Week in Review – 2013/10/07 – 2013/10/20, Pt. 3

THE FORTNIGHT EDITION, PART THREE

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And just like that, we were on our way back to the West Coast.

But not so fast. Toronto, it seemed, wanted to make this trip extra memorable.

I woke up past 3am on the morning of our check-out and departure. Don’t know why. It wasn’t a bad dream or anything–that was yet to come.

I sat up and stretched. For the first time, the TV hadn’t been left on. Per our usual hotel viewing, we’d watch an HGTV marathon. Nothing like seeing Bryan Baeumler or Mike Holmes improving the lives of homeowners to send us peacefully off to SnoozeVille. They’re like our oversized cherubs. Hammers instead of harps. Tool belts instead of wings. Home Improvement lullabies are the best.

Anyhoo, no TV this time around and the remote was waaaaay over on the other bed. I flopped back down and kicked off the covers for the nth time thanks to the A/C and its moodiness. Just as my eyelids began to droop, they curled back in surprise, as did my toes, to the sound of the fire alarm blaring throughout the room.

Awesomesauce.

I got back up, went to check the window and to feel the door. Nada.

The Sisterhood came to and looked far less pleased than I already wasn’t to hear such noise. It was as though someone finally ran over the Road Runner again and again and again.

A man’s voice crackled over the PA system and informed us an alarm had been set off in our building. We kept hearing 3D, but it might have been thirty. Either way, being on the ninth floor already had me grabbing clothes to wear. Might be good to mention it was pouring outside because, really, how else should this story go?

The message ended with the guy telling us to stay in our rooms to await further instructions. I could already hear half a dozen doors on our floor open and shut as the harried and half-asleep dragged their feet towards the fire exit near our room.

Intermittent screechiness with the same droning of non-information resumed. I sighed and went to the bathroom. I figured if I was going to have to stand outside with the hundreds or thousands of other upset hotel guests and staff, it should be on an empty bladder.

And the song played on. For over thirty minutes.

Finally, the voice came back on the PA to inform us that the situation had been resolved, the system reset, and we didn’t have to do anything further.

That’s it. No explanation or “sorry for the inconvenience” of ripping us from slumber. I understand the fire alarms need to wail like banshees to get people up and outta there but, come on. We had more questions than answers. It was like topping off the perfect dessert of a vacation with sawdust and a ball bearing.

Well, on the TV went and at least we had Baeumler and Holmes to cheer us up. It took us another few hours to get ourselves back to sleep and that was only for a power nap because we had to do some last minute errands before checking out of the hotel.

=8=

So as not to repeat the subpar aeronautical experience at the start of our travels, the Sisterhood wisely booked us a couple of upgraded seats. Leg room, free food, and as a bonus, a functioning A/C system onboard the plane. I doubt she had anything to do with it, but she’s been known to work magic here and there.

Aside from some snags towards the end, it was a much anticipated and well-deserved vacation.

=8=

As promised, here are five things you can try (as I did) while on vacation that will help in your writing:

1) SETTING. Take advantage of studying your surroundings. You never know if you need to write about a particular store front. Or you might partake in a local custom or event that you can include in an WIP. When you experience something firsthand you add depth to your writing by using all the senses.

2) PEOPLE WATCH. I know this is an old favorite of writers, but especially when you can hide behind the anonymity of a wandering tourist, you can drink it all in at your leisure. Without them even uttering a sound, I can count off at least a dozen people that I could base entire characters on for my stories. There’s so much diversity out there waiting to be explored.

3) MONKEY SEE, MONKEY DO. And I say this with caution. To borrow another phrase, “When in Rome…” or in this case, Toronto. Yes, I’d been there before. But it was a long time ago. Still, first time or twentieth, you needn’t always act like a tourist. It’s also nice to blend in with the locals. For one, they won’t treat you like a tourist (i.e. lure you into making touristy mistakes and/or impulse purchases). Also, if you’re one with the people, you’ll see them in their natural element which allows you to have all these authentic character studies at your disposal.

4) PHOTOGRAPHS. Or as the Sisterhood says, “Pics or it didn’t happen.” While this might sound counterintuitive after #3, there are so many shutterbugs around these days. You’d hardly come off as conspicuous or paparazzi-like in today’s technologically saturated world. Cameras, tablets, smartphones. The options of recording sound, picture, and motion are bountiful so you don’t have an excuse if you need to capture a moment that speaks to you. Plus, if you really want to, you can be a tourist of your own imagination where anything is an adventure. 🙂

5) SOUNDTRACKS. I love a good soundtrack while I write. I also like using certain tracks to accompany scenes in my writing, much like a movie. I’m an audio/visual storyteller. This process might not work for everyone, but it really gets the juices flowing. For instance, we were on the highway heading towards the city centre. The Sisterhood’s Bestie had music playing in the car. It was perfect. Just as I saw the CN Tower peek out from behind the tree line, the music swelled. It was like the end of a great movie. Camera pans out to show the stretch of road on which the car is traveling, fade to black, roll credits. Anything and everything can inspire you, if you let it.

The most important thing I learned was to open my mind and heart to maximize the experience. I think Lifehack says it best:

The-quieter-you-become-the-more-you-can-hear.

( via lifehack.org )

It’s good to be home, yes. Jet-lagged, exhausted, and emotionally drained–that was just from Les Mis! But also, seeing family and places from days gone by, there are so many stories to be told. I hope everyone gets to have such an intense and wonderful experience such as this on a regular basis. It’s a beautiful way to recharge your creative batteries.

