Random Inspirations

Welcome to my blog, full of fun inspirations and insights on writing, self-publishing, and more!

“You Are a Cinema”: Why Books Have Become More Like Movies

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As writers, we’re sometimes so enveloped in our word games that we forget we’re entertainers, too. Sure, some people read to become more informed and educated, but many, especially in my audience (YA) pick up a book purely for entertainment purposes.

In today’s endless stream of TV, movies, and social networks, books have more competition than ever. Luckily, the widespread use of tablets and e-readers has enabled reading to become more tech-y, fresh, and fun!

The physical manifestation of books hasn’t been the only thing to change. The basic literary structure of commercial fiction has evolved as well, with books becoming more like movies.

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Today’s writing gurus eschew traditional elements of storyline, such as backstory. The novels of yesteryear began with lengthy sections of backstory: where the main characters came from, what they looked like, and what their life stories were. Modern writers drop their readers right into the action, filling in bits and pieces of backstory later. Just as movie-goers walk out of a slow-starting film, today’s readers, agents, and editors quickly lose interest in books with tons of backstory.

Character dialogue, interior monologues, and descriptive sections in today’s literature also mirror movies in pace and language. The flowery prose of our writing forefathers has been replaced by snappy dialogue and fast-flowing action. Today’s authors don’t underestimate readers’ intelligence by spoon-feeding them all the descriptive details of a scene; instead, they stretch readers’ imaginations by encouraging readers to fill in the blanks. In this way, readers become more engaged.

Even the chapter structure has become shorter, like scenes of a movie. Some classic novels feature chapters that drag on and on…but today, two or three-page chapters aren’t out of the ordinary and five-page chapters are the norm. Novels are broken up into smaller, more manageable chunks, and given the information overload we all face today, that can only be a good thing.

And finally, many authors are filming “trailers” of their novels before launching them.  Book trailers pump up the existing fans, and the searchability of YouTube expands the fan base further. Book trailers may not be as hyped as movie trailers, but they certainly get the word out and generate buzz for today’s exciting new works of literature!

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The “Write” of Spring: Three Fun Prompts for Creative Writers

Welcome Spring! It’s time to feel energized, fresh, and above all, creative. With that in mind, I want to introduce my first ever interactive blog. As a tribute to yesterday’s vernal equinox, here are three Spring-themed writing prompts for all you creative writers out there. Let them inspire your journaling sessions, fiction, or blog posts…and let me know how they’ve stimulated or provoked your thoughts!!

Writing Prompts:

1. “Under Aries”– In case you’re not an astro-weirdo (my brother’s term for people like myself who loooove astrology), we are now under Aries, the first sign of the Zodiac…and we’ll be there until April 20th! As someone born under Aries, I have always felt unusually excited, positive, and energetic during this time. Are you a super-inspired version of yourself under your astrological sign? Or is it just pre- and post-birthday excitement?

2. “Spring Weather Fail”– Right now in Chicago, it’s 20 degrees out. Fahrenheit, not Celsius. And with all the cute spring clothes for sale, I think that’s positively criminal. Last spring, however, was magical. My birthday (March 25th) was 70 degrees! How is the spring weather in your neighborhood? What is the most epic “Spring Weather Fail” you can imagine? Write a story about it!

3. “In Like a ____, Out Like a ____”– “In like a lion, out like a lamb.” It’s the oldest, most cliche way to talk about March. As a rule, cliches should be avoided in writing. But how about a new twist on cliches? In my new manuscript, the heroine, who is an award-a-holic, uses cliches in innovative ways. For example, her boyfriend is “not the sharpest trophy in the case,” instead of “not the sharpest tool in the shed.” What’s a new take on the cliche, “In like a lion, out like a lamb?” How about some of your other favorite cliches?

I hope these prompts will give you something to think (and write) about!

Last spring, the weather was magical. This spring...not so much. But I remain hopeful.

Last year was the “Spring Weather Anti-Fail.” This year…not so much.

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Art and Tech Savvy? Why Today’s Writers Have to be Both

Ever since I could hold a pencil, writing has been one of my absolute favorite activities. There’s something amazing about creating an entire world of characters who come to life on the page, and having other people read about and love them.

