Friday, August 31, 2012

The formula

In 2011, one of Pixar's story artists, Emma Coats, tweeted a series of 22 rules of storytelling. It's kind of genius I feel. See, I should start by saying I'm a HUGE fan of Pixar. For years when anyone asked me my dream job I would say "to work at Pixar." I knew it was just a dream but it was a good dream to have.

Anyway, one of the rules she tweeted was as follows....

Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.

The first time I looked at it, I though 'nah, it's way more complex than that.' Then I looked a little bit harder. Actually no, it's not. It's not more complex than that at all because that really is a typical formula of a story. Whether it's a movie, a novel, a short story, a cartoon or a miniseries that is the typical story. Hey even TV shows follow this formula.

Take Grey's Anatomy for example because for some reason that's popped into my head. Every episode has lots of blood and medicine and general hospital craziness but each episode follows the formula.

Once upon a time there was Meredith Grey. Every day, She goes to work at the hospital with her lover and friends. One day a ferry boat had a big crash. Because of that, the doctors had to race to the scene and try and save all the people. Because of that, Meredith fell into the water and almost drowned. Until finally she's rescued and taken to hospital and survives and everything goes back to normal.

Sure there are repercussions of her drowning. She stays in hospital for a while. It brings Derek and Meredith closer together and then puts a wedge between them, but ultimately, the next episode will start all over. Another day at Seattle Grace with more drama and tragedy.

I had never really thought about how the simple the formula can look on paper. It can be really incredibly difficult to fill in the gaps. It can take weeks, months... even years to come up with really good material to fill the gaps. But the basic formula seems to stay the same.

Some authors have other formulas they follow, which often makes for a very different style of story. I'm curious to know what other formulas people use? Perhaps they miss a step or two out...

One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.

Or repeat some steps

Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.

What's your formula?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

RTW: Best Book of August...

Wednesday already? Holy moly, the weeks are flying by! So for those who don't know, Road Trip Wednesday is a blog hop hosted by YA Highway!

This week's question...

Best book in August?
I can't believe it's nearing the end of August. Time is really flying! Feels like just yesterday I was writing about the best book of July!
This questions was a no brainer for me. While I've read a couple of interesting books this month, the one that has really captured me is Hourglass by Myra McEntire. 
I'd heard a few good things about this book in the past and when I came across it while looking for some new books for my kindle, I thought I might as well give it a try. I couldn't put it down. In fact, I got grumpy when I reached my subway stop on the way to work and had to stop reading! 

I found the book to be well written, captivating and it wasn't infuriating as some novels are with their love stories and ways of presenting the conflict. You are given enough information to be satisfied while still wanting more yet you're not left totally in the dark feeling frustrated by the whole situation.

Here's the plot
For seventeen-year-old Emerson Cole, life is about seeing what isn't there: swooning Southern Belles; soldiers long forgotten; a haunting jazz trio that vanishes in an instant. Plagued by phantoms since her parents' death, she just wants the apparitions to stop so she can be normal. She's tried everything, but the visions keep coming back.So when her well-meaning brother brings in a consultant from a secretive organization called the Hourglass, Emerson's willing to try one last cure. But meeting Michael Weaver may not only change her future, it may change her past.

Who is this dark, mysterious, sympathetic guy, barely older than Emerson herself, who seems to believe every crazy word she says? Why does an electric charge seem to run through the room whenever he's around? And why is he so insistent that he needs her help to prevent a death that never should have happened?
There's a nice mix of romance, suspense, intrigue, drama, heartbreak, comedy and each chapter leaves you wanting more. It's obviously not a completely novel idea but the way it's presented is very original. I also love the fact it's set in Tennessee... I haven't read many books set there! It's cool. There are some time travel/ability style elements in it and sometimes I find hard to fully grasp the concept of time travel and how everything fits on the time and space continuum but it was really well done. Well written and captivating.

Now I'm on to the next book in the series and it's just as addictive. In fact I've started road reading again (three points if you know the book I got that term from!). When you live in NYC road reading is really not a smart idea. sigh.....

Friday, August 24, 2012

My [strange] Writing Snacks

It might just be me ... but when I write, plan or brainstorm I get really hungry.

Does anyone else get this problem?

I start snacking. (Ugh, I must have a problem. I wrote the word snacking and then immediately went to grab a snack... sigh)

Anyway, I've been watching my snacking choices over the last week and they seem to be getting stranger...

I started with a cup full of grapes - delicious, right?! Then I started snacking on kettle corn - sweet and salty and oh so good. I tried Kale Chips - now they were delicious, and I'd grab some carrots and tomatoes now and then too. None of these are particularly strange. In fact they're reasonably acceptable snacks.

Check out my skill! Not bad eh!

Brace yourself for what I'm about to tell you. You may think me nuts. Or you may think me a food genius. I think the latter.... my FH thinks the former.

I'm a celiac. In fact I have all sorts of strange dietary requirements (one of which is coffee, le sigh). Anyway, I do love me some gluten free bread. Of course my gluten free bread typically needs to stay in the freezer and it seems to take longer than normal bread to toast. I get lazy and impatient waiting for it to toast..... so I eat it frozen.

Maybe not so strange, back when I could eat gluten I would eat frozen normal bread. Anyway, alongside eating frozen bread, I have an addiction to Nutella. I think this has pretty much been a lifelong addiction if I'm being honest here...

In this extreme heat, I've noticed my Nutella melts into liquid. Now you could look in the tub and say "oh no, what will I do now? It's a crime against Nutella to put it in the fridge, but it's turned to liquid!" or you could go down my route of crazy and say "hey, it looks like dipping chocolate" and consequently use the Nutella like fondue with the frozen bread.

I tell you, Nutella and frozen bread is a winning, disgusting, delicious combination and I'm sure somewhere in the hazelnuts it releases creative juices to help with the writing process. Trust me on this one....

 File:Chocolate spread.png

Of course you then need to invest in some serious gym time later that day.... but it's totally worth it.

What's your favourite writing snack? (Seriously, I need to stop eating so much Nutella...)