The Three Simple Facts Of Writing

Today’s entry is a shortie because I’m busy wrestling with a wordy bastard of a story that refuses to be tamed but I’m in a particularly stubborn mood, so challenge met!

That said, I offer you my three simple facts of writing:

  1. If you do not write the story you truly want to write, it will never be read. You can’t have the unwashed masses confirm your greatness when you haven’t given them anything to be in awe of.
  2. If you don’t submit your work—–for review, publication, employment, or whatever—–the answer will always be no. The cruelest rejection you can ever receive is from yourself, the toughest critic you’ll ever know. If you never show your work, you never give an editor, publisher, prodco, or whatever, the chance to say yes (exercise caution, of course, and protect your writing before letting it fly out into the world).
  3. If you don’t write, you’ll never be a writer. Plain and simple. Also, many, many, many years from now, when you’re lying on your deathbed, do you really want a box of regret—–filled with all the unwritten stories of your life—–hanging over your head like the sword of Damocles? I think not.

Sally forth and be writeful.

— Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

Have No Unreasonable Fear of Repetition

Have no unreasonable fear of repetition. True, the repetition of a particular word several times in the same paragraph can strike a jarring note, but ordinarily the problem arises differently. The story is told of a feature writer who was doing a piece on the United Fruit Company. He spoke of bananas once; he spoke of bananas twice; he spoke of bananas yet a third time, and now he was desperate. “The world’s leading shippers of the elongated yellow fruit,” he wrote. A fourth banana would have been better. — James J. Kilpatrick

Of Our Hue Filmworks: The Submission Part 4 – The Admission

This marks my very first serious attempt at writing and directing a short film based on a feature length screenplay I wrote about diversity within the comic book industry named, “Spotting Black.”

In this segment, it’s all been said and done and there’s nothing left but for Daryl to come clean about his unorthodox submission.

Starring Lamont Copeland, Buddy Woodson and Reena Dutt.

Part 4:

Copyright 2001-2016 Of Our Hue Filmworks. All Rights Reserved.

50 Questions That Can Help Free Your Mind (to concentrate on writing… hopefully)

The common advice for freeing your mind to write is to create a journal. I’m fairly certain that most of you have either 1) created a journal that you may or may not keep current, or 2) heard the advice and decided journaling isn’t for you (hey, it happens).

So, what other options do you have when you’ve lost your self in a quagmire of self-pity, mundane daily obligations and insurmountable life woes and can’t quite seem to maintain your true identify or nurture your creative center?

Why, you slap on your pith helmet, turn your gaze inward, and explore that largely ignored country of your core self, naturally. And the best way to accomplish this is with the list below. Why a list? Because you’re a writer and writers love lists.

Be advised that there are no right or wrong answers because sometimes simply asking the right questions is the answer.

  1. How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?
  2. Which is worse, failing or never trying?
  3. If life is so short, why do we do so many things we don’t like and like so many things we don’t do?
  4. When it’s all said and done, will you have said more than you’ve done?
  5. What is the one thing you would most like to change about the world?
  6. If happiness was the national currency, what kind of work would make you rich?
  7. Are you doing what you believe in, or are you settling for what you are doing?
  8. If the average human life span was 40 years, how would you live your life differently?
  9. To what degree have you actually controlled the course your life has taken?
  10. Are you more worried about doing things right, or doing the right things?
  11. You are having lunch with three people you respect and admire. They all start criticizing a close friend of yours, not knowing she is your friend. The criticism is distasteful and unjustified. What do you do?
  12. If you could offer a newborn child only one piece of advice, what would it be?
  13. Would you break the law to save a loved one?
  14. Have you ever seen insanity where you later saw creativity?
  15. What is something you know you do differently than most people?
  16. How come the things that make you happy don’t make everyone happy?
  17. What is one thing have you not done that you really want to do? What’s holding you back?
  18. Are you holding onto something you need to let go of?
  19. If you had to move to a state or country besides the one you currently live in, where would you move and why?
  20. Do you push the elevator button more than once? Do you really believe it makes the elevator faster?
  21. Would you rather be a worried genius or a joyful simpleton?
  22. Why are you, you?
  23. Have you been the kind of friend you want as a friend?
  24. Which is worse, when a good friend moves away, or losing touch with a good friend who lives right near you?
  25. What are you most grateful for?
  26. Would you rather lose all of your old memories, or never be able to make new ones?
  27. Is it possible to know the truth without challenging it first?
  28. Has your greatest fear ever come true?
  29. Do you remember that time 5 years ago when you were extremely upset? Does it really matter now?
  30. What is your happiest childhood memory? What makes it so special?
  31. At what time in your recent past have you felt most passionate and alive?
  32. If not now, then when?
  33. If you haven’t achieved it yet, what do you have to lose?
  34. Have you ever been with someone, said nothing, and walked away feeling like you just had the best conversation ever?
  35. Why do religions that support love cause so many wars?
  36. Is it possible to know, without a doubt, what is good and what is evil?
  37. If you just won a million dollars, would you quit your job?
  38. Would you rather have less work to do, or more work you actually enjoy doing?
  39. Do you feel like you’ve lived this day a hundred times before?
  40. When was the last time you marched into the dark with only the soft glow of an idea you strongly believed in?
  41. If you knew that everyone you know was going to die tomorrow, who would you visit today?
  42. Would you be willing to reduce your life expectancy by 10 years to become extremely attractive or famous?
  43. What is the difference between being alive and truly living?
  44. When is it time to stop calculating risk and rewards, and just go ahead and do what you know is right?
  45. If we learn from our mistakes, why are we always so afraid to make a mistake?
  46. What would you do differently if you knew nobody would judge you?
  47. When was the last time you noticed the sound of your own breathing?
  48. What do you love? Have any of your recent actions openly expressed this love?
  49. In 5 years from now, will you remember what you did yesterday? What about the day before that? Or the day before that?
  50. Decisions are being made right now. The question is: Are you making them for yourself, or are you letting others make them for you?

