WRN # 17 Some Lessons on Writing

WRN # 17 Some Lessons on Writing June 4, 2022

You want to become a good writer?
Well take a look around to what is being published, printed and presented on screen.
You can learn alot.

Here are some writing tips and lessons to be gained from some recent videos, movies and some books that are both upcoming and sort of current.

A first thought on the Importance of  StoryTelling

Pope Francis recently wrote an afterwards to a book called  “The weaving of the world“, a dialogue with several voices on the story as a way of salvation. This book published in Italian collects the voices of the great protagonists of culture. The Pope’s unpublished text was published in full by the newspapers Avvenire and Domani,  and of course by the Vatican media. Even the pope recognizes the importance of storytelling. May your writing be good enough to be recognized the by the head of the largest church on the face of planet earth.

As Frodo says, the protagonist of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings , “the stories never end” and then because a very beautiful aspect of this book is precisely the sense of openness, of circularity, of dialogue.

The sense of mystery opens up to the transcendent, towards an unmistakably spiritual, religious dimension. Donna Tartt observes that «perhaps, more properly, stories are canvas for sails that we hoist to capture a breath of the divine. The thoughts of other people take on a strange life in us, and that is why literature is the most spiritual art of all and certainly the most transformative. Like no other way of communicating, a story can change our way of thinking, for better or for worse […] ancient and modern cultures have always considered stories to be magical – and dangerous – for one reason: because you can hear a story and, at its end, being a totally different person.
Pope: Storytelling is ‘fabric’ that connects everything and everyone – Vatican News

Creating Different Genres From the Same Source Material

Stories come in all shapes and sizes.
Some stories can come in the form of weird but oddly enough true non-fiction.

American Hippopotamus (2013)

In 1910, the United States—its population exploding, its frontier all but exhausted—was in the throes of a serious meat shortage. But a small and industrious group of thinkers stepped forward with an answer, a bold idea being endorsed by the likes of Theodore Roosevelt and The New York Times. Their plan: to import hippopotamuses to the swamps of Louisiana and convince Americans to eat them.

The only thing stranger than the hippo idea itself was the partnership promoting it. At its center were two hard-bitten spies: Frederick Russell Burnham, a superhumanly competent frontiersman, freelance adventurer, and fervent optimist about America’s future—Burnham would be the inspiration for the Boy Scouts—and Fritz Duquesne, a.k.a. the Black Panther, a virtuoso con man and cynical saboteur who believed only in his own glorification and revenge. Burnham and Duquesne had very recently been sworn enemies under orders to assassinate each other. They’d soon be enemies again. But for one brief and shining moment they joined behind a common cause: transforming America into a nation of hippopotamus ranchers.

In American Hippopotamus, Jon Mooallem brings to life a historical saga too preposterous to be fiction—a bracing and eccentric epic of espionage and hippos, but also of a conflicted nation on the threshold of a bewildering new century, deciding what kind of country it would be, and what beasts it would eat. (Amazon Description)

And you can also make that same story into alternate historical fiction.

American Hippo: River of Teeth, Taste of Marrow, and New Stories  (2018) by Sarah Gailey

In 2017 Sarah Gailey made her debut with River of Teeth and Taste of Marrow, two action-packed novellas that introduced readers to an alternate America in which hippos rule the colossal swamp that was once the Mississippi River. Now readers have the chance to own both novellas in American Hippo, a single, beautiful volume.

Years ago, in an America that never was, the United States government introduced herds of hippos to the marshlands of Louisiana to be bred and slaughtered as an alternative meat source. This plan failed to take into account some key facts about hippos: they are savage, they are fast, and their jaws can snap a man in two.

By the 1890s, the vast bayou that was once America’s greatest waterway belongs to feral hippos, and Winslow Houndstooth has been contracted to take it back. To do so, he will gather a crew of the damnedest cons, outlaws, and assassins to ever ride a hippo. American Hippo is the story of their fortunes, their failures, and his revenge.(Amazon Description)

Creating Stories That Exercise Your Brains and Imagination

Create a story that will cause your audience to speculate and imagine aspects of your story that you didn’t come up with.
Let your fan base rack their brains trying to figure out how your tale of imagination exists in a larger world.
This will spark interest in your writings and generate meaningful discussion.

Don’t Allow Your Story to Breed Idolatry and Hatred

R Bratten Weiss@Prof_RBW ( 2022): If you are like me and have to fulfil a daily quota of making fun of things, let me assure you that there are plenty of things to make fun of without once punching down or mocking people who are already hurting.

One of the greatest tributes to a person’s unique good storytelling is the legion of devotion by fans to a certain story or set of stories. On the opposite side of the coin is the non-great idolatry some fans give to the tales they love.  They put certain books or movies on a pedestal so high that any perceived threat to  it becomes a springboard for nasty virol to be expended at the person ruining their fun. This is also true in the realm of religious and political beliefs.

Actress Moses Ingram who stars in the new Obi-Wan Kenobi Star Wars series on Disney + has been getting flack for her less than perfect performance on the show. Not just criticism, but racist vile hateful remarks along with threats to her life. All because they don’t like her performance in one of their favorite movie franchises? We writers write to entertain and to inform. But if others take what we write to the point they hurt others with it, it defeats the purpose of why writers write. Anything we write should never be risen to the point of idolatry. Our stories should never be a platform to hate others when they think their favorite stories are ruined and dragged through the mud.

How to Tell if Your Story is Good

Imagine your making your book into a movie.
Go to an imaginary pitch meeting with yourself (or somebody else) and sell your movie.
Lay it all out.
The plot holes and flaws will show itself to you.

How to Write Short and Sweet

One of the best writers writing today produces short witty pithy quotes found on Twitter.

This amazing tweeter tweets short little bits of literary wisdom and wonder.

