(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
For you writers out there, a friend of mine pointed me to a great link that describes 22 “rules” for storytelling that is a great tool for validating your own story line against. A Pixar artist named Emma Coats apparently learned these from her colleagues and tweeted these in the form of “story basics” back in 2011.
I especially like #4 because it’s a great tool to help you figure out your entire story in the form of a 30 second elevator speech!
#7 also resonates with me because I like to know where I’m going before I get there. That was exactly how I wrote The Left Hand of Light!
Its finally finished. The edits to the THE LEFT HAND OF LIGHT are complete. Its been a long and transformational journey. I have spent more tears than I knew I had in me. Soon it will be time to share this effort with you. I’m anxious. I’m excited. I can’t help but wonder what you all will think of this thing I have created. Creating art forces one to stand naked before the world. When you read it, will you see me? Have I revealed too much? Will it evoke in you what it does in me every time I turn its pages?
Let’s find out together. Always together.
Hello, all! As I continue to put the finishing touches on “The Left Hand of Light,” here’s a little taste of what I’ve been working on. In this case, the opening lines of the story. More to come soon. Enjoy!
The poem at the end of this book, a Shakespearean style sonnet, was scratched into the notebook of a patient housed in a sanatorium known as Port Angel between 1886 and 1899. Though witnesses believed the patient engaged in what some refer to as automatic writing, experts disagree on whether the child, a young boy, could have authored the work, since he had been born in a catatonic state and had never been taught to read or write. He died the same year attendants discovered the poem, having never awoken from the coma he spent his life in.
The more fanatical figures of the time considered the boy to be a prophet. The controversy only grew when Port Angel was abandoned during a hurricane and the journal was lost. Rumors contended that the words scrawled on the final pages of the notebook were, “We will remember.”
Today’s the book fair! Made my first sale, like ever already 🙂
Now that I’ve hired a professional editor to help me with The Left Hand of Light (thanks, Larry Edwards!) I need to go hands-off for awhile while he works his editorial magic. (“Version control,” he says, “is critical.”)
That gives me some time to consider my next novel. For this new work, I want to really focus on structure, which I was taught is important to any good story, but has been really difficult for me to understand and appreciate until after I went through the laborious process of actually writing a long piece.
To this end, I am researching various software apps to help with story structure. I’ve been downloading and testing several apps all day. Contour looks clean and simple, but uses only a single structure based on a simplified model for screenplays. Price isn’t bad though. Save the Cat! has some interesting features but feels a bit clunky on the screen. I can’t really put my finger on it, but it feels like a toy. Dramatica Pro is probably the most in-depth structuring app of the lot and the word is that it has a steep learning curve. It has a clunky old-looking interface, but contains enough information about story structure that its almost like a creative writing class all by itself! Tempting, but also the most expensive of the bunch. Finally, there’s Power Structure, which has all the features of Contour, plus a few more structures (including plays, novels and TV screenplays.) Its list price is outrageous, but Amazon offers up to 75% off which brings it roughly to the price of Contour. It offers some helpful hints like Dramatica Pro, but with less theory. Easier to use, but less education built in.
I’m still undecided. I’ll post here as I make some choices, which will be VERY soon. I don’t like to dawdle. If anyone has used any of these products, I’d love to hear your experiences. Amazon reviewers are hit-and-miss.
Let’s make art!
Every writer has different techniques that inspires them to write their stories. I have realized that I’m soundtrack-driven. That means that when I listen to a particularly interesting song I imagine a scene of a story playing out as the music plays, just like a soundtrack in a movie. Then I feel compelled to put that scene to paper and to work out what happened before to bring that scene about and what happened after.
I wrote “The Left Hand of Light” this way. It started with a single song, called “Sweet Lullaby (Ambient Mix)” by Deep Forest.
I listened to this song–literally–over and over again for hours as the climatic battle scene played out in my mind. I recall a trip I drove to Las Vegas and this was the only song I played the entire way home. Sweet Lullaby inspired not only the epic battle between the Light and the Darkness but also the song that the blind shaman Afunakwa sings to Michael through the silver string that connects Jaylina to her soul during his darkest hour. There’s just something about this song that makes me feel we are all connected, those of us here alive in the universe and those that have already crossed to the other side.
Another great song, Crayon Dreams, by Stian Stark, was the inspiration for the scene where Jaylina meets her never-born son for the first time in Otherworld. Its hard for me not to get emotional (damn it!) when I read that scene while this music plays. Crayon Dreams is a free download by the way, and I suggest everyone add it to their playlist.
Lastly, from the same soundtrack on the Crayon Physics Deluxe game, I found Lullaby, by _ghost. This is another free download that inspired the scenes where Jaylina explores the astral plane with Michael and Martin Clayhous Martin for the first time, and really almost every scene in the astral plane.
Good writers use whatever inspires them to create. Music works for me. I especially love ethereal music without words, or in languages I can’t understand. It keeps my mind open and the ideas moving. What works for you?
Attention, sci fi fans!
For all of you packing e-readers, I’ve made my short story “Seven Days to Topside” available on Amazon for only 99 cents (which I realize isn’t going to make me rich, but covers the cost of putting it into ePub format and the cover art!)
Seven Days is the story of a futuristic sanitation technician battling rat men and other mutant critters and outwitting city officials, all while keeping the sewers clean in the City of Happy Lucky.
Have a look and please take a moment to review it out on Amazon. Every comment–good or bad–helps, seriously. Thanks, all!
Hi, all. I’m crazy-excited to reveal the book cover for “The Left Hand of Light,” a modern mythology about a broken-hearted intuitive who learns that she alone can navigate the astral plane for a dark and mysterious man searching for the soul of his lost love in the Underworld. I’m self-publishing the book this fall! If you’ve ever lost someone you love, struggled to find your place in the universe, or just like a good story about epic battles between the Light and the Dark, then this story is for you! Check in here from time to time for updates and more great news on this project. Tell me what you think and please spread the word.
The beautiful cover artwork is by the multi-talented Adelaide Marcus.
I’ve been having fun working on this book trailer for “Transmissions to the Mystic Nebula.” Tell me what you think and if you’re intrigued, consider buying the book!
The beautiful art is by the talented Ali Ries. The music, “Raise the Rain” I wrote using a great program called Reason. For now, its a free download!