Thursday, April 28, 2011

My Royal Wedding Posting (Not THAT Royal Wedding)

The big day is tomorrow! Yeah, yeah, there's some kind of shindig going on at Westminster Abbey, but I'm talking about the screening of Royal Wedding at the TCM Classic Film Festival.

Royal Wedding is a little gem, often overlooked as one Fred Astaire's best movies. Directed by Stanley Donen, the 1951 film stars Fred and Jane Powell as a brother/sister dancing team going to London for the royal nuptials of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip. Of course there's romance and hijinks and plenty of dancing.

One of the highlights of the film is the sequence where Fred Astaire dances on the ceiling. It is flat-out awesome and a remarkable achievement of choreography, filmmaking, and ingenuity.

See for yourself:



Once you've picked your jaw up off the floor, you may want to know how that was done. A revolving room was created and a camera mounted to follow the room. Someone on YouTube was kind enough to deconstruct the scene.



Even though Fred Astaire makes everything look easy, we know that it's not. There was an intense level of planning behind the scenes to make it look effortless. There was the director, the choreographer, the dancer, the cameraman, the crew, on down to the guy who bolted the furniture to the floor.

And that gives me so much hope. Because it all started with imagination. One person came up with a seemingly impossible idea and convinced others that it could be done. And they did it!

As writers, we have impossible ideas all the time. But I know I get discouraged sometimes, thinking that I'll never be able to convince others that they are worthwhile. The next time I feel that way, I will remember Fred dancing on the ceiling. And I will no longer think "How does he do that?" Instead, I will say, "I can dance on ceilings, too."

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What To Do About Writer's Block (because it doesn't really exist)


Sometimes you reach that point in your story when you want to hit your head against a brick wall. Repeatedly.

The flow is gone. The characters are flat. The dialog limps along.

Or your beautifully structured outline crumbles like graham crackers. Don't your characters know they're supposed DO THIS, NOT THAT?!?

Or you've got too many ideas and don't know which one to write. Or you've got no ideas, at least nothing that has that spark, that makes you want to write.

Whatever the situation, writer's block is that point when a writer stops.

Sometimes that's a good thing. Taking a break away from a project can let the ideas percolate and that moment will come (usually while in the shower, or driving, or doing dishes) when you can't wait to go back the story because now you know what to do.

But others let writer's block be an excuse for not writing. At all. And there is no excuse for this. Because writer's block does not exist. Writer's block is merely a problem that hasn't been solved. Yet.

Let me repeat that. Writer's block is merely a problem that hasn't been solved. Yet.

If you've ever been a paid writer, then you know there is no such thing as writer's block. You can't wait for the moment of inspiration. You can't expect every line will be pure gold. You buckle down and write. Because you are on deadline. And you either meet your deadline or you do not get paid.

Yes, you can get stuck. You will get stuck. But don't let that paralyze you. If you are serious about writing, just like all those paid writers who know that writer's block doesn't exist, then you will buckle down and WRITE.

Here are a few tips to help you when you're ready to hit your head against the brick wall:
  • If scenes are feeling flat, try shaking things up. Use a different POV. Use a different tense. Instead of two characters in a scene, throw in a third. Let it rain. Let it snow. Let someone get stung by a bee. Whatever it may be, let the outside world influence your characters' world.
  • Don't be afraid to write scenes out of order. If you have an outline, or even if you don't, don't feel obligated to write straight through. Write that kiss scene, even though your characters still hate each other. Write the ending first. Write the beginning last. Often you will discover an important theme or character arc that you can then go back and weave through.
  • The "What If?" exercise is my favorite. If I'm feeling stuck with a scene or a character, I will play out different scenarios in my head (okay, sometimes I act them out). What if Tamara decides to visit her dad in Vegas for Spring Break? What if she decides to visit her dad for Spring Break and he doesn't know she's coming? What if he's not there? What if all she finds in his apartment is a bloody t-shirt and $25K in cash? The idea is to see where the story goes and to keep it going for as long as you can. If one "What If?" isn't working, try another one. Hey, they're free!
What are some of the tricks that you use when you're stuck? I'd love to know!

Monday, April 11, 2011

I Heart Libraries!

In honor of National Library Week, I thought I'd post some of my favorite library related videos.

Cookie Monster in the library:




Old Spice parody in the library:




Mr. Bean in the library:



Library Girl music video:



Ghostbusters parody in the library:




Erik the Librarian:




Grover in the library:




Please share some of your favorite library videos!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Debut Author Challenge - March Update


The motif for March was fierce redheads who find themselves leaving the world they knew behind for something not only completely different, but downright scary.

The first redhead was Amy in Across the Universe by Beth Revis, reviewed here. The second redhead was Ellie in Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton, reviewed here. I don't know what it is about redheads, but apparently there's something in their genes that gives them extra kick-ass-itude. (Yes, I just made up that word.)

The thing I loved about both Amy and Ellie is the fact that they're not afraid to be afraid. They react to incredible obstacles like a normal human would. They cry. They run. They hide. But then they overcome their fears to take a stand against big, scary obstacle. Even if they think they may fail. Even if they think they may die. That's kick-ass-itude (Can I get that trademarked?).

So March was a good reading month. Now I'm reading Bumped by Megan McCafferty, which I'm enjoying. (I may also have time to read a second book for April, but I'll leave that as a surprise.) Entwined by Heather Dixon has been ordered by my library, and I'll probably get that in time for May.

What are you reading this month? Do the characters have kick-ass-itude? (Okay, I'll stop now.)

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