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499 Posts tagged with the writing tag

Welcome to the Weekly News Roundup - a collection of news, advice and opinions from around the virtual globe.




Can You Guess These Books from Their Most Commonly Used Words? - PWxyz


Test your knowledge of the classics. Name that book from 10 words or less.


Writer for Hire - Huffington Post


Writer Holly Robinson reflects on her journey to becoming a writer for hire.      




A Not So Great Start -Totally Unauthorized


An interesting post about working on the set of an unscripted show.        


Buzz Is Growing Over a Silent Film -LA Times


The film is actually described as nearly wordless. Can a film devoid of 3D, special effects...and dialogue be a commercial success?




7 Home Recording Studio Changes that Can Improve Your Sound - Renegade Producer


Do your studio furnishings absorb the sound? Is your studio in need of an equipment upgrade?


How to Talk to Your Fans Using POV - Bob Baker's Indie Music Promotion Blog


When you write promotional material are you writing as yourself? Are speaking directly to fans? Or are you writing about yourself in the third person?


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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.


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Weekly News Roundup - November 22, 2011

Weekly News Brief - Books, Film, Music - November 18, 2011

1,402 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, books, authors, authors, book, book, music, music, filmmaking, filmmaking, film, film, movies, movies, writers, writers, writing, writing, films, films, musicians, musicians, filmmakers, filmmakers

"Call me Ishmael." Some consider it to be the most well-known opening line of an American novel ever published. The novel, Moby Dick, by Herman Melville, did not achieve masterpiece status until long after the author passed away in 1891. Today, it is considered the Great American Novel by many critics, and to the bane of countless teenagers, it is required reading in many high school literature classes.

Let's face it: Moby Dick is a classic tale told using what I think is the most difficult language possible. True, that language is English, but it is structured in such a way that it can leave some readers full of regret for ever having learned how to read in the first place. Here's a passage from the book that is typical of Melville's writing style:

"Come, Ahab's compliments to ye; come and see if ye can swerve me. Swerve me? ye cannot swerve me, else ye swerve yourselves! man has ye there. Swerve me? The path to my fixed purpose is laid with iron rails, whereon my soul is grooved to run. Over unsounded gorges, through the rifled hearts of mountains, under torrents' beds, unerringly I rush! Naught's an obstacle, naught's an angle to the iron way!"

I can remember reading this passage and many others in the book and marveling at how much language can evolve over time. And we, the writers, are responsible. The language we use does more than tell a story; it shapes the evolution of how we as a society communicate through words.

Years ago, I heard an author say he purposely incorporates out-of-the-ordinary language in an effort to educate the reader. As an author, he realizes he has an opportunity to grow someone's vocabulary and expand their knowledge of language. Using this tactic creates a real danger of pulling a reader out of the story, but in a way it is an admirable thing to do, as long as it's not overdone.

What is your take? Do we have a responsibility as writers to educate the reader beyond the confines of the story? Should we be using language that serves the story or society? It's a big question, I know, but given the state of communication today through text messages and tweets, I think it's something worth examining.

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.


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The Great American Novel

Writing the Hemingway Way

1,873 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, authors, book, author, writers, writing, craft, writing_style

WordPlay: Idioms

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Nov 29, 2011

As writers, each of us has an idiom. Whether it's a quiet approach or blatant, crass, melancholic, rude, or weird, we all have a particular idiom that distinguishes our art from others. But what, you may ask, is an idiom, and how can you figure out what yours is?

The word "idiom" is incredibly diverse. According to Merriam-Webster, it can mean anything from "the syntactical, grammatical, or structural form peculiar to a language," to "a style or form of artistic expression that is characteristic of an individual, a period or movement, or a medium or instrument."

An idiom could be the way in which you became lost in the verdant, mysterious language of Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden, or the way in which jazz trumpet player Miles Davis plays "My Funny Valentine" on Bill Evans' album Piano Player - in his own particular, and beautiful, idiom.

