Upcoming Events

The following events are coming up for Writers in the Grove members and the general public.

  • Mondays: 9-11AM Creative Writing Workshop – Free – Forest Grove Community and Senior Center
  • Second Saturdays: 10:30am-noon Creative Writing Workshop – Free – Forest Grove Public Library
  • Conversations with Writers, last Monday of each month, 7-9PM, Reedville Presbyterian Church, Aloha
  • Washington County Writers, February 1, 2018, Lucy Monroe, author, in Hillsboro
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Third Grade Writers

Recent letters to pen pals gives us these excerpts from the 3rd Grade of Gaston Grade School.

I enjoyed your letter. I’m lucky that my house is not a monster because it would eat my mom and dad and that would be scary.

And we are teaching Razer my dog not to bite.

What do you want for Christmas. I want a desk that is a bed and a deskbed. That is what it is called. I also want a spiny chair. I want that because I could do my homework on my desk and I can plug my computer in and do schoolwork at my desk.

Merry Christmas

F. 3rd Grade

 

There was a very interesting word that caught the attention of many people in the class recently, can you decipher the word?

cweshchens

Unknown. 3rd Grade

(The interesting spelling is the word “questions”!

 

Amazing Sky

The following is by Writers in the Grove member, Patti Bond.

When I look out my window
I see clouds racing by.
Where do they go?
Are the clouds circling the globe or
simply relocating themselves?
In the early morning there is a patch of blue sky,
bringing me a sense of hope
that it will be a nice day.
Five minutes later, I see dark, gloomy clouds.
How can clouds change so quickly?
Giving me the false hope
it will be a nice day.
At moment’s notice there is a terrific downpour,
or a jaw-dropping snowstorm of ten inches or more.
What an amazing thing sky!

2018 Authors Conference: Thank Yous

2018 Authors Conference - Food Donations and Preparations for Lunch - Lorelle VanFossenOur first conference, the 2018 Authors Conference, on January 27, 2018, was a resounding success in so many ways, it’s hard to know where to start first. First are the thank yous.

Thank you to all the Writers in the Grove members and their families who gave up so much time, energy, feet, and backs to help us make this possible. It is amazing how much can be done with so many eager volunteers. We actually had the Center cleaned up and restored to normal in less than 45 minutes after the end of the event, which is saying plenty!

Thank you to the speakers who shared their powerful perspective on the publishing industry in workshops and open panel discussions. Chip MacGregor, Holly Lorincz, Kristin Thiel, Deborah Reed, MaryJane Nordgren, and Jessica Morrell helped many many find their footing in this new technological world of publishing and push their story ideas and characters even further. Paulann Petersen again swept away cobwebs and restraints to help writers tap into their muse to find the words to share their thoughts, dreams, and stories through the magic of her inspiration.

Thank you to the participants. Your ticket donation helped us raise about $3,000 for the Forest Grove Senior and Community Center to keep their ongoing projects and outreach programs vital, supporting our community. The feedback was amazing. Everyone was so appreciative to have such an exceptional program and group of speakers in Forest Grove. They soaked it up and are eager to get to work writing.

2018 Authors Conference - Food Donations for Lunch - Lorelle VanFossenTo the donors who gave so much to help us feed and keep our participants happy, we are so grateful.

  • Raeann Johnston and FGSCC
  • Bill Stafford
  • BJ’s Coffee
  • Chuck Pritchard and family
  • Diana Lubarsky
  • Diversity
  • Elmer’s
  • Fred Meyer, Cornelius
  • Godfather’s Pizza
  • Jan Spoelstra /Carolyn Bradley
  • Jennings-McCall
  • King’s Head
  • Lela Baskins
  • Lorelle Van Fossen
  • M.J. Nordgren
  • Maridon’s
  • Parks and Paula Adams
  • Prime Time
  • Safeway
  • Schmidlin Angus Farm
  • Susan Field
  • Urban Decanter
  • Walmart
  • Yellow Llama

To the Forest Grove Senior and Community Center, we are beyond grateful for your continued support and encouragement of Writers in the Grove, our activities, and now our special events. The work the staff and volunteers of the Center provide to the community continues to amaze. The senior and community services, affordable meals, Meals on Wheels, bread-baking services, outreach programs, and other social services makes the Center an invaluable resource for our community.

