Saturday, June 27, 2015

Publish: Setting

Hi folks, I'm starting a series that will last for the summer. It's called Publish and is in conjunction with my TEENSPublish workshop at the Ringer Library in College Station, Texas. This is the fourth week and I'm covering setting. I think some of this will relate to any creative life.

One piece of the publishing puzzle is an authentic setting. The tribe attacked setting this week with fever.  Setting is about perception. It is the creation of the exterior world within a novel or short story. Setting is the sensory experience of a story. The best stories understand the importance of sensory experience. 

The first exercise we tackled this week was the bird's eye view.  Crayons and pencils were passed out; and the students were happy to take flight in their imagination and draw the bird's eye view of the setting in the first scene of their stories. This exercise is important because it forces the creator to go beyond the four walls. Is a nightingale singing outside the room of the house?  Is the wind picking up outside and whistling in the cracks?  Is there a rose arbor outside the window? Are ninjas hiding outside the window? The bird's eye perspective can enrich a scene.

Next we explored how language truly affects our setting.  Word choice is important when creating the mood of a scene.  We described our scenes with hard consonants with long vowels and then with soft consonants and short vowels.  The meanings of the words were similar but the scene changed with careful word choice. The upshot of this exercise? There is a poetic element to setting that must be addressed. 

Last we watched a video on world building.  Some of the tribe must invent partial or whole worlds to write inventive stories. This video is a good place to get started with is here.   To me what is important about world building is limiting what is different from the real world. What we love about other worlds is how they remind of us home.  You may travel to the far reaches but what resonates is when you meet someone from your hometown or you find out the banana pudding is just like home.  It's what brings us together that is important, not what separates us.  Good advice for world building and life, too, I think. 

I hope that you think about setting this week as you create master works. I research the settings of my books. Here is a public board on Pinterest for the setting of my book PLUMB CRAZY.  You might find this informative.  Click on the link in the side bar if you want to know more about the book.

Hope you create master works this week.  Next week we will take a break from the nuts and bolts and sneak in a contemplative blog about the universe, creativeness, and such. See you then.


Here is a art.

And finally a quote for your pocket. 
Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm. Abraham Lincoln.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Publish: Plot

Hi folks, I'm starting a series that will last for the summer. It's called Publish and is in conjunction with my TEENSPublish workshop at the Ringer Library in College Station, Texas. This is the third week I'm covering plot. I think some of this will relate to any creative life.

Oh, yes, when you tell a story, you must offer a plot. 

First up, an exercise, characters writes a letter to the writer about his or her journey. Try this. You might find something out about your character's journey that you did not know before. Plot is related to character. Who you are has a lot to do with what you want. What you want has a lot to do with what you will do. What you do has a lot to with who you are. Put plot and character together to write a compelling story.

You might want to check out these two videos. Matthew Winkler's video explains the mono-myth.  Next, from Glove and Boots is another explanation of the hero's journey.  Both of these are good stuff. If you want a deeper understanding of the mono-myth, enjoy. The play between plot and character is illustrated clearly in these two vids. Nothing like knowledge to perk up a story.

Finally we spent some time writing and sharing a section of work with each other. For me, this is essential for creating a plot. Watching for glazed over eyes or riveted eyes while reading your story will tell you much about how you are doing in terms of your plotting. 

The toughest thing for me to learn  about plot was the mid-point. This is a crucial part of plot.   In PLUMB CRAZY (me writing as Cece Barlow), my mid-point comes with the boyfriend fail. My character seeks her concept of the perfect boyfriend, but at the mid-point realizes her concepts are not working. She releases her preconceived notions and this leads her to something better than perfect -- a real boyfriend.

I hope you will come back next week for notes on setting.

Now a doodle. I saw this in a dream: two hats.



A quote for your pocket.

What I dream of is an art of balance, of purity and serenity devoid of troubling or depressing subject matter - a soothing, calming influence on the mind, rather like a good armchair which provides relaxation from physical fatigue. Henri Matisse

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Publish: Characters

Hi folks, I'm starting a series that will last for the summer. It's called Publish and is in conjunction with my TEENSPublish workshop at the Ringer Library in College Station, Texas. This second week I'm covering characters. I think some of this will relate to any creative life.

This week I introduced the tribe at Ringer Library to creating authentic characters. We started out with the daunting task of filling out a character profile. I really like this one  from Martinaboone.com.  Here is the link.  These things are just helpful to me. I don't start out with blue eyes and end up with brown. I know what my character likes and dislikes. I know if they get on with their siblings.

Next we moved on to character personality test. I like the Meyers-Briggs test and the Enneagram test. I know some of the questions go over the heads of us all, but these tests give a good read on personality type. You take the quiz not as yourself but as your character. The resulting character personality type helps you make decisions for your characters.

