Monday, June 27, 2016

What I do while washing the dishes Ep.3

This is my notebook. That is not my cat.
     I received a reprieve this week. I got two thirds of the way through the first Writing Excuses assignment and hadn't touched the next one. When I started playing episode 10.3 over sink full of bubbles.  It was like walking into class and discovering the paper is due next week. Instead I got to listen to a wonderful interview with Cherie Priest. The delightful author of Maplecroft. Which is a tale based on Lizzie Borden and Lovecraftian creatures.
It drives all the other toys mad.
     The podcast was awesome as they discussed H.P. Lovecraft and his works. Lovecraft had a multitude of flaws, racist, sexist and overtly xenophobic. I wonder if there was anything that didn't terrify him. Priest had this keen observation that stood out to me. "Nobody hates anything they're not afraid of." This does not justify Lovecraft's views or opinions. It does helps me to understand where the author was coming from and the intention of his pieces.

     Last winter I got to sit in for the lecture part of 318R at BYU taught by Brandon Sanderson. The course for me was incredibly helpful. The great thing about this semester was that it was being recorded by Earl Cahill and the first lecture went live recently.

     If you look in the notes I get a mention for helping review the videos. It was nice to be useful. (I worked in my Uni's production studio in my undergrad days.) I love that this information is being shared with the public. These lectures along with Writing Excuses are a wonderful resource for writers who may not have access to formal education or training. 

    In the piece I'm currently working on I have one major scene to write and then of course the edits. (I do not recommend this next course of action. It's to easy to become distracted.) I took a break last night from that project and outlined my next project. My outlines tend to be general and they are a great starting point. What happens next is I'll write and something completely different starts to emerge. I see what else can I get out of the structure as I'm writing. 

Keep writing.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

What I do while washing the dishes Ep. 2

Fun fact; Purple dish gloves and touch screens don't mix. 

     When I'm listening to podcasts it's normally on my phone. Something I've found helpful is to put in a dish of some kind while I'm cleaning. My preference is a smaller Pyrex container. This protects my phone from soapy dish water and amplifies the speaker. 

    I try to Listen/watch a variety of things while taking care of the chores. Being that I'm trying to follow along with the assignments for Writing Excuses I try to give myself a week between each episode. What's been filling in my time is Crash Course. This week it's been Psychology and Philosophy I really enjoyed Episode 13 "The Problem of Evil. what I love about Crash Course is it's a great overview of a topic or idea and gives you an idea of where to go and look for more information. 

    Last week I listened to episode 10.1 for Writing Excuses. I didn't complete the assignment. Yep. Luck would have it that I was familiar with some of the ways they suggest to build ideas. However I'm missing out on chances to flex some creative muscles and be a better storyteller. I'm going to try a little harder and complete not one but two assignments this week. 
The plan at the moment is to take some of my writing time and dedicate it to the assignments. My little one is my number one priority. When she is asleep that's my opportunity to write. On occasion there are epic bedtime battles. Normally there are tears involved, sometimes mine. I fight for my writing time. 

    This week I listened to Episode 10.2 "I Have an Idea; What Do I Do Now?" 
My notes were scrambled and I ended up listening to this episode once and then skimming through a second time to find the points that stood out to me. 
  • Stories that suggest conflict. -Wells brought up looking for the How? That conflict is there if you look for it. (I've struggled with this on occasion.)
  •  "It's going to ruin somebody's day."-Sanderson Whatever the change may be it's going to have an effect. 
  • I love the point of What's at Stake and Who has Agency. That Mary Robinette Kowal brought up.
  • Notebook! I love my notebook and for idea storing it is invaluable. I'm not alone in carrying a notebook! 
  • The idea of "What would happen if?" This can be a process of combining ideas or digging a little deeper.
  • What would i do with this? & Would I get caught?  Howard Tayler Whether it's a magic system or unique piece of Tech.
  • Dig Deeper- Come up with a problem you can't solve. -Wells
  • Brainstorming  is great for idea development. The table I'm working on is covered in butcher paper that I've scribbled on for my current project. 
     I'm using these entries as a way to stay accountable. If you want to improve your writing or even different creative outlets Writing Excuses is a great place to start. 

Saturday, June 11, 2016

What I do while washing the dishes Ep. 1

     My place does not have a dishwasher. This means that dishes can take twenty to thirty minutes to complete. That leaves me some time to think as I rinse away leftover ketchup off brightly coloured utensils. Occasionally I'll let the music play but then I'm likely to get distracted by dance parties with the little one. The trick is to find something engaging but allows me to focus on the task at hand. Podcasts are great. However taking notes with dishgloves on is a whole other story.

     Since getting serious about writing I started listening to Writing Excuses. This is a brilliant podcast hosted by Brandon Sanderson, Mary Robinette Kowal, Howard Tayler and Dan Wells. All of these folks have done some great stuff and is worth checking out. The current recommendation is to start at Season 10. Which works as a master class in writing. It even comes complete with assignments. I had started at the beginning but have now jumped ahead to Season 10.

     What did I pick up from episode 10.1? It was all about that age old cliche question that authors get asked, "Where do you get your ideas?"

    The different type of ideas discussed where the following,

    -"Gee Whiz" Ideas; The idea that hits you over your head and demands your attention. (Thank-you Mary Robinette Kowal for putting it into words.) Normally the phrase "Wouldn't it be cool if?" is uttered. I am familiar with this form of idea generation. I was watching a documentary on bees and the undertaker bee was mentioned. This is the  bee dedicated to removing the dead from the hive. From that I got wouldn't it be cool if there were a space station that handled it's operations like a beehive. Complete with undertaker bee. This idea fits in with a story I'm currently working on. There are also quite a few "What if's" type ideas that run through my head.

     -Tone ideas; This is one that I hadn't considered. The idea is best described by the podcast example. A High Fantasy Heist novel. That would be an apt description of Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson. This form of idea I feel would be a great way to help build a structure. For me if the appropriate tone idea came along I feel it could really help me flesh out a story.

    -Exploring Themes; This one is based on media consumption. It's seeing, reading or experiencing something and then seeing what more can you do? What else can you extrapolate?

    The exercise was to explore some new ways to gain ideas. Head over to the website to look and see what they suggest. I'm going to give it a crack and see what comes to mind.

    Happy writing.