Authors' idioms are mostly what attract us to their books in the first place. A particular way of saying something, of describing situations, or creating characters that we love, hate, or wish we could be more like are all ways in which authors create their idioms. And if you work at it and develop it, your idiom will become one of the main reasons readers seek you out and devour your work, which leads us to this week's exercise:

Exercise: What is your idiom?

When you sit down to write, when are you happiest? What sections of your story cause the ink to flow and the world around you to fade into a pinpoint of book and thought? Think about the strongest part of your manuscripts and, in a couple lines, try to define how this strength is like your literary fingerprint. Is it the use of characters who lead when leadership is thrust upon them? Is it the unique way in which you draw your reader into the scenery or situation? Is it your ability to sneak in puns that leave your reader laughing unintentionally? What is your idiom?

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Kristin is a content media coordinator with CreateSpace. She draws from a strong background in journalism and creative writing to help authors hone their skills and flex their artistic muscles.

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WordPlay: Anachronisms in Writing

WordPlay: Wine Tasting

2,269 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, books, authors, authors, book, book, writers, writers, writing, writing

"It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents - except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness."

-Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, Paul Clifford (1830)

Sometimes we write brilliantly and people take notice. Other times, we write horribly and even more people notice. No matter what, it's important to remember that some of the best writing can come from authors with the worst literary reputation - and vice versa. Sometimes our worst writing is jotted down during a fit of creative genius, and sometimes our most amazing work can come to us in the midst of creative despair.

Generations have come to know the painfully awkward opening quoted above by Edward George Bulwer-Lytton. What's most remarkable about this little-known author is how much we actually know about his writing. Besides the famous "It was a dark and stormy night..." opening line, he is also the quill behind such lines as "the great unwashed," "the almighty dollar," and perhaps most famously, "the pen is mightier than the sword."

As an author, I'm sure you've hit what can be referred to as the opposite of writers' block: too much to write and no way to get it out fast enough. Or perhaps you're overthinking each line, and by the time you get to the core of your inspiration, it's already petered down to a fickle flame of creative malaise. Sometimes there's only one way around this writing roadblock: quit second guessing yourself and just write. You can go back to it later and take out all the extra bits you don't need but rest assured, you'll find some gems in there that might never have sifted out if you hadn't taken the time to dump it all on the table. And as a bonus, you might also find a truly horrible line that's so bad it just has to be shared with the world. Which brings us to today's exercise.

Exercise: Can you write the world's worst novel opening?

Since 1982, the English department at San Jose State University has sponsored the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, a whimsical literary competition that challenges entrants to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels. The department takes submissions all year long, but the official deadline is April 15. Each entry must be previously unpublished and consist of a single sentence, and the judges strongly recommend that it not exceed 50 or 60 words. Submission details are available on the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest's official website. And your reward for writing the greatest worst line of the year? As the contest's judges put it, "in keeping with the gravitas, high seriousness, and general bignitude of the contest, the grand prize winner will receive...a pittance." So try your hand at penning the worst opening line, submit it to the contest, and share it in the comments!

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Kristin is a content media coordinator with CreateSpace. She draws from a strong background in journalism and creative writing to help authors hone their skills and flex their artistic muscles.


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WordPlay: Wine Tasting

WordPlay: A Strange Note

1,965 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: writers, writers, writing, writing, creativity, creativity

If you want to receive opposing opinions about your book on a regular basis, write an open ending. A few of my books end without a definitive answer. I purposely left the ending ambiguous for one reason: I love stories with open endings. It's a personal preference that I realize some people hate. I know this because they've told me they hate it, sometimes in those exact words.

I'm not offended. In fact, I am fascinated. While I am applauded by some readers for this writing choice, I am also roundly criticized for the same choice by other readers. It's a phenomenon that leaves me both scratching my head and feeling strangely satisfied at the same time.

Why do I like the open ending as a reader? I like it because the writer is demonstrating a level of trust with the reader. The writer has guided me through the story. He or she has developed the characters to the point where I feel like I have a real sense of who they are. The writer has established a storytelling style incorporating a rhythm that is identifiable while not being necessarily predictable. I know the characters. I know the story.  I know the writer. I know how I want the story to end and sometimes I don't want the story to end at all.

