Tag Archives: New York

Lack of Motivation

30 Jan

Sometimes, it’s hard to make the time to sit down and write. Period.
I’ve had teachers say that you make time for something you love and that is the pure truth. I commend professional writers who are only at the mercy of their own will power. Apparently, my will power went out the window the moment I decided to give myself some a day or two off from blogging at the holidays. Well, those few days turned into weeks and now I need to get back to it.
So, here’s what I’m going to try to work on this coming year to make sure I’m meeting my dedication to this blog and my writing projects:

1) Find a cool topic twice per week to post here on the blog
2) Take a writing class (got a Gotham 1-day intensive for my b-day, just need to use it!)
3) Use my new digital recorder to record ideas and stories lines I come up with while commuting everyday to work.

If I can keep these 3 things up, then I think I’ll be setting myself up to getting the ball rolling this year on my creative writing. It’s a resolution with a plan so according to all the New Year’s Resolution articles, it has about a 120% chance of working. Ok, I just made that up, but let’s hope it’s at least pushing 90% so I have a chance ūüôā

What are your NY Resolutions? Do any of them have anything to do with your writing?

 

English: Two New Year's Resolutions postcards

Image via Wikipedia

 

Peek into Screenwriting

21 Sep

As I mentioned last week, Gotham Writer’s Workshop (GWW) offered a set of free introductory courses in NYC on Sept 20th & 21st. The classes filled up quickly as I found out when I applied to attend a course on the 21st and¬†was told in the next 10 minutes that it was already filled…along with almost every other course listed for that date. This place is popular and there is no shortage of writers in NYC & its periphery, so I suppose I expected it to be that hard to get into a class.

Well, in the end a friend of mine decided to take the Creative Writing 101 course on Tuesday night and I decided that I had done that already in my GWW Fiction 1 intensive last year, so I sprung for something out of my comfort zone – screenwriting.

Now, I am a movie addict. I watched ‘Titanic’ SIX times in theaters and cried every single time Kate Winslet wouldn’t let Jack on that perfectly large-enough-for-you-and-your-lover piece of debris. ANYWAY, I digress… The point I’m trying to actually make is that I love the medium of film but it had never occurred to me to write a screenplay. Sitting in this class, though, I can see myself eagerly transforming my novel into a screenplay and quite easily.

As per usual, GWW excelled in bringing a highly educated, smart, engaging teacher to this class. This time around, I had the pleasure of learning from screenwriter, novelist and director,¬†Richard Uhlig. He attended NYU grad school and has his MFA in Screen Writing from the American Film Institute. Mr. Uhlig was very personable and in the 60-minute span had lots of insightful comments, suggestions and stories to tell. We worked through two different 5-minute writing exercises and everyone was engaged and there was great energy in the room. If I lived closer, I would¬†definitely¬†take his class just to learn something new. Today, in reading about him some more on his website, I learned he has also written 2 novels (covers shown below). You can read the first chapter of his second novel, “Boy Minus Girl”, on his site and it is very engaging an immediately I was transported into the life of this bored, horny teenage boy who desperately wants to hook up with his dream girl and flee Kansas as quickly as possible…and did I mention there’s a Charlie Sheen type Uncle that apparently takes him under his wing to learn the lay of the land of ladies? Oh yeah…I need to get this book asap.

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Anyway, regarding screenwriting… Here are a few tips Mr. Uhlig shared in class that I think are really useful. As a way to break some writer’s block, maybe take a step back from your project and turn a scene into a screen play to better visualize where you want your piece to go.

1) Movies are all about IMAGES. Iconic images that you remember forever. His one example was of the girl getting sucked under water by an unseen create as she swims through the water…aka JAWS.

2) In screenplays you can only write about what you can SEE and HEAR. The ‘internalization’ found in narrative can be adopted to film with voice overs, but they are what drive a movie.

3) The job of a screenwriter is to emotionally involve your audience using IMAGES. Dialogue is secondary.¬†As with most writing, SHOW don’t TELL.

4) Screenplays are written in the PRESENT tense. “The girl is sucked under the water by an unknown creature.”

5) Visual images, songs, characters, conversations, places are all great inspiration for screenplays…and other types of writing, as well. Follow the inspirations you find and work with them to create your screenplay.

