This old One Room Schoolhouse in Roaring Falls serves as our only currently available Classroom. Due to its small size, we frequently hold classes outdoors under the spreading Chestnut tree, or seated along the edge of the old Stone Bridge.
The classes held here are devoted solely to helpful Writing Tips, and other goodies not directly associated with the Roaring Falls Series. On occasion I may expound on certain facets of Roaring Falls in examples, as part of a lesson or two.
Because this page could grow quite large over time, rather than having it look like a jumbled up slow loading Blog. For your, and our mobile visitors convenience, we have divided each Topic and Sub-Topic, placing them on separate Schoolhouse Bookshelves.
It truly is nothing more than an Exercise in Writing Micro-Fiction:
Many writers and seasoned authors needlessly worry over building their all important First Paragraph. Some approach it as an Advertisement, while others treat it more like a Jacket Blurb or Prologue.
In essence, I treat the First Paragraph like a Crib-Sheet! It either tells the entire story in as few lines as possible; or, my preference is to give the reader the set-up and end with the First Plot Point as a hook. Treating your First Paragraph as simply writing Micro-Fiction, will greatly improve your skills in forming that most important First Paragraph for your novel.
Through an unusual turn of events, while mentoring a new author, the Micro-Fiction story “Discovery,” became the take-off point for the Flash Fiction story “The Glowing Window Mystery,” which follows. Normally, construction of the First Paragraph in a novel comes after the fact, not as a stepping stone from which to build a story as occurred here.
Following the Micro-Fiction story “Discovery,” is a line by line explanation of the many elements contained in those few words.
A heavy snore wafts down the hallway; Jerry gropes the darkness, nudging his brother, "shh, dad's asleep, let's go."
Taking flight from the wrought iron trellis, they swiftly reach the abandoned garrison.
Bicycles parked, they squeeze through a rift in the decaying chain-link fence.
Each adventure brings them deeper into the isolated wilderness.
Startled by a sudden reflection, Hank drops his flashlight and retreats.
"C'mon, will ya Hank, ain't nothin' to be afraid of," Jerry complains. He focuses the flashlight and exclaims, "Look, it's just an old stone church, let's explore!"
To hide the fact the boys are still fully dressed, Jerry helps pull the quilt over his brothers shoulders. Then hops into his bed and pulls the blanket up high over his shoulders; just in the nick of time too. His mother peers in the doorway, "We have a busy day tomorrow, no staying up and talking all night now. You hear me?" "OK Mom!" The boys muttered in unison.
"Maybe we should do as mom says," Hank says nervously. "I told ya, ain't no such thing as ghosts. Now be quiet will ya." Jerry retorted. Jerry patiently stares at the clock on his nightstand, watching the second hand keep a steady beat, as it ticks away so painfully slow, one methodical revolution after another, he moans to himself, precious time is wasting away.
The house sat quiet for what seems like an eternity, too quiet he thought to himself. Maybe dad knows we have been sneaking out at night, he ponders. He hears a short snort, then another; at long last a heavy snore wafts down the hallway. Jerry sits up in the darkness, groping across the aisle between the beds, he reaches out to nudge his brother, "shh, dad's finally asleep, let's get going!"
Jerry whispered to Hank, "I'll get the window open while you grab our backpacks." Jerry helped Hank out onto the shallow pitch roof over the front porch then pulled the curtains shut behind him. While growing up, the boys mastered using the decorative wrought iron trellis as a safe and easy escape route.
On reaching the porch railing, the boys bounded to the ground and retrieved their bicycles; previously hidden in the bushes ready for tonight's adventure. They took flight toward the schoolyard. Their destination, an old abandoned garrison, on the far side of Dr. Pleiny's farm.
History reveals, the Doctors farm is all that remains of a small community which existed long before the government built the many rows of houses down in the valley, and fenced in the massive compound. The complex was abandoned after WWII, and eventually the county recaptured this property from the government. They promised for years to turn it into a public park.
The boys parked their bicycles outside the decaying chain-link fence. Jerry held the backpacks as Hank squeezed through the tiny rift, then passed them through to Hank before slipping through himself. After donning their backpacks once again, they follow the fence to a path that leads to an old bunker they have now dubbed as their "Command Post."
