Writing In Retirement Blog

After The Scene – The Sequel


Last time I talked about scenes being the driving force of the plot. The action took place in those scenes, and because of that action, a change took place over time. Skipping from scene to scene would be very intense – always action and no reaction. So this time I am going discuss what is called the sequel in writing. The sequel refers to something that takes place after, or as a result of an earlier event. One of the ways you can look at the sequel is to divide it into three parts : The reaction, the dilemma, and the decision. Let’s look at each of those parts.

The reaction: This is where your character shows their emotional responses (feelings) to what has happened in the action. It presents as internal and subjective reactions of that character.  The character weeps, or screams, perhaps they stew, and may even lose friends, etc. The character hurts, and hopefully you as the writer brings along the readers, so they hurt for that character. The reaction may take place quickly, or it may happen over time.



The dilemma: This is when the character begins to puzzle through their options as to how they will deal with problems posed in the beforehand scene. The character thinks about a new plan of action.  This part can take a sentence, even a paragraph or two.


 Lastly, the decision: Obviously, this is when the character chooses a plan as to how to deal with the action that took place in the scene. This decision then leads to the next scene where the new action takes place.

 Some tips for writing a sequel  – if the main character is alone, show their reaction by thoughts, body language, and actions. However, if there are two or more characters use dialogue, as well as thoughts, body language, and actions.

To sum up, the sequel is the time when the character(s) take stock of what has happened. It is important to remember that scenes are long, but sequels are short. Scenes are active, while sequels are thoughtful and allow the character(s) and the reader to take a breath. If you approach your story with the idea that you will be interspersing sequels with your action scenes, your story will flow and keep your readers continuing to turn the pages.

Have comments? Please share. I’d love to hear from you. Comment below.


The Stepping Stones of Stories: Scenes


All stories have scenes. Scenes serve as stepping stones to move the story forward from the beginning to the end. Scenes drive forward the story you are writing. In a short story, you could have only one scene or several. In novels, you have many scenes.

What composes a scene?

A scene is a unit of storytelling that is composed of three things:

  1. It takes place in a specific place
  2. It flows over an unbroken period of time.
  3. While a character does things that move the story forward.

The scene should unfold in the reader’s mind like a movie. To do this effectively, the writer needs to show those things which allow the reader to experience what the main character is experiencing. In other words – put the reader into the scene by using simple concrete nouns that describe what is happening.

Each scene should:

  1. Have a purpose such as to deepen the conflict of the story, or reveal something about the characters.
  2. Have a beginning, a middle and an end.
  3. Change something over the course of that scene.

Scenes drive the plot of your story so be judicious in building those stepping stones to get to a satisfactory ending. The next time you begin to write a story think about where your path of stepping stones needs to go. It will help to drive your story and keep you on track.

Drop me a comment and tell me if this works for you. I would love to hear from you!

On This Memorial Day: Lest We Forget

I wanted to write something for those who we need to remember on this Memorial Day. To act as my inspiration, I played over and over TAPS. Then I came upon the humble words attributed to this bugle call;

“Day is done, gone the sun,

From the lakes, from the hills, from the sky,

All is well, safely rest

God is nigh.”Arlingtoon

From these modest lyrics I composed this poem:


A Memorial Day Remembrance

By Marie Staight

On this Memorial Day, I want to remember

Those that have served

So faithfully that their bodies have surrendered.

The ones who truly deserved


The category of hero,

Even though scared or brave

Whether surrounded by hundreds or zero

They fought until the grave.


Now they lay peacefully

In this place of honor

Taps playing mournfully

So their souls grow even fonder


Of the land they died to protect

Of the rights they stood behind

Of the loved ones they respect

For all – they now have peace of mind.


We come to lay a wreath

To place a Flag so dearly loved

On those that have bequeathed

To us a life beloved.


Our thanks we need to give

As we remember their sacrifice

For because of them we live

And lead the life of paradise.


Good Night, Rest your souls

Knowing under the starry sky

You are remembered and extolled

While ever ‘God is nigh’.


Thank you to all who have served now and in the past. We owe all of these great people much praise and gratitude.  Marie

Rewriting: A Process to be Valued


In the past few weeks I have been writing several stories and poems, and in the process, I realized that I had spent much more time rewriting than I did initially writing.  Rewrite2


I ran through the first draft fairly quickly. The main structure of the story or poem flew from my brain to the page.


But then I returned to line-edit each sentence to get the precise wording that was needed. When doing the line-editing, I noticed that some things needed to be restructured, so the story flowed better and had no discrepancies. I repeatedly returned to rewrite until I felt things had been polished to the best advantage of the story I wanted to tell. Give your story or poem the time and attention it deserves to be the best you can write. rewrite1Rewriting is a major part of writing, so don’t neglect it!

I’d love to hear from you about what you do to rewrite your WIP. Comment below.

Writing Rule Fallacy: Writers must have the “Butt in the Chair.”


Yeah, Yeah, Yeah … One of those rules/tips/commandments is that “Writers must have the butt in the chair.” Ask Steven King, Sinclair Lewis, Nora Roberts, Robert Benchley, Oliver Stone, and most any prolific writer. This advice was first given to Sinclair Lewis in 1911 by Mary Heaton Vorse.

“The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.”

What does this mean, exactly? Does it mean – put your butt in the chair and keep it there until you get something onto the computer screen? Does it mean be tenacious in writing every day as long as you can? Does it mean you must sit in a chair and write? Does it mean putting glue on the seat of the chair and sit on it? YOW!

Sorry, but this is bad advice – especially for those of us that are writing in our retirement years. I used to sit at my computer for hours after a long day at work and write well into the night. I’d have no bad effects from this because I was very active during the day, but now, not so much.

