FANGIRL FRIDAY: WYSIWYG?

a.k.a. Reading and Watching as a Writer

Do you try to lose yourself in a story only to find yourself noticing things like plot holes, inconsistencies, or inspiration for a story idea? Is it really what you see is what you get (WYSIWYG)? Once I’m in writer mode, I find it challenging to detach and just enjoy a story for what it is. The complete opposite was true when I had stopped writing for a while. I didn’t have the drive to write so my consumption of stories were more to pass the time than to actually study them. Is there a middle ground?

As a visual learner, when I read a book, I’m also catching myself observing everything from word choice to syntax. I even look at the formatting and layout. The placement of words on a page, the punctuation, the font choices, they each have a specific intention and impact. So do typos or misprints. In movies, we have artistic choices of camera angles, lighting, marrying words and action together for the most impactful or meaningful scene. Each book, show, and movie you dive into is a masterclass in storytelling, the dos and the don’ts, or even the whys and the why the heck nots.

Are there really any rules in story creation? Sure, there are tried and true formulas that people swear by while others opt to break from convention. Just this week, the topic for specific story templates (rom-com, hero’s journey, etc.) were up for debate in one of my writing groups. I’m going to delve further into these and my WIPs on an upcoming Writerly Wednesday post.

While I don’t make definitive reading/viewing decisions based on ratings, it’s interesting to see what other people think prior to and after I experience the medium. I look at descriptions and (hopefully) spoiler-free reviews on sites such as Goodreads, IMDB, and Rotten Tomatoes. Since we’re not currently interfacing with friends and family like we used to, social media is where I go for in-depth discussion–or all-out word wars–on opinions and observations of the piece. I like watching YouTube videos that break down plot points or explore hidden meanings behind the various Easter eggs that are sprinkled throughout a movie or episode. When I’m left with more questions than answers, I like to find out what other people are thinking, too.

Much like previously mentioned in regards to music, each of us also see and appreciate books, tv, and film differently. So whether I’m seeing things as a writer or consumer, it makes for interesting discussions when I bring up something that intrigued me that someone else missed or vice versa. It’s also worthwhile to have those discussions how it might appear that we’re looking at the same thing and come away with very different interpretations.

Whether it’s on paper, device, or screen, it’s not necessarily a bad thing if your writer brain is permanently switched on. We should soak in every learning opportunity where we can. It makes us better writers. You can discover in real time what other people think of the book, show, or film. From that you can determine what not to do or how you’d tackle the same challenge differently. One thing is for certain, when I finish reading or seeing a great story unfold, I’m excited and inspired to make sure my stories are the best they can be so I can share them with the world, too.

Stay creative, stay weird, be kind to yourself and others.

Until next time,

T out.

WRITERLY WEDNESDAY: The Music in Me Vol. 1

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Hello and a Happy Hump Day to you!

This month, I decided to bring back Writerly Wednesday, the series where I share things I’m up to regarding my WIPs and any new projects on the horizon. Fan fiction I’ll still keep for Fangirl Fridays. Haven’t decided yet if I’ll do these along with or alternate them with my Friday posts. Ideally, I’d like to get more words out to help me stay on course in my writing journey. Thank you, as always, for joining me here.

Do you listen to music as you write? What type of music interests you? I’d love to hear what other writers enjoy and utilize in their creative process. Some people have said that music inspires a productive writing session. I’ve tried that in the past. My tastes are eclectic. I enjoy the classics, be it from 30 to 300 years ago. I have more movie and television scores and soundtracks in my collection than I have or heard of the current Top 40. Regardless of the genre, while I do love music that has lyrics, I often get distracted by the words while I write because I start singing along and losing focus on the task at hand.

[Image Credits: Woman listening to music while writing, Woman singing. I provide clickable links on the images I use, These are listed because I haven’t been able to figure out how to link individual images in gallery displays yet. 😊]

Because of this, I’ve taken it a step further and have created soundtracks specific to my projects. I’ve actually mapped out scenes where I can imagine the score or song playing in the background in time to the intensity or emotional flow of the moment. In these cases, if the song has lyrics, they do matter in how the scene unfolds. Other times, I’d find a piece of music that speaks to me, relate it to the WIP I have before me and create a scene from there.

Does it always work? No. But it makes for an interesting writing exercise where I discover a perspective I hadn’t noticed before, nuances in character dynamics that had not yet been explored if not for letting the music move me through the plot. It can take me out of my comfort zone, at times, but it’s intriguing, as well. I’ve often kept the newer take on the same scene as I’ve found it works better in the story.

