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What is a writing style?

December 30, 2014 • eparkin1208

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.

Categories: Writing

Okay, I wrote The Book, Now What?

December 29, 2014 • eparkin1208

It was a few minutes past five O’clock on September 2, 2014, when I hit the last period on the last sentence of the last page of the three year long project. Finally, it was done. I turned my head to the right and spoke to the Elf beside me, “Okay, I wrote your story, Now what?”

“Well”, said Gendar, “If we really want to publish this book there are a few things that still need to be done.”

“Such as?”, I inquired wearily.

“Well for one thing”, Gendar said, “This manuscript need to be edited, it has more spelling errors then a dog has flees!”

“They have dogs where you come?”

“Focus, Erik.” I glared at Gendar. “Here’s another thing”, said the Elf a bit exasperated, “I am from another world entirely but even I know the difference between their, they’re, and there. For Goddess’s sake Erik, think of the context of the sentence!”

“Well I’m sorry” I said, “Writing is tiring and sometimes I miss things.”

“A fair point”, said Gendar “We need to present this to other people and ask them to point out mistakes.”

“Do you know anyone?”, I asked him.

“They’re more humans here then on Ashalla, I think you’d be better at approaching people.”

“I know a few people I can ask.” Gendar nodded.

Changing topic I asked, “Once its edited, what do we do?”

Gendar was silent and pensive for a moment, “Mother wrote letters to bookshops and publishers perhaps we could do the same.”

“Perhaps we should start a blog”, I mused.

“Oh yes one of those ‘Websites’ I’ve heard about.”

I gave Gendar a level glance, “We need to be realistic in our expectations. Just because we do these things is no guarantee that people will publish it.”

Gendar absorbed my warning with equanimity, “I am a master of The Mystic Arts”, he waggled his fingers should these methods fail, I will magically compel folks to read it.”

“We’ll call that ‘Plan B'”, I said. We chuckled together.

Categories: Finding An Agent

The Advent of Inspiration: Meeting with Melpomne.

December 29, 2014 • eparkin1208

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.

Categories: Writing

Avoiding Plagirisim

December 22, 2014 • eparkin1208

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?

Categories: Writing

What is the purpose of stories?

December 19, 2014 • eparkin1208

What is the purpose of stories? Why do we tell them? Why do we listen? Do we do it simply to hear ourselves talk?,Or simply to put our kids to sleep? I believe that stories have two congruent purposes. The first is, of course to entertain, the second is to shine a light on society. particularly on the things that might need to change, and inspire audience members to change them. Gendar and I had a conversation about the power of stories as a catalyst to change society when we met.
I remember, coming home one night 2011 with a headache, “Come here”, said an insistent demanding voice.
“Who are you?”, I asked nervously.
“Follow the sound of my voice” I went in the computer room where I spent most of my time and there, sitting on the couch was a two foot five inch creature with clover colored skin, ears that were pointed like spears on the side of its head dagger-like silver hued nails on his hands and feet. It was clothed in a homespun wheat colored robe,it locked its eyes on me and spoke: “I’m an Elf not an ‘it’.”

“Eh”, I said.

“No”, said the creature slowly with great patience and enunciation, as if reasoning with a small child, “Elf not ‘Eh'”

“Um”

“Look” said the Elf, if we’re going to continue this stimulating conversation you’re really going to need to stop speaking in monosyllables Erik”

“How do you know my name?”, I asked.

“Wow a full sentence, “we’re making progress. My name is Gendar, in case you’re wondering.”

“Nice to meet you”, I said.

Gendar nodded companionably and said, “I have one of those too”, as he pointed to my wheelchair.

“Do you have trouble walking?”, I asked.

“At times. So, I built one of those.”

“A Wheelchair?”

That’s my name for it too”, said Gendar, “only mine doesn’t have that weird little stick you seem to use is that how you control it?”

“Yes”

“I push mine” said the Elf.

“Where is it?”, I asked

“Oh its back in Ashsalla, That’s where I’m from.”

“Where is that?”

