Tag Archives: education

Michele Sayre: A Thousand Words (give or take) – Writing From Different Places

A Thousand Words (give or take) – Writing From Different Places

By Michele Sayre

First, I’ve retitled my blog yet again because the title I had before was a bit limiting. But it wasn’t just the title I was having trouble with.

For the last three and a half years I’ve been wanting to write book-length non-fiction and also shorter non-fiction pieces like blog entries and essays. Yet I couldn’t stay with that type of writing and I’ve been trying to figure out why. I knew I was coming to non-fiction from a very personal and emotional perspective but I wasn’t quite aware that I write from a completely difference place inside of me unlike how I write fiction and poetry.

Here’s how I figured out I write from two different places inside me.

With fiction, I write from a place of excitement born from my imagination and inspiration. When I get an idea for a fiction story, I get really excited. My heart pounds and my nerves hum and all I want to do is write the story. I don’t plan our plot out my stories and yes, I get bogged down and even driven nuts by that. But it’s still a place of excitement even when the story is emotionally gut-wrenching.

With non-fiction, I don’t feel that excitement at all. I don’t feel my heart pounding and my nerves humming in anticipation. I write non-fiction sometimes starting out with a weigh on my chest that almost makes it hard for me to breathe. I write it sometimes on the edge of bawling my eyes out. I write it thinking so hard my brain almost hurts and my eyes cross and burn.

With fiction I feel great joy in telling a story. Sometimes I feel like a kid sitting down to hear a story read to me, or opening a book for the very first time, or sitting in a darkened movie theater. It’s a need and an intense desire to be a part of that rich storytelling tradition.

With non-fiction, it’s about getting my emotional baggage out of my head and a ton of difficult thoughts in order. It’s a need to share, but not from a place of joy like fiction. And this has been a hard realization for me, but a much-needed and very welcome one for me, too. This realization has lifted a big weight off my shoulders I’ve been trying to lift for a long time. Knowing I write non-fiction from a different place inside me and that it’s not a joyful one helps me understand it’s okay to feel like I do about it. It also tells me I’m okay in not working on the non-fiction all the time because if I did I’d probably go clear around the bend to crazy-town. I thought it was because they were big projects with a lot of moving parts but it’s what I have to think and feel in order to write them.

Writing is like falling down a rabbit-hole into Wonderland sometimes with all its’ assorted pitfalls and weird shit to deal with. For me, understanding why I write what I want to has been a big part of my life over the four years. I say I have a complicated relationship with writing and not just because I’ve been doing it for so long, and not just because of how I started, but because of what it’s led me to.

I’ve written a lot of stuff over the last four years that’s been very intense and emotional as hell for me. I’ve shared some of it but most of it has been trashed as I’ve deemed it too raw and unfocused. I see it was now just me venting off excess thoughts and emotions because I know as a writer I can’t just rant-and-rave on the page and edit the crap out of it to get something meaningful. For me, there has to be focus in what I put out there. I’m very good with fiction now in terms of staying on track so now I’ve just got to figure out how to do that with my non-fiction work.

And another thing that’s interesting is how I write poetry. That’s a bit of mix between that humming energy of fiction with the weight of non-fiction. My poetry comes out pretty fast and then I edit it down from there. It flows pretty quickly out of me but it’s almost like I’m desperate to get it out of me.

I think a lot of writers would refer to my difficulties in writing as ‘writer’s block’, and I think that’s a valid term here. I’ve never dismissed the term ‘writer’s block’ as I know that there are times when a writer can’t write and they have to figure out why. Stepping away from the keyboard and going inside your head, especially into the storage unit as I call it, isn’t easy. But like I’ve said before, it’s more than worth it.

I feel better now having written this out. I feel a weight coming off me and a clarity that is sharper than before. I’ve had a lot of these moments of clarity as I call them over the last four years or so and though this one doesn’t have me jumping for joy, I’m grateful for it.

About Michele Sayre:

Writer of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. Native Texan, Uber-driver, taco lover, mom to chonky cat and diva dog.

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Please visit Michele’s blog for more amazing insights into the writer and the writing process: https://michelesayre.wordpress.com/

Please note: the images used are free-use images and do not require attribution.

