11 January 2010

What Kind of Clues Do You Give?

Hey, Friends! Thank you so much for your responses on Friday. You really encouraged me!

So, a few weeks ago I started working out. This had absolutely nothing to do with a New Year's Resolution because a) I didn't make any and b) I started working out almost a full week before 2009 ended (ha!) and had everything to do with the fact that I've wanted to work out for a while but because of this weird limbo I'm in, haven't been able to. My life has been such the past few years that I haven't been able to establish a set exercise time. Going somewhere for a few weeks/months and coming back for a few weeks/months then repeating the process does not a schedule make. The only time I ever regularly exercised overseas was in India last spring when I did pilates on the marble floor of my room and then ran in the triple digit heat. I stopped doing that when the triple digits hit 120+. I decided that being alive was enough at that point, especially since I hate working out. Plus I was tired of dodging peacocks, rickshaws, motorcycles, construction piles, random children, water buffalo, and demonic dogs. :0) But that's another story for another day...

Because it is so stinkin' cold outside (I know I live in Ga, but highs in the 20's and lows in the teens is COLD! And we did get "snow dust" last week, the closest I've ever seen snow to Christmas in my life! And in case you're wondering, I'm still in flip flops) I can't run (and I hate running anyway). I can't join a gym here anyway because I hope to move in the next few weeks. So I was left with one resort, a gift from a friend: P90x.

If you haven't heard of P90x, just turn on infomercials during the day or late at night. It's the one with super muscular people talking about how they can now leap tall buildings because of its magical powers. The "x" stands for "extreme"--which it is. What was I thinking?

Today starts week 3 for me and I'm still going strong. Woohoo! Take that super-in-shape-and-therefore-intimidating people! This program is intense. I'm doing the lean version, so it's cardio and core, shoulders and arms, abs, yoga, legs and back, kenpo (Law of the Fist!), Plyometrics, and so much more. By now I have my own personal names for each workout and there have been times I started calling out to Jesus in whatever language came to mind (I try to learn the basics in every country I go to).

P90x has made me think a lot about subtleties in writing. Like foreshadowing for instance, little clues which hint as to what's coming. These can vary from soft phrases the most astute reader barely notices to making the setting crackle with tension. In P90x, Tony (the speaker dude) isn't so subtle. I've learned that the number of times he says "Let's get busy", "This next move is one of my favorites", or the yoga position "Downward Dog" directly correlates to the amount of pain I'll be in the next day. Talk about foreboding!

But while Tony is not very subtle, he does have a few tricks up his sleeve. Dual purpose work outs, I call them. Like Kenpo, which means "Law of the Fist". I like to call this one "Accidentally Punch Yourself in the Face" because I'm convinced I'll do that one day. But I'm sticking with it because it's different, it's insane cardio, and it's teaching me self defense. I might punch like a girl, but by golly, by the end of these 90 days, I'm going to have great form doing it!

And then there's the explosion you didn't see coming. In life, it's a lot like when
I boarded a plane for Cambodia and ended up stranded in India for two weeks. In writing, it's a lot like a super awesome twist that even leaves us as the writers stunned. In p90x, it comes in the form of Yoga. Having never done yoga before, I didn't realize it was a violent sport. I mean, isn't it usually associated with peace and tranquility? I thought so until I tried it for the first time. My friends warned me it was a Beast. Their stories left me a little intimidated. Ten minutes into the 90 minute video, I very, very scared. Did I mention that my "recovery" week schedules me to do yoga multiple times?

I guess even working out has its up side--like teaching me about writing. :0)

What kind of clues do you give? Do you like to play with them? I try foreshadow certain things in my stories, but it really helps when you know the ending--which is a toss up for me as a panster. I seem to have a knack for "accidental foreshadowing" (that's when I accidentally do something right without realizing it). It's such an important part of the story that I really try to work on my symbols, phrasing, allusions, etc. I love duality, when something works many different ways. And even the occasional "explosion"--as long as it doesn't leave me stranded in a foreign country again! I'd prefer never to relive that night ever again!

See y'all Wednesday!


  1. Stranded in foreign countries is never fun. We were stuck in Mumbai for eight hours once. NOT fun.

    I do a lot of accidental foreshadowing I am only now learning to use it on purpose :)

    You go at the gym girl! Sounds great.

  2. Wow, that's a work out! LOL!
    You totally need to post about peacocks, water buffalo and India strandation. Ha!
    But not about the random children because ... well, where are their parents????

