Monday, October 27, 2014

October #wipmadness – Week 4

It’s the final check-in for the October edition of #wipmadness. And Friday is Halloween!!! You know what that means:

Nothing is sweeter than a handful (or two) of your favorite bite-size candy bar. Nothing except perhaps for writing that sentence or paragraph that makes you think, “I’m awesome. This story is awesome. Watch out world, here I come.” 

Halloween has always been a favorite holiday of mine, and not because of the free candy. I like seeing all the kids dressed up in costumes. For one day, everyone can dress up and experience being someone else for the night and collect candy or other goodies for doing so. In this way, Halloween is very much like the experience of reading (and writing) a book: you get to experience what life is like for someone else.

As writers, we get to step in the shoes of characters all the time and experience another’s life, struggles, and moments of joy and despair. As writers, we may like to think we know everything about our characters and what they might do in certain situations, but sometimes our own creations teach us something. Our math geek might confess she’s been flunking her algebra quizzes or our sports star might admit he really hates the sport and would rather play in the marching band. Their revelations might lead us to the story that we didn’t realize was possible, but that is the story that the character wants to tell. Sometimes we have to listen to a character to know what story is the right one.

Has this happened to you before? Have your characters balked at the story you’re writing and revealed something new about themselves and turned the story into something new?

Also as a Halloween treat, consider the following questions for one of your characters (or for you):

What was your favorite Halloween character as a kid?
Are you dressing up this year? If so, what are you going as?
What do you think makes the best costumes?

And now for the moment you've all been waiting for:

The winner of write bracelet giveaway is:

Kim B!!!!!

Congratulations, Kim!

Please send me your mailing address to my email: chris hingley 17 at gmail dot com.

Jenn can adjust the length of the bracelet for you and add the clasp of your choice.

Anyway it’s been a pleasure and an honor to be your host for the past two months of #wipmadness. Maybe I’ll stick around for another month if Denise can’t find another host, but for sure I’ll be commenting at check-ins.

Hope you all have a great Halloween, and even great writing sessions!

Monday, October 20, 2014

October #wipmadness – Week 3

Congratulations on the book releases to Denise, Shari, and LisaAnn. A new book is a truly amazing experience, and one that I sincerely hope each of us experiences one day.
Books like most works of art start with an idea. An idea can be big or it can be small. An idea is simply that: an idea. It is a spark to something more, something truly great, something truly yours. It is something that you take from your imagination and mind and combine it with hard work and dedication and sweat and maybe just a little too much caffeine. It’s amazing what a simple idea can become.

I spent Saturday rewatching the first two seasons of the web series, Video Game High School in order to prepare for the third and final season. (The second episode of the third season drops today: check YouTube.) As a backer of the final season, I received access to the entire season before the public release, so this afternoon I watched the first episode, and told myself I’d watch the second episode and then write this check-in post. I made myself stop after the fourth episode, because I wanted to say something about that fourth episode and ideas and art and creating something that is just wow worthy.

Without giving too much away, that fourth episode is a YA novel in itself. Now I feel what book reviewers must feel like when they open a package and find an ARC or a review copy to read and review. I just need someone to talk about that episode with. To talk about that moment and that moment. That scene and this one.

I've felt that many times while reading YA literature. I could tell you the page numbers of books that stopped me in my tracks. Moments where I had to stop reading to regroup, but at the same time wanting to turn the page and keep reading. Scenes where I wanted to stop and write the author a note declaring him or her to be an awesomely cool genius whose shopping lists should be published daily. (That so should be a genre!)

Moments and scenes like these are what drives me to create. They are also what truly makes storytelling such an amazingly awesome art. Recognizing these moments are important both as a reader and a writer.

As I glance at my bookcases that hold about 500 YA books, I can think of the moments and scenes within each book that made me want to keep or buy my own copy of it. (And in some cases, own multiple copies of. I have at least two copies of John Green’s Looking for Alaska and plan to buy the 10th anniversary edition in January.) The same is with movies and specific TV show episodes.