It’s important to keep in mind that as with anything, perception and interpretation can differ with each person. I can interpret the words to a song and find a sad connection to a memory that resonates each time I hear it. Another person might hear those same words and music and feel nostalgia. As readers and writers, we each bring something different to the table. Therefore, music is a transformative experience tailored to the individual listening to it. Same goes for the reader’s experience. Harnessing those emotions in each scene we write can have greater impact on the reader as they immerse themselves in our stories.

Stay creative, stay weird, be kind to yourself and others.

Until next time,

T out.

FANGIRL FRIDAY: We Belong

Well, good [insert relevant time of day here] to you!

I must say I’m impressed with myself today. Since getting back in (feels like it should be ‘on’, says the Grammar Police) the writerly saddle in November, I’ve reconnected with my WIPs, created new ones, and have been consistently maintaining my writing schedule here, as well. It’s gone by as slowly as it’s gone by fast, but I’d still like to give myself a pat on the back.

Many moons ago, I joined a few associations to cement my commitment to writing. It was as though that by making the investment of paying these membership dues, I’d be telling myself that I was truly on the writing path. Being a member of such organizations has many benefits and can open new doors to more writing opportunities, but I think there is more intrinsic value to being a part of something bigger than yourself.

The moment I got the inspiration for the post title and topic, Pat Benatar’s song “We Belong” instantly popped into my head. Sorry, Mariah. Not yours. You’ve already taken over the Christmas season airwaves that I need to seek out my gold standard “Mary’s Boy Child” by Boney M. to get my true holiday musical fix. Besides, I haven’t met a Pat Benatar song I didn’t like. When it comes to rock anthems, she really gets me motivated. Holy digression, Batman.

Enjoy the song stylings of one Patricia Mae Giraldo (née Andrzejewski) whom you may know better as Pat Benatar.

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Back to the topic at hand. A sense of belonging. Writing, as part of what fuels me, also anchors me to this rock. While I may sometimes write about fantastical and otherworldly things, writing has given me a sense of connection to the global community. Writing has reminded me of my purposeful existence in this world and what I need to do to thrive within it.

Sometimes it feels like all the obstacles in the world chose you for that guinea pig that day. It’s easy to stop writing. All you have to do is stop. If it were easy to write a novel, I’d be spitting out at least three a day. The universe knows that I’m thinking up ideas for at least twice that each day! Writing can be a lonely experience if you choose that route. Lonely and being alone (to write) are two very different feelings and experiences. Being part of a writing community, in any form–association, online writing group, writing on a blog and sharing your thoughts on the interwebs–can have such a positive effect on your writing life and life, in general, if you let it. The fact that I can come back here week after week and share my thoughts on my creative process, my joys and fears on this writing journey, is truly liberating. And I’ve thanked those who’ve returned to my blog in the past, but I want to express my gratitude again. I really appreciate you taking the time out of your day to read up on some things going on in mine.

We’re at the tail-end of the first month of this fabulous and opportunity-filled year. Returning to this writing routine, being committed to the tasks and responsibilities that come with being a writer, has reminded me that I’m not alone on this journey. We are all part of a collective of like minds and interests, some of whom have decided to express themselves creatively through the written word. It’s giving me the motivation to keep working on my WIPs and hopefully, when I’ve gotten over the hesitation of putting more of my writing out there, to share that side of things with you. It’s so rewarding to know that having this creative outlet, being able to share my art with the world, gives me a chance to truly feel like I fit in somehow amidst the organized chaos around us.

I hope you’re all safe and well and that you’re continuing to work towards the goals you set out for this year. If you’re winging it, that’s okay, too. We all see something on the horizon and are taking our own steps to get there.

It’s easy to have doubts about our abilities, or second-guess our choices for fear of failure. However, knowing that we belong overpowers any of those negative thoughts. We need to remind ourselves that whatever we bring to the table, it has meaning, it has an impact. There’s no single way of existence. We belong to the global community, we belong to the group of people who are contributing to the artistic development and nourishment of our culture.

Our thoughts matter.

Our words matter.

Our actions matter.

We belong.

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Stay creative, stay weird, be kind to yourself and others.

Until next time,

T out.

FANGIRL FRIDAY: A Picture’s Worth

Hello, fam!

It’s been a few days into the Get Your Words Out 2021 Challenge and things are going well. I don’t feel the intense pressure of word counts, so I’m glad I chose the Habit Pledge instead. Though sign ups are done for this year, It’s worth a look to see what’s entailed in such a challenge. You can then decide if you want to partake next year. Meanwhile, feel free to do a variation of the challenge right along with us!

