WRITERLY WEDNESDAY: It Is Wednesday, Right?

a.k.a. When the Days Blur Together

I can’t believe we’re already almost halfway through the month. As mentioned previously, I didn’t have strict expectations on myself for deadlines if something took priority. A little bummed at what ended up happening, but I know I made the right call when it came to family.

Izzybear was having a tough time these past several days. Her sleep schedule, or lack thereof, is almost as erratic as mine. Therefore, I thought it was a good thing to work with her through what could’ve ended up being a tough meltdown, and instead eventually got her back to laughing and running about–at 2am. She was happy and we were trying to find different ways to communicate with each other. Despite the late hour, I call that a win.

As the weekend drew to a close, I knew I had to dig deep to get the submissions in for impact x SKYDANCE. It was Sunday night and I even remember thinking I still had another day to go. I’d work through the night and hopefully would be finished by the following afternoon. That’s when I happened to look at the date on my laptop. Because of the late night/early mornings, I’d gotten my days mixed up. I knew the deadline the entire time, but it was around 10pm on Sunday that I realized that March 7 WAS Sunday and not Monday as I somehow thought.

The disappointment soon faded because somebody wanted me to chase her and I had to demonstrate the need for soft steps at that late hour. She humored me for about a minute, then chuckled before flailing off into the living room.

My main takeaway from the experience is that I need to learn how to stop feeling guilty for choosing one or the other… or neither, for that matter. If I want to spend time helping the kids, I should. If I need to lock myself away to write undisturbed–though I hear her lil’ stompy feet as she runs a floor above me with or without noise-cancelling headphones–I can do that, too.

Camp NaNoWriMo is just a couple weeks away. They have a prep guide that I always manage to forget to do in a timely manner. I always seem to remember it much closer to the start date. At least, this time, I was busy working on a project already. Since I’m currently revved up about the missed story prompt and my mirrored closet doors are still filled with brainstorming material, I’m going to do some research on serial storytelling and might work on that in April. After I get my bearings, I’ll go more in depth about Camp NaNo next week.

I’m definitely going to finish what I started for the prompts so that when the next submission call-out is posted, I’ll have something ready, especially the screenplay that serves as the writing sample. I really got into the story ideas I developed and whether or not they make it to the next round, I intend to play around with them either in stand alone novel form or serial story structure, similar to what was originally intended for the TV series submission.

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

Until next time,

T out.

WRITERLY WEDNESDAY: Pitch Perfect

a.k.a. Prompt Submission Update #3

We’re in the third week of impact x SKYDANCE prompt submission period. How did time slip away so quickly while at the same time, I feel like I’d been suspended in a vat of molasses? Monday’s upcoming deadline draws near. I suspect Dali’s clocks are going to melt all over my face soon if I don’t start wrapping this puppy up.

I’m polishing a short film screenplay I’m submitting as my writing sample. I’ve got the story ideas for each prompt ready-ish to go. The other major submission requirement is a 30-second video pitch. In the last year of zoom meetings and social distancing, I was never in front of the camera. I attended webinars where participants were visible in username only. Heck, it was only a couple days ago that I got my hair cut after two and a half years. I didn’t attempt any quarantine DIY hairdos (or hairdon’ts, as they more frequently appeared to be). Now I gotta go in front of a camera? My introverted self didn’t just pump the brakes, I got outta the car!

Shyness aside, it’s the pitch itself that I’m more antsy about. I had the wonderful and terrifying experience of pitching a Middle Grade Adventure story at a writers conference eleven years ago. It was my first writers conference and I did not prepare myself for the magnitude of the event. Sure, I read all these primer articles long after the fact, but that was probably one of my most “fish out of water/deer in headlights” experiences, so far, as a writer.

By all counts, this should be easier. I just need to record myself summarizing my two story ideas in under 30 seconds each. I don’t have to quietly fidget in front of a literary agent or editor. I even have the opportunity to finesse and edit the pitch so that the final product is seamless. Well, that’s the logistics covered, what about the pitch itself?

