On the Path to Story Analysis, Scene Analysis, and Sentence Analysis

Science is a test of facts. Art is an exploration of values. They are different realms of experience, knowledge, and insight. Writing fiction is an art. Creating stories is the most important art. It's infinitely complex. We need a framework to understand both the meaning that we can pull from existent stories and how to create new stories. I've studied many, and like all conceptual frameworks, I've found that I need to build my own.

I think there are three important levels to focus on if you're writing stories: sentence, scene, and story. I am going to briefly introduce three sources for each of these that I'm trying to integrate and adapt into my own system.

Do we want to start at the top or bottom? Let's start at the top, with story, and we'll work our way down. Remember, this is a general overview so all of these books will contain a lot of good info that I'm not going to cover.

There is a great little ebook by Martin Turner called "The One Bas…

Nothing is more important than...

I came across that sentence when I was reading a book about a week ago. It's stuck in my head. "Nothing is more important than..." It's an odd way to phrase a superlative, something that is at the extreme.

I've gone through a number of iterations. I'm still uncertain about these answers, and I think that's a major life problem. If you aren't certain about your superlative values then your action will be erratic because your intentions are, which is what you see in my life. But, I have been working on some answers that make sense.

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Nothing is more important than...

...confronting loss by adjusting expectations to match reality.
- ...helping people to confront loss by adjusting expectations to match reality.
(These are of four kinds: 1) False expectations of the future. Which is a feeling of loss. 2) False expectations of the past. Which is a feeling of guilt and/or regret. 3) False expectations of the past-future. Which is a feeling of los…

Writing is a Life Skill

I was recently contacted about being in a history book about Toastmasters District 62. I was the first person to complete an entire path in the Pathways educational program. I was asked for a quote. If asked, could you produce a good and original quote on request?

I asked how long the quote should be and was told a paragraph would be perfect. So, what did I do? Here it is.

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When I was 19 I climbed Mt. Rainier. At that particular moment in my life I had made no plans beyond getting to the summit. When I accomplished that I had this weird feeling. A slight disorientation. That disorientation was because I lacked a next step, I lacked a future. The purpose of a path is to provide you with that next step. I was the first person to complete a Pathway in Toastmasters District 62. I completed that path the same way I climbed the mountain, one step at a time. Follow the path and it will lead you to your destination. And when you're near completion, begin planning for your nex…

Skimming Across the Top of the Soul in Search of Things Hidden There

Yesterday was the Fourth of July and I did a number of normal things, like walking in a parade and going to the playground with some of the family. It was also a good day for some important insights.

One, I can't do a non-strict diet. Even though my digestive, immune, and nervous systems have healed quite a bit over the last few years, I can tell when I'm doing things my system can't handle and it definitely effects me. Over the last few weeks I went with the idea of, "Just a little bit will be fine." And, to a large extent, I can handle some "normal" foods. But, I do better on a strict diet of meat and kefir. And, I can't seem to handle cheating on that. I thought something like Ice Cream Sundays would work, where I would have one serving of ice cream on Sunday. As soon as I started thinking about doing that I started slipping on a regular basis, for both physiological and psychological reasons I believe. It's strict or nothing, and I have a lo…

Explorations in Business - Part 7 of ?

Sales ads, letters, and calls, oh my.

Today is an extension of my quest to find my messaging.

A common sales strategy is the before-after-bridge. This is easy to see in diet and exercise sales. "Here's the person when they were fat. Here's the person skinny. Here's how they did it. Buy this product."

In the last article when I was working out the negative and positive revelation I did almost the same thing. It could be changed a little bit. "Here's the day I had to quit a job because I couldn't handle the pain of talking on a phone. Here's the day I gave four speeches at a Harry Potter festival. Rewiring my brain to change how I perceive pain was a key. Here's how to do it. Schedule a consultation now."

Something that sounds similar is Lisa Manyan's challenge-solution-invitation. The words do change what I think of though. "When you're in pain you have a serious problem to solve, but it's hard to solve a problem because …

Explorations in Business - Part 6 of ?

Get customers. Satisfy them. Those are the two key steps in business. I have to figure out how to do both of those. Today I'm going to try to bring a lot of information together and find out which way I'm presenting this and getting customers.

I've found as I've been trying to design this as a system that I don't like it. I want it to be personal, not systematized. Even though this is going to be complex in a number of ways, eventually I need to end up with some simple strategies and tactics. This is from "Systemantics" by John Gall.

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A Complex System That Works Is Invariably Found To Have Evolved From A Simple System That Worked.

A Complex System Designed From Scratch Never Works And Cannot Be Made To Work. You Have To Start Over, Beginning With A Working Simple System.

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The first principle of systems design is "Do It Without A System If You Can." I don't think I can do that because I want to be able to somewhat co…

Making Speeches for the Harry Potter Festival - Part 6 of 6

The Harry Potter festival went great.

It's amazing that so many volunteers were able to come together to make such a great event happen. A bunch of my family and friends showed up, and that was awesome. It was a hot day, and long; my first presentation was at 12:15 and my last one was at 6:30.

There are a bunch of interesting stories that I could tell, like meeting an almost real Umbridge from Toronto, or the long conversation I had with police officer Kayla. But, instead, I'm just going to show you the videos of the presentations.

