Getting It Done

Important Note:  This is the final week of school for me and then Final Exam Week occurs Friday through Thursday of the following week.  I have a final paper and final exam (and to be honest, I’m behind on other school work as well), so the blog entries may be a bit erratic for the next two weeks.  I’ll try to be consistent, but I may not always upload a daily entry during these two weeks.

Getting it Done

So, there is a screenwriting channel on YouTube that I recently found and it has reignited my passion for screenwriting and storytelling, in general.  One of the interviewees talked about working at several jobs and working tables as a waitress while writing in order to have steady income until writing became her primary occupation.  I really liked what she had to say–the problem is, she specifically referenced writing at night after the job was over.

I really like the idea of writing while working until writing becomes your primary job as this feels a lot like what I’m trying to do even while I’m in school.  However, I’ve found that writing after class is next to impossible for me.  I usually have to expend so much energy getting ready for class (reading, writing, papers, etc.), that by the time I get home, I’m usually mentally drained.

Adjusting to Make it Work for You

So, for me I really need to do my writing before going to class, to work, or wherever/whatever I need to do, otherwise I do a lot of thinking about writing, but I never actually seem to write.  Writing at the end of the day just doesn’t seem to work for me and since the writing process is so individual, you have to take whatever advice you think will work for you, try it, and then adjust it as you need to do so.  For me, writing before is better than writing at the end.  Just like for the interviewee in the above YouTube video, I really like writing and my projects.  I’m just not a “night-owl,” so I’ll need to adjust my way of thinking and incorporate her advice so that it works for a “bright-eyed, up-and-at-’em” type of morning person that I am.

Whatever works is a good motto to have if you’re a writer–you just need to make sure to adjust and apply (writing) advice to your own unique process and situation.  Something that I need to remember and be reminded of from time to time.

Sidney



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Celebrate Good Times

Important Note:  This is the final week of school for me and then Final Exam Week occurs Friday through Thursday of the following week.  I have a final paper and final exam (and to be honest, I’m behind on other school work as well), so the blog entries may be a bit erratic for the next two weeks.  I’ll try to be consistent, but I may not always upload a daily entry during these two weeks.

Celebrating Student Writing

I missed Friday’s blog entry because I attended an event at my school, MTSU called the Celebration of Student Writing (CSW).  This is the second year that it was held and it is a really neat event for student writers.  Imagine a Science Fair, but instead of science projects, the students talk about the writing projects that they’ve been working on in class.  While some students used technology (one presentation that I listened to was a Podcast)for the most part, it is a decidedly old school affair with tri-fold poster-boards and images to help illustrate the topic.

I’m including a link to a video that Dr. Detweiler of MTSU and his students helped to create last year about the CSW.  Fun fact: I’m actually in the video (unknown to me before I saw it–see if you can find me)

Student Writing

This event is important in that it gives students a chance to talk about their writing in an authentic writing environment.  Too often, papers are just that: “papers” written only to be turned in or read by professors/teachers.  Events like this gives students a chance to interact with an audience to be able to engage and explain their writing work and choices.

Not to go too political here, but this is where politicians err when it comes to funding of higher education and education initiatives.  They complain that higher education is too liberal (or conservative, or whatever is popular to “hate” on in the moment), and complain about the quality of students’ reading/writing/learning (the whole “Why Johnny can’t read” motif), but when events such as the CSW are planned and initiated, they neither show up, nor provide funding, nor talk about them as successes to counteract the stigma that they themselves have created.

This event was dreamed, planned, and executed by a core group of English professors, graduate students, and of course, the writers of the future–student writers.

Have a great day!

Sidney



Going Loud (but not Stupid)

Going Loud

I guess the theme is going to be mostly about characters this week. One of the things that I really want to do is to make my characters become more distinctive. I’m trying to address a concern that I have about my characters being too passive, not in that they do not act, but rather they’re too reserved and don’t emote. I need them to become more distinctive and to stand out more.

