Tag Archives: emotions

A to Z: Niggle

Niggles. As in those little thoughts that eat away at you, that interfere with normal, everyday mental processing and do a tap dance on your emotions.

Yeah, those niggles.

Everybody has them at some point or another, and if you say otherwise, you’re a liar. But why would you deny them in the first place?

They can motivate us to do better, push us to be stronger and just plain encourage us to examine the world from another perspective.

As a writer, I get niggles all the time. Are my characters flat? Is my plot filled with more holes than Great Aunt Melba’s handmade doilies? Will readers like my writing style? Will I ever finish the dang novel?

I’ve learned to use these niggles to my advantage, carefully weighing their worth and using them to push me past expectations.

I hope my speechies can do the same as they face the State Speech Competition this weekend.

And now for the Letters I missed:

  • H is for hypothetical. The great What-if? can jump-start our creativity, but even in fantasy or sci-fi, we must stay grounded in some sort of reality. If we don’t, we risk losing our audiences.
  • I is intense. Yeah, life can be intense. Sometimes the bad seems to pile up, up and up. Yet when we write, we need  pace our characters emotions, providing a balance between light and dark. We need some peaks and valleys to appreciate the full range of character growth. And if we forget to write it in–our readers will be exhausted for never having a quiet moment to collect themselves.
  •  Joy. When something goes our way–“hey, I got a book deal” (really, I did)–we need to be gracious with our exuberance. Jumping up and down in front of our competitors is never a good idea. I saw this at Section Speech this past weekend when a senior received fourth place. She smiled and accepted her medal with a polite nod and a thanks. Had she placed in the top three, I guarantee you she would have done exactly the same thing, smiling and nodding despite the joy of being able to advance to state.
  • K is for kitschy. While we want our writing to appeal to the masses, we should strive for something more than tasteless drivel. Personally, I prefer niche-y. As in quality that appeals to a select population. A big population would be nice, but a discriminatory one.
  • L is to languish. Or, actually, not to languish. Often, we writers concentrate so heavily on one story we can languish in a holding pattern that keeps us from growing and honing our craft. My advice is to get moving. Write something new. Check out a different genre. Write a short story or an article to get over the hump.
  • M is for mediocrity. It’s easy to settle for less. As writers, we can be so driven by our goal to succeed that we lose sight of the true purpose behind our dreams. Personally, I want my words to impact my readers. I want them to come away from my writing in a way that makes them contemplate their lives and drives them to reach their potential.

Which of these letters are you guilty of? Which ones drive you to reach your goals?

Curious minds want to know.


Into the Fog

Another blanket of fog covered my little corner of the world yesterday.  I say another because this weather pattern has been frequent this winter.  As I embarked on my taxi rounds, I got to thinking about fog–in the novel sense.

I might be wrong when I say this, as I haven’t a shred of proof to back it up, but it seems to me that fog is the most used weather pattern in literature.  Sure the perfect storm might roll in or a blizzard may blow two almost love-birds into a cabin for a weekend.  But fog is universal.

It happens in California, London, New York and New Zealand.  It clouds up mountain tops, drifts across the roads, surrounds, engulfs, rolls in, wraps, settles, lifts, covers, swathes, shifts, hides, steals, seeps and slithers.  It performs all sorts of amazing feats that other weather doesn’t do. 

It is also synonomous with our emotions.  Which could possibly make it the most cliched weather pattern in fiction.  It’s an easy out and the perfect metaphor when things go awry.

Weather can set the tone, wreak havoc, create distractions and impede progress.  It can be the backdrop for an entire novel, or simply the ominous setting for a single chapter.  I’ve used it.  Not fog, but blizzards, tornadoes and thunder storms.  Cloudy days appear in my manuscripts and generally have some connection to my MC’s emotional state.

Agent Mary Kole discussed weather on her blog about a month back.  She stated (and I’m paraphrasing) that when people have nothing to talk about, they talk about the weather.  Since reading that, I’ve found it to be true.  And since I live in Minnesota and the weather has been interesting this past year, I have caught myself more often than not discussing the weather with acquaintances. 

What does this say about our manuscripts when they are littered with rain clouds and fog?  Are we treating our readers as acquaintances or best friends and confidants?

“Wow, some fog out there.”

“Yeah, I could barely see the mailbox when I drove right by it.”

“Took me fifteen minutes longer to get into town, it was so thick.”

“Worse than split pea soup.”

That’s boring in real life.  Reading it is torturous.  Yet it happens, because weather can be such a good barometer for the events in a book.  Over-used, however, and it loses its impact altogether.

How do you use weather in your writing?  Have your characters ever discussed it in an actual conversation?  Does fog play a part in any of your written works?  If so, was it used as setting, an incident that needed to be overcome or a metaphor for your MC’s feelings?

Which weather pattern do you find most frequently in the books you read?  Which do you like least and why?