Welcome to whatever is on my mind!

Some people use the term "nonsense" but I prefer to use the phrase "uncommonly sensed" because it's more reflective of creative types.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Sonic Highways: A Lesson in Story Telling

 Thanks to a friend, I’ve been watching a set of DVDs which chronicle the Foo Fighters latest recording, a concept album called Sonic Highways. Whether or not you’re a music fan, the way the album and DVD are put together is an outstanding example of story telling.

In the DVDs, each episode shows the band arriving in a city, learning about the musical influences, and then recording a song that exudes the flavor of that space. Each piece usually incorporates a local guest recording artists (such as Joe Walsh in California).

Great music. But how is this related to literature or writing?

There’s a lot we, as writers, can learn from the way Dave Grohl creates his art. First of all, the whole concept of the project stresses the importance of setting. There are things that characters will often do in one location but not in others. As a writer, your story is always a mixture of the people involved and the place they’re in, and what took place in the past in order to create the current environment. A story’s setting isn’t just a location: it’s a place in time that’s the culmination of all that’s come before in that space.

The setting in which you place a story influences actions and sets mood. It’s the same in music as it is in literature as it is in life. What Dave Grohl is tapping into is the subtle differences in culture between cities on the same continent. He's also showing the impact of time on these things. Cities have personalities and atmospheres that have evolved in a particular manner.

Think about the setting in your writing almost as if it’s another character, because it’s just as important to moving the plot along. If you watch these DVDs, notice how different cities produce different musical sounds because of the unique mixture of people who live there or the kinds of struggles and achievements that took place in those locations. These nuances provide the rich texture and context for a story, and these are the kinds of details that bring a story to life.

The tag line on the DVD set is “Every city has a sound. Every sound has a story” and these DVDs tell those stories well. Highly recommended viewing.

Monday, July 20, 2015

How to Kick Monday in The Butt

I’ve been a little busy these past few months. Mostly I’ve been writing books, but I’ve also been reading a lot and doing some research. With so little extra time on my hands, I lost patience with Monday for being difficult. We all know that Monday is the day when Evil peaks (more heart attacks occur on Mondays, more deaths happen on that day of the week, and bad news usually arrives in Monday mail like it’s been stalking us all weekend waiting for the perfect moment to spring upon us).

I’ve been too busy and don’t have time for Monday’s nonsense. While I like to think that kicking Monday in the butt is a super power, it’s really something that anyone can do with the right training and equipment. So here’s my secret formula.

1. Wear sensible heals: the pointy kind. Unless, of course, you want Monday to be able to get up easily after you strike the first blow. Plus you’ll look awesome, and when you’re wearing a great pair of shoes you will feel better about yourself and have more energy. This includes men - remember that great shoes can take you farther than you can imagine.

2. Stay away from jerks. I know that on Mondays jerks are like zombies at a brain buffet, but people who like to make other people miserable will waste your time, and you don’t have time to be miserable - so avoid the source of misery. You’ll get more done.

3. Get up early before Monday knows that you’re awake. You see, Monday expects you to hit the snooze several times, so you can take it by surprise.

4. Eat something with rainbow sprinkles on it. I often tell people that sprinkles are little happy pills, and these can boost your mood no matter how bad things seem at the moment. It’s not easy to be depressed when you’re eating something so colorful.

Finally, at the end of the day remember that Margarita and Monday both start with M for a reason. Celebrate your victory.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

How To Write a Book in 3 Easy Steps

I get asked a lot of questions about writing. One of the most common inquiries is from people who want to write a book but don't know how to do it. So I've come up with 3 easy steps for guidance.
1. Get a typewriter or computer with a word processor.
2. Vomit words onto a page.
3. Arrange the words so that they look appetizing.
Repeat steps 1 through 3 as needed until you have a novel length manuscript.

See how easy this is? Some people choose to ignore the third step, but I find this part to be the most critical. Good luck!