Category Archives: Playwriting

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.

 

 

 

Advertisements

4 Comments

Filed under Books, Characters, Creative, Creative writing, Dialogue, Drama, Ideas, Imagination, Literature, Media, Movie, Novel Writing, Playwriting, Plot, Screenwriting, Uncategorized, Writing

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!!

5 Comments

Filed under Art, Characters, Creative, Creative writing, Dialogue, Ideas, Imagination, Literature, Novel Writing, Playwriting, Plot, Screenwriting, Uncategorized, Writing

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!

 

 

 

5 Comments

Filed under Art, Characters, Creative, Creative writing, Dialogue, Imagination, Literature, Novel Writing, Playwriting, Plot, Screenwriting, Uncategorized, Writing

5 Essential Pieces of Equipment for Writers

We all know that in fact you don’t really need any special equipment to write except for your brain and perhaps a pen and paper, but there are things which can make writing easier.

Write like the Wind

Essential #1: A portable notepad and pens/pencils: Inspiration can strike at any time so it pays to keep some notepads handy at all times. A portable laptop can be helpful but is by no means essential. Of course, most writing in today’s world occurs with a computer but computers, no matter how portable they are, are always going to be somewhat less portable than the humble and low-tech notepad. Also you don’t need to buy an ornate or overly expensive journal. You can go down to your local drug store and buy a slew of pencils, pens and notepads for the same price as one expensive leather bound journal. You can buy a leather bound journal if you want, but it is not essential.

Finding the best word

Finding the best word

Essential #2: A Dictionary and Thesaurus: When you are a writer words are your life so it pays to keep words near you at all times. If you want to be sure your readers understand what you are trying to say it’s a fantastic idea to be sure you are using the best words possible, or that you are using them properly. Have you ever read a book where the writer used a lot of posh words but rarely used them correctly? It’s like Amy from Little Women. She was always trying to speak with really grown up words, but she usually got either the pronunciation or meaning wrong. Writing works the same way. A handy dictionary and thesaurus are the best tools to help with this. (Note: If you are using Microsoft Word and you want quick access to a thesaurus take the word you want to find a new version of, highlight it, and then press the shift and f7 keys at the same time. A window on the right-hand side of the screen should pop up giving you access to Word’s thesaurus.)

Technology for the win!!

Technology for the win!!

Essential #3: USB Drive(s) or a portable hard drive: Most writers know that in today’s world of technological advances that most writing is going to occur on a computer. Like I said before, cheap pens and notepads are a great and simple way to jot down ideas whenever they happen to pop into your head, but in most cases the finished product is going to be written on a computer. USB drives can hold a massive amount of data and these days are relatively inexpensive. I caught a sale and was able to purchase a 15 gig USB for under $10. Portable hard drives are more expensive than USBs but they are another great way to backup your digital data. There’s nothing worse than the feeling of utter abandonment you get when your computer crashes and you lose your work.

 

Essential #4: An expansive library: All writers begin first as readers so having a large library of books at your disposal is an essential tool for generating ideas. You don’t need to break the bank to do this either. One of the best ways to do this is to gain access to your local library. Many libraries are now allowing their patrons to check out Ebooks as well as paper books. All you need is one little card and you have access to as many books as your heart desires. I spent my entire college career working in my school’s library and my hometown one as well so libraries will always feel like home to me. I say again, always remember that all writers begin as readers.

Virginia Woolf ~  A Room of One's Own

Virginia Woolf ~ A Room of One’s Own

Essential #5: A space of your own: Virginia Woolf once wrote that since the 1800’s in order for a woman to feel the freedom to write she must have at least €200 to herself and her own room. If she had those two things she would not have to be afraid of whatever other people may think of her and she could write as she saw fit. The same type of thing is still true today and not just for the female writers. If you want to write it is key that you have your own space in which to do it. Maybe your space is just a desk in a dorm room, maybe it is an office in your house, but the important part it that the space is yours. For my own part I like to write either at my desk in my room or on my bed, and I usually have either music or a movie playing. All of those things added together equals a place where I feel comfortable enough to write whatever may pop into my head. Writing is hard enough, give yourself a break and give yourself a comfortable place to do it.

