Category Archives: Art

Movie Adaptations of Books: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

I posted this last year but I thought of some new additions to my list!! Feel free to comment!! 🙂

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Through Hollywood’s history there’ve been a great many movie versions of books which have seemed like perfect companions to their literary counterparts. However, for every good movie there have been at least three movies that make the fans of the novel want to hurt someone. We’ve all had that moment when we remember how good the book was and then we get all excited (and in some cases horrified) when we hear there’s going to be a movie. We buy our tickets and watch the movie hoping for something fantastic and in the end when the credits roll all we want to do is scream and throw popcorn. Well fasten your seatbelts movie fans, here’s my least favorite versions. (I know I posted this a while ago but I just re-read/re-watched a few movies and thought of some new additions to my list)

Romeo + JulietRomeo + Juliette (1996 adapted from the William Shakespeare play)

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Discussion: Do you listen to music as you write? Why or why not?

Just as I do not recommend writing with a fever, reading through jetlag and turbulence = NO!!! LOL

Just as I do not recommend writing with a fever, reading through jetlag and turbulence = NO!!! LOL

So happy to be posting again!!!!!! I know my posts have been a bit sporadic lately and I apologize for that. I’ve just spent the past few weeks job searching and also working in some time to travel cross country. I spent 12 hrs yesterday in airports, on planes, and in turbulence…yeah my stomach did not like that. I tried to get some reading done but it’s a bit nauseating when the book you’re reading is bouncing in your hands every second. Since I finally got to my destination I’ve gotten some writing done, but didn’t get the chance to post. Now I have returned!!!!!!!!! YAY!!!

For this post I’d like to open a discussion. Do you like to listen to music as you write? Why or why not? If you do like to listen to music as you’re writing, what kind of music do you listen to?

Music as you write? Yea? Nay?

Music as you write? Yea? Nay?

For my part I usually listen to music as I write but I have a very specific playlist that depends on my mood and what I need. For example I am an easily distracted person so I only listen to low key things when I write, otherwise I’ll get so wrapped up in the music it will pull my attention away from what I’m writing. It also helps if what I’m listening to is tied to what I’m writing in some way. For example last year I wrote a ten-minute play that was centered in West Virginia, and so to get into that mindset I created a Pandora station that played a mixture of old southern gospel songs and bluegrass. The music was reminiscent of what I was writing so it helped me to envision the world of the story, and the songs themselves were slow paced ballads so they didn’t pull my distraction away.

Listening to some old Bluegrass and gospel on Pandora got me into the right mindset for my play, oh and it's also really good music!!! :)

Listening to some old Bluegrass and gospel on Pandora got me into the right mindset for my play, oh and it’s also really good music!!! 🙂

As I mention a few posts ago I was working on turning an old freewriting exercise of mine into a novel. Well the novel itself is set some time in the 1800’s in England so it really helped me to picture how that world looked by listening to classical music from that time. By listening to the same types of music that would have been popular during the time period in which I set my story it gives me a way to envision how that world might sound. I already had an idea of how the world looked, but the music gave me a way to picture how the world would sound, offering me a tool to engage the readers’ senses.

For me figuring out the types of songs my character might hear on a daily basis gives me another way to understand their worlds.

For me figuring out the types of songs my character might hear on a daily basis gives me another way to understand their worlds.

So that’ my rigmarole! Do you have specific music that you like to listen to when you write? Or do you like to write it total silence? Why? Post in the comment section below the writing exercise!!! If you have any questions or concerns feel free to let me know.

Exercise of the Day

Exercise of the Day

Exercise of the Day: The Moving Box Exercise

Imagine that you’ve moved into a new home. You know nothing about the previous owners. When you enter the house you see a box on the floor that belonged to the previous owners. Open it and describe what you find. From the items you find inside the box create a story for who the previous owners might have been.

 

Have fun with this exercise and I will talk to you again soon!!! Bye!

