From the Forge: Dear Mom, You are the Bravest Storyteller I Know

i_love_u_mom_by_asinevenisa-d5cjo58As a young married woman, I’m barraged with advice. My volunteer advisors fall into two camps: the enjoy-your-honeymoon-while-you-can and the have-kids-now-they’re-amazing.

Many tell me to wait five or more years to ensure that I’ve had all of the fun and travel that I can stomach. They talk as though children are the end of the world, the death of the faerie tale’s happily ever after. In some way they’re right, because my times of complete freedom will be over once I take that step. But according to the pro-children faction, freedom is overrated. They urge me to have kids—the sooner the better—because they know the joy of creating life….

(Click here to read more at StoryForge productions and to discover the artist’s unique and expressive work!)

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How Frozen’s logic defying story thaws hearts

elsa_bust_by_amesrobin-d7h7kpdFrozen created the most hype I’ve heard in a long, long time. Loosely based off of “The Snow Queen” by Hans Christian Anderson, Disney’s film went back to traditional fairytale roots while staying away from the cliché love story. Since I’m far from a dedicated moviegoer, I sat back and watched the excitement grow and grow. Finally, instead of going to the theaters, my husband and I bought it.

I settled into the couch cushions and pressed play, afraid that it would be over-rated. Surely it couldn’t be so laudable as I had heard. And just as expected, the first few scenes piqued some scrutiny: why does the random gnome want to keep Kristoff and Sven? Who does Kristoff belong with? Why does Anna have to forget? The story didn’t offer many explanations. Continue reading

Harry Potter and Rowling’s Story Soundscape

hogwarts_teach_us_something_please_by_albus119-d57sgo9Recently I discussed how learning styles match writing styles, and since then I’ve been more alert to writers’ use of the senses. As I read I ask myself, does the author linger with visuals, jump ahead into action, or take advantage of every sound? Which element is predominant? Inspired by Claire Saag’s guest post for StoryForge, I picked up Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

You know what I discovered? Sounds. Everywhere.

If you can, recall the scene where Harry first meets Hagrid. Boom, crash, smash! Sounds bring the chapter to life. When Rowling isn’t describing the howling wind or sizzling sausages, she plays her characters vocal chords like musical instruments. Continue reading

From the Forge: Interview with Animator Mary Jane Whiting

maryjanewhiting_PortraitThe world needs more storytellers like Mary Jane Whiting. A talented artist, she is excited to share fun stories and encourage others along the way. Instead of spilling everything about her here, I might as well let her speak for herself! Without much prompting, she jumped right into the interview:

I was born in Texas and moved to Florida to major in Computer Animation at Ringling College of Art and Design where I’m a Junior. I’m a chai tea enthusiast, certified workaholic (but it’s more like fun than work) and my passion is visual development artwork for animation. I’m currently working on pre-production for my senior film. The process includes doing all of the concept design, visual development artwork as well as storyboards. At the same time, I’m working on a lip-sync project of myself as an animated character.

Read more to learn how to bravely follow your inspirations and build an online presence!

The Visual Writer’s Writing Day

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After publishing the last Friday Reflections post, I dove back into my novel. I settled into my study and shut the door on all other responsibilities. My Italian mask kept watch to deter distractions. Call me crazy, but I also went through the house and shut a few more doors for a clearer mental barrier between my novel and anything that threatened to press against the study door. Do you ever feel that connection between the physical and the mental? It’s a quirk as a visual and kinesthetic learner, I suppose.

Though my responsibilities eventually burst through the door, I was able to write 1.5k before they pulled me away. I settled in with my tea and sipped who knows how many cups of tea as I typed.  Maybe I go a little overboard with my tea, but I enjoy having some small, ritualistic break. I pour a new cup, stir in sugar and milk, and watch the steam rise.

DSC00511My novel is up to 72k and I’ll reach 80k by the end of the first draft. I wish I could say that I didn’t post on the blog last week because I was finishing my manuscript, but instead I was sick. Health returned around Good Friday, just in time for my writing group came over. Jen insisted that she be the first one to read my completed novel–no argument over here! She’s the most enthusiastic reader I’ve ever had. In order to get it to her decently soon, I’m aiming for these goals:

  • Outline last few scenes (done!)
  • Finish manuscript by May 1st (getting there!)
  • Get through two drafts by June 1st (Lord help!)

What goals do you have? If you’re stuck, what’s stopping you from charging through your story?

 

The Key to Finding a Writer’s Strengths – What’s Your Learning Style?

DSC00302I have been asking my writing friends all week: what is your learning style? Some say they are distinctly kinesthetic. They hoard memories creating their own sign language to accompany a poem. Or they are auditory, and learn best by listening to lectures.

Personally, I am very visual. I remember names best after seeing them spelled out. In my university classes, I was a notorious doodler. I live my life in accumulated moments and my understanding of history is grounded in webbed associations between art, books, and stiff portraits of important figures.

Your learning style affects your writing style. Continue reading

From the Forge: How Emotional Honesty Empowers Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises

I’m writing from StoryForge Productions today! Here’s a snippet from my last Month-a-Zaki article:

Throughout his career, Hayao Miyazaki changed the realm of storytelling. He had a fruitful “ten years in the sun,” and brought it to a close with one last masterpiece. The Wind Rises is his beautiful farewell to animation, leaving his audiences with the bittersweet tang of achieved dreams.

Differing greatly from Miyazaki’s previous films, The Wind Rises engages silence and sound with increasingly emotive effects. The protagonists, Jiro and Naoko, are older than many of Miyazaki’s characters, such as Sophie, Chihiro, Ponyo and Kiki. With their age comes weightier themes, such as chasing perfection and embracing love, whatever pain each may bring. (Read more at the Forge, and see the fantastic art!)

Why I Love Editing

Sarah L. Yoon's High School Attempts at Editing

My high school attempts at editing – an incredibly messy training ground.

When I was ten, I discovered the joy of a well crafted sentence. I wrote a three paragraph narrative about a squirrel and its acorn–after raising my hand in class asking how to spell the word squirrel–and I can still feel the magic of storytelling.

Though I’ve always thought that event launched my love for writing, only recently have I realized that it also launched my love of editing. Writing is only the beginning of the process. It’s messy, raw and free. After everything is scribbled and typed, editing sweeps the scenes and the sentences into place.  The prose moves out of an awkward, gargling stage into mature, lyrical prose. While many people dread the editing process–it is scary sometimes, I’ll admit–the feeling of everything coming together is worth the work. 

What launched your love of art and all the hard work that comes with it?

5 Insights on Writing about Children from My Neighbor Totoro

My Neighbor Totoro is yet another example of Miyazaki’s unusual plots arcs, but this one veers away from the rollercoaster-like style of Spirited Away or Howl’s Moving Castle. Instead, the plot is driven by childlike wonder, joy and grief. The story digs deep into the characters’ psychology and brings out moments that melt viewers into a puddle of fond recognition. Miyazaki reawakes our childlike dreams without condescension. He never looks down on his young characters as childish; he understands their intensity, purity and complexity.

When writing about children, you can…Read More at StoryForge Productions (and see the fantastic art that accompanies!)

Howl’s Moving Castle: Storytelling through Character and Concept

I’ve gotten quite tired of emotionally uninspiring plot diagrams, so here’s a  quick breakdown of high and low concept stories. Hopefully Miyazaki’s storytelling in Howl’s Moving Castle can offer you some freedom from formulae. Read the article Storytelling through Character and Concept” here!