Dance, Music, and NaNo

First, Sacred Dance rocks and Saturdays are the best day of the week, ever. Considering asking about how one gets to be on Leadership for Sacred…it’s something I love. A lot. And…honestly, there are not many times that dance takes on such a passionate appeal for me. That’s probably blasphemy, seeing as I am a dancer…but though I love it, I don’t usually love it so…much. I’m not making much sense. But if Sacred is become something so important to me, and is a type of dance that isn’t stressful, and isn’t judgmental, and is a place where I can just dance as me without spending the entire time looking at everyone else and wishing for their bodies and their skill…I should pursue it. Right? …gosh, what am I thinking. I’m way too chicken to be on Leadership for anything XD Hmph. Well. As long as I don’t have to lead bible study or communicate with churches or the chapel or choreograph or…

ok maybe this is a bad idea after all. =P


Second, this. I think I’m obsessed. …and no, not with the fellow, with the song. *not a swooning fangirl* …because isn’t Josh Groban typically followed by swooning fangirls? However, I do love his music.


Third and lastly, NaNo. Yes, I am currently procrastinating on it to write this post. Sue me. (but don’t really). Question for all you writer-y people out there…I’m writing something set in present time, but with frequent (like, every other chapter-ish) flashbacks to several years ago. the parts that are taking place in the present I am writing in first person present tense (yea, giving in to the Hunger Games thing, here). So I’m wondering about the flashbacks. I don’t know how to write them so that it is clear that they are taking place in the past, without saying like, “Three years previously, XYZ blah blah blah…” …You know? Any suggestions on how I can make it clear that I am going back in time without blatantly stating it every time? I can’t use a more childish voice for my MC, since she’s like 19 in the present parts and 16 in the flashbacks, so she’s not going to be super childish enough for there to be a big enough difference between the two. Would it be really really confusing if I wrote the flashbacks in first person past tense, instead of first person present tense like the “now” parts? would that work, do you think? I really have no idea how to go about this. =P Heh. Any suggestions, or feedback on that, or input of any sort is welcome. And just as a teaser and an example of my lovely first-person-present, here’s a bit of dialogue from yesterday. Don’t expect too much of the novel to be posted here, at least not for a long time…but I may give yuo bits now and then.

Also, this is a semi-fictional memoir (or a semi-memoir-ish realistic fiction piece, idk which yet =P), so…all names are changed for the privacy of those involved. =)



[scene: dining hall + homework]


I eat quickly, pushing my bowl away when it’s empty. Then, sipping my hot-chocolate-french-vanilla-chai-latte slowly, I begin to read through the stack. Each paper bears my name across the top, in Times New Roman font, and the heading, “Professor Henley, Creative Nonfiction Writing.” Beneath this, each bundle of papers bears a different signature – those of my classmates, who have read over the papers and left their comments and criticism scrawled in the margins. Some are commented on so much that the margins scarcely show any blank space at all, anymore. Others only have a few spots underlined, and the signature of the “reviewer” scrawled at the top. A scarce one or two don’t even have that. I skip over those cleaner papers, and set them aside. Unhelpful people…how can I make this better if you don’t give me suggestions? I settle in to my reading, and lose track of time and my surroundings quickly.

I am half-way through the paper bearing my Professor’s comments when I realize someone is standing next to my table. I look up. It’s Allie, a fellow Nonfiction classmate and my writing partner for the class. As soon as she sees she’s got my attention, she starts talking.

“So this is how you spend your evenings too?” she asks, pointing to my rather sad solitary meal, and the giant stack of papers.

I grin, carefully. “Yep. This is it.”

“Well, I’m glad I’m not the only one!” she says, gesturing expansively.

I can’t tell if she means the only one to bring a stack of homework to dinner, or the only one to perpetually eat alone and have long conversations with her reflection. Somehow, I suspect she means both. “Um, nope. You definitely aren’t.” I say finally, seeing that she shows no signs of leaving, though the passing conversation should rightly be over, in my opinion.

“You’ve got a big stack to go through, there!” Allie says, motioning to my papers. “Honestly, the only comments I ever read are Prof Henley’s…and yours, since you’re my writing partner,” she says. “I just don’t have time to read any more! And honestly…it’s not helpful, you know? The helpful part is talking about it in class…not all these…not all the comments.” She is holding a knit hat in her hands, and she wrings it in frustration and…embarrassment, perhaps?

“Yea, it is a little overwhelming, sometimes,” I say, pretending to agree. It doesn’t take long to glance over them all, I think. You’re missing a lot of good feedback.

“I love your writing though,” Allie continues. “your piece today was great. It’s so…so…you have such good…description…your use of language is lovely!” She talks in a strange, drawn-out sort of way, pausing every few words and using too much emphasis, as though relating an epic tale of mystery and drama in her best stage voice, not having a mundane conversation about homework. When I first met Allie, I thought this was just because we were discussing a piece of semi-epic literature at the moment. I soon learned that this was, in fact, her normal way of expressing herself. Odd, and somehow extremely irritating. I just smile now, and she rushes on. “I don’t know, this next assignment…I just don’t know! I’m a science major,” (as though this is the perfect excuse for everything), “I guess you’ll get to read whatever…crappy…rambling word-vomit I pull out of my…” She gestures downwards and laughs nervously.

“Oh, I’m sure it won’t be that bad,” I say, trying to sound encouraging but failing almost completely. “Your writing is good!” My mind scrambles to think of some distinctive feature of her prose to encourage her with, but instead my head goes totally blank. There really are no distinctive features, I think. I plaster on an even bigger smile.

