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Word of the Week: Denouement

Word: denouement

Pronunciation: day-noo-MAH

Part of Speech: noun

Definition: the final part of a play, movie, or narrative in which the strands of the plot are drawn together and matters are explained or resolved

Source: Oxford Dictionaries


Today’s vocabulary post is a special one because it’s my last Word of the Week! This segment has been really fun to write and I’ll certainly miss it, but with all the major updates I’m planning for my blog, I won’t have room for it anymore. So with that in mind, I picked out one final word from the 100 most beautiful words in English that would be most fitting for my last vocabulary entry. Here’s to the “denouement” of my Word of the Week!

A “denouement” is the final part of a story in which the plot is tied together and the conflict is resolved. The word arose in the mid 18th century and is originally a French noun meaning “outcome”. This noun derives from the verb dénouer, meaning “to unravel”.

“Denouement” is a word that every fiction writer should know, as it’s an important part of any plot. After all the action has risen and fallen and the climax has reached its end, the “denouement” is the final part of the story when everything comes together: every remaining strand of the conflict is resolved and the story reaches its conclusion. Note that aside from its literary definition, “denouement” can also work in real-world contexts meaning “the climax of a chain of events, usually when something is decided or made clear”. Whether you use it to define the conclusions in your stories or simply keep it in mind when outlining your plots, “denouement” is a key word to have in your vocabulary!

Thanks for reading my Word of the Week segment! I hope you’ve enjoyed it!

Last Farewell

Are you sure about this?

She stares at me with those sad brown eyes. I take a deep breath, determined to stay strong.

“Yes, I’m sure.”

But why now? Why at all?

“Because I can’t stay stuck here forever. I need to start making things happen for myself.”

Can’t I come with you?

I shake my head. “Not this time. You’ve been wonderful and I couldn’t have gotten this far without you, but now it’s time to move on.”

Aren’t you scared?

“Are you kidding?” I smile in an awkward attempt to keep from crying. “I’ve never been more terrified of anything in my life.”

It’s not too late to turn back, you know.

“Hey, I never said I was too scared.”

Something about her laughter reassures me. Maybe I can do this after all.

So what will you do now?

I shrug. “Keep writing the same way I always have. You’re just the mask. Everything else is already mine.”

And you’ll be okay not having me to hide behind anymore?

I pause and breathe a heavy sigh. “Honestly, I can’t be sure yet. All I know is that I’m tired of hiding.”

You realize there’s no going back from this. Once you let me go, you’ll be on your own. Are you ready to be yourself, your real self?

I smile again. “Who else am I going to be?”

Although she doesn’t respond, I already know what she’s thinking. Five years. That’s nothing to sneeze at.

“I am going to miss you.” This time, I can’t stop the tears. “You know that, right?”

Somehow she manages a smile through her own tears.

You’ll be fine. They’re going to love you.

“How do you know that?”

Like you said, I’m just the mask. You’re right, you don’t need me anymore. Maybe you never did. Everything you need is already yours. So don’t be afraid. Just get out there and be you.

I brush the tears off my face. “I will. Promise.”

We both reach a hand toward each other. Our fingers almost touch across the void, perfectly symmetrical through the glass. Though her face never changes, I can feel her fading away, until at last I’m left looking at nothing but a nameless reflection.

What’s in a name? The face in the mirror has always been mine. Soon everyone else will see it too. No longer a persona, just me.

Goodbye, Ms. Wolfe.

Update on the Dragon Story Experiment: More Beta Reader Feedback + Final Draft in Progress

It’s been another month since my last update on my dragon stories! Last time, I shared some of the feedback I’d received from beta readers on my first two stories while the last one had yet to be edited and sent out. After sending out all three stories and receiving more feedback from readers, here’s another quick update on my project and where I plan to go from here!

Beta Reader Feedback

So far, all three of my stories have been very well received! Of course, that doesn’t mean they’re perfect, and my beta readers certainly had some great notes to share over the past several weeks!

Based on their feedback, it seems a couple of my biggest weaknesses in writing are passive voice and awkward sentences. This isn’t really a surprise; I’ve caught myself favoring passive voice over active voice more times than I’d care to admit, and even I find some of my own sentences awkward after a few rounds of editing. Despite everything I’ve learned about writing, I still have a handful of bad habits to break!

One thing that did surprise me was someone’s comment that the action in “Defender” was written very well. Action scenes have long been one of the areas I’ve felt least confident in, so hearing that my extra effort paid off definitely put a spring in my step that day! I was also surprised to hear that “Beastly Pains” is very reminiscent of the fable of “The Lion and the Mouse” (not that this is a bad thing, I just hadn’t realized it), and that “The Silver Queen” made one of my readers cry!