I’ve been continuing my dabblydoo with the planning software called Plottr, the software created by writers for writers. I think I need to do more than take it for a test drive before I can do an in-depth review, so stay turned for that in a later post. So far, I’ve found that it’s a robust program that can help you visually plan your stories more efficiently. Now, of course, most of it is visual in the strictest sense, but with the use of timelines and the ability to track subplots and every character’s journey throughout the story, you literally cannot miss a beat, because you’ll see everything laid out in front of you. More on that later.

What I did want to talk about today was the use of photos in story creation. As a visual learner and writer, I find that the ideas flow more readily when I have a face to go with a name or a visual representation of a place in which my characters live and explore.

I’ve gone through my WIPs and have created character sheets with corresponding pictures to help bring the characters to life. To do this, I’ve done a deep dive into the the interwebs to look up actor photoshoots, magazine spreads, or even more helpful, actual stills from television and film that show them in similar attire to what inspired the character I’ve created. In addition to the people in my “neighborhood,” there are a plethora of photographs, artistic renderings, and stills that capture the places I’ve visualized for my stories.

I’ve created folders on my desktop to organize these visuals. I have a folder called Story Settings that contain anything from landscapes, cityscapes, post-apocalyptic suburbia, ethereal forest dwellings, to mysterious and ominous castles. My Character folder has a slew of subfolders with some of my favorite faces from the big and small screen already attributed to characters for the different books and genres I’ve got brewing. Included therein are unique animal pics that go well with the Middle Grade Adventure that involves talking animals, because why not?

In recent years, I have made a conscious effort to do some recasting. I’ve mentioned in previous posts the lack of diversity in books, TV, and film I had growing up, so it’s my chance to be proactive in my writing. I do believe that a character’s ethnicity is secondary to the story. If cultural references are necessary to the plot, then I want to make sure those are woven in organically so that nothing seems forced upon the reader. And if such references are merely part of their routine, I have that earmarked as well to smoothly incorporate details where needed. To that end, having a visual of what these characters look like somehow switches on something as I write and things they would do in their daily life seem to reveal themselves more naturally.

Another way pictures have proved useful are as writing prompts. Whether it was an actor in a known moment from their show or film, to a visual that might set the scene in a chapter, these pictures are the spark that can ignite a very fruitful writing session.

How are things going on your side of the screen? Do you use actor photos as character inspiration? Do you have favorite websites where you curate the most beautiful landscapes to represent the world where your characters live and breathe? We’re lucky to be in such an evolving technological era that allows us to be everywhere and with everyone in an instant. That fact alone is truly inspiring.

Stay creative, stay weird, be kind to yourself and others.

Until next time,

T out.

FANGIRL FRIDAY: An Apple (Device) a Day…

a.k.a. My Love Letter to Apple Support

My lil’ buddy (Nic, the Dragon Stompin’ Nephew) chose this logo off the interwebs.

Hello, fam!

It’s been a week now since I’ve been reunited–and it feels so good–with my Apple iPhone. I was worried when I got one email saying they were sending my phone back (a quick turnaround of less than two days versus the 10 business days I’d been expecting) and another notification that they were unable to repair the device. What did that mean? Would I be getting a replacement? Could nothing be done for my iPhone?

As luck would have it, they were able raise it from the dead when they opened him up and since they couldn’t find anything wrong during their diagnostic tests, they were sending it back to me, free of charge. I was ecstatic as I thought I’d be out many, many clams, as good ol’ Fred Flintstone would say.

I’ve had three device issues in as many weeks. Each interaction I’ve had with Apple Support members has been exemplary. While some issues required further steps, their collective efforts were outstanding.

TFW when everyone you’ve encountered is made of awesome.

Sure, it’s (validly) argued that Apple products can be among the priciest in their respective markets. However, for the longevity of the products and the superior after sales support–even when way out of AppleCare warranty periods–make these worthy investments and important parts of my writing toolkit.

The ease of use, the sleek designs, the amount of care that everyone I’ve interacted with has for the products and company overall makes me a loyal Applehead through and through.

I have no shame on this topic.

Friendly reminder that there are still a few days left to sign up for Get Your Words Out 2021. GYWO a great opportunity to, as the name suggests, get your words out and really commit to a writing routine this year and beyond.

We’re already halfway through the first month of a new year. A lot has happened this past week, some good, some terrible, but I remain hopeful. Let’s keep working towards positivity and productivity.

Stay creative, stay weird, be kind to yourself and others.

Until next time,

T out.