Don’t Wake Up the Sleep-walker!

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sunset at Pine cradle lake, PA

I’ve been working on a story/writing for the better part of 2 hours, mostly because I am bored and mostly because I am procrastinating doing laundry – but the reason I decided to post was this: I just realized something.

There is a big difference between writing a story, and immersing yourself in that story. Sometimes you write on the page, but you never become involved. There’s a difference between staying in the present world that you are writing, and emerging into that world, where the sights, scents and conversation is what is around you – not the hum of the fan next to your computer screen, or the traffic outside, or the typing of your hands wandering across your keyboard.

Immerse yourself into that world fellow writers. Become one with the scents, the sounds, the people. It is jarring to come back from such a world sometimes, but if this is what needs to be done, then, hey, I’m all for it.

Now, what was I doing again?

Ah, being a writer really is a lonely thing sometimes. Only we see the world that we are writing and it is sometimes hard to explain to others why they can’t interrupt that thought process.

I compare it to waking up a sleep-walker. Don’t wake up the sleep-walker! It’s all disorienting and confusing. That’s why I always tell my boyfriend: don’t interrupt me when I’m in the middle of writing, its like waking me up from a deep sleep, yanking me away from a world prematurely. (And believe me he’s done it a couple of times, grumble, grumble).

Let the writer wake up in her own time. Ah, but anyway I digress.

Become one with the story…don’t be afraid to dive in! That’s all.

Happy Writing!  And to those that are experiencing warmer weather (finally): Big Smiles! Summer is finally here!

 

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What Game of Thrones can teach creative writers about hidden context

Source: HBO;  Margaery and Cersei walk together.

We saw it a few nights ago in the latest episode of Game of Thrones, in First of His Name. Margaery and Cersei are standing side by side, both staring out at the new King Tommen talking about King Joffrey, about the new king, about whether or not Margaery still wants to be queen. Talking about everything else than what is truly on their minds.

Game of Thrones, or more specifically, Game of Throne’s characters, presents a fine example of the importance of hidden context for creative writers.

In context:  Margaery and Cersei are having a conversation, they are talking about the troubles on hand: a recent death, a new queen and what they should do now. Margaery, is polite, beguiling, charming. She knows how to twist words to her favor, to ask a question, yet answer it in the same sentence. Meanwhile, Cersei’s words are clipped, sometimes barbed. The things she says are meant to shock, to entice some reaction from the person next to her, to try to make the person she is having a conversation with, uncomfortable.

Out of context: The tension between the two. The fact that they aren’t looking at each other. The pauses between words. The politeness. Margaery wants the throne and is doing what she can to get it. Cersei doesn’t like Margaery, but knows she must play nice and make small talk, or in Cersei’s case, idle threats. Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.

While the two, strong, beautiful women are making conversation, most of what goes on between them is what they don’t say. The glances, the gestures, the false smiles. Cersei says it best with a glance, a frown, or a twitch of her eye.

And all the while, there is tension.

You hear it time and time again, from a lot of creative writers, or teachers of the craft. There must be tension. Without tension of some kind there is no story, no problem or obstacle to overcome.

If two characters are having a conversation, and everything is happy, perfect, agreeable, there is no reason for the conversation and as such, there is no story.

That’s why it is so important to create great detail in your stories. Sensory details. Describe the scene and character and conversation in detail.

With detail you will create the tension, and in that tension is what isn’t being said – the hidden context. Which is sometimes the most important thing of all.

What are your favorite stories or TV Shows? Who are your favorite characters in them? And what does it teach you about writing or story telling?

Thoughts below if you’ve got ’em!

 

 

Once Upon a Time Review 10/7/12 – Why we love these characters

***Mild Spoiler Alert! If you have not watched last night’s “We are Both” episode of Once Upon a Time, I suggest you go do that now before reading this! And it was a great episode, I highly recommend it!***

Photo credit: ABC.

In this episode, we are reminded that if you love your favorite show’s characters enough, you will follow them anywhere. Once Upon a Time’s second episode, “We are Both,” reminds us why, we as fans, love this show so much. The characters are alive and accessible to us; we feel their tension, their heartbreak, their struggle. We love it when we see certain characters conversing with others. Regina and Charming. Charming and “Mr. Gold.”

