Believing in Fairy Tales

By Virginia Parker Staat

“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” ~ Neil Gaiman

I suppose some may consider it an odd place for a nonfiction writer to begin, but for me, the fairy tale structure is the one I use most frequently. Fairy tales use a narrative structure, which lends itself well to nonfiction. I’m not talking about fairy tale formula. I can’t recall a single piece of nonfiction that includes magic beans or a pumpkin turning into a carriage. Rather, a fairy tale narrative structure uses specific building blocks to tell a story. This narrative structure determines how our plot is unveiled to our readers. 

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Sensory Perception

Text & photo by Virginia Parker Staat

Writing is like painting with words, the paper is the canvas, the pen is the brush, the words are the colors and the verbs, nouns and adjectives are the blending of the hues that add depth to the picture you are creating.  ~  Reed Abbitt Moore

baobab tree
The magnificent and wondrous baobab, or tree of life.

On our recent visit to the Kimberly region of Australia, we discovered the baobab. These trees are truly magnificent with their massive, bottle-shape trunks, spreading crowns, and finger-like branches. They only reside in the drier regions of Africa, Madagascar, and northern Australia. Known as trees of life, a single baobab can hold 120,000 liters of water in the fibrous pith of its trunk and branches. In times of drought, Bushmen poke holes in its trunk to draw out the water while animals chew on the baobab branches, using them like straws to drink. 

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Ode to a Chippendale Dancer

By Virginia Parker Staat

“Don’t tell me the moon is shining;
show me the glint of light on broken glass.”
~ Anton Chekhov

When we travel into the city, we almost always stop by our favorite Italian restaurant. It is a third-generation bistro begun in 1938 in the home where the owners raised their children. At one time it was billed as one of the top five restaurants in the world to visit. Now, with his beloved Josephine gone and Sammy in his eighties, the restaurant still has excellent fare but not the five-star quality it once boasted. 

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Happy Punctuation Day!

By Virginia Parker Staat

“In the family of punctuation, where the full stop is daddy and the comma is mummy,
and the semicolon quietly practises the piano with crossed hands, 
the exclamation mark is the big attention-deficit brother who gets overexcited and breaks things and laughs too loudly.”

~ Lynne Truss, Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation

On September 24, our nation will celebrate its 16thNational Punctuation Day. Jeff Rubin founded the event in 2004 as “a celebration of the lowly comma, correctly used quotation marks, and other proper uses of periods, semicolons, and the ever-mysterious ellipses.” 

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The Cutting Room Floor

By Virginia Parker Staat

“Cut a good story anywhere, and it will bleed.”  ~ Anton Chekhov

I remember my first attempt at writing a young adult novel. It took nearly six months of my life to complete it. I immediately put it in a drawer to let it heal itself. When I read it in its entirety several weeks later, I was astonished to discover the book actually began about sixty pages into the piece.

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Predictive Murder

By Virginia Parker Staat

 “Some things are so unexpected that no one is prepared for them.” 
~ Leo Rosten, Rome Wasn’t Burned in a Day

After the death of her archaic computer, my 90-year-old mother recently purchased a new one. She is still adjusting. As an example, she always closes her emails to me with “Love you, Mother.” 

     In her last email, she wrote, “The computer thinks it is cute to add Nature to my Mother. I DON’T.” I nearly fell off the stool in laughter. Welcome, my dear mother, to the world of the infamous autocorrect.

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That That and Which Hunts

By Virginia Parker Staat

“Don’t gobblefunk around with words.” ~ Roald Dahl, The BFG

One of my most recent favorite reads was Love Does by Bob Goff. It was a fantastic book. I savored every line… so much so that I even read the acknowledgements, which were oddly placed at the back of the book rather than in the usual front matter. In the acknowledgements, Goff included a curious tribute to his friend and fellow author Donald Miller, “and to Don Miller, who taught me not to write thatinto my life…” In Goff’s entire book, it is the one sentence that puzzles me.

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