There have been so many times where I reached the ending of a story and I felt wholly unsatisfied by the prescribed conclusion. It wasn't just that I felt the writer failed to meet expectations; I felt removed from the story. More than that, I felt ushered out of the story. It's as if the author was telling me, "Okay, it's over now. You can go home. Nothing left to see here." At times as a reader, I don't want that. I'd rather live with the story and keep returning to it. An open ending gives me that opportunity.

Cormac McCarthy brilliantly used the open ending technique with The Road. I won't provide any spoilers if you haven't read the book, but let's just say it's been years since I read that book and I still don't know if I should be happy or terrified for one of the main characters.

How do you feel about open endings? There is no wrong answer. What do you love or hate about them?

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.


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Chunking Method Part 2: The Opening & Closing

Get Readers Talking with a Serial Novel

1,946 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, authors, book, author, writers, writing

"Three days after my arrival...I observed, about half a league off in the sea, somewhat that looked like a boat overturned. ...I found the object to approach nearer by force of the tide; and then plainly saw it to be a real boat..." - Gulliver's Travels, Chapter 8

How often have you been in the thralls of a story, your main protagonist adventuring off into the vibrant realm of your imagination, when suddenly you find that your hero is stuck? Not stuck as in quicksand or a random briar patch, but stuck as in you have no idea how to get the character out of the pickle of a situation you've put him or her in?

Don't worry. You're not the first to find yourself here. In fact, authors back to the days of the Greek playwrights have been in similar spots and have found a quick - albeit arguably weak - solution: deus ex machina.

Named for a method in Greek tragedies wherein a god descends onto the stage and saves the protagonists from their unfortunate situation, this term describes when authors provide a convenient - and often improbable - solution to a sticky situation. While this might be a "quick win" for our hero, this plot device is often considered a cop-out; not that some of the greatest writers of all time have been above it.


For example, in the above excerpt from Jonathan Swift's classic Gulliver's Travels, Lemuel Gulliver journeys from the kingdom of Lilliput to the neighboring island of Blefuscu. Here, "by lucky accident," he comes across a boat and eventually escapes. In War of the Worlds, the earth is saved by no less than the common cold. Even Shakespeare was not above the device. In Hamlet, the exiled Hamlet is propitiously returned to Denmark following an attack by pirates in act four.

Even though famous pens have used the device doesn't mean you have to take their lead. The greatest argument against the use of deus ex machina is that it takes away from the credibility of the story and undermines the plot. Unless you're using it intentionally, with a sly wink to your reader, or are incorporating it as part of an already unbelievable story, then take a moment and think to yourself, "Is there really not a believable way out of this situation?" Don't let happy circumstances save your heroes; let them use their skills and find a way out on their own. It might take longer than just throwing them the lifeboat solution, but in the end it makes for a stronger plot and a much more believable story. And this leads us to today's exercise:

Exercise: How would you write it?


Instead of writing your answer to this week's exercise, use this as a chance to exercise some mental muscles. Think about some of the books, TV shows, or movies you've read or seen over the years. Do you remember a situation in which the author just sort of fudged the hero's way to a happy result? Once you have it, consider that situation and try to think of another way - possibly a more realistic way - in which the hero could have achieved his or her ends. If you can't think of one, try using one of the situations listed above. Did it really have to be the common cold that saved the day in War of the Worlds? Could Hamlet have found another way to return to Denmark post haste? How could you apply these solutions to your own writing?


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Kristin is a content media coordinator with CreateSpace. She draws from a strong background in journalism and creative writing to help authors hone their skills and flex their artistic muscles.

WordPlay: Wine Tasting

WordPlay: A Strange Note

1,016 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, authors, book, writers, writing, craft, screenwriting

If we're going to try to get better at our chosen craft of writing, why not examine the style and habits of one of the masters of writing? It's fair to say Ernest Hemingway had his demons, but he was a true artist when it came to writing. He wrote with a kind of brutal gusto that had depth despite its conciseness. In a way, he was a magician with words.


