Blog Posts

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Mastering the Craft – Three Perspectives

I often share comments like, “You might think we’ve covered this before, and to a limited extent, you’d be right!  But mastering the craft is all about covering the elements again and again, from different angles, so as to learn new things.”  I do this because no matter how many times we cover a topic, there’s always so much more to learn, not only about that particular topic, but also about how these topics integrate into a cohesive whole. Throughout history, trades such as carpentry, masonry, and plumbing codified various skill levels to ensure that workers would learn all the skills required at the lower levels before being allowed to learn, then be responsible for, the skills required at higher levels. The earliest guilds were associations of artisans or merchants who oversaw the practice of their craft in a particular town.  Guilds began with “frith” or “peace” guilds, groups who […]

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The Craft: Motivation Reaction Units

6:00 – 7:30:  The Craft:  Motivation Reaction Units Grab a cup of joe, maybe a plate from Agia Sophia’s enjoyable menu, sit back, and relax. Catch up with old friends. Make some new ones.  Then… Last Friday we covered Chapter 1 of Dwight V. Swain’s Creating Characters:  How to Build Story People.  If you have not yet purchased it, please follow the link to the left and do so.  It’s only about $8 used, and $17 new.  The Kindle version is Tonight, Scotty will be covering Motivation-Reaction Units, a vital component of bringing vibrant characters to life.Motivation-Reaction Units, or MRUs, are a basic small-scale structure of fiction, on the level of sentences or paragraphs. They’re the micro-structure of the scene. You are already using MRUs, even if you never knew what they were called. They are everywhere in fiction. They help pace dialog and action, and are especially good with high-action, such as a fight scene. […]

characterization

The Craft: Swain’s Creating Characters, Chapter 1

6:00 – 7:30:  The Craft:  Swain’s Creating Characters, Chapter 1 Grab a cup of joe, maybe a plate from Agia Sophia’s enjoyable menu, sit back, and relax. Catch up with old friends. Make some new ones.  Then… Last Friday we covered Chapter 2 of Gerke’s First 50 Pages. Tonight we’ll be cracking open Chapter 1 of Dwight V. Swain’s Creating Characters:  How to Build Story People.  I passed out the book information last week, but in case you haven’t ordered it yet, please do, and do not worry about coming empty-handed for the first night!  I’ll have some handouts on which you can take notes.  🙂 Author:  Dwight V. Swain Title:  Creating Characters:  How to Build Story People Paperback (1/16/2008):  <— This is your best bet! ISBN-10:0806139188 ISBN-13:978-0806139180 Kindle:  (11/28/2012):  Amazon ASIN:  B00AHYAVBC  <— Second best bet, preferable if you like the electronic book format. I will also be reading short […]

proposal

The Craft: The First 50 Pages (Gerke) – Chapter 2 “Proposal Killers

6:00 – 7:30:  The Craft:  The First 50 Pages by Jeff Gerke – Chapter 2, “Proposal Killers” Grab a cup of joe, maybe a plate from Agia Sophia’s enjoyable menu, sit back, and relax. Catch up with old friends. Make some new ones.  Then… Last Friday we kicked off our nearly half a dozenth study book in CSWriters in the last two and a half years!  We looked at what literary agents and publishers want:  Manuscripts that Sell.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with aiming high and creating literary masterpieces.  I encourage you to do that, as that’s part of the craft, but only so long as that doesn’t interfere with putting food on the table.  Some of the most successful novelists are indeed literary masters.  Others, however, like J.K. Rowling, have a unique talent for telling an enticing, captivating story that compels the reader to eagerly read it through to the […]

Gerke

The Craft: The First 50 Pages by Jeff Gerke – Fwd, Intro, Ch 1

Please purchase the latest version of The First 50 Pages:  Engage Agents, Editors, and Readers, and Set Up Your Novel for Success by Jeff Gerke, and bring it with you to tonight’s meeting.  

