Here’s a little fun for your Friday 🙂
Are all movies produced from screenplays only?
Many have been inspired by novels. Think Harry Potter and Twilight. But, did you know that there are a large number inspired by short stories?
Here are a few just to give you an idea:
In my next post, how does a short story get selected to be a film?
*Today we have two very special and amazing guests with us! Let’s give Beth and Ezra Barany, both award-winning authors, a warm welcome!
Beth here. Our collaboration didn’t happen overnight. When Ezra and I first met we were both writers, but not yet teachers. Pretty soon after getting married we decided to teach overseas. So we both got training in teaching English to foreigners. Then we went to Paris to teach English for two years.
When we got back home, Ezra got his credential to be a high school physics teacher and I went to work in a bookstore and then an office.
Fast forward 3 years, I decided to start a business helping writers as a creativity coach. Pretty soon when I started doing presentations, Ezra helped me with some of them. Then he had a break from teaching high school and started to teach more actively with me. He approaches writing differently than I do, so I really wanted to include his perspective so that the writers could benefit.
Over the years I’ve been asking him to teach various aspects that he knows well so that we have a more robust group of courses for writers.
I write young adult fantasy, paranormal romance, and science fiction mystery, and have series published in the first two. Many of my interests have been very different than Ezra’s and that’s been great. When I met him he was writing short stories in horror, mystery, and surrealistic fiction. Ezra has published 3 books in his Torah Codes series.
Presto! Ezra speaking! As Beth said, it took some time before we worked together as teachers. But uniting our teaching superpowers was inevitable by the way we both loved the craft and business of writing and wanted the world to see how fun it could be.
We toyed with the idea of cowriting a story, but our genres are so different, that we find it’s best if we stick to editing each other’s work.
Beth here: I am much more of an organic writer than Ezra. I start with character and evolve the plot from there. I also start with a clear idea of my genre, and I think this is where he and I are similar.
And because I have an organic approach to the writing process I would notice where there were holes and ask to see if Ezra could fill them. Since he has a more linear approach to planning his novels I knew that would be helpful to some people, and I learned from it too.
Abracadabra! This is Ezra! I’m a plotter. A severe plotter. We’re talking write-every-detail-of-each-scene-on-index-cards plotter.
I tend to start with the “Holy crap! I didn’t see that coming!” idea of what happens in the thriller, and how it will make the reader want to share the thriller with all her friends.
From there, I think of the main moments that fit a standard hero’s journey or Act I II and III model, those moments that lead up to the climax I already have in mind. I usually do so by using a problem-solution tool, such as Problem: Jacob gets attacked by lobsters at the restaurant; Solution: Jennifer, chef extraordinaire, fends off the lobsters with a hatchet. I scribble the problem-solution scenes down on index cards and then I fill in missing scenes on more index cards.
My biggest issue is character development, and that’s where Beth saves the day. She asks me questions about the characters that make me discover there’s more to the story than I originally intended.
Overall, I’d say Beth’s strengths are my weaknesses in writing and vice-versa, so our skills complement each other in helping round out the skills of other writers.
Beth here:This book is based on a course we have been teaching for over five years. The material just evolved out of mostly my process and then adding in Ezra’s process where it made sense.
I was the main driver in producing an editing the book and Ezra looked at everything, added editorial comments, and created the awesome cover with my input.
Ezra here: What she said.
You can find this book at all these vendors:
Beth here: I love to plan and write my first draft at cafés. I love the ambient noise, the fact that even though I am alone in the project I am surrounded by other people doing their thing, and it gets me out of my house, so I have a change of pace.
Voila! Ezra at the post now! I love to dig holes in the ground and find chests of gold bullion and non-sequiturs.
As for places to write, I, too, like writing my first drafts at cafés. I like the possibility of someone coming up to me and saying, “You’re writing a thriller? No way! You’re the most amazing person in the world!”
It hasn’t happened yet, but yeah. That would be cool.
Beth here: One of the biggest obstacles facing writers today is just starting the process. Often writers don’t know where to begin and that can be overwhelming and confusing. Another huge obstacle is that they feel that there might be something wrong with them because their ideas don’t fit the mainstream. Lastly I see writers not even starting because they don’t think they can do it even though they really want to write a novel.
Ezra’s mouth talking now: I agree. B.I.C. is one of the toughest tasks writers have to overcome. B.I.C. stands for Butt In Chair. Getting started is hard for me and, I believe, for other writers. But there’s the five-minute solution. As soon as a writer sits down, tells herself, “I’m going to write for five minutes,” and starts writing, those five minutes typically end up being a half hour.
Another tough obstacle is the desire to get it right the first time. Analysis paralysis. I tell myself that my goal is to write crap and have fun doing it. Often, if I’m having fun writing the story, readers will enjoy reading it. Also, giving myself permission to write crap takes the pressure off to be perfect.
Beth here: If you have the dream and the desire to write a novel but don’t know where to begin, then I recommend you start by setting the timer for five minutes and just write. Nonstop. Not caring about typos or anything. Not caring if you repeat yourself or write nonsense. Writing is a practice, writing is something you can get better at. And if you want to write a novel, you absolutely can. I believe in you.