“Later”, Gendar said, “first, tell me something, you use that chair, because you cannot walk, yes?”

“true”, I said. The Elf struggled off the chair, and hobbled around the room for a few minutes, “As do I” he said.

“Does it ever make you angry Gendar?”, I asked

“Yes it does,” he replied, “and sometimes people underestimate my physical capabilities.”

“That’s true,” I commiserated with the Elf, “It happens at times with me, too, if I listen to enough people talk like that I end up believing it.”

“That used to happen for me too, until I saved Ashalla”

“You saved the world?”

“I did. I also fought ogres tamed a dragon, and spoke with gods.”

“You did all this just hobbling around?”, I asked skeptically.

“Sometimes I used my Wheelchair.”

I regarded, Gendar skeptically for a moment. Could he be on the level?. “Forgive me” I said to him, “I have trouble believing that someone who can barely walk can do all that.”

Its hard to do something if you don’t believe you can isn’t it?”

“Yes”, I said.

Gendar had taken a mirror out of his robe and looked on it as if, through it he could glean the secrets of the universe, “This mirror used to belong to my grandmother.” I used it a lot during my adventures. Afterwards, I found out that it could give me glimpses into other worlds, its how I found you.”

“Why did you look for me?” I asked.

“Here they call people like you and me ‘disabled’ correct?”

“sometimes people use other names”

“What about the media newspapers, books, TV shows things like that?” Have you seen many shows or stories with disabled characters?”

“How did you know about-”

“All in good time” Gendar, snapped “fifteen percent of your world’s population deals with some sort of disability, be it hidden or visible. You are part of your world’s largest minority. But you don’t seem well represented in the media, does that anger you?”

I answered honestly, “Yes it does.”

“How could you change that?”

I don’t know.”

“stories are written to help illuminate problems or questions. They have a dual purpose, not only to entertain, but also to educate. They can serve as a catalyst for change.”

“I could write a story with a disabled character.”

“You could, have I got a story for you.” I rolled closer to Gendar, and listened closely.

Categories: Writing

What makes a good story?

December 16, 2014 • eparkin1208

Story telling is a fascinating and compelling art. It is a cross-cultural phenomenon that can speak to everyone regardless of culture or station. Stories speak to our shared humanity and are capable of drawing people together in way that is memorable and lasting. Why? what makes a good story?
I think that a story needs four things in order to grab the attention of an audience and hold their attention long enough to speak to them: A hero, A Villan, a setting and a Task. Every one of them is important to the story. Here’s Why:
1. The Hero- This is the character stuff to whom stuff happens He, She they or it, usually start out as insignificant or nobody. through the course of a the story, the hero usually rises from mediocrity to excellence, and gains the wisdom and maturity to solve their own problems and lead their own life. Every hero, from luke Skywalker to Gilgamesh, follows more or less the same path.

2. The Villan- The Villan is arguably the most important element of the story. Everything precedes from The Villan. Without him, her, or it, there is no task for the hero to perform, no ‘wrong’ for him to correct. Without Lex Luthor, Lois Lane, has no reason to get herself in trouble, and Clark Kent has no reason to take off his glasses. Without Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker has no reason to leave Tattooine. The stronger The Villan, the stronger, The Hero.

3. The Setting- The Hero and Villan cannot exist in a vacuum because their actions must effect the world around them. The more the audience knows about the world the characters inhabit, the more they will be able to empathize with them. The audience will become emotionally invested in the story.

4. the Task. The hero and Villan, needs to do something. Something that effects the world around them, for good, or ill. It works best, if the hero and villan are at cross purposes, this creates conflict, which is the main ingredient in drama. For example, Lois Lane see Lex Luthor, Rob a Bank. Lois wants to give evidence to the police to put Lex in jail. Lex doesn’t want to go to jail, so he must endanger Lois to prevent the police from obtaining her evidence. It falls to Superman to protect Lois from Lex’s plan. The successful, or unsuccessful completion of the task will have consequences for the characters’ world.
If a story has these four elements working together, the audience will remember and maybe even enjoy it!

Categories: Writing