The story pitch, also known as the elevator pitch, is a convincing argument or idea that can be summarized in the amount of time it takes for an average elevator ride. Simple, right? What happens if you’re overwhelmed with ideas but the person is already out the door before you can finish? Lucky for us fledgeling writers, many have come before us and many have shared their expertise on the subject.

When Kenn Adams created this method 30 years ago, he called it “Once upon a time…” Initially intended as an improvisation exercise, this set of steps has since been widely used, adapted, and modified by authors, playwrights, and screenwriters. It’s even found its way into the world of marketing and other aspects of collaborative brainstorming. Over the years, it became known as The Story Spine. Adams, a teacher, author, and Artistic Director of Synergy Theater, outlined the pitch steps and broke down the animated film The Incredibles, to illustrate the story flow. SPOILERS AHEAD if you haven’t seen the movie yet.

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I read the example aloud and it ran around 45 seconds. My story ideas are for one-hour television series, and while the ideas have to be overarching for their respective series as a whole, each episode, would probably require only one or two “Because of that…” steps. What I like about the breakdown in the chart is that it goes hand in hand with story structure so I can be sure that I’m covering the basics of the story’s progression. As the name suggests, this is only the spine of the story. Anatomically, we’d need to put meat on the bones. In the physical sense, we’d need to add the many leaves to the book where the spine holds everything together. Even in scriptwriting, we’d need to fill in the spaces between each story beat.

A great story idea is one thing. A great story pitch is another. Even after all that goes well, the story ain’t gonna write itself. That’s where we can add texture and depth and take the reader or viewer on a journey we hope they enjoy as we do. Everything is coming along nicely. I still don’t want to put too much pressure on myself to meet this deadline on Monday. If it goes through, great. If not, there are always more submission call outs ahead. I’m happy for the opportunity to focus on a meaningful writing project again and whatever happens next week, I’m a better writer for it.

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

Until next time,

T out.

WRITERLY WEDNESDAY: Running Circles Around the Competition

a.k.a. Prompt Submission Update #2

Two weeks in and I’m neck deep in research for the impact x SKYDANCE prompts. What last week yielded in idea plausibility, this week I came up in spades with story structure. I’ve been getting myself famiilar with the Plottr software program and there are many templates to choose from to help plot a story, novel, or screenplay. Heck, people have even found non-writing creative ways to use that program, such as meal planning and scheduling. More on the Plottr program itself in a future post.

Every writer has heard of the Hero’s Journey, at some point. Since a lot of my WIPs are more adventure/quest based, this seems fitting. Joseph Campbell introduced the world to the Hero’s Journey, or the monomyth, and it’s the foundation from which millions of stories have been built on ever since. I’ve learned a lot from this method and know that it’s something that will always be in my writing toolkit.

Something that appealed to me recently, however, is Dan Harmon‘s method of storytelling. Also known as Plot Embryo, the Story Circle takes the complexities of the Hero’s Journey and strips it back to its bare essentials. If the Hero’s Journey is the album release, the Story Circle is the acoustic version.

When I went on a deep dive of articles and videos on story structure, I found myself immersed in dozens of videos using the Story Circle to break down movies such as Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope and The Matrix. If you want to test the durability of a story’s overall structure, these two movies were made 22 years apart and the methodology is sound. It’s easy to google articles, images, and videos on the subject. YouTube has these great examples of Story Circle film analysis that you can watch here and here. Considering Joseph Campbell was alive over a century ago, this really proves the adage of “If it ain’t broke…” because it’s clear the stages that progress throughout a story, if done well, can stand the test of time.

Since this submission prompt was for episodic television, it was a masterclass to see the analysis of the Story Circle as it pertained to each episode’s plot points in Harmon’s cult-favorite Community. Harmon broke down the Season 2 D&D episode on his tumblr feed that you can read here. Of course, for those who prefer watching to reading, catch these Story Circle Community analysis vids here and here. I like how they go so far as to break down each character’s own Story Circle within the episode. When I’m further down the road in my story, I’m going to do a detailed analysis of how the Story Circle applied to each stage of my protagonist’s story arc.

