11 January 2017

Plotting vs Pantsing Smackdown

There are two modes of story writing that I've come across. The one that sells, and the one that tells. The first one I think needs structure or else most readers won't get it, they won't stay engaged. I consider myself in the group of most readers. Most readers want to immerse in the story world and feel that arc upon which the protagonist journeys. We all understand that.

I read over at The KillZoneBlog where they discuss an article in Writer's Digest, "Just Write". The article indicates that by our own experiences we have a natural ability to write stories.  And so comes the argument of what method of story writing makes for great content, plotting or pantsing, for what the industry deems sellable.

Today, I'm going to be an advocate for the Pantser. Most folks who want to write have a passion to write. Not to tell a story, but to write, in any form. The story is just the most common and accessible means to doing just that. Writing is what we love to do. But, as mentioned at The KillZoneBlog, you don't just write a story, especially fiction. You must first understand the underlying mechanics of what makes stories work *cough* said the author of a story structure book to the novice writer. If you believe that, you haven't judged many writing contests. The talent pool is swimming with creative young writers who can tell great stories. Their imaginations are phenomenal.

What I like to argue, is for a great work of art to come to fruition, the writer must unleash the story within. That is, the telling of the truth. No form or structure is going to allow for the next great novel to come alive with as much impact. Story structure is what makes the reader get that familiar feel of a story. The beginning/middle/end, a call to journey, the  crisis, the denouement, whatever. It's what sells as a good read. Anyone wanting to write for a living must know this, learn it and apply it. Or you can fall back on the no-resolution resolution structure.

But a story that tells is different for me. The telling of a great story, even in fiction, is one that spills truth. It's one I deem a creation that forms from the implanted seed which grew inside the artist. The only way to spill truth for a writer with a story, is to be unbound from traditional forms of storytelling. How did S.E. Hinton, at such a young age, bang out The Outsiders? Or how did Mary Shelley pen Frankenstein? Do you think she was aware of story structure, or do you think she just wrote what was already within her? I think the latter. She'd endured the birth and death of her baby before she was 18 years old. The story was in her. It wasn't birthed from a formulaic presupposed rendition of the cookie cutter storyline. Though I'm sure publishers polished it up a bit after she wrote it.

Be careful not to provoke the artist into changing their vision. They shouldn't strive to fit a structure before they begin to write. Some guidance is great, but the gifted writer should write without scrutiny or the presupposition that they are incapable of producing greatness without guidance or structure. What came first? The story or the structure? No story should be bound by traditional and formulaic structures before writing it. The Writers Dream Kit contains over 32,000 story forms. I wonder how we discovered those forms. Were they written first?

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23 December 2016

Memorializing Maggie R.I.P

Maggie's favorite napping position
I am  so sad to say that Maggie has passed away. On Friday, I took her to the emergency hospital at the advice of our family veterinarian. My 13-year-old English bulldog had a prolapse or hyperplasia. Whichever it was, she had her insides hanging out of her vagina. It was very scary, so I won't bother with visuals.

The vet on duty recommended Maggie get spayed in order to decrease her estrogen levels. The following Monday, she underwent surgery and I brought her home. She was very groggy, but she came out of the anesthesia the next morning. After walking around the house a bit, she went back to sleep and didn't wake up.

It's tough to lose a member of the family at this time of year. Here are some of our previous Christmas photos.

Christmas 2010

Christmas 2014

Christmas Eve 2015

A very young Chelsey and Tenay. Maggie at a year old.

Maggie let the new puppy climb all over her (2016)

Maggie had the patience of a Saint! (2016)

New puppies are super exhausting. (2016)

She always loved a great butt scratch! (circa 2011)

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13 December 2016

Creepy Elf on the Shelf - Don't Do This!!

This is not a rant. I only have a few words to share. It's about this elf on the shelf motif used to get children involved in the spirit of Christmas. You know, the idea that Santa Claus is watching them so they better be good or else they won't get any presents? Yeah, that elf is a spy.

Some responsible parents like to get creative and spice it up here and there to keep there kids excited. I can imagine the awe in children as they discover the family elf has met a new friend and invited them over. Or maybe the family elf has decided to explore other areas of the home. After all, staying on the shelf in one position is just boring. This isn't an option in a family home where the parents are far from boring people, right? We can't have that!

