Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Art of the Dance

Mindy here. Wife, mom, writer . . . and huge fan of Dancing With the Stars. I love to watch as week after week celebrities learn and perform new dances. They practice for hours on end. They ache from pushing their bodies to the limit, giving it their all.

First, they must learn the basics of the dance. Let's face it, the Viennese Waltz and the Samba are quite different. Then they learn the specific choreography the professional dancer has designed for their performance. And by the time they appear on national television, they've hopefully been able to add some character and showmanship to the dance.

Last night, one of the judges was critiquing a celebrity and told her that to execute the dance properly, you need confidence, you need to know the routine, and you need the character of the dance. That got me to thinking about writing.

When we start out writing, we don't automatically know how to do it. A person can have the gift of storytelling, but that in and of itself does not make for a good book. We have to learn the craft. The basics. Goal, motivation, and conflict. Sentence structure. Writing strong versus passive. Learning the basics builds our confidence.

Once we have a handle on the basics, we work on plot and storytelling. We have to learn how to build tension that will carry through to the end of the book. How to add subplots and layers that will give dimension to your story. This is our routine.

But even the best plots are nothing without characterization. Flat characters will make a story fall flat. Well-defined characters, on the other hand, draw the reader into your story world. Give them a character worth caring about and they'll be mesmerized.

Where are you in your quest for the mirrored-ball trophy--er, publication? Have you grounded yourself in the basics so that you have that confidence it takes to challenge yourself? Are you able to get into character, or are you getting critiques that tell you your characters are flat?

Wherever you are in your journey toward publication, there's one thing that's always true. We have to practice, practice, practice.

Happy Tuesday!


  1. there is not much on TV that we old folks like any more, most of the shows are for the younger generation as it should be, I still go back and watch the old re-runs of Andy Griffin, etc.


  2. You know, Edna, my mother-in-law is the same way. She enjoys M*A*S*H, Andy Griffith, as well as old movies. She records them, then watches at her convenience.

  3. Speaking of basics such as subplot... I was working today while my husband was home eating lunch. All of a sudden, I said, "I need a subplot," talking to myself. And he said, "Yo're hot?"

    LOL Not good communication. But it just hit me that something was lacking. And I need a subplot. Or at least to add in some minor characters at the point I'm at.

  4. Mindy,
    Great post. I love all that dancing. There are 2 things I would like to do better #1 is cook - therefore I watch Food Network when ever I can get a chance and #2 Dance. I love to dance but my hubby is not a dancer.

    I keep meaning to watch DWTS and forget. I caught it a couple of weeks ago and was proud of Kelly Osbourne and how well she'd shaped up and with her dancing. Is she still on there?

    I haven't seen Andy Griffith in forever, but that's a good show. One we catch from time to time here - when my husband has the remote control - is M*A*S*H. I still laugh at the same jokes I've heard time and again.

    Missy, LOL on you and your husband's communications! Just like a man to hear something totally different that what we said.

  5. I've heard of people publishing their first book and some not getting published until they've written ten or more. And all points in between. And you're right. Even after you're published you still need to keep learning, and keep practicing. There are always areas of improvement. I kind of liken this to bowling. I know HOW to bowl. I can tell you wehere to stand to pick up any spare combination. Yet when it comes to doing it, I fail-a lot. It's the execution of the knowledge that will pay off. So, therefore..
    back to practicing.