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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Navigating the Deadly Seas of WRITING MISTAKES



Don't you wish there was a map to follow to find success with your writing?

Each of us must chart our own course to our novel's successful end, but there are some shoals we should avoid:


1.) TOO MANY CHARACTERS

When more than just a few characters are introduced in the first few pages of a book, 

it’s difficult to keep their names and roles straight.

Have a literal boatload of characters?  

Filter them in slowly in the first few chapters, 

linking them in the mind of the readers with vivid sketches of their personalities.


2.) STERILE CHARACTERS

 If your characters are flat, if there’s nothing to set them and their struggles apart, we won’t want to cheer for them, and might not care enough to keep reading.


3.)  EXPERIMENTAL STYLE

When a writer experiments with style or structure, the result can be refreshing or irritating. 

Your ability to pull off something out-of-the-ordinary depends on your skill as a writer, 

and your ability to connect with readers despite your unusual style.

Anyone who has read my blog for long knows that I loved Roger Zelazny's books.  

But towards the end of his career, he experimented with strange formats to his books.

In DOORWAYS IN THE SANDS, he ended the chapters with cliffhangers, 

but then started the next chapter some time later, working back to the resolution of the crisis.  

VERY, VERY irritating!  

I only stayed because I liked him.  I don't think many other of his fans did. 


4.) UNCLEAR CHARACTER MOTIVATIONS

Have you ever read a book where a character does something, and you say, 

“Why on earth did she do that?? A mother would never do that!”

 Ensure your characters’ actions are in line with their motivations, 

and if they don’t appear to be on the surface, your reader must understand why not.

 Don't lift your readers out of your novel with characters you force to be stupid to get them to make mistakes to propel your story forward.


5.) HAZY STRUCTURE

  If all the good stuff happens at the beginning, or if nothing exciting happens until the end, your reader will be frustrated with the rest of the book.


6.) WRITE FOR THE MARKET ONLY

If you start by chasing the market, you study the bestseller lists and try to identify a trend, jumping on it.

Even if the trend is still hot by the time your novel comes out, the story will be lackluster, for it didn't come out of your dreams.


7.)  NULLIFY THE DANGER OR REACH THE GOAL TOO EARLY

The point is to raise the stakes so that the readers are not only cheering your protagonist on, 

but afraid that they may fail to save whatever it is that they are trying to keep.

 Regardless of your genre, 

every novel must have a protagonist trying to accomplish or reach some kind of goal. 


The plot itself is then the character’s journey to try to reach said goal.

 In some novels, that goal may evolve along the way, 

but the important thing is that whatever the goal is, it is out of reach throughout the large majority of the novel. 

By making your characters fail, often repeatedly, to reach that goal, 

you keep your readers hooked because they’ll want to find out how your character will manage to succeed.

What do you think are some deadly mistakes to avoid in our writing?

Monday, July 24, 2017

THE UNKNOWN PERSISTS


“In a world of diminishing mystery,
 the unknown persists.”
- Jhumpa Lahiri

On July 24, 1911 American archeologist, Hiram Bingham

got his first look at  

Machu Picchu

an ancient Inca settlement in Peru that is now one of the world's top tourist destinations.

Tucked away in the rocky countryside northwest of Cuzco, 

Machu Picchu is believed to have been a summer retreat for


 Inca leaders, whose civilization was virtually wiped out by Spanish invaders in the 16th century. 


For hundreds of years afterwards, its existence was a secret known only to the peasants living in the region. 

That all changed in the summer of 1911, 

when Bingham arrived with a small team of explorers to search for the famous “lost” cities of the Incas.

I wonder if Juli (from last post), who lives in Peru, has seen this mysterious city?

No, Ghost of Mark Twain, I am not calling Juli a peasant!!

(Darn that Mark -- always trying to get me into trouble)

As Wynonna Earp, whom we both love, said last episode --

"Single mothers are superheroes."


By the way, 
Wynonna Earp 
has been picked up 
for a Third Season!


But back to 
Machu Picchu

The excited Bingham spread the word about his discovery in a best-selling book, 

sending hordes of eager tourists flocking to Peru to follow in his footsteps up the Inca trail. 

The site itself stretches an impressive five miles, with over 3,000 stone steps linking its many different levels. 

Today, more than 300,000 people tramp through Machu Picchu every year, 

braving crowds and landslides to see the sun set over the towering stone monuments of the  

“Sacred City” 

and marvel at the mysterious splendor of one of the world’s most famous man-made wonders.

Would anything Man has made today survive abandonment for 400 years? 

What do you think?


Why DO I Love Wynonna Earp So Much?
Here's Why:

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Around the WORLD with WYNONNA EARP



TV reaction videos on YouTube 
have become increasingly popular.  

Why?


Mirror Neurons and Empathy.

When a macaque monkey reaches for food, certain neurons light up in its brain. 