 

 

 

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Thoughts on Nanowrimo

Well another year, and another dreaded Nanowrimo, is in the books. I say dreaded Nanowrimo not because I don’t like seeing people get excited about writing but more because I dislike the feeling that I get when I try. I have tried many times to plow through and reach the word count but it has never worked. When I first started trying I liked the idea of having a measurable goal to keep myself to because I thought it would give me more motivation, but instead it only added to the already palpable stress of the writing process. I actually reached the word count goal the first time I tried. I sat down every day, even days when my level of caring was below 0, and pounded out the words. I thought that I’d spend November writing, and then December and January editing and polishing. Well by the time I reached January and was in the process of editing I realized a major problem. Somewhere along the way I had become so obsessed with reaching the word count I had placed the higher value on the quantity of the words and had completely stop caring whether or not they were the right words. By the end of that January I had edited away over half of what I had done in November. I still like the overall concept of Nanowrimo and having a measurable goal but I dislike the idea of limiting myself to one month or word count.

Finding the best word

For me Nanos always end up with me placing a higher value on the number of words and not worrying whether or not they are the right ones.

This year I decided that I wouldn’t even attempt to do a Nanowrimo. In the beginning of the month I started a new seasonal retail sales job and I thought that working retail through Black Friday and all of the rest of the shopping seasonal would make for enough stress. Luckily things in the sales world have calmed down enough to let me write this post, but I think things are going to pick up a bit as it gets closer to Christmas. As you might remember from my last post I had set up some reading/viewing goals for the holidays and I wanted to give you a bit of an update. As far as the viewing plans I can happily say that I was able to watch all 3 movies on my list (Inception, The Fellowship of the Ring, V for Vendetta and After the Thin Man) but I didn’t do quite as well with the reading. I was able to find time to read 2 Sherlock Holmes novels (A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of the Four) and Ender’s Game but that was it. I am afraid that I underestimated the level of exhaustion I’d feel working retail during the holiday season.

 

RETAIL STRESS!!! HAHAHA!!! :)

RETAIL STRESS!!! HAHAHA!!! 🙂

 

I would love to just sit here and continue writing a Moby Dick-esque post but I am afraid that I just got called into work…and it just started snowing…yay. Hahahaha!!!! Angry shoppers wait for no man!!

Sorry for the long wait in between my posts, but I very recently got some much needed technological advancements so I have much better inter access. Pardon me for a moment while I do my happy dance. *DANCES* I hope to post more in the future, but I might get a bit caught up in holiday madness.

Exercise of the Day

Exercise of the Day

The Exercise of the Day: The Travel Exercise

For this exercise you will need to picture someone who is about to travel. Describe the clothes they wear, their destination and method of travel. Do they drive a car? Take a bus/plane? What do they pack? Are they excited about their impending trip or are they scared? Take this construct and build a short piece of fiction around it. Have fun with this and I will see you around!!

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Writing Plans for Nov and Dec

Alrighty well I’m sorry to be saying this, but I’m afraid this will likely be my last post for the next few months. I’m heading away for the entire holiday season and where I’ll be going has limited internet access…BOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 😥

Well since I’ll be offline for most of November and December I can tell you my plans for my writing. For the next few months I’ll be work shopping an idea I had for a sci-fi novel. Since I haven’t really worked with this genre before I think I’ll start by reading some classic sci-fi like Ender’s Game from the 70’s. Whenever I write something that’s genre specific I like to read things that are similar to my idea, and then also read things that are the polar opposite to my idea. That way I don’t pigeonhole myself as far as generating new ideas.

Planned reading:

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card – I’m going to read this because this is apparently one of the best books concerning aliens and technology which are going to be big parts of my story. I read a bit of it and WOW, Card was writing about things very much like the internet and blogs in the 70’s.

 

The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle– I don’t think I’ll be able to finish all of the novels of short stories in 2 months’ time, but I’ve always been interested in Holmes. A lot of the deductive reasoning and science Doyle uses in his Holmes fiction laid the groundwork for advancements in forensic science. I am going to read this because I like the combination of mystery and science.

 

The Iliad by Homer

The Iliad by Homer

The Iliad by Homer (translated by Robert Fitzgerald) – I’m going to read this because I like the combination of the battle and adventure elements and the mythical religion of the ancient Greeks.

 

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen– The first three books I’ve listed are similar in their own ways to the story that I am trying to write. This book is the polar opposite of the story as I have envisioned it thus far so if I get stuck and none of the other books help me generate ideas, I’ll go to this one. You never know what can give you a new idea so don’t rule anything about.

 

Movies can also be a great way to get you in the writing mindset. Over the next few months here’s what I think I’ll be watching.