Ezra here: *hug*
ABOUT THE BOOK
“I can honestly say this book saved a manuscript that was headed for the shredder!” — Ann W. Shannon
This book will help you get excited to plan your novel. The tools shared here are designed to spark your muse and give you confidence when you sit down to write your story. Plan Your Novel Like A Pro: And Have Fun Doing It! is for organic writers and pansters who want a roadmap to follow, so that they can let their creativity loose.
This 168-book comes with 20 chapters, lots of exercises, and a free bonus workbook.
About Beth Barany
Beth Barany is an award-winning novelist, master neuro-linguistic programming practitioner, and certified creativity coach for writers. She specializes in helping writers experience clarity, so they can write, revise, and proudly publish their novels to the delight of their readers. Her courses are packed with useful hands-on information that you can implement right away. She runs an online school for fiction writers and a 12-month group coaching program to help them get published. More resources on publishing, book marketing, and novel writing are on her blog, Writer’s Fun Zone. When she’s not helping writers, Beth writes magical tales of romance, mystery, and adventure that empower women and girls to be the heroes of their own lives.
About Ezra Barany
Ezra Barany loves riveting readers with thrillers, but by order of the Department of Motor Vehicles he must place a warning on every book cover, “Do not read while driving.” His first two books in The Torah Codes series were award-winning international bestsellers. In his free time, he has eye-opening discussions on the art of writing novels with his wife and book coach Beth Barany. A high school physics teacher, Ezra lives in Oakland with his beloved wife and two cats working on the next book in The Torah Codes series. Ezra, not the cats. For a free short story in The Torah Codes series, “Mourner’s Kaddish,” go to http://www.thetorahcodes.com/.
Last Monday, I put out a poll asking writers if they saw any advantages to blogging on a daily basis.
*45% believed that writing daily posts will enable the blog to thrive
*36% did not
*18% selected “other“
-“I think it depends on the content more than the frequency.”
-“Probably not, though sometimes these month long challenges do bring new people.”
Here are various other comments that were included with the reponses:
“Quality vs quantity. I’d rather post once a week with something that followers want to read instead of posting daily and have followers delete it.” –Darnell Cureton, Fictionista
“I think putting out too much material can be overwhelming for readers. I find that the blogs whose writers post just once or twice a week are the ones I read religiously and look forward to.” –Susan Richardson, Stories From the Edge of Blindness
“Writing every day doesn’t mean your blog will thrive. In order to have a thriving blog, we have to interact in a meaningful way and that means we have to support the blogs that support us. Unless, of course, our blog is for information purposes or we are selling something to someone, then it may be different. Perhaps it comes down to relevant content, whatever the genre of the blog. ” –Poetry From the Inkwell
“I do post everyday, I think if it helps me, then it could someone else. I write a lot in advance and whatever is on my heart. And I even go back and read what I wrote last week or month even year. It may be different with everyone.” –Rebecca Jones, A Daughter’s Gift of Love
“I think writing every day helps … maybe not posting them every day. I loved the accountability of the #Write28Days and knowing that I had committed to posting daily made me do it. But as someone mentioned … the quality does suffer — unless you are a professional journalist.” –Hulda Bennett, Hearts Fully Alive
What about you? Do you have any other thoughts on this poll and its results/comments?
Some reasons as to why you should stay committed to your writing:
“If a nation loses its storytellers, it loses its childhood.”
“The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.” —Albert Camus
“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”
“We’re past the age of heroes and hero kings. … Most of our lives are basically mundane and dull, and it’s up to the writer to find ways to make them interesting.”
—John Updike, WD
“I think the deeper you go into questions, the deeper or more interesting the questions get. And I think that’s the job of art.”
—Andre Dubus III, WD
“Let the world burn through you. Throw the prism light, white hot, on paper.”
—Ray Bradbury, WD
“Writers live twice.” —Natalie Goldberg
“Tears are words that need to be written.”
“A day will come when the story inside you will want to breathe on it’s own. That’s when you’ll start writing.”
“When we share our stories, what it does is, it opens up our hearts for other people to share their stories. And it gives us the sense that we are not alone on this journey.”
You’d think with all the technology we have on hand, as writers, we’d find a way to make a living. But the truth is, technology has made it so that anyone can publish therefore flooding the digital world with stories, poetry, how-tos, comics, etc. it has become nearly impossible to make any kind of a living.
So, how does a writer survive now-a-days?
What about you? Can you think of other ways for a writer to survive in this highly competitive creative industry?
Finish this sentence in your own words:
…you feel like a total reject?
This usually happens when we start comparing ourselves to other writers and authors.
And when we do this, ever notice how the doubts creep in, and suddenly all our writing just stop?
So my question to you is this: What do you do to combat this?
You know the saying, no one is perfect, right? Yet, so many are trying to be perfect, and failing miserably at it. Including writers.