What story structure do you swear by? Are you a structure loyalist and adapt your story ideas accordingly or do you like to switch things up? I know the rabbit hole is never ending, but, I’m curious. Are you a fan of analysis vids or is it just me? As a visual learner I absorbed more information on story structure by watching these videos than combing through thousands of words on the subject matter.

Regardless of which method you choose, and there are plenty more out there to choose from, you can see the similar paths on the protagonist’s journey. These are different perspectives of a timeless and effective method of storytelling.

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

Until next time,

T out.

#ROW80 Mid-Week Check-In 2013/07/24

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WRITING:

Camp NaNoWriMo and JulNoWriMoTweeting updates with @JulNoWriMo and #CampNaNoWriMo. Every Friday until September 21st, I’ll be writing update posts for WRITE YOUR NOVEL THIS SUMMER.

Fractured Tales Series Word Running Total for July: 60,170 words

Totals from April, June, and July: 224,029 words

 

Headway on the outline revision and HOPEFULLY steering this ship in the right direction. Believe it or not, it’s okay to be excited and terrified at the same time. I am and I’m okay with that. 🙂

This next bit goes in my unofficial Edification Category, but it falls under the WRITING umbrella:

1) I’ve taken part in Savvy Authors Summer Hike hosted by the wonderful Cathy Yardley and it’s another great way to have ongoing support and accountability as I achieve my writing goals. Since I surpassed the 50K word count goal awhile ago, I decided to spend the rest of the month revising my outline. It’s going to be like playing Jenga or Tetris with words. [SIDEBAR: I looked up the proper links to associate with the games and found this. Amusing, considering my previous sentence. I had no idea it existed.]

August, rather than WriMo myself into a black hole of Writer’s Burnout, I’ll give myself a little extra time to make sure my outline is solid. It’s something I’ve never quite done in previous WriMos. I shall not pants my plots anymore. Not even Bermuda shorts. I need to be rigid to ensure a smoother writing experience. My goal is to write and polish the first fifty pages of the novel by September 1st. That’s 12,500 and far less pressure on myself than I’ve been dousing since the start of the year.

2) I went back to that scary wildebeast of an assignment. There’s still a ways to go yet but I’m making progress in the outline’s refinement. Progress is always a good thing.

 

There are other activities and challenges that I’ve taken up and I’ll post updates in the next couple of posts. Good things ahead because it’s all things writerly.

 

READING:

Currently reading:

FLIPPED 331920     THE SPARK 15798364

Next up:

WIRED FOR STORY 13126099     THE SUPERNATURALIST 45432 

(Although, I have read a few pages of each to get a taste of what’s to come.)

  

Total books read since June 23rd:

Fiction: 9

Non-Fiction: 3

 

Not freaking out that I haven’t finished a book yet this week. I have my own to work on. I’ll be a Beta Reader for fellow writers’ manuscripts and I think that’s an interesting endeavor. I’ve done it in the past and it helped me appreciate the skills I’ve learned and honed, as well as appreciating a story as a reader. I say this counts as as part of my reading challenge. I’ll be pulling double duty because there will be edits and critiques involved. Reminds me of a teacher who asked me if I wanted to be an editor. I certainly wouldn’t mind. These tasks, reading and editing, they’re just a couple of ways for me to improve my own writing.

 

SOCIAL MEDIA-ING ;) (formerly known as BLOGGING):

Check-ins on Angelina C. Hansen’s blog for #wipmadness continue every Monday In July. I’m a newbie compared to how long my fellow WIPsters have been at the grind. This week we celebrate book deals, query submissions, and just getting the words on the page. We should all be proud of our efforts. Three Sunday #ROW80 check-ins and four Mid-Week Check-Ins, so far.