Previously, they referred to this as their "Hideout," and shuffled several old crates around to form seats and a table. They slowly added to their collection of things acquired, until their "Hideout" boasted chair cushions, a tablecloth, snack box, battery radio, small pruning shears, a half-gallon of paint to decorate, kerosene and gas lamps. Tonight they brought a sorely needed branch lopper and pruning saw.
During each adventure, they blazed their trail deeper into the isolated, once heavily secured wilderness. Frequently used in years past, most of this trail was easy going, however they were ready to follow an old gravel road, unused for decades, hoping it would lead them to a treasure.
"Ya know Hank, all dem thar stories we keep a hearin' about in town are true." Informs Jerry. Hank responds "I saw pictures showing the old community at the library." "Yeah, me too!" Jerry adds. " And I heard dad say there might be historial somethin' up here, that needs persivinatin'." "Historical buildings that should be preserved," Hank corrected. "Yeah that." Agreed Jerry.
"Probably nothin' left of it nohow," Jerry added while sawing off another large branch that crossed the old drive. Hank, after lopping off a few more branches, startled by a sudden reflection ahead of him, drops his flashlight and quickly retreats back down the trail, calling back, "Run Jerry, run, a ghost, I saw a ghost."
Jerry laughs, "How many times do I have to tell ya, ain't no such things as ghosts." "Are too!" Hank yells back. "C'mon, will ya Hank," Jerry complains, "ain't nothin' to be afraid of." Jerry kept shining his flashlight into the woods trying to make out what scared his little brother. On spotting it, he exclaims, "Look, it's just an old stone church, let's explore."
Hank retrieved another flashlight from his backpack and rejoined his older brother Jerry. The few clouds disbursed and the bright full moon now gave them plenty of light to quickly clear a path up to the old church. All of the stained glass windows were intact and the door was locked. "Nobody ain't ever been up here ever before," Jerry said as he tried a few more windows.
Jerry spotted a clear glass, high up in a front window, "C'mere Hank," Jerry called. "When I bend down, hop on my shoulders, see what you can see inside through that glass up there." Hank tried to see inside, used his flashlight but it reflected off the glass and made seeing inside harder. Suddenly he screamed, "let me down, let me down, a ghost, I saw a ghost, it lit up and is heading our way."
Jerry could see Hank had turned white as a sheet and was trembling in fear. "Let's get back," Jerry assured Hank. They hurried to the "Command Post" where after Hank calmed down a bit, he could explain to Jerry what he saw. "I know you think you saw a ghost, Hank, but there is a logical explanation and I should find out what it is before we head back home."
"You grab these two small crates and I'll bring these two larger ones, so I can climb up there and have a look for myself." Jerry ordered. Hank trailed way behind, ready to turn and run if he saw anything suspicious. Jerry stacked the boxes he brought and walked back to Hank on the main trail to fetch the two smaller boxes. Hank said, "I'll just wait here, somebody will have to go get help when the ghost gets you!"
Jerry laughed all the way back up to the church at his silly little brother. He climbed the teetering stack of crates until he could peer through the clear glass pane. Cupping a flashlight with his hand to prevent it from reflecting off the glass into his eyes; he could see the wood slab benches with no backs on them, prayer books still sitting on some of the seats. Just like they left it, he thought to himself.
No ghosts in here, never were, he commented aloud as he turned off the flashlight. I wonder what my brother saw that scared him so? About that time, one of the windows with the figure of a saint dressed in white appeared to light up for a split second then faded away. This piqued Jerry's curiosity so he pressed his face tightly against the window to study further. A slight breeze gave him a chill, but it also caused the figure to light up again, giving him a start, almost causing Jerry to step back off the pile of boxes.
After watching a little longer, another breeze caused the image to glow, so Jerry climbed down and went around the other side of the old stone church. A branch with wide leaves draped down close to the window and when the breeze picked up, the leaves would twist allowing the moonlight to strike the window.
Jerry smiled at his discovery and feeling quite smug told his brother, "Well I took care of that ghost fer ya, it won't be bothering anyone ever again!" Hanks eyes became as big as millstones, "Really," he said. "I told you, ghosts are real!" Jerry smiled, "Let's get home."