It is the mark of great writing. To be able to take your characters anywhere. To make them grow. To show their weaknesses, to show their strengths. To remember that a character is loved not because they are perfect, but because of their imperfections.

Because perfect characters are boring characters and no one is as UN-boring as Storybrooke’s very own evil queen, Regina.

The episode focused on her story this time around and I love how we get to see the building blocks of evil and it makes us question and think: What is evil? Who is evil? Because everyone has a purpose of living, or a motivation of some kind.

The Highlights?

  • Granny with a cross-bow.
  • Seeing Rumpelstiltskin’s true golden self.
  • Dr. Whale asking if he can date a nun. And then standing next to Blue in a certain point of an episode. Coincidental? I think not!
  • Charming’s speech. He’s still got it!
  • Regina’s realization that she doesn’t want to be her mother.
  • The dwarfs with pick-axes.
  • Henry and “Gramps” at the diner. So adorable.
  • A glimpse of the enchanted forest.

Last night’s episode really reminded me how much I have come to adore these characters. It’s like with LOST all over again. I feel like I know these characters. They have written them so well that I feel like if they ever had to disappear, I would fight for them. That is the mark of great writing, and great characterization. And something that I think many TV writers/producers forget is the main point of great TV watching. We watch something because we love it. And Once Upon a Time definitely knows how to woo its viewers.

New page “Short Stories”

I created a short stories page, so for those who were interested in some of my writings, you can go check it out!

It is the story that I just posted recently about the Planets having dinner. Thank you all for the wonderful likes and views. 🙂  I will certainly add more stories to the page as time goes on.

I wish I could make it its own drop down menu…but I don’t think this theme supports that. :/ Hmm…will have to do some research, probably.

Happy Reading!

The Writer Brain: Seeing the Extraordinary in the Ordinary

Well, went to bed last night and I had a total of 10 views on my blog. Just checked my stats here at about 5 o’clock and I have 109 views! And from different countries, too! (I love that. That you can connect with someone halfway across the world. Oh, the power of words…thank you Mr. Internet!)

So, thank you, Joss Whedon fan out there, who shared my post: A bit of Joss Whedon, Firefly, Dialogue, and Great Writing. It is interesting the traffic change that just one “share” can do…amazing!

More Myrtle Beach…but I love the blue color here – looks so otherworldly! If only it was in better focus…

So, as I was sitting in church this morning I had a thought about what I was going to write about today, I guiltily recorded it in my phone’s notebook as some old lady looked on – no ma’am, I am not texting in church, honest!

I was thinking about this:  How as writers we always try to get the better story.

We twist and we turn things to suit our fancy. (Well, I do sometimes!)

For example, say you are presented with this situation: Your co-worker shows up late for work and then acts awkwardly around the boss.

My thoughts: What is she wearing? She looks sloppy. Okay, there’s a wrinkle in the blouse, her lipstick is smeared…is that cover-up or some kind of bluish-bruise on her cheek? Wait, no, it’s just a freckle. Perhaps the boss took her out for dinner. Maybe he hit on her. Oh, I know! Perhaps they went out to eat, got drunk, hooked up and now they are late because they had to get the morning after pill, but the car ran out of gas and maybe they had a flat tire…oh, and now she’s looking at me funny because I’ve been staring too long at the wrinkle on her blouse. Look away! Look away!

Well, you get the point. As writers we are always looking for the better story. We are always striving for that little bit of detail that will tip our readers off to the fact that hey, something important is about to happen here, pay attention!

In truth: The co-worker was probably late because her kid was sick and she acted uncomfortable around the boss, because he said something to irritate her the day before. That darn boss!

But, the other story was much, much more fun. I stumbled upon an episode of Castle the other day. It was a rerun of the first episode in the whole series, where Castle more or less accidentally helps Beckett solve a case. She gets irritated because he pushes and he prods: Why do people do the things they do? What’s their motive? What makes the better story? But he ends up helping her solve the case. Again, now, who doesn’t love Nathan Fillion?

For me, I am always seeing writing opportunities in normal situations.

