Moving In Day

Well, I’ve moved. I think. OK, I’m still deciding between Blogger and WordPress, but I’m pretty sure I’ll retire my blog at Blogger and migrate it over here. After all, I’ve already paid WordPress $12 to use my own domain which I bought for a ridiculously low price this morning. (Although I can’t help but wonder why WP makes me pay to use something I’ve already bought.)

That’s the bad part about WordPress- any kind of customization above and beyond their basic Themes will cost you money. Even to change the default font of your posts. I’m not a big fan of that.

On the other hand, WordPress seems to offer a better community for writers, and more opportunities to connect, which I appreciate.

So I think I’ll drop my bags here and stay for a while. At least until I spot something better. (Tumblr I’ve got my eye on you…)

Either way, I’ve got my domain now, so whatever blogging tools I use to express myself, you can find me here at brynbenning.com from now on.

Welcome.

BB

Visual Writing Prompt #3: Library


Who doesn’t love a library? This one is particularly beautiful with its wrought iron shelving and leaded windows.

I took this picture in 2011, but with a little tweaking it looks like it could have been taken a century ago. Let’s pretend it was. If our olde tyme camera could have captured some people in this library, who would they have been? Old white-haired men smoking pipes? Serious-faced boys with slick-backed hair? Young women with high-collared blouses and Gibson tucks? What would they be wearing? Jackets and ties? Robes and regalia?

Where is this library located? In a city? In a private collection housed in a castle in Germany? In Washington, DC? Is it open to the public? How would your character get inside?

As libraries go, it looks fairly bright and cheerful. But what does this place look like after dark? Would it be a good place to study late at night? Have a midnight tryst in the stacks? Murder somebody?

Is something hidden within the library? Underneath it? Does the librarian have a secret that keeps him working late into the night, long after the last patron has gone home? What do the janitors do there at night?

What kind of books does it house and what do they keep in the restricted section? Could the knowledge in one of these books save you? Kill you? Change the world? Would your character know how to find one of those books using the card catalog if s/he had to?

-BB

Visual Writing Prompt #2: Tea shop


Believe it or not, this is a tea shop. (Yes, I have a thing for tea…)

But why is it the only place with its lights on? Is it really so late? If so, who buys tea at this hour (aside from me)?

If you couldn’t read the sign, what else might this shop sell? What would its non-tea-drinking patrons look like? Would they only come out at night?

If you ran into one and decided it was best to get away as fast as possible, which alley would you run down?

Is there anyone home above the shop? Is there someone lurking in the shadows?

What is behind the camera’s point of view? A brick wall? A dark canal? A bustling town square filled with people?

Is this an old or a relatively new part of town?

What can you hear? Crickets? Police sirens? A foghorn in the distance?

What do you smell? Hot pretzels or diesel gasoline? How does the air feel to you? Stuffy? Humid? Cool and brisk?

Imagine you see a small child come out of the store by herself. She turns to the right and walks down the alley alone. What happens next?

-BB

Visual Writing Prompt #1: Tea light

Here’s a snapshot I took last night. It’s nothing special, but I liked how the soft glow of the tea light seemed small and quaint compared to the incandescent modernity of the background. I also enjoyed imagining how such a small flame could burn down the entire establishment if properly provoked.

And that gave me an idea for a short story.

It also made me realize that I could use random snapshots like these as my very own writing prompts. So that’s what I’m going to do. Once a week, I will try to post a visual writing prompt on this blog. I might even post the results of those prompts if I’m daring enough, but for now I will just post some questions to myself and anybody else who wants to take a stab:

Where are we? Is it a hotel lobby? A casino? A cruise ship? In America? In Italy? What are the chances that the bathroom sinks have brushed stainless steel fixtures that turn themselves on and off?

Who are the clientele and, for that matter, where is everybody? Does the girl in the background want to be sitting across from that guy, or does she wish he were someone else? Do they speak with an accent? Hushed tones? Loud, obnoxious outbursts? Why is the viewpoint so far removed from the other table? Is it to eavesdrop? Avoid? Stalk?

What time is it? Early evening or the wee hours of the morning? What is the most improbable thing that could happen in this instant, in this place? How would the people react to it? What is the funniest thing that could happen instead?

Is there music being piped in? What other sounds can we hear? Does it smell clean? Delicious? Fishy? Smokey? Is it too chilly or do you have to shed layers? And what are those things in the glass container with the tea light?

This is the visual writing prompt for this week.

BB

This is a work of fiction…

I just saw The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo the other night and am now reading the book. Naturally, I was disturbed by some of the scenes I saw in the movie and will take no pleasure in reading them when I get to those parts in the book, but I understand why the author included them. Bad things happen to people in real life; to ignore them in our fiction is to bury our heads in the sand. But it made me wonder… Could I write scenes like that? You know what I mean- the gritty, horrible, sadistic, cover-your-hand-over-your-eyes-because-you-feel-dirty-watching-them scenes.

Yes, yes I can. The problem (for me) doesn’t lie in imagining them, or putting them to paper. The problem lies only in, What would my mother think?? Seriously, my biggest hang-up as I write this novel is getting past the horror and embarrassment my mother will feel when she finally reads some of these scenes.

I am an optimist by nature and like to think that some day my book will be published. I believe this will happen. And when that day comes, I know my mother will be first in line for a signed copy. And then she will read the book, get to one of the more dramatic scenes, and think, “How could my little baby girl write this stuff?”

I’m not even talking about Dragon Tattoo stuff… my drama is weak by comparison. But it is more risque than my mom is used to, and that’s what worries me. Outwardly my mom will smile and tell me how proud of me she is (she really is!) but inwardly she will always wonder if I am secretly depraved, disturbed, or both. I wonder what Stieg Larsson’s mother would have thought upon reading Dragon Tattoo? But then, both she and Larsson died before any of his books were published so it’s really a moot point. My mother, on the other hand, is alive and well, and most certainly will read my book with a raised eyebrow.

So, Mom, let me just assure you right now: No, I’m not depraved or disturbed. I made all this stuff up in my head and none of it ever happened to me or anybody else I know. I love you, and you raised me right. But if I wrote a book about a couple of people who went around doing good deeds and nothing bad ever happened to them, it wouldn’t sell.

Ok, now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let me just take care of one more thing. To all the readers who are snickering at me right now, I would like to point out that apparently I’m not the only writer who cares what their mother thinks. Open any novel these days and you will see right there on the copyright page:

This is a work of fiction. All the characters and events portrayed in this book are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously…

And you thought that was just for the lawyers.

-BB