Category Archives: Idea of the Day

the idea of the day describes something that insights discussion or thought for all who read

Fictional Celebrations

Love this little tidbit about writing holidays in fantasy/science fiction by my brilliant friend and colleague Rion. #amwriting

I am not lost...

I was going to have a title that was so much more boring than that one, but thank goodness I came up with a better idea. DAY SAVED.

So! For my Stateside luminaries, happy Independence Day! (For the rest of the world, happy 4th of July anywho. Love you.) One of the favorite summer holidays, full of picnics and grills and fireworks and s’mores and oh yeah, something about our country and England. Yay?

We have a lot of holidays floating around for one reason or another (and even more that people have just made up for fun/an excuse to celebrate) and we expect them each year. So what do you do when you’ve created the world…and they don’t have the same reasons to celebrate as we do?

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The Trouble with Diversity

My struggle every day to make sure I don’t make a mess of my first novel.

I am not lost...

I’ve been following along with some of the snafus that have occurred in and around the #WeNeedDiverseBooks hashtag, though haven’t ever really delved deeply into them. I have several friends who write stories dealing with people of various diversities (racial, people with disabilities, LGBT+, etc) and I know it’s an important part of our world that we should strive to make more noticeable.

The trouble I have comes when we start talking about who should be writing what.

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Strange and Mysterious Happenings

I am not lost...

So I took to Twitter the other day and asked all you lovely luminaries out there what you were interested in hearing me talk about here on the blog. My dear friend Sky said “strange and mysterious that you’ve seen happen.” For a long time, I sat staring at my screen, wondering what strange and mysterious things I’ve seen happen, or had happen to me.

I think I’ve come up with 4 events now, in groups of 2.

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April Showers Bring Writing Flowers

This is your month. I don’t care if you’re a writer who makes words every single day or a reader who loves the story-telling process. If one of these ideas sparks your interest, start writing. There is no better way to express your love of a story than by writing your own.

Even if you never share it, try it out. And if you find after you’ve written your idea and it surprises you with its wit, its humor, its drama, its strong character development–send it to me at Amyoung0606@gmail.com by April 26th and I will publish it on this blog for everyone else to enjoy your hard work.

1. A young girl and her mother walk to the edge of a field, kneel down in the grass, and plant a tree.

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2. A mama cat gives birth to a litter of four gray tabbies and one little orange runt.

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3. Inspired by Jurassic Park, a biological engineer is committed to recreating dinosaurs. While researching ancient dinosaurs, the scientist stumbles into evidence that fire-breathing dragons once soared over the land and decides to recreate those instead.ZZ3DC6E0A6

4. A man who sees ghosts checks himself into a mental institute, not realizing that the facility has been closed for almost thirty years.

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Don’t waste another minute thinking these negative thoughts:
I haven’t written since high school/college-if you are inspired the writing will flow. It doesn’t matter how much technique you know/don’t know. If you are passionate and inspired it will work out in the end.

I don’t think I could make a story from an idea someone else is giving-every idea comes from someone or something else. A person you’ve met, something you’ve seen, a past experience. These prompts are just here to facilitate inspiration to get the writing going. You don’t have to do them exactly, you can just borrower the idea, twist it, change it to your own liking and make a story all your own. These prompts are just tools to help.
I read a lot, but I don’t know if I can write- you will never know if you don’t try. Again no one else has to see it. You owe it to yourself to try a part of story-telling. You may appreciate stories even more.

Just give it a shot, if you do and don’t like it. Feel free to tell me. Or suggest something else you’d want to see. Perhaps you’d benefit more from learning about plotting or talking about ways to incorporate different writing techniques. I will be happy to give my readers more than just prompts to help their writing blossom.

Happy reading and writing!

 

 

 

 

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When Ka Decides Book to Movie Adaptations

The last time I addressed this topic I had been jaded and disappointed in Hollywood and most screenwriters for “screwing up” or “mis-interpreting” a beloved book/series. If you wish you can read it HERE. Warning, it is nit-picky and kind of pretentious.  My younger self (even just a few years ago) would throw out an entire movie just on some little details or expectations that far exceeding the truth of what book to movie versions represent.