For example: The old lady sitting next to me in church. She is wearing brown shoes. She’s got a hat on. White curly hair and sun spots on her legs. She is wearing a green skirt, a forest green in color, but her blouse that she wears is a turquoise green, patterned with flowered embroidery. Her clothing is old, but so is she. But the smile and sparkle in her eyes says that she is in excellent health. She acts nervous though; she told me during the greeting and welcoming portion of the service, it is because she is new, she doesn’t know anyone. But she is so kind to me, with a warm smile. She asks me about my interests. She smiles and pats my shoulder. She encourages me. This perfect stranger, who I only met five minutes ago.

My writer brain is thinking: Holy crap! This woman is a guardian angel. She’s one of God’s own. Oh, and she smells nice. Angels are supposed to smell nice, right? Perhaps she’s on a mission. I haven’t been feeling well…maybe she’s here to heal me, oohh, hallelujah!

(Laughs). Well, you get the point. Again. And I actually did think that today! What a nice elderly woman! I hope I see her again next time. And if I don’t…*cue creepy music*

I guess she was there for a reason. To inspire me to write this post to say: Hey, we writer’s do think differently sometimes…we prod and we poke and we stretch. We look for the detail that no one else sees. We look for the extraordinary in everyday situations. There is art in life. Just like we can create art. And going above and beyond the usual…

Well, that just makes everything much more fun!

The Words – Choosing Between One Reality and the Next

Last night, I saw the movie, The Words. It was a last minute decision, there was honestly nothing better to watch and I thought, hey, I’ve seen a trailer for this, it looks romantic.

Little did I know, that it was going to be completely different than what I expected…what a relief!

***I recommend this for anyone looking for a thought provoking film and if you just happen to be a writer, you’ll love it too!

This movie is intelligent, and just very well written. The Words is the name of a novel, which is narrated by the author throughout the movie; it is about a writer who finds a story, which he takes as his own.

The music is beautiful, the acting is superb and  it easily sucks a viewer in; the scenes are intricately woven and well placed ***this would be one of my examples of how to write a great plot!!

Anyway, the movie brings up questions about a writer’s capability and what it truly means to be a writer and the sacrifices that are made; about choosing between fiction and reality and that all writers eventually make a choice.

“Hitting a little close to home?” asked my friend in my ear during the movie, and well, yeah, it does!

I sometimes wonder if I don’t take too much time with my imaginary worlds. I’ll emerge hours later with a sort of glazed over expression and a dumb look on my face. My mother will be asking me a question but I’m still off in the story, I’ve still got the character’s voice in my head, I still feel their emotions.

Sometimes, it makes me worry, because it is so difficult to come back to the real world…to connect, to pay the bills, to do the laundry, to answer a friend’s text. Especially when things aren’t going well.

Sometimes the fiction world becomes an escape mechanism, a therapy. There is nothing wrong with this to a point, but suddenly I’m afraid. If you get too lost in your fiction, do you miss the real world, too?

Because, well…there is also beauty in reality, too.

The Nitty Gritty

Well, first of all, I’d just like to thank those that have liked any of my posts or that are now following this blog. It is such a great relief to know that someone out there is listening and cares about the same things that I do! You guys are awesome!

So I thought for my NEXT post…I’d do something a little different. I thought I’d share a little bit about my characters and my plans and thoughts from Dawn’s Rising with you.

Mallard duck at Greenfield Lake, NC. FYI…there is a time stamp on each post. Plagiarist’s beware! Grrr…

So, I’m probably going to do something that no writer has done before. I mean, why reveal your characters and part of your story before it’s actually written or finished? Isn’t that like the great taboo of good authors who must horde their creative ideas in the possibility that it might get stolen by others?

That is very likely…but as this is my “warm up” story, my first real-length “crappy” novel, I wanted to do something different for my viewers. All writers have their own writing Gods: J.K. Rowling…Stephen King…Neil Gaiman (who is one of my favorites by the way) who all talk about their first crappy draft or their first attempt at a novel and who admit that it was terrible and are sooo happy that it didn’t get published, etc…and that’s good for them, except I’m left wondering:

HOW did they get to that process? Why was it crappy? And what did they learn from the experience?

Everyone has their own method and way of writing that works for them, but wouldn’t it be great if someone actually shared that process step by step? Every writer has to start somewhere. Even if it’s at the very nitty, gritty beginning.

