Thursday, May 17, 2018

Welcome to new member Marissa Pruett! Marissa is a writer, as well as an illustrator and animator.
This is her website:  www.marissapruett.com

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Norman Galaxy of Writers did well in the 2018 OWFI contest. The Galaxy winners are listed below. 1st, 2nd, or 3rd indicates place in the top three positions; HM indicates placement in Honorable Mention.

Barbara Shepherd:
1st: Young Adult Short Story
3rd: Poetry
3rd HM: Flash Fiction

Shelley Anne Richter:
1st: Non-Fiction Book
3rd: Horror Novel (collaboration with Jean Stover)
2nd HM: Unrhymed Poetry

Lisbeth L. McCarty:
1st: Fiction, Juvenile Short Story
2nd: Technical
3rd: Play
5th HM: Fiction Short-short story

Mary Flowers Brannon:
2nd: Feature Non-fiction Article
1st HM: Flash Fiction

Charles R. Richter, II
1st HM: Inspirational

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Bonnie Speer Creme de la Creme Award

The Bonnie Speer Creme de la Creme Award goes to the highest scoring entry in any of the six categories of the annual contest in the Norman Galaxy of Writers. The prize was first given in 2001, and below are the winners with the name of their entry and category to date.

2001  Anne Champeau
          Veteran's Day at the Vietnam Memorial, nonfiction

2002  Stan Solloway
          The Iron, Short Story

2003  Frances Searcey
          The New Student, Nostalgic Essay

2004  Robert Ferrier
          A Certain Age, Poem

2005  Vickey Kennedy
           The Aristocrat, Short Story

2006  David J. Jeffery
          Poem Envy, Rhymed Poetry

2007 Frances Searcey
         The Box-Seat Witness, Short Story

2008  Mark Hardick
          The Last Indian War, Short Story

2009  Keith Eaton
          Pals in the Golden West, Nostalgic Essay

2010  Dion Mayes-Burnett
          White Roses, Short Story

2011  Ruth Castillo
          Dorothy Dayton Jones: The Dolly Smith Days, Non-Fiction Article

2012  Shelly Anne Richter
          Harold's Helper, Unrhymed Poetry

2013  Lisbeth L. McCarty
          At Night, I Dreamed of Heaven, Nostalgic Essay

2014   Neal Huffaker
           Into Darkness, Nostalgic Essay

2015  Sylvia Forbes
          Tales from the Swamp, Nostalgic Essay

2016  Barbara Shepherd
          Daffodil Waltz, Short Story

2017 Barbara Shepherd
         Octavia's Secret, Short Story




Tuesday, May 2, 2017

May 2017 Speaker

Alicia Dean is both a freelance editor and an editor for The Wild Rose Press. She lives in Edmond, Oklahoma, and writes mostly contemporary suspense and paranormal but has also written in other genres, including a few vintage historicals.
  She is the author of more than twenty-five published works under the name Ally Robertson for the Wild Rose Press suspense line. Some of her favorite authors are Michael Connelly, Dennis Lehane, Lee Child, and Lisa Gardner, to name just a few.
  Dean’s topic will be “Common Writing Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them.”
  From her experience as an editor, she will alert us to some of the issues she sees in submissions.
Examples:
• Filter Words (words that distance readers from the emotion and action (fewer of these will help make your writing more ‘showing’ vs ‘telling’).
• Head Hopping (switching points of view in scenes).
• Dangling & Misplaced Modifiers (what they are and how to be rid of them).
• Unnecessary words and phrases (ways to tighten your writing by eliminating them).

Friday, July 24, 2015

Fiction Craft: Characterization (Part I)

A discussion of how to create characters who behave like real people and fascinate readers.

By
Robert Ferrier

Readers live your story by experiencing how people deal with danger. Your characters must seem like real human beings--feeling, caring, striving, failing, winning, hurting. Above all, they must earn reader's respect. Readers have seen every plot imaginable, yet they have not learned how your characters handle adversity. This column and the following one will answer these key questions:

1. How do you create a character?
2. How do you give a character direction?
3. How do you make a character fascinate readers?

CREATING CHARACTERS

Never model a character after a real person. Human beings possess too much complexity for a story. Yet the traits you emphasize enable readers to understand why a character behaves as she does under stress; only stress reveals true character.

Characters react to stress because of motivation. To ensure they act as you wish under pressure, you must construct their past to set up the desired reaction in the future.

Give them a biography, including a "backstory." The more important the character, the more complete the biography. Print out this "story resume" for each character and place it nearby. Include the character's name, date and place of birth, physical description, age, address, occupation or primary endeavor, immediate relatives, friends and relationships with each. List every facet of their physical and emotional makeup. Build them from the inside out, including traits that set them apart and differentiate them from other characters.

