Unpause

It took some time to work through, and there may be some more pauses in the near future as my day-job work has a tendency to drain me quite a bit more than I’d like, but for now, I have energy and desire. So we’ll get to our regularly scheduled posts this week.

Cheers!

Another Pause

The plan was to get back to regular posting this week, and that may yet happen, but some new stresses and developments in my meat-space life mean that I’m going to be focusing on those for the next bit.

Hopefully I can get those resolved quickly.

For the time being, feel free to keep browsing and commenting – I will still be on, just less available.

New Craft Book – Story Genius by Lisa Cron

Post cover image showing Story Genius.

Getting back into the blog swing slow and easy after returning from vacation – more meaty stuff coming next week as I get back into my Engineering, School, and Writing series. So starting back in with some thoughts on the current craft book for writing I’m working my way through, Story Genius by Lisa Cron.

So far, I quite like it, sort of a lighter version of John Truby’s The Anatomy of Story in a lot of ways, as least to me. Lots of focus on character (particularly the protagonist’s change) with mirroring between Truby’s “ghost” and Cron’s “past context”, the idea that all elements of story should flow from the protagonist’s change and journey, a rejection of “structure” as the means of finding story, and discussion about how the writer should spend time turning inward and querying themselves about what any one story means to them.

Cron’s work so far (I’m 3 chapters in) is less regimented and a bit less self-congratulatory or off-putting in the way the Truby’s early chapters could be – less shouting down of other approaches or being insensitive to a writer’s past beliefs. But I’m not sure how far Cron’s continued connection to “brain science” can really be carried. I am not a brain scientist, so a lot of what she says seems reasonable. But neither is she a brain scientist, and her list of citations at the end supposedly showing how story is an evolved mechanism and directly connected to things like the flight/freeze/fright response and the drive for procreation is paltry at best. So…yeah. I think I’d be using the advice and teaching here more for it’s merits alone than because it’s somehow illuminated by current neuroscience. By contrast, at least Truby’s denouncement of other methods or approaches is centered in his examples showing why they don’t work, not in trying to appeal to a neuroscientific connection which may or may not be accurate.

I do like that Cron is centered almost exclusively on novels/written works. Truby tries to use his methods with novels and, while it mostly works, it’s harder when 80% of his examples are film and screenplays. As screenwriters are his primary audience, this is very understandable, but is abstracted from novel writing – a craft where we don’t have the benefits of things like an actor’s take on a particular scene, a cinematographer who captures a very compelling shot, or a soundtrack timed to perfection with the action on screen. Many of the examples of “good story” he uses have other things going on in the background that might take a decent story and elevate it beyond what was actually written by the screenwriter. It also doesn’t help that film is far more a community creation then that of any one writer (in general, and in particular for all of the examples he cites) so how much does the writing really contribute to the overall success of a film? A lot, but maybe not quite as much as he would content. So having Cron’s focus on a what a single author’s work can achieve may be more useful.

I’ve almost finished the first “homework” and it’s been instructive. I’d be curious to see how useful it will be when starting a new story. Hopefully if it covers the same kind of ground as Truby (my current favorite) in a faster and less cumbersome way, I’ll have a new favorite. More updates to follow.

Short Break for Vacation

I’ve been a little quieter this last week due to taking a road-trip family vacation through parts of the American West. And since it was rather a lot of time cooped up in a car, I’m needing a break from my vacation. So nothing forth coming from me as far as posts until next week. I’ve got day-job work and writing work that needs caught up on first, then I can make a return to blogging.

So, enjoy a slight break to our usual programming.

Aladdin (2019)

One of my more popular posts, especially recently, was a story structure breakdown of the 1992 animated Aladdin film – I think from people looking for information about the live-action remake released in 2019. So I think it makes sense for me to actually publish my thought of the most recent film so people aren’t confused.

My reactions to this film are very much based in my feelings for the original, so don’t view this review as though I’m being at all impartial. I am absolutely biased to favor the original. Because of that, I do some comparisons with the way the remake tackles this story against the original. To clarify things and to help indicate which version I’m refering to, when I’m talking about the original, I’m going to use italic font. When talking about the remake, it will be normal font. Clear? Okay then.

Also, SPOILERS FOLLOW for both the live-action Aladdin remake and the animated original, so take whatever internet precautions are needed.

Continue reading “Aladdin (2019)”

Liking Who You Work With Is More Important Than Loving What You Do

Series Entry #2 – Engineering, School, and Writing

I am absolutely, positively, not the first person to state this.

The problem is that I can’t quite find anywhere that it has been recorded in just this way.

When I went looking, I found lots of articles and information about choosing a job that you love and I found lots of examples of how it’s important to work with people you respect, but nothing that quite captured the lesson I felt I learned.

Continue reading “Liking Who You Work With Is More Important Than Loving What You Do”

Camp NaNoWriMo Starts Tomorrow!

Reminder that the next round of Camp NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow, July 1st, and runs all month.

Not as grinding as regular NaNoWriMo, with different goals beyond “50,000 words” and hopfully, a more relaxed experience.

I will working towards of goal of 30 hours worked, since I’ll be mixing drafting a new novel and writing/sending query letters to agents. I might even count hours spent drafting new blog content. We’ll just have to see. 😉

Anyway, come join Camp!

Solutioning: I Do it All the Time

I said back in my SITREP:June post that I was going to get back into regular posts, though how regular that will be remains to be seen. So this post marks the first of new series I’ve wanted to do for a while.

Welcome to the Engineering, School, and Writing Series, which is going to be about me reminiscing on the time spent in school and in my job, taking the lessons I learned there, and examining how those lessons affect me today as a writer. I have no idea if this will be helpful to anyone else, but one thing I have learned through the power of the internet is that unique ideas are hard to come by, so I’m quite certain I’m not the first person to think of these lessons in this way. But I suspect there are plenty of writers out there who could benefit from these musings, if only because it may put into words something they have been feeling for a while.

So, today is Post #1 in that series. I hope you find it interesting.

Continue reading “Solutioning: I Do it All the Time”

One Chapter A Day

That’s not a commitment to writing a chapter each day, although my creative side is doing much better in the last week or so. Rather, that is the commitment I made to be better at reading.

One of the things I really enjoy about the community in which I live is the way the local public library tries to improve and influence things going on here. Part of the larger county-wide network, they have been great about supporting the numerous initiatives dedicated to improving access to books, reading, technology, information, and learning resources. Every summer the county-wide system sponsors the Tulsa City-County Library Summer Reading Program, and our local branch has been pushing hard to get people doing it.

The current head librarian is someone my family has known for a while when we first started taking our children there for story time and she was the children’s librarian. . The newspaper had a fun write-up a little while ago about the record numbers our branch has been signing up for this year’s Reading Program. The Adult Reading Program is to read 4 books by the end of summer.

As a writer, you’d think that would be easy for me.

It hasn’t been of late. My current job is such that I am constantly reading – taking in huge amounts of information to sift through, find what’s needed, make decisions, and do work. But that also means my brain has been retrained to think about words in a different way – deep enjoyment of the written word has been replaced by an ability to scan through reams of information, only to discard vast amounts of it. Much of it very surface level reading. Staying focused to just “read” is actually very difficult for me now and I’m shocked at how I’m only just now realizing how bad the situation has become.

I used to be very into using Goodreads to track my desired ‘to-read’ books. I recall at least one year were I read 41 books, and that was still a slow rate compared to my teen years.