Friday, January 30, 2009

A What If? For Expectations

If the philosopher Karl Popper had his way, he'd tell the whole world how we're creatures of expectation. The laws of Nature are there because people put them there - in other words, we make our own laws because we consciously look for patterns in the world we live in.

Now, what if something that you thought would come true, something that you anticipated, something that you knew was going to happen - what if it didn't?

Get your pen out. Take out your pencil. Let your fingers float over the keyboard. It's time for you to write an essay on the following "What if?"

What if something that you were so excited about DID NOT take place?

This could be as simple as eating lunch at the right time today, or as complex as your own wedding. Now think: what would you do if all your best laid plans were laid to waste?

Don't forget to post your essays - or links to them - in the comments section! Good luck, and happy writing!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Let's Pretend that Your Computer Crashed...

...and that you have to write.

Yes, that means no keyboard, no files, no copy or paste. It's just you and your paper, you and your pen - you and your soon-to-be exhausted fingers. You are not allowed to cross anything out, or to edit your work. You only need to write on the following topic - and by write, we mean WRITE.

"What would my day be like if I didn't have a computer?"

Now - WRITE!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Yes, We Still Have Phone Directories...

We have two major phone directories. The WHITE PAGES list people according to their homes and residences, and the YELLOW PAGES list businesses. Now, you will need to have your local white and yellow pages directories with you, because you are about to do an orchestrated search on them.

First, pick up the white pages directory. Open it to ANY PAGE OF YOUR CHOICE.

How old are you? Go down the list of names and look for the entry number that corresponds to your age. That person will be your lead character.

Now, pick up the yellow pages directory. Open it to ANY PAGE OF YOUR CHOICE.

Which business has the biggest ad on that page? Use this as your setting.

Go back to the white pages directory. Flip to ANY PAGE OF YOUR CHOICE. How old are you again? Start from the end of the page and work your way up. Look for the entry number that corresponds to your age. Now, you have the name of your villain.

Ready? Write your story! Keep it as short as you possibly can, but be sure to explore your characters' lives and backgrounds, and describe your setting as accurately as possible. If your setting is within reasonable travel bounds, you can even go there and take down notes.

Good luck! Post your stories or links to them in the comments section.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

We're going ALL BERRY!

All right, people of the writing universe! Pick up your pens, get your keyboards ready, and sharpen your pencils! Whatever you use for your writing, have it on and ready - we're up for another triad!

Write a short story, and make sure that you incorporate these three things into the plot:

1) cherries
2) blueberries
3) strawberries

You need not have a food story, but these three things have to be mentioned. Good luck!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Let's Hear it from Mark Twain!

"Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great."

Mark Twain

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

So, what's your point of view?

We're not talking about your opinion, but the view that your novel takes as you tell your story. Are you looking at the world through the eyes of your main character, or are you an all-powerful Grand Observer? Are you writing as though things already happened, or are your stories written so that they happen as they are chronicled?

Read this entry from Plot Whisperer, which briefly gives examples on points of view (POV). The concept can apply whether you are writing a novel, short story, or essay. You may also need to have a consistent POV, as this guides your story along and makes it understandable - not to mention compelling!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

What NOT to Do When Reviewing Movies

Doesn't a movie review look easy to write? All you need to do is watch a movie, see what makes it tick, see what makes it bad, and then summarize everything. All you need is a trusty computer and you're all set.

Critiquing, however, is far more complicated than simply pointing out a movie's faults and high points. There are actually things that you should avoid doing. Take note of a few of these things below:

* Don't just summarize the story. Many amateur critics make the mistake of taking up all their writing space just talking about the movie's plot, what happened, who went where, and who went off with who. Make a difference by actually analyzing characters, seeing what makes the plot special, and perhaps even seeing how you could have improved on the plot.
* On the other hand, don't just pick the movie apart. Strike a good balance between summarizing the movie and critiquing it. Many amateur critics also make the mistake of diving right into the heart of the criticism by blasting a movie to bits, or praising it down to its very molecules. Remember, you have readers, and as much as they want to hear what you think of the movie, they also want to know what the movie is about.
* Avoid lambasting a movie while providing no reason to do so. Why don't you like the script? Why is the plot thin enough to burn down with one lighted match? Why isn't the acting good enough for your tastes? Provide a reason, other than, “Because I say so,” or even worse, “Just because.” You are a critic, not a petty, armchair analyst.
*Always be balanced in your review. You could be watching the worst movie on the planet, but there might be some good points (if there aren't any, no matter how hard you look, then you will need to say so). On the other hand, you could be watching the next big flick, but there will surely be some low points. Don't neglect either side of the good/bad divide.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Photo Prompt: Some Winter Foraging

