Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A First Sentence Exercise: Something for the Seasons

Dear writer, wherever you are in the world, the weather and climate will be different. You might be in the United States, where leaves change their color at this time of the year. Or you might be in the Far East, where storms come and go every week like friends who decide to trash your house and leave you helpless. What is the weather like where you are right now?

Tell the world about it in a few paragraphs. About 3 or 4 will do. You need to be creative, and you need to describe the weather without sounding like you're rattling off the Weather Channel's script. Moreover, you need to use the following first sentence when you start off your work.

“Today, I looked outside.”

Do share your work in the comments section of this blog, or provide a link that readers can go to so that they can read your work. Good luck, and happy writing!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Complete it: It's Time to Go Back to Dreamland!

Not everyone dreams; and even if people do dream, they don't remember what they dreamed about. But sometimes, we dream so lucidly and vividly, we forget that we aren't in the world of reality at all!

The nice thing about dreams, however, is that sometimes, we can get the best stories from them. Discoveries, masterpieces, whole novels were made from dreams! Could you be the next big Dreamer?

This exercise aims to get you to remember your dreams, and to make you creatively articulate those dreams as well. All you need to do is to fill in the blanks. You don't have to write your answers down. You can talk them out, answer them in your head, or even use the Comments section of this blog to share your answers with the world!

Ready? Start dreaming as you start answering!

1. The best dream I had was ______________________. However, there is one thing or event that I really, really want to dream about, but never have; this is ________________.

2. If I could make people dream about me, I would choose _______, whom I now designate my special dreamer, to dream about me all the time. In that dream, I will _______________ and ______________, which will make my special dreamer feel ________ for/about me.

3. I once had a nightmare about ____________, and it was the worst nightmare that I ever had. To make sure that the nightmare didn't ruin my day, I ________________.

4. If I could control my dreams, I would dream about _____________ every night so that I can feel ______ when I wake up!

5. If you dream about ________, it means that you need to ___________ your ____________ so that you can feel _______________.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Sandwich Triad!

Behold the almighty sandwich! Purveyor of goodness, bringing of full stomachs - and now, the star in your story!

This is fast fiction, so have only about a thousand words (or less) of a tale that involves these three sandwich fillings:

1. Ham
2. Cheese
3. Lettuce

The sandwich can be the star, or a special supporting cast member, or the fly on the wall (or should we say the spectator on the table?). Now, get to work on that story and post it in the comments section (or leave a link) for everyone to enjoy - and consume.

Happy writing!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Something to Chew on for the Not-So-Young

"Imagination grows by exercise, and contrary to common belief, is more powerful in the mature than in the young."
W. Somerset Maugham

Friday, September 12, 2008

Let's Ask the Big Question: WHY?

Let's Ask the Big Question: WHY?

Put down your pen and set your sheet of paper aside. Turn off your computer. Don't touch that typewriter. It's time to think.

Whether you're in the throes of a writing frenzy or sinking deep into the mire of Writer's Block, you have to stop and think for a minute.


Is it for money? Is it for fame? Is it for revenge? Is it for personal fulfillment? There are thousands of reasons that anyone on the planet can think of for doing something. So what's your reason for writing a novel?

Don't write the answer down. Talk it out: you can be in answering the call of Nature in the toilet; you can be washing off the day's dirt in the bathroom; or you can simply be at home. Find yourself a private spot where no one can hear you, and where no one will think that you're insane.

Next, talk to yourself, but make sure that you start with the following words: “I want to write a novel because...”

Talk to yourself for as long as you like. You can think of this as a personal brainstorming session that can allow you to clear out the cobwebs and get yourself motivated. You can also think of this as an unblocker that doesn't involve any writing. You need to get the words out. You need to talk. Gesture and gesticulate to yourself. Look at yourself in the mirror. Pretend that you're talking to an audience of thousands. Pretend that you're on a big talk show, telling your story. Talk and talk. Talk for as long as you need to.

When the therapy is done, you can pick up your writing tools again, turn on your PC, or get back to your typewriter. Or you can sleep and rest, and perhaps wake up refreshed.

So, what's your story?

Friday, September 5, 2008

An Introduction: It's all in the head...

Writing a novel is not just about writing well and getting ideas. It's about knowing why you want to write. Are you out to get money and fame? Do you want to tell the world your story? Are you hoping to reach out to people in need?

When you know why you write, then you know what fuels you. And when you know what fuels you, you can use it as a reminder to keep on writing and hoping even when you feel that you've been squeezed dry of creativity. You need to have the right mindset.

This blog will also feature a set of activities that can help you relax and even get back into the writing groove. Sometimes, you just need to remind yourself what got you excited about writing in the first place. Oftentimes, your little reminders can get you excited about writing all over again.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Putting Exclamation Points on Period Flicks

There are movies that I can never say no to: costume dramas. I love period flicks. I love watching the scenes being acted out, the costumes, the art direction, and the language. I love history, and if I really love a period flick, then I start doing a lot of research on the time period in which the film is set. If a period film is REALLY good, I end up making my own novel set in that same time period.

It's understandable why some moviegoers tend to shy away from period flicks. For one, they often feel that the storylines are dated, and that there is little to relate to in a period movie. Because many period films are scripted according to the language of the times in which they are set, some people may find the language difficult to grasp or stilted (Really now, who in Ancient Rome ever said, “Are you ok?”). And because period films are historical, people might think that the much dreaded History Lecture has hopped right out of school and is haunting them even in their most brainless entertainment.

Try your luck at period films by writing a period film review. This can be especially tricky if you are used to watching films set in modern times that involve little to no writing, and are filled with car chases and guns a-blazin'. If this is the case, you may want to ease yourself into the genre by going for Westerns or war movies. This can also be tricky if you like modern love stories that are slap-happy and whimsical. You may want to get period films that have a love story as the main focus of the film, such as Pride and Prejudice.

Reviewing a period film can be exciting and quite draining at the same time. For one, you are delving into history, and if you love stories of the past, historical or period films may be a lot of fun to write reviews on. However, you will need to scrutinize costumes, music, dialogue, and perhaps even the historical accuracy of the film! The trick is to pick one or two aspects to look at in detail, and then write passing reviews on the rest.

There is still debate on what constitutes a period film. After all, if you're writing in 2008, the 1960's are certainly SO last century. Use your best judgment on which film to get: you may want to do a series of film reviews by taking yourself back in time, say Quiz Show; to Saving Private Ryan; to Emma; to Jude; to Artemisia; to Braveheart; to Gladiator; to 10,000 BC. These are just examples of period or historical pictures that you could look at. There are thousands of films out there that are up for reviewing grabs.

So what are you waiting for? Look for a period flick, sit back, enjoy, and review! Don't think of it as a history lesson: think of it as your way of enjoying the past through the magic of the present. Happy watching, and happy writing!