Here are the elements that are attributed to Ernest Hemingway.


Simple - If you read Hemingway, you'll notice how incredibly straightforward his prose is. He doesn't cram sentences and paragraphs with a lot of unnecessary words. He says what he has to say and moves on. Here's an example from The Old Man and the Sea:


He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish.


Read in a literal sense, the sentence gives you the basic facts, but it gives you more than just the specifics. It actually tells you that that old man is a simple fisherman that is seriously down on his luck. Things are bleak for the old man.


Forceful - Hemingway found beauty in the struggle of everyday life, and he loved to showcase that beauty with blunt prose that was stark and startling. Here's an example from A Farewell to Arms:


The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places. But those that will not break it kills.


Report - Hemingway started his career as a journalist. Those habits he picked up during his early years traveled with him into this career as a novelist. Reading a Hemingway novel, one gets the feeling that the author is removed from the work. What I mean by that is he doesn't judge his characters. Everyone and everything has a vital function to the story. It's almost as if he's not writing a fictional account but reporting on what he's witnessing first hand. This, more than any element, gives his novels an eerie realism.


Now, I'm the first to admit that I may be a little biased in my assessment of Ernest Hemingway because I am a fan. I'd love to hear from other writers about their influences. What is it about their style that you love so much, and do you try to emulate that style?


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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

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What Would Hemingway Do?

The Great American Novel

1,751 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, books, authors, authors, book, book, author, author, writers, writers, writing, writing, craft, craft

Inspiration has no manners. It just shows up at the most random times and can be triggered by almost anything: a sight, a sound...sometimes even an unusual smell can launch an unstoppable creative tangent. It could happen while you're driving, taking a shower, or even, say, while you're attending a wine tasting. The question is, have you taken the time to capture that inspiration and commit it to paper?


There's a small wine shop in my town with a strong local following, and it's not just because of the ambiance or the wine selection. It's because of the owner. Her senses of taste and smell are unparalleled, and an evening of tasting wine with her is like spending an evening with Robert Parker or Michel Rolland. She was the first person to introduce me to the art of "seeing" with my nose.


Every few months, the shop owner will hold a wine tasting class after hours. Before she cracks open the first bottle, she places a tray of fifty or so vials in front of the class. "Smell," she commands her students, and slowly they begin reaching for the little glass jars and twisting off the caps. Reactions range from wide grins to grimaces and snorts of disgust. The teacher then tells her class to read the names on the bottoms of the bottles and confess if they were close in their guess as to the nature of the scent. Some are close, but most are way off. She gathers up the bottles, shuffles them around, and then tells her class to close their eyes. This time she walks around and puts a vial in each student's hand, telling everyone not to open their eyes until she gives the go-ahead. Once everyone has their bottle, she tells them a story:


"Imagine you are standing in a hallway," she says. "There are no lights and it is pitch dark. You fumble down the hallway until you come to a door. You find the knob and slowly turn it. You pause and take a minute to adjust. You squint, but still see nothing. Now, tell me what's in the room by using your nose."


And with that, she tells the class to open their vials and take a deep sniff. Bursts of surprise are heard as students exclaim what they smell. This time almost all of them are right and if they aren't dead on, most are pretty close. It's a matter, says the teacher, of separating your sense of smell from your other senses. If you don't limit yourself to what you see and your preconceived notions of how things should smell, you can allow for more creativity. You could find yourself sniffing out an entire story. And that brings us to today's exercise.


Exercise: What's that smell?


At some point today, go for a walk. It doesn't have to be far. You could walk down the block or just into another room. Once there, close your eyes and pinch your nose shut. Count to ten and clear your mind. If it helps, picture the dark room at the end of the dark hallway. Once you're comfortable, mentally open the door at the end of the hallway, let go of your nose and take a long, deep breath. What do you smell? What does it bring to mind? Don't open your eyes until at least one description comes to mind and write it down. How does the description you wrote only using your olfactory sense differ from what you would've written from sight?


