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Showing posts with the label Writing

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

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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…

Writing is a Life Skill

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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…

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

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"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

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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

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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

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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…

I Went to a Writing Group Today - June 12th, 2019

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I was not feeling it today. I had a tense political meeting on Monday that I gave a speech at, and I sat in this uncomfortable plastic chair for the meeting holding a lot of tension in my body. That threw off my spine. I went in for an extra adjustment the next day and it wouldn't adjust properly. If my cervical spine is out of place for too long it causes issues with my brainstem, and will start effecting my ability to cognitively function, which is just starting to happen now (it doesn't take long). And, I've been too busy to properly rest like this particular body design needs. So, I wasn't feeling it today, but I went to the writing group and had fun anyway.


Analiese came up with a prompt that included an educational piece. Here's the beginning of it.

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Conflict

In every story, there has to be a problem. The main character has to be challenged in some way or the story will go nowhere. There are four basic conflicts to look for that may face the main…

Leading a Writing Group - Session 2

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The prompt for today was dialogue. The story could be anything the kids wanted, it just had to include dialogue, or people talking. Some stories are all dialogue, some stories have no dialogue, most fiction writing is a mix. No matter what kind of writing you do, it's good to play with dialogue.


I find these types of writing exercises interesting. I usually have no idea what I'm going to do. If I do have an idea about what I'm going to do it always comes out completely different, nothing like I had imagined.

We talked about dialogue a little bit. I went over the idea of interstitial sentences because I thought Lexi, the 14 year old, would be interested in that. An interstitial sentence is when there is one sentence that starts with someone talking, then in the middle there's some description, and then the person is talking again. For instance, if a woman is standing at the fridge it might be like this: "John! I thought you said you were going to," she turned …

I Went to a Writing Group Today - May 22nd, 2019

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A couple of weeks ago I missed the Left to Write meeting. The next day my friend Jon emailed me and asked if I was going to come to the next one. I was sad when I realize that I had missed the meeting, I had simply forgotten to write it on my schedule. I think I made up for it today.


The meeting was at capacity today with 13 people in attendance. When I walked in I thought the entire table was already full because the only open seats had books in front of them. But, those seats were open. The book was the prompt; dun, dun, dunnn.

I sat down and looked at my book, "Ooh, 'The Law of Love' by Nora Roberts, one of my favorites." I'm joking. I can't remember what I said exactly, but I did mention that it was not a book that I would normally pick to read. I had the option to change of course, but I didn't want to.

Now, I've tried to read romances. I've tried quite a variety over the years. I've tried the classics by the Bronte sisters and Jane Auste…

Leading a Writing Group - Session 1

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It's an odd story, how I came to be part of a writing group yesterday.


I went to the Muskegon Comic Con event in the spring. It was fun. I walked into the game room and was greeted by a perky woman named Holly. She convinced me to join a one-off Dungeons and Dragons role-playing game. It's an activity that has always seemed fun, but I've never found the time to participate in that world.

I invited a few people and a couple of kids joined in. Yuke led our session while also managing the gaming sales table. It was a grand adventure that took us deep into a cave looking for buried treasure. Three of the five people came out alive. One girl was able to snatch some of the gold from us, but Xavier and I were able to get most of it. Xavier turned out to be Holly's son.

While talking to Holly after the game she mentioned that she runs a homeschool group that uses the Muskegon Fab Lab, where people can work with 3-D printers, laser etching, virtual reality systems, and more. I …

Tales Within Tales - Part 1 of ?

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Two weekends ago I stayed with my aunt to be closer to the wedding that I was officiating for my cousin. Since I don't have a radio in my car I had a few hours to think about writing ideas on the drive over. I've been wanting to try this crazy idea for awhile, so we worked on it while I was there.


I want to use fables and fairy tales in a multi-layered frame story. I'll talk about what that is in a moment. I wrote down the fables and fairy tales that jumped to mind.

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The 3 Little Pigs
Humpty Dumpty
Little Red Riding Hood
Goldilocks
Pietr and the Dike
The Fox and the Grapes
The Boy Who Cried Wolf

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A frame story is when you have a story within a story. For instance, you have a character walk into a bar and he starts talking to someone. This other person begins to tell a story. We become fully immersed into the other story and that's what the book is mostly about. At the end we usually pop back out into the bar scene before the book ends. Frame d…

I Went to a Writing Group Today - April 24th, 2019

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Should I go to the writing group today? That type of question runs through my head before all meetings and activities. Then, afterward, you never doubt that it was best to go. You can tell because you're re-energized. It was the same today.


I had a plan heading to the meeting, something I wanted to try. Neil Gaiman mentioned a good writing technique, coming up with a situation and then asking, "How did we get here?" You then construct the story leading to that moment. I wanted to do that. I didn't. Here's the prompt from today.

(Also, I went sporting this cool temporary tattoo done by a friend that says "Once upon a time..." across one forearm, representing the start of an unfinished story. I also have broken chains around both of my wrists representing Prometheus bound and unbound to the rock cliff by the tyrant Zeus in punishment for giving the gift of fire to mankind.)

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Left to Write 4.24.19 Prompt
Craig’s List Missed Connection
Below is…

Creating a Comic Book - Dungeon Buddies - Part 3 of ?

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We have a solid idea for page 1. We also have pieces and parts about the whole plot. Today I want to work on fleshing out the whole plot, which I'm thinking about as 10 issues of about 20 pages. The immediate scenes after our opening page are pretty obvious, but the overall story is still a little blurry in areas and I want to iron that out so that my first time through is decently smooth with, foreshadowing and such.


Here's page 1. Then I'll start working through trying to piece this whole epic story together.

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Page 1

Panel 1: Top third of page. A mountain ridge with two shadows walking along it, a soldier and a witch. Kind of dark and mysterious, ominous.

1. Narration: After the alliance won the war, the grand council sent a soldier and a witch to hide the Gauntlet of Kings in the X Mountains. Many had gone looking for it, none had returned.

Panel 2: Bottom two-thirds of page. Gauntlet floating above display mantel in the middle of the cave. Lut and Gaza on …

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