Michele Sayre: Why Do You Want to Write?

Why Do You Want to Write?

by Michele Sayre

I see so many people in writer’s groups ask how do I write and where do I begin?

The better question to ask is this: why do you want to write in the first place?

Is it because you love to read and want to write stories from your own imagination?

Is it because you feel you have something you want to share with other people and maybe help them?

Because in order to figure out how to write and where to begin, you have to know why you want to write in the first place. When I first started many years ago, it was a combination of an overactive imagination and a love of stories that I wanted to share. Now it’s about sharing my own life stories in the hope that it will help other people in addition to sharing stories from my imagination.

And how do I do that?

I sit down and write with whatever materials I have to work with. Many years ago when I was young, I started out writing with paper and pencil, then I graduated to a typewriter, then a word processor, and finally a laptop computer. I knew early on that I had to put the words down then edit them until they flowed as well as I could make them flow. Also, I knew I had to research things on my own and back when I started writing those many years ago, the internet didn’t exist at all.

I will freely admit here I’ve always been, and still am, baffled by people who seem to have decided one day out of the blue to take up writing. Maybe they see it as a hobby like knitting or woodworking where you just pick up some tools and materials, read some books or watch videos, then make your projects. The thing with writing is that you can pick up things like paper, pencils, or computers, and you can read books about writing and watch videos. But writing isn’t a pre-made project you can make from a book or a video. It’s something you have to create from scratch. You have to come up with the words to say what you want to say in order to tell your stories.

You have to make your own decisions as to what to write and how to write. And if you’re afraid of upsetting someone or someone not liking what you write, that’s something you’re going to have to work through. You can’t please everyone with everything you write so you have to learn not to write with that in mind at all. You have to be independent and motivated by your own need and desire to create.

No one knows everything, especially about writing. Writing is a constant learning process that keeps it from being boring though it can make things frustrating, too. I know very well this world we live in isn’t perfect, that I’m not perfect, and I’m certainly not a perfect writer. But there is no need for perfection at all, even in writing. Because what works for one person and makes them fall in love with what they read will leave another person completely out in the cold.

So for me, being an independent person with an overactive imagination has benefited me greatly as a writer. Yet it has made it hard for me to understand why people want to write when they don’t seem to have much of an imagination to begin with, or be independent enough to think and try solve their problems on their own. Maybe it was because when I started writing I didn’t have the internet to reach out to people or instant resources to access. But even if I’d had instant access to people and information back then I seriously doubt I would have used that access a lot. Because despite all that’s available now in the end, a writer still has to write their words.

Words will not always flow smoothly or easily. In fact, more often than not it will be a struggle to get something out. Sometimes something comes out very smoothly for me but then I have to go back and edit stuff out because although it’s good, it’s not on track. But I’m not afraid to just write knowing full-well I’ll have to go back and edit. If that’s something you have an issue with, that’s something you’ll have to work through in order to write, too.

For me, writing isn’t a popularity contest. And it’s not something I do to prove a point or anything along that line. I do it because despite all its’ difficulties, I love it. I love it when my words come together and reach people. I love being a part of a community that’s been there throughout the ages sharing stories. And because I believe in a quote from the television show ‘Doctor Who’:

“In the end, we’re all stories. So make it a good one.” (written by Stephen Moffat)

Please visit Michele’s blog: https://michelesayre.wordpress.com/

Please note: the images used are free-use images and do not require attribution.

Writers Unite! Workshop: Writing Comics! POW!

Writing Comics! POW!

By David Noe

First off, there are a number of folks out there around my age who HATE that I POWed the title. There were literal decades of newspaper and book and TV articles that came out after the Batman TV phenom that used that cliché. We knew that comics were a legitimate art form. We knew they could be on par with “real” literature. It just took until the 80s to prove it to the world. Secondly, if you want to write comics, I mean if you actually want to make comics because you want to WRITE them, then you already know this.