Exercise of the Day

Exercise of the Day

Exercise of the Day: The Fortune Teller

Take a character from one of your favorite books and write a story that takes place before the events of the book where they meet a seer and get their fortune told. The fortune teller lets the character know what will happen to them at the end of their story. Imagine how the events of the original story would change if the character had known what would happen to them at the end. For example, how would Othello had been different if Cassio or Roderigo had known about Iago’s intended treachery from the start? Would Nils Bjurman from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo have betrayed Lisbeth the way he had if he had known how that would turn out?

Have fun with this and I will talk to you later. Feel free to comment, I love feedback!!!

14 Comments

Filed under Characters, Creative, Creative writing, Dialogue, Drama, Ideas, Imagination, Literature, Novel Writing, Playwriting, Plot, Screenwriting, Uncategorized, Writing

5 Bad Habits for Writers and the Lessons they Teach Us

Bad Writing Habits

It's only human to have bad habits, but that doesn't mean we can't overcome them!

It’s only human to have bad habits, but that doesn’t mean we can’t overcome them!

We all know that everyone has bad habits and writers are no exception. The trick to becoming a better writer is the ability to recognize your issues and address them. These are just a few of the habits I’ve recognized in my own writing and the ways I’ve tried to overcome them.

 1. Too many repetitions:

Over and over and over and over and over...

Over and over and over and over and over…

There is absolutely no problem with using key words for emphasis, but if you use the words too many times in a short span it can be a bit confusing for a reader. Have you ever read something where one word gets used too many times in succession? I used to have a job editing research papers for college students and a lot of the students had that habit. One student was writing a short 100 word paper on society and used the word “sociology” approximately 40 times. Trying to read that paper was very difficult because it felt like a swirling vortex of chaos centered on that one word. Lesson learned from this bad habit: Emphasis is one of the central dramatic tools of writers but it cannot be achieved by constant repetition. Use a thesaurus to help you find new words and expressions.

 2. Arrogance:

You get further talking to people than at them.

You get further talking to people than at them.

In order to be a great writer you need to set your ego aside. How can you ever attempt to edit your work if you’re so wrapped up in your ego that you think everything you’ve written is golden merely because you wrote it? Humbleness also helps you to keep your sanity through things like getting rejected by publishers and negative reviews. Also your readers are most likely not going to respond well to your writing style if they feel like you are patronizing, belittling or speaking down to them. Ego is one of the writer’s worst enemies. Lesson learned from this bad habit: It’s a fact that not everyone is going to like your writing and putting your ego aside really helps you survive the entire process of writing.

 3. Trying to sound like other writers:

Trying to copy another writers voice doesn't work. You are not them. You are you. OWN IT

Trying to copy another writers voice doesn’t work. You are not them. You are you. OWN IT

A lot of writers when they first start writing attempt, whether consciously or unconsciously, to tailor their words to sound like other established writers. In order to have a long and productive career as a writer you need to establish your own unique voice and to make it strong. Assert it! Be proud of it! It is your writing, written in your voice!!!!  Lesson learned from this bad habit: Though you can look to older and more established writers for some advice, you cannot attempt to copy or reproduce their voice in your work. It is your work. Own it.

 4. Getting too defensive about criticism:

criticism

I know I’ve spoken about this before but this is one of the worst habits for a lot of writers. When you’ve finished writing something it feels like you’ve given birth to something and even if you try to detach yourself a bit, you feel like it’s your baby and that can make you blind to its faults. Too you your book’s perfect so when it gets criticism, you run the risk of getting angry and defensive because it feels like your baby is being attacked. It’s a fact of writing that not everyone is going to like what your write or get your message. Learn to deal because sometimes the critics are right. Lesson learned from this bad habit: Criticism can be hard to hear but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t listen. If you listen to the negative critics all the time you will never get anything written because you will think everything you write is awful. If you never listen to the “haters” you will think everything you write is great even if it has serious problems.