To Lorelle VanFossen for helping with the logistical arrangements of the event, we are very thankful. She kept everyone and everything on time, on track, and mischief managed throughout the entire process.

To Susan Field, our amazing promoter. The event was featured in newspapers, newsletters, posters, signs, and everywhere around Washington County, even in the local utility bill. The success of the sold out program is thanks to her incredible determination to spread the word in spite of life getting in the way. Thank you so much for everything you do for us.

To Diana Lubarsky, our cheerleader, we thank you. Thank you for helping us keep our heads together with your strong leadership qualities. You keep us smiling in spite of ourselves.

To MaryJane Nordgren, our fearless leader, we are eternally grateful. You had a vision for this group from the very beginning. Your determination to provide a safe and supportive environment for creative writers in Forest Grove, outlets for their work through public readings and collaborative published works, and educational opportunities for writers is a testimony to your faith as well as your legacy. You’ve changed this community, added value, and lifted us all up to be better, as people as well as writers. Thank you for believing and trusting us.

I know we’ve forgotten some people to thank. Know that you are not forgotten in our hearts. We could not have done this without you.

Thank YOU!

Reflection on NaNoWriMo: Snowflake vs Backwards Script Writing

The following is by Writers in the Grove member, Colten Hendricks, on his recent NaNoWriMo month-long writing experience.

Beginning writers often flounder when presented with the time old advice of “just write.” What we end up writing are half-baked ideas, loose plot threads, and meandering messes all over our pages. We haven’t grasped the significance of our stories to even tell them yet so we “just write” only to end up with an unsatisfying book.

The solution is also deceptively simple: write an outline. Focus on writing the actual novel confident in what we are doing and where we are going by providing two simple and highly effective outlining models known as the Snowflake Method and Backwards Script Writing.

Novelist Randy Ingermanson is the creator of the Snowflake Method, constructing it with the belief that effective outlining looks much like a the structure of a snowflake snowflake; we start with a core idea and, from there, add details. Then we simultaneously take those details and expand them into further details allowing us to also always keep the parent ideas in mind and ensure continuity between cause and effect in our stories.

The process itself is broken into 10 easy to follow steps which follow closely to a traditional three act structure:

  1. Write a one-sentence summary of your novel.
  2. Expand the sentence into a full paragraph covering the setup, primary obstacles, and end.
  3. Write a one-page summary of your main characters which should include the character’s name, motivation, and a paragraph summary to their role in the story.
  4. Take each sentence in your novel summary paragraph and turn those into a paragraph each.
  5. Write a one-page synopsis of each major character and a half-page synopsis for each supporting character, preferably from their point of view.
  6. Expand each paragraph in the novel summary into a page.
  7. Fill in the details to your character profiles, from personal histories and family members to beliefs, flaws, and expected epiphanies.
  8. Take your book summary and make a list of scenes you will need, a line on what happens in them, and the POV character. Ingermanson recommends using a spreadsheet to do this step.
  9. As an optional step, return to your book outline and expand each scene into a paragraph. Most importantly, use this step to ask yourself if the scene is necessary and dramatic enough to justify its existence.
  10. Now write your book.

By step 10, we have everything we need to comfortably write with purpose. From then on, we need only go back and forth between our first draft and outline, scrapping out old ideas that we have decided will not work anymore, and adding new ideas when they arise.

Yoko Taro, a video game director known for his 2017 Nier: Automata, spoke at the 2014 Game Developers Conference on his process of Backwards Script Writing which diverges from the Snowflake Method in that instead of viewing the outlining tool as branching from a single, general idea, we instead focus on the end and the story’s emotional peak-the feelings and ideas the story is meant to invoke into your audience. Plot points provide the context for the emotional peak and are necessary in creating a reason for us to care for scenes which emotionally stir its audience. By starting with the emotional peak, we also need to ask ourselves whether a plot point contributes to that quintessential moment and, if not, should be discarded to save time for both ourselves and our readers.

Using Yoko’s example, if our emotional climax is that a girl dies and it is sad, then we need to ensure that our narrative also provide adequate reason for us to be sad when she dies. Perhaps it was her wedding day, she’s kind to everyone she meets, or the main character is in love with her. Additional emotional peaks may be added as well when needed, such as with the main character in love example since we would likely need to like our main character to empathize with him as well as sell the romance that they share.