This hard truth, a pill some fans are resistant to swallow (including my slightly younger self), is that each work of art (story, film, song) is interpreted by each reader/fan. They bring to that interpretation their own past, their hardships, their memories, which change the experience and perception of the art. And those interpretations that make it through the vetting process of a studio and a screen writer, the ones that make it onto the big screen might not match our own.images (1)

And it’s OKAY that the interpretations don’t match the source material. (Yes, even the most widely agreed upon as the worst of interpretations. Cough The Scarlet Letter with Demi Moore cough cough). Because the interpretation isn’t a reproduction. It is the viewing of the source material, quite literally, through the lens of someone else’s mind.

thought-policeThis may be an obvious reminder, but if we interpreted works of art the same then our lives would be worse than those in 1984 where they were spoon-fed their opinions by the government. If we are imposing on ourselves such an exclusive thinking, that our interpretations are better than other, then we are the ones to blame for hampering creativity. That’s the last thing the artists, writers, musicians, and filmmakers of the world want. That’s the last thing the readers and fans want (even if they don’t know it). Because without the independent, unique thoughts of the individual, we would deprive ourselves of some of the most beautiful creations known to man.

I’ve had a few of my favorite books turned into movies (most recently the sci-fi favorite Ender’s Game) and out of every possibility that could go wrong (inconsistencies, plot changes, terrible casting choice) I always left the theater with a huge grin, squealing my fangirl squeals all the way back to the car.
Undoubtedly, the phenomenon of having a non-pictorial story come alive in a very graphic and visually-appealing format….is a satisfaction that goes beyond anything I’ve ever experienced. To have story, its characters, its setting brought to life in front of my eyes—how can I NOT watch in awe? Some books are so vivid and so rich that they can play like a movie in your head. The scenes and character descriptions built in your mind are now standing in front of you on the screen. Voices are given timber and accents, bodies are given shape and clothes, and gestures and mannerisms are played out on the screen.

Even if every scene has one flaw, there is something magical that happens when someone takes the colors of prose and paints the filmstrip with them.

Speaking of Ender’s Game. Yes, I’m a fan. No, I will not be discussing the author’s private views in this blog. Yes, I have read every book in the main series and still don’t care about the author’s private views.

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The movie…blew my mind. Not in its accuracy (since the ending did not match the book it was titled from), but in the simple fact that a book I had come to love and revere for its intricate analysis of human emotion and psychology and sociology, was alive before me.

Were the actors everything I imagined? I will admit my poor visual imagination (thanks to aphantasia-it’s a real thing, I swear) pales in comparison to what the writers and producers put together. I recognized Ender when he came on screen not just physically, but for how the actor portrayed him. I felt the admiration Graff showed him in the final moments of the battle and the horror his team felt when he found out the truth of his victory. THAT is why I learned to enjoy book to movie interpretations. Because it gives new life to something I already love. It brings characters new dimension by adding this visual facet that wasn’t there before.

Maybe it’s because I found myself overly criticizing other’s works and I needed to reign in my own elitist thoughts. Or because I’ve actually written a piece I can imagine becoming a movie, but I’ve slowly learned to appreciate the amount of work it takes to translate something that is so complex and detailed on the page into a new format successfully.

Let’s turn now to an upcoming adaptation that has already experienced the sting of elitism even before the entire cast list is set.

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Yes, my lovelies I am talking about the long-awaited adaptation of Stephen King’s The Gunslinger. To most, you know that I am a constant reader and dedicated fan to the writer who has astounded us for decades with his ability to merge genres and themes into beautiful, sometimes horrific portraits of humanity. He is not only a constantly evolving author, but an intense inspiration for any writer who simply loves the craft regardless of the paycheck.

His alternate worlds, science fiction, fantasy western is finally coming to the silver screen. And his fans are pissed. Let me preface this conversation with the fact that although The Gunslinger is one of 8 novels in the Dark Tower series, there is no plan to make the rest of them into movies. This will be important later.

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The crux of fan issues is in the casting choice and their displeasure lies in the elitism of what we as the reader view for the character in our minds as well as what we know to be true from the content. The casting the Man in Black as Matthew McConaughey was taken fairly well as he has played enough bad guy roles that he can characterize the elusive chaotic Man in Black with ease.