Here's "The Great Gnome Conspiracy of the 18th and 19th Centuries". I wanted to make sure I didn't go over time and throw everyone off, so I ended up being a little short on this one.
David was a great emcee. The kids really liked it when he did trivia. At one point there were some difficult questions near the end of the festival, when the hardcore fans were left. No one knew the answers and David had to…

I Went to a Writing Group Today - June 26th, 2019

"Write from the point of view of someone or something that none of the characters knew was watching. It could be a ghost, animal, the furniture come to life, etc." That was the prompt. It stumped me for a few minutes.

Usually I can start writing pretty fast from a prompt. I think that comes from years of doing impromptu speaking in Toastmasters. But this time, this time I sat there for a few minutes, staring into the abyss where story ideas come from, waiting for one to jump out, wondering if one would.

It did.

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Jennifer smiled an unfriendly smile at Tim. "Hi, Tim. Nice to see you." She didn't mean it, and Tim knew it.

Tim didn't say anything. He looked down at the floor as he walked across the office and sat in the seat facing Jennifer's desk. No one spoke.

Jennifer's smile was truly happy now, full of joy. "Tim, you didn't shut the door."

Tim stood back up, walked to the door, and closed it. Then he returned to his seat.…

Leading a Writing Group - Session 4

I was going to have the prompt be "letters." That could go in a couple of interesting directions: there could be epistolary writing where the story is told in letters, or the story could be about a letter of some sort. But, instead, I wanted to go a little crazy.

I had the kids write down a color, their favorite color or some other color, doesn't matter. Bella had a hard time choosing, but did eventually. Then, I had them select a weapon.

Last week the idea of a stupid ninja came up in the group for some reason, a ninja in all black that was trying to hide in snow and failing.

The prompt? Write a story about a stupid ninja that wears that color and uses that weapon. I chose purple and tank. Yes, a tank.

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Jonathan pulled his tank up to the facility and hopped out. His purple uniform glistened in the sun.

He had been in ninja training for six weeks now. Since they were focused on the art of war he had thought getting a tank would impress people, but it didn…

A Poem for Joshua

A couple of days ago I went through a book with a student of mine named Joshua. He's pretty good at English. He's 9, he likes reading, and he likes telling me about the stories he's reading. From what I've heard from Joshua he has an excellent English teacher at his school in China, a chap from England. I asked Joshua about writing, and he asked if I wanted him to write a three paragraph essay. Lol. No, I don't want him to write a three paragraph essay, I want him to be able to write anything he wants. I asked if he wanted to work on how to write a story and he offered to write some poetry. That works.

Joshua wrote a poem based on using the letters of his name for the beginning of individual lines. That's called an acrostic poem, I looked it up. He wrote the poem on a piece of paper, instead of the screen, and read it to me.

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July is my birthday
On my desk is an elephant
Sunshine and shine
Haha, I am happy
Upside down, Andy is my friend
Andy is my …

Leading a Writing Group - Session 3

A writing prompt can be anything, since anything can be in a story. Truly, everything has a story, since life is a story. But, there is a little bit of an art in selecting writing prompts. This last week I went with "door." That's it. It's wide open, but it's powerful. Doors are thresholds, they are mysteries, they are the point where something changes, barriers that open.

As it turns out, Lexi had already been drawing a door before I gave the prompt. Funny how that works sometimes.
I think the prompt might have been a little too open. There were too many options and the kids didn't naturally add any detail to the door. It probably would have been good to have pictures of doors that they selected, or something like that. This next session I'm probably going to go with letters, and see if anyone is up for trying a little epistolary. That's where you write the story in letters, or some other documents like that. Then, I think I might start getting wilde…

Making Speeches for the Harry Potter Festival - Part 5 of ?

Potter in the Park is tomorrow. I'm going to go over a number of logistical issues (the boring part), and then the presentations themselves (the exciting part).

The woman that manages the event seems way overwhelmed. She started this thing a number of years ago and I think it's probably surprised her how large it is getting now. She kept telling me that she would answer my questions later because she was busy. That went on for a few months. For about a week now she hasn't responded to, or even looked at, my messages. So, I don't know if I can get into the event early, which is kind of important because early admission is at noon and I give a speech at 12:15, which is before the general admission at 12:30. I don't know if there is an MC or if I will get introduced. I don't know if I will have a handheld microphone or a headset. Basically, I have none of the information that you would like to have if you were giving a presentation at an event. But, I do like to h…


I am completely burnt out. It's my fault, obviously. I have a mental issue, failure to consistently choose priorities.

I have known about this issue for most of my life now, but I haven't been able to resolve it. And, realistically, I'm ambivalent about it. One of the reasons that I've been able to do so many cool things is because I'm all over the place. But, it definitely holds me back. Let's go over a few of things I'm working on and how I'm trying to manage them, and then we'll dive into some theory on how I might be able to resolve some of this.

I've been driving so hard over the last few weeks on the political battle with Dalton Township that the stress wore me out. A couple of days ago I fell asleep while reading, woke up, stumbled into the kitchen and opened the fridge, and there, right in my face, was some pizza. I ate two pieces. I just wasn't mentally prepared at that moment for it to be there, to resist the temptation. Well, my d…

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