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Kristin is a content media coordinator with CreateSpace. She draws from a strong background in journalism and creative writing to help authors hone their skills and flex their artistic muscles.


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WordPlay: A Strange Note

WordPlay: Tales of Horror

1,636 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: authors, authors, authors, authors, writers, writers, writers, writers, writing, writing, writing, writing, creativity, creativity, creativity, creativity, inspiration, inspiration, inspiration, inspiration, craft, craft, craft, craft

Writing a Better Book

A surprising number of people decide they have what it takes to write a bestselling novel by reading a poorly written bestseller and deciding they can do better. Given that a bad book influenced their decision to become a writer, is it inevitable that they too will turn out a poorly written manuscript? Or, to put it another way, is believing that you can do "better than bad" enough to make you a great writer?


Some writers will spend years, if not decades, perfecting their craft before they see their first book deal in genre fiction. Other writers will have to spend years as a mid-list genre fiction author before discovering how to break out of the pack and hit big. Sometimes it's hard to know what genre a book fits into - if it fits into any commercial genre at all. So why does the "anyone can be a best seller writing genre fiction" commentary persist?


You can read the entire article on The Huffington Post: Writer Wednesday: Is Writing Genre Fiction Really All That Easy?


This Film Brought to You by Product Placement

Can't quite raise the funds to finance your documentary? Or maybe you've gone unexpectedly over budget? Have you considered using product placement to cover any budget shortfalls? Morgan Spurlock, the documentary filmmaker behind Super Size Me and The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, thinks it's such a good idea, he's decided to help other filmmakers find the right product to place in their documentaries.

It is not hard to see the appeal for the filmmakers: documentary makers are perennially starved for cash, particularly when it comes time to distribute a movie that may have cost relatively little to make. But companies may also have something to gain from an association with reality-oriented filmmakers who often pride themselves on speaking truth to power.


You can read the entire article on The New York Times' website: A Filmmaker Wants to Help Others Use Product Placement

Manufactured Pop Stars

Since pop music took over the charts, record companies have been accused of manufacturing pop stars. They take some kid out of the line at the movies or off the street, clean him up by dressing him down and messing up his hair, and then plop him down in the studio, where they create an overproduced song. A Japanese company has taken it one step further.

Japan's two newest stars have all the basics of being a pop idol down. Their dance moves are sharp, they sing without missing a beat, and their songs have made the top 10. The only thing is, neither one of them exists. The green-haired "Megpoid" and red-haired "Akikoloid" are both completely computer generated, the latest in a line of popular digital characters based on a voice-synthesizing program that allows users to create their own music. They were the stars of a concert during the recent Digital Concept Expo in Tokyo.

You can read the entire article on Yahoo! News: Japan's digital divas take to the stage, wow fans



Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

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Weekly News Brief - Books, Film, Music - November 4, 2011

Weekly News Brief - Books, Film, Music - October 28, 2011

1,164 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: authors, book, music, filmmaking, writers, writing, films, musicians, craft, filmmakers

In previous posts, I addressed random capitalization and the incorrect use of a possessive apostrophe to denote a plural. I enjoyed the fun reaction I got from readers (one said he loved my "rant"), so here I go again with the grammar thing.


I spend a lot of time checking out various online forums for writers, especially those for independently published authors, and sometimes I scan the websites of those who regularly contribute to the discussions. I like to see what people are talking about with regard to writing, publishing, and marketing their books, and I'm always looking for a good read! Unfortunately, however, I'm regularly disappointed by the number of grammatical errors I see. If your writing is sloppy in these very public arenas, it makes me think that your writing is also sloppy in your book. As a result, I don't want to read your book, and you've lost a possible sale.