Those same neurons light up when the monkey sees a human reach for food, too. 

Later named mirror neurons, some believe these cells are active in human brains as well,

Mirror neurons could explain why we smile when we see someone else smile.

What would Wynonna say about all my theorizing 
why I like to watch YouTube reactions 
to her episodes?




I drop in on my fellow Earpers all around the globe and 

smile at their enjoyment of the show which has often been a light in recent dark times.



ARGENTINA




How could I not stop to visit with Denisa, Clara, and Fernanda 

who dressed like Doc Holliday complete with moustaches and Western attire 

for their 1st reaction?


On their 2nd video, 

Fernanda donned a Spiderman mask whenever a scary scene appeared to hide her squeamish expression.

They exude so much fun and friendship, I feel lighter with each visit.  You even learn a bit of Argentina's culture, foods, personalities -- with a bit of joyful cosplay thrown in!


CZECH REPUBLIC

Honey, nickname, of the YouTube channel, Leska's Keryon,



has my kind of luck ...

Her laptop died keeping her from making her reactions to Wynonna 

that sparkle with wit and charm.

She has just switched to a desktop computer that is hobbled with Windows XP ...

AND she still did a standout job on her reaction to the latest episode of Wynonna.

Pay her a visit and let her know what a great job she did, will you?




NORWAY


Natalie gets so caught up in the lives of the those in the series it is a joy to watch.  

She connects with Waverly especially ...

and who can blame her  ... 

especially when she is forced to sing to save her life?

And when I followed her on Twitter just to express my concern for her not posting for a time, 

she sent me this reply she had posted earlier on Twitter:




PERU


 How could I not enjoy visiting Juli, a lady who likes Wonder Woman and Supergirl?  

I do not see how she finds the time to do so many reactions while raising a child.

I guess she is a Wonder Woman herself!

I know her laughter and sense of humor are wonderful.





CANADA




 Dropping in on Sofia Rojas is inspirational.

All of you know of my grueling schedule as a rare blood courier, 

but Sofia puts me to shame infusing such enthusiasm and laughter into her reactions 

after working 72 hours in only a few days.





I couldn't help but laugh when Sofia groaned 

at the clueless woman not seeing the ghoul right behind her:

"This is how white people die!" 

No matter how exhausted I am from blood runs, her reactions make me feel better.

I wait each week for her delightful takes on the episodes.

On vacation now, her Wynonna's downloads take almost as long as mine.




UNITED KINGDOM


No matter how down I am, I feel transformed by the laughter of Leanne Heynes and her brother, Bradley.

Watching them try to high-five one another only to smack each other on the forehead or 

bicker about each one over-riding the other's enjoyment of the episode is such great fun.

Hearing them chuckle at Waverly telling a stranger trying to explain Kanye West to her:

"I'm British not elderly."

They laughed at how Americans think the British are so far behind-the-times. 

***


TONI LITTY



 Just where in the UK Toni resides is a mystery to me, but I love her sincere enthusiasm for Wynonna 

and desire for this show to succeed.

And since I am doing blood runs during the cast's live tweets during the show, I have missed them.

But Toni has started recording her reactions to them while the show is going on.

Now, I am connected.

Thank you, Toni!  My Stetson's off to you.




SWEDEN/now in VANCOUVER


Ylva V infuses such delight and innocence in her reactions that it is recharging to visit her.

Her twin Swedish/Canadian perspective spins my own perception of Wynonna and her clan.

To see her fangirl over Dominique (Waverly) saying she loved her unique name so much

 that she would name her daughter Ylva made me smile despite my weariness.

 Ylva would fit right in here in Louisiana ...
 except for this terrible heat!





EASTERN EUROPE now America



Eden Singer said in one of her reactions to the second season of Supergirl 

that as an Eastern European refugee,

she identified with Kara and with feeling Other.

She brings that unique perspective and sensitivity to her reactions on Wynonna Earp.

I see beyond myself whenever I visit her video home.  Thanks, Eden.

Representing everyone means a lot to Eden and so a show like Wynonna Earp means a lot to her.

Here is her latest reaction:






Marcie DeFeo


I believe I am visiting Canada when I pop by her front room,

 but I cannot seem to find concrete data to support that feeling.

But Marcie was the first Wynonna reaction video I stumbled upon, and it would be rude not to thank her.

Marcie started reacting to Wynonna on the 4th episode of the first season.

Imagine her shock when her co-workers said they loved her reactions.


She thought she was merely talking to strangers!


Marcie's manner is so natural and fun 

that you feel as if you are a welcome friend in her living room, sharing a great program.


All of these warm, loving ladies will never know me, but I am lucky and honored to have met them -- 

 if only on YouTube.


Though from different corners of the world, they are all great ambassadors for the lesbian community.

As I had my fictional hero, Samuel McCord say:

"Life is so hard, and love so seldom found, who am I to object when and where two lonely souls find it?"