Learn how to write short sweet bits of meaningful insights with

Owl! at the Library ��‍♀️@SketchesbyBoze

I’m tired of cars, I want trains, monorails, cat buses with gleaming eyes, mysterious trolleys that emerge from the deep woods, beribboned witches who deliver your food on brooms (April 22, 2022)

Bring back Shakespearean insults, I need to call someone a “hunch-backed toad,” “a lump of foul deformity,” having “more hair than wit, and more faults than hairs,” with a face “not worth sunburning.” (April 29, 2022)

Maintaining Quality is Hard

 When you are able to achieve a continual string of movie hits, it can be a testament that good writing continues to be the solid rock where good stories stand. Marvel has had 3 good phases so far of good comic book film making. But is phase 4  slowing down?  It could be and perhaps for some good reasons.

  1. Writing is hard and maintaining a high level of consistent excellence is unrealistic. This is something to keep in mind in your own writing.
  2. Not all new characters introduced will endear themselves to audiences. Not all there new adventures and thoughts will be received by it’s audience.
  3. Steve and Tony were the face of the MCU. Now there gone. Remember when you take something that people love out of what you write, your quality may go down. Don’t take away the heart of your show.
  4. The stars that played Steve and Tony are gone. I can’t think of a equivalent to the average writer, but it was in the video so I am adding it here.
  5.  The more projects that you are working on the less quality you will give to those projects. When you give your love, passion and creativity to fewer projects the quality will show in those fewer projects.

No Story Idea is too Crazy

“I get my ideas from everywhere. But what all of my ideas boil down to is seeing maybe one thing, but in a lot of cases it’s seeing two things and having them come together in some new and interesting way, and then adding the question ‘What if?’ ‘What if’ is always the key question”.-Steven King

Ever think the idea you have is just too out there for publication? Have you ever thought nobody will ever read my book or produce my script? The trailer below proves that any crazy idea can be turned into something to watch. In this case somebody greenlit a tv series, not a movie, where a man played by Mr. Bean wages war against a bee destroying property in the process. Not just a one time event. But a slapstick comedy series you can tune into for perhaps several episodes. This series is inspirational for anyone who thinks their ideas are just too far fetched for an audience.

I’m not saying this show will be bad, with Rowan Atkinson the slapstick should be pretty stylish and good.

The Vault of Lost Ideas@VaultOfLostIdea: Rejected Idea 5533: A YA that borrows elements of Slavic folklore to tell the story of Ferris Bueller

Utilize the Public Domain

Catholic Bard’s Guide to Public Domain Literature 

Tom Emanuel@RealTomEmanuel (May 28, 2022): You ever consider that someday Tolkien will be in the public domain? I for one am thrilled to see the wild adaptations that await us in 2050* when LOTR’s copyright expires.

Don’t forget to utilize the awesome treasure trove that is the Public Domain for your writing.
Anything is possible.
Fan Fiction is also a real possibility.

Sometimes the last person on earth you want to be with is a 7ft 6in extra-terrestrial hunter.

Veggie Tales Lesson

“Yes, I’ve made a great deal of dough from my fiction, but I never set a single word down on paper with the thought of being paid for it…I have written because it fulfilled me. … I did it for the pure joy of the things. And if you can do it for joy, you can do it forever.”-Stephen King

What you create today could someday be taken away from you. Your dreams could end up in other hands. It’s best not to get too big too soon and sometimes staying and being small can have better dividends than gaining the whole media world and losing your soul. If you have an hour take time to hear the sad tale of the fate of Veggie Tales.

I had a dream. I wanted my stories to make the world a better place. I wanted to build the next Disney. Be the next Disney. And as of September 26, 2002, everything appeared to be working perfectly. I had led the team that created and launched VeggieTales, the most successful direct-to-video series in history.

I knew that the company and ministry I had built in 12 years of often exasperating work was on the verge of disintegrating—collapsing right before my eyes. Most perplexingly, I knew that God knew it, too.

Phil Vischer Me, Myself, and Bob (2008)

Phil Vischer@philvischer: 

Watch and Read Good Movies and Books

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.”-Stephen King

Here is an example of something that I’ve watched recently with my wife that has excellent writing. It has one of the things I love in storytelling where one action creates and sets up the next action.  Everything builds on one another.

And this excellent book that tells a compelling story full of heart, interesting ideas, great characters and has a satisfying ending.

In theory, if the beacon had even a flicker of power coursing through it, removing it would fire an emergency retrieval signal to a Mission Control tracking system in 2142 as its final shutdown act, a trigger upon exposure to raw air.

Kin ignited the scalpel, the stench of burning flesh harsher than the gradual burn into his skin.

But if the beacon was totally dead, he’d have a gaping wound on top of his existing injuries. Not ideal conditions for patching up ad hoc surgery, especially with a lack of basic medical supplies.

The scalpel retracted its thin beam of heat. Towel. Water. Pressure. Binding gel. For now, he bandaged the wound while considering the next logical step. Two more days in 1996 until the end of his two-week mission span, two more days in 2142 before Mission Control scanned for a retrieval signal. Normally, he appreciated the TCB’s strict scheduling, a one-for-one policy that prevented field agents from appearing to age at an accelerated rate. Now that just meant two more days of asking what-ifs.

When the TCB failed to detect a signal from his beacon, common sense dictated they’d pick him up and bring him home. Even without the beacon’s geopositioning, access to all of the digital records in human history made this easy. That had to be it. They wouldn’t leave him here.

Would they?

Mike Chen, Here and Now and Then (2019)

Your Writing Counts

You may think your not widely read story has touched any lives and has not made a difference. Well it may have. And you may not see the results in your lifetime and your long lost forgotten story that was hidden in a kid’s classroom bookshelf may resurface years later in a youtube video.

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