Technology, on the other hand, was never my forte. I was raised to play outside and enjoy musical, artistic, and literary pursuits, but my family never put much emphasis on having the latest tech-y gadgets. When I had to do computer activities in school, I usually recruited some boys to do the dirty work. I wasn’t completely technologically ignorant, but I was decidedly average.

Now, however, as a creative writer who is–gasp–aspiring to write full-time, I realize that my product (i.e. my stories) is not the only important part of the puzzle. In order to be a successful (i.e. financially viable) writer in the information age, creating a platform through blogs, an author website, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media is as crucial as the writing itself.

I know I’m not alone in my passion for literature and my relative apathy for all things tech-y. At a writing conference, many other attendees echoed my sentiments. But by the end of the three-day weekend, I was convinced that I had to build a better platform. It’s especially important for writers who intend to self-publish e-books. However, even writers going the route of agent and traditional publisher need a robust platform. I watched a webinar with literary agent Sarah Megibow, and she stated that one of the “wow” factors with her clients is the author platform. How they blog and interact with their audience sets them apart.

For most writers, the journey of reconciling the right brain (the creative, literary side) and the left brain (the logical, analytic side) is one that can’t be navigated alone. That’s why it’s great to build a team, and capitalize on each member’s strengths. The passions of each team member will combine to create unparalleled synergy. In my “team,” I concentrate on writing, blogging, and social media. Antonio, my own personal IT expert, keeps me up to speed on social media developments. He informs me about foreign concepts like SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, which increases the visibility of my work when key words are typed in search engines like Google. Together, we’re working with a web-design and marketing company to build my author website.

Throughout the process, I’ve learned to embrace those previously uninteresting tech-y things I’d tried to avoid. And you know what? Becoming art and tech-savvy is actually fun. I guess the challenge of being a writer today is pretty much the same as that of life in general: be well-rounded, open-minded, and ready to soak up new knowledge, and you’ll go far! 🙂

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Working together is a great way for writers to build synergy, and literally propel themselves forward!

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Music and Writing: The Intricate Interplay

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I love music, to the point that I was seriously considering it as my college major. I also love writing, to the same extent. Both activities have always come naturally to me, and they bring me unparalleled joy and a sense of accomplishment. They’re more than hobbies–they’re my solace.

I feel that my musical inspirations actually fuel my writing inspirations, and vice versa. When the creative energy is high in one area, it immediately seems to follow in the other.

Take last night, for instance. While I played piano, my mind started wandering to what I would blog about next. Then, I started thinking about the new sections I’m adding to one of my short stories. After that, my thoughts went back to the blog, and I had it: why not blog about the interplay between two of the finest fine art forms that exist (at least in my opinion:) …music and literature?!!

I find that I’m more inspired to write after I either: a.) have a really epic piano playing session, or b.) listen to a particularly touching classical music piece, i.e. Debussy’s “Afternoon of a Faun,” Beethoven’s “9th Symphony” or “Pastoral Symphony,” or anything by Mozart. Naturally, I had to find out how many other authors feel the same, and what kind of music stimulates them to write. And ta-da! Here’s what I came up with…

Some authors actually have playlists that jump-start their writing sessions. For example, best-selling romance writer Roni Loren has a section on her website that details her writing playlist, and how each song influenced her work. Roni writes that she thinks of Kelly Clarkson’s “Dark Side” whenever one of her characters reveals a “weakness or secret.” She even used “Crash Into Me” by Dave Matthews Band as the title inspiration for her novel Crash Into You.

Other authors “moonlight” as musicians, even performing in bands. Stephen King plays rhythm guitar in the Rock Bottom Remainders, a rock band comprised of other authors, and reportedly owns a custom, jet-black guitar ornamented with mother-of-pearl spiders! Daniel Handler, aka Lemony Snicket, plays the accordion for The Magnetic Fields and The Gothic Archies. And the list goes on…a recent article in the New York Times, “What Makes a Writer Want to Rock Out?” introduces even more writer-musicians.  Check out the link here.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/17/magazine/what-makes-a-writer-want-to-rock-out.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Interesting, huh? It looks like, as far as the inevitable connection between literary and musical creativity goes, I’m in good company!

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