There are scenes that I will never forget and there are scenes that I will never not react to. These are the scenes that I strive toward and the scenes I treasure. These are the scenes that make writing the epitome of art and craft.

To avoid spoilers, I’ll only list the titles of a few of these amazing moments and scenes, but I’m sure if you’ve read the book or watched the movie/episode, you’ll know which one I’m talking about.

YA Books

See You at Harry’s by Jo Knowles
Boy Toy by Barry Lyga
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Winger by Andrew Smith (I haven’t read an Andrew Smith book yet that doesn't include such an impactful scene, but the one in Winger is king.)

Movies/TV Show episodes

Abyssinia, Henry (M*A*S*H, Season 3, Episode 24.)
The Body (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 5, Episode 16.)
Toy Story 3
The Shawshank Redemption

What are some of yours? Those scenes and moments that made you realize that “this is a really good book/movie/episode?” In order to avoid spoilers, please just include the title.

Oh, BTW: If you want to be entered into the giveaway of the bracelet (see pictures on the final September #wipmadness post), please include these words in your comment: “This is my contest entry.” I just want to make sure everyone who wants a chance to win Jenn's awesome bracelet has a chance to win.

See you next week for the final edition of October #wipmadness!!!

Have a great writing week!

Monday, October 13, 2014

October #wipmadness – Week 2

Between helping my nephew with the final touches of his science project that is due tomorrow (I am so over Styrofoam and felt. And glue that doesn't bond with either) and trying to set up online payments for bills, I am completely without ideas for a good check-in post.

But sitcom idea #1 made an appearance late Saturday night as I was trying to fall asleep. The entire first scene of the show appeared to me and the main character spoke the intro to the show. I made myself turn my light back on and typed up the scene the best I could. (Note to self: Try the voice memo also, so there’s less intrusive light from the electronics.)

I think it’s a good start, so now I might have to figure out which idea to focus on. 

I guess there are worst problems to have. Like craft glue that won’t stick to craft items. J

I think there is a metaphor there somewhere about ineffective glue and the storytelling process, perhaps something like if one way doesn’t work, then try another way. And if that way doesn’t work, it might be time to try another way or ask for help. Hey, I found the metaphor!

Anyway, I hope your writing is going well. And if you are like me and have ran into bad glue, take a step back and think, “what else can I do?”

Happy Thanksgiving to our Canadian wipmadnessers.

Pie. I think we all need a big piece of pie. Or chocolate.

See you next week!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Welcome to October #wipmadness

My nephew has a short research essay due on Thursday, so I’m walking him through the steps of researching, prewriting, and writing. After reading Number the Stars in class, he decided to do his essay on Anne Frank. Saturday we went to the library and I showed him how to look up information in the encyclopedia. (Or as I explained to him the old school Internet.) We also checked out three books. Tonight we’ll work on organizing the information into three paragraphs: before hiding, hiding, and after hiding. I’m hoping we’ll get the first paragraph done tonight.

Helping my nephew has made me realize how innate the writing process has become to me. Perhaps I even take it for granted at times. Working with him and my other seventh grade student makes me re-examine the writing process: how this step leads to this step and how vital it is to take a few moments to organize your thoughts and even do the dreaded O word: outline.  

I've never liked outlining. But I've learned that it’s a necessity at some point in the writing process, and that the earlier it occurs, the better or/and easier a project becomes. You have to know what you want to write about before you can write about it.

I think I get lost in this step. Trying to figure out what the story is about before writing the story. Wanting my prewriting to look all cool and organized complete with cross referencing. (Yes, I am that anal retentive. I wonder if there’s a club for that?)

My question for you this week is this:

Do you have a tricky spot in the writing process? A place where you get stuck or in a rut?

Any advice on helping a seventh grader write a five-paragraph essay about Anne Frank? (I really thought that the five-paragraph essay was a relic of the past, but I guess not.) Any advice or suggestions about helping seventh-grade boys write would be greatly appreciated.