Next we had some play time. Each tribe member walked into the room and took their seat. The rest of the tribe offered descriptors of what they were seeing.  This little exercises helps the writer understand the proprioception of his or her character.The whole thing about five senses is not strictly true. We have many more.  Don't believe me?  Check here.  

Finally we had conversations as our characters.We sat in circles and discussed our story journeys as our characters.  It's an interesting thing to inhabit your character and is informative in a special way. The exercise forces you to do what your character does, think as your character does, feel as your character does. You must leave yourself behind. When writing, this helps you hold to your POV.

I hope our exercises help you create authentic characters. Always look beyond the surface and get down to the bones. Dig deeper and find the sour. This is the way to go.

I will be back next week with more of Publish. We have a journey ahead!

Now a doodle.


And finally a quote for your pocket.

I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become. C. G. Jung

Saturday, June 06, 2015

Publish: Pre-writing

Hi folks, I'm starting a series that will last for the summer. It's called Publish and is in conjunction with my TEENSPublish workshop at the Ringer Library in College Station, Texas. This first week I'm covering pre-writing. I think some of this will relate to any creative life.

Publishing is different than writing. The two are related but not the same. Writing is about splashing the words on the page. Writing can be personal, for yourself. Writing that will be published comes with an added zest. It's not about the writer; it's about the reader. Every word will be seen by others. Every word will have the potential to influence someone's life. Every word must grab the reader and shake them up. If not, the words won't be read.

The most important words of a story are the first five pages. If you can get someone hooked on the first five pages, they will read the rest of the book.  I mentioned if main characters were waking up in the first scene that there better be a sack of flesh-eating spiders about to descend upon them. I suggested the participants check out The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman. This is a handy book to sharpen the hook.

As a part of pre-writing, we talked about the need for an interesting main character. If a character doesn't have redeeming qualities, no one will follow him or her to the end of the story.  Anti-heroes are popular right now.  Going against the grain is always popular.  Sadness is having a heyday too.  All this is fine but it is important to add likability to the main character. This is huge. Some quick tricks to garner likability -- save someone or something  in the first chapter, create contrast with exterior and interior self (i.e. hard criminal - exterior, wounded protector - interior.), finally, isolate your character by killing off everyone he or she loves.

Finally the last thing in pre-writing was the chance for each writer to discuss their story without interruption. We live in a world that is all about being heard.  The chance to speak without anyone immediately jumping and contradicting and offering an opinion is rare. Each participant was given seven minutes to share their vision without interruption.  How many times do we get the chance to be heard?  It is so rare. It's also a chance to listen.  Our society has lost listening to each other, and in this we have lost something of ourselves. It's so important to be quiet, to be still, and hear what is being said. Writers need to listen. To tell the truth, we all do.

I hope this journey into pre-writing was provocative to you.  I hope that you think about all this as you move forward with projects.  Next week, I'm going to cover characterization.

Now for the doodle. Cat Doodle



Quote for your pocket:

At dawn my lover comes to me
And tells me of her dreams
With no attempts to shovel the glimpse
Into the ditch of what each one means
At times I think there are no words
But these to tell what's true
And there are no truths outside the Gates of Eden


Bob Dylan

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Bloom: Flood!

Hi folks, last post in the BLOOM series.  Flooding has inundated Texas this month. I drove by the Navasota River yesterday, and it was at least a mile out of its banks.  I mean when it rains here it makes Seattle look like the sunshine city. My youngest nephew is spending the week with me because his house was flooded in Houston. I have been a busy bee.

It's a feast or famine situation in Texas. I have lived here for five years. Four of those years have been drought years. And finally we hit this year.  Yes, everything is blooming that isn't drowning.  My red daylily is just popping velvety bloom after velvety bloom, the first year that has happened since I planted them. I want that for my writing life.

Wait for your flood year. Life has a way of not clopping along at an even pace. This drives me crazy because I like a nice even pace.  I have had some dry years in a row.  I have big expectations of myself. I want to rattle the cages and shake the foundations worldwide. This is tough to do in the middle of a California drought.  I am working toward good climate change.

What can I do to bring water to my work? I plan to teach students how publishing works with my upcoming summer in my program at the local RINGER Library.  TeensPUBLISH for 7th through 12th graders. Wednesdays in June and July except July 1.Time: 2:30 to 5:00. For more info about this event and registration info, please follow this link. A creative experience like this will bring in some rain.

What else will I do? I'll convince you to check out my awesome book PLUMB CRAZY too! Here is a link to purchase it.  There is a lot of my heart on these pages. You might find a bit of your heart there too. I am always finding myself within the pages of a book. You need that!

So what to do while I wait for the flood. I keep working.  I hope you do too!  You are not alone, and the creative journey is worth it. I will be back next week with a summer series that is all about the journey to publishable works.   I hope you hang out for that. :)    Enjoy the sunshine when you can find it. Seize the day!

Here is a doodle for your life.  "Fire Sky"



Here is a quote for pocket.

Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for. Epicurus