 5. Refusing to learn:

learning2

No writer, no matter how many books they’ve written, can say they have learned it all. To learn is to live and to grow. The moment you decide to stop learning that is also the day you should stop writing. Do research, experiment and be open to discovering new facts, emotions and characters. Lesson learned from this bad habit: To learn is to live. For writers to live is to write. The moment you stop learning your writing withers. I like to use my local library’s reference section to do research and discover new and interesting things I am not that knowledgeable about.

Exercise of the Day

Exercise of the Day

Exercise of the Day: The Science Experiment

Write a scene where you and your best friend are working on a chemistry experiment. Something goes wrong with the experiment and though you look and feel fine, something is going wrong for your friend. Write about what is happening to them. What is happening? How do they look? Does it hurt? Are they changing? If they are changing what are they changing into?

 

Have fun with this exercise and I’ll talk to you later!! Feel free to comment/like/reblog.

 

 

 

3 Comments

Filed under Characters, Creative, Creative writing, Dialogue, Ideas, Imagination, Literature, Novel Writing, Playwriting, Plot, Screenwriting, Uncategorized, Writing

What is Your Favorite Writing Exercise?

What’s the BEST Writing Exercise

Writing Takes a lot of muscle and you cannot be afraid to EXERCISE!!

Writing Takes a lot of muscle and you cannot be afraid to EXERCISE!!

Writing exercises are one of the best ways to keep your “idea generating muscles” in shape. If you want to hone any skill what do you need to do? You need to practice practice practice!!!!!  Loyal readers of this blog will know, I like to put a little creative writing exercise at the end of every post. I wanted to ask all of you, what are a few of your favorite exercises? What writing prompts have you found really get your juices flowing? Comment below!!!

"The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude" ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

“The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Thanks a lot! I want you to know I appreciate every blog like, every comment, reblog, and follower I get. You rock!!!!

Exercise of the Day

Exercise of the Day

Exercise of the Day: The Accent Exercise

Write a description of a place or an object with an accent that is NOT your own.  What turns of phrase and weird pronunciations does that character use? The trick with this exercise is to not make the character seem cartoon-ish. This exercise trains you to think in a way that is unlike yourself without mocking.

5 Comments

Filed under Characters, Creative, Creative writing, Dialogue, Drama, Ideas, Imagination, Literature, Novel Writing, Playwriting, Plot, Screenwriting, Uncategorized, Writing

How to Use Drama to Connect with Your Audience and Further Your Plot

Write like the Wind

No matter how much they say they hate it, human beings love drama and do everything they can to create it. Think about it, if someone is trying to tell a story, either verbally or in stories, they try to bump up the drama of even the most mundane events. Writers use the exaggeration of ordinary events as a way to impress a sense of drama onto the readers. When writers do that they are offering the readers a little slice of drama which, because of it innately commonplace nature, offers the readers something they can easily relate to their own lives. Being able to give your readers something which is easily relatable gives them an easy way to connect to your story.

DRAMA MAKES THE WORLD GO ROUND

DRAMA MAKES THE WORLD GO ROUND

Let’s say that your main character had to wait fifteen minutes to get a table at a restaurant. They might say something like, “I can’t believe I had to wait a whole fifteen minutes just to get a table”. With the words “I can’t believe” and “a whole fifteen minutes” the author lets the reader know that while a fifteen minute wait isn’t outside the realm of possibility, it is long enough for the character to have decided that it was too long. Also, since having a fifteen minute wait at a restaurant is something which could happen any day of the week to anyone so your readers might read that and go “oh yeah I had to wait a long time to get a table last week too” and that way your reader has an easy way to connect the story to their lives.