    If they're orphans, that makes me so sad.Children are So, so precious.

    Anyway, go you on the foreshadowing! If I don't use it in the rough draft, I'll try to work it in during edits. :-)

  3. Wow! I'm impressed with the fitness program! I hate to workout, but I so need it. :) I'm terrible at foreshadowing, but I hope to get better one day.

  4. Nice workout program! I haven't worked out in a long time. It's really getting to be ridiculous.

    I usually don't try to foreshadow anything until I start revising. Then I might add a little teeny tiny hint here or there. But I'm always afraid it will be too obvious. So usually, I tend ot avoid the whole foreshadowing thing.

  5. Sounds like a fun workout. Not!! But that's great that you're finding a way to exercise amidst the upheaval of your life. I think that brings up a good point--we can't wait for life to be perfect before starting things. The same could be said of our writing. We just need to make the most of the time we have and not wait until our life is peaceful and steady before writing! Otherwise that won't ever happen!

  6. Hey, I got that same message on mine (your first comment). Kind of wish I could decode it to make sure it isn't all swears. ;)

    I love to drop clues. I've heard mixed things on this though. I've read that you can easily make things too obvious and on the flip I've read that you need to make things blunt for readers...tricky...tricky.
    ~ Wendy

  7. I tend to accidentally foreshadow too. I love it when that happens. But, I've also had to go back after I actually write the ending and some other foreshadowing in.

  8. Congrats on finding a workout that works for you! I do love to run but I don't get far ;) My new WIP is seeing foreshadowing from the first page. I always wonder if I'm making things too obvious but so far I think it's working.

  9. I don't know if I'm the best at foreshadowing. Since, it really is vital to keeping the story fresh and unfolding I need to pay close attention to that during the revision process.

  10. Congrats on getting back into working out. I really need to do that. I've started walking with a friend twice a week. I should really do it more often, though.

    Okay, starting to pray on not getting stranded with this move for you.

  11. That workout sounds incredibly scary. You're gonna be a beast, good for you!! I can't wait til my kickboxing classes start up again. As for foreshadowing, I try - I really do - but I'm sure I need more work on subtlety. I always feel like I'm making it too obvious and then it becomes telling and not foreshadowing.

  12. Ha! Thanks, Eileen! Good for you on walking!

    Tamika, it's something I try to focus on in revising too. I think that's a great time to do it!

    Thanks, T.Anne! That's awesome. I'd love to read your story!

    Sometimes that's necessary, Susan. I love it when accidents happen though!

    I do too, Wendy. It really is tricky to be subtle but not to tell everything right away. Definitely an Art...

    That's true, Jody. Now you've convicted me and I need to start writing instead of waiting for the move. Thanks--I need that "kick in the pants"! :0)

    It's hard to balance it, Katie. Being subtle is a skill that it takes time to achieve. Most of the time I doubt I have it... that's when glorious accidents happen!

    Thanks, Sherrinda! You're not alone. I hate exercising too!

    Hey, Jessica... those children are street children. Their parents are probably nearby... You can see them on the stoops of their houses or on the roofs doing something. There is always a large amount of children running around.

    Thanks, Tabitha! Eish, no, it is not fun. That has to be one of the most helpless feelings in the world. I was calling Cambodia, India, and the U.S. trying to figure it out--at 3a.m.!

  13. Ha! Thanks, Julie! So will you with kickboxing! That's intense!

    Yeah... foreshadowing is something you write and then ask your critique partners what they thought. That's the best way I've found to see if it works or not.

  14. Hi Kristen -

    I work out 3-4 times a week - nothing extreme. It keeps my back in shape, which is my main concern.

    I'm a pantser too, but I'm giving plotting another shot. Foreshadowing is tough when you don't know what you're writing on the next page. Hopefully, I'll learn.

    Susan :)

  15. Wow, that sounds like an intense workout. I started my new routine this morning and it was way simpler and probably easier than yours. You're doing a good job!

    I do foreshadow and give clues but many times I don't plan for them, they just work themselves into the story at the right time.

    By the way, your post cracked me up!

  16. It's a tricky balancing acting, giving clues without giving toomuch away, but if you don't give enough then readers think where the heck did that come from, or you completely confuzzle them (word from my son).

    I've wanted to try P90 for years. Let me know how it goes. I'm going to do it as soon as my knee gets better and I can jump.

  17. Honestly, most of the time I have no idea I'm leaving a clue (planting a seed, I've heard some call it) until it happens. I'll put something in there and realizing my story is taking me in a direction I didn't plan. Those are nice surprises.