Yet when we come to the namesake of the movie, the gunslinger Roland Deschain of Gilead who would be played by Idris Elba. Although at first I agreed with some of the confused and annoyed fans that the choice was poorly made in reference to everything we knew about Roland: his description within the books (i.e. he was lighter in skin color-although still tan I imagine, blue eyes and silvering black hair) and the huge racial issues that occurred in the Drawing of the Three when Odetta (eventually Susannah), one of his ka-tet (destined companions), was battling a deeply wrathful and racist other personality Detta who hated Roland for his whiteness.

idrisHOWEVER, and this is a big HOWEVER. Most of the issues that would affect the story telling and character development (the racial and personality conflict in Drawing of the Three) will never reach the big screen. Therefore, the only real attachment to content here is based on physical description, which in almost every single movie adaption has changed based on what the interpretation needs. In this case, The Gunslinger as a standalone doesn’t require Roland to be fair-skinned. It requires a rough, sometimes cold personality of a man who has lost his love, his home, and his mind a few times in his unending quest to save his world from utter destruction. Idris Elba is capable of that character. Idris Elba will succeed well at bringing a new version of Roland to the fans of the Dark Tower series, if we have faith in the screen writers and the producers and the actors to be good to a story we hold dear.

Because, constant readers and new readers and never readers, how do we expect others to excel if we continue to doubt what they’re capable of?

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Again, the key here is…the movie will be someone else’s INTERPRETATION of King’s work. I began reading about the topic of The Gunslinger movie upset at why they would change the content. Until King reminded me (and the whole world) that someone else is telling the story now, and we should sit down, shut up, and enjoy the freakin’ ride, man! Just as many fans interpreted Roland as Clint Eastwood, there are others who would see Idris Elba as their calloused yet talented Gunslinger. The man whose obsession with Tower made him ignorant to the death of his friend until it was too late. This character, this man, this….Gunslinger is not what one person expects him to be. He remembers the face of his father. He follows the path of the Beam. He respects Ka above all other forces in the universe.

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I, for one, reigned in my inner critic really quick. Since I am currently reading Wolves of the Calla (Book 5), I tried imagining (poorly due to my aphantasia) Idris as Roland. And I pasted him in like a paper doll in a book. He fit right in. I find him just as easily subduing the Calla with the Commala Rice song and his quick footwork on the stage. I imagine him carefully following Susannah out into the swamp/woods to find out what’s going on. He is just as much Roland as I would have imaged the men who are drawn on the covers of the books. It’s just a new interpretation, a new version of the Roland I admire.

Book to movie adaptations are a hard subject among readers. We view the book as the superior source because it was there first and because it has more to the story that the movie ever will. I implore you friends and fellow constant readers. Set aside your personal images of the characters. Open your mind to a new interpretation of a story you’ve come to love. You never know what might surprise you about this interpretation. It may show you more to love about the story and characters than before.

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Happy reading and writing and watching my minions!

Don’t worry I didn’t forget the bengal cat picture for your viewing pleasure. Nyla says hello!

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Mayhem in March: Monthly Writing Prompts

It’s time, my voluptuous golden minions for the monthly prompt selection by your Mistress of Fine Arts. I was hellbent on NOT doing themes every month, especially considering I did do a theme in January AND February related both to holidays and the weather, so this month’s prompts are thankfully unrelated. Although, I did sneak in a little Irish Celtic mythology in one of them so that St. Patrick’s Day would be at least vaguely connected. Can’t help but love my Irish heritage. AmIright?

Now that I’m done rambling. I present—–Mayhem in March Writing Prompts!
(All prompts were found or inspired by Awesome Writing Prompts)

Write about someone who uses office supplies for evil.

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Write a story with this criteria: Genre-folk tale. Person-hairdresser who moonlights as an assassin. Problem-there’s a red cap on the loose in town.

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Use these three words in a story: a mustache, a tube of lipstick, and a ray gun.

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Feel free to use the photos here as additional inspiration. Sometimes the right photo can jar an idea even faster than the words. Visual description is part of what brings the story to life as you know.

So, join with me this month in writing something with these prompts. It can be 100 words, it can be 1500. Whatever the muses decide. And when you’re finished with the story or even just part of it, send it to me at Amyoung0606@gmail.com and you will have it published on here.