See you next week. Don’t forget to list your October goals!

My October goal:

Write a working outline for the pilot episode to sitcom idea #2.

Write a working outline for the YA WIP.

Make weekly progress toward these goals.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

September #wipmadness – Week Five

Since today is the last day of September, I thought it would be fitting to wrap the September 2014 edition of #wipmadness today instead of yesterday. (That and after a weekend of helping my nephew catch up on missing math assignments and complete a study guide for the novel they read exhausted much of my energy Sunday night. I truly don’t know how you parents do it, especially those who homeschool. You are truly heroes in my book.)

As I look at my goal for September, I remind myself that a new month begins tomorrow. And that there is less (fewer?) than 100 days left of 2014. 100 days (about 92 remaining if you like exact numbers) is plenty of time to devote to a WIP. I've been waffling back and forth about whether to write a page a day for the next 92 days or to write for an hour a day for the next 92 days. I’m not quite at the drafting stage for either TV show idea. And my novel has been on the shelf so long, I think my characters have already graduated college. But nonetheless October means I still have three months to squeeze as much writing time out of 2014 as I can and be able to start 2015 with plenty of steam and all that pesky prewriting done, prepped, and organized.

So I’m extending my September goal into October, but am adding weekly goals to kick my butt into shape. I’ll announce what those goals are next week, because guess what?

I’ll be hosting #wipmadness for October!!!

So how was your month? Did you reach your goal for the month? Are you extending your goal into October too? Or is it time for a new goal?

And now for the long awaited giveaway announcement:

My friend and sometimes writing partner, Jenn, graciously made this bracelet:

If skulls aren't your thing, she can replace them with different beads. She can also add an r to write to make it a writer bracelet. She will include the clasp of your choice: lobster clasp, toggle clasp or an adjustable clasp. (A toggle clasp is shown.) You can also select the length you'd like. I think this one is about 7.25 inches in length. If you have any questions about the bracelet, please let me know and I can forward any questions to Jenn.

If you would like to be entered into the giveaway, please include that in your check-in comment.

I’ll announce the giveaway winner by Friday on Twitter and here on the blog.

Hope you have a wonderful last day of September, and I’ll see you next week.

Monday, September 22, 2014

September #wipmadness – Week Four

It’s Monday, yay!

Why am I so happy about Monday?

Because we all know it’s the real first day of the week, the weekend is over, and it’s a great time to hit the road running, or rather to hit the keyboard typing, or hit the paper writing. (Okay I might have stretched out that metaphor a little too much.)

But in the interest of starting a new week: here’s an exercise for you to do right now:

Set a timer and just write for the next five minutes. Whatever comes to your mind, just write.

Now look at what you've written. Read it over. Is there anything you can use from it in your current WIP? Or perhaps it’s given you a morsel for something new, maybe something you've never tried before. Maybe it’s something you’ll put on a shelf for a while and let it marinate. (I’ll skip the marinade analogy for now.J)

But whatever you come up with, be proud of it even if you think it’s the worst thing that has ever been written in recorded and unrecorded history. Because you wrote it. You wrote. And that’s something to be proud of.

My question for you this week is:

Did anything surprise you about the five-minute writing exercise? Did you discover something new about a character or uncover a new plot detail? Did you add an idea to the ever growing story idea list? (Please tell me I’m not the only one who keeps such a list.)

See you next week for the final check in for September #wipmadness!

Giveaway Update: I’m still working out the specifics of the write bracelet with Jenn. I hope to be able to post a picture of it this week. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

September #wipmadness – Week Three

Congratulations! You’ve made it to the halfway point of the September edition of #wipmadness. If you’re on track with your monthly goals: Congrats! You’re awesome. And if you’re like me and are slightly off track with your goals, you are still awesome. There’s still plenty of time left in the month to cross those goals off your list.

So take a moment to celebrate the halfway mark. Reflect on what you have managed to accomplish and remember it is okay to reset your goals for the rest of the month. It’s also okay to take a day off to focus on yourself; your characters as well as your family and your future self will thank you.