Bad Drama = Dead Weight

Bad Drama = Dead Weight

Although human beings enjoy dramatizing events writers have to remember that there is good drama and bad drama. Good drama has a point and a purpose. It is created for a specific means like furthering the plot or adding levels of character development. Bad drama has no real purpose like an over the top sex scene or violence. Bad drama may get your story publicity or hype but if it doesn’t move the story it really has no place. To dramatize our lives is only human but as for writing if the drama doesn’t advance the plot or help to develop the characters chances are it is only going to be a dead weight.

Timing is Everything!!

Timing is Everything!!

The real trick of knowing when to use dramatization is learning when it’s appropriate. Drama, in order for it to sound natural, has to be formulated around the story. If the dramatic isn’t based on a strong foundation it’s sort of like an author who puts a joke in his book just because he thinks it’s funny. Think about it, that joke might be funny on its own but if it doesn’t fit that particular scene, the character or the tone of the book as a whole it is most likely going to seem out of place.

Exercise of the Day

Exercise of the Day

Exercise of the Day: Alien Visitor

Imagine that your narrator is an alien visitor from outer space. Write a short story which describes the alien’s experiences when they first land. What would the alien think of Earth? How would they describe the Earth and its inhabitants?

Fellow Sci-Fi Lovers Unite!!! THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE!!!

Fellow Sci-Fi Lovers Unite!!! THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE!!!

Have fun with this alien inspired exercise and I will talk to you next time!!! Feel free to comment, follow, or share this post!!

2 Comments

Filed under Characters, Creative, Creative writing, Dialogue, Drama, Ideas, Imagination, Literature, Novel Writing, Playwriting, Plot, Screenwriting, Uncategorized, Writing

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!!!!

12 Comments

Filed under Art, Characters, Creative, Creative writing, Dialogue, Ideas, Literature, Movie, Novel Writing, Playwriting, Plot, Screenwriting, Uncategorized, Writing

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!!!

14 Comments

Filed under Art, Books, Characters, Creative writing, Fiction, Ideas, Literature, Media, Movie, Novel Writing, Novels, Playwriting, Plot, Reading, Screenwriting, Uncategorized, Writing, writing tips

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!!

4 Comments

Filed under Art, Characters, Creative, Creative writing, Dialogue, Ideas, Imagination, Literature, Novel Writing, Playwriting, Plot, Uncategorized, Writing

How to Write Useful Stage Directions

Playwriting 101

Playwriting 101

Oh my gosh!! I CANNOT believe it has been so long since my last post! Sorry about that but I’ve been a bit busy. For the past few months I’ve been in the process of moving cross country and I guess I lost track of my blog. Well let’s get cracking shall we?! For today’s post I’m going to talk to you about playwriting and specifically about stage directions and how not to use them.

Usually in the development and performance stages of a play there are three creative components; there’s playwright, the director, and then the actors. All three of parts are important but if they don’t find a way to work together, that’s when things usually go amiss.

Respect your positions as the writer and do not try to be the director/actor

Respect your positions as the writer and do not try to be the director/actor

The playwright has a lot of creative freedom while they’re trying to create the world of their play, but there are some limits particularly with stage directions. Stage directions are a great tool for the writer, but they can be used in a bad way. When writing a play the writer should shy away from using too many stage directions to spell out how every single line is supposed to be said and everything that’s supposed to happen during every moment of their scenes. If they do that they are taking away from the creative opportunities of both the director and the actors to make character choices. One of the most fun things about theatre is that the same play with the same lines can be performed in two completely different ways depending on how the directors and actors choose to interpret the script. I remember once my acting teacher gave my class a scene that was just dialogue and had no stage directions or anything. There was no setting, there were no characters, there were just lines. We split into five groups and even though we all had the same lines we came up with five individual and unique scenes.

EXAMPLE OF WHAT NOT TO DO WIT STAGE DIRECTIONS (note WordPress formatting won’t let me put this in proper playwriting format but if you check my Pages I going to put some links to guide you through formatting your play):

MAN (looking at his watch) I’m late.

