Doodling is one of those little things in life that everyone should do. When I used to doodle on paper (haha paper…..) I would draw tiny little stick figures running around doing things or trees. Yup that was pretty much all I was good at. There was a time when I thought I could be good at drawing, but that lasted about a month when I realized that drawing people is the worst thing ever–especially hands.
Okay, brief tangent because I just thought of this… I don’t think I’ve written with a pencil in like THREE YEARS! Are they actually going away or is it just me? Or we’re pencils always just a school thing with no practical use in real life?
Anyways, we’re back. Now that we have image editing software on computers and fun little drawing apps on our tablets doodling is a little different. (It’s very difficult and time consuming to draw tiny stick figures on an ipad). It’s still fun though! I love using the image editing software GIMP (the poor man’s photoshop) to make my own images and logos and stuff. Yesterday I was just playing around with a drawing/writing app on my ipad and I decided it might be fun to make some headings for Beyond the Labcoat posts. Check it out:
In the past, I have really struggled with outlining and planning for longer stories. I’m not sure if this is why I’ve never finished one or if it’s just a coincidence. Part of the reason I got an ipad was to have a better medium to do these kinds of things in besides a typical word processor. So far I haven’t even really tried anything.
I thought a good way to start getting into the habit of outlining and planning would be to begin small with character sketches of important players in a story. For the next couple Mission Monday’s I’ll be looking into different ways to do character sketches and figure out which works the best covering a variety of parameters. Let’s make this a little more official and give scores! I’ll rate my personal preference for ease of creating, ease of reading, visuals, time to create, and fun! (Maybe more if I think of any or get any suggestions)
I intend to try just a normal word processor, Scrivener, yWriter, PowerPoint, a PDF annotating app for iPad, and hopefully another method or two as well!
What do you do for outlining or character sketches?
In this episode of Whatever Wednesday we’re going to discuss how freaking creepy mannequins are… I’m looking at some now that are watching me from a second story full wall glass window of a store. There’s nothing else on display in this window besides the two mannequins, which only adds to the creep-factor (a complex calculated value between “1” and “get the ‘eff’ away from me!”)
It didn’t used to be much of an issue back when they were lower on the creep-factor scale and were just awkwardly shaped stuffed poles… But now they actually LOOK human. They have hair and noses… And they are posing. Actually now that I think about it, I’ve never seen anyone pose in the awkward standing sit ups position in real life, so I guess we can give them a pass there. But the other one is doing that staring off in the distance thing. What’s the deal with THAT!?
To top it all off we decided to name them mannequins. Whose intelligent decision was that? That’s definitely up there on the top ten creepiest words list. Anything with three N’s and a Q automatically qualifies.
It’s only going to get worse too. I imagine in the future we will have robot mannequins that actually display clothes as they walk around and change poses and haunt peoples dreams… We have a lot to look forward to… Now I’ll probably go have nightmares…
There’s bad news. I’ve only gone to Starbucks since the last Mission Monday… Let’s take a look at why.
To get to my favorite little cafe I would have to walk this far (Dark green to café, then light green to work):
Work is the red W, so you can see why that’s a little bit out of the way, especially in the deathly cold and windy mornings we’ve been having lately (t’s actually even one more block to the left but I ran out of room…). I still hold onto the fact that I’ll will become a regular there once it gets warmer!
Now let’s compare to how long it takes me to get to Starbucks (Dark green to Starbucks, then light green to work):
Yeah, it’s literally in the building I park at… Which is especially convenient, especially on days I need to go in to work early, like today. Speaking of which! It only took me 40 minutes to get from my house to parked in Boston! For those of you who don’t know anything about Boston morning commutes, “that’s the dream.” The key is getting on the pike by 6:00 at the latest. Then there’s no traffic! Even 10 minutes later and it’ll basically be the end of the world.
But anywho.. Back to the topic at hand. I think I pretty much have my morning writing locations picked out. On early days (or the winter) I will go to Starbucks, and every other day I will go to MY cafe. Yes it’s mine. 🙂
In other news, next week there will be a new Mission to explore! Hooray!
Let’s have a happy science talk today. Because science and stories go hand-in-hand in my mind. Topic? The end-Permian mass extinction!
This particular mass extinction (yes there have been many over the millennia on Earth) occurred 250 million years ago and killed 90% of all life on the planet. At that point, there was already a great deal of diversity on Earth. We had plants, sea creatures, insects, amphibians, and reptiles all roaming around doing whatever it is animals did way back then (they didn’t have internet so…. I guess they just walked around in circles or something..?) Then all of a sudden… BAM! Right in the middle of Mr. Lizard’s 586284th circle walk, The Great Something happened. Scientists never really had a good idea of what this Something was. It was theorized to be an asteroid or mass volcanic activity or alien invasion… Most respected scientists only mentioned that last one in the safety of their homes, but they all secretly thought it was true… Continue reading
I tried TWO (hell yes!) NEW places this week! But we’ll get to that eventually. First…….
