Posted in Writing

Dear Synopsis

Dear synopsis,
You & me? We got a problem. See you’re supposed to help me sell my manuscript to agents. You’re supposed to be a road map of my stories plot. Event A begets even B etc. I can understand that But see here’s my problem with you. You’re too bloody short! Nobody can agree on the length to make you. One page?, Two pages?, As many as five? How much detail am I supposed to tell you? How do I incite interest and still keep you so short? You irritate me synopsis. I’m coming after you. Put your affairs in order. You’re gonna get done.

Posted in Writing

Everything I know about fantasy writing, I learned from D&D. No, really.

I am a Dungeons & Dragons nerd. These are the things I learned from playing that have helped me in my writing.

1. World building is important. The world must be flushed out enough so that the reader can see how living there has influenced the characters.

2. Its fantasy! Its not supposed to be real, at the same time, it must be close enough to real life that the audience can live there.

4 Just like in real life sometimes the good guys will role a twenty and sometimes they won’t. Make sure there’s always a way to gain strength from the battle.

5. Have fun!

Posted in Writing

The Problem with Evil: A Point of View

Evil is an unacknowledged part of every human soul. Everybody does things they shouldn’t. Everybody has selfish “Me’ moments and seductive, and easy. Sometimes, We all want to do things the easy way. Understanding why is important. People have reasons for the things they do. They might not be valid reasons, they might no even be what you, or I, would consider sane reasons, but, nonetheless, they’re reasons have to be understandable and compelling. Why is this person like this? Why do they view the world the way they do? Revenge? have they been wronged in the past? Is the world so incredibly screwed up that only they can fix it? If so, Why? Backstory plays a key roll. The reasons need to be easily understood by the reader. There’s the rub. We like to flirt with evil. We like to poke it with a metaphorical stick and see if it moves. Good & Evil are simply points of view. A good villain is a hero in his own mind. He behaves in such a way in order to achieve his goal. The same could be said for the hero. When both of these people believe they’re firmly planted in the roots of righteousness, conflict grows naturally. Evil is a part of every person. What makes it compelling is that like good, it is rooted in our own point of view.

Posted in Writing

The Purpose of Metaphor.

What is the purpose of a metaphor? I was taught that memories are like signposts for stories. They are points on a road that connects ideas. This is especially useful when writing fiction because a well chosen metaphor can bridge the gap between reality and fantasy. First talk about something about in the fictional world and use a metaphor to tie it, with a strong knot, to something the reader understands, so that it draws them more deeply into the narrative. It is possible, however, to use to many metaphors. You bog down the story and the audience becomes board. How do I strike the proper balance between action and exposition?
Any ideas?

Posted in Writing

Writers Block

What do you write about when you don’t know what to write about? Writer’s block of course! They’re times when the well of imagination simply runs dry. What do you do during those times? Well, speaking for myself, I simply try to knockdown the blocking wall and power on through. Forcing myself to write, usually starts my brain gears moving. On those days when inspiration is especially slow in coming, I usually get on the internet and watch a fun YouTube video, or listen to a public domain, audiobook, like Dickens or Moby Dick or treasure Island. What do you do to conquer writers block?

Posted in Writing

A letter to my Brain.

Dear Brain:

You’ll have to excuse me, I’ve never anthropomorphized one of my own internal organs before. But lately, I feel like I have some things I want to talk with to you about. You and I have never really gotten along before. I’ll just call a spade a spade Okay? For a long time, you’ve done a really crappy job of helping me control my body. You have, don’t deny it. Do you understand how hard it is to walk with bent knees? and I don’t like that you make certain body parts shake for no reason whatsoever, or, that you haven’t let me straiten my arms since I was three, I don’t think its funny that you won’t let my legs walk. Or that you sometimes make my wheelchair run into walls, or, you won’t let me speak coherently, and those two times you made me he have to wear a body cast for two months were entirely unpleasant.
Nevertheless, I am a big enough person to admit, that I, on occasion, have wronged you. It was wrong for me to stick the glue-stick up my nose when I was three. I admit that, the teacher stopped me, no harm, no foul.
I’ll get down to it Mr. Brain. You are a very creative organ, really, I’m proud of you. Ever since we agreed to try this Writing thing, you have given me at least five different ideas for projects. I’m grateful. But I do have one request, could you not send me ideas when I am busy working on another idea? It presents me with a loss of focus which, is distracting. We may be able to add to the literary landscape, but only, if we work on one thing at a time. Have we got a deal?

