Will Imagery Replace the Written Word?

Will Imagery Replace the Written Word?

We are bombarded by images and sound bites almost 24/7 due in part to around-the-clock news channels and social media sites that feature photos with a brief message providing links to the words.  Even a still photo will be considered passe in part due to the rise of live video on Facebook.  Emoticons and GIFs are replacing written phrases.

I love a good photograph or a funny video as much as the next person, but I’m a writer and I wonder if future generations will miss the joy that I’ve found in reading a book.  There is something very special about reading a book passage which paints a mental image in our brains transporting us to another realm created through the author’s vision molded into the reader’s interpretation of their literary musings.

The warm red glow of the rising sun peeked through gaps in the advancing front of the storm.  Its weakened light glinted off of the corrugated metal carports.  The roar of the tide rushing into the beach and an occasional car door or trunk closing were the only sounds. — Exodus, Chapter One

I had a specific memory in mind when I wrote this paragraph in my first novel.  A writer uses words like an artist uses a paintbrush.  Our combination of adjectives, verbs, and nouns are the paints we stroke onto our canvas.  We use long sweeping sentences mixed with crisp ones to add drama and layers similarly to the technique a painter will use when they change the type of bristle on their brush or the direction and quality of their application of paint.  Splashing a bit of color here and there to bring out dimensions in their work is not unlike building tension in a scene.

Will future generations be unable to frame a mental picture of what they are reading?  Will our writing become a washed out photograph relegated to the past because a bright video set to music strengthens certain nerve centers in the brain while other neurons, which once dealt with the impulses of reading a descriptive passage, whither away?

I thought it was funny when people would visit my home, look into my home library and comment, “Have you read ALL of these books?”   When I told them that I read the majority of them, they would look at me like I was a freak of nature.  Or when I hear a negative comment about a person being “strange” because they don’t watch TV and “all they do is read!”  I begin to worry about the direction our society is going.

I was curious to see if this was a problem or only a theory produced by my book-obsessed psyche.  I found out a Pew Research Center study showed approximately 72 % of American adults had read a book in 2015.  This was a continuation of a gradual decline over five years.  In 2011, about 79% had read a “book in part”.   Women read more than men on average and younger people (80 %) read at least one book in a year compared to senior citizens with only 69% reading a book/year.   Americans as a whole read fewer hours per week by half when compared to readers from other nations around the world.   These statistics are sobering.

Or, am I worrying much in the same way the song “Video Killed the Radio Star” predicted in 1979?  It didn’t.

In the early 20th century,  the Italian avant-garde art movement — Futurism — looked to destroy older forms of culture, preferring to explore new technologies and media as the means to communicate their creative vision.  Futurism added an additional layer to the cultural whole, instead.

We, as writers, can fight back by presenting the best quality work we can.  The continued honing of our craft and improvement in our writing skills is a must.  I’m not an elitist writer, and I cringe when I read comments by writers about all of the crap being written today.  My belief in encouraging all forms of writing by many writers will be our saving grace.

We crawl before we can walk or run.  Our writing develops and improves as we write.  If we turn our noses up because “we” know good writing and denounce the offerings of another, we will discourage the exploration and evolution of the art we wish to embrace.

So, I have joined the ranks of authors utilizing the social media I worry will destroy the older exchange of ideas in books.  If it goes the way of music videos and new art movements, it will add something to our creative palate and may bring more readers and writers into the fold.  Inclusion is the remedy to keeping an art form thriving in an ever-changing world.

OMP Admin Note:  Kate McGinn is a writer and OMP Network member – one of a group of networkers who will be blogging on a regular basis on various causes and issues. Kate hopes to spread awareness of the issue of American Veterans returning home to less help than they deserve. EMMAUS is one of the two main charities we are supporting.

Kate McGinn’s fiction can be found on Amazon in the flash fiction series BITE SIZE STORIES (Volume Two) along with five other guest writers. The first two books in her Clare Thibodeaux Series–EXODUS and WINTER’S ICY CARESS are available on Amazon.