There are certain things to keep in mind when scripting comics. Writing a comic book story and scripting it are two different animals. Scripting is different from prose or poetry but is related in key ways. You don’t count words; you count pages, and whether you have a single-page filler or an eight-page short story or a twenty-two-page comic or a hundred-plus-page graphic novel, you are a slave to the page count. You still MUST have a beginning, middle, and end no matter the length of the story. Even continued stories must have proper arcs. Even if hardly anybody will ever read it, you need to do it right. If you don’t take pride in your work, you shouldn’t even be doing it.

I’ll avoid the many other aspects of the business to focus on just the scripting, but you should keep these other things in your thoughts, especially if you are going the self-publishing route (if you are going the work-for-hire route, you have other problems to deal with). You need to organize talent, deadlines and schedules, money and lack thereof, intellectual property, copyright and registration, interpersonal squabbles, and a host of other tasks that make it like herding cats. Onward to the nuts and bolts.

The Script

Sci-Fighter is owned by David Noe and is used with permission.

Just exactly what IS a comic book script? Well, you take a movie script or a play… and you throw it out the window. There are actually NO galvanized accepted ways of scripting comics. This is actually a good thing in most cases. If you are a writer only, you need to find the best way to communicate with the artist the things you want on the page and the order you want them. Really, that’s it as far as the actual physical structure of a comic book script. Now, there are generally accepted ways to write a script, but they are general. You must choreograph every panel in a way that progresses the story, has the proper flow and visual impact. Keep in mind that you want to be able to have the artwork tell part of the story too. Don’t try to get all the info in the panels, but have the two merge together to make something that is better than the sum of its parts. Some writers produce reams of description. Some writers draw little sketches for their artist. Communication is the most important thing, communication with the artist and colorist and letterer and publisher, communication and clarity in the script, communication on the page and in the story. That being said, there is another method of comics writing called the Marvel method, that I will not get into here.

There are also things to avoid. As a writer, you are going to want to use ALL the words. Do not do that. Learn to let the pictures tell part of the story. No reader wants a text-heavy comic. There needs to be a balance, and finding that balance comes with time and experience and many hours of failure and also talent. Panels. So many panels. If you want your artist to hate you, try making a story full of nine or twelve-panel grids. It’ll look crowded and muddy. It can be done, but only if it is used deliberately and rarely. Talking heads are the same way. Depending on the genre, you need to be very careful with a lot of talking head panels. Again, this can be used artistically, but you need to be sure that’s why you’re doing it. Try to keep your panel count down to six or fewer, depending on what the story needs.

Coming up with ideas is the same as any creative endeavor. Try to be original or add your own spin to something. Do not despair! This may be the actual hardest part for some people. If you have that idea burning a hole in your brain, you need to do some basic homework. Always keep in mind that you have to get it exactly right on page count. Not only does the story have to rise and fall in the right places, but it has to end on the exact right page on the exact right panel. Work on your characters, their motivations, look, backstories, etc. It’s the same as any story writing. You need to know your character. You Pantsers out there may have a little more difficult time, if only because of the structure of the scripting. It’s hard to meander when you have to make it fit (but that’s what first drafts are for, right?).

My advice to script layout is to make a very clear delineation between your pages and panels. Use bold letters for panel description and regular letters for panel dialogue. Make your pagination larger so that it stands out on the scripted page. Always remember to put your name on the script. It’s also a good idea to put at the beginning how many pages long the story is, if you are dealing with a book that has different lengths of stories.

You will be surprised when you start to see the art. Sometimes the artist will get exactly what you were thinking and portray it perfectly… and it may stink. It might also be a remarkable, intense, elevating moment in your life when you get to see another creator examine and interpret your material, and then present it in another format than how you first created it. Other times, the artist may totally miss the mark or not obey your directives, or go off on his or her own tangent. How you react and what you do about it will have to be dealt with early. You will need to decide how you will handle this. It may ruin or enhance your story, but writers can be as wacky as any other type of creative individual. You have to remember that the artist is interpreting your words and is not inside your head. Make yourself very clear. Some artists need that and some artists resent that. Writers and artists both can sometimes have difficulty dealing with differing points of view or constructive criticism. However, you must remember that this is a collaboration between two different art forms. That’s what makes comics an art form, a POWerful art form.