Overall, although there have been a couple of comments here and there that were hard to hear, I’m extremely grateful to the readers who have taken the time to read my stories and give feedback. Every comment, both positive and negative, helps me become a better writer!

Final Edits + Publication

Although my stories are technically still open for feedback from beta readers, I’m already getting started on the final drafts. Once those are done, I plan to assemble them into a single ebook and publish it on Kindle!

Now before you say anything, I know this sounds a little crazy. What am I thinking publishing these stories without giving them to an editor first?

Well, as I’ve hinted at before, this isn’t so much a true self-publishing venture as it is an experiment. I’m planning to use these stories to test certain aspects of self-publishing and see how readers respond to my writing so I can learn from the experience. I promise I have no intention of publishing my future “real” books without handing them over to a professional editor first! That would be insane!

The main reason I’m okay with putting this book out there in such a raw state is that I’m going to be rebranding myself as an author soon. This will be the only book I publish under my current name; after my upcoming blog relaunch, I’ll be focusing on a fresh series of stories to properly self-publish under my new author name, hopefully with a little more wisdom about the process!

What blog relaunch and new author name, you ask? You’ll have to wait until next week to learn more. 😉

Thanks again to all my beta readers for your feedback! If you’re not one of my beta readers yet but would like to be, you still have time to sign up for my mailing list! Once my final drafts are nearly ready, I’ll be closing my list, so be sure to sign up soon!

Word of the Week: Effloresce

Word: effloresce

Pronunciation: e-flə-RES

Part of Speech: verb

Definition:

  1. lose moisture and turn to a fine powder upon exposure to air
  2. reach an optimum stage of development; blossom

Source: Oxford Dictionaries


Here’s another word I learned from the 100 most beautiful words in English. Spring is finally here, so what better time to learn a word related to flowers and blossoming? If you’re inspired to write floral poetry this season, you may find it fun to describe the way the flowers “effloresce”!

To “effloresce” is to blossom or reach an optimum stage of development. To “effloresce” is also to lose moisture and turn to a fine powder upon exposure to air. The word arose in the late 18th century and comes from the Latin verb efflorescere, meaning “to bloom”. This verb comprises the preposition e- “out” and the verb florescere “begin to bloom”, the latter of which derives from the noun floris “flower”.

While the more obvious definition of “effloresce” is “to blossom” due to its relation to the word “flower”, it also functions as a chemistry term referring to salts that crystallize on a surface or to a surface that becomes covered with salt particles. The noun form “efflorescence” is also a chemistry term for the migration of salts through a porous surface (though I much prefer its other meaning: “blossoming”). Be careful not to confuse the verb “effloresce” with “effervesce” (“to give off bubbles” or “to be vivacious and enthusiastic”) or the adjective “efflorescent” with “evanescent” (“soon passing out of sight, memory, or existence”)! If you love writing about flowers or other things that bloom, “effloresce” may be a great word to include in your vocabulary!

What are your thoughts on this word? Any suggestions for future “Word of the Week” featured words?

Emotions on a Blank Page (Colleen’s Weekly #Poetry Challenge – #Haibun)

The blank page stares at me, teasing me, mocking me, daring me to write something, anything. I frown back at the white screen, my mind still empty as ever. I reach into the void for any words that will break the block. Why won’t they come? I stare harder, seething at the space I wish would fill itself. Oh, how much I could write just about the frustration of having nothing to say… I stop. I smile. Yes, yes. Fingers to keys, I begin to type. The words come easily now. From rage comes enlightenment, from enlightenment comes triumph. Before I know it, I’m grinning at a finished poem. At last, I’ve conquered the blank page.

Anger fuels the fire
Until all falls into place
And my smile returns
Happiness comes in flashes
But such is a writer’s life!


My response to Colleen Chesebro‘s Weekly Poetry Challenge #76: Joy & Fury. The twist is to only use synonyms for the prompt words! For this challenge, I chose to write a haibun about the emotional rollercoaster that is writing. I hope you enjoy the poem! Thanks for the prompt, Colleen!

About J.C. Wolfe

J.C. Wolfe is a fiction writer, biologist, and aspiring novelist of science fantasy and romance. A natural-born American and graduate in Marine Ecology from a university in Brazil, J.C. now writes for a living in California while spending free time blogging and penning stories and poetry.

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