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Writing Spark: The Coming Storm

By Posted on 2 min read 48 views

From cameo appearances to the starring role, weather has played many characters in story, especially in film. From the hurricane in “Dolphin Tale” to the gentle rain that Gene Kelly danced in, in one of the most iconic scenes from “Singing In The Rain”.

In “Cast Away”, violent storms provide the two most pivotal plots points: the inciting incident that crashed the plane and stranded Chuck on an island, and the ‘all is lost’ moment in Act III when a storm stripped him of his food, shelter and only friend, Wilson, leaving him truly destitute out in the middle of the ocean.

Without the deep freeze in “The Day After Tomorrow”, the squall in “The Perfect Storm” and the tornadoes in “Twister” there is no movie and our characters are stuck at home playing Parcheesi.

But what about other-worldly weather. Sandstorms on Mars make Matt Damon an interplanetary cast away. Vin Diesel uses weather to his advantage as Riddick, and Channing Tatum braves the most famous planetary storm in our galaxy by flying through the great Jupiter spot.

Storytellers are fascinated by weather because it creates movement, conflict and intrigue to any story. They can use it to strike fear or dread in our hearts, and those of our characters, a sense of wonder, or a reason to dance.

This weeks story Spark uses weather to stimulate our muse.

 

Brainstorm:

  • What does this world look like?
  • Where is this world?
  • Who lives here?
  • What is the landscape?
  • What are the primary colors?
  • Who does the toy belong to?
  • Where are they?
  • Who’s watching the storm and why do they need to go through it?
  • Where do they need to go?
  • Are they going alone or with others?

Think outside the box:

  • What kind of storm is it? What if the lighting wasn’t electricity or weather related at all. What could it be?
  • What if the storm was a portal to somewhere else. What’s on the other side? Where does it lead?
  • Does our character welcome it or dread it? Do they fear it?
  • What if the toy wasn’t a toy at all and instead only had the appearance of a toy.
  • Maybe this takes place in the past. When is it?

Let your muse go wild. Have fun and see where it takes you.

What does this spark for you?

While we’re at it, let’s test your story knowledge. In the comments name some stories where weather played a key role.

Provide

  • if it’s a book or movie
  • is the weather an inciting incident, plot point, cameo or takes center stage.

How many can you think of? Do you have any favorites?

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Writing Spark: For The Love of Art

By Posted on 3 min read 52 views

Throughout the course of my life I have had several collections. Unicorns, magnets, Winnie the Pooh, miniatures, (which in itself was a very small collection), snow globes from each city I visited, but not any snow globe. They had to be the same size and type. Right now, it’s Chuck Taylor Converse.

Then there’s my father who has one of the most insane collection of Elvis Presley memorabilia and collector plates covering every wall in his house (thanks to his mother who collected everything, just to collect things). He even commission sculptures and paintings of “The King” from an artist.

People have been collecting things since the dawn of man for every reason possible. We have museums for everything; art, history, cars (hello Jay Leno), aviation, shoes, music, movies, sports, wax people. There are even museums dedicated to collections of

  • penises (and appropriately, another for condoms), dog collars, bad art, law mowers, toilets, mustard, instant ramen, parasites, barbed wire, hair, salt and pepper shakers, pez dispensers, bad relationships and yes, even garbage. There’s even one in Cancun that is underwater. I hope you know how to scuba dive.

The Smithsonian is said to have so many individual pieces, it’s not possible for a single person to spend time looking at each one and get through them in their lifetime. The museum regularly rotates pieces out; which is cool since that basically makes the Smithsonian a completely new museum each time you visit.

You name it, we have collected it.

This got me thinking about WHY we collect things and the people behind them. As someone who is always curious about the story behind something I asked myself that tried and true question for creating story lines, “what if….”

Today’s writing spark delves into the idea of collections and the people and purpose behind them.

Brainstorm:

  • Who is this character?
  • What do they do for a living?
  • Do they have a family? Children?
  • Are they male or female?
  • What does the collection consist of? Where did it all come from? Who did it come from?
  • Why did the character collect these things? What is his/her motivation?
  • Who are the people that helped this character obtain the collection? Why did they help?
  • Where do they live? What social class do they all come from?
  • Do they get discovered? What happens if they are?

Think outside the box:

  • What if the collection wasn’t art? What else could it be?
  • Is the collection dangerous, morbid, funny?
  • Did someone else tell this person to collect these things? Why?
  • Could the collection have significant implications or does it affect anything? Political? Environmental? Historical? Scientific? Planetary? Cosmic? Socially? Criminally?
  • Is the collection big or small? Are the items in it big or small? Where is it kept/stored.
  • What if this character only “thought” they were admired. Maybe people are afraid of them, or under their control.
  • What if the community was something else? Aliens? Robots? Children? Animals? Magical creatures? People or things from another time?

Go write some ideas down. Keep them in a “story idea bank”. If it the spark set your muse on fire, run with it.

What else can you come up with? What does this spark in your imagination?

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