Paying Homage

Paying Homage

By John Nedwill

There is a saying I come across with regards to writing:

“Bad writers plagiarize.

“Good writers pay homage.

“Great writers steal.”

At first, I thought it was one of those irregular verbs. After all, it is just the same thing said in three different ways; the sort of thing that is intended as a comment on writers and how they are regarded. But, more and more, I am convinced that it is valid advice for any writer.

When I started writing, I copied the styles and themes of the writers I was familiar with. After all, we are meant to learn how to write from good examples; and surely a published writer must be one of the best exemplars? However, if someone way back then had confronted me with the statement, “Hey! Your story is exactly like X!”, I would have felt as if I had been caught cheating and changed the subject.

Later, as I became more skilled at writing, I learnt what was good about an author’s work. So, instead of copying an author wholesale, I would consciously select a piece of work that I wanted to emulate the style of. I would pick out what I thought were the key pieces. Was it the way the author constructed their sentences? Perhaps it was the dialogue. Maybe it was the plot structure that I was interested in. Whatever it was, I would take what I wanted and use it to improve my work. Then, if anybody said, “Hey! You’re just like Y!”, I would smile and say,”Exactly.”

Now that I am a more confident writer, if I see something that I like about an author’s style or a story, I have no qualms about lifting it. The difference is that now I make it my own, twisting it to my needs, and hopefully producing something that is new and uniquely mine.

So, what’s the lesson from this? If you’re a writer, then you should not be afraid to admit your influences. You are a part of the culture. Even better – you are someone who expands that culture, adding to it with every word you write. Do not be afraid to embrace that culture and take what you want from it.

OMP Admin Note:  John Nedwill is a writer and OMP Network member, who will be blogging on a regular basis on various issues and causes.  His work can be found on Wattpad.com and in the OMP short story anthologies which will be published by Dark Ink Press this fall.

The Cultural Bridge

The following  idea is developed after a lot of research and consultation with a lot of people. The idea written below is not solely a product of my imagination. I must agree, Sharon Rhoads has helped me change my views comepletely. With this, I extend my gratitude towards her and give her the credits she deserves.


Culture is the part and parcel of human society. It is a prism of realities. In simpler words, culture is just like our mother tongue. Just as we start learning our language even before we understand its importance and use, we start learning our culture way before we are even aware of what it is.

Culture seeps into us, through the bedtime stories that we read, or the music that we listen. It also gets into us subtly through the religious traditions, holidays, celebrations, and the works of literature and mythology.

Strangely enough, culture still remains one the most misunderstood concepts in the world of humanities.

People, since ages, have misunderstood the meaning of the term, ‘culture’. Culture is how you live and who you are, not where you live. For instance, fishermen have a “culture”. People who live in homeless camps and shelters have a “culture”. People who are very wealthy have a “culture”. The people of a certain culture will understand each other and the life they live, but outsiders will not. Every one of us has our own “culture” that has nothing to do with where we live and still everything to do with who we are.

Nations these days rarely contain a single “culture” within their borders. When we talk about “culture” we need to be clear about its meaning. When we use that word, we are not referring to different countries. We are, in fact, referring to the differences in how we see the world, how we see ourselves, how we see others and how we live our lives. Did you know that deaf people have a “culture”? Or for that matter, circus performers have a “culture”. Even the surfers have a “culture”. And all these “cultures” separate people from each other because they don’t understand the other “cultures” around them.

But ‘culture’ hasn’t always remained a favourable influence.

A lot of times, in fact, it has worked against us. It made us look down at others as ‘different’. It acted as a wall, more than the link it was supposed to be. It stood for ages, dividing us on the basis of our differences. These are quite evident from the outright wars that had been waged between the east and the west, the Arabs and the Non-Arabs, the blacks and the whites and so on.

The internet, television and movies today, show us all the other parts of the world. But, they seldom help us understand the people who have different “cultures”. How well do you understand the “culture” of the deaf? They have their own language and a set of social expectations.

These are the walls that need to be knocked down!

