Wednesday, January 28, 2009

25 Random Things

There's a viral note going around Facebook that asks you to write down 25 random things about yourself. Then you tag 25 of your friends and they write down 25 random things about themselves and tag their friends. And so on. Of course, most people don't do it, but I did. And I think it could be turned into a writing exercise of sorts. How do you convey your personality in this list? How can you be creative? Maybe we should make these random lists about the characters in our novels and screenplays? Herewith, my list:

25 Random Things About Me

1. I love random things. I score very high on the random side of random vs. sequential.
2. I am a cat and dog person. I even think opossums are cute.
3. I have an extra vertebra.
4. By the time I get to the last stanza of "Fern Hill" by Dylan Thomas, I'm all choked up.
5. I get choked up easily.
6. I feel happiest and most at home in the waves at Bellows Beach, Oahu.
7. When I'm irritable, I get clumsy.
8. I keep snacks on hand so my blood sugar doesn't drop and I don't get irritable and clumsy.
9. My favorite movie is "The Searchers."
10. I think hot tubs, illegal drugs, and Girl Scout cookies are overrated.
11. Single malt scotch is my favorite alcoholic drink, but it takes me about two years to get through a bottle.
12. I love stationery stores. All that blank paper gives me a weird happy high.
13. I often get impatient reading "great" books, so of course I was an English major.
14. But Shakespeare is my favorite writer. After him it's probably David Simon of "The Wire."
15. I once disproved Einstein's Theory of Relativity, using a sneaky Socratic method.
16. I think Socrates was full of it.
17. I once fooled a Frenchman into thinking I was French.
18. Best food I ever had was in Bologna, Italy.
19. My dentist stories are worse than yours.
20. I've worn the ring my mother gave me on the same finger since high school.
21. I'm starting to feel self conscious about writing this list. Am I revealing horrible overly narcissistic tendancies to the world?
22. I like to howl at the moon.
23. For a long time I wanted to be an Egyptolgist.
24. I can count to 29 in Turkish. If I knew the Turkish word for "thirty" I could get up to 39.
25. Currently, my favorite word is "pulchritudinous."

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

An Excellent Waste of Time

Was mooching around YA Author Eileen Cook's blog like the passive aggressive lurker that I am, and saw her recommendation of this site as a top-notch time waster. I checked it out and agreed so wholeheartedly, I'm passing it on to the eight people who occasionally waste time on this site!

It's called Passive Aggressive Notes. And it will remind you of all the wonderfully horrible things people do, and the hilarious notes we leave to tell them to just stop it already. I copied one, which you can see above, but that's just the beginning of the panty-raid story! Also, take note of the misspelled "steeling" with the second "e" changed to an "a" post printing. At least we know the panties aren't made of steel. Imagine the chafing!

Side note: is there a sillier word in English that "panties"? If you can think of one, post it in the comments.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Red, White, and Blue Day

I'm so proud of our country. We take for granted this peaceful transfer of power, I think, forgetting how revolutionary it still is.

It's an amazing day. I wish I could be there with the two million who witnessed the inauguration of Barack Obama, but I feel as if we are all there in spirit today. The thing with feathers is fluttering in my heart once more, and I'm a bit verklempt. It makes me realize how difficult these past eight years have been. I've been holding my breath, braced for more horror from my own government. Now, I hope, I can breathe a bit freer. And so will the rest of the world.

Writing Advice from the Master - Joss Whedon

Joss Whedon, writer of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, the upcoming Dollhouse, and notoriously brilliant rewriter of just about any major screenplay you enjoyed (I'm looking at YOU, Iron Man) has written his Top Ten Tips for Screenwriting.

Pay attention. Even if you're writing a book instead of movie, most of this applies to you. Pay particular attention to Tip #1. It's a doozy.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Start that Story

There are so many ways to begin. I'm starting something, and I approach it from mutiple angles, but here are a few things to zero in on:

What is the conflict? Conflict equals drama. Drama equals story you really want to keep reading (or watching.) Pile on the conflict in every scene. But figure out what the main conflict is. Are the Nazis butting heads with Indiana Jones to get the Arc of the Covenant? Voila, conflict.

Who is the protagonist? Who is the antogonist? Be sure to have one of the first, and at least one (if not more) of the second. In more literary efforts, the antogonist can sometimes be an internal struggle, an alcoholic tries to stop drinking, so their disease is the antogonist - that sort of thing. Or make your villain the Nazis. They're always good antogonists.

What does your protagonist want more than anything? This is a biggie and needs to be something vital, preferably life or death. Or at least your protag thinks it's life or death.

What does your protagonist need more than anything? They learn that they need something different than they ever dreamed. Like, the unpopular girl who just wants to be invisible in high school who gets the lead in South Pacific and learns to that she's got talent, and it's okay to be noticed. See how what she wants (to be invisible) is diametrically opposed to what she really needs?

Sometimes I lose sight of these central questions when I'm figuring out characters, day-dreaming up some cool scenes, or building my imaginary world. But if you can figure out the answers to these questions, your story will have heart and meat.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Writing Goals for 2009

2008 was the Year of Writing, so 2009 will be... the Year of More Writing. Can't wait!

I don't technically do resolutions, but I do have goals for this year. Maybe we can check in at the end of the year and see what happened. The goals are:

1. Write another novel for teens. (Completely different and separate from the one I wrote last year.)

2. Write two more TV spec scripts. Finish the first one by April, the second by July. Start another spec TV or spec feature during the remainder of the year.

3. Get a book agent.

4. Get a TV agent.

5. Do at least three writing exercises a week.

6. Write two short stories.

7. Write in my journal at least once a week.

8. Write at least three poems.

9. Eat more cheesecake.

What? That's related to writing... in a way.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

January - Month of Writing Advice

YA/fantasy writer Justine Larbalestier has deemed January to be Writing Advice month in her fabulous blog. Take a look if you're in need of writing advice of any stripe.

I'm only up to the "How to Get Unstuck" post, but so far it's all so right on the money.

My own thought on how to get unstuck when you're plot seems dead comes from screenwriting. Take a break, then come back and write down any and all thoughts for scenes for your book/story on separate notecards. As Justine says - have two characters that don't meet in the story meet somehow, throw in some explosions, whatever. It's all allowed. You'll be amazed at how this starts to trigger other, more logical ideas for scenes or connections in your story. Try to figure out how to get from the scene on Card Y to the scene on Card Z. This will lead to a flurry of other ideas. Not all the cards and ideas will be appropriate for your story in the end, but I bet you some of them will be great.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

New Year's resolutions - 2009

1. Broker peace in the Middle East.

I should be able to find the time in between yoga and giving my cat his meds.

2. Stop Global Warming

I've already begun the work by having my heater break repeatedly.

3. Put Hubble #2 into space.

The original took some of the greatest and most intriguing photos ever. We can't just let it die! Hubble #2 will continue to gaze upon the vast reaches of space. Perhaps we'll finally get a shot of that most elusive phenomenon - Santa.

4. Write the Great American Novel and the Great American Screenplay.

After work and during lunch breaks. It's that easy, right?

5. Find every homeless cat and dog a home.

I don't think my neighbors have a pet. I'll start with them.

6. Prove that Einstein's Theory of Relativity is wrong.

What does the speed of light have to do with energy and mass? Seems kind of random to me.

7. Buy a home.

With no money down during the worst real estate crises ever. No sweat.

8. Never be angry or cranky with anyone ever again.

I'm already so close to perfection. Surely this year I'll finally achieve it.