Thanks very much for your efforts on my behalf.


Erik Parkin

Posted in Writing

Try Not! Do, or do not!

The greatest stories contain life lessons It was true of our ancient myths and it is true of popular culture today. Star Wars, for example, has always been my favorite movie. My favorite Star Wars character has always been Master Yoda. One of Yoda’s most memorable lines was, “No! Try not! Do, or do not. There is no try!” Have any of you ever stopped to consider what that means? I think Master Yoda said it to try to get Luke Skywalker to banish self doubt from his mind and concentrate all of his effort on his task in the present moment. I will put it another way. If I say, “I’ll try” that means I don’t truly believe I can succeed. When I don’t succeed I can give myself an out by saying “I tried” It doesn’t matter if you’re learning the ways of The Force, or publishing a novel, this lesson can still apply.

I am not going to “try” to publish a novel. If I think of it that way, the task will be big daunting. Instead, I will break the task down into manageable tasks and do what I am able to do. This is what I will do to publish my book.

1. Write more stories to hone my craft.

2. Read more and notice things that other writers do and use their techniques to improve my own manuscript.

3 Have other people edit my work.

4 Research publishing companies and other avenues.

5. Persevere, don’t give up.

May The Force Be With Me. There’s lots to do.

Posted in Writing

What is a writing style?

A writing style allows the writer to infuse their work with their own personality and stamp. They’re four basic writing styles:

1. Expository- The writer is telling you about a certain subject and leaves their opinion out of it. Many how to books are written this way.

2. Descriptive- Descriptive writing focuses a great deal on describing scenes and characteristics vividly.

3. Persuasive- The writer is trying to convince you of an argument or point.

4. Narrative- The writer is telling a story: This happened then that happened. The internet is a repository of information on the styles of writing.

I was taught that writing was more then beginning with a capital letter and ending with a period. Good writing takes you somewhere, tells you something. The book that really taught me to write, and write well, was a book called Hatchet by Gary Paulson. I first encountered this book in fourth grade when my teacher read it to us, and then again, in sixth grade, when I had to write a book report on the book. The writing of that report was a frustrating and trying experience that hacked and cut at my writing skills, and sometimes even my self esteem wit the efficiency of well, a hatchet. But, throughout the eight drafts I wrote of that damn report, I began to see my writing skills grow, mature, and flourish, like a flower in springtime.
The book is about a 13 year old boy named Brian who is dealing with the pain of his parents’ newly ordered divorce. While flying one summer to visit his father in the Canadian wilderness, Brian’s plane crashes on the shore of an L shaped lake. The only thing he has to help him survive is the hatchet his mother gave him when they part at the airport. He has the hatchet, and himself.

Brian was alone by himself for most of the book. He has very little dialog and the obstacles he confronts are the ones he puts in front of himself. Don’t those make for the best kind of Drama? The exposition in this book is vivid and consuming. I suppose, I have assimilated Mr. Paulson’s vivid, narrative writing style and incorporated it into my own prose. Hatchet is one of the things that gave me the courage to write a novel. Thank you, Mr. Paulson.

Posted in Writing

The Advent of Inspiration: Meeting with Melpomne.

