Building Blocks (Holiday ideas)

Here are some little know holidays that can bring humanism to your characters… Of course, there is always the possibility that your readers my think ‘What a weird character!’

National Catfish Day: Always June 25th: While it’s a day to enjoy some tasty catfish coked to your favorite recipe, it also is the day you say an extra ‘hi’ to your pet catfish. The day was designated as June 25, 1987, by President Ronald Reagan, who issued the Presidential Proclamation after the U.S. Congress called for the day to be established in House Joint Resolution 178.

Compliment Your Mirror Day: July 3rd: While most people believe this day is to find the closest mirror, take a look, and compliment the person that you see, think outside the box. Maybe, your character wants to remind him/herself to compliment/thank a mirror for a positive “Mirror, mirror on the wall…” response!

Body Painting Day: Always July 8th: The name alone should give us ideas to ‘expand’ character relationships.

Wiggle Your Toes Day: August 6th: A day to give your characters fond memories of Body Painting Day.

Be Late For Something Day : Always September 5th: A great day to be a procrastinator.

Mad Hatter Day: Always October 6th: Mad Hatter Day was the brainstorm of a group of computer people in Boulder, Co. and dates back to 1986. The selection of the date is actually quite logical, as The Mad Hatter wears a top hat with a slip of paper with “10/6” written on it.

National Chocolate Covered Anything Day: Always December 16: It’s a great day for your characters to indulge, pig out, and otherwise consume to excess, their favorite food….chocolate!

Think about your ‘building blocks’; we can not write without them.

Building Blocks (‘perspective inducing’ ideas)

History is far more than newspaper headlines. The characters in our stories breathe lives that reflect humanism of specific ages. The poster in the picture was on the wall of a Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Restaurant. It reflects human life of 1953. For $2.00, yes $2.00, on January 1, 1953, at the Ryman Auditorium, in Nashville, one could see six singers; to include Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, and Loretta Lynn. At present, the lives of our readers are far removed from the days of $2.00 tickets for six singers. Can our readers relate to the value of $2.00 in 1953? How do we, as writers, place this relationship in perspective. Oh,at the Ryman Auditorium on September 15, 2017, to see Little Big Town at the Mother Church, main floor seats go for $597 to $996!

While I am not suggesting you eat at a Cracker Barrel, you may want to give their human history wall décor a second look…a ‘how can I use what I am seeing to put my character’s life in perspective’.

Here are some other ‘perspective inducing’ ideas you may have overlooked:

The show Seinfeld (1989 to 1998) is still on television reruns. On Jerry’s apartment wall is a picture of a Good Humor ice cream truck large 5¢ sign on the back. In 1933, during the Great Depression, Good Humor introduced a bar for 5¢, half the price of a normal bar. Pop cycles were still 5¢ in the 1950s.

When you walk within your place of worship, have you stopped to really look at items on the walls, and think about how the lives of your characters were at the time. For example, what clothes are they wearing to worship? Is there someone who is not in conformity? At my church there is a suit and tie ‘dress code’ at the 8 am service; a relaxed ‘dress code’ at the 9:15 am; and a ‘mixed code’ at the 11:00 am. What was it like 25, 50, or 100 years ago? Is a desired or unknown statement being made by the character in your story?

Why not do Google imagery searches of advertising, be it clothes to toys, and grasp what was available and the costs. Gee willikers, a pair of “finely knit, full fashioned, ringless silk stockings” were advertised in 1940 at 49¢ a pair (3 for $1.42); “quality features you’ll find at 69¢”.

Even in your neighborhood you have probably passed items that are ‘perspective inducing’. What would prompt a character to put up a white picket fence in 1910 versus today? Picket fences are particularly popular in the United States, and the style used since America’s earliest colonial era and remains popular. Today a white picket fence has iconic status as Americana, symbolizing the ideal middle-class suburban life, with a family and children, a large house, and peaceful living. However, in recent years, some people have associated picket fences with what they regard as the more negative aspects of family lifestyle.

Think about your ‘building blocks’; we can not write without them.


Building Blocks (Weather, whether or not)

How important is a weather condition to the action of the story; painting the scene, or an antagonist?

He looked up and saw there were clouds moving in, the sun had receded into the safety behind them, and the air tasted of pending rain.  Good theatrics; ominous clouds and pending rain.  He had never used theatrics because you were begging for problems when you allowed extraneous things to get into the act. (Simplicity Lane, © Steven S. Walsky, 2007.)

Six days before their second anniversary Randy takes off “looking for a job” in West Virginia; not alone, but with a girl he met the night before.  When Randy returns, “Too cold in that place, snow, ice…like it was in the mountains.” (Through a Stranger’s Eyes, © Steven S. Walsky, 2005.)

Think about weather related experiences you have had; the oddities and the odysseys.

We had a seasonally odd, mild to hot, February.  During the last week of February, Stafford Country, Virginia was experiencing a sunny, clear, 74° afternoon.  Suddenly, I heard pounding on the house!  Looking out the window I saw 1″ balls of hail.  The hail melted as soon as it hit the warm ground.  About 15 miles north they were having 1 ½” hail.  Our hail storm ended quickly, and the February day resumed its ‘springness’.  Meanwhile, 45 miles to the east, La Plate, Maryland had a rare February tornado.

I was 23 when I saw my first tornado; it was in Oklahoma.  Growing up in Baltimore, Maryland I had experienced rain, hail, snow, hurricanes, and floods…but no tornados.  Now, two tornado incidents have etched an indelible image on my writer’s brain.  The first was in the mid-1990s.  I was at work near Washington, D.C. and we heard over the TV news monitor that a tornado had struck the La Plata.  Someone raised the volume, and the entire room listened.  When they showed a picture of the bad damage, one fellow employee stood and said, shockingly, “That’s my house!”  Silence in the room as we watched him exit for home.

The second tornado memory event happened on May 8, 2008.  A ‘possible tornado’ warning was broadcast over the TV for Stafford, Va.  Having seen tornados forming in my area, I took appropriate action; i.e., making sure there was water and Route 11 potato chips in my safe area.  As I stood watching the TV in the adjacent room, it suddenly got very, eerily quiet outside.  Steve, tornados make noise.  Wait…hold on…why head for the Route 11 potato chips too soon.  Instantly, I actually said this to myself, “Steve, stop the ‘manliness BS’ “; and as I turned to go to the safe area, I heard three loud thumps outside.  Looking in that direction, I could see through the door window that a large Bartlett Pear tree was lying next to the door. The tornado had decided to travel along the street next to my house, and at my house it started to lower itself, made a right turn, jumped over my court, and then landed in another section of my development; doing damage to a number of houses.  When I went outside, I saw three Bartlett Pear trees had been blown down onto my property.  Lesson learned, go to the safety spot soonest!

Whether you experience, read, or hear about the weather, weather can affect your writing.

Think about your ‘building blocks’; we can not write without them.