David Noe is the cofounder of InDELLible Comics, publisher of full-color graphic novel anthologies (all available on Amazon). He also writes novels and other sundry books.

Visit InDELLible Comics:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/114254119027859/
Comics available on Amazon. com
Cover Artists:

PopCom1 by Steven Butler
PopCom2 by Marvin Mann
PopCom3 by Kevin Frear,
Tomb1 by Paul Rose,
Spades1 by Josh Deck

Writers Unite! Workshop: Song Lyrics

Writers Unite! Workshop

Song Lyrics

A note. A chord. A word. A phrase. A song transports us instantly to the moment we first heard it and often floods us with emotions that the memory invokes, joy, fun, passion, sadness, heartbreak. Music is life.

While melody and rhythm affect us, lyrics speak for us when we cannot speak for ourselves. As writing is an art form, writing lyrics is a specialized version of writing poetry.

Our Attraction to Music

Studies have shown that when listening to favorite music, dopamine, the chemical released when doing other pleasurable activities such as eating or sex, is released in various parts of the brain associated with the anticipation of pleasure and deep emotional responses.  If the tonal qualities of a piece of music evoke this reaction, adding words that have meaning to the listener will deepen the connection to the song and the emotional bond formed.

“Music affects deep emotional centers in the brain. A single sound tone is not really pleasurable in itself; but if these sounds are organized over time in some sort of arrangement, it’s amazingly powerful.”    

              — Valorie Salimpoor, neuroscientist McGill University

Lyricist vs. Songwriter

The difference between a lyricist and a songwriter is quite simple. Lyricists write the words to a song. A songwriter writes both words and music.


 “Lyricists are articulate and detail-oriented, with a keen eye for observing the world around them and the discipline to translate their observations and insights into the formal language of song.”  

                                                                                    — Berklee College of Music

Qualifications for a Lyricist

Formal education is not a requirement to be a lyricist. However, a degree in creative writing with an emphasis on poetry offers advantages in a competitive field. Focusing on an art or history education is also a plus as these subjects provide a strong overview of life. Courses on lyric writing are often part of the curriculum in college and university music departments.

While it is not necessary to play an instrument to write lyrics, it is a valuable skill to have. Understanding the importance of meter in music is as essential as it is when writing poetry, so familiarity with an instrument is helpful.

Writing Song Lyrics

Berklee School of Music offers five tips on how to start writing lyrics:

  • Record your thoughts:  in addition to formal education, journaling daily thoughts and emotions is a valuable way to accumulate ideas and underlying emotions for use when writing lyrics. Take the five senses into consideration, taste, smell, touch, sight, sound, as well as movement, as suggested by the article. These descriptors bring the listener to the exact emotion or visual that you need them to have to engage in your lyrics. Use the “small moment” of a particular sense, such as the waft of perfume or touch of a hand, to capture emotion.
  • Read the words, forget the music: Read lyrics written by others and not to the recorded song.By concentrating on the words and not the music, you will gain a better sense of the simplicity and structure of good lyrics. Pay attention to the hook the lyricist has used and the repetitive chorus that ties the song together. Consider the message you want to convey and use the “small moment” mentioned above to make your point.
  • Speak Naturally: Write as you speak in the language that you speak naturally. Don’t force a word or a rhyme, or you will lose the meaning. Berklee uses the word authentic to describe the language you use, and that word is powerful. As with writing a story, the words must be real to connect to your audience. Don’t forget to change tense as you do not have to always write in past tense but can also write in present and future tense to tell your story.
  • The K.I.S.S. Principle:  Keep it simple, stupid is a wise adage. Write in five to six lines of verse and create repetition in the chorus. Longer lyrics can become confusing and obscure the message.
  • Collaborate:  Reach out to lyricists and learn from them. Collaborate on writing lyrics, especially with lyricists who are also musicians writing their songs.

Other tips from sterostickman.com:

  • First Impressions:  The opening lines of a song matter. Use them to hook the listener and keep them listening until the chorus and the message of the song.