Sally forth and be free-mindedly writeful.

— Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

Amy Tan’s Lonely, ‘Pixel-by-Pixel’ Writing Method

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Amy Tan, author of THE JOY LUCK CLUB on her writing process:

“As a result, I err on the side of going into too much detail when I do research and write. I abandon 95 percent of it. But I love it. It’s part of my writing process. I never consider it a waste of time. I never know where I’m going when I write. It’s the same reason I never come to conclusions about anything…. We have to turn it in—and at that point, you are guided by craft. You get to do your anarchy, try this and try that, try everything, and then apply craft.”

Read the entire article here.

Sally forth and be TANingly writeful.

– Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

Of Our Hue Filmworks: The Submission Part 3 – Harsh Realities

This marks my very first serious attempt at writing and directing a short film based on a feature length screenplay I wrote about diversity within the comic book industry named, “Spotting Black.”

In this segment, tired of all the rhetoric, Mark is determined to school Daryl about the realities regarding the comic book industry as it relates to people of color.

Starring Lamont Copeland and Buddy Woodson.

Part 3:

Copyright 2001-2016 Of Our Hue Filmworks. All Rights Reserved.

The Arrogance of Presumption

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“There is no excuse. If you want to write, write. This is your life, you are responsible for it. You will not live forever. Don’t wait. Make the time now.” ― Natalie Goldberg

On occasion, people stuck in a writing rut seek advice, which has become harder to dispense without sounding like a scribe’s bumper-sticker, especially since you can’t swing Schrödinger’s cat on the interwebz without hitting hundreds of inspirational tips and tidbits.

The simple, honest and truest bit of advice is to write. Write when you’re too tired to write. Write when writing hates your very existence. Write when words have moved out of your head in the wee hours of the night and left no forwarding address. Write when every word you put to paper is like pulling teeth. Write when your inner critic is telling you you’re a talentless shit. Write when the words refuse to make sense. Just write.

But no one wants to hear that because it isn’t a magical solution offered up by a Bagger Vance muse that makes all the tumblers in their befuddled minds line up and open the creative sluice gates.

Which leaves the long way around:

So, things aren’t going your way with your writing and you might be inclined to mope around the house and bask in self-pity for What Might Have Been, but there’s no reason to get down on yourself. Wipe your tears on your sleeves, buck up and realize today marks the start of a whole new ball game. All the old bets are off. You’re back at square one and it’s time to get a new bottom line. Take all your expectation and aspiration and lay them out like cards on a table. This is the first step towards putting the pedal to the metal. You’ve got to make no bones about what you truly wish to accomplish with your writing—–aside from the ludicrous notion of instant riches and fame—–and pull no punches with yourself on the hard work needed to make your dream a reality. And if I can toss in one more tired cliché, your ship doesn’t always come in… sometimes you have to swim out and meet it halfway.

As a writer it’s important to strike a balance between the creative and rational minds. The problem with the creative mind is that it’s equipped with the arrogance of presumption that it knows all there is to know and sometimes it becomes difficult to suspend tyranny long enough to receive messages from life, the universe, the inner muse, and—if you can stretch your fantasy muscles around the strange-but-true notion—your future self. Scoff all you like, but the part of you that exists on a higher plane of consciousness occasionally tries to contact you in order to provide panoramic views of the far horizon. The messages may be brief and strange, or they may appear in a matter-of-fact guise in the midst of your daily routine. Either way, if you turn a blind eye to the minute workings of the world all around you, you may be missing pithy pointers on how to shape your life’s mission to become a happy writer—–note that I didn’t say a successful writer, writing should first and foremost lead to happiness and fulfillment—–in the near and distant future.

A more metaphorical view on encountering obstacles in moving your writing forward is akin to walking in the deep dark forest and encountering a savvy old crone camouflaged as a wolf. Your fear, already swarming because of the unfamiliarity of your surroundings, kicks instantly into high gear, causing you to flee before you can see through the disguise. But now that you know the truth, go back and find the crone again. She has much to teach you about harvesting the treasure that comes from the deep recesses of the creative mind and taking aggressive measures to build up your confidence and mental wellness. Stop talking about and start manifesting the dream, and get as bawdy and funky as you dare.