Yoko’s Backwards Script Writing extends into worldbuilding. A lack of engagement from the audience in our worlds, whether they are fictional or not, is often due to meaningless details. Using our previous example of a girl dying and it being sad, an additional reason for us to care about the event is that the story takes place in a post-apocalyptic world in which the earth is dying and all people have long since discarded values of love and cooperation. The girl becomes a beacon of hope, treasured, giving us a reason to care. When we care about the characters, we tend to care about the world in which they exist. The Snowflake Method ensures that the writing development process remains unbroken. Backwards Script Writing makes every detail matter, enriching the storytelling.

These methods help writers migrate from amateurs to professionals as they use the combination of Snowflake and Backwards Script Writing methodologies. Begin with an outline, make the details matter, and find yourself writing better, more powerful stories.

Simple Pleasures

The following was inspired by the prompt, XX, and is by Writers in the Grove member, Kirsten Baggins.

The ice cream drips down onto the pavement, but he doesn’t seem to mind as he laps at the scoops, a big happy smile on his face as he looks up at the sky, smiling at the sun I’ve had to teach him not to stare at it specifically, but he stills likes to look up and bask in its warmth. Heat seems so foreign to him, what with him being so cold and undead.

With his free hand, he picks me up and places me on his shoulder, careful not to make me spill my own treat, before we head down the city sidewalk. On a nearby corner, a man is strumming away at his guitar for tips, and my friend approaches, bobbing his head cheerfully to the tune-music always gets his attention, and he’ll follow it wherever it goes. The guitarist freezes upon seeing his audience, stopping his playing with fear, only for my friend to say, “Play.”

“What do we say?” I ask.

“Please.”

The guitarist nervously continues, while I fish out some bills for my friend to put in the guitar case. He makes a happy sound when he does, saying to the performer, ‘Music good.’ The man merely gives a nervous smile and nods in agreement, and I smile to him as he keeps playing, and we move down the sidewalk.

As we continue down the street, I ask from my perch, “Do you want to go to the bookstore?”

Reading is a great joy for my friend – he can’t quite do it himself yet, so in my teaching him to talk, I teach him to read as well. He’s yet to meet a book he doesn’t like: Fairy tales, short stories, poems, any genre, all of them he’s loved very, very much

At my questioning, he nods and makes another happy noise, telling me, “Yes, friend.”

Prompt-a-Month: The Relationship

Writers in the Grove Prompt-a-Month badge.The February 2018 prompt-a-month for our Writers in the Grove members is:

Describe what your favorite chair looks like – without ever using the word chair.

Writers in the Grove members may hand in their submissions during the workshops or use our members only submission form. Check out the guidelines and instructions for submissions in the announcement.

2018 Authors Conference: Donors

Thank you so much to everyone and all the companies who donated to help make the 2018 Authors Conference a success.

  • Raeann Johnston and Forest Grove Senior and Community Center
  • Parks and Paula Adams
  • Lela Baskins
  • Susan Field
  • Diana Lubarsky
  • M.J. Nordgren
  • Jan Spoelstra /Carolyn Bradley
  • Bill Stafford
  • Lorelle VanFossen
  • BJ’s Coffee
  • Diversity
  • Elmer’s
  • Fred Meyer, Cornelius
  • Godfather’s Pizza
  • Jennings-McCall
  • King’s Head
  • Maridon’s
  • Prime Time
  • Safeway
  • Schmidlin Angus Farm
  • Jan Spoelstra /Carolyn Bradley
  • Urban Decanter
  • Yellow Llama
  • Walmart

Donations include food, snacks, drinks, gift certificates, volunteer sweat and tears, and an amazing level of community support and encouragement.

Thank you to all! We couldn’t have done it without you.

Prompt: Lonely Monsters

The prompt this week came from Kirsten Baggins:

Monsters are inherently lonely characters, often seeking out some form of friendship, only to be rejected, mostly on the basis on their appearance. It’s the part about them that touches our hearts, and makes us feel for them, seeing them without a companion, and with that, I ask this: If you were friends with a monster, what would you do with them? How would you spend your day with them? It could be any monster of your choosing-the monster in your closet or beneath your bed, a werewolf, a vampire, a reanimated corpse, a mummy, a ghost, anything at all! Just what would you do with your monstrous friend?