Here are some other common grammar issues/errors that drive me nuts:


  • To vs. too
  • Their vs. there vs. they're
  • You're vs. your
  • It's vs. its
  • I.e. vs. e.g. (i.e. means "that is," and e.g. means "for example")
  • Hyphens after adverbs (e.g. "highly-motivated" is incorrect)
  • We're vs. were
  • Who vs. that vs. which
  • Affect vs. effect
  • Periods outside quotations marks (e.g. "I like you". is incorrect)



You may be surprised at this list because these usages are quite basic, but I see these errors a LOT. It may be nothing more than simple carelessness on the writer's part, but if I don't know that writer, I think otherwise. I think "This person doesn't know how to write." And in a digital world where you can reach thousands of people with a single post, and where you're competing with millions of other writers to grab the attention of readers, it's important to make the right impression every time you put something out into cyberspace.

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor. She writes romantic comedies and provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at


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Everyone Needs an Editor!

Just Say No to Random Capitalization!

2,654 Views 1 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: authors, authors, authors, authors, editing, editing, editing, editing, writers, writers, writers, writers, writing, writing, writing, writing, grammar, grammar, grammar, grammar

Let's take a step back in our chunking discussion and see how using this method applies to creating an outline. Outlining can be confusing and intimidating. A lot of authors don't even think outlines are necessary, and even I haven't used them for every book I have written. But when I have, the actual writing went very quickly.


Remember, the chunking method involves breaking a task down in small, manageable sections. Just because an outline is generally a sparse, less-detailed, point-by-point blueprint of your book doesn't mean it can't be a daunting thing to take on all at once. Breaking it down can be just as valuable as breaking down your book.


My advice is to invest in a corkboard and some 3x5 notecards. Sit down with the material you've already created for your characters and your opening and closing, and outline the first third of the book on your notecards. How you organize it on your cards is up to you, but it does make sense to dedicate a card for every chapter. Obviously, if you're outlining the first third of your book, this means you have a rough idea of how long your book will be. I've previously recommended picking a target total word count before you start writing. I think it's a good way to keep your writing neat and controlled and helps you find the rhythm of your story.


Once you have those cards written, pin them on your corkboard and write until the last card's notes are now a living, breathing chapter in your book. Follow the same process for the second third of the book and the closing third. You'll be amazed how fast you can knock out a book when you aren't afraid that guessing as you go along could lead your story down the wrong path.


That's it for the chunking discussions. I hope this has given you some ideas on how to alleviate the stress of writing a novel. Don't think of it as one big project; think of it as a series of small projects that when approached individually can be completed in fairly short order.


Good luck and happy writing!


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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.


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Chunking Method Part 4: Hero, Meet Villain

Chunking Method Part 3: Heroes & Villains

1,759 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: authors, writers, writing, outline, craft

Need to flex those creative brain cells a bit? Join me in a quick creative exercise to get your imagination in the mood:


It's a gray afternoon in some dull and ubiquitous small town. You're there for a brief visit, but after the first couple hours you can't wait to be on your way home. A cold, steady rain began falling right after lunch, and you're rushing down the sidewalk to the safety of a café bathed in fluorescent light at the end of the street. Just as you're about to cross the road, however, a dark sedan rips around the corner at high speed. Its front left tire catches the curb and lands with considerable force in a deep puddle. Before you can yell a word at the crazed driver, a wall of freezing water soaks you from head to foot.


Great, just great. Your hotel is forty minutes away and the heater, of course, is broken in your rental. Just as you're about to resign yourself to the long, wet drive, you catch a glimpse of the picture window to your right. Shabby mannequins in clothes long out of fashion reach awkwardly into the air. The sign is flipped to "open," but it looks like the store has been closed for years. You're about to leave when you finally see what caught your attention in the first place: an outfit that could have walked out of a fashion magazine this morning. Your favorite colors and textures, topped with the warmest, most comfortable-looking coat you've ever seen. You rush to the door, find that the store really is open, and five minutes later you're dressed in clean clothes and wrapped in the coziest coat you've ever worn. As you enjoy the much-needed warmth, your hand slips into your pocket, and you suddenly find the corner of a thick piece of folded paper. You take it out and notice that the edges are dingy, as though it's been handled quite a bit for several years. Carefully, you unfold it and begin to decipher the scrawled handwriting...


