I think of them as word mice hiding in little pockets of my stories. These mice are filler words such as seem, turn, and reach with tails and little claws that burrow into the insulation of a story I’m building. They’re tricky. Sometimes writers need these little rodents and sometimes they don’t. They usually indicate the beginning of an action or an idea that hasn’t been completed.
Michael reached for a cup of coffee. Shailaja seemed to know the answer. Donna-Louise turned to leave the room.
See what I mean? They are all cliffhangers. Will Michael get to caffeinate? Will Shailaja know the answer and win the grand prize? Will Donna-Louise actually leave the room? Most of the time, the mice are skirting around the main action the sentence intends. Michael sipped a cup of coffee. Shailaja knew the answer. Donna-Louise left the room. Notice that word mice increase the number of words in a sentence just like real mice increase the population of living creatures in a household.
The only time they need to be seen in a story is if a significant action is interrupted before the character can complete it. Nate reached for an ax to kill a word mouse, but Rowan frightened it off with a threatening glare.
ITT: Give me examples of other word mice. Or complete Shailaja and Donna-Louise’s actions in the sentences above.
June Poetry Slam: Filk
On summer (or winter) vacation and looking for a new song to sing around the fire? How about a new song to an old tune? We’re combining poetry and music in this month’s slam as we teach you to write a filk song. Sure, it’s just a sneaky way to make you write a poem that rhymes and scans, but it’s also a fun way to apply everything you know about poetry and show off a little in the process! Learn more from Rowan here.
Prompt Up is our optional weekly writing prompt for the fiction|poetry challenge! Here’s how it works: we choose a sentence prompt from last week’s winning nonfiction post and announce it in the kickoff. It’s your job to use that prompt in your poem or story and then run with it. The prompt is just a springboard, though: feel free to use it as your first sentence, move it, change it, or float it down to other territories.
Sarasid told us what immigration has cost her in her essay The Real Price. This week’s prompt taken from her post is: “The dreaded phone rang.”
How to submit and fully participate in the challenge:
Basic YeahWrite guidelines: 750 word limit; your entry can be dated no earlier than this past Sunday; fiction or poetry only.
1. In the sidebar of this week’s post, please grab the code beneath the fiction|poetry badge and paste it into the HTML view of your entry;
2. Follow the Inlinkz instructions after clicking “add your link” to upload your entry to this week’s challenge grid;
3. Your entry should appear immediately on the grid if you don’t receive an error message;
4. Please make the rounds to read all the entries in this week’s challenge; and
5. Consider turning off moderated comments and CAPTCHA on your own blog.
Submissions for this week’s challenges will close on Wednesday at 10pm ET. Voting will then open immediately thereafter and close on Thursday at 10pm ET. The winners, as always, will be celebrated on Friday.
Thank you for sharing with us your hard work! Good luck in the challenge…
About the author:
As a professional editor and writer, Nate has published his work in numerous English and history textbooks and in on-line reading programs. In February 2014, he found his way back to creative writing and began submitting to YeahWrite. Soon after, he became an editor of the Fiction|Poetry challenge. You can read his work at The Relative Cartographer, a blog that has been recognized by WordPress, Five Star Mix-tape, Genealogy á la Cart, and BlogHer’s Voice of the Year. He lives in Chicago with his partner, a French princess, and a jungle explorer.