 

Planned Watching:

Inception - 2010

Inception – 2010

Inception: I’ll be watching this movie because the thematic elements I am hoping to put into my story are similar to the ones in this movie. Also my story is going to have a lot of neurological and psychological portions so I think the storyline of Inception might generate some ideas for those parts of my story.

 

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring 2001

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring 2001

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring– This was the first fantasy movie I ever saw that really made the otherworldly or mythical elements come to life in such a way that made them seem like they could have been real. Previous generations had things like Star Wars, mine had Lord of the Rings.

V for Vendetta- 2005

V for Vendetta- 2005

V for Vendetta– I am going to be watching this because I like the depiction they used of England as this sort of dystopian Hell. I think I might want to use the sort of post-apocalyptic/Orwellian feeling from the movie for inspiration.

After the Thin Man- 1936

After the Thin Man- 1936

After the Thin Man– As you might be able to tell, for both the movie and book section I’ve selected 3 that are similar to my story and 1 which is the polar opposite. This movie, a murder mystery rom/com, could not possibly be more different than the idea I am working on. Perhaps I will pick out something from the mystery aspect, perhaps the romantic. Who can say? That’s the point. You can never tell what will help you to generate ideas so try everything!

Exercise of the Day

Exercise of the Day

Exercise of the Day: The Fear Exercise

Write a story that explains an irrational fear you or one of your characters had as a child. Was it an irrational fear monsters under the bed? Or was it something more real like a car accident? Why do you think the fear started? Did you ever get over it? How did you get over it? Imagine how your world might have shaped or influenced your fears, or the fears of your character.

So long for a while!!! Don’t worry readers I am right now trying to see if I can get access to a better and more reliable internet connection. In the mean time please feel free to comment with questions or feedback. I will most definitely see if I can manage to respond.

 

 

 

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Character Choices for Writers: How to Find What Works

Before you writer ask yourself if your choices make sense for the characters mindsets

Before you writer ask yourself if your choices make sense for the characters mindsets

Everything in writing has to happen for a reason and I have found that what works best is to have everything be determined by the characters. I usually start with the dialogue. It helps me to figure out what my characters need to say by first discovering what their voices sound like. The character’s voice has to make sense!

Crazy is as crazy does

Crazy is as crazy does

For example, in Stephen King’s novel Misery the character Annie Wilkes instead of using swear words says words such as “oogie”, “cockadoodie” and “fiddley-foof”. For most readers these words are very uncommon words in their lives so those words could be a bit hard to swallow. The thing that makes them work is the mindset of the character. In the book Annie feels that swear words have a sort of moral “dirtiness” and so she, with her form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, over-compensates to keep herself “clean”.  It’s like being an actor, when you are playing a character with a “questionable” grasp on reality it opens up your options for character choices because you can go outside of the realm of “normal” behavior. So when your write your characters, be sure that the choices you make as the writer are in line with the characters’ voices and mindsets. Change your mindset

In order to open your mind to different ways of thinking, and different mindsets, it helps to do some research into psychology and sociology. If you’re stuck on what kind of person your character is, or how they think knowing a bit of psychology can really help you generate ideas.

Short post, but I hope you got some useful tips out of it! Bye!!!

Exercise of the Day

Exercise of the Day

Exercise of the Day: Logic vs Philosophy

For this exercise you’re going to imagine a conversation between 2 characters. A proposes a classic philosophical question such as “If a tree falls in the forest and one is there to hear, does it make a sound” and B argues either for or against it based on the principles of logic.

Example:

A: If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?

B: Of course.

A: But how can you know that? You were not there to hear it?

B: The existence of the sound is not dependent on my having heard it. I might not be able to confirm that I heard the tree fall, but does that mean it didn’t happen?  

A: Um…

B. Bazinga!!! I win!!!!

Hope you have fin with this and I’ll talk to you later!!! Feel free to comment!!

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Bad Language in Your Writing: Yes or No?

Oh Gosh Golly!!!!!

Oh Gosh Golly!!!!!

Too many writers today have decided that in order for their work to have an “edge” then all of their characters have to swear like sailors or teenage boys. I am not saying that everything that you write has to read like an episode of Leave it to Beaver, but if you are going to use profanity you must make sure the words have their own flow.

