"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island." - Walt Disney

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Genius of Bradbury

No matter what genre you write, you should be following https://killzoneblog.com/. This blog is kept by 11 top suspense authors and publishing professionals. It also hosts guest spots from equally talented individuals in the field. This site offers wonderful examples, anectodes, lessons, and support to hundreds if not thousands of writers. I highly recommend you check them out.

I mention them today because twice this week, authors there have mentioned meeting or learning from Ray Bradbury. While I'm super jealous that I never had the opportunity to meet Bradbury, we fortunately live in an age where the internet allows ready access to videos and interviews.

Below is a great video of Bradbury. In this talk, as in many interviews and his own book Zen in the Art of Writing, Bradbury offers 12 useful tips to writers which are summarized below the clip:



1) Don't start out writing novels because they take too long. Instead, start with short stories. Write at least one a week for about a year. He says it isn't possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row.

2) Don't purposely imitate your favorites. You have to write until you find your own voice so the story doesn't ring false for the readers.

3) Do, however, continue to read and examine the work of those quality authors. He suggests the short stories of Roald Dahl, Guy de Maupassant, Nigel Kneale, and John Collier.

4) Stuff your head with bedtime reading. He suggests reading the classical short stories and poems of Shakespeare, Pope, and Frost before falling asleep.

5) Get rid of relationships with unbelievers. If they laugh at you, or make fun of your ambitions, Bradbury suggests you call them up and "fire them" from your life.

6) Live in the books, not computers. He may not have gone to college, but his love of libraries and reading helped him to become one of America's most celebrated authors.

7) Fall in love with movies. He prefers the old ones.

8) Write with joy. He says if a story starts to feel like work "scrap it and start a new one."

9) Don't plan on making money. He and his wife took a "vow of poverty". He never worried about how much he could make off a creation.

10) List ten things you love and ten things you hate. Then write about the former, and "kill" the latter.

11) Just type whatever comes into your head. You never know what works until you freely put it all down and test it.

12) Remember, if you can ever get just one person to come and say "I love your work," then you are a success.

Are you a fan of Bradbury? What do you think of his 12 tips?

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

At the Heart...

Christopher Vogler once told me that the true measure of a successful story is "whether you have affected the heart of the audience" - either because they loved and connected with the characters, or because you caused enough tension to get the audiences hearts pumping.

If you've never read Vogler, he is a truly talented writer who updated the great Joseph Campbell's "Hero's Journey". He offers a theory on the 12 stages of any hero (see graphics). Chances are you've at least heard of one of the movies Vogler had a hand in creating: Lion King (which is really just a cartoon version of Hamlet).

Vogler is a wonderful mentor and teacher. I highly recommend his book The Writer's Journey. You can learn more about archetypes, the hero's journey, and repeating themes by checking out his books, or by visiting his website which offers great resources: http://www.thewritersjourney.com/

As for the heart of the matter, don't forget to check out the Parallels blog today. Ninja captain Alex J. Cavanaugh is discussing "the heart of what if".

How are you affecting the hearts of your audience?

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Leaving Out the Dull Bits

Clive James once said, "Fiction is life with the dull bits left out."

While James is not wrong, what about when the fiction itself is dull?

Today, I pulled out a piece I wrote several months ago. It's just the first draft of one scene, but it isn't nearly as brilliant as I remember it being. I'm sure this happens to every writer. After all, how often have we felt like the picture to the left?

The trouble is: it's a first draft and I still need to flesh it out. Too many writers give up because they don't want to work, or they feel like they can't do the work, or worse yet - the work isn't worth the effort.

If you've ever felt like you didn't know where to go with your story, try one of the below aids to help you flesh out your story. After all, you must have plenty of life in a story before you can remove those dull bits.

Planninghttp://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/7-steps-to-creating-a-flexible-outline-for-any-story

Hookhttp://writeitsideways.com/6-ways-to-hook-your-readers-from-the-very-first-line/

Characterizationhttp://www.epiguide.com/ep101/writing/charchart.html

Dialoguehttp://creativewritingguild.com/tips-tricks/9-tricks-for-writing-organic-dialogue/

Page-Turnerhttp://marcykennedy.com/2013/02/four-tips-to-keep-readers-turning-pages/

Middlehttp://www.how-to-write-a-book-now.com/sagging-middle.html

Ending - http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/how-to-structure-a-killer-novel-ending

What helps you flesh out your story and then remove the dull bits? Any favorite quotes on the subject?

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Science Fiction, Science Future

I'm over at the Parallels blog today sharing my summer fun with science in a post called Science Fiction, Science Future -  I hope you'll have a moment to stop by and say hi!

What are some of your favorite summer experiences? Do you enjoy science?

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

National Book Lover's Day

Happy National Book Lover's Day!

Check out your local stores for possible discounts and then enjoy as much time as you can with a great read!

Curious about the benefits of reading? Check out: http://rymaxinc.com/national-book-lovers-day-the-benefits-of-books/








Wednesday, August 3, 2016

IWSG: First Writing

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh. Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs. You can also join us on twitter using the hashtag #IWSG, or on the Facebook page.

Now, IWSG hosts have changed up the format in an effort to make it more fun and interactive.Every month, they will announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say. 

Don’t forget to visit others that day to see their answers. Want to join, or learn more? Visit our - Sign-up List.


The August 3rd question is - What was your very first piece of writing as an aspiring writer? Where is it now? Collecting dust or has it been published?

MY ANSWER: I have a lot of writing from when I was young (elementary and middle school age) that is still sitting in a drawer. However, the first piece I wrote that I intentionally wanted published was for my high school newspaper, and I have kept a scrapbook of all of my early articles for school and community publications.

Some people don't understand why I hold on to everything I've ever written. It's simple really:

If you're interested in writing, NEVER throw away anything you create. I wrote a piece for a high school assignment and left it in a drawer. Twenty years later, I had it published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Just for Preteens. Several years ago, I wrote the first draft to a science fiction piece, and this year it was published in the IWSG anthology Parallels. You never know when you'll be able to successfully finish a piece, or when that writing might appeal to an editor. So, hold on to it all. Realize that much of it may never find a home, but sometimes it does - and you'll be proud to have shared a piece of yourself with others.

What was your first piece to write? Do you hold onto all of your writing?

Friday, July 22, 2016

Summer Excursions

I miss the large gatherings we once enjoyed during the holidays. Family members have moved all across the USA (and a few into other countries) so we usually only have smaller gatherings now.

One bonus of the situation though, is that summer travel is more convenient and less expensive. We just stay with family, and the only expense is our travel there and any extra events we participate in while vacationing.

One drawback - I'm not reading or writing much because I've been having too much fun. I'm sorry I've been absent so much this month, but I'll get back to a schedule in August. I'll share more details in the future. HAPPY SUMMER!

Have you been enjoying any summer travels? What is your favorite summer memory?