Those last three paragraphs are a bit cringe-inducing, aren’t they? And they sound like a load of gibberishy nonsense. So, why not take the simple advice and…

Just write.

Sally forth and be writeful.

— Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

Of Our Hue Filmworks: The Submission Part 2 – The Rejection

This marks my very first serious attempt at writing and directing a short film based on a feature length screenplay I wrote about diversity within the comic book industry named, “Spotting Black.”

In this segment, after Daryl receives a less than enthusiastic response to his submission and previous published work… things get heated.

Starring Lamont Copeland and Buddy Woodson.

Part 2:

Copyright 2001-2016 Of Our Hue Filmworks. All Rights Reserved.

 

Writer’s Rut Is A Pain In The Butt

Calvin and Hobbes PanicWell, it is if you actually believe in it. I’ve run into more than my fair share of scribes who emphatically state that writer’s block is about as real as Santa, the Easter Bunny, or Steven Spielberg’s dinosaurs. I’m of the opinion that if it’s real to you, then it exists. But whichever side of the fence you personally stand on, there’s no denying the fact that writers, somewhere during the process of penning their magnum opus, can get stuck.

The first telltale sign of blockage is Oculos Computator, better known as The Stare. If you’ve ever experienced it, you know exactly what I mean. Hinder parked in your favorite writing chair, knuckles cracked, fingers nimble and hovering above your keyboard… when you become mesmerized by the siren song—I always hear Bali Hai from South Pacific—of the vast white void of your computer screen.

But you’re a determined writer, so you shake it off, gird your loins, and make resolute your desire to put words to paper. The problem is you can’t. That scene that’s so clear in your mind has suddenly become uncomfortable and difficult to write. Your synopsis refuses to mold itself into story form. An unbridgeable chasm has open up between you and the end of the story. The next scene (or chapter) is an empty pit of nothingness that stares back at you like the abyss and mocks your talent and very existence. Somehow—not through any fault of your own, surely—your characters have all been written into inescapable corners. But you have to write, that ache is in your bones, so what do you wind up doing? You rewrite, edit, rewrite, and edit what’s already been written instead of moving on.

That, my friend, is the kiss of death for creativity.

So, what are the workarounds? Hate to break it to ya, kiddo, but there ain’t no one surefire method. It’s like that line from the Diff’rent Strokes theme, “What might be right for you, may not be right for some.”

What’s that? You think that’s a cop out answer? You want what? Actual advice, even though everybody and their mother uses a different approach? Fine. Here are some of the more popular methods, in a nutshell:

Plot the story out beforehand. It’s akin to knowing the destination before you begin the journey. Stop whinging, you artsy bastard. Sure, preplanned structure can be viewed as limiting the creative spontaneity of your currently unwritten baby, but it’s only a suggested story path that you can alter along the way. Nothing’s written in stone—rewrites’ll drive that point home soon enough, trust me—until your work has been published.

Gender swap. As silly as it might sound, tinkering with the XX and XY chromosomes of your protagonist or antagonist actually helps change the character’s viewpoints and perspective. Or if you’re not up to playing God—who are you kidding? You’re a writer. You think you’re God, go on and admit it—try switching up your writing style. If you normally write in first person, why not give third person a go?

Dora, of Explorer fame, is keen to shout, “Swiper, no swiping!” But you ain’t her and no one’s watching, so why not rip a page from the Star Trek TV series plot device book (from Next Generation to Enterprise) and give your characters a mini goal they must accomplish and pair them up with other characters they absolutely cannot stand. Conflict is story. Just ask Moses. It was written on the back of one of the stone tablets. Trust me on this.

Don’t allow yourself to get hung up on formatting, grammar, punctuation, spelling, capitalization, and all that crap, and save editing for the very end. Right now, your goal is to transport that nagging story from the ether of your mind and plunk it firmly down on the page. You’ll have plenty of time to go back and gussy it up later.

And the simplest bit of advice I can offer any of you lazy sods who positively hates following patterns and formulas or doing any sort of precursor to writing; the quick and dirty solution to putting the boots to writer’s block is to stop waiting for your muse—she’s really not that into you and it’s embarrassing how you chase her around like a lovesick puppy—and simply write. Let your thoughts spill out and let it be awful and unstructured and nonsensical, just as long as you’re actively engaging in the process of writing. Hell, start a blog. Works for me.

Now, what are you doing still staring at this? Stop procrastinating. Sally forth and be writeful.

— Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

Of Our Hue Filmworks: The Submission Part 1 – The Sitdown

This marks my very first serious attempt at writing and directing a short film based on a feature length screenplay I wrote about diversity within the comic book industry named, “Spotting Black.”

In this segment, it’s the start of the Tri-State Comic Convention and publisher Mark Brown enters his hotel room to find the most unusual submission he’s ever received.

Starring Lamont Copeland and Buddy Woodson.

Part 1:

Copyright 2001-2016 Of Our Hue Filmworks. All Rights Reserved.