All words need rhythm, even "bad" ones

All words need rhythm, even “bad” ones

In order for profanity to seem natural it has to have a purpose besides making your writing seem more edgy or adult. It needs to begin and end with the characters. In my daily life I at least try not to swear like I’m in an R rated movie but if I do something like drop a hammer on my foot all bets are off. That being said, my characters are not me and have their own unique voices. Any time my characters uses swear words it is because it sounds like it’s something natural for the characters to say. While swear words do not have a “classy” vibe, they can have a rhythm. If you’re ever worried if the types of swear words sound like they have rhythm it’s a good idea to read your passages aloud. If you reading your work aloud can’t make what the character is saying sound natural, you might need to rework the line.

Self-Censorship

Self-Censorship

One thing you need to keep in mind, especially if you plan to be published, is who your intended audience might be. If you are trying to get a kids book published then you can look forward to a lot of rejections if ever other word out of your characters’ mouths is eff this or eff that. You need to tailor your work to your audience, or more specifically to the publisher. I’ve said this before but if you want to be published then it is a good idea for you to research the kinds of things that the publisher has come out with before. If they normally publish things that are so clean they read as if they had been dipped in bleach, then they most likely would not be the best bet to publish a book with gratuitous language.

STOP TALKING ABOUT THE MAN!!! LEARN TO CENSOR YOURSELF!!!!

Exercise of the Day

Exercise of the Day

Exercise of the Day: Describe a Christmas

For this exercise you’ll need to create a character who lives in a country that is not your own. Do they celebrate Christmas? If so, what do they do? If not, how do they view Christmas? This exercise gives you a chance to research the cultures of other countries and to think of how they celebrate and view the holiday season.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

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3 Essential Questions to Ask Before You Post Anything Online

Write like the Wind

“It is wise to apply the oil of refined politeness to the mechanisms of friendship” ~ Colette

In today’s digital age where you can post anything you want across a variety of media, Facebook, widgets, chat rooms, in a matter of seconds many are falling victim to their own posts. In today’s digital world everything seems to be centered on speed. We’ve got to get the tech faster so we can live our lives faster. FASTER!!! FASTER!!! FASTER!!!! The issue is when people can communicate faster they often times do not send their intended message clearly. Taking more time gives people more time to think and to answer some essential questions. If you want to avoid awkward encounters with friends, bosses, coworkers or anyone else in your digital world please do yourself a favor and ask yourself these three questions before you post anything online.

There are no emoticons to accurately translate SARCASM

There are no emoticons to accurately translate SARCASM

1. Does this need to be said (Am I really saying what I mean)? 

Sure you theoretically can write a comment or blog post where you trash talk your boss but just being able to do something does not mean you should. If you’ve gotten though the first half of this question and decided that yes, your message is one that needs to be put out there, you had better take at least a moment or two and make sure that you are delivering it clearly. Oh and for all of my friends who are fans of sarcasm remember that without the usage of emoticons sarcasm never comes across well online.

hyopcrisy

2. Does this need to be said by me?

Sure certain messages might be needed, but you might not be the one to say it. For example, if you constantly post pictures of yourself getting drunk and partying, you might not be the one to tell your friend that they need to go to AA meetings. The message there might be a good one, but in that situation chances are your friend wouldn’t take it seriously because it came from you.

Timing is Everything!!

Timing is Everything!!

3. Is my message something I need to say now?

If you gotten though the first steps and have come to the conclusion that yes the message needs to be said you you’re the one to do it, you need to remember that timing is key in every aspect of communication. For example say your friend’s grandmother just died and they’ve been posting about it all day, that is probably not a good day to post a funny joke onto their Facebook wall. Maybe the joke is good and on most days your friend would enjoy it, but you’ve got to think of what kind of mental/emotional state your friend is in and if they’re likely to take the joke well.   “Sometimes being a friend means mastering the art of timing. There is a time for silence. A time to let go and allow people to hurl themselves into their own destiny.” ~ Octavia Butler

If you keep these few questions in mind when you attempt to communicate online, you will be far less likely to say something you don’t mean and you’ll also be more capable of saying the things you mean clearly.

Exercise of the Day

Exercise of the Day

Exercise of the day:  The 20 Years Exercise

Pick your favorite romantic couple from literature, film, television etc, and write a short story describing their lives 20 years after the end of their story. For example if we ignore the things that happened in Scarlett, the sequel to Gone with the Wind, what might Rhett Butler and Scarlett’s lives be like? Would they have gotten back together? If Romeo and Juliet had lived would they have stayed in love? Just pick a pair and have some fun with it!

