Archive | August, 2015

Write-it Wednesday — Tale as Old as Twist

27 Aug

Once upon a time, in a small hamlet by the sea, there lived a spinner of stories. Children would flock to him each market day, gathered together at the base of the old walnut tree to hear him tell of beanstalks and wolves and ballgowns.

One day, as the adults haggled in the background and the dull light that only comes filtered through the clouds danced through the leaves of the walnut tree, a small child came up to the storyteller. She leaned in close and whispered, “Did it really happen? That story. It’s my favorite and . . .”

The storyteller raised his finger to his lips and said, “Oh it happened alright. But the truth is? It happened like this.”

Rewrite a fairytale! Make it modern. Make it different. Flip the gender roles. Make it gay. Make it sci-fi. Change the genre. Change the setting. Change the plot. Make the bad guy good. Make the bad guy win. Make a new character. Change the archetypes. Make the princess older. Make the prince poor. Make it a pear, not an apple. Make the clock never strike. Change one element; change them all.

Choose a fairytale, an old favorite or maybe on that never quite jived with you. Make it yours.

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Tumblr, this one’s for you.

19 Aug

I just finished reading a fascinating article from The Atlantic called “The Coddling of the American Mind.” It’s a little lengthy, but I definitely encourage the read. It’s about, well, most of Tumblr, basically. If you’ve spent more than five minutes on a Tumblr dashboard, I guarantee you’ve seen this phenomenon at work in explicit terms.

The article focuses on the cultural movement that has been growing recently, particularly on college campuses, to construct emotional safeguards like trigger warnings and to push hyperawareness of ‘microagressions’ — unintended or seemingly innocuous statements that could cause offense. It questions whether this is truly helping build a better and more tolerant world, or teaching students to treat all potentially offensive actions as ‘mountains until proven mole hills,’ and preventing them from learning from with whom they don’t agree.

There’s plenty the article doesn’t cover, like the flip side of this argument, how discouraging this particular phenomenon could be used as reason to dismiss more ‘firm’ instances of institutional discrimination.

Ohh look, I just did it. Scare quotes.

Wherever you believe the line on this subject may or may not be, as college students, as formal or informal students of literature (trigger warnings are the new banned books, kids) and as people who express ourselves with words, I highly recommend the read.

What’s the difference between being respectful of others and being silenced by your own culture? Do you agree with the authors’ conclusions about the effects on higher education? The article talks repeatedly about this phenomenon’s effects on classic literature, but how might it affect our generation of budding writers, of works only now being put to print or film?

Write-it Wednesday! — “Apples to Snapples”

5 Aug

This has really nothing to do with the beverage or the snake/snail people phenomenon, but it does have to do with the game. What? I needed a title and I like rhymes.

I just did something weird. (Yes, that could describe a lot of things I do. Moving on.) In my current project, the five main characters, all young teens, sit down to play a board game. Apples to Apples is the first one that came to mind. After all, most people at this point know how to play it, and it’s really just background noise for the conversation/argument they’re all about to have. I was just going to write down the first few nouns and adjectives that came to mind, but then I had a better idea. I got out the cards and started playing.

Was it depressing and awkward to play a game for 4-10 by myself home alone on my living room floor? Sure. But an interesting thing started to happen. I did that to get ideas about what words were in the deck, but I ended up learning about the characters. Who played ironic cards, who was literal? Who saved promising red cards for the perfect moment and who went for broke? When they were the dealer, did they choose a winner by accuracy? Irony? Humor? Gut instinct?

So that is your challenge. Get out Apples to Apples (or another board game) and play as your characters. I think this worked so well because I couldn’t get caught up in dream scenarios. Everyone didn’t have the prefect cards every time.

Alternatively, write a scene in which they all play a game. Avengers Monopoly anyone? (Tony looses, and he’s pissed. “In case anyone’s forgotten, I won in real life.” Which probably means Clint won the game, and is making it rain monopoly money. Natasha kept getting stuck in jail, and threatening to break out. Thor just played with all the tiny buildings.)

But that’s getting ahead of myself.

Maybe this is a weird prompt, if it even technically is one. Whatever. We play board games for our own amusement in the club, let’s put them to use for our characters.