I’ve been on the lookout for insightful articles and websites for my FRIDAY FORAGE series. I’m not sure if I’ll post them during my summer writing challenge but it couldn’t hurt. The interwebs are a cornucopia of knowledge. I’m enjoying the scavenger hunt, so far.

 

OTHERS:

Duolingo is something I’m going to take a peek at on the weekends.

Speaking of… staycations. Weekend getaways either geographically or just in your own backyard. I highly recommend them. Get this, after the zany non-stop action with The Keysmashing Tots, you’ll never guess… I. Had. Fun.

Unbelievable, I know. But fun was to be had, rest was taken, my eyes, my back, my carpal issues. Come Monday (technically. Sunday night when I got back to the tykes), I had renewed energy and out of the gate, the words flowed with more ease than in the last fortnight. As part of my writing goals for the summer, I decided that, come August, I’ll take the weekends off, or at the very least, keep Saturdays as a catch-up buffer day, but Sunday is a writing-free day.

Did I mention how highly I recommend this?

 

How’s your July 24th?

Week in Review – 2013/07/15 – 2013/07/21

ROW80Logocopy

WRITING:

Camp NaNoWriMo and JulNoWriMoTweeting updates with @JulNoWriMo and #CampNaNoWriMo. Every Friday until September 21st, I’ll be writing update posts for WRITE YOUR NOVEL THIS SUMMER.

Fractured Tales Series Word Running Total for July (as of yesterday):  52,984 words

Totals from April, June, and July (as of yesterday): 216,843 words

I aim to tackle that writing assignment again in the workshop that helped me see the error of my ways. I also have more specific goals to outline as it pertains to another writing group’s summer session. When those are up and running, I’ll post them here.

At the very least, my goals for two out of three writing challenges have already been met as I’ve exceeded the 50K word count I set for myself this month. I’m going to spend the rest of the month restructuring my plot outline to make sure that the scenes I wrote fit organically and that my character and overall story GMC is ironed out. Next month, I’ll work on my revised plan. More preparation, less stress, I think that’s a better combination for what my schedule is looking to be for the next few months.

READING:

Here’s what I read this week:

22232     lovestargirl

Currently reading and on deck:

FLIPPED 331920     WIRED FOR STORY 13126099     THE SUPERNATURALIST 45432     THE SPARK 15798364

Total books read since June 23rd:

Fiction: 9

Non-Fiction: 3

The numbers aren’t bad considering I’m unofficially taking part in the 30 Books in 90 DaysSo far, I’m ahead of schedule in that regard. The good thing, too, is that all the reading has helped with my plotting issues in my current WIP. The reading continues.

SOCIAL MEDIA-ING ;) (formerly known as BLOGGING):

Check-ins on Angelina C. Hansen’s blog for #wipmadness continue every Monday In July. Three Sunday #ROW80 check-ins and three Mid-Week Check-Ins, so far.

My FRIDAY FORAGE was–to me, at least–shining, shimmering, and splendid. The week began on a low point and ended much better for me. With everything happening with my writing and home life, it’s good to remind myself that it’s okay for goals to change, to make certain adjustments here and there as life throws those ever-loving curveballs at us. The end goal remains the same, it’s just the method of getting there that changes.

OTHERS:

Duolingo is going to have to wait awhile longer while I fix my WIP glitches.

On the upside, this weekend involved a cleansing staycation at a hotel and I was treated to a much needed massage. It’s nice to have getaways with the Mothership and Sisterhood. Two days now without diapers and the children’s voices and scampering about were of those I didn’t know. It’s like I’m in a different country but the brain is recharging and the excitement to write is returning. Tomorrow–or rather, tonight–is already the start to another intense week, but I think I’m better prepared for it this time.

Tonight, the weekend ends with the Sisterhood and I taking part in a feast of fowl, a banquet of birds. Seriously. According to the blurb from the restaurant, we’ll be dining on 8 birds served 13 different ways.

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Is the eighth bird chicken? They didn’t even show the eighth bird, why?! Please be chicken. Egads. I think the only chicken at this dining experience will be me. Here’s to new experiences, right?