Creating From the Heart

As I expanded my main character’s backstory, I had a “creating from the heart” moment.

The character is an orphan child living in a dystopian society. She finds discarded items she thinks are useful, cleans them, and sometimes fixes them, then trades them for food. The adults accept the items and give her food. They never tell her the items aren’t actually useful.

Tears came to my eyes. I had hit something lost in deep time. I had flashbacks of doing this sort of thing in my childhood. I had forgotten. Now I remember. The memories hurt.

One of the risks of writing is sometimes you discover things about yourself. It’s moments like this, as I keep wiping tears off my keyboard, that I feel my writing is most powerful.

Writing Magic Burst Forth

Writing magic burst forth superseding my plan for the first pinch point. As Eisenhower constantly said, “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.” Plans help me prepare, but when the actual situation arises, I must be flexible and adapt.

The plan had called for the first pinch point to be a moment when the protagonist faces another obstacle trying to feed the baby dragon. She confronts the obstacle, devises a solution, and implements it. The details would come with the writing.

Then, the magic happened. As I wrote the setup, catastrophe struck. The protagonist was suddenly in peril for her very survival. Danger descended on her and she had to act to save herself. She was left traumatized. This was so much better than what I had planned.

The first pinch point is a reminder of the antagonistic force’s power to thwart the protagonist and sets up events in future plot points. There are multiple antagonistic forces in this story. This writing magic moment revealed that I was using the wrong antagonistic force, one that was not the main antagonistic force of the story.

I will adjust the plan for the midpoint and second pinch point to better align with my new understanding of the main antagonistic force, yet still have the protagonist struggling against the other antagonistic forces.

Every day, the story gets better.

Outline and Synopsis Are Not the Same

I’m a planner; therefore, I plan. However, my plans are not rigid; they are adaptable.

I hit an example of this when I discovered the midpoint was wrong. Originally, the midpoint was when the main character realizes the dragon is not an animal, but he is as much a person as she is. Then, I discovered she has never thought of the dragon as anything other than a person. Instead, the midpoint is defined by the main character realizing that as she grows up, she can no longer hide in the shadows as she could when she was a child. She has to find a new way to stay unnoticed, which moves her from being reactive to being proactive.

Also, I’ve never had a well defined second pinch point. Then, I discovered this is when the main character comes into significant conflict with the mentor who had taught her how to live on the streets. He has found a way to fit into society and thinks she should join him. She has no intention of fitting into that dystopian society.

Those problems fixed, I turned to satisfying a request for a synopsis. I haven’t done one of those before. The first thing I learned is a synopsis is not an outline, so my plans do not meet that need. Instead, there is a special structure expected for a synopsis. After a little research, I was able to fulfill the request.

I feel I’m on a roll.


Symbolism is a literary device that uses one thing to represent something more abstract. I have intentionally used symbolism before in my stories, but sometimes they appear on their own. In the last month, this happened twice in my current project.

First, a picture of a baby dragon with a teddy bear inspired me to have the main character find a stuffed toy animal similar to one she had had before her parents disappeared and give it to the baby dragon. Instead, I decided to give the stuffed toy animal to the main character as the only object she has from before her parents disappeared and left her orphaned, an object that becomes a symbol of her parents. The effect was immediate and remarkable by revealing a new layer to the character’s personality and internal life, and a new method of exposition as she talks to the toy.

Second, in a scene when a teacher tests the main character to evaluate if she has lost proficiency in skills after a prolonged interruption in her training, she is asked to perform a soliloquy from a play, which meant the scene needed a soliloquy for her to perform. I explored several possibilities before settling on a speech about the character portrayed in the play being a symbol that inspires others against oppression. Even though the main character doesn’t’ know it, she is seen by others as a symbol for their own resistance to oppression. Thus, the soliloquy introduces the idea of there being such a symbol. The trick is to have that symbol drive that particular plot thread without having the main character realize she is the symbol.

This is hard work, but it’s fun.

What Promises Are Being Made

As I push forward with my current project, one question I’m asking is “What promises are being made?”

The first chapter explores the main character’s everyday life, which is one of constant threats and daily struggles to survive, and where she has to stay focused and vigilant because danger lurks.

I need to ensure I maintain the mood even as I show she has built a decent life for herself regardless of the threats she continuously faces. It’s a challenge to keep the good and bad aspects of her life balanced so the despair she experiences is not lost.

Then, that decent life is disrupted causing the future to look ever more difficult.

Progress on Current Project Continues

This draft of the story is well into the second act. I’m adding more world building to what’s written as my mind minions keep adding details about future events. My outline covers the entire story, but those pesky mind minions keep adding to it. Moreover, I discover details as I write necessitating going back to set up the needed context to support them. This story is challenging, but I feel good about it.

100-Word Story for Christmas 2023

The Santa-Verse
by Lester D. Crawford

Every Santa is real. I know. I’ve met them.

I invented a transdimensional door. I opened it. A red and green and silver and gold Christmas dragon wearing a Santa hat fell through. He was angry because taking him from his Earth was ruining Christmas.

His Santa Ring’s distress signal summoned more Santas from the Santa-Verse, Santas of every type and species. Chaos ensued. I was sure I would be crushed.

Our Santa brought order by returning the others to their Earths.

He told me to stop making transdimensional doors.

I think, instead of a door, I’ll make a window.


Audio Version of The Santa-Verse

I have a tradition of writing a 100-word Christmas story for the Advent Ghosts Flash Fiction Challenge run by Loren Eaton of the I Saw Lightning Fall blog.

If you wish to explore other people’s stories, check out Advent Ghosts 2023: The Stories.

I Can Do This

“The mother dragon gave me the responsibility to protect and care for the dragon egg. That responsibility is now to protect and care for the baby dragon.”
— Hope in “Hope and the Last Dragon”

Every paragraph, every sentence, every word of this story has been a struggle, but as Hope says, “I can do this.”

I Want to Be Just Like Them

There are people I admire and want to be just like. Their sex, gender, race, creed, heritage, national origins, or any other classification are superfluous and irrelevant. What I’m talking about when I say I want to be just like them is based on their character.