Tag Archives: writing advice

Carnival of Goals (Audio Blog)

Photo by Keane Amdahl, follow him on Twitter @FoodStoned
Photo by Keane Amdahl, follow him on Twitter @FoodStoned

This is a story about my first attempt to wow people with my work. I was a kindergartner hosting a Halloween carnival in the middle of July. I poured my heart and soul into the project and got negative returns.

There’s a lesson to be learned in failure: if at first you don’t succeed, you’re doing it wrong. If humiliation teaches us anything it’s how to wear humiliation better. Every artist has to learn to take feed back. Every artist has to develop a callus around their heart, a skin so thick they could stop bullets with it.

This is a piece for those people brave enough to put themselves out there. The ones who go out among the trolls seeking validation. The ones whose bright eyes never dim. The ones who no matter how many times you knock them down, they scramble back up to their feet, and brush their shoulders off.

This is for the people who look to the Internet and say, “I have something valid to contribute and I’m going to keep trying until it finally resonates with someone.”

If this makes us fools. Let’s be fools together.


(Download the instrumental version here)

For those of you who prefer the straight vocal recording, without the music, check out the link below.

Spare Your Darlings (Audio Blog)

(Download the instrumental version of the song here.)

This was originally posted on lorenkleinman.com a source of much inspiration. This whole piece is the product of a conversation we had on Twitter. You should definitely follow her at @LorenKleinman

Photo by Keane Amdahl, follow him on Twitter @FoodStoned
Photo by Keane Amdahl, follow him on Twitter @FoodStoned

“In writing, you must kill your darlings.” –William Faulkner

What are Darlings?

When Faulkner says, “Darlings” he’s talking about the poetry that wanders into our novels. He’s talking about the colorful descriptions in our black and white detective stories. The hyperboles that get lost inside our stark realism. The esoteric language that finds its way into modern thrillers.

The Darlings are the details that no one needs to understand the plot. Continue reading Spare Your Darlings (Audio Blog)

Soundtrack for Writing

Statue with Headphones

This entry was inspired by my friend Rachel’s writing playlist on her website celenagaia.wordpress.com. Check it out here. Follow her on Twitter @Raishimi

Music can be a writer’s best friend. A stopgap for the noise pollution around us. A check against the gridlock orchestra laying on their horns, against the food court percussion section scraping the food out of their instruments, against the mouth breathing choir in line at the DMV. Music provides a way to tune out all that chatter and turn up your internal monologue. It adds tone to discord, order to abstraction.

When I write spooky stories, I prefer songs that draw out the tension, rather than rush to the crescendo. I need my conductor to move with a slow and steady hand. To lure my mind into the cellar, to tug me down a long narrow corridor of nightmares.

I prefer atmospheric soundscapes to orchestral scores. I prefer rain and thunder to a bombastic brass sections. I prefer synthesizers to string sections, programmed beats to kettle drums. I prefer beats because they repeat. They keep my mindset consistent. They give my words a rhythm. Continue reading Soundtrack for Writing

Don’t Just Read More, Watch More

camera and book
If you look closely you can read two pages from Joe Hill’s NOS4A2

This entry was inspired by a piece on my friend Rachel’s website celenagaia.wordpress.com. Check it out here. Follow her on Twitter @Raishimi

Writers are always told to read more. Read enough good stories and one might rub off on you. Don’t worry about taking notes. Don’t worry about deconstructing the text. Just read for pleasure and your subconscious will absorb everything in the background. The meaning will be found for you. Take your imagination for a walk and your subconscious will count the steps.

Let the story pass by. Read it on autopilot. Don’t worry about following the plot. The twists will present themselves in due time. You’ll recognize the land marks and feel brilliant once you arrive at your destination.

If writing is the act of sending telepathic messages, then reading is the act of receiving. You have to listen to the language before you can speak it. You have to discover someone else’s voice before you can find your own. You have to turn your internal monologue down and let another’s take over. Continue reading Don’t Just Read More, Watch More

If You Can’t Make Them Read it, Read it to Them (Audio Blog)

Having trouble getting people to read your story? Do they get five hundred words in only to turn tail and run? Have you tried reading it to them?

This is my advice on home recording. It’s for writers who have done everything they can to get new readers, and are willing to try to get new listeners instead.

Writing Space (Audio Blog)

This audio blog is about writing through the noise pollution. It’s about turning up the volume in your head to drown everything else out. It’s about keeping track of your ideas through an earthquake.

Once you’re finished listening you can read the second part here:

***

When friends on Twitter post photos of mountain-scapes and forest trails, I get scenery envy. I want to unroll a blanket and write beneath their sky. I want to be able to stand up and pace around with my ideas, to take my thoughts for a walk. Continue reading Writing Space (Audio Blog)

If You Can’t Make Them Read it, Read it to Them

IMG_3250As a writer on the internet, I want people to read my work, but I don’t want to lose their attention. That’s why I do audio recordings. My philosophy is this: if I can’t get people to read my stories, then I’ll read my stories to them.

If this is the age of multitasking, then why fight it? People should experience my words the way they want to. On a long road trip, as they chase the horizon. On a woodland trail full of leering shadows. On an elliptical machine, skiing in place.

If you can’t give me your undivided attention, then I’ll take what I can get. Continue reading If You Can’t Make Them Read it, Read it to Them

How to Build a Memory Palace Pitch (Audio Blog)

This piece should do two things:

Help you summarize your story by identifying the elements that audiences look for.
Help you remember each of those elements with a simple memory trick.

The audio component isn’t a podcast, where I discover my statement halfway through making it. It isn’t spoken word poetry either. It’s a guided visualization, set to a beat. It’s fun to listen to, but I invite you to participate. To shape images from your work in progress and place them somewhere in your childhood home.

The memory palace technique takes something your brain has no problem remembering, like spacial relationships, and combines it with something that’s tough to remember, like plot points. Continue reading How to Build a Memory Palace Pitch (Audio Blog)

Carnival of Goals

IMG_2545When I was a kid I threw a Halloween carnival in my parent’s basement. I knew I had the market cornered, because it was the middle of July.

I decided to keep mom and dad in the dark about the project. Investors have a way of meddling with an artist’s vision. I wanted to retain creative control. I was an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs don’t ask for their parents’ permission. Once they saw what a hit it could be, no one would make me apologize for success.

Continue reading Carnival of Goals

How to Build a Memory Palace Pitch

door-of-light1When you send your screenplay to a film producer, they send it to someone like me. I was a script reader, an intern chasing a carrot for an independent film studio.

My job was to summarize your magnum opus into a blurb. To condense your gut wrenching work into a column no larger than an obituary. To turn your hero’s journey into a stroll. To turn your feast for the imagination into an hors d’oeuvres. To take your epic and make it a limerick.

Have you ever tried to write a haiku? Ever try to right one with a three-act structure?

They gave me a pre-formatted template to write all of my coverages in. Much like a Tweet, I only had so many characters to summarize a stack of pages. I had to turn your screenplay into an elevator pitch, a talking trailer, a cinematic stanza. You know when someone says, “Just give me the cliff notes.” That was my job, to turn your rambling prose into a cliff note. Continue reading How to Build a Memory Palace Pitch