I’m discovering there are many things that make a good writing location, but there are even more things that make a poor writing location and as soon as EVEN JUST ONE exists it’s difficult to get work done.
Here’s my list of top FIVE things that make it hard for me to hunker down and write nonstop somewhere (essentially obliterating that location for all of time…): Continue reading
I used to have a page on this blog with a record of writing contests I’ve entered, the title of the story I wrote, and how the judges scored me. Maybe I’ll bring it back, but I’m not sure it truly fits the purpose of the blog now. Although…. What is the purpose of this blog again..?
Oh right! It’s to increase my writing portfolio! I want to write new things here, whether they are actual complete or good is up in the air, but that probably works out for the best as things I write here can be used to generate new ideas for longer stories!
But anywho… Contests! I only enter a few here and there. Once in a while I will submit something to the Writers Digest Your Story Contest, but my all time favorites are the NYCMidnight Short Story and Flash Fiction Challenges! I’ve been entering both of these contests each year since 2011 (and a stint way back in 2008 that we don’t talk about because I was so terrible at writing back then…).
The thing I love most about the NYCM contest format is the way they do their prompts. Writers are split into groups a search group is assigned a genre, subject, and character (or object) that have to be included in your story. The best part about this is how creativity is encouraged and you can interpret the prompt in unique ways and try to invent a story that no one else could think of!
Tomorrow at midnight we are supposed to get our Round 2 prompts for the NYCM Short Story Challenge. I can’t wait to see what I get so I can twist them into something completely different!!!!
In honor of the contest, I will post a story I wrote based on NYCM-like prompts for this weekend’s Story Saturday!
My quest to find the ideal writing location has been going for about one week. In that one week, my intended journey to several cafes pre-work has gone slightly differently off-book. Instead of visiting multiple, I have visited one cafe three times! In fact, I’m there now. I even have my own corner table because I arrive right when it opens…
I know, I know… I still need to visit many more places to truly learn anything. And it’ll happen… Eventually… It’s not my fault really. It’s all the mocha latte’s fault, blame that! It’s the best coffee I’ve ever had! I accidentally ordered one because I have no freaking clue how to order real coffee… All I know how to say at a coffee shop is “medium iced caramel swirl, cream only, extra caramel.” And even that I struggle to say unless I’m talking into the little brown box at Dunkin Donuts.
But let’s face it. Finding the ideal writing locations isn’t only about the coffee.
The warmth of the flames relieved Father William Kensington from the winter chill, but melted his heart to a puddle of tears. He could do nothing but watch as the steeple of the Old North Church crumbled and fell into the fiery inferno that engulfed the base of the building. He didn’t preach at this church, but he still felt God’s pain like a knife.
Suddenly a small boy pushed past him towards the wall of armed Redcoats between the crowd and the burning wreckage. He held a sword in one hand and a clearly homemade American flag in the other.
“For America!” the boy shouted as he charged at the nearest soldier. He couldn’t have been older than ten, yet here he was, pretending to be a killer.
The Redcoats simply laughed and one knocked the sword away with an easy swat of his bayonet. The boy fell to the ground and his flag dragged through a muddy puddle. The Redcoat picked it up and threw it into the fire. “Stupid boy. There is no America. There never was an America. And there never will be an America.”
“You’re wrong!” The boy cried. “We’re going to beat you.” There was such bitter confidence in his voice it was almost palpable.
“You won’t be doing anything.” The soldier raised his rifle and aimed it at the boy’s chest.
Father Kensington burst from the crowd and slid to the ground before the boy. “Please no! In. God’s name! In King George’s name! He’s only a child!”
“Am not,” the boy grunted.
Wouldn’t it be the funniest thing if this week’s WW was posted late!?!? No, no it wouldn’t. It would be terrible and silly and embarrassing. That’s why I have to throw this together and wrap it in duct tape before midnight tonight…
We all remember this past Saturday when Story Saturday never really happened. (No worries, it’s on pace to be completed for this Saturday and has been pretty fun so far!) Typically I am quite strict about high priority deadlines. I absolutely hate being late for things, especially important things or if there are consequences to missing the deadline. During college, my professors had extremely strict deadlines. Some would subtract significant points for each minute late past the start of class. Some wouldn’t even accept assignments turned in late. For the most part, I agreed with these policies. If something doesn’t meet a deadline then there should be consequences. If there are no consequences, then there is no incentive to accomplish tasks on time. The difficulty with meeting deadlines arises when they are low priority and there are few consequences.