What's written on the note? Write a short paragraph starting with the line, "I could barely make out the first word..."


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Kristin is a content media coordinator with CreateSpace. She draws from a strong background in journalism and creative writing to help authors hone their skills and flex their artistic muscles.


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WordPlay: Tales of Horror

WordPlay: A Raisin to Write

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There is no better time to be a writer than when you are at that pivotal moment when your hero and your villain are going to interact for the first time. Oh, the possibilities in the blank pages in front of you! Before you tackle it though, I suggest you map out a few details. In the spirit of last week's post, we'll use the chunking method to look at what you should do when your hero meets your villain.

  • Inciting Incident - Write a short paragraph describing the incident that led to this moment. Is it a major inciting incident or a secondary inciting incident? Are there other characters involved in this meeting?
  • The Yin and the Yang - How do these two characters fit together? I'm not talking about the event that brought them together. I'm talking about the emotional bond that these two characters share. They do have a bond. In fact, there should be an odd sort of intimacy between the good guy and the bad guy. Something beyond the conflict attracts them to one another.
  • The Conflict - This isn't the inciting incident that led to the two characters meeting; this is the conflict that you've built your story around. What is driving your story? Define it and the role each of these two characters plays in the conflict.
  • Admire Your Villain - It sounds crazy, but I believe that you should admire something about the characters you create. That may make sense for the hero, but some people are uncomfortable with finding an admirable quality in their villain. The best villains have some humanity in them. Their struggle to hold onto that humanity can be a great struggle to expose to your readers.
  • Hate Your Hero - Just as a villain needs to struggle, so too does your hero. Perfection is boring. A hero that does the wrong thing on occasion is fascinating. What makes you uneasy about your hero? Pretend for a moment that you know only one thing about your hero, and that one thing isn't very flattering.


Once you've explored these five aspects of your hero and your villain, you're ready to hammer out the pages of their pivotal meeting. It should be easy because you know so much about them.


Next week, we'll look at using the chunking method to create an outline.


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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.


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Chunking Method Part 3: Heroes & Villains

Chunking Method Part 2: The Opening & Closing

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"What are fears but voices airy?
Whispering harm where harm is not.
And deluding the unwary
Till the fatal bolt is shot!"

- Wordsworth


There is one thing that the written word will always have over any other form of entertainment: its ability to stimulate the imagination. And nothing stimulates the creative mind more than fear. While movies can keep you on the edge of your seat, your imagination will always do your vision one better. Anyone who has tried to write frightening fiction will agree that one of the hardest parts of horror is creating and maintaining the feeling of suspense without giving too much away, all while keeping the reader interested and informed.


One of the leaders of suspenseful horror writing was not, in fact, known for his novels but for his radio programs. In 1936, Arch Oboler took over NBC's "Light's Out" radio program. One of Oboler's greatest talents was bringing the listener immediately into the story. Before every "Light's Out" program - which appropriately aired at midnight - he would remind his audience that "These 'Light's Out' stories are definitely not for the timid soul. So we tell you calmly and very sincerely, if you frighten easily, turn off your radio now."


And then the story began. Not in gradual steps but with a bang. One instant you're thinking to yourself, "Ha! How silly of them to think I would frighten easily," and the next you have a white-knuckle clench on your blanket or armchair.


In 1962, Oboler released an album called "Drop Dead! An Exercise in Horror" in which he wrote seven different types of horror stories: movie, suspense, radio, comedy, T.V., science fiction, and something he called "the ultimate." Each story latched onto some quality that made their particular genre popular. With "movie," he drew from the popularity of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, astonishing the audience with the shocking horror of a man who lives in a basement and eats only the contents of rusted metal boxes kept on shelves throughout his room. With "radio," he depended on the listener's imagination to fill in the details of a creeping darkness which consumed whoever came near it. And as for "the ultimate"? You'll have to listen to find out. What about you? Have you ever tried your hand at horror? Consider giving it a go with the following exercise.


Exercise: You can't scare me...