In order to further this, One Million Project, OMP came up with this idea; the idea of knocking down the Cultural Walls and converting them into Cultural Bridges. So here we are, starting another wonderful project where we would like to have writers, artists, musicians and others share something about their culture on this online platform. Let our audience know about a different culture every few days, not through the humdrum routine textbooks they’d pick up in their high schools or libraries, but through the real stories about the real human experience.

Because sometimes we need more than an anthropologist or a sociologist to teach us culture. We need each other!

Moinak Das
(with special thanks to Sharon Rhoads)

The Cultural Bridge

For more information on the project, please visit us on The Cultural Bridge and tell us how you feel about it. We are currently in our initiation stage. So if something doesn't work for you, don't hesitate to comment there. Thank you.


Revisions and Insanity

Revisions and Insanity

I discovered late yesterday I would have to post a blog on the One Million Project website.  I’m not usually so scatter-brained about deadlines, but I have a deadline of my own at the moment.  I’m in the Revision stage of my latest book; so needless to say, I’m going insane a little more each day.

I think it’s appropriate to give you, the reader, a bit of history about the revision process and moi.  With my first full-length book, I approached the revision and editing process without a plan or a clue, if I’m being frank.  Yeah, I read different articles about various steps other writers had used during the final revisions and edits.  I chose to go my own way, and I was so very wrong.  I had several beta readers helping me by pointing out punctuation and spelling errors, sentence structure, point-of-view issues, and other helpful suggestions.  I appreciated their help so very much.  They were not the issue.

I ran the book through the Grammarly program, and I even purchased the updated version of the application.  It gave me several suggestions and caught some items I’d overlooked.  It proved to be a wise decision, in light of my special talent for creating sentences akin to a freshly made pot of alphabet soup.

Last but not the least of my revisionist plans, I sat down and read my book out loud to get a feel for the sentence flow and spot any errors which had remained hidden from the multiple orbs perusing the pages.  This was sound advice I’d read on someone’s blog, and it is effective for someone without a mix of youthful daydreaming and the memory problems of advancing age.   I would have such good intentions, and before I realized it, I was vacuuming the rug, messing around with widgets on my website or shopping online.

Authors will tell you they are often their own worst critics.  It’s true.  Once I start reading what I’ve written, I will dutifully begin revising sentences.  Not one or two, but every single one will be cut, put back together and ripped apart again.  After a few glasses of wine mingled with my wretched tears, I begin to start calling friends to inform them that my writing is “pure ___.”  Fill in whatever word seems fitting.

I keep re-reading the same chapters and the changes continue.  After two weeks, I find I’m still on the first paragraph of my book (a slight exaggeration for dramatic purposes).  I have chapters which include the same character’s name twelve-hundred times in a fifteen-hundred-word count chapter.  Another of my special talents, it seems.

So, here I am a year later in the throes of revising/editing my second book.  Please wish me well.  This could well be my last blog post, because I need to re-write every sentence about forty times.

If you’ve read this far, I hope you understand much of what I’ve written is satire, but with satire comes a basic truth about my own foibles and shortcomings.  Every book will have some errors, and I’ve yet to read one without something my third-grade teacher would have marked with a red checkmark.  The moral of my tale is simply to avoid losing the creative essence of the story as you look for the imperfections.

My job is done.  I must get back to my revisions before the men in white suits bring my straight jacket.

OMP Admin Note: Kate McGinn is a writer and OMP Network member – one of a group of networkers who will be blogging on a regular basis on various causes and issues. Kate hopes to spread awareness of the issue of American Veterans returning home to less help than they deserve. EMMAUS is one of the two main charities we are supporting.

Kate McGinn’s fiction can be found on Amazon in the flash fiction series BITE SIZE STORIES (Volume Two) along with five other guest writers. Her full-length book EXODUS is also available on Amazon.



Twitter: @katemcginn6


Finding Talents!

“Grandpa! Can I ask you something?” The boy asked as he rested his head on the old man’s lap.

“Umm-hmm. Go ahead, son.” The old man ruffled his hands through the boy’s dishevelled hair.

“Miss May was telling me that everyone has a special talent.”

“Yes, she was right!”

