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Magic at a stoplight

Sometimes when I’m driving and have hit a stoplight, I get this strange feeling. There is no moment we can go back and recapture, but sometimes sitting with the red light shining above me, this seems especially clear.

It’s a moment like no other, me sitting in my car and the others waiting at the light with me, both beside and around me and across the intersection, their lights blending into mine.

Tonight on my way in to work it seemed especially magical. I stopped at the red light and watched a weathered man take his turn to cross. He carried two heavy plastic bags and seemed as if he’d been fighting for a while. My heart ached for him.

Crossing the other way was a young woman, maybe a student, crossing the street with her phone to her ear. Her pace was somewhere between a wander and a stride. I wondered if she had anywhere to be that night. It didn’t seem like it.

A cyclist crossed quickly, from my left to my right, toque on his head. The risks of cycling on the road flashed around me and I hoped for his safety.

Then the light changed, and the vehicles across the intersection moved forward and past us, while those of us waiting at the light moved forward ourselves. The moment was gone; the magic was over. .

Sometimes when I’m waiting at a stoplight, my imagination runs wild.


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Give your characters emotional depth

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m back to writing fiction. My goal is to get as good as I can, and this morning this tweet caught my eye:

There were some great responses to the tweet, but even on its own it’s so true. How many times have you watched a film and felt for a character through loss, only to be startled by their instant recovery the next scene/episode?

It’s frustrating as a viewer when this happens (why am I feeling the loss longer than the character who lost someone?), and I tend to lose faith in the story and the writer. It’s not as believable. And yes, people can push through their grief or use it to propel them to do incredible things, but that’s something that needs to be shown.

Something to think about.

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Writing tips from Jean Craighead George

When I was writing my review for My Side of the Mountain (you’ll see it soon), I came across Jean Craighead George’s website.

The author’s website is still maintained, even since her death in 2012, and contains a tab along the top titled “On Writing.” It’s written more for children, I think, but still was fun to read. She gives some tips on writing (calling them “writing prods,”) and advises not to spend too much time thinking about the ending. The ending, she says, will write itself and often in a way that will be a surprise to you.

I enjoyed reading this page on writing, learning about the process of such an experienced author (she wrote more than 100 books!!) – hope you enjoy it as well.