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I took it to the cashier and paid for it. I am one of those moms on a constant quest to find the perfect gift, and I was pretty confident that this time I had found it. I took it home and carefully wrapped it.
When my birthday boy opened the present, I was rewarded with his immediate reaction. His eyes lit up, and he gave a small triumphant swoop. Other gifts lay forgotten. He tore the cardboard and plastic apart.
I felt a twinge of uncertainty when he finally wrestled it from the box. The toy seemed much smaller than it appeared on the packaging, and the propellors looked a little flimsy. My boy was … well … a boy. I knew it wouldn't survive to see his next birthday. Nonetheless, I crossed my fingers and wished for the best.
Batteries installed, he took the remote in his skinny little hands and cautiously moved the switch forward. The blades whirred, and the flying saucer soared into the air. Caught unprepared for its sudden burst of speed, he screamed when it nearly hit the ceiling fan. He instinctively cut the power, and it came crashing to the floor. I winced. He picked it up, inspected it, and pronounced it unscathed.
“All right,” I said, relieved, “take it into the living room where at least there's carpet.”
He grinned and raced away with his brother right on his heels.
“Let me see! Let me see! Can I have a turn? Can I? When can I have a turn?”
I admit to a smug smile.
I could hear them in the other room. The buzz of the flying saucer rose and fell as my son started to gain a little control. They shrieked, they squealed, they shouted with laughter. I love to listen to my children when they are happy.
And then I heard the collision followed by a sickening crunch. The boys were quiet. My son came to me, the UFO in one hand and a bent propellor in the other.
“Can you fix it, Mom?”
Alas, no, I could not. But I showed him how it could still work – a bit more feebly, perhaps, with a noticeable limp and a tendency to veer to the left. He didn't seem impressed.
He dropped the toy on the couch beside me with a shrug as if to say, “These things break.” Then he bounded out of the room to find his brother so they could go play. I heard the giggling resume.
Ah, I smiled. But these things don't.
And he's like totally hilarious.
You should marry him.
I should marry him, but he's like really immature right now.
He's going to be really successful.
Yeah, he's got a great bod.
He does like baseball, basketball, and track, and he's like mediocre at all of them.
I don't know about you, but I'm doing something. I'm not staying home.
Sneaking out of my home at night is a very bad idea.
He's like not allowed to go out of the house.
What the ...
I think it's crazy how parents are like, "You're not going out of the house ever!"
His parents are like, "You can't walk in the mall, you're going to get stabbed."
Minimalism describes movements in various forms of art and design where the work is stripped down to its most fundamental features. As Unpublished Guy describes here, hyperminimalism strips it down further, leaving more blanks for the reader to fill.
So, here goes:
It shattered like the glass embedded in her hand.
Still too much detail? How about:
I couldn't help but wonder.
Crockstar Blog gives some more examples here.
Give it a try! Leave a comment with your own hyperminimalist masterpiece.
Posted by Shelli at 9:47 AM
To swear, or not to swear? That is the question.
Take a walk through the mall. Sit at the counter at a sports bar. Visit a high school campus. Flip through the channels on cable television. It is unmistakable -- our culture is becoming increasingly vulgar. Profanity, once used to shock, to make people listen, to shake up the status quo, has become the status quo. People swear... a lot! Does that mean that you have to include cursing in your dialogue to make it sound realistic?
As a writer, language is a tool, nothing more, and certainly nothing less. We use every word to reveal the story behind the story. We use dialogue not just to capture what a person has said, but to convey mood, emotion, intimacy, and conflict. I think that the fact that profanity has become more common place has actually lessened its impact. Cursing has become cliche.
I recently read the book The Wheel of Darkness by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. It was an enjoyable book. Overall, the plot moved along well, the twists were foreseeable but still fun, the characters were believable, and the dialogue was real. The authors used hardly any profanity at all. The only time they used profanity was when The Bad Guy was speaking. Initially, I was taken aback by the sudden use of cursing. But then, I quickly figured out, "OK, this is the bad guy, he swears." In hindsight, though, I can't help but think what a cop out that was! How lazy. Instead of creating a bad guy with depth, revealing his badness subtly, they simply slapped a few F bombs on him.
Avoiding profanity in your writing does two things. First, it broadens your audience. There are still a lot of old fashioned, sensitive people out there (like myself!) who cringe at the occasional curse and discard a book when it is filled with swearing. Profanity is a barrier to the story that we just can't get over.
Second, it challenges you to craft your words more carefully, more thoughtfully, and more creatively, and ultimately more effectively.
Will I ever use profanity in my writings? I've been following a discussion between fellow bloggers Mesina and Melissa. They discussed whether swearing in our writing reflects badly on you as the author, especially if you are a Mom. I've wondered about this, because not only am I a Mom, but I'm a Mormon Mom. But I believe that we reveal ourselves through our words, whether we use profanity or not. If I am a vulgar person, avoiding curses will not hide that fact from my readers. If I am elegant and refined, my writing will reflect it, even if I have a character who is not. If I'm somewhere in between? I cannot avoid the truth of who I am. So, if I reach a point in my story where I feel I absolutely cannot continue in honesty without letting my character swear, I will have to give in.