One of the most difficult yet effective aspects of writing horror for radio was the fact that it had to tell a richly detailed story in about 20 minutes. This meant that the script immediately dropped the audience into the heart of the tale, built suspense, and slammed to a shocking conclusion in a very short period of time. For this exercise, use what you've learned from books, movies, and even radio to start one of Oboler's seven types of horror stories. Remember that words are precious, and each sentence should quickly and succinctly get your point across. In the length of a paragraph, your readers should already feel sweat on their palms and a rapid quickening of their pulse.


1) Movie (visual, graphic horror)

2) Suspense (mysterious stimulation of the senses with no immediately visible antagonist)

3) Radio (your readers can't see it, so it could be anything)

4) Comedy (a little over the top - scary, but funny due to excess)

5) T.V. (using established characters a la The Twilight Zone)

6) Science Fiction (the horrors of the unknown in space)

7) The Ultimate (what's the scariest story you can imagine?)


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Kristin is a content media coordinator with CreateSpace. She draws from a strong background in journalism and creative writing to help authors hone their skills and flex their artistic muscles.


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WordPlay: A Raisin to Write

WordPlay: Universal Language

1,598 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: authors, authors, writers, writers, horror, horror, writing, writing, thriller, thriller, suspense, suspense, creativity, creativity, craft, craft, halloween, halloween, wordplay, wordplay

Don't Call This Post "Nice"

It may be the most mysterious word in the English language. It's usually meant as a compliment, but often it is perceived as an insult. What is this magic word? "Nice." That one word can derail a date before it's even started. It has the power to sever the closest of relationships. It can even cause unrest in an otherwise solid marriage. So how did such a nice word get such a bad reputation?


According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, "nice" has its origin in Latin, coming from nescius ("ignorant, not knowing"), a compound of the stem of scire ("to know") + the prefix ne- ("not"). The word evolved from there into the Old French nice, niche, nisce ("simple, foolish, ignorant"). By the late 13th century, it was a Middle English word: nice, nyce, nys (meaning essentially "foolish, stupid, senseless").


You can read the entire article on PWxyz: The Worst Word in the English Language is "Nice"


Marketing is Just a Phone Call Away

Jonah Hill is a fairly big star these days. He starred in a movie opposite Brad Pitt. He's got his own animated series coming to network television. He's appeared in numerous top-quality comedies. Surely he can rest on his laurels. Maybe not. Hill has taken an active role in the marketing of his new film "The Sitter." When I say active, I mean active.


Fox recently dispersed posters across the country printed with Mr. Hill's image, the message "Need a Sitter?" and phone numbers on tear-off tabs. About 250,000 people called and nearly half left voicemails. Here comes the unusual part: Mr. Hill agreed to carry around the phone belonging to that number and randomly answer calls himself. A Fox spokesman said he had answered a few dozen times. On Wednesday, he began turning the tables and returning messages.


You can read the entire article on The New York Times' website: Will Phone Stunt for 'The Sitter' Yield Right Numbers at Box Office?

The Cristal Baschet

Musical instruments come in all shapes and sizes. They incorporate wood, steel, brass, ivory...virtually any material you can imagine. I'm familiar with your basic musical instruments, but I admit ignorance when it comes to the more exotic ones. For instance, I had never heard of a cristal baschet until reading about it in today's Los Angeles Times. Frankly, now I want to see one up close and personal.

The cristal baschet is one of the most beautiful musical instruments you will ever see, made of vibrating, tuned steel, fiberglass amplification cones and wire "whiskers" that shimmy when fingers rub the glass-rod keyboard. Film composer Cliff Martinez's version, which resides in the living room of his Topanga Canyon home, is about the size of an upright piano and is as much sculpture as instrument.


You can read the entire article on The Los Angeles Times' website: Cliff Martinez scores a strange success with 'Drive'


Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

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Weekly News Brief - Books, Film, Music - October 21, 2011

Weekly News Brief - Books, Film, Music - October 14, 2011

1,437 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: marketing, marketing, music, music, filmmaking, filmmaking, writing, writing, hollywood, hollywood, words, words, nice, nice
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