6) COMMIT to writing daily. Make a schedule. Be adamant about keeping fresh with your writing. As Mr. Uhlig said last night and I’ve heard time and again, “writing begets writing.”

7) Particularly with screenplays, DON’T write in the shots or micromanage actors. The shots are determined by the director and the actors will interpret the character as they see fit. You want to give both directors, actors and editors enough information to go on, but not too much as to stifle them.

As for me, I presented during on the five-minute writing pieces in class and I think it really is telling of my character in “Alternate Ending” so I’m going to roll with it…take inspiration where you can find it – it’s all over the place!

Happy Writing!

Workshops| New York City | 42 Free Writing Classes – Gotham Writers’ Workshop Fall Open House

15 Sep

If you’re in the NYC area take advantage of these great FREE writing courses. Gotham is excellent. I took a one-day intensive Fiction class this time last year and it really helped get the ball rolling & my mind churning with new ideas…take advantage of this deal if you can!

If you’re prepping for NANOWRIMO 2011 this November, these classes could be a great place to start getting your preparations in place for that awesome month-long creative journey!

Happy writing…

Click on the Image below to get more info!

Location, location, location…

1 Sep

Sometimes a story, poem, rant can take shape without a single character in mind and you just start writing about a place or a time that inspires your imagination. Yesterday, in a bit of a lull, I had this sudden urge to write and the only thing that took shape was a setting: Irish hilly countryside. No characters, just a long description filled with my memories and my imagination of what this bit of place looked, felt, sounded, even smelled like.

Using as many of your 5 senses as possible…and the 6th, too, ¬†if you’ve got it handy…try and imagine a single place. No people. Just take in every ounce of information you can from the place you are or that you are imagining. Even if you’re in a crowded subway car or coffee shop, sit still and imagine what it would be like if you were a fly on the wall really taking in every element of the space you inhabit. Let the place be its own character. Give it personality or take it from the elements you observe.

Here are some exercises I think are useful:

1) Dig up an old picture of a place you have been. A scene from the canals in Amsterdam, a lake in rural Minnesota where you & your family used to go, a mountain range, even a shot of your backyard. What are those places like when there is no one around? Does the grass sigh with relief when it finally rains, giving off that earthly smell? Do the empty streets in the summer sizzle under the sun? What animals appear when no people are present and take shape to the landscape?

2) Think of one location in particular and use your five senses to describe it during all four seasons: a view of it in summer, fall, winter and spring. Then, take a look at it during those weeks in the year that cradle two seasons. Are the leaves teetering on the verge of falling, but they wait an extra week to deny winter is really coming? Do the cacti soak up as much water as they can from the last rain of the year, bracing for the 10 months of drought to come?

3) Describe a place that does not exist…to your knowledge. If writing fantasy or sci fi interests you, write about a mythical or made up place. Are there plants? What does it smell like? Do animals inhibit the area? Is the air thick with humidity or thin/non existent because of the atmosphere? Take it to the next level and try not to pull from the places you’ve seen/read about in sci fi or fantasy shows/books. Create your own, unique mythical setting.

Perhaps with the setting in front of you and tackled in depth, this exercise can lead to the development of characters for your novel/short story. Once you have a clear vision of the place they inhabit (permanently or temporarily) in your story, you can build your characters’ personalities, expressions, vernacular, etc.

Here’s one of my own pictures in case you need some inspiration:

Rules of Civility

25 Aug

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

Working in the publishing industry, I have the pleasure of getting invited to and working at Book Fairs around the world. At this year’s Book Expo in NYC, I gathered up a stack of galleys and autographed books, as per usual.¬†One that I’ve had crunched into my overloaded bookcase since May is titled “Rules of Civility” by first time novelist, Amor Towles, and so far it is one of my favorite reads of the summer.

The cover itself was alluring and¬†reminiscent¬†of Old Hollywood, though it takes place in the late 1930s in New York City. The pace and rhythm of Towles’ prose is enchanting. A male writer, he has found a¬†relate-able, realistic voice for his female protagonists and you are transported, very quickly and subtly,¬†to the smoky, alluring world of post-Depression 1930s New York.

Check out the book’s website:¬†Rules of Civility and run to your local bookstore / library to be transported completely to a world of wealth, power, deception, love and disappointment in a time of rebounding prosperity and war on the horizon.

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