Thursday, May 29, 2014

Book Review: On Story

On Story: Screenwriters and their Craft, edited by Barbara Morgan and Maya Perez is a project of the Austin Film Festival.  As Morgan states in her introduction, "This book is about the moment a film is born and how it evolves, told from the perspective of its originator - the story teller." The text is excerpts from conversations well-known screenwriters have had over the years as part of the Austin Film Festival. Topics include Inspiration, Story, Process, Structure, Character and Dialogue, Rewriting, and Collaboration. Excerpts from actual classic screenplays are also included which adds to the instructive quality of this book. There is nothing like being able to read the masters at work! This book is highly useful for anyone interested in screenwriting.

There is also corresponding series on television also called "On Story." There is much more information on

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Book Review: Show Your Work

Show Your Work! : 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered by Austin Kleon is a gem of a book. I truly didn't know what to expect of it, but I had seen it advertised in Bookpage and decided to give it a try. After all, I have come to the sad realization that I stink at marketing. Anything that can help me is greatly appreciated. But, this book isn't really about marketing - it's about sharing, and I like that. I do that and feel good about it.

I hate self-promotion. Honestly, I wish we could go back in time to when bragging was considered in poor taste. Instead we live in a world where it seems everyone is vying for people to pay attention to them. Trying to take part in that, however necessary it might be as a writer, causes me pain. Kleon wrote this book for people like me. He writes, "I'm going to try to teach you how to think about your work as a never-ending process, how to share your process in a way that attracts people who might be interested in what you do, and how to deal with the ups and downs of putting yourself and your work out in the world."

Kleon works on the basis that we all have something to share, that we each have something to bring to this conversation that is the world's ongoing culture development. Someone else's idea might spark our own creative vision, which in turn might inspire someone else. So, share! Don't keep your creative process locked in a drawer. Share your process. Share what you are working on. Offer commentary. Point out something wonderful someone else is doing. Just keep being part of the conversation.

He also offers advice on what to do when the inevitable rejection comes and how to keep going when all seems lost.

"Show Your Work" is an easy read with a lot of wisdom in its pages. The design and illustration of the book add to the overall positive impression as well. It should be read by anyone who works in a creative field.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Writing Made Easy

Guest Post by Nikolas Baron

In each of us is a unique capability to learn and overcome challenges as we play to our strengths and downplay our weaknesses. Our brain is a source of multiple intelligences that are just waiting to be tapped. The thing is, there isn’t just one way to learn. Sure, there is the ‘normal’ way by sitting in a classroom, but just because it’s the conventional method, doesn’t mean that it’s the best approach. Kids on the spectrum really absorb information at entirely different ranges. Writing to express their wants and feelings is usually one of the first few hurdles they’ll have to conquer.
Though the writing barrier for spectrum kids may seem more like a mountain than a molehill, like every other individual, we simply need to play to their strengths, and downplay their weaknesses.
Here are some tools that can be easily used at home to cater to the needs of spectrum kids and make writing easy.
TRY TYPING to simplify writing. As spectrum kids often have difficulty with their motor skills, writing with the traditional paper and pen might not be the most effective. Let's try not to focus too much on the trifles of handwriting; what is fundamentally important here is communication and expression. Word processors such as Microsoft Word are widely available, and its lack of complexity will also allow for quick independent learning.
For learners who are more AUDITORY, go for programs like Dragon speech recognition. The program works perfectly for individuals with good oral abilities. Dragon simply translates what the child says into typed text. This single focus approach allows learners to focus completely in expressing and articulating their ideas.
NEW WORDS can prove to be pretty intimidating, but the most natural way to learn something is to see it, feel it, smell it, hear it or touch it. The simple application of our 5 senses can immediately do plenty to enhance learning. But don't be surprised to find that pictures cards do little to improve understanding because it may be difficult for some individuals to understand line drawings. Instead, it could be more stimulating to work with real objects or sounds to draw the association between the word and the object. Learning new words this way wouldn’t instantly make it a walk in the park, but it’ll not be an impossible feat – play to their strengths.
Now comes the tricky part. How do you unscramble the COMPLEXITIES OF PREPOSITIONS AND CONJUGATIONS? These words are more difficult to grasp than nouns and adjectives since you can’t exactly use your senses to wrap your head around it. Countless therapy sessions that are widely offered has a whole lot of negative connotation, especially since therapy is associated with mental illness and let's face it, there’s nothing mental about our kids. A more natural way to inject the rigidity of grammar into a spectrum kid’s learning is to use his or her own self-written texts to run it through a grammar checking software. This will break the rigidity of learning the rules of the language as a writer understands best what he or she is trying to express. One such program is Grammarly, an online proofreading software that picks out mistakes from strikingly obvious grammatical errors to subtle inaccuracies of sentence structures. This quickly enables individuals to express themselves accurately. One such program is Grammarly, an online proofreading software that picks out mistakes from strikingly obvious grammatical errors to subtle inaccuracies of sentence structures. This quickly enables individuals to express themselves accurately.
Finally, if you find that words and phrases taught to your child are quickly thrown out the window, try using ABBREVIATION EXPANDER PROGRAMS. These software support learners in saving and generating frequently or recently used words and phrases for their future writings. Children can then quickly refer to what they learned and apply it to their next proud piece of writing.
Adaptability is key in teaching the intricacies of writing. As much as possible, find out how your child learns, and naturally integrate the language one step at a time. In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “Tell me and I forget, teach me, and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
Nikolas Baron discovered his love for the written word in Elementary School, where he started spending his afternoons sprawled across the living room floor devouring one Marc Brown children's novel after the other and writing short stories about daring pirate adventures. After acquiring some experience in various marketing, business development, and hiring roles at internet startups in a few different countries, he decided to re-unite his professional life with his childhood passions by joining Grammarly’s marketing team in San Francisco. He has the pleasure of being tasked with talking to writers, bloggers, teachers, and others about how they use Grammarly’s online proofreading application to improve their writing. His free time is spent biking, traveling, and reading.