Friday, April 12, 2013
You know you've felt the same way sometimes. And so have many other fine and discriminating minds! I love collecting quotes -- especially ones about writing. Below are some of my favorites about the pain of writing. Do you have any to share?
How to start a novel: First thing, defrost the refrigerator. (Ernest Hemingway)
Writing is easy. All you do is stare at a blank piece of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead. (Gene Fowler)
Good stories are not written. They are rewritten. (Phyllis Whitney)
I only write when I'm inspired, and I make sure I'm inspired every morning at 9 a.m.
Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working. (Pablo Picasso -- Hey, it applies to writing, too.)
Why do you keep sending my stories back? You're supposed to print them and make me rich and famous. What is it with you? (Snoopy)
Friday, February 15, 2013
Sometimes you have to really turn up the volume to get people to listen to reason. If LOUD isn’t convincing enough, try LOUDER! Soon you’ll drown out any feeble attempts the other person is making to explain his opinion. So you win, right?
2) Don’t let anyone else utter a complete sentence.
There’s no point in wasting your time listening to the other person say stupid things that aren’t going to change your mind anyway. After only a few words you’ll be able to tell how weak the other person’s ideas are, so just go ahead and cut off the lame arguments right away. This is actually the efficient way to do things as it makes more time for you to talk.
3) Anything worth saying is worth repeating. Anything worth saying is worth repeating. Even though you are right, some people will not believe you until you express your point of view enough times. You may have to repeat your opinion over and over for incredibly long periods of time before the other person gives in, so don’t get discouraged. Just keep repeating your idea for as long as it takes – preferably in exactly the same words each time. You’re right, aren’t you, so why should you have to explain yourself?
4) Go with your guts.
What you feel is really all that matters. Don’t be swayed away from your opinion by so-called “reasons.” Ignore any talk about possible “problems.” Under no circumstances let yourself be persuaded to “think things through.” You know how you’re feeling in your heart, and you certainly don’t need to confuse things by getting your head involved.
5) Point out personal flaws.
Rest assured that whoever is disagreeing with you has plenty of them! If someone will not come over to the correct opinion – yours! – then make comments about that person’s weight, hair, clothing, face, family, etc. This may not convince him, but at least you can feel superior about not having all those weaknesses.
See, arguing is easy! Just follow a few simple rules, and you’ll never have to listen to reason, respect anyone else’s point of view, justify your actions, or change any of your opinions. And as long as you don’t have to do those things, then you can’t lose, can you?
Wednesday, January 9, 2013
If you write for children, don't limit yourself to traditional fiction. Use your story-telling skills to create plays kids will love. Here are a few suggestions about how to do it:
1) Be realistic. Your script probably won't be performed on Broadway or turned into a blockbuster movie. Avoid special effects, amazing stunts, or anything else that can't be accomplished by ordinary kids. Keep costumes, sets, and props to a minimum. Writing in the readers theatre format is one of the best ways to create a play that's simple to stage but exciting in content.2) Use an adjustable cast. Of course, you want to follow publishers' guidelines about size of cast and number of female/male roles. But you can make your play adaptable to various situations by building in some casting flexibility. When possible, include group characters like "Other Students" or "Rest of Student Council." Use some unisex names for characters or double up on titles, such as "Aunt/Uncle" or "Mr./Ms." Adding a narrator provides a large and handy gender neutral part.
3) Spread the glory around. Not only is it difficult for one kid to carry most of a play, it's just no fun. All the actors want to have their moment – and their parents expect to see it. Instead of letting your main character do all the talking, distribute lines among a number of roles. If you use group characters (see #2), give them lines that allow for adlibs so everyone gets to say something. For example:
Other Students: What? Are you kidding? I don't believe it! (Etc.)
And most importantly, give secondary characters interesting personalities and some problems of their own – that makes them fun to play and entertaining to watch.
4) Make sure your dialogue rings true. Some characters need to sound pompous, old-fashioned, affected, formal, or otherwise theatrical. Those parts are usually easy to write! Creating realistic dialogue for contemporary young characters can be much more challenging. Real kids don't speak lyrically, reciting over-their-heads vocabulary with perfect grammar. They use contractions and slang, start new sentences without finishing old ones, and interrupt each other. Listen to kids talk to get an idea of how to recreate their conversations, read your dialogue out loud with a critical ear, and polish, polish, polish. Nothing is more essential to a good play than well-written dialogue!
5) Step outside the box. Today's kids are used to media that breaks boundaries. They've experienced actors who speak directly to the camera, characters who "know" they're in a television program, and games that allow almost-real interaction. So don’t be afraid to experiment a little with your play! Let the narrator express personal opinions about what's happening onstage. Allow your main character to argue with the narrator. Place a heckler in the audience or bring an audience member on stage. This kind of creativity works especially well in humorous scripts, but it can also add emotional impact to serious plays.
6) Tell a story. Despite its different format, a play is still a story – and you want to make it a good one! Create a relatable main character, give him/her a problem worth caring about, go through a complete story arc, end up with a good lesson that's not too heavy-handed, etc., etc., just as you would when writing a kids' story or book. This doesn't just apply to serious drama – funny plays need to be well-written, too! Skits constructed of nothing but jokes, gags, and one-liners can be fun, but they're not really satisfying to audiences, young performers, or the adults who work with kids. Make your script meaningful, as well as entertaining. That's the kind of play that gets published and performed!
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Thursday, November 15, 2012
It'll soon be here! If you're looking for a kids' book about this special time of year, consider Celebrate the Season! Twelve Short Stories for Advent and Christmas available at Pauline Books. This collection (which includes some of my stories) evokes the joy and meaning of the season. Kids 8-12 years old enjoy the stories, and teachers and parents find the book useful since each story is follow by "Questions to Think and Talk About." Would it make a nice gift for someone on your Christmas list?