Above all, give them a current problem--the story goal--or in the case of a villain, a reason for blocking that goal. 

A tip for "bracketing" your character: List one sentence quotes about her strengths from five of her fictional allies. List one sentence quotes about the character's weaknesses from five of her enemies. Then you'll know your character.

In the backstory, list date and circumstance of pivotal events which have imprinted the character. Think action/reaction. Impact characters with a past event that explains why they react in a certain way to a present event. Not all past events need be revealed. (If they are revealed, use sequels or dialogue). However, as author you must know their backstory. Otherwise, you won't know how and why your characters react as they must under pressure.

Give all your characters a conflicting "story equation." Loyalty vs. Greed. Honor vs. Cowardice. Love vs. Fear. True characters struggle with internal choice. In commercial fiction, heroes and heroines will make the right choice, no matter the personal sacrifice. Villains choose the wrong path and pay the price during plot reversal at the denouement (the subject of a later column).

Armed with the character's background and personality, you are ready to begin the story, which should launch in full stride with an immediate change threatening the character's well being.

USING CHARACTERISTIC ENTRY ACTION

As author, you see your characters clearly. You've created them. However, readers view your characters as if looking through an opaque glass pane. They lack your clear vision of the character. Let's take a situation: You've put reader in the main character's viewpoint, and another important character enters the scene for the first time. Since first impressions imprint readers, and they're looking through the opaque pane, you must paint the character in broad, heavy brush strokes. To you, the description may seem almost "clown-like." To reader, however, your heavy hand allows the reader to "see" the character through the opaque glass, rather than presenting a fuzzy shadow.

Here's a scene introducing the character, Joe Buck, in my novel, THE WITCHERY WAY:
------------------------

"Damn blowdown!" roared a voice 

Wade stared open-mouthed at the figure before him. Joe Buck stood six-feet-four, wearing fire engine red overalls that matched the color of his face. The overalls showed smears of grease, dirt, burgundy paint, coffee, dried egg yolk, blood and something that looked like a smashed jelly-filled donut. His square face looked the color of Oklahoma clay, and his eyes bulged like two lumps of coal. Big ears stood out from his head like two leaves of cauliflower, and his black, coarse hair flew awry. The nose looked all Choctaw--wide and hooked. In contrast, his mouth formed perfectly, turned up at the corners--a smiling grizzly. Joe Buck pointed at Wade. "Do you know how to fix a blowdown?
------------------------

AVOIDING COMMON MISTAKES IN CREATING CHARACTERS

1. Don't begin a story by introducing the character's background. Place readers in the character's viewpoint as they face an immediate threat to their status quo. Introduce background during sequels.

2. Don't censor yourself in creating characters. Your family and friends won't try to see you or themselves in your characters, which are fictional constructs designed for story purposes. Readers will forget about the author, and lose themselves in your story.

3. Don't make the character one-dimensional. Give her faults, quirks, physical and emotional "tags" and flaunt those tags often. Above all, give her feelings and show them through viewpoint.

4. Don't fail to differentiate your characters. Never begin their names with the same letters, and choose names carefully to fit the character. Contrast characters physically and emotionally.

In summary, your characters carry the story. Build them from the inside out, giving them feelings and purpose.

Next month: How to direct your characters and make them fascinate readers.
Copyright 2001 Robert Ferrier

Saturday, March 7, 2015

2014 Norman Galaxy Contest Winners


Rhymed Poetry:
1st Place: Romance by Neal Huffaker
2nd Place: Poet on the Prairie by Barbara Shepherd
3rd Place: Reflections by Mary Brannon

Unrhymed Poetry:
1st Place: Memories by Skye Lucking
2nd Place: Springtime by Jean Stover
3rd Place: Spellbound by Shelley Anne Richter
Honorable Mention: Halloween by Neal Huffaker
Honorable Mention: The Note by Mary Brannon
Honorable Mention: Auntie’s Temper by Barbara Shepherd

Non-fiction Article:    
1st Place: Purple Elephant by Skye Lucking
2nd Place: Claudia Potter, Medicine Woman by Barbara Shepherd
3rd Place: Do Adopted Children Grow Up? by Mary Payne
Honorable Mention: Christmas in March by Mary Brannon

Nostalgic Essay:
1st Place: Into Darkness by Neil Huffaker
2nd Place: Grief Relief by Shelley Anne Richter
3rd Place: Remembering Paul and Jackie by Keith Eaton
Honorable Mention: Writing with One Wing by Barbara Shepherd
Honorable Mention: My Very Most Unforgettable Character by Mary A. Spaulding
Honorable Mention: Little Sister Tagalong by Jean Stover
Honorable Mention: Laughing Gas and the Tornado by Skye Lucking
Honorable Mention: Could He Do it? by Mary Brannon