Just to recap. Basically, write using one of the above (or all of them if you’re brave enough) ((if you’re really brave you’ll use all in one story)) from 03/03/16 until 03/27/16. Then you email it to me and watch as people revel and enjoy in your piece of art.
I know I will.

Happy reading and writing!

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Ode to Writing & Prompt Reminder

In honor of Valentine’s Day I’d like to post about three love-related announcements (and some delightfully adorable Deadpool-related photos because that movie blew my heart wide open).maxresdefault

97c1efd3d4e609e3e80ddea777290b261) Reminder that you can submit a story from the love/superhero themed prompts selected at the beginning of the month to me atAmyoung0606@gmail.com beginning 2/22, which will be published on this here humble blog. See HERE for this month’s prompts and HERE for my post about how I’m writing mine for this month.

 

2)I traveled all the way across the internet to one of my favorite author’s blogs in order to post what I love about writing. She was gracious enough to allow me onto her blog space in addition to putting up with my super fan antics as I continue to gush and fawn over her writing on a daily basis. Read my short post here!

3) I’ve written a poem. Not a good poem, but a poem nonetheless. This poem expresses my love of writing. Enjoy!

Ode to Writing

Every word I write, I love you more.

Every scratch of my pen, I know you more.

A plot device there, a metaphor there,

Brings me closer to who you are

Late nights with strained eyes—burned out creator,

I yearn for you to reveal your true nature.
I dream of life for you beyond these walls.

With friends, strangers, readers young and old.

You, dear creation, will be a book one day.

It is my love for you that paves the way.

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Happy Reading and writing!!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

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Like A Boss: Writing Exercises for your Work in Progress

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This was one of the first “appropriate” pictures that came up when I searched for Mistress. I think it’s perfect. She even has a book and writing materials!

I may only be Mistress of Fine Arts, but I am boss (my favorite trendy adjective, by the way) at using writing exercises to maximizing their use on my current work in progress. In almost every workshop or writing group I’ve attended in the past four or five years, my novel Dollhouse Daughter has always been at the forefront of my mind to finish and get it into the hands of my future readers. It’s been a long road and like all masterpieces is still incomplete.

As accomplished as I felt after completing my degree, my novel was in urgent need of structural renovations, character makeovers, and an addition of approximately 100 pages…at least! Add to that a start date of January and a deadline of July, and you have a recipe for confusion, disaster, stress, complete meltdown.

My sweet, beloved minions must be asking, “Mistress, how can you pull that off when you’ve expressed many times how slow your muse works, how you are notoriously slow to get new content written, and how much you procrastinate?”

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Yes, this is what writing exercise looks like!

My answer…drum roll please…WRITING EXERCISES. Now you’re thinking, “Okay, but those are just to help with the fundamentals and they aren’t even fun.”

Except my minions, they are! Character charts filled out like dating profiles, timelines for plots handwritten on notecards and taped to the wall, writing prompts specifically geared toward the book’s subject. When a book requires this much attention to detail or revising, the key is organization and focus.

Take for example my new outline for the revised plot. I have three separate pages of lined paper, draw so that on the left column you have the major points in the plot: obstacles, midpoint, denouement. And on the right side some keep points or summaries of the chapter’s contents.

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This diagram is both easy to outline with and also not too simplified.

The reason I have three? Well, my book has a main character (Cassie), with a subplot and important point of view from her mother (Marge), and a secondary mother-like character (Azalee). In the current version, let’s call it my MFA version, it had a lot of Cassie (as expected) and she was present in all 15 chapters. Marge was present in about 13 chapters. Azalee was only present in only 6 chapters. Thus I had to equalize the distribution of mother and mother-like character in order for the book to be balanced.

So, now that I was organized, I needed to focus. And here’s where my writing exercises came in handy. I needed new content, and a lot of it was for Azalee because she is a catalyst for the change Cassie had been waiting for.

I’m starting by using my monthly prompts (which you can read about here) in reference to write new content about Azalee, and thus add more content to my book. I feel like it’s an kind of art to take seemingly unrelated exercises, like prompts which pose a different story and genre in each one, and write a chapter or scene somehow related to one piece. This month, I chose a prompt about love spells and how someone would ever come to the decision to use magic to make someone love them. And who better to write this scene with than my vodou priestess!

