Monday, November 29, 2010

Stories on Easels: Pictures As Ideal Writing Prompts

I fell in love with the girl in the picture
That I used to keep
Carried her around in the back of my pocket
She was always with me. . .
“Girl in the Life Magazine” - Boyz II Men

Music is the voice that tells us that the human race is greater than it knows. Napoleon Bonaparte

The Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with the Sun by William Blake
Don’t you just adore the power of pictures? I mean there’s Boyz II Men doing their thing alright but did you notice the last four words of the first line? Am I clear to you, now? See where they drew inspiration for the lyrics?

Pictures . . . carry with them implicit narratives, making them ideal writing prompts for generating new short story ideas.

Not just short stories or novels, I just gave a striking illustration, music and poetry and any form of creative writing may help themselves to the eternal wellspring of pictures. When you see a childhood picture doesn’t it juggle your memory and stir a history of interred events in the tumble of your recollection? It is not healing to see your childhood picture but it helps you measure how much you changed and whether you are all you set out to become. One photograph can unplug a gush of emotion or spark a wave of inspiration. It’s best to rape the cataclysmic-variable-effect at its brightest, when a flash of fleeing imagination could transform your fictional universe from a silhouette into breathing reality.
Da Vinci's portrait of a man which inspired the Dan Brown novel

One could not pause the time with wishing, but he can trap it with the art of photography and the craft of painting. A library of books and poems, including screenplays has been triggered by images most recently, the 80 mil bestselling novel by Dan Drown. The Da Vinci Code was inspired by a portrait credited as the brain child of the Italian painter, Leonardo Piero Da Vinci (1452 – 1519). The novel got the entire controversial gist but yeah, it’s got the goods too.

A picture from picasaweb album
William Blake’s wax painting of The Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with the Sun was the theme of another bestseller, this one by the loner author, Thomas Harris which he aptly titled, Red Dragon. A picture of Elvis Presley among other antiques inspired the Stephen King novel, Needful Things. Of course, the list is endless. Just added the last one to make a point, end of all arguments sort of.

Scenes for twisted plots are not always easy to come by just leaning on our imaginative ability, that’s when photos present the best excuse for the creative mind. Having an image to always fall back on when you lose your footing in your story development can save you from taking a detour and running off in a wrong direction. A picture adds visual details to your fiction, gives it concrete feels that leap right out the page at you!

Ever seen painters at work on canvases in progress standing on easels? If you have, have you ever considered the reality of what they were doing? Those portraits in progress, that the artists paint touchable stories on easels? You too can, in a similar way, as they paint their stories, write your portraits to life in your stories. As you do this you will come to grasp a picture’s worth and identify with the song writer as he saw his lyrics walk out of the pages of a magazine into his room,

All of my friends used to laugh . . .
Till the day when she came and she blew them away
Asked me if I’ll be her man . . .
And so the story ends well . . .
“Girl in the Life Magazine” (Boyz II Men)

And why not, the goal of every writer is to sculpt stories that are concrete, where the scenes come to life in his reader’s mind. If he achieves that one feat, the story, by all means ends well.

Keep your pen bleeding!


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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Put The Fuel On It

In these days, the urge is pressing to be keen on what you do and to convey a measure of elegance into the practice of it. Outside is busting with millions of attractive distractions. Quite a few of these pests are almost worth the abandon of a life long career as a writer and to lay pursuit. "Almost", but not quite. And of course, you know "almost" don't count in the upward climb.

It is a fine line between idling and rusting. You may want to stack your writer resources on your way out because faster than you can see it coming, you'll be out like a candle in a storm. It's a 100% guarantee! Thinking you can switch in and out of the zone at will and at alarming irregularity is a signal there's a lot of soap opera history you haven't caught up on yet. On becoming a writer worthy of the name, anyway.

Consistency sets your bones afire as it does preserve your juice in a blanket of warmth when you have to make the little deals that take you off your writing. But, with the outward pull of enthusiastic temptations trying to trap your attention, you have a battle on your hands, a war you must win. Passion is the flare that ignites the dynamite. But, passion, on a personal level, is a process. I hardly make out that distinct quality but as product of an intense other. More on that later.

From another angle on a broader plane, you can only be consistent at something you have fallen for; something that really turns you on; works your genius and makes your consciousness spring each time it crosses your mind. I don't invite my dreams, but with the certainty of tides rising high, they will keep walking through the walls of my unconsciousness in all their arrays; the horrifying, the terrifying and the gross out. My muse does make uninvited visits too and I do try to the best of my ability to keep him entertained during the periods of his stay. Yet, I can and do make appointments with my muse. I must if I want to succeed as a writer. This idea has its own arresting clarity.

Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working. Picasso

There's a process at the helm of everything that is continuing. Passion as a rule, is not an exception. I view this like a sort of teamwork going on. Without consistency, passion is nothing but paperwork, it never comes to anything like a wild stab in pitch darkness. You just can't groom passion without consistency. It's a two-sided coin in spite of everything; consistency feeds on your passion and grows fat on the stimulus. Your passion is a drive, a hunger that comes with a twinge of appetite for consistency. Get up and get going, already. Once you find your itinerary, stick to it with passion. Be consistent at that one thing. Read. Research. Write and Read. Read ten times as much as you write.

Life is everything we plug into it. Our writing grows and matures if inspired. We actually thrive beyond elementary stages when our passion, touched by stints of consistent attendance at our writing tables, drives us into the heart of what we do. The impact eventually, turning us into human hand grenades.

When passion comes, with it comes creativeness. Guess an element of truth exists in the age-old writer slogan,
Write With Passion!

Keep your pen bleeding!

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Friday, November 26, 2010

Gift of a Man

            Mysterious as the milky waters
            Trapped in the husk of a coconut fruit,
            The gift of a man alters
            The course of destiny.
            And not just his but an entire race’,
            Redefining, reshaping and redirecting its strictest rule;
Willing it to switch its destructive run
Wielding the simple tool of genius.

We can only imagine
The propensities created when a man thinks;
When what is mortal gives in to immortality.
Shallow deep screaming for baseless deep
As the human faculty is granted reprieve
To roam the hallowed recess of the inner mystery.

Sacred portals tossed;
Treasures in darkness dragged across the threshold;
And not by giants who sleep ‘n repose.

The eyes of discovery-
The very hands of ingenuity
Seeks, privately but intently
For the solitary mind that thinks still.


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The 15 Highest-Grossing Books-to-Movies

Today, The released what they described as the highest-grossing films based on books. They got the figures using data compiled by Box Office Mojo. Inflation-adjustment was done by multiplying estimated admissions by the latest average ticket price—which in 2010 is $7.95—and where admissions were unavailable, adjustment was based on the average ticket price for when each movie was released.

I present here the top 15 out of a list of 30. If you feel you need the full details with the amount of money each film grossed at the box office, there's a link at the end of this article. Click it and feed your eyes on what you see.

1, Gone With the Wind

2, The Sound of Music

3, The Ten Commandments

4, Jaws

5, Doctor Zhivago

6, The Exorcist

7, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

8, The 101 Dalmatians

9, Ben-Hur

10, Jurassic Park

11, The Graduate

12, The Godfather

13, Forrest Gump

14, Mary Poppins

15, Thunderball

Get the remaining fifteen of the All Time blockbusters here: The Daily Beast

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Press Ctrl-D Now! (Bookmarking)

I can still remember the times when, logging on to my account, one of the very first images to load was a prod in the form of a message-in-a-square-box sort of. It was a genuinely helpful tip for members and visitors as well that said simply,

To Bookmark This Page, Press CTRL-D Now!

Bookmarks are web links saved on an internet browser as shortcuts to visited websites. Stored bookmarks display icons of linked pages, these are the buttons you will click to launch a parent URL.

Bookmarking isn't exactly a new phenomenon. But, with most browsers (I'm yet to come across any browser that operates differently) it is by far the simplest and fastest tool for linking up to a webpage/site from your World Wide Web browser. And if you would like to view the latest, most up-to-the-minute version of a webpage, you can put your bucks on bookmarks. You want to keep this at the tip of your fingers, especially if your favorite sites offer news and round-the-clock updates (like CNN, BBC, MSNBC, Reuters and so on), or it might be a social networking site (Google+facebook, myspace, twitter, LinkedIn and so on). On the other hand, linking to a website that requires you to sign in to access your account/information does not earn you automatic access when you click your bookmark icon. Instead, you will be re-directed to a page probably with an instruction like this one:

Access Restricted. Log in To View This Page.

Other sites may offer,

To view this page, you must be a Registered member of this site.
And then, Already a member? Sign in. Not yet? Sign up.

If by clicking a bookmark tab your browser bypasses the log in page and directly opens secured content, then just maybe you haven't been off the site for long and probably did not sign out before shutting down your browser. It's also possible (this is common with some browsers) for your browser to re-open a cached copy of your most recent browsing session, password or not, especially if you have set it to save your log in information (password and username).

Different people use bookmarks for different reasons. What follows are my personal reasons for harnessing the resourcefulness of this indispensable internet tool, a layman's guide to bookmarking, you might say. What website links should be saved?

Favourite websites: Google has made bookmarking an easy treat with its chrome browser's bookmark tab. It sits just under the address tab, right in your face sort of. You can opt to save only the icons, leaves extra room for more bookmarks. I have right there on my bookmarks bar, links to my favorite online writing communities, my favorite social networking sites and my blogs. I am always one click away from my favorite sites.

Informative websites/sites you frequent: Wikipedia is one website I have found myself increasingly addicted to. So here's what I did, I linked to it on my chrome now I got tons after tons of information at my fingertips. You can save yourself the bother of typing and retyping web addresses every time you visit your mecca sites by saving the URL link. I have separated favorite websites from sites you frequent because my favs is where I belong, where I find expression as a person, I reserve that part specifically for sites related to my career. My sources of information are listed under frequented sites category.