Short Sentences: “I lied / He cried / We were both / Terrified”

Specific Storytelling: “The laugh lines around her eyes / Told a story of loving compromise / But the clothes she always wore / End up screwed up on the floor”

Instructions: “Everybody, clap your hands / Get those feet moving, too / We’re about to get wild / No telling what we’re gonna do”

  • Experiment building on lines. Write a line, repeat it with another word, until you get to the meaning you wish to convey. This technique will keep your listener waiting for the next word.

“I really want you
I really want you to
I really want you to go
I really want you to go further

  • Become a techie. If you run into issues with selecting words or rhyming, a website like http://www.rhymezone.com can help by making suggestions for rhymes, near rhymes, and synonyms. Rhyming is certainly acceptable but remember not to rely on it when writing lyrics. However, as long as the lyrics are authentic, it can work.
  • Time Management. Working under deadlines and being able to manage time is essential for both the project and the content. Commercial compositionsare time-sensitive, airtime on radio stations, for instance, is crucial for the artist’s and publisher’s success. Being cognizant of how to manage writing a song that conveys a message in an acceptable time frame is necessary.

Career Expectations

At one time, professional lyricists were in high demand, but as more musicians are penning their lyrics that need has dwindled. That is not to say that this is not a viable profession. There are still opportunities as top-line songwriters within the recording industry if you have some musical ability and can write a catchy tune. Music publishers also hire staff writers, and a small percentage of dedicated lyricists work independently, promoting lyrics to music producers. Music producers recording rappers also hire staff writers to write lyrics for their artists.

There are also opportunities within the musical theater world to write lyrics with musical theater composers and book writers to produce musicals and adaptations. Opera companies need librettists who collaborate with a composer or work as playwrights creating the plot, characters, and structure of the opera.

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If you are interested in a career as a lyricist or are currently writing lyrics or songwriting and want to learn more, please check out this link. Berklee College of Music offers a free online handbook on lyric writing, which includes material from some of their courses.

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Author’s Note:  I am not a musician or a songwriter or lyricist. This workshop concerns the basics of writing lyrics. A considerable amount of the information included came from the Berklee College of Music website. Berklee is world-renowned for the exceptional training provided to music students.

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Resources:
https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/why_we_love_music
https://www.berklee.edu/careers/roles/lyricist
https://online.berklee.edu/takenote/5-steps-to-start-writing-lyrics
https://stereostickman.com/how-to-write-song-lyrics
https://learn.org/articles/How_Can_I_Become_a_Lyricist.html

Please note: the images used are free-use images and do not require attribution. Voice sheet music is from https://www.music-for-music-teachers.com/, a free-use sheet music site.

Authors’ Words: Anais Nin

Anais Nin

Anais Nin was a 20th century diarist.  She began what became her life-long work of art in 1914 at the age of eleven and kept writing until her death 63 years later in 1977. 

Nin’s diary focused on her interior life and became the chronicle of her search for fulfillment in what was often for women a painfully restrictive culture. 

 Anais Nin was born in France in 1903.  Her Cuban-born parents lived as genteel artists, mainly in Paris and Spain.  In a blow that affected her all of her life, Nin’s composer father, Joaquin Nin, abandoned his wife and children, forcing them to set sail for a new life America.  While on board the ship young Nin wrote a letter to lure her father back to the family.  This letter was never sent, but it was the beginning of her famous diary.

While living a dual life in New York and Los Angeles during the 1960s, Nin made the risky decision to allow her diary to be published, though she chose to remove the most private details of her romantic relationships.  The first installment, published in 1966, was titled The Diary of Anais Nin and it was an immediate success.  Though it was a profoundly personal work, it hit a universal vein of experience — especially with women.  Nin found herself, then in her sixties and seventies, playing the part of an international feminist icon. 

While Nin traveled the world speaking about her writing and meeting fans, subsequent volumes of her edited diary were published.  They covered the period up through the end of her life and totaled seven volumes.  Finally, in 1977, Nin died of cancer in Los Angeles with Rupert Pole by her side.