Where does inspiration come from? I don’t think anybody knows for sure. But there are some theories. The ancient Greeks were the forerunners of the arts. The believed that humans were inspired by the nine daughters of Zeus. They spurred mortal to do great, or terrible thing by influencing the course of their lives. These goddesses could use several thing as an impetus for change. I visited with Melpomne, the muse of tragedy, or at least, I thought it was a tragedy.
Have you ever worked hard for something in life? Worked really hard for it? Thought you wanted it, and then, realized it wasn’t what you wanted after all? Well, something like that happened to me, it was truly one of the most terrifying, experiences of my life. It altered forever, the way I viewed myself, and the world.
All of my life people have said that I am a very creative person,even artistic. But, for some reason, I never really being artistic, as an asset, I never thought that art paid the bills. To pay the bills, you had to be technical. I new one thing for certain, I wanted to be considered ‘Normal’ For a number of years, since I was born with Cerebral Palsy I know that having a disability can be hard, and I wanted to be considered Normal by those around me. So, for a number of years, I did what “Normal” people, I went to school, I had friends, I learned and I grew. During these years, I learned to accept people, and people learned to accept me. I graduated high-school and college as well.
When college was over over, it was time for me accept the responsibilities of a “normal” adult. I thought that being a Normal adult meant finding a job living on my own, etc. My undergraduate degree was in Psychology. Graduate school was not in the cards, and I could not find a job on Psychology. So, I decided to take classes at a community college while continuing to look for paid work.
I didn’t plan it, but, I ended up receiving an AA degree in Web multimedia Authoring. This meant that I learned to make webpages on the internet. I had always liked computers they’ve always been a pathway to independence for me. But the problem I encountered with the internet was the technology changed quickly, too quickly for me too keep up. Also, i developed pages slowly. They usually got finished, but they took a long time. It was hard for me to stick to a schedule. So, taking jobs for clients filled me with anxiety that i couldn’t quite seem to get rid of no matter how hard I tried. Yet, I persevered. If there’s one thing a disability teaches someone, it is the value of perseverance. I persevered and my skills grew somewhat.
During May of 2014. I was finally hired as a webmaster for a non-profit organization, for money. Finally! I had what I always wanted! It didn’t take long for the anxiety I had always felt to overwhelm me. But, I persevered because I finally had what I needed to be “Normal.” Yay for me! My anxiety got worse and developed into panic attacks. Eventually, I developed an “acute depressive episode”
Ever since I was young, I have felt that the only thing I really could control was my feelings, and my attitude towards the things that happened to me. Depression took that from me. I became obsessed with my job, I was always working on at the computer, but I wasn’t getting anything done. I became a frightened bitter, angry person, a person I didn’t want to be. My dream had become a nightmare, a tragedy.
So, this was “Normal?” Being normal sucked! I finally had what I always wanted yet, I felt awful. I felt farther away from normal as I could be! I decided to seek counseling to see if I could start feeling better.
It was about four sessions into my counseling sessions when something occurred to me, being Normal doesn’t necessarily mean having a paying job or your own house. That’s because being normal is not an objective state. Normality is a subjective state. It is different for everyone person. That means a person is normal, when they are happy with themselves. So, with that knowledge in mind, I told myself “Okay, stop thinking about what you need to reach an arbitrary standard set by somebody else, and start thinking about want you want to make yourself happy.” I remembered my time telling stories as a child, as soon as as the thought crossed my mind. I heard a voice: “Its about time.” I ended up choosing to quit my paid position and becoming a volunteer. This gave me time to write. I’m happier with myself now than, I have been in a long time.
Tragedy has been a staple of Greek drama, after meeting with Melpomne, and going through her machinations, the characters are endowed with knowledge and experiences they never expected. My own meeting meeting with Melpomne, compelled me to do something thought I would. She compelled me to change my definition of “Normalcy” Once that happened, I was inspired to hear Gendar’s voice and write his story. If I hadn’t gone through all the trouble with depression, I wouldn’t have been compelled to give writing a serious chance. Writing has allowed me to explore my authentic self. It is something I can do with minimal help some authentic self is coming through these words when you read them, you are hearing me, instead of others who may have to help me. That makes me happy.
Art imitates life. The central lesson of any Greek tragedy from Oedipus to the Illiad, is that obstacles and hardship beget strength. Meeting with Melpomne brings strength knowledge and will perhaps eventually, inspire the hero to grow and do things he never thought possible. Meeting with Melpomne has certainly done that for me.

Posted in Writing

Avoiding Plagirisim

I am a beginning writer, I don’t have a lots of experience writing. I have read a lot of ideas and influences. I believe I have taken them and distilled them into an a concept and Idea that is uniquely mine. But,  if there things like, Joseph Campel’s Monomyth or Christopher Booker’s, The Seven Basic Plots One must ask oneself, “Are there truly any original stories?” If that is true, how can someone truly have an original idea? How can you be sure you are not unintentionally stealing somebody else’s idea? How can you protect yourself from plagiarism?