Being Stupid

So, I’m probably going to step on some toes here, but I hate stupidity in ALL its forms. There are people on YouTube/Twitch who do “drunk ” streams and I can’t click away from their content quick enough (and in some cases, block them entirely). So I have to make sure that as I’m creating my characters and trying to push them out more and give them more distinctive traits, that I don’t overdo it and push them into “stupid” territory. Hopefully, my beta readers will let me know if my characters become too farcical rather than the real emotive beings that I imagine them to be.

Sidney



Larger Than Life

Image Source: IZQuotes.com

Reserved by Nature

I am a reserved person by nature. You’ll never find me gadding around being the life of the party. I am quiet and most definitely an introvert. However, as I’m writing Project Poet, I’m finding that maybe my characters really aren’t ciphers, but rather maybe they are too much like me– very quiet and reserved.

Larger Than Life Characters

People want distinctive and memorable characters. I personally am not distinctive or memorable unless I truly want to be–my choice (heck, yes would be hard pressed to find an image of me online) . However, in writing characters who are just extensions of various parts of my psyche, I’ve unwittingly been writing boring characters rather than dynamic and unique ones.

Living La Vita Loca

So, a way to fix this is to give my characters a one-word trait to describe the character’s behavior. For instance, the character for Project Poet just wants to have fun–so “frat-boy”/”party-guy” would get that fun loving personality with a little bit of immaturity & insecurity. Now I just need to characterize (show how these traits manifest themselves in the story) him better and make sure he is larger than life. I also need to make sure his backstory reflects his fun loving outlook on life.

To steal from a popular saying: “go big or go home!”

Sidney



Stop Signs

stop signs

Stop Sign.  Image Source: Amazon.com

Writing Advice (Stop Signs)

So, as I’m sure that you’ve probably already guessed, I didn’t get a lot of writing done.  As a matter of fact, I got exactly 0 words done last week.  I’ve resolved not to worry about it and just to continue on this week.  I read in a book on writing–I think that is was On Writing Science Fiction: The Editors Strike Back, but I could be mistaken–that one should be mindful that sometimes life gives you “Stop Signs” in your writing life.  I don’t rightly remember, so if this advice isn’t in this book, my apologies (I wrote a list that includes many writing notes from several sources, but I didn’t note exactly which piece of advice came from which source).

When to (Temporarily) Stop Writing

Sometimes life and the writing life don’t align.  Last week was one of those times because the sinus pressure and sneezing made just being upright a real pain (both literally and figuratively).  Again, I did have the app on my phone for WordPress and for SimpleNote, so theoretically I could have worked on blog posts and drafting, but the pain was such that it was next to impossible to even watch TV, let alone focus on creating anything close to a coherent blog entry or work on a story.  My personal approach to stop writing (at least temporarily) is not when I’m “distracted” from writing, but when it is impossible to focus for even a few minutes.

You Shouldn’t Look for Stop Signs Everywhere

The second piece of the writing advice is that you shouldn’t be looking for “stop signs” all over the place.  Rather, you should try very hard to minimize your stop signs and make sure that you put your “behind-in-the-seat” in order to get writing done.  That is my plan this week.  I’m not going to try to “make-up” the lost writing time, but I’m going to try to find another writing time a way to get 250 words down on paper each day this week.  We’ll see if I’m able to get it done.  Wish me luck!

Sidney



What’s on my Bookshelf? Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag for the PS4

Sorry, but this blog post won’t be extremely detailed today.  I’m feeling under the weather today with a bit of a fever and sore throat.

Assassin’s Creed Series

So, I own all of the major in-line Assassin Creed games.  I bought the first Assassin’s Creed game when it came out for the Playstation 3 and marveled at its brilliance.  And then I couldn’t figure out how to play it as I’d never really played an open-world game before.  I had to play InFamous, a superhero open-world game to figure it out.  Once I did so, Assassin’s Creed II was released and I’ve finished every game in the mainline series to date (haven’t gotten AC: Origins yet–the latest one).

