Scientists have proven that our olfactory sense is the most direct route to memory — and yet we can’t keep any of it.
What would you do without your very favorite person?
Editor’s Note: During a conversation thread on author R.J. Keller‘s Facebook timeline, I was intrigued by fellow writer April Hamilton‘s take on a Youtube video featuring a few acting tips from Mandy Patinkin. He’s one of my all-time favorite actors, so I was hooked already, and I loved hearing him speak so passionately. But when April started relating his tips to writing, I knew she was on to something, and I asked her to write a guest post. Below is her text (and then the video.). Writing help can come from the most unlikely sources. I recently saw a video where actor and Broadway star Mandy Patinkin was being interviewed about his experiences with The Princess Bride film. At one point in the interview, he talks about how, as an actor, he learned to boil down every scene he played to one word or a single sentence and use that as his grounding, or guiding principle for performing the scene. It occurred to me that writers can do the same thing when writing or editing scenes: distill the scene down to a single word or phrase that conveys the point of the scene (e.g., a specific action, a feeling, an incident that must occur, a reveal, etc.) and use that as a yardstick and delimiter. In other words, if the point of a given scene is to convey a character’s insecurity about something, then the word is “insecurity,” and as you write or edit, you can use that as a guidepost for what does or doesn’t need to be in the scene / does or doesn’t serve the point of the scene. This could work very well to help keep a scene on-point, and might save a writer from having to cut a lot of extraneous material during the editing phase if it’s employed during the drafting phase. This tip can also prevent or cure the dreaded “sagging scene syndrome” — in which a scene just seems to lose its focus or pace partway through, but the writer can’t tell precisely where it went wrong. I’d suggest that any writer who struggles with writing “tight” give this method a try. It may turn out to be the quick and (relatively) easy fix you’ve been looking for! April L. Hamilton is an author and the founder and Editor in Chief of Publetariat.com, as well as being Editor in Chief of Kindle Fire on Kindle Nation Daily and Digital Media...
It was adrenaline and restless sleep, being banished from the living room, overhearing the adults joking and wrapping. It was the feeling of flying, knowing you’d be safely caught.
What would you share in conversation if you could go back in time and meet yourself as a child?
I asked Ring Lardner the other day how he writes his short stories…
What’s missing from your life that you think you would have there?
I read a blog the other day (3 Shared Paths, one of my favorites), and the latest post discussed the recent solar eclipse and how long it would be until the next one: 19 years. Rebecca mused on how long 19 years feels—not is, chronologically but really feels—and how much a life can change in that time span. My favorite gem: What will be the themes in your life 19 years from now? Take some time to really think about it because you’re building that time in your life right now. That hit a nerve. Definitely. 19 years ago, I was a different person. Hell, that was three whole people ago. In 1991, I was idealistic, lazy, depressed, and hopeful. Yes, all at the same time. I had my whole future ahead of me and I knew it, so I didn’t waste much time with the present. Unfortunately, that particular present was the last place I had the chance to see my great-grandmother alive. Or visit my childhood home which was later bulldozed for the maintenance area of a public golf course. And it wasn’t long afterward that I had a crisis of faith, my first broken heart (which is really the only one that matters, isn’t it?), and a breakdown in the identity of my youth. So much has changed since then, and I must have been the one that changed it—for better and for worse. I’ve rebuilt, and I’m better for it. You always are. It takes a lot of breaking to make a solid person. That doesn’t mean it was simple. When you’re a kid convinced of invincibility, as all kids are, the first problem is always the hardest. You disbelieve that bad things really are going to happen, or that your turn for old age is just around the corner. Rebecca’s blog post reminded me of a tiny poem I wrote when I was in my 20s: ~30~ when I am thirty I shall believe that I will die for as a child, both thoughts were equally impossible. I find it in a folder again every few years. Umm, yeah. It happened, just as I suspected it would. I was right. The poem’s a bit overdramatic, as many of my twenty-something and teenage poems were, but the concept still fits. Now I know, without a doubt, that I am going to die. I will have a last breath, leave my body, and go wherever...