The recent research has shown that sitting for prolong periods of time can bring on a cluster of health problems including obesity, increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels. Indeed too much sitting overall can increase the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer. Also, it can make your hips, knees, back, shoulders, wrists, and fingers hurt!

As for me – my senior body is creaky – and cranky. If I sit at the computer for more than an hour, I know I will have difficulty standing, much less take steps. My knees will hurt, my hips ache, and sometimes my back too. So what’s a senior who loves to write do?

Here are some ideas:

  • Take a break from sitting every 30 minutes by stretching, walking or changing your task. [I find a timer is the most helpful of all. I set it for an hour. That allows me to write a good amount of time. When the bell rings, I find a place to stop. Then get up and get a drink, do a chore, or go for a short walk around the house for 15 to 20 minutes before I resume my writing].
  • If you work at a desk, try a standing desk, or improvise with a high table or counter.
  • Use a Ball or a ball chair to sit on.
  • Put a cushion in the chair you use, either an inflatable dynamic motion disc or an orthopedic memory foam cushion.

Posture: Make sure you pay attention to your posture. Keep your shoulders back – no slouching. Keep your hips back as far as you can in the chair and your feet flat on the floor, or if your feet dangle – use a footrest, so your knees are at least at the same level or slightly higher than your hips. Maintain your elbows open at greater than 90 degrees of extension and your wrist at neutral.

The Workstation Set up: Use the wrist rests only between keystrokes. Position the mouse as close to the keyboard as possible. The screen should be at least an arm’s length away from your where you are seated.

Vision: Don’t forget to rest your vision too. Look away from the screen and focus on something in the distance. To rest your eyes take your hands and cover your eyes for 10-15 seconds periodically.

Persisting in writing each day is important, but sitting for long periods of time is not healthy. Try some of these tips to live longer and feel better. Happy writing!

How about you folks? What do you do to avoid hurting yourself, but writing as much as you need too? Love to see your comments below.


Snnopy writng 2

What happens when you have a story in mind but it just won’t gel? What makes it difficult to figure out the components of the story? You’ve tried to brainstorm ideas from the fragments you have but none of the ideas feel right. You’ve tried some research, but until you have a solid idea – what is there to research? You’ve tried the old trick of sleeping on the problem and still no luck.

There you are sitting at the blank computer screen and nothing comes to you. What’s a writer to do? Well what I do is close my eyes and think about the fragments I do have – let’s say a vision of someone walking away from the main character; the main character follows this person but doesn’t have a good idea why they are doing it. How can I make this a story? Then out of the blue the answer comes – a vision equals a dream. That’s where to start. Oops writers are told not to start a story with a dream – OK back up a bit. First thing in a story is to show the status quo i.e. the setting. Add the main character going about his business – his life before the vision/dream. Then add in the problem/conflict – the dream that puzzles him. Ok then what? The plot or what happens to advance the story from the dream to the resolution or the end of the short story. HA! I have a story and the words just flow now.

You’ll notice the key is to remember the five components of a short story:






How do you put together a story from fragments of thought? Would love to hear your comments.

Tips on Writing Poetry


A few weeks ago I shared with you my rules for writing. Today I would like to share some tips on writing poetry. I am in no way an expert at writing poetry, but I do enjoy creating a poem or two when the mood strikes. It is a different way of writing than short stories and novels.

Poems tend to attempt to capture a moment or a feeling that you have experienced. A poem centers on the minutia of the experience, not the big picture.

Some poems attempt to communicate to the reader an emotional response. The ability to make this connection is a very powerful way of writing.

Here are my tips for writing poetry:

  1. Just as you do with other forms of writing, reading many different poems teaches you about what poems need to be successful – such as, the rhyming, the meter, and the lyrical sounds of poems.
  2. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different forms of poems; there are many forms that you can try. Sometimes a limerick is right for your poem, and at other times a narrative style is better. Experiment.
  3. Think about painting with your words. Use more concrete words that appeal to the senses rather than abstract words. Be generous in using imagery in your writing.
  4. The use of metaphors and similes is encouraged in poems.
  5. Rhyme with caution. It’s alright not to have a rhyming poem, but it does need a rhythmical form with meter and cadence.
  6. Read your poems out loud making sure that it sounds like how you want it.
  7. Lastly, I find it best to wait a few days to review what I have written so I can revise it if needed .
  8. Enjoy what you are writing.

Here’s a recent poem I wrote about experiencing a terrible storm;

Showers of April

By Marie Staight

The showers of April can be cruel.

The sirens sound alerting every fool,

“Tornado!” They cry, “Seek shelter!”

The clouds grow dark, full of helter-skelter.


The winds grow still

Day turns into night to fulfill

The promise of what is near

Little drops of rain appear.


Then splats of water droplets

Sound like rockets

Indiscriminate of where they land

Gathering momentum like a military band.


The clouds let loose their waterfalls

Down come the water’s walls

The wind blows the rivers sideways

This way and that, the rain splays.


A veil opaque, concealing all

The world disappears in the squall.

Lightning rains down its terrors

Thunder roars and the grounds tremors.


The wind, the wind blows in circles

Like a fast carousel, it encircles.

Lifting all that is not locked down

Into the sky, up to the clouds’ crown.


The noise, the noise is like a freight train

The din reverberates so loud it is profane

Crushing all that is in its way

Tossing homes, and cars, and trees astray.


The horror moves onward,

Leaving in its wake mayhem’s ache,

The rain loses its stride

The winds subside.


The showers of April can be cruel

All that’s left is the wail of fools

That found no shelter

When came the helter-skelter.


Yet, we all know that April Showers

Bring the flowers

The baptism of rain gives us tomorrows

And rebirth replaces grief’s sorrows.