Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Inspired



I'm revamping the blog and website to simply inspire. I will be keeping track of all the things that inspire me and asking people to send me links or designs, artwork, ANYTHING, that inspires them as well. The idea is to create a collaborative work space where people can go to find inspiration from those who actively seek it out in their daily lives. The website is bare, and so is the blog, but if people care to contribute I will incorporate their work and inspiration into this space. Also, I hope to feature a weekly (or monthly depending on how it goes) Visionary. If you have work you want to share with anyone or want to nominate someone, contact me at pen_your_brain@outlook.com.

For now, here are some things to inspire.

Listening: Tool-Lateralus
Reading:  The Golem & the Jinni by Helene Wecker
Watching: High Planes Drifter
Feeling: Meditative (feeling's chart lol)
Tarot Card: The Fool



Monday, September 23, 2013

The Hero's Journey



Stuck in your novel? Can't quite figure out what that next step is for your character even if you know where they're going in the long run?

The most inspiring book I've picked up in a while is Joseph Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Basically, this book is about the steps of the journey of the hero and their universality in the mythologies, dreams, and stories of different cultures all over the world. It's a dense read but well worth the investment to unlock that door that's been holding you back from progressing to the next stage in your novel, screenplay, short story, what have you.

The first three chapters are introductory, explaining the nature and universality of the journey of the hero. The chapters that follow are broken up into step by step descriptions of the journey with anecdotal stories from mythology, religion, fairy tales, and more from varying cultures. I'd suggest this book for any writer who intends to create a compelling adventure for their hero, whether or not you are stuck.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Links for Sci-Fi and Fantasy Writers

I was doing some research for getting my blog out there and this website popped up. http://www.otherworlds.net/frameset.htm. It offers writing workshops, critique opportunities from people who are serious writers of the Sci-Fi/Fantasy genres, and the opportunity to help out others. One of the really cool things on this site is that there is a discussion about world building! (I love nerds, sigh*). Check it out. 

Books to Read:
There are always too many good books to read. Usually I have a list of books I want to read and then someone hands me a book or I find one that isn't on the list and I'm thrown into some adventure that takes twenty books to complete. Rant on my less-than-one-track-mind aside, here are a few great books I'd suggest if you're looking for some good summer reads. 


The Dark Tower, by Stephen King. 

Most of us have read Stephen King, but many people I know who are fans of King haven't read The Dark Tower series. The strange journey of Roland Deschain through different universes is a unique tale, even by King's standards, that fuses fantasy with an old Spaghetti-Western feel. In reading the forward, King claims (and I don't have the forward on me so this is not quoted verbatim) that The Dark Tower was inspired by The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly and Tolkein's Lord of the Rings. Click on the link above for a better description and, if you're into comic books, for links to the marvel comics. The artwork in them is amazing.

A House of Leaves, by Mark Z. Danielewski

This is one of those books that will change your entire perspective on what qualifies Horror. Frankly, it's a straight-up mind-f@#$, if I may say so. I'm not going to go into explaining the plot of the book since it's really one of those books that you just must read, but I will say that the structure is unique. There are pages on which the text itself spirals around the edge of the page to a point in the center like looking down a flight of spiral stairs. These strangely formatted pages reflect the state of mind of the character as he is going through them. Enough said. Check out the above link for a good book review.







Perdido Street Station, By China Meiville

This book is exactly what I'm talking about when I say that Genre Fiction can be incredibly unique and incredibly well-written. Mieville's characters and world are out there, dropping readers into a universe that is on a weirdness-level equivalent to Final Fantasy with its half-human half-bug people. Click on the link above for a review of this book and definitely check it out if you're into Sci-Fi.











I'll be posting more books and links, as well as exercises. 

In the meantime, PYB

P.s. Might start a new dragon logo. We all need more Dragons in our lives.

Protest Tactics Class



If you're an SNC student, my friend Chris is hosting a protest tactics class tomorrow on the lawn. Definitely worth checking out. If you're not an SNC student who can go to said class, I made a cool flyer for my friend Chris!