Before she died it was Nin’s decision to have her early diaries published, as well as erotica she’d written in the 1940s.  As a result, Delta of Venus, Little Birds, and Nin’s childhood diary titled Linotte were released, as well as three volumes of The Early Diary of Anais Nin.  Also, in a decision that generated much controversy, Nin asked Rupert Pole to publish the “secret” parts of her previously-released diaries.  The first “unexpurgated” diary is titled Henry & June; it includes the material removed from Nin’s first published diary and was made into a feature film.  Other unexpurgated diaries include Incest, Fire, Nearer the Moon, Mirages, and Trapeze.

During her 63 years of highly personal and yet ultimately public writing, Anais Nin forged a style of expression that befits the 21st century.  She seemed to foresee our modern era of Internet communication, even wishing for what she called a “café in space” where she could keep in touch with others.  Nin believed that consciousness is a stream of images and words that flow from us as long as we live, and something to be shared. 

Resources:

https://theanaisninfoundation.org/bio

WU! On Dr. Paul’s Family Talk

WU! On “Dr. Paul’s Family Talk” Podcast!

If you missed Writers Unite! on “Dr. Paul’s Family Talk” on Friday, here is the Podcast of the segment.

Join host Paul W. Reeves and WU! Admin Deborah Ratliff as they discuss the topic, “ Story Structure”.

Story Structure

If you would like to listen to the show in its entirety (and it’s a lot of fun), click on this Podcast link for Friday’s show!

IMPACT RADIO USA strives to provide the best in news, talk, sports, and music 24 hours a day, 52 weeks per year. Our goal is to keep you as the most informed and entertained Internet Radio audience.

Dr. Paul’s Family Talk 11-15-19

Click on the Listen Now button!

Visit Impact Radio USA’s page on Facebook!

Click here for Impact Radio USA’s Facebook page!

WU! on Dr. Paul’s Family Talk

WU! On “Dr. Paul’s Family Talk” Podcast!

If you missed Writers Unite! on “Dr. Paul’s Family Talk” today here is the Podcast of the segment.

Join host Paul W. Reeves and WU! Admin Deborah Ratliff as they discuss the topic, “Characters”.

Characters

If you would like to listen to the show in its entirety (and it’s a lot of fun), click on this Podcast link for Friday’s show!

Dr. Paul’s Family Talk Friday November 08, 2019

IMPACT RADIO USA strives to provide the best in news, talk, sports, and music 24 hours a day, 52 weeks per year. Our goal is to keep you as the most informed and entertained Internet Radio audience.

Impact Radio USA

Click on the Listen Now button!

Visit Impact Radio USA’s page on Facebook!

Click here for Impact Radio USA’s Facebook page!

WU! On “Dr. Paul’s Family Talk”

If you missed Writers Unite! on “Dr. Paul’s Family Talk” on Friday here is the podcast of the segment. Join host Paul W. Reeves and WU! Admin Deborah Ratliff as they discuss the topic, Book Reviews.

Book Reviews

If you would like to listen to “Dr. Paul” in its entirety (and it’s a lot of fun), you listen to this podcast of Friday’s show.

Dr. Paul’s Family Talk Friday October 11,2019

WU! ON “DR. PAUL’S FAMILY TALK”

WU! On “Dr. Paul’s Family Talk” Podcast!

If you missed Writers Unite! on “Dr. Paul’s Family Talk” on Friday here is the podcast of the segment. Join host Paul W. Reeves and WU! Admin Deborah Ratliff as they discuss the topic, “”The Hook”.

The Hook

If you would like to listen to the show in its entirety (and it’s a lot of fun), you listen to this podcast of Friday’s show.

Dr. Paul’s Family Talk Friday September 27,2019
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WU! ON “DR. PAUL’S FAMILY TALK”

WU! On “Dr. Paul’s Family Talk” Podcast!

If you missed Writers Unite! on “Dr. Paul’s Family Talk” on Friday here is the podcast of the segment. Join host Paul W. Reeves and WU! Admin Deborah Ratliff as they discuss the topic, “Pantser or Not to Pantser”.

Pantser or Not to Pantser

If you would like to listen to the show in its entirety (and it’s a lot of fun), you listen to this podcast of Friday’s show.

Dr. Paul’s Family Talk Friday September 19,2019
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