Sites worth remembering: I have lost count of how many times my chrome crashed and had to restart. My crime? Opening too many windows and tabs at the same time. Sometimes, the windows ran into four or five and each of these contained between ten/twelve tabs, so we're talking close to forty tabs at the same time. It's like that when I stumble on a page busting with fresh resources and hundreds of links all so inviting and tempting. To save myself from the heartache of losing information to browser crashes, I bookmark all the tabs in a window once it starts running into six or seven tabs and then I would quickly close the window leaving only the primary window open. I know, I can always return to the bookmarks at a later time and harness the wealth stored in my browser!

As a boost, a bookmark can be renamed to suit the website it points to. And then, you could create folders and name them after the subjects they contain. This could be a lot more fun than having to search endlessly for a saved link. A folder containing online dictionaries like Wikipedia and could be tagged, Encyclopedias or Information. If you are an avid online news reader, then you can create a folder for your news sites like google news, cnn, msnbc, bbc, yahoo! news and name it, News. You can tag a folder housing way too many unconnected links so that it defies a definite categorization, Miscellany, Miscellaneous, or simply Other Bookmarks/Others.

Another method of bookmarking which is becoming more and more popular today is Social Bookmarking. If you have ever shared a link on facebook, twitter, myspace, stumble upon, delicious, google connect, google buzz blog this, yahoo and other social networking sites, you are a culprit. According to

Social bookmarking (is) a method for internet users to store, organize, and share links to web pages.

The obvious difference between the two modes of bookmarking is this, one is on your browser in your computer, and even though you will need an internet connection to open it, you can always view the tab whenever you launch your browser. On the other hand, the other (social bookmarks) is on the web and you must be connected to reach it. On the upside, you can access your social bookmarks on any computer! All you need is your password and username/email. So, where does that leave you?

You can start by downloading one of the fastest browsers in use today and by far, the easiest to configure. Google Chrome makes it convenient and swift to bookmark web pages and with its add this and blog this extensions, Chrome makes it super fast to social bookmark and share your links with friends and family. To download Google Chrome get the link,

Your favorite websites are always a bookmark away!


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Friday, November 19, 2010

Breaking Atoms: Thinking Above the Curve

If you thought DaVinci's portraits are masterpieces only because they are inventions of genius then what you need is school. Better yet, ask Dan Brown. And you just might begin to see secret messages in every picture and coded calligraphy on the walls of your bedroom.

I think it's awesome how an author's invention can rework generations of tradition and pop open a can of really controversial worms. A handful pages of creative writing influencing a million mindsets, staunch, dogmatic, diehard or just.

These guys pulling such stunts, how do they achieve it? How does a writer pull off a bestselling novel based on a web of conspiracies built around a common theme, complete with his reader's eyes popping, jaws hanging and completely thrown off balance? There a million and one roads to a question. Let's start with the one.

What is the big deal about popular ideas? Popularity? Well, yeah. And to arrive at the stone castles of popularity or common items, get your swimming trunks we're going for a dip, you'll need to wade the larger-than-life moat defending its grounds. I suppose that would be rumors and household gossips, right? This may involve beliefs and unwritten constitutions commonly called, tradition.

So, here's how the gig works. Any serious-minded writer knows that to write a book or even a short story on a popular theme requires him/her to do heartbreaking research. The author gathers as much info as he can, heaping a pile of resources relevant to the subject of his project. A little research work at the local library or on the internet is okay for a short story or essay. He sits down and does a run up of the entire stuff he's accumulated, separating whiff from wheat and sets himself up to write when he believes he's ready.

The writer tries to be as realistically accurate as he possibly can with the facts and, here's the bottom line, somewhere in the course of the story he throws something extra into the usual mixture. Something not true, not popular within the crowd, not commonly known as fact, and yet, is not a lie. It's the element of surprise. You may be wondering, is it possible for something to be untrue, yet it isn't a lie? Of course. This is a world you, the author invented. It's got nothing to do with the one we live in. Your characters are just that, your characters, your creation. Anything and everything you say in your story is real and irrefutably true. Don't you just love being a writer?

Stephen King has authored over 50 bestsellers. He has a book based on a killer cell phone, there's another on a killer clown, and yet another on a killer car. He has a book on a log house possessing power to choose it's residents. Your story is all about your twist-ability. If you can twist the plots – interweave the real and the fantasized, you have a chance at churning out bestsellers.

And there's beauty killed the beast, King Kong, and somebody invented Godzilla, the mammoth lizard. Maybe, the guy had a morbid fear of lizards as a child. Ever witnessed such enormous creatures in your life? Atoms were believed to be indestructible and indivisible until some chap split 'em into, not two but three. A nucleus and two electrons. If you really want to be creative as a writer start splitting those atoms of popular notion and then transport the electrons into your plot development.

Keep your pen bleeding.


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