New Book Is Here!

My book is here!
Sure it's only the first hundred pages, and sure the font ended up having to be a full point size larger than I expected due to limited printing options, but still! It looks pretty good. Thanks Staples for having some half-decent bookbinding options!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Make your Characters Imperfect



Remember when you were a kid playing superheroes and someone in the group always decided that their superpower was to have as many powers as they wanted? You'd play one or two games and then someone would whine and the game would end because it is simply unfair for someone to have every superpower. They are unconquerable so we all know what is going to happen--they will win and everyone else will lose.


The same goes for your characters. Its easy to get so attached to your main character (or any character) that you make them as perfect as possible. Maybe they always have some sort of witty retort so they never stumble in their dialogue and it sounds unbelievable. Maybe they are a six-foot, tall, dark, and handsome who can beat up anyone they encounter and never drools a little in his sleep. Maybe they have struggles but the problems are over too quickly because the writer is too afraid to leave them hanging in that uncomfortable situation so the tension comes off as superficial drama instead.

Be sadistic! Make your character endure as much as humanly possible in whatever unfortunate circumstance they are in. Readers want to see them succeed, but it only matters that the character succeeds if the situation is difficult to get out of. To put it bawdily, tease your readers before that oh-so-important climax.

Here is the result of a short exercise I did that somewhat demonstrates this point. It was written for a different exercise (write a scene in which your character is humiliated) but the gist is the same.

For any thirteen-year-old girl, life is awkward. The gender barriers begin to bend and deflect each other in ways she's never known the day that hair begins to sprout beneath the pits, all over the legs and even...down there. 

Allison Carson was one of those lucky girls whose parents allowed her the liberty of a shaving razor at twelve, before that embarrassing hair became visible. They bought her supermarket tabloids to spare themselves the gruesome parental duty of educating her in the ways of sex appeal. They bought her clothes from American Eagle and Abercrombie&Fitch until she insisted on shopping by herself at which point they allowed her a hefty sum of spending money. 

Because of her headstrong ways, her doughty looks, her spotless fashionable clothes, Anne Carson, twelve-years-old, had many friends. But the day Anne Carson turned thirteen would change her life forever.

She awoke feeling as though she'd face-planted off the cherry-drop bars. Allison was the master of the cherry-drop. Her long, slender legs gave her more heft than most in swinging her body round to land on her feet like her cat Minxie. 

But this morning her legs did not feel long and slender. They felt like thirty Minxies had taken cat naps all over them all night. They were heavy. Her throat felt thick too, like a boa constrictor had wrapped itself around it and eaten the thirty Minxies. She groaned when she sat up, finding it difficult to open her eyes as she did every morning. She slammed her hand down on the alarm clock, but what she saw there surprised her so much that her eyes shot open wide. 

There, where her doll-like hands with the slim white fingers and polished nails should be was a chubby stub of hand with five fat fingers sticking out, each a little too far apart as if making room for the extra meat in between. The knobby knuckles were now only dimples above the finger joints. The polished nails had almost disappeared beneath the swollen cuticles. The really scary thing though was that when she moved her hand this strange hand moved as if it were hers!

Allison Carson ran to her mirror and screamed when she saw that where her beautiful face and body should be was a fat, thirteen-year-old girl who would never be able to do a cherry-drop in her life.

Poor Allison Carson. What will she do? Where does she go after hitting rock bottom? How does her outlook on life change? Does she give up? Proceed on a different path?

Here we have a character in misery who needs to find out what to do now that her life is no longer perfect. She will have to change herself to adjust to this new body and the undoubtedly new lifestyle that will come from her transformation. This is the situation that gives you a round character, someone who grows from their misfortunes for better or worse. Try it out. Put your character in misery. Imagine a time when you were the angriest you've ever been and take it all out on your poor, sad character. Put your pen on the page or your fingers on the keyboard and type for ten minutes without stopping!

Good luck,

PYB



Monday, April 8, 2013

Writing Quote of the Day



"Write drunk; edit sober."
                         Ernest Hemingway