“But how do I find my talents. I have spent twenty-three years of my life. But still, I haven’t figured out the purpose of my existence and the value of my presence! Leave alone ‘talents’. Sometimes I feel, I am not talented at all.”

“Hahaha! Well, that is not true, child” Grandpa replied.

“Then how do I find my talents? Martha is an excellent singer. Toby plays wonderful football. Lira is good at drawing. Ron is good in studies. And I am good at nothing! For the past couple of years, I have only been failing. I have failed in my exams. I have failed to qualify for the school football team. I have failed to make my parents proud. I have failed at everything I have touched.” A drop of tear rolled down his eyes as his voice trembled.

“Trust me, son. You are talented indeed. If you ever have the feeling that you are not talented enough, it isn’t your fault, child. It is the system that is faulty. It is the world which lacks eyes to recognise your talent. You may, in fact, be possessing a rather unusual talent. The talents that your friends possess are actually common talents. Like being good at sports or studies or being good at a particular art. The talents that do not get recognised are patience, thoughtfulness, optimism, the desire to succeed or rebuttal to defeat, will power and so on. If you observe, these are the same set of skills that are otherwise ‘taught’ to some people through ‘self-help books’ or the ‘lifestyle coaches’, but then there are few people like you who possess these naturally. And the worst part is that these kinds of talents do not have a conventional stage for display. For Lira, the drawing paper is her stage for display. For Toby, the football ground is his stage for display. But for you, my son, there are no stages for display and hence medium of expression.”

“So will I never get to show my talent? Will no one ever know that I am talented?” The boy looked up, a little relaxed.

“Well, that is not true again. It may be that your innate talent may be situation specific. There are people who do not handle failure well; these days little kids are committing suicide over trivial issues. There are people who do not even know how to get back up after falling. But if you have that talent called ‘perseverance’ then you are one of those rare kids who knows how to get back up again even after falling a thousand times. Your talents actually help you to live your life. Just ask yourself this one question. ‘Would that seemingly talented Martha be able to live your life? Would that seemingly strong Toby be able to keep on facing failure like you?’ and I am sure; the answer would always be ‘NO’.”




The Anatomy of a Story

What keeps readers enthralled with a book?  The answer depends on what you believe drives the story, is it the plot or the characters?  Aristotle in his book, Poetics, stated that “tragedy is a representation not of men, but of action and life.”  And for hundreds of years, writers and books were focused on developing the plot instead of their characters.

In the 19th century, the modern novel was born, and the idea of a story being character-driven became a part of the literary discussion.  I believe a strong plot is necessary, but if your characters are one-dimensional, the plot won’t matter.  Readers will be distracted by a lackluster cast of characters.   Envision “A Streetcar Named Desire” with a monotone delivery of the play’s dialogue or an over-acted performance by an actor that defied reality.   The same can be said for the written dialogue in stories.  Dialogue should engage the reader by adding depth of character and by moving the plot forward.

I’m a nurse, so I think about story structure in anatomical terms.  The plot is the skeletal portion of the story.  Without the skeleton, the story won’t have the strength necessary to support itself.  The story will figuratively fall apart without the plot to frame it.

The book’s muscle is the figurative meat of the story.  Descriptive passages and facts bring form and substance to the written word.  Holding it all together are the tendons and ligaments whose job is to tie the plot points together in a cohesive story arc.

A story’s lifeblood is dependent on its characters.  The thrill of the chase and the Machiavellian twists and turns are the nervous system of the story.  The book wouldn’t have the excitement or spark needed to attract readers and keep them engaged without our characters’ deeds, their actions, and their electrifying influence which keep the pages turning.  Emotional passion is the blood of the story.  It can be the pounding heat in your veins or the chilled sensation running through your body during a horrific moment.

Through their deeds and dialogue, the people within the story drive its direction.  The characters are the emotions, the beating heart and the flesh of any plot.  Character development is necessary to transform the words on a page into a force with the power to entertain.