WOMAN (yawning) Late for what?

MAN (grabbing his coat) I don’t know that. If I knew that I wouldn’t be late.

WOMAN (sarcastically) Well have fun then

Even though this scene was very short every single line had either an action or an emotion tied to it. A lot of playwrights overuse stage directions because they’re an easy way to get the director/actors to see exactly how they envisioned their play to look and sound, but if you write your dialogue well enough then they should be able to see what you’re aiming for without too many directions. I tend to keep my stage directions down to a minimum. My general rule is to only use them for:

1. Character entrances/exits

2. An action sequence like a fight

3. Sound and light cues

Shakespearean cats make everything better!!!

Shakespearean cats make everything better!!!

It’s important to remember that stage directions offer the writer no guarantee the directors/actors will even listen. The stage directions aren’t set in stone, there’s not law which says that they have to listen to you. My one friend wrote a play which was about thirty pages, but nearly half of those pages were stage directions. Our playwriting teacher looked at her and said “I am telling you this as a person who has directed a lot of plays in the past, but if I was given this as a director I the first thing I would tell my actors would be to ignore nearly all of your directions because you’ve reached past your position as the writer.”

If you have play that is heavy on the technical elements then you might have to give the director a few more notes but just remember your place as the writer. Your job is just to set the scene; it’s up to the director and actors to decide what to do with it.

Exercise of the Day

Exercise of the Day

Exercise of the Day: The Seven Deadly Sins

Create 7 characters using the 7 deadly sins as inspiration. The sins are:

Pride

Sloth (laziness)

Lust

Greed

Wrath

Gluttony

Envy

Write a scene with all seven characters. Think of the sin that the character is based on and how that will inform their behavior, also think of how all of the sins would interact with one another. This scene can be comedic, dramatic or whatever you decide to make it.

Have fun with this and I will see you next time!! Feedback and comments are more than welcome! Oh and try giving this writing exercise to some of your other writing friends and see what they come up with!

Leave a comment

Filed under Creative, Creative writing, Dialogue, Ideas, Playwriting, Writing

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Art, Characters, Creative, Creative writing, Dialogue, Drama, Ideas, Imagination, Literature, Novel Writing, Playwriting, Plot, Professional Writing, Screenwriting, Uncategorized, Writing

Welcome to the Writer’s Cafe!

Welcome!

Welcome to the newly opened Writer’s Café!

In this 24/7 literary hotspot I’ll be dishing out advice and tips for all kind of writers. Whether you want to write plays, screenplays or even novels you’ll be able to come here for suggestions and even writing exercises to help you generate ideas and battle the dreaded WRITER’S BLOCK.

For the last eight years I have been finding my way through the deep and mysterious world of writing. If you’ve ever been curious about writing and just didn’t know where to start, or even if you’ve been writing for years, this blog will give you the chance to talk with other writers and maybe get some new ideas. Maybe you’re stuck on something and just need a little help, come on in!

 

 

Today’s Special

I am going to start you out the same way I started 8 years ago when I became serious about writing. My playwriting teacher in high school wanted us to go out into our community and listen to the different ways other people talk. For example, I’m a girl and when I first started writing all of my make characters sounded like girls. I just wasn’t used to thinking from a male point of view. I had to learn to write characters that didn’t sound like me. All you need to do for this exercise is to go somewhere like a grocery store or a movie theatre and to listen to a conversation. Keep that conversation in your mind and when you get home, try to write out that conversation in play, or even book format. This exercise will help to keep your dialogue and characters fresh and interesting.

That’s it for today folks! If you have anything you’re having trouble with, or just want to rant for a while I’ll be here!

1 Comment

Filed under Characters, Creative, Creative writing, Dialogue, Drama, Ideas, Imagination, Literature, Novel Writing, Playwriting, Plot, Screenwriting, Uncategorized, Writing