So long for now folks!!!!

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Movie Adaptations of Books: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Through Hollywood’s history there’ve been a great many movie versions of books which have seemed like perfect companions to their literary counterparts. However, for every good movie there have been at least three movies that make the fans of the novel want to hurt someone. We’ve all had that moment when we remember how good the book was and then we get all excited (and in some cases horrified) when we hear there’s going to be a movie. We buy our tickets and watch the movie hoping for something fantastic and in the end when the credits roll all we want to do is scream and throw popcorn. Well fasten your seatbelts movie fans, here’s my least favorite versions. (I know I posted this a while ago but I just re-read/re-watched a few movies and thought of some new additions to my list)

 

Romeo + JulietRomeo + Juliette (1996 adapted from the William Shakespeare play) ~ There have been thousands of adaptations of Shakespeare throughout the years so how can you really mess that up? How bout by setting it in what looks like modern Los Angeles and by having the Montague/Capulet struggle look like gang rivalry? That’s the ticket! Look, maybe it would have worked out if they had done the time shift with the gang war but had changed the language to suit the time they’d set the story in. Much of the costuming, particularly for the males, seemed to look as if it had been designed for RuPaul’s Drag Race. That plus the addition of actors like John Leguizamo makes this version seem more like a comedy then a tragedy. The writers wanted to make their version different from all the others so it would stand out but they strayed so far from the feel of the source material and to me it felt like a weird joke. Tip for writers: You have some creative and interpretive powers as the writer but when you go too far it will not feel natural.

 

Scarlett LetterThe Scarlett Letter (1995 adapted from Nathaniel Hawthorn’s novel of the same name) ~ Ok, well if you’ve never read the book I’ll just give a bit of a recap: this book is about a woman accused of adultery with the town’s reverend. That said I doubt they were quite as kinky as Demi Moore and Gary Oldman made them seem. Hollywood went a bit too far with this one. In a lot of movie versions of books the love scenes are drawn out to boost ticket sales but this movie takes a few too many liberties. Not only were numerous love scenes added, but the ending was morphed in a way that almost makes it seem as if the screenwriters said “sure it’s nothing like it was in the book, but the audience gets a happy ending and that just makes them feel so good”. Happy endings are fun, but not like this. I’m not saying that if you’re writing an adaptation of something that you can’t rework things a bit to make them work within your movie, but be smart about it. Tip for writers: If you are going to change major things from the original text make sure  you’re not destroying the whole thematic motif  of the text just doing it to make things “edgier”.

A pretty good movie, but a bad adaptation

A pretty good movie, but a bad adaptation

Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) ~ This adaptation suffers from many things but for me it fails because of Keanue Reeves’ trying to do an English accent as Johnathan Harker, overdone violence, and for those of you who know the film you will recall the graveyard scene…WHY?!!! JUST WHY?!!! The writers/director of the film took particular elements of the novel and manipulated them so that they could distort as much lewdness and eroticism from them that they could. The film itself was a box-office success simply because the cinematography was very well done. For my part it is an alright movie when it is considered by itself, but it falls well short of the mark as an adaptation. Tip for writers: While I understand that certain novels have erotic elements you need to be sure that if you’re writing an adaptation you’re not focusing only on one plot point because then you end up sacrificing all of the others. In Dracula there were a lot of plot elements which concerned Victorian Religion but the film did not use them at all because they were focused on the sex. Oh and also if you’re writing a period piece DO NOT CAST KEANUE REEVES.

Alright enough of my complaining! Now not all adaptations are bad,  here are a few movie adaptations of books which I really think act as models of what writers of screen adaptations should strive for.

Sense and SensibilitySense and Sensibility (1995 adapted from Jane Austen’s novel of the same name) ~ There have been thousands of adaptations of Jane Austen’s works, but none captured the story so well as Ang Lee’s 1995 film. Emma Thompson took on the roles of both screenwriter and actress in this film and ended up winning a Golden Globe for her writing. Kate Winslet was perfectly cast to portray the young and overly romantic Marianne to Emma Thompson’s sensible and even Eleanor. The dialogue was so perfectly handled that even certain scenes which never appeared in the book seemed as if they had been there all along. Tip for writers: if you want your adaptation to be well received, then you have to make any of the changes you’ve created so natural that they feel like they could have been in the book from the beginning.