So, I’m going to share my three tips for using writing exercises to benefit your current work in progress.

  1. Most stories beyond their theme or genre are about people, so choosing a character based prompt that focuses on why a character is making decisions or how they’re feeling are best. They are easiest to apply to many story ideas. You could use the love spell one, most obviously, for fantasy, but if you interpret spell differently you can use it as a scientific breakthrough or natural phenomenon in science fiction, or an emotional state for realistic fiction like romances or westerns or mysteries (to clarify: someone’s emotions are so strong, to call it a love spell would be a figurative description of the emotions). The most important part about that prompt is the intention or emotion you’re focusing on about the person willing to use a love “spell” on someone else is quite a character to write.
  2. There are hundreds of prompts out there that you can tailor to what you’re looking for. If you have a character who will soon have a flashback to childhood, but you’re having trouble envisioning that character. A prompt like this would help you find out what details to include with the flashback by creating the child’s setting: Imagine your character’s childhood room. What color are the walls, what kind of toys do they have, what posters hanging on the wall.
  3. Lastly, don’t be afraid to write something completely off topic. Say your work in progress is located in a warm climate. Don’t be afraid to choose a prompt relating to snow or ice because it puts your characters in a completely different environment or situation and can reveal something truly remarkable or unknown for you to use in your actual piece.

Whatever the reason, don’t be afraid to use simple, seemingly unrelated writing exercises to help you and your characters get to know each other. Because getting to know your characters in any situation, no matter how ridiculous, is the most efficient way you can tell your story. Look out for the prompt submission I’ll be posting on 2/22 using my vodou priestess Azalee and how she handles a love spell. If you want to read more about the prompt I used or want to try one of your own. Check out my monthly prompts chosen here.

Happy reading and writing!

 

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Special Announcement from the World’s Perfect Men

You. Yes, I’m talking to you. You should be writing. No, not your homework. Nay, do transcribe that email. Ne’ermore shall you pen your manuscript due in July.

Instead,2bd2349e705ab50331e6705591b6b2ca I must ask you to wordsmith something bigger, something more important. I must ask you to write something fun like a writing prompt (which is listed below)!

Look here: February Writing Prompt

f4b1a5222eab454665b088d34b490600In this great big world with all of our texts and emails and snail mail and assignments, you should be having fun with your words. I promise the time you spend on a prompt is small in comparison to the struggle to start that research paper or answering some responsibility-enducing emails. Not that I’m suggesting you procrastinate.
I’m suggesting you use this creative outlet to prepare. What better way to find an inventive introduction to a science research paper than to write about how a character gains superpowers during their summer vacation from a chemical spill? No other way to begin in my book.

664d504242f676f28f957bba258ea522Or how about you prepare to pay bills by writing about a garage sale where you can buy unbreakable courage or x-ray vision? Sounds like you’d really remember the importance of money while writing that.
For whatever reason, set aside some time and take a risk. Try something new. Try writing from a prompt. And if nothing else, at least you’ll have done something fun!

Check out the official post again here and if you have questions I’m always available!

Side note: The reason why the three men above were chosen is because I, and many others, have confirmed that they are perfection. Not in a creepy omg you must be mine you are perfect. Perfect in terms of great role models and wondrous beings to watch perform and live. If there was any need to appoint representatives of the human race say in terms of meeting another alien race formally– these men would aptly and flawlessly represent us as a species. All of the below qualities can be applied to each man and highlights the benefit of having them represent us.

Enthusiastic and deeply dedicated to their work and loved ones.

Artistically and passionately superior in their field (acting).

Jawlines-Seriously, you can’t disagree.

Wonderfully goofy and creative on and off camera.

Phenomenal dancers.

Voices of gods-all are equally talented in vocals, which I might add is not their field of choice. Just gifted with that much talent it oozes out of their pores.

Perfectly coiffed/tousled hair.

Grins that make you weak in the knees.

Overall, stunningly generous and kind human beings to their fans and strangers.

Basically….perfection. And each one represents their country of origin. England, Scotland, and US.

So. Yeah. They’re amazing. But so are you.
Happy Reading and writing my darlings!

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Couldn’t have put it better myself. This should be printed and share with every person!

Source: Writers are not lazy

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