A Pirate’s Life

So, many people consider Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag to be a “pirate simulator.”  It gives you a pretty good approximation of being a pirate with sailing, swashbuckling, and boarding ships, all with the backdrop of Assassin’s Creed lore in the Caribbean setting.  While not my favorite AC game, it was still enjoyable.  I didn’t really like the ending, but it was still an enjoyable experience.  I would rate it a B if I had to grade it (not my favorite, but definitely above average).

Too Many Side Activities

Much of the problem lies in the fact of the “Ubification” of the game–too much stuff to do in order to pad the game’s playtime.  I wouldn’t mind finding the “sea chanties” for the crew to sing as the ship sailed along, but having to “chase” them down, only to have them reset if they “got away” is one of many “tasks” that just exists to waste time, so that 1) you play that game–and only that game–for a long period of time, and 2) along with that, as long as you’re playing the game, you’re not trading it in or giving it friends, etc.  Every since AC III, expansion of game-time has been a primary staple of AC games.

Anyway, I don’t want to badmouth the game.  I think that it is a very good game that I’m proud to have on my bookshelf.

Sidney



The Heart of a Champion: Rocky Balboa vs. Jason Bourne (Characterization)

 

Who Would Win?

Okay, so who would win in a fight between Rocky Balboa (RB) and Jason Bourne (JB)?  JB would win easily–why, because he’s an operative with fighting skills par excellence.  He is a “killer” as the villain in the Bourne Supremacy (#2 in the JB series) says to him.  Rocky Balboa wouldn’t stand a chance.

Or would he?

Training Montage in Rocky

Rocky Balboa isn’t a smart man (school-wise) and he knows it.  However, he does have heart.  Now let’s be realistic for a moment–in the fictional fight between RB and JB that I just set up, JB would take it because the fight is between an “Everyman” vs an “Extraordinary-man.”   They are not in the same league as one another (different weight-classes to continue the fighting metaphor.  However, my point is that we see Rocky as he trains and gets better and better.  When he starts out, we see that Rocky has to eat special food, and that he can’t even complete his first run.  He returns, holding his side in pain.  Slowly, as the training unfolds, we see him getting better and better, becoming a danger to Apollo Creed (Rocky’s opponent) that Creed’s manager recognizes, even if Creed himself is too busy with the “business” of boxing to pay attention.  Finally, we see Rocky’s training pay off and he becomes the best that he can and a worthy opponent to Creed, instead of the also-ran Creed assumed he would be.

No Training Montage in Bourne Identity

Now, let’s look at Jason Bourne for a second.  He is a “killer” with immense physical skills and prowess, but where is his “training montage?”  JB doesn’t get one–he wakes up in the park and suddenly “knows” all of the skills that he has.  JB has never had to “earn” his skills.  We don’t see him getting better, we don’t see him starting at “zero,” hurting, and then pushing past the hurt, the pain, and keep going.  He has all of his skills innately. Sure, in the last movie we learn something of his past and see indications of the “training” that moved “broke” him, but we still (outside of a small scene in Jason Bourne with a punching bag) haven’t seen any indication of JB having to suffer to obtain his abilities (although one could argue that JB suffers psychologically based on the trauma that his abilities and who is brings to his personal/social life, but that’s another blog post for another time).

My point is, while JB would totally win in a fight, the fact that we see RB struggling to train and be the best he can be, we tend to throw our sympathies behind RB more.  He had to earn his abilities–they weren’t just given to him as JB’s essentially were.

Implications for my Writing

Remember to show the character’s/characters’ struggles.  Without struggle, it is really hard for the audience to see the character’s/characters’ progression and arc.  JB struggles, but his struggle is more emotional than physical in nature, while RB’s struggles combine both the physical and the emotional and that’s why the movie Rocky is perennially on best films lists, like AFI Top 100 Films (#78) and the 10th Anniversary edition of the List (#57).  The Bourne movies, while popular, don’t make the list.

It’s all about heart. 🙂

Sidney