Here's your photo. Now, get to work! What's this squirrel thinking? Where is he going? Where did he come from? Whether it's a short story or an essay, let your writing set your ideas free. And, when you're done, do post your work in the comments section, or just post a link to your finished product.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Different Ways to Review Movies

You've already gotten some assignments on reviewing movies on this blog, with the assumption that you already know how to review movies, whether you are an armchair or a true-blue movie critic. There are, however, techniques that you can use to review movies, as well as questions to ask yourself while you are watching a movie. This way, you can have an organized review, or even a themed review of the movie, without simply telling the story over again.

Here are a few questions that you should ask yourself while watching a movie. If you can, print them out and write your answers down as you watch. If you are watching a movie in the movie house, however, pick a few questions and keep them in mind as you watch; and then write down your answers afterward:

1. DIRECTION AND WRITING: Who directed the movie? Who wrote the script? What might the scriptwriter have intended with his/her work, and did the director meet the intention?

2. DIALOGUE: How well-crafted is the dialogue? Do characters have their own tones, or does everyone sound alike? Is the dialogue well written, or do conversations sound stilted? Is the language that the characters use appropriate to the setting, plot, and themes of the movie?

3. PLOT: How plausible is the plot? Does the story flow well, or is it forced? Are there any loopholes?

4. SETTING: Could this story have been set in any other time and place, and would it still have turned out the same? How unique is the story to the setting?

5. CHARACTERS: How well formed are the characters? Do all the characters act alike? Are they moving the plot along, or are they being moved, helplessly, by the plot? Who stands out? Who doesn't?

6. ACTING: How well was the movie acted? Did anyone stand out who wasn't supposed to? On the other hand, did someone fade into the background because of a bad acting job? How well did the actors capture the identities of their individual characters?

7. EMOTIONS: Did the movie excite you, move you, make you want to watch it again, make you sad that it all ended? Or was the movie dragging, ordinary, unable to elicit any emotions, and one that you could not wait to turn your eyes away from?

8. IMPROVEMENTS: How would you have made the movie better?

9. IMPACT: What are the movie's high moments? What are the movie's low moments?

10. TECHNICALS: Did the production design, costumes, and makeup meet the requirements of the plot, theme, and setting of the movie? Was the music appropriate to the film?

11. RECOMMENDATIONS: Would you recommend this movie to other readers? What kinds of movie watchers will like this movie? What kinds of movie watchers will not?

12. OVERALL CRITIQUE: Did you like the movie? Why or why not?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Who Do You Talk to When things Get Rough? (Part 2)

It's time to get to know yourself again! Fill in the blanks in the questionnaire below. See how you function as a person: who do you associate with? Who do you talk to? How well do you interact with people? Moreover: how creative are you in expressing your emotions?

The best writers don't just write: they know. Are you wise and observant enough, especially of yourself?

1. I discuss silly things with ________ because silly things make me ____________ and he/she can help me __________.

2. When someone makes me feel sad, I go to _________ for ___________ so that I don't wake up the next day and think _____________.

3. If I get hurt, I never talk to __________ because he/she can make me feel ____________ when I should be ______________.

4. I used to be able to talk to ____________ about ____________, but he/she is now ___________.

5. If I didn't have __________, I would probably be __________.

6. The best coping mechanism to get rid of __________ is to __________ with _________ over __________.

7. One of my biggest regrets is not talking to _____________ about ____________, because at that time, _________________.

8. One of my biggest regrets is talking to _______________ about ______________, because this is what happened after: ___________________.

9. I love talking to ______________ and getting ____________ when I feel ______________.

10. One day, I will talk to __________ about __________ and finally ________________.

Friday, January 2, 2009

This is Your New Year's Resolution!

Happy New Year, world!

If you haven't started a novel yet, you must promise to write a novel this year.

If you've started it but haven't finished it, you must promise to finish your draft this year.

If you're done with your first draft, resolve to finish editing your novel this year.

And, for novelists everywhere: resolve to keep on writing and keep on practicing your craft!