FRIDAY FORAGE – 2013/09/20

5 WAYS TO HELP YOU CREATE SOMETHING OUT OF NOTHING

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( via tickledpink6291 )

What do we want?

A story!

What do we need?

A writing prompt!

 

Well, it might not always be the case, but if ever you need that extra spark to get the creative juices flowing, here are five ways to get you started (with some bonuses thrown in).

 

1) http://www.creativewritingprompts.com/

The website of the same name boasts 346 writing prompts to suit your fancy. For those keeping count, that gives you 19 days in the entire year to come up with your own ideas!

Here’s a sample with #105:

Brenda Ueland said, “Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force.” Today, stop what you’re doing and listen for 2 minutes. Then write the new thoughts you had as a result of this simple activity.

 

2) http://www.writing.com/main/writing_prompts

Maybe 346 isn’t enough. How about 753? That’s over two years in idea churning!

On a previous visit, I got this: An inscription in an old book. That is a great jumping off point.

More recently, I got this: A movie rental isn’t the movie on the cover, it’s a local politician in a very delicate position. Yowza!

 

3) http://www.webook.com/911writersblock

This is an interesting site because of it’s unique interface. With payphone buttons to choose from, you can receive prompts from different categories. For example:

Dial 1 for Settings: A quiet suburban cul-de-sac. A child’s bicycle lies on its side, one wheel slowly turning.

Dial 3 for Dramatic Entrances: An art opening at a lavish downtown gallery. A car crashes through the plate glass window. The driver’s door opens, and an eight-year-old girl steps out.

Dial 7 for Calisthenics: What’s the connection? Bring these elements together to make a story.

  • Bike messenger
  • Walk-in freezer
  • Uncut diamond

And under each ‘number’ dialled you have more ideas to choose from. It’s pretty nifty.

 

4) http://writingprompts.tumblr.com/

They’re not kidding when they say a picture is worth a thousand words. And with a site like tumblr, you have no excuse. The following pics are all from that awesome feed:

tumblr_mqq18aC9sW1qee12to8_1280     tumblr_mhmezxNSSR1qee12to1_1280

tumblr_mmy7noySCk1qee12to1_1280     tumblr_inline_mqk8u9OosG1qz4rgp

 

 

 

5) http://www.writersdigest.com/prompts

Writer’s Digest has a regular cache of writing prompts which include such gems as:

Don’t Delete Chain Mail

You delete a chain email that says if you don’t forward it to ten people, you will have bad luck for ten years. On your way out of the office, a black cat passes you. Then you find a parking ticket on your car. And, to top it off, your car won’t start. Was it actually the email? Write your response to the bad luck, as well as other ensuing events that make you wonder about hitting the delete button.

You’re Only Crazy if You Say You’re Not

One morning you awake to find yourself in a straight jacket, being taken off to an asylum. How do you prove your sanity? What do the guards and psychiatrists say you did? 

Walled In

You’ve been finishing a brick wall for a room in your friend’s basement for a couple of hours. When you step back, you realize that you and your friend forgot to put in a door. He tells you not to worry about it, he planned it that way. How do you react?

 

 

Tell me you can’t come up with some interesting stories just from the examples I’ve curated for you here. I must extend my apologies for the late post. Under the weather on top of all the issues I’ve been dealing with lately, I’m glad I got something out to you all. And as an apology, I have some bonus ideas:

6) People Watch

I once observed (didn’t have a choice as they were taking centre stage at the mall) a teenaged couple fighting. From what little snippets I recognized (speech patterns, not the translation) I believe they were speaking Korean. I didn’t need a translator to figure out what the fight was about. The body language was clear. And it was all his fault. Seriously.

 

7) Eavesdrop

Honest, I wasn’t, but if you’re on a crowded bus, a busy cafe, or even those brief moments in an elevator, you’d be surprised what you can overhear–completely by accident, of course.

“Like, are you coming over later?” The girl clicked her chewing gum and examined her manicure.

He slouched in his seat, legs spread wide enough to brush against the old lady next to him. “Nah, I got stuff to do.”

“Tsk. Like what?”

“I gotta hit the gym.”

“Whatever, you know she doesn’t like you right?” She pressed her overdone lips together so hard it looked like someone threw a tomato at her mouth.

He scoffed. “You’re just jealous.”

She rolled her eyes. “Yeah, right. Like I’d get with you–again.”

 

8) Look out your window.

Sometimes you don’t need to hear the world around you. It goes back to pictures telling the story. Let it unfold outside your window and you’ll be pleasantly surprised to see what you come up with.

 

9) Online or Offline Newspaper Headlines

Hey, if ‘ripped from the headlines’ works for a certain long-running television series empire, they must be doing something right.  << CHUNG! CHUNG!>>  And sometimes, the more you dig, the more outlandish some of these headlines become. You’ve heard the phrase, ‘truth is stranger than fiction’, haven’t you? There are some intriguing stories, baffling news items, and really dumb criminals. It’s a cornucopia of story ideas.

 

10) Sound Bites

This is a multimedia trick. You can do this with the television, radio, internet, or even a music player. Just let it run, then switch channels, stations, or tracks. Sometimes you get the oddest sentences but it really challenges you to play the ‘what if?’ game.

 

=8=

So, how’d you like them apples? I’m enjoying the FRIDAY FORAGE series, so far, and hope you’re getting some use out of my finds, as well. I even doubled my offering today. Hope they spark some interesting stories for you.

 

Which reminds me:

youshouldbewriting-renner_zps1e24898f

(  via __marion__ )