 

Fight ClubFight Club (1999 adapted from Chuck Palahniuk’s novel of the same name) ~ This movie with its sleek dialogue takes the Postmodern words of Chuck Palahniuk and translates them in a way that is both thematic and understandable. I actually had to read Fight Club for a lit class in college. I hadn’t seen the movie, and after reading the book I was nervous. I wondered how any screenwriter and director could take that book and translate it into a movie so that it wouldn’t lose its thematic integrity. After having watched the movie I can say that there was no reason for me to have been nervous. The writers and director of this movie were like magicians!! They made something which I thought would only be good as a book into a fabulous movie. Tip for writers: Use everything at your disposal (music, cinematography, dialogue) in order to capture the feeling of the novel or whatever you are adapting. That way when your audience is watching the movie they can feel the same types of things they had when they read the book.

Understatement is the mother of creepiness!! LOL!!!

Understatement is the mother of creepiness!! LOL!!!

The Haunting (1963 adapted from Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House) ~ The concept of the haunted house has existed in various forms for years. One of its best versions was in Shirley Jackson’s 1959 novel The Haunting of Hill House. Stephen King rates the novel as one of the best examples of the haunted house genre in literature and actually cited the novel as one of the greatest pieces of horror fiction of the mid to late 20th century. The 1963 film version of this novel, while only moderately successful at the box office, has become a cult classic and is considered by many to be one of the greatest horror movies of all time. The writers of this film changed a lot from the novel but everything they changed had a distinct purpose for the plot of the film. It did not feel like they had increased the shock value and add in tons of gore and gratuitous violence. One of the reasons the book was so scary was that it left a lot of things unsaid, giving the readers’ imaginations a chance to run amok wondering what or who is haunting Hill House. That same feeling was kept in Robert Wise’s film because 99% of the horror elements occur off-screen and the audience and characters both can only hear what is happening. The writers and director’s of their film also did something almost unheard of today, they kept the writer in the loop. They questioned Shirley Jackson about her intentions regarding certain scenes and also the characters and then got her views on some of their plot ideas. Tip for writers: If you’re writing an adaptation then you must  walk the line and pay respect to the original novel and its creator while at the same time exploring with your own ideas. Oh and also if your writing a horror movie/novel LESS IS MORE!!! More gore and violence might get you an R rating and perhaps some publicity, but with this genre of books and movies more opportunity you give your viewers/readers imagination’s run wild the freakier it will be!!!  

What movie adaptations of books do you love/hate? What about the movie made that impression on you? Feel free to comment!!!

Exercise of the Day

Exercise of the Day

Exercise of the Day: A Conversation with your Characters

Choose a character from a story you have written or are in the process of writing, then write a scene or multiple scenes in which that character interacts with you, the author. Write with the assumption that the character understands that you, as the author, “created” him or her and are responsible for the things that happened to them in the course of the story. Does the character agree with what you have them doing? What does the character think of the story? Write an exchange of dialogue (it doesn’t matter if it’s in play/novel format) between yourself as the author and your character.

Talk to you later folks! Please don’t be afraid to comment, I love feedback!!!

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BAD Advice for Beginning Writers and How to Avoid It

Though some can make it seem like they can sit down and in one afternoon POOF, they’ve written a novel, the actual act of writing is a challenging task. When you first start out it’s natural to look to people who’ve been writing a while for advice, but sometimes the “helpful” advice you get is the thing that’s holding you back. If you’re just getting into writing you might hear one or two of these little pearls of so called wisdom, please take them with a grain of salt!

Bad Advice 1: Eliminate ALL clichés

Fiddle-Dee-Dee!!

Fiddle-Dee-Dee!!

Look unless your characters are beat poets from outer space, chances are they are going to say at least a few adages, sayings and other forms of cliché the thing is not to have so many of them in the dialogue that the character sounds fake. A few well-placed clichés gives the audience a bit of something familiar to relate to. They could read it and think ‘I know a lot of people who talk like that all the time’ which gives the characters an added dimension of reality. That is not to say your characters can’t say random words or have a few catchphrases which are outside of the world of the clichéd. For example Scarlett O’Hara’s “fiddle-dee-dee” was not a common phrase during the civil war but Mitchell made it work because it sounded like something which was natural for the character to say. That’s the key, when you want to explore with dialogue the words have to fit the characters.

