You Want To Write? Well How About That! Here Are Some Tips From A Cat In A Hat! #amwriting

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Whether he’s teaching us how to have fun on a rainy day, or feeding us odd-colored food, or reminding us that “unless someone cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it’s not,” Theodor Geisel (a.k.a. Dr. Suess) knew how to weave an imaginative tale with an underlying message that still resonates with all ages.

I want to share with you something he once said about his writing that I particularly love:

“I tend to basically exaggerate in life, and in writing, it’s fine to exaggerate. I really enjoy overstating for the purpose of getting a laugh. It’s very flattering, that laugh, and at the same time it gives pleasure to the audience and accomplishes more than writing very serious things. For another thing, writing is easier than digging ditches. Well, actually that’s an exaggeration. It isn’t.”

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Sorry If I Freaked You Out…I’m A Writer

Dear Friend,

I was listening to you. Really I was.

You were talking about that thing you did last week at that…place – wherever it was.

See? I was listening. I was listening very intently and then you talked about that place you hiked in once that was so cut off from civilization that prehistoric tribes could live in it and never be found and suddenly, there it was.

A story idea.

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Don’t Fall Down The Rabbit Hole #amwriting #writing

I had to do some research over the weekend.

This is problematic.

The problem being that I love – I mean absolutely love – to read up on ancient cultures and civilizations. I’ve always said if I hadn’t studied theatre I could have easily become a cultural anthropologist. People fascinate me. Their daily lives, what mattered to them, how they interacted with each other and the world as it was at that time – all so very fascinating.

And when you’re pulling up WIkipedia pages and perusing university webpages and visiting online museums…oh, it’s so easy to fall down that rabbit hole and emerge bleary-eyed a few hours later, wondering where your evening has gone and realizing you only got a few of the items checked off your writer “to do” list. Continue reading

Master Class Monday: The Incomparable Neil Gaiman

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I first discovered Neil Gaiman through the movie adaptation of his novel, Stardust – a movie which happens to be my favorite movie of all time. The story has it all – fantasy, adventure, romance, heart, dastardly villains, love gone wrong…oh, it’s just wonderful. After I saw the movie, I read the book (which has a very different ending and a much more melancholy feel throughout) and I fell in love all over again. A good story is a good story, and this one was simply magic.

After that I started reading all of his stuff, of course, and I discovered that not only is he an amazing and inventive writer, he’s also very open and supportive of all writers, particularly those just starting out. He’s done countless interviews discussing writing tips and strategies, and his advice is spot-on and without a lot of B.S. His main piece of advice?

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MasterClass Monday: Nobody Could Paint With Words Like Ray Bradbury #amwriting #YA

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I know, I know….I’m going old school here. But you have to know that I grew up reading old-school sci-fi, courtesy of an older brother who was a Star Trek fiend (and got me hooked as well). He handed me a dog-eared copy of The Martian Chronicles when I was eleven, and that was that. From that point, I read everything Ray Bradbury ever wrote. I went to Mars. I traveled through a moving mural on a wall into a veldt in Africa. I watched stories move in tattoos and flew with an April Witch. The man wrote dystopian futures and strange alternate worlds and influenced so much of what I wanted to capture in my own writing.

And here, in a lecture given in 2001, he gives twelve remarkable pointers to the young writers gathered at the Point Loma Nazarene University’s Writer’s Symposium By The Sea. I found a lot here that was so very spot-on helpful, but one point he made I’ve used over and over again as a writing exercise: Continue reading

I Revisited A Moment Of Magic – And Found What My Story Was Missing

So I was talking with my daughter yesterday about some of the differences between where I grew up and where I live now. I grew up in the desert Southwest (though my early years I was bouncing around – my dad was military), in a small New Mexico town. Now we live in semi-rural Pennsylvania, and the topography is more than a little different.

I was trying to describe to her the first time I saw fireflies. I was seventeen, and vacationing in Illinois at the home of some old family friends, when they all came out at dusk. I was blown away. I’d heard of them, of course (except, I think they called them ‘lightening bugs’ instead of fireflies) but to actually see one – let alone a whole yard full of them – was honest-to-God just a moment of magic.

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