Allie doesn’t seem to notice. “Well, I don’t know, we’ll see.” There is another awkward pause, one that should (yet again) signal the end of the conversation, but Allie soon picks up again. “I don’t know how I’m going to have time to even…edit these!” she drawls, breathlessly.

Now this, I can agree with wholeheartedly. “I know!” I say, glancing at the papers I hold. “I want to edit all three of the essays we have submitted, not just the two that are required. I like them all! But I would never have time, among all the other homework I have, and I don’t know where to start.”

Allie seems a bit puzzled by my wish to do more than the required homework, but it doesn’t seem to faze her too much. “Yes, well…I’m a science major…I guess it will all get done…somehow…I’ll just do it somehow. There’s just…not enough time in a day! You know?”

“No, there definitely isn’t. I really want to edit these; I’m excited to…But yea, it’s going to be hard to get it done on top of all the rest of the homework that has to happen too. And it really is overwhelming.”

“Yes…there’s so much! Well, I’ll leave you to it,” Allie finally concludes, motioning again to my stack of papers and twisting her hat in her hands again. “You have your work cut out for you…a lot of reading…a long evening…”

“Yea, I should get back to work,” I say, cutting her off. “Have a nice evening!”

“You too! See you in class on Tuesday! Well…It was nice talking!” After another hesitation, in which I say nothing, although she appears to be waiting for me to, Allie raises an arm in a vague motion that could almost be a wave, and heads off into the slowly-emptying dining hall. Spacey, I think. We could get along well, if it weren’t that she talks so…I don’t know.

I sigh, and turn back to my reading. I don’t know how anyone lives with her. I wonder who her roommate is? I know I couldn’t do it, I think, almost guiltily. She’s a nice girl, really…I like reading her work and hearing her feedback on mine. I just can’t stand the way she talks. Does she hear herself? …But I guess that’s not a very good reason to dislike someone, is it? I shake my head. Come on, Rachel. You have work to do. I move on to the next copy of my essay. The other inhabitants of the dining hall are slowly starting to finish their meals. Closing time approaches. I need to get moving soon too.


*bows* And now NaNo is glaring at me, so I g2g. Please, though. Let me know your opinions on the switching times, flashback thing. ANY thoughts will be gratefully accepted. For writer-y people, reader-y people, or just people-y people alike. Thanks guys =)


11 Comments Add yours

  1. …gosh, what am I thinking. I’m way too chicken to be on Leadership for anything XD Hmph.

    Annnnaaaaaaaaaaaa there is so much wrong with this sentence, and you know it.



  2. Bessie Lark says:

    I like your characterization of Allie. Very realistic. And the switch method you suggested, 1st person past tense, sounds fine.


  3. mariertps says:

    How come my stories turn out flat, and your stories are just so living. -.- Your dialogue… <3 The way I always do flashbacks is with italicize or a different font so it makes it appear like the person is thinking or dreaming. But do whatever you feel suits the character best.


    1. AnnaEstelle says:

      …Wow. Seriously? I STINK at dialogue. =P I’m glad you liked this bit…maybe there is hope for my dialogue-writing after all XD *facepalm* …however, it is pretty much almost word-for-word taken from an actual conversation of a couple days ago, so I guess it was still fresh enough on my mind that I didn’t have to like…make it up. Agh. HATE writing dialogue. -.- =P
      And, the italicize thing is a good way to set it apart…but it’s not supposed to be a dream/thought type thing. I’m like…telling one story from two different points in time at once, if that makes any sense. So it’s not the MC remembering three years ago, it’s her actually being there and living it, and just me as the author telling it at the same time as the MC’s 19-year-old present. …agh, this is complicated XD So italics doesn’t really work for that. Also I’m already using italics for her thinking/conversations with herself, so there’s that too. =P


      1. mariertps says:

        Yeah, well, you are a 100 times better than me at it. ^^ I’m like, “And she said, “blah blah blah.” and then he said, “blah blah blah!”” or whatever. Dialogue takes up so much more room than telling the actual story does. Well, you could do it like Hadix did in Turnabout… just put the date up at the top. xP *grins* As painful as it will be.


        1. AnnaEstelle says:

          …ahh…now that is an interesting idea…hmm. *considers* I’ll think about this…


  4. Flashbacks can be done a number of ways. As mentioned, italics can be used to show that the given part of the story is set at a different time. You could also consider using third person for flashbacks and first person for the present story. The main goal is to have a very clear and distinctive break so that the reader always knows which point in time they are reading about…unless you are writing some extremely confusing psychological thing that is designed to make absolutely no sense and leave your reader as a disoriented mess, of course =P


    1. AnnaEstelle says:

      Psh, disorient my readers? I would never. 0=)

      I thought about the third person thing too, but I feel like that would just be…too confusing. Since it is the same main character…I think I personally would be confused if I was readying a book on one person written from two different perspectives. However, that is a very clear way to break it up otherwise…Hmm.


  5. sarahtps says:

    I think the 1st-person-past-tense for flashbacks will work. I liked your excerpt. Allie sounds like an interesting (though, I will agree, annoying) character.


  6. taethiel says:

    I agree with the others… I think first person past tense would work fine. Try it and see how it sounds. If you don’t like it, then you can always switch it.


    1. AnnaEstelle says:

      Hmm. ‘Kay. That’s enough votes in one direction for me. =P *will try it out*



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