  18. Wow! And I thought Bikram yoga kicked butt. My hat's off to you.

  19. That's true, Susan! It really is!

    Good for you, Cindy! Thanks! I hoped it would make y'all laugh!

    I'll definitely let you know, Patti. So far I'm enjoying it. I know I'm getting a work out. You're right--it is tricky. And great word!

    They definitely are, Stephanie!

    Ha! Thanks, Deb!

  20. My friend Sara has a love-hate relationship with your workout style, I believe! I just prefer yoga framed by old Law & Order episodes...or a stationery bike...framed by old L&O episodes!!!

    Foreshadowing needs a delicate brush stroke. Just enough. Not too much. I usually dab a bit as I write and don't really plan it though a pearl necklace and stomach aches factor into my current WIP...


  21. Great post, Kristen! I love symbols and foreshadowing. In my current novel, they're hard to come by...but I'm trying. *sigh* Best wishes with the workouts. I'm down to just three days a week...all I can fit in during these busy days, not to mention writing. God bless you!

  22. I've heard amazing things about Power 90!!! I can't wait to hear about your results! Keep up the good work!

  23. I like to do foreshadowing to make the audience think a certain thing is going to happen and then I pull the rug out from underneath them and do something completely different. Don't know if it's a good thing yet.

  24. I'm with Jessica...I totally want to hear about the peacocks, water buffalo and India strandation. Pleeese. sounds so interesting and that workout....way to go...Sarah

  25. I do use it. With mysteries, there's some pressure to drop the first body as soon as possible. Sometimes I'm just not quite ready...so I put in some foreshadowing to promise it's coming up. :)

    Good luck with your workout! And...let's hope it gets warmer here in the South soon.

    Mystery Writing is Murder
    Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen

  26. Stopping by to say hello. I'm a first time visitor. I have a friend who has the px90 series. Wow, they are tough.

    I see we have similar interests with writing and photography and a heart for missions.

    Wishing you God's best this year!

  27. Hey, Tiffany! It's great to meet you! I'll stop by your blog too. I look forward to getting to know you! So cool that we have common interests!

    So true, Elizabeth! I could see where you would use a lot of it!

    Ha! I'll see when I can tell that story, Sarah! It's a lot of fun!

    Pulling out the rug is a great thing, Mary! So fun!

    Thanks, Lisa and Laura! I'll keep you informed. I'll also state right here that all results are not typical (ha!) and I reserve the right to make it P180x if I need to. :0)

    Thanks, Gwen! And good for you. I'm not getting as much writing time in lately, so that's what I need to work on now.

    Gotta love L&O, Patti! I especially love SVU! And watch out for the yoga! Ooh--I'm intrigued! Can't wait to hear that story!

  28. Your exercise regime puts mine to shame. I like to get outside and walk, especially when I'm percolating ideas for a new story, but it's more a wandering than a purposeful stride. The benefit is mostly mental, not physical. LOL.

    When it comes to foreshadowing I think we sometimes feel it's too obvious because as the writer we know what's coming; our readers don't.

  29. What a work out!Makes my 25 minutes on the treadmill feel like nothing now:)
    I try hard to foreshadow as I love that in a book. But when you don't know the ending yet, it's hard to do and I find myself going backwards>

  30. This is great! I did P90X for a while but I hurt to much to think about writing!!! Haha!!!

  31. My first attempt at Yoga didn't go so well. By the time I figured out one position, the instructor had already moved on to three other ones. I finally found a part I could master--the cool down.

  32. i went through power 90 (before he added the x thing) and LOVED it! i did the first DVD and went on to the second...and he just doubled everything up. 200 sit-ups. and i could knock them out! at last...that was PRE-baby. *sigh*

    The Character Therapist

  33. Foreshadowing. Such a wonderful idea. And yet, if I try to do it, it doesn't work out so well. Honestly, though few may ever believe me, this current series I'm working on is chock full of accidental foreshadowing. Totally a God thing. I remember reading back over my first book, YEARS after I started it knowing where it was all going and saying, "Um, that's perfect. It fits with what's going to go in book number such-in-such". Never planned it. I didn't know book number such-in-such was going to exist when I wrote it. To be fair, I DO intentionally drop in foreshadowing but I hope it's so shadowed no one gets it until after the ah ha moment! I love those. "Oh YEAH!" they'll cry in awe of my genius, "I DO remember that!"

    :) Jen