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The Craft: Member-Lead, Round-Table Review and Discussion

6:00 – 7:30:  The Craft:  Member-Lead, Round-Table Review and Discussion:   Grab a cup of joe, maybe a plate from Agia Sophia’s enjoyable menu, sit back, and relax. Catch up with old friends. Make some new ones.  Then… Between study materials, we commonly review what we’ve learned to date.  Tonight, we will have a member-lead (that’s you guys and gals!), round-table discussion wherein we discuss the following sources (and more), particularly with respect to how they complement one another.  If you’re stuck in your writing and can’t move forward, now’s a great time to get help from the rest of the group.  If you’d like to share some insight above and beyond what any of the texts we’ve studied have covered, by all means, bring it on!  If there’s an idea or concept you’d like to explore further, toss it into the ring, add your two cents, and let’s get the […]

it is what is is

Excellence in All We Do

I’m impressed!  Commander in Chief (Hulu, Geena Davis, 2005) is a HECK of a lot more interesting and engaging than anyone on the networks today. Why in the world was it cancelled after only one season?   Oh, yeah… It didn’t advance someone’s agenda.     TV Networks haven’t the slightest clue as to just how many people they have actually lost because they’re already lost them, perhaps beginning with the series Lost.  Those folks are no longer on their radar.   To get an idea of what does still interest America, the Nielsen ratings still work quite well:   America’s Got Talent – 12.6 million Fox MLB All-Star Game – 9.3 million America’s Got Talent – 7.1 million Let’s face it, people.  People love watching (and reading) about People.  Love.  Excellence. They really love it when their underdog wins. Just witness the following. MILLIONS of others have. As Howie […]

Save the Cat

The Craft: Save the Cat! Chapter 8

6:00 – 6:15: Social Grab a cup of joe, maybe a plate from Agia Sophia’s enjoyable menu, sit back, and relax. Catch up with old friends. Make some new ones. 6:15 – 7:30:  The Craft:  Save the Cat!  Chapter 8 Tonight we will be discussing Chapter 7 of Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder. Save the Cat! is widely considered the best how-to book on screenplays ever written. Why screenplays?  I thought this group was about writing fiction novels… First, the approach to writing screenplays is considerably different than writing a fiction novel.  However, learning about how to write good screenplays will help you to become a significantly more effective writer.  As with any good novel, good movies must successfully engage the viewer and leave his or her substantially moved, in a good way, so they’ll come back for more. Consider it literary cross-training.  🙂 Second, Blake Snyder is one of […]

Save the Cat

The Craft: Save the Cat! Chapter 7

6:00 – 6:15: Social Grab a cup of joe, maybe a plate from Agia Sophia’s enjoyable menu, sit back, and relax. Catch up with old friends. Make some new ones. 6:15 – 7:30:  The Craft:  Save the Cat!  Chapter 7 Tonight we will be discussing Chapter 7 of Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder. Save the Cat! is widely considered the best how-to book on screenplays ever written. Why screenplays?  I thought this group was about writing fiction novels… First, the approach to writing screenplays is considerably different than writing a fiction novel.  However, learning about how to write good screenplays will help you to become a significantly more effective writer.  As with any good novel, good movies must successfully engage the viewer and leave his or her substantially moved, in a good way, so they’ll come back for more. Consider it literary cross-training.  🙂 Second, Blake Snyder is one of […]

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Our Evolutionary Heritage

Wow.  Where do I start?  Perhaps the monkey movies (Planet of the Apes franchise) have precipitated this ridiculous line of inquiry that I feel I must respond. So many evolutionary-believing folks would like to point out, erringly, that we are so very close to our primate brethren that it’s ridiculous we should exist in any sort of antagonistic relationship with them. Yeah, I’m sorry, but even humans discovered in remote locations engage in cannibalism, as have multiple ape communities, including those where individuals show clear signs that they strongly disapprove. Congratulations.  We humans are primates.  We feel, deeply, even for the fall of our closely related, even distantly related species We are not, however, apes,  for reasons different than their cute monkey-face cuddlisms (anthropomorphisms). Truth be told, some apes attack, kill, and devour other apes, even within their own local groups, the same as some of the more remote societies […]