About M.Cluff

Father. Writer. Editor at Fiction Vortex. Creator of the game 'Oh, The Humanity'.

Weekly Recap: Meat, Rootbeer, First Time Published

Well, I am sure that I have neglected my blog again. Fortunately I didn’t see any decrease in visitors or traffic… or an increase… or any visitors or traffic. Drat.

Here are the highlights of this week:

Monday: Family night with Katie and the kiddos. Mediocre episode of Castle.

jimmyfallon_ewTuesday: Eli is taking his first steps like a champ. Finished my ‘Mary Sue’ article for Fiction Vortex. I made Katie get out of bed to watch another ‘Ew!’ skit on Fallon.

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Thanksgiving Practice

Today at work someone brought donuts. Lots of donuts. I give thanks for donuts.

When I was judged for eating a second donut, and yes I was judged and judged by many, I simply stated that I was practicing for Thanksgiving.

It has painfully come to my attention that the metabolism and eating capabilities of my youth are fond memories to think of during bouts of heartburn and indigestion. With that fun little revelation, I know that I can’t casually go into Thanksgiving anymore. I have to prepare, I have to do the appropriate gastrointestinal stretches, I have to exercise, I have to practice.

So, during the next two days I will eat yogurt. What? Did you think I meant grotesque amounts of eating? Nope. I have to prep my ever-grumpy tummy for tryptophan and carbs.

activia2More than anything, I am looking forward to time with family. Time to dominate some boardgames, time for naps, time to appreciate not shopping on Thanksgiving, time to be happy about not being at work and not listening to customers complain about having to spend time with loved ones. I take this time off for a reason.

So what do donuts have to do with Thanksgiving? I don’t know. I just like donuts.

Happy Thanksgiving.

A Drive-By Musing: The Other

ideaEvery once in a while I am overcome (dramatic word, I know) by a mood. That mood is best described as somber or morose or more than serious. I have learned that when this mood hits I should expect a musing. I get the sudden strong urge to write and then something happens and after an indeterminate time I am left with something that I didn’t have before. That is what I call a ‘musing.’

Tonight it hit in the form of poetry. I haven’t written poetry of my own volition for over a decade, so this was odd. I call this one “The Other”

A table has two sides. One for me. One for the other. That is what tells me, me—that is what tells me that there is an other. The other is there somewhere and hasn’t found the way to the other’s side of the table. Hasn’t been able to face me. I don’t even know if the other wants to face me. I don’t even know that the other knows there is, me, the other to the other. But I know there is an other. The table has two sides. I wait at one, and then there is the other.

I hope next time that the musing produces a full length novel. Poetry has always been so weird to me.

Writing Thoughts: The Bus Test

A little while back I wrote an article about gauging the quality of characters in fiction. The article focuses on one simple test I learned from some colleagues called ‘The Bus Test’. Basically, you take a character at any point in a story and hit them with a bus. Then you ask yourself, ‘Do I care that a bus just hit this character?” The method is listed on Urban Dictionary, so it has to be legit.

Writers use the Bus Test to fix characters, readers use it to know when to throw a book away.

Here is an example video for you more visual people:

Gets my point across. This method also works in film, as performed by Brad Pitt in the movie Meet Jo Black.

Do you care that they got hit by a moving vehicle? Would you care if the character you are writing or reading about just got ‘grilled’ by public transportation? If yes, then keep reading or writing. If no, then fix it.

Read the whole article on the Fiction Vortex site here.

My Future and History of Reading

Bedtime for my three-year old has been a struggle lately. He sees his room as a prison and himself as wrongly oppressed prisoner that screams out at the authorities, and I quote, “I have to get out, let me out, you can’t do this to me, let me out, I hate you, I hate you!” My wife and I are quite happy that our doors are cheap because that kid is going to break his one of these nights. But that isn’t the focus of my post today.

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Writing Thought # 1 – The Em Dash

I have joined a writing group that meets every couple of weeks and I hope that this will get me writing more regularly. While most of the meeting is reserved for unholy slaughter–er, I mean ‘critique’, there is actually a little piece at each meeting called the ‘Writing Thought.’ Last meeting it was my turn to enlighten everyone with my vast literary knowledge. I figured that if my group liked it, then a bigger slice of the world might enjoy a taste.

Writing Thought #1

The Em Dash (also known as: M-Dash, long dash, pause dash, and a myriad of other nicknames writers use) The Em dash is a punctuation mark. While similar in appearance to a hyphen, the Em dash is longer and it is used differently. The em dash is used to set off a word or phrase after an independent clause or to set off words, phrases, or clauses that interrupt a sentence.

The Em Dash and its uses:

  • In place of bulky parenthesis
  • To introduce a separate thought within a sentence
  • Is more visually off-setting than a semi-colon and is not as formal as a colon
  • When cutting off dialogue, the em dash is more abrupt and urgent than an ellipsis
  • Is useful to connect two separate sentences where a semi-colon is not applicable

Warning: Do not confuse the hyphen with the em dash. The affect could be unintentionally tragic or tragically hilarious. “I like that semi—colons are applicable for many occasions!”

Example of Use:

I don’t think anyone could focus on anything when Ryan was on a waffle warpath; the amount of energy he put into eating was very distracting and curious— a whole waffle shouldn’t be able to fit in a little kid’s mouth. Somehow, Ryan managed it. Three times.