Bad Advice 2: Put ALL protagonist’s thoughts in italics

Italics
I actually heard this a few times from some established writers when I first started out but I’ve found out that it really depends on the publisher. Unless the publisher says that the protagonist’s thoughts should be in italics don’t worry about it. For me I place any bits of “inner monologue” from my protagonist in single quotation marks like this: ‘I never thought something like this could happen’. It is NOT a cardinal rule of writing that your main characters thoughts HAVE to be in italics, that is a formatting issue and is really something you’d need to talk over with the publisher.

Bad Advice 3: Use as much detail and descriptive language as possible

Leave something to the imagination!!

Leave something to the imagination!!

Details are sort of like cats. Having a few of them is nice, but having 50 of them is kind of crazy. That isn’t to say your work can’t be detailed, but the trick is to not have so many details that your reader feels smothered by them. Descriptions work the same way, if you have tons of overly descriptive language the reader can easily get bored. A lot of writers get lost in this when the first start out. They remember that writers are supposed to “show not tell” their stories and they go overboard and start giving even things which are not really important to their stories long and overly detailed descriptions. The key is to describe what you need to, but leave some room for the reader’s imaginations to fill in the blanks.

In general, if you find writing advice that says the words ALWAYS or NEVER, take it with a grain of salt. The real trick is just to write and find your own system. You won’t find a handbook with the 101 laws for how NOT to write so just relax, find the story you want to tell and find the system works best for you. What is some of the worst writing advice you’ve ever gotten? Comment below!!! Thanks for reading!

Exercise of the Day

Exercise of the Day

Exercise of the Day: The Life and Times of a Dollar Bill

For today I want you to write something from the perspective of a dollar bill as it gets passed from person to person. Tell the story of the bill fromt he day it leaves the press at the mint until the present. What does it think about the world? What does it think about the people who have had it? Have fun with this and I’ll talk to you later!!

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Why Writers Need to be Packrats: Never Throw Away Your Ideas

Well hello stranger! I am so sorry for the long wait, but unfortunately Hurricane Sandy messed up my online writing plans last year. Being without electricity for extended periods of time? I don’t recommend it. LOL!!! Unfortunately writing took a backseat to survival, but even without electricity I did take some time to work on my writing skills. I went back through my old box of ideas just to see what I could make of things. Speaking of which…

We’ve all seen that stereotypical picture of a writer living in a ramshackle apartment with papers and notebooks piled from floor ceiling. Well, for my money that’s not too far from the truth. I never throw out anything I write, even if it’s not that great. If you want to learn and grow as a writer one of the best pieces of advice you can get is to be a packrat. Say you write a bit of a short story and it doesn’t feel like it works at all, just because that idea didn’t work out now that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to use it in the future.

Despite the fact that there are some writers in the world who seem like they can pump out books like a sausage grinder, for most writers in the world every day is a struggle. Even if you have the best ideas in the world, it can still be a war to translate ideas into stories. I’ve got flash drives and old notebooks piled up that are full of old poems, novels and plays that I started but the stories just never got off the ground. A few of those ideas were really weak when I first tried to write them, but a few years later I was able to take them and shape them into something.

At least once a year, if not more frequently, I pull out a few of my old ideas and try them again. I tweak this or that and try to write the story from a new perspective. Sometimes I get inspiration and I can write more. Once there was a play that I hadn’t touched in five years, but when I pulled it out I just had a spark and I finished it! You can never really give up on your ideas, just save them. In time your perspective might change or you might see or experience something you can use to finish it.

It’s true, when you write that not all of your ideas are going to pan out the first time, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up on it. Writing is a struggle and sometimes it’s more like torture, but it makes the victories that much sweeter!!

That’s it from me for today folks!! Ta-ta for now!

Writing Exercise for the Day: The Curtains

Write a story where a husband and wife are buying new curtains. With this scene all your characters can talk about verbally is the curtains but underneath that they are having a conversation about an issue in their relationship (ie pregnancy, divorce, infidelity). When you’re done go back over the scene and see if the couple’s issue was made clear.

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