Authors are asked about their inspiration in creating a specific character.  Each writer has a process she uses in the fabrication of the individuals who populate her stories.  Some will write a character sketch detailing the personality, interests, employment, social background, and relationships of their main characters.  They delve into the character with such depth that they catalog their childhood, where and how they live, their looks and even the meaning of the character’s name.

Other writers refer to the notion of their characters ‘finding them’.   A scene playing in his head inspires the writer, needling him until he acts upon it.  The characters grow and evolve during the writing of the story determining the direction of the plot through the natural flow of conversation and events.   They essentially write their own story, and in the process, fashion their own destinies.

Whether an author carefully documents details about his characters or they are the result of whimsy, the author’s goal is to bring the reader into the ‘reality’ of her characters’ world.   It is pure magic when a reader becomes so absorbed in the plot and characters; she begins to identify with certain individuals within the story.

Internal and external dialogue are a tool used to reveal who the character is, what is in her heart and what weighs on her conscience.  I know I can name several protagonists I have admired and about as many antagonists I have disliked intensely.  Do you remember a story where you became annoyed with a decision a character made?  Have you ever had a ‘book boyfriend’?  I have.  Don’t judge me—what young woman doesn’t find Mr. Darcy or Heathcliff worthy of her notice?

If it is true there are only six to seven plot lines total in all the stories ever written, the differences between stories rely on the strength and uniqueness of the story’s characters.   As writers, we are assigned the task of writing a believable story whose characters react and speak naturally and realistically in the myriad of worlds we construct around them.  Our success will turn one of the six or seven repeated literary plots into a creative journey so compelling our readers will lose themselves within the pages.


OMP Admin Note: Kate McGinn is a writer and OMP Network member – one of a group of networkers who will be blogging on a regular basis on various causes and issues. Kate hopes to spread awareness of the issue of American Veterans returning home to less help than they deserve. EMMAUS is one of the two main charities we are supporting.

Kate McGinn’s fiction can be found on Amazon in the flash fiction series BITE SIZE STORIES (Volume Two) along with five other guest writers. Her full-length book EXODUS is also available on Amazon.







An Exam Called Life


Up until my high school days, I hated almost all my exams. I hated the competitive ones and I hated the non-competitive ones. I hated them just religiously, without any discrimination. And I hated them because I thought exams were a discrete hammering on a child’s natural intellect. But as the numbers on my age changed, so did my views and beliefs.

Surprisingly over the last three years at college, after sailing through a university level of education and a gruelling series of examinations, almost on my own, I have understood one simple thing; exams are more than just a reality check. Exams are actually the stimulants that trigger your intellect and enhance your ability to cope with the real world. It helps you deal with the insane amounts of difficulties that you face ahead in your life.

My under-graduation is nearing an end. Only a few of months have passed since I have last written an exam and I am anxiously waiting for my results. I don’t even know if I will pass, but trust me, I don’t hate exams as much as I did some years ago, (though I am still not too fond of them).
A clichéd saying in my country goes; “An engineer might not have studied for an entire year, but s/he will still be a master of his subject on the night before an exam!” And I am proud to certify the above statement to the fullest of my beliefs.

It was a rainy night in the serene town of Vellore as monsoons had just touched upon the sea shores in the southern parts of India. I had just one exam left and it was the most difficult one. And I remember calling upon every friend of mine over the phone, inquiring about their progress with the syllabus and irritating them over and over again. I knew I was being moronic but trust me, this is the only anti-depressant available to a student at such a strenuous time. If friends are behind you in the race to complete the syllabus, you man, are safe!
But, I was lagging behind!
I instantly realised that I have to spend another sleepless night or I might completely screw up in the exam the next morning.
I wanted to cry over my fate.
I wanted to go and kill those teachers.
I wanted to run far away.
I wished I had studied this before.

But amid all of this, a strange realisation took place in me.

I curated a bunch of previous year exam question papers. I called up a few (trustworthy) friends and inquired from them about the important questions that the teacher might have unwantedly spelt out in the last few classes.
Having gathered all these things, I started to prepare, ‘just to pass’.
And I kept on studying, desperate not to fall asleep at any cost.
But life happens.