I don’t think I’ve known very many writers who didn’t give a darn about the quality of their written work. In fact, many of us get so hung up in believing that our writing needs to be perfect before we can send it out into the world. The problem is, this way of thinking is probably the number one reason why nothing gets completed (and in many instances, even started).
Heck, perfectionism is one of the root causes of the so-called “writer’s block.”
What a writer to do?
Here are some reasons why we should accept those flaws as writers.
!. It lowers the stress level. I think Stephen King was on to something when he said:
No matter if you’re an unpublished writer or a prolific, best-selling author, the writing craft is a life-long apprenticeship where there are no masters. Instead of agonizing over your struggles in grasping certain grammatical rules, realize that we all have issues with them. Every. Single. One. Of. Us. You will never get the story “perfectly” written in the first draft. The sooner we accept that, the easier the words will flow.
2. Your flaws are what sets you apart from the others.
Some of the most interesting people in the world have been writers and the first one to come to mind is Ernest Hemingway. Aside from his flamboyant and active lifestyle, he was noted for his writing style. He lived in a time where literary (aka elaborate) writing dominated; but his style ran counter to this. He preferred to write lean descriptions while relying more on dialogue and action to tell the story. Many, at first, viewed this to be a flawed writing style; instead, he gained notoriety and eventually won many awards (including the Nobel). His writing style wasn’t the only reason for his success; it was also the kind of stories, their characters and content, that set him apart from the other writers of the time. Much of this was due to his wartime experiences as well as his battles with mental illness and alcoholism. All of these were responsible for fundamentally shaping his style of writing.
He was an imperfect man who wrote unforgettable stories. So, embrace your flaws and make them your strengths rather than view them as weaknesses. It is our flaws that will set our writing apart from the others, and it is also our flaws which readers can connect and identify with.
3. Your flaws are part of what makes you, well, you!
I love Ann Lamott. She just has a way with words, and putting things into perspective.
Our flaws can make our creative life messy, but they contain some of the juiciest morsels for our stories. And stories are the reflection of who we are as writers. So, stop trying to be perfect and accept your flaws as mere extensions of who you are as a person, and as a writer.
One last quote from Ann Lamott to ponder on:
** This week we have a special guest with us to share about his debut scifi-mystery-thriller novel, Anniversaries.
Tell us what first drew you to writing.
I have a creative mind and an Art background and in lieu of expressing myself in paint on canvas (like my father did), I chose the written word.
Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what kind of music?
Sometimes. If I do, it’s mostly 1960s pop and rock or Classic Rock. And it’s always on in the “background” to keep me company.
Who is your favorite author? Why?
I have read novels in the past but, I mostly read magazine articles, so I don’t have a “favorite author”.
Do you have a favorite magazine or two?
I have, in the past, subscribed to two magazines: “Hemmings Classic Car” and “Collectible Automobile”. And have hundreds of back issues. But, I no longer like either publication anymore, I’m sorry to say.
You’ve just published a book. Tell us what your book is about.
ANNIVERSARIES is about Darren Prescott, an ex-drug dealer/pimp who discovers a way to travel back in time to specific events on specific days in his past (and other people’s past too). He plans to parlay this ability into a money making venture, but gets side tracked when he discovers (while Time-Traveling) something horrible his father did years earlier.
What inspired you to write this book?
When I was very young (maybe five years old), my mother gave me a slice of Swiss cheese for a snack and as I was about to bite into it, she said, as a joke, “Don’t eat the holes”. Well, I believed everything my mother told me, so when I was finished eating, on my plate were several Swiss cheese “holes” all with bite marks around their perimeters.
This little memory, this quick “snippet” of my life, has stuck with me all these years. And there are dozens and dozens of other “snippets” in my memory bank. One day, I got to thinking that these memories, although insignificant, all have anniversaries. Let’s say that the “Swiss cheese” incident happened on July 10, 1966, that means that every July tenth, it has an anniversary. My novel is loosely based on this concept.
You write under a pen name, what prompted you to do this? Is there a story behind this pen name (on how you came up with it?)?
I decided to use a pen name because, my late father (Albert Swayhoover) was an Artist and his artwork is all over the Internet. If one were to Google “Swayhoover”, the result would be thousands of websites that sell his work. I was concerned that my book and I might get lost among all of that.
The origins of my pen name are: “David” is my middle name and “Cedar” was part of the name of the street in which I grew up, Cedar Point Drive. Then I searched Author names and didn’t find any other David Cedars, so that’s what I went with.
Where can we find this book?
What are your writing plans for the near future?
I’m considering a sequel to ANNIVERSARIES. And there are two or three articles on one of my favorite subjects: American Automobile History that I am writing.
Where can we find you?
David Cedar (aka Robert Swayhoover) was born and raised on Long Island, New York. He graduated from Chamberlayne College in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1984 with a degree in Advertising Design. In 1997, he married Patricia Townes-Swayhoover. The couple lived in New York City before relocating to Raleigh, North Carolina in 2003. Writing has always been something David was interested in, but never gave it a try until seven or eight years ago. Besides writing, his interests include: Automobile History and World War II History.