For another point of view, visit Fiction Groupie here.
Didn't get enough romance this Valentine's Day? I've got the perfect fix for you.
Donna Hatch's “The Stranger She Married” is the first book of the Rogue Hearts Series. Torn between a disfigured
Now go get some chocolate and curl up in front of the fireplace!
You can order her book at http://thewildrosepress.com/.
To learn more about Donna, check out Margaret's interview with her here: http://margaretlarsen.wordpress.com/2010/02/01/author-interview-with-donna-hatch/
with the heart of a poet, and a handsome libertine who may not be all he seems, impoverished Alicia must marry by the end of the month. Despite a murder threat looming over her, learning to love the stranger she married may pose the greatest danger of all … to her heart.
It's a large, open air shopping mall. A mother stands at an ATM machine on the outside of the mall, facing the street. Her daughter, about 2 1/2 years old, is sitting quietly in one of those rented kiddie strollers. It is red plastic with racing flames and "Mall Racer #5" painted along the side. The woman has her back to the child, concentrating on her transaction.
The stroller starts to slowly roll away from the ATM machine; it is apparently on an incline that leads toward the street. The mother doesn't immediately notice. When the little girl is distanced sufficiently from her mother that she realizes what's happening, she begins to cry. Her wail increases in volume as the distance between her and her mother grows -- and the distance between her and the street lessens.
The mother is startled to attention and races to her daughter, reaching her at the same time as a passing Good Samaritan. She gives him an embarrassed smile and thanks him sheepishly. Feeling safe once again, the child's wails turn from terror to indignation.
Do you think it is presumptuous of me to "review" Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy? I mean, really, am I going to find fault with what has been described as the best novel of all time? And does anyone really care that "I liked it"?
I really enjoyed this book! I learned so much from it. It really crushed me as a writer, destroying any self-aggrandizing ideas that I might actually have enough talent to put pen to paper and come up with a worthy story. My husband chastised me. "Really, honey, you're comparing yourself to Tolstoy?"
Tolstoy has the most amazing style. His story meanders, moving slowly, lingeringly, but seamlessly through the lives of his characters. I found that I had to remove myself from the frantic pace of life today to be able to enjoy the book. But once I did, I found it difficult to put down.
I loved the depth of his characters. He allows his heroes to be flawed and his villains, if you can call them that, to have virtues. He never comes right out and tells you what to think of his characters. He shows them to you and allows you to come to your own conclusions. Yet his truth and perhaps opinion is clear. He doesn't glamorize or excuse the adulterous relationship between Vronsky and Anna. He exposes the lie behind the promise of happiness when they finally consummate their affair. He shows the insecurity of such a position and the way it corrodes the feelings of those involved. The disintegration of their relationship is inescapable.
Neither does he glamorize the relationship between Levin and Kitty. Being a blissfully happily married wife with delightful, wonderful children, of course I was most moved by Levin and Kitty's relationship. Their painful awkwardness coupled with their dizzy romantic expectations made me smile. I remember those days! I could see their relationship building, becoming something strong and solid.
I wonder what my reaction to the novel would have been if I, like Anna, were trapped in a cold, loveless marriage. Would my opinion of her have been softened? Would I have seen the novel as a tragedy? Would it have made me feel more hopeless still? I am curious.
I love the kind of book that leaves me pondering for days after. Anna Karenina certainly succeeded.
Christine Thackeray has created a fun new series called the Visiting Teacher Adventures. Her first book in the series, "Crayon Messages: A Visiting Teacher Adventure," is about a woman who is given the worst visiting teaching route ever and how it becomes a great blessing. You can purchase her book from the publisher, Cedar Fort, and it is also available in LDS bookstores.
OR ... Enter to win a copy FREE at Parson's Post here: http://lynndeniseparsons.blogspot.com/2010/02/value-of-unexpected-and-contest.html
After reading her first book, you'll be ready for her newest Visiting Teacher Adventure, due this summer. "Lipstick Wars" is the story of a young mother with an escaping toddler. Her son's escapades take her to the door of a reclusive artist. Together, these women make miracles happen.
Another exciting project for Christine is coming Mother's Day 2010. Look for a gift book entitled "Could You Be An Angel Today?" It's a fun story about a typical Mom who has an angel come to her asking for a day off. The woman agrees to take on the angel's responsibilities for one day. Through that experience, she realizes that anyone can be an angel -- even her!
Christine has also co-authored a book, "C. S. Lewis: Latter Day Truths in Narnia," with her sister Dr. Marianna Richardson.
To learn more about Christine's books, visit her website at www.christinethackeray.com. You can also become a follower of her blog at www.christinethackeray.blogspot.com. You may also enjoy Marsha Ward's interview of the author at http://marshaward.blogspot.com/2010/01/author-interview-christine-thackeray.html.