Creative and well intentioned trends start off as simple competitions. I get that. But social media will be there to taunt folks into stepping it up a notch. Then we run into some serious issues. And you wonder why your millennial needs therapy.

Here are my ten inappropriate elf on the shelf displays and the reasons why I think they are inappropriate.

You think you're clever now, but one day they will be old enough to watch American Pie and they will never visit you again during the Christmas holidays. The grand kids will be off limits.

You would be better off to have the family elf kill off a giant stuffed spider or some other creepy victim. Never Elmo or any Sesame Street character for that matter. This is absolutely inappropriate. 

You know there is absolutely nothing wrong with this display, except for the fact that the family elf is capturing the scene for his own sick pleasure, further teaching your children that the objectification of young girls is okay. So inappropriate!

After the last three displays I shared, do you see how this is inappropriate?  

The family elf teams up with the infamous bad boy, Chucky. Together, they encourage children to commit cannibalism. Yes, Frosty the snowman came alive you ignoramus!

And you wonder why your kids seem to think everything belongs in the toilet. This, exactly this. Congratulations.

Suddenly little Johnny has stopped brushing his teeth? You don't say! Now he's a teenager and smells like shit all the time. You know they learn poor hygiene somewhere, right? Gee, I wonder where.

I'm all for encouraging kids to earn an allowance so they can buy themselves the things they want. But the family elf is sitting on a jar of baby food, so I think the kids are a little young for parents to start indoctrinating them into this sordid thing. They need to be old enough to actually work for their allowance, don't you think?

How to be Classy 101. Because a wine glass is commonly displayed with a roll of toilet paper and a can of Glade air freshener. The kid who grows up in this household is going to be a true romantic, I can almost guarantee it. 

Because breaking the law is so inappropriate. I don't know that this household has any children in it, but I'm guessing they didn't just go out and purchase a Barbie doll because this was just such a cool idea they had to spend upwards of $30.00 for that perfect display. No, they have children. And yes, this is inappropriate.

If you don't want to traumatize your kids, now or in the future, stay away from inappropriate displays with your family elf! Yes, kids are resilient. But they have memories like you wouldn't believe.

Do any of you have a favorite elf on the shelf display? Please share them in the comments below. I won't get onto you if it's inappropriate. There are no small children out here in the Blogosphere! 👀

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08 December 2016

More English Bulldog Photos - Macey!!

I couldn't resist!

Power puppy on couch

What happened to all the power?

She knows she's not allowed to touch the decor.

But she does it anyway!

Merry Christmas!  Or, Happy Holidays! Whichever pertains. Just be safe out there.


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22 November 2016

What Can Be Worse Than Turning 50?

I thought turning 50 would be devastating, but it wasn't. Not when compared to all the other things that happened the first thing in the morning on my 50th birthday.

Every morning, I ensure Macey makes it from the kennel to the back door in less than 15 seconds. This is the amount of time it takes for her to register a full bladder. That didn't happen this morning.

I had been so proud of her, too. She has never made a dropping in her kennel until this morning, the morning of my 50th birthday. Did I mention that I'm 50 today?

Not only did Macey make a rather large deposit, but it was a loose one. She was so distraught over it that she tried to escape it, trampling it again and again. I can only imagine from the looks of things, she must have made several attempts to rid her paws of the foul smelling goo.

This cleanup job would need some forward thinking. The longer I stood there and contemplated my first moves, the more Macey yiped with anxiety. I made a decision. I would clean the ten-pound puppy first, put her outside, and then tackle the rest of the mess in a methodical approach. I was not prepared for the sheer force of puppy power when I opened the kennel door. Macey sprang from her cage and plowed into my arms.

Fuck me, right?

So, I cleaned and disinfected everything, including her squeaky toy and tug rope. I placed a new puppy training pad in the kennel. I brought Macey back inside to feed her. I bumped the glass beaker off the table and it fell onto the ceramic floor, shattering it into a thousand pieces. The loud noise scared Macey. She sprinted across the kitchen to the other side and pissed on the floor.

Now, if you're having a bad day, cheer up! It could be worse. You could be turning 50.

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