Children’s Fiction:
1st Place: Hear Me on the Radio by Barbara Shepherd
2nd Place: The Spunky Tenderfoot by Neal Huffacker
3rd Place: A Lottery Ticket for Lionel by Shelley Anne Richter
Honorable Mention: The Other Twin by Mary Brannon
Honorable Mention: Lessons for Lyncoya by Mary Payne

Short Story:
1st Place: Mystery without Mozart by Susan Brassfield Cogan
2nd Place: The Portrait Painter by Barbara Shepherd
3rd Place: Granny Thistle by Shelley Ann Richter
Honorable Mention: The Indomitable Dentist by Neal Huffacker

The Bonnie Speer Creme de la Creme Winner:


Into Darkness by Neal Huffaker

Monday, November 3, 2014

Fiction Craft: Revising the Novel

By Robert Ferrier 

Completed first drafts unleash a torrent of emotions. Enjoy the moment. Few writers finish a novel, and you've passed those who dropped out along the way. Now you're eager to launch that book into the world. 

Beware the trap. First drafts don't sell. 

Euphoria masks sins: overwriting, plot holes, faulty character motivation, stilted dialogue, research errors, flawed scene structure and style mistakes. 

Editors look for reasons to reject. Craft your work into a salable manuscript -- one that stands out -- by taking the following steps: 

I. Delay 

Take a 4 - 6 week working vacation from the manuscript. Distance yourself from the book and let it "cool." The objectivity gained will prove crucial later. 

Use this time to seek evaluation of the manuscript by your critique group or a published author. Check your ego at the door; you don't need validation, you need red marks on pages. 

(By the way, this is a good time to copy the novel to a separate disk for safekeeping in a deposit box.) 

II. Take Notes during "First Read" 

After returning to the project (You didn't peek did you?), read the manuscript straight through with a notepad. Don't revise; make margin notes and jot down page numbers for repair jobs. 

Focus on key issues: 

A. Confirming significance of story goal and scene goals 

B. Strengthening characters: 

1. Are their actions motivated and logical? 
2. Do the characters grow? 
3. Does their "inner humanity" change? 

C. Checking key elements of: 

1. Beginning: Threatens protagonist with change? 
2. Middle: Moves toward confrontation with opposing force? 
3. End: Forces choice of sacrificial decision by protagonist, reversal and achievement of 
story goal. 

D. Ensuring ascending importance of scene goals 

E. Noting fluff and personal opinion 

F. Marking viewpoint mistakes 

G. Staying consistent on details 

H. Avoiding overuse of words or phrases. 

I. Varying chapter openings. (Use action, dialogue, narration or description.) 

III. Begin Revisions 

A. Cut overwriting 

Remember Stephen King's advice: Second draft = first draft minus 10%. Tighten the manuscript by cutting: 

1. Adjectives and adverbs 
2. Wordy passages and personal opinion 
3. Excessive research 

B. Correct errors listed in your notes and critiques 

C. Continue building characters: 

1. Add color and background to major characters 
2. Look for ways to use minor characters as major players 
3. Tag characters physically and psychologically 

D. Insert plot pointers 

Now that you know the story line, insert incidents that prepare readers for major events occurring later. 

E. Strengthen scene and sequel relationship 

Does each chapter-ending scene finish with a "hook" that pulls readers into the next chapter? Does each sequel (emotion, dilemma, analysis, decision, new scene goal) match the previous scene's intensity? 

F. Check story logic 

At crucial plot points, reinforce why the protagonist doesn't quit the quest. 

IV. Polish for Submission 

A. Correct grammar, punctuation and spelling 

Style errors warrant a rejection slip. Don't rely entirely on your word processor's spell check and grammar functions. 

B. Read aloud 

Whatever the length of the book, read every word aloud. If your voice trips over a word or phrase, delete the word(s) or revise the sentence. The final result will set you apart from amateurs. 

C. "Kill Your Darlings" 

Some of your "favorite" phrases, sentences or passages won't fit. Delete them. Find solace in your royalty checks. 

V. Submit the Manuscript 

When you've completed the above steps, submit the work. Two things will happen: 1) you'll suffer postpartum depression, and 2) you'll obsess about the status of the manuscript. The antidote: begin another story. Setting new characters in motion frees you from looking back.

Twitter: @Dante_Dreams 
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Robert-Ferrier/e/B0035CY448/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0