My Novel-in-Progress Needed a Soundtrack.  Yours May Too.

music-books

To be honest, it initially struck me as absurd, the thought of creating a soundtrack for a novel, let alone my own novel-in-progress.

After all, a book is, well, a book.  It is static and non-visual beyond the fact of seeing a print or e-book’s typewritten words.

To me, it made little sense trying to apply techniques used in visual arts (most notably motion pictures) to a format that most definitely isn’t a picture (this despite the fact that very good books can indeed succeed in creating vivid pictures in the reader’s mind).

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The Stories We Tell Ourselves

Daydreaming

No, this isn’t a post about negative self-talk.

That would be the subject of an entirely different, and if I chose to get all self-psychoanalytical about it, lengthy post.

Rather, it’s about what goes on in my mind whenever it’s not otherwise occupied, and, to me, is the furthest thing from negative.

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How Reading Affects My Writing – Past, Present, and Future

Book magic

When it comes to books and words and the creation and consumption of both, although I write nearly every day, I’ve always considered myself a reader first while only second am I a writer.

Of course, there is factual truth to this statement: I literally learned and continued to read stories before I started writing them (although the timing for both is close; I clearly recall writing my first “novel” in grade two).

Even now as an adult, my almost-daily reading occurs earlier in the day (dinner time) than does my almost-daily writing (after dinner, the last thing before  I go to sleep).

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Is Writing What You Know Holding You Back?

Cracked earth lightbulb

How the hell did “write what you know become” the most opt-repeated piece of writing advice anyway?

Maybe it’s because it’s the first advice many of us ever received.  Certainly it seems like it should be beginner advice.

I can see it perfectly: a student of sixteen or seventeen hunched over his/her desk at school, pencil in hand poised above a sheet of three-hole-punched, lined loose leaf.

(Am I totally dating myself with this memory in longhand?  Do high school students even write by hand  in school anymore?  The pencil in this vision isn’t even mechanical).

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It’s the Silence That Keeps Me Awake

Can't sleep

What keeps you up at night?

For some reason, I have a disproportionately large number of friends who are insomniacs.

I’m not talking people who occasionally suffer bouts of sleeplessness like we all sometimes do.  Rather, I mean folk who chronically don’t sleep more than a few of hours, every night of their lives.

That must really suck.

The notion of insomnia really came to the fore of my mind due to my recent trip to Australia. From my connection at Los Angeles airport to Melbourne, Australia, the flight was about 15 hours long.

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Two Writers Debate: Pantsing vs. Plotting

Eric John Baker (R) and me, clearly hoping to win this thing by sheer force of smugness.

Eric John Baker (R) and me, clearly hoping to win this thing by sheer force of smugness.

Only two approaches to writing exist: Good and Bad. Write good. Debate over!

Hold on a sec. That’s not what this post is about. This post is a point-counterpoint between two WordPress bloggers arguing the merits of two distinct writing methods, pantsing (freeform writing) and plotting (writing from an outline).

Read on as right-brained, right-coast writer Eric John Baker argues in favor of pantsing (at least we hope that’s what happens… he is making it up as he goes, after all), followed by left-brained, left-coast writer Janna G. Noelle making a case for plotting, probably with all kinds of charts and graphs and stuff.

No matter how ugly and violent it gets, they promise to return you home in time for tea and biscuits!

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Always Say Yes: What writers can learn from our actor friends and improv

(L-R): Nyima Funk, Colin Mochrie, and Wayne Brady from the TV show Whose Line is it Anyway?

(L-R): Nyima Funk, Colin Mochrie, and Wayne Brady from the TV show Whose Line is it Anyway?

Out of all the different types of artistic expression, the artists I seem to befriend most often are actors.

I’m not really sure why this is, for I’m sure as hell no actor.  I have no poker face whatsoever, let alone the ability to re-create a given emotion at will, and body movements range from woodenly awkward to determinedly abrupt.

As well, the mechanics and semiotics of acting are largely lost upon me. I can’t really distinguish a “good” performance from a “spectacular” one, and when I watch movies or plays, so long as the story obeys its own internal logic and follows a satisfying story arc, that’s good enough for me.

I’m a writer; I’m far less interested in the performance of a story than I am in the creation of that’s story’s script.

And yet, as different as my actor friends and their art seems to be from me and mine, I’ve come to discover the usefulness one particular actor’s tool can have for writers.

That tool is improvisation.

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