Monday, July 17, 2017

What keeps the TALENTED from GREATNESS?


“Principles are good and worth the effort
 only when they develop into deeds."

  “The great doesn’t happen through impulse alone, 
but is a succession of little things
 that are brought together.”  
 -Van Gogh 


Teachers have long thought 

that there is in this present culture an ethical weaknesses and intellectual poverty 

that keep even the most gifted young people from ascending to greatness.


But I remind myself of the words of Virginia Wolfe in Orlando:
 
“It is probable that the human spirit has its place in the time assigned to it.” 




1) The QUAGMIRE of CONTEMPLATION

 Contemplators love the study of nature but only for its aesthetic qualities :

the sublime spectacles, the beautiful forms, the splendid colors, and the graceful structures.

 To linger over-long in the realm of faerie 

is to miss out as the world -- and your opportunities -- move on without you.




2.) When LABEL becomes the GOAL not the CONSEQUENCE of ACTION

One did not become a knight merely by parading about in a suit of armor.

No, knighthood was found in deeds --

as the term author is reserved for those who complete the books in their heads.

"He who knows and acts is the one who counts, 
not he who knows and falls asleep. 

We render a tribute of respect to those who add original work to a library, 
and withhold it from those who carry a library around in their head."
- Santiago Ramón y Cajal




3.) Eat a STEAK by swallowing 
the WHOLE COW

We all have heard the term "Baby Steps."

Why did so many great writers start out by writing short stories?

They grew by doing, of course.

But also each successful sale reinforced their desire 

to write more stories that blossomed into writing novels.

This principle pertains to most things in life:

Tackle small problems first, so that if success smiles and strength increases,

 one may then undertake the great feats 




4.) The MAP is NOT the JOURNEY

The journey does not take itself.

Don't plan -- WRITE

Plotting your novel in detail may feel like writing, but it is not.

Writing one sentence, one chapter after another -- THAT is writing.

Plan too much and you increase the odds of your novel being dead on arrival.

Even if it is finished, 

the spark and spontaneity will have vanished like that iridescent rainbow that shimmered so beautifully in the storm clouds.


Writing is not building a house.  It is an art.

Do you think Van Gogh or Picasso outlined their paintings?

The best stories we read, the ones we aspire to write, 

are the ones that leave us in a more mysterious world than we knew at the start, 

stories that illuminate questions rather than answers.




5.) Our MUSCLES grow 
BY USING them

The same is true of any skill:

We LEARN by DOING

"The water does not flow
 until the faucet is turned on."  
- Louis L'Amour

The best writing happens when the writer is discovering what happens as he or she is creating.


OF COURSE 

I am not the Yardstick of the Universe so these are merely my suggestions for you to reflect upon.

I hope I have at least amused you.

If not:

Saturday, July 15, 2017

WORLD'S LAZIEST COUNTRIES?


"Your assumptions are your windows on the world. 
Scrub them off every once in a while,
or the light won't come in.”
- Isaac Asimov


The headlines blare:

AMERICANS LAZIER THAN 
CITIZENS 
IN CHINA OR U.K.

How did they come to that astounding conclusion?

From a new study published in the latest edition of NATURE 

by a team of scientists from Standford University.

The research team analyzed the number of daily steps 

taken by more than 700,000 people worldwide, 

collected via the smartphone Argus activity monitoring app. 

All told, they amassed 68 million days of data.


 Their findings? 


The average number of daily steps worldwide, they said, was 4,961. 

But that number varied widely from country to country. 

In top-place Hong Kong, for example, survey participants took an average of 6,880 steps a day. 

In Indonesia, the average was just 3,513, putting it at the bottom of the rankings.


REALLY?


You and I may not be scientists, but I am sure you can see the glaring flaw.

As I wrote about yesterday, 

Technology seems to delude people into thinking everyone is like them.


The sample is quite obviously heavily biased.
 
 Most people in poorer countries cannot even dream of having a device which measures their steps.
 
Think the South American jungles, African hinterlands, 
 
the desert homeland of the Australian aborigines, the impoverished third country citizens ...

You can easily add to the list ...
 
So you know that the vast majority of people in those countries
 
walk huge distances but their steps are not recorded.
 
 
SO WHY THE HEADLINES?
 
 
Nothing in the study suggests that people who walk less are lazy.
 
 But it was great click-bait!
 
 It worked on you, me, and others.
 
 
CONCLUSION? 

Beware getting your view of the world through reading headlines.  

 
UFF!
 


Ghost of Mark Twain here brushing this fool boy aside so as to make sense of his nonsense ... 

Again.

"We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it 

and stop there lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove lid.

 She will never sit down on a hot stove lid again 
and that is well

 but also she will never sit down
 on a cold one anymore either!"



What do you pilgrims 
think about all this?