My question for you this week is:

How do you celebrate? Do you only celebrate the end of a draft/project? Or do you celebrate throughout the process?

Pictures of prizes will be posted this week, so check back if you’re looking for a little motivation. I promise not to claim them all as hosting awards. J

Monday, September 8, 2014

September #wipmadness – Week Two

So how was your first week of September?

Mine was okay. I cashed in a bunch of loose change that I've earmarked for the purchase of an updated version of Syd Field’s Screenplay and other writing-related books. I also brainstormed ideas for one of my TV pilots. I even know the line of dialogue that ends the first act of the pilot episode. Now I just need to actually write these ideas down instead of keeping it in my head.

I think what I need most is to reestablish a writing routine.

Now I've never quite had the best writing routine. I tend to write in long spurts under tight deadlines. Paper due tomorrow afternoon? By all means, let’s start it at 10 the night before. Supposed to submit a story for fiction workshop on Tuesday night? It’s only Saturday, I can watch one more episode (or six) of Friends and still have something to pass out. Draft of thesis project? Um, let’s not go there. J

I’m not sure why I’m so reluctant to committing myself to a routine. Perhaps it’s because I’m so busy planning the forest and the surrounding areas; including the castle and the river, that I run into trees and shrubs that trip me up. Or I spend time constructing metaphors for the simple fact that I keep ignoring: To be a writer means you have to WRITE.

It’s such a novel idea. Writers write.

So my goal for this week is to:

1. Take a few minutes and write down the ideas.

2. Set up a mini routine for the week. Pick a time and write for at least ten minutes each day at that time. Start rebuilding the muscle memory of writing.

My question for you this week is:

What is your writing routine? When do you write? Where do you write? How long do you write for? Are you aiming for a certain number of words, pages, or minutes?

Do you have any advice for establishing a writing routine? What works? What doesn't work?

And what’s the best excuse you've used or heard for avoiding writing?

I have some very cool ideas for giveaway items including a WRITE bracelet and cool bookmarks. I’ll post pictures of the prototypes next week. My friend and sometimes writing partner, Jenn has graciously agreed to make these items.

Hope you have a great week full of fantastic writing sessions and amazing reads. I just finished reading my fifth Andrew Smith novel: 100 Sideways Miles.

Even though it’s been more than 1.7 million miles since I read the final line of the book, I’m still lost in its world, and wish there was an additional chapter hiding beyond the final blank page. I love it when books stick with you for hours, days, and even years after you read it. I hope someday a reader will feel that way about my own book or screenplay. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Welcome to September #WIPMADNESS

Hello and welcome to my blog, Shortstop in the Sourdough. I’m honored to be your host for the September 2014 edition of #wipmadness.

I've always liked it when a new month begins on a Sunday or a Monday as it gives a double fresh start to the week as well as the month. And today being Labor Day in the U.S. (and Labour Day in Canada) makes today a triple fresh start to this month’s wipmadness. 

As you can tell from my older posts, I’m not the most prolific blogger, I’m pretty much the opposite of prolific. Let’s go with having a major case of being a blocked blogger slash writer. But a new month means a new start and this month I am jumpstarting my love and commitment to writing and to blogging.

My goal for this month is to select a writing project (or two) and actually make progress on it. I keep waffling (yum, waffles) between a few screenplay ideas, two TV pilot ideas, a short story, and a YA novel. So I figure I want to commit myself to working at least on one of the screenplay or pilot ideas as well as working on the novel.

So my question to you this week is:

What is your goal for this month?


When you have several ideas, how do you choose which idea to work on first? If you have more than one WIP, how do you balance them?
I’m working on a bribing, I mean motivational giveaway of sorts. I just got my car back from its second major service of the summer, so money is a little tight, but I’ll figure something out. I’ll announce the bribes giveaways next week.

Hope you have an awesome week full of writing and discovery. And chocolate. Chocolate is good. And so are waffles.