As I've mentioned in the past, keeping the duck happy can be a challenging thing. His brain is always going off on story tangents. Sometimes, he keeps focused on the project at hand, but mostly, he wants to do more. He's a very ambitious duck.
As I've grown older, the duck has matured, too. And now, simple music no longer distracts him enough. He needs more. I've discovered that I need to give him a story - or several - to keep him amused while I try to finish the one we started together, but that he now finds boring.
I think I've discovered just the thing! When we were in Muskegon, Michigan, at the Barnes & Noble Author Event last month, I picked up a book of writing prompts called, "Write The Story". It's a wonderful book filled with pages and pages of prompts. It begins by giving you a topic, and then lists vocabulary that you need to include.
I've decided that this is a good project for Drake, to keep him amused while I finish writing The Last Strand, which he seems to have grown weary of now that we've figured out all the critical parts of the novel, and it's down to the "filling in the holes" part. He's not a fan of details. That's why I'm hoping that this prompt project will give him enough variety to keep him amused... and perhaps, in the end, we'll have a nice collection of short stories that we can publish - after all, it's on the list of genres we want to write.
Drake tends to think best when he's moving... waddling, swimming, flying... so I've decided that for the next few months, I'm going to spend an hour or so each day, waddling with Drake inside our local shopping mall, Somerset Collection, in Troy, Michigan. Each day, before we leave, I'll write the prompt and the vocabulary on a 3" x 5" card, so I don't have to carry the book around with me, but we'll still have the prompt for reference. This will give Drake time to create, while giving me time to get in some much needed exercise.
"It is a good idea," Drake agreed. "There is only one snag - how are you going to type my story dictation if we're waddling together? You know you can't type and waddle without a desk of some sort..."
Then the solution came to me... "You can quack your story ideas out loud, and I can record them on my phone. I have a nifty little app and a Bluetooth earpiece with a microphone that takes dictation quite nicely."
"Maybe," said Drake, not sure of how this idea would work.
So, we tested it this morning, and there were no hiccups! Drake can quack at a normal rate, without the app missing any of his ideas. I just have to remember to put in the punctuation when it's necessary.
Inside the app is this nifty little feature that lets me save the notes as a PDF. I can then email that to myself, and later, use a nifty desktop program I have to translate the PDF to MS Word, and then put the finishing touches on the piece. All this, with no additional money spent or weird learning curves for new software!
I think that we'll be able to get the bare bones foundation for a new short story written in this way every day... and then, after we've finished The Last Strand, and hand it over to our editor, we can focus on polishing the short story collection and get it ready for the editor, when she's finished with the novel.
Imagine... three goals resolved with a single solution!
1. Focus more attention on the novel by distracting Drake with stuff that will amuse him.
2. Get in some regular exercise during the winter when I can't go outside much.
3. Create a collection of short stories that can be ready for press by this time next year.
We're going to try it out beginning on Monday. I'll keep you all updated on our progress. But, based on Drake's enthusiasm, I think this project is going to be a lot of fun.
So, if you happen see us waddling around the mall, talking to ourselves, point, snicker, and make fun, if you must... but please don't distract the Duck! He's got stories to create and I've got a novel to finish!
Diana Kathryn Plopa
I love being in love; writing; reading; mammals of nearly every kind, and especially micro-humans! Come enjoy my world with me - Secret Decoder Ring not required!!