your balls. The choice is yours.”