And that’s a lot of what this blog is about: my own method of learning, my own mistakes…to share with you, other writers, curious observers, avid readers. It’s certainly not a process that’s talked about or shared, because I suppose yes, it is embarrassing looking back and realizing you’ve got writing where “His eyes sparkled” way too much or  her heart “pounded like a race horse’s hooves” or other such cliches…but hey, it’s all good fun!

Gotta reelaax. Pick up your pen, or run those fingers across that keyboard and just write.

Plot Plot Splash!

Had another night where I did everything else but write. Yay. Went to church, went out to lunch and then watched a movie and then sat down to write…well, then the parents came home and someone started watching football and the effort was pretty much gone from there.

Did get some tub-time in though and as my niece’s green squirt-y turtle was floating around the tub, I was able to clear the mind somewhat and get a little story planning in.

I struggle a lot with plot. Hey, I’m a poet and I don’t know it! Durrh.

Seagulls at the beach on a cloudy day in Wilmington, NC.

Anyway, from what I notice, a lot of my writing and story planning has a lot to do with scene. I will picture a particular scene in my head; a location in full detail, the sky, the buildings…and the people in it and then I will build my story around that particular scene.

It’s almost like C.S. Lewis with his dream of the fawn in the red scarf, except my Narnia doesn’t seem to want to develop itself quite as effortlessly. What I’ve noticed a lot about Dawn’s Rising though, is that I’ve let my characters do a lot of the planning for me. I let them go where they want to go and viola! I’ve got a brand new twist and something new to go upon. The trouble with this is that it makes for a more complex world, as people (especially characters!) are never as simple as they appear.

But pshh trouble! Complexity is great…it just makes the plot, which is all twisty and full of cul-de-sacs hard to spot! I remember one time a creative writing teacher said the reason I have trouble with plot, is that I cannot SEE what I’m writing. So I took the story that I wrote and printed it out and arranged it all page by page on my bed and what a difference that makes!

There’s a symmetry to knowing that your words and the actions behind them are following the right path. Perhaps I should try the Castle thing, and hang pages up on a clothes line. If you’re not familiar with Castle it is a TV show on ABC starring the ever brilliant Nathan Fillion, whose character is a writer. I highly recommend it.

ANYWAY, a lot of writing plot I’m finding, is figuring out how to do it and in a way that works for you. I admit, I have yet to do this. For shorter stories I am fine…but for two-hundred plus pages? Ahh! Because there’s got to be a better way to SEE the story line.

I suppose that’s why creative writing teachers tell you to write the crappy novel…get it out-of-the-way and then you learn from the experience!

So, meet: Dawn’s Rising. My first “crappy” novel. Doesn’t mean it can’t be entertaining along the way…

Iconic Characters in Movies and TV

Just finished watching Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark and I guess I am struck tonight by how inspiring great movie characters are and the writing behind them.

When you see the silhouette of Indiana Jones on the big screen, one doesn’t always see the great writing that went into such a script, but its been something that I’ve been thinking about lately. How great movie/TV characters stay with you and are a great inspiration for me, especially as a writer.

Everything about the characterization of Indiana Jones is well thought out, so cleverly or accidentally crafted; right down to the name of course. I did not know that Indiana was the name of George Lucas’ dog at the time! Hah!

But I was just telling my mother earlier today: “Look at a great character like Sawyer from Lost.”

Mom: “Yeah, what about him?”

Me: “Everything about the character is Sawyer, even the name. You can say the name Sawyer and you automatically know who or what that person is and (in Sawyer’s case) what clever lines he might have.”

Mom: “Okay…”

But my line of thinking is this: Who wouldn’t want to create a character as great as Sawyer, or Indiana Jones or Han Solo? To write something that has become legendary and I guess that’s the ultimate success, isn’t it? When the character becomes more than what’s on the page. It just simply IS.

(Here’s hoping that the new show Revolution has a similar feel, yeah? Even some of the lines we see in the trailer look good. But ah, I digress…)

When a character, or when a character’s lines or scenes or actions get inside you and make you laugh, cry or feel something – that is the ultimate success, too. Who wouldn’t want to create a character that quite literally flies off the page and reaches others? Because I know I definitely would!

The excitement of it…every little detail; to a head nod, to a muscle twitch in someone’s left hand…to their rumpled clothes. The perfect details. The perfect character. Ah… now who wouldn’t call that poetry?