I woke up at eight in the morning, cursing myself, and found my books lying on the floor while my pen and notebooks were pressed under me. I got up with a jolt and hurriedly began revising all that I had studied the night before and eventually went to write the exam, leaving the burden of my fate on the shoulders of the almighty (though I was not a believer of god back then, hardships and struggles can always do the impossible, they say!).
I came out of the hall, thirty minutes before the exam was actually over and surprisingly I was unimaginably optimistic about the exam. I didn’t know whether I did well or not but I knew one thing. I did my best. I gave in more than I actually could.

It is today that I suddenly realise that exams are an exact analogy of life, scaled down to a hundred and eighty minutes (or however long an exam is). Whatever I did for that exam that day was actually a teaching in disguise. It was a lesson of what I should do again in the future if I faced something deadly in my life.


For anything deadly that might collide head on with me in my life ahead, I should trust my past experiences (curate a bunch of previous year exam question papers).

Then I should call my friends for help or pray to god for the right direction (inquired from them about the important questions that the teacher might have unwantedly spelt out in the last few classes).

My priority should always be to just ‘survive’, (start to prepare ‘just to pass’).

And the last thing I should do is to leave the result in the God’s will (write the exam, leaving the burden of my fate on the shoulders of the almighty).

I am sure I will come out as optimistic as I did in my exam that day.

So you see? Exams are much like those vaccines that we used to get injected with in our childhood. We all know that vaccines of a particular disease are nothing but the disease itself. But this disease instead of harming you actually sets up a system of immunity within your body. It helps your body fight against the real disease which you might face someday.
Actually, exams are just an emergency algorithm to life’s problems.

Shooting for the Moon

Over the last few days, everyone was caught up in the quagmire of news stories surrounding the events leading up to the Inauguration on January 20, 2017.  An announcement gained media attention.  Plans were underway for a renewed effort to find a cancer cure.

In President Obama’s final State of the Union Address, he announced the start of a new national effort to find a cure for cancer.  Vice-president Joe Biden will be leading the efforts.  The Vice-president’s son, Beau, recently died of brain cancer after a hard-fought battle against the disease.

Biden called for a “Cancer Moonshot” much like the national efforts called for by President Kennedy to develop the space program and put a man on the moon.  With increased funding and  the government removing some of the obstacles which have slowed cancer research in the past, they hope to speed the progress of cancer research. 

Having worked as a registered nurse for over 30 years, I’ve taken care of many patients at various stages during their fight against cancer.  The changes in treatments and the improved survival rates for various forms of cancer has undergone significant improvements over the years.

“Cancer” is a scary word.  It is a generic name for a multitude of diseases of every body system and organ found in the human anatomy.  With about one hundred different types of “cancer” identified, and each one with a differing progression, treatment, and outcome; it is amazing how far medical research has come.  Breast cancer, various skin cancers, thyroid and testicular cancers have high cure rates today as compared to even ten years past.

But so many forms of the disease are difficult to detect in the early stages which affects successful treatment.  Others are very close to breakthroughs.  These advances give us hope a cure for cancer may be only one discovery away.

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States.  In 2017, a renewed effort like the one proposed by President Obama and VP Joe Biden is uplifting and should be an effort all Americans should rally behind.

President Kennedy’s address at Rice University on September 12, 1962, epitomizes this new “Moonshot” better than anything I could write.  A portion of his speech is below:

“We choose to go to the moon.  We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win…”

Only a few short years after Kennedy’s rousing speech, the United States put the first man on the moon.  May President Obama and Vice-President Biden have the same kind of success finding a cure for cancer.

Kate McGinn

OMP Admin Note: Kate McGinn is a writer and OMP Network member – one of a group of networkers who will be blogging on a regular basis on various causes and issues. Kate hopes to spread awareness of the issue of American Veterans returning home to less help than they deserve. EMMAUS is one of the two main charities we are supporting.

Kate McGinn’s fiction can be found on Amazon in the flash fiction series BITE SIZE STORIES (Volume Two) along with five other guest writers. Her full length book EXODUS is also available on Amazon.