Writing Lesson 1 – The World of Stories

Writing Class Lesson 1: The Characters World


Out first lesson in writing is about the world your character inhabits. Think of some of your favorite books, stories or movies. Where were these stories set, what era did they take place? What was the prevailing mindset or social mood? I have recently started a new novel called “A Hand For Hire” that is set in the early Greek era. It is important for my story as many of the magical elements and plot twists are based upon Greek mythology.


But not only must we think of the physical world our characters inhabit, we must also think of the psychological. A park filled with blossoming flowers, a small gentle river, some ducks and a big tree might seem beautiful to most. But to a woman who just lost her entire family in a car accident this might not be such a beautiful place to her. It might remind her of her family and make her feel the pain again, or she might have a very real fear of flowers that might send her into a rage and make her eat all the ducks raw!


Ok I took it too far but we must realize that stories happen in a “real” world and in an internal “psychological” world. When you can explain to me what that park looks like in the mood and mindset of the woman who lost her family then you have a voice, a viewpoint.


We will talk about point of view in another lesson but today I want you to remember that we want to not only get to know characters through dialogue with other characters but also through their own internal thoughts and internal compass. If you are writing a novel you have a chance to get deep and into the characters own mind, but be careful if the mind is not solid or cohesive your readers will figure it out and not engage with your novel. If you are making a movie remember that your audience can only see his mood or psychological world through how the character reacts to the world around him. In a movie we won’t hear the sad lady think about how flowers represent death to her, but when someone gives her a flower and she burns it we can get an idea of her thought process, we can see into her inner world by what she does to the outer world.


Sure you can use VOICE OVER to make all your characters thoughts heard in a film but be warned that in films people tend to judge the weight of the voice overs more harshly. If a character is thinking aloud all the time then the audience might loose interest because they are being told what to feel, not thinking and feeling themselves. It is like buying a new Ferrari but then it drives itself, not the point really.


Important to remember is that a story is supposed to show a characters growth from one point to another. The way your character sees the world around him should change as he does. In many amazing movies the physical environment actually changes, like in James Cameron’s movie AVATAR. Or in many Tim Burton films like “Beetlejuice” the house actually changes after the lead characters become ghosts. But most real world stories don’t go through as extreme changes as these films do, rather the character starts noticing more detail or starts seeing ordinary things in new and extraordinary ways. This looking at things through new eyes is expressed well in “The Ghost of Christmas past” or “Back To The Future” by Robert Zamechis. The lead character returns after meeting his adolescent mother and father and has a new appreciation for them and his life. Marty changed, he became closer to his family and his life. His ordinary world remained the same, mostly, but the way he experienced it changed.


So when you start a story make sure you have a viable world, be it in space, on mars or in Victorian England. Make sure your character has a point of view, a psychological disposition, that makes him unique. Then make sure as the character goes through his adventure he slowly develops until in the end he can see the old world in a new way or at least how to fix old problems with new actions.


Don’t get stuck in research though, it is procrastination. Give yourself 1/10 of time for research. If you write 10 hours a week one hour is allowed for research. You don’t have to be an expert, and if you get writers block because you don’t know the world your character is in don’t let it stop your writing. But on some music and start writing. Get creative and keep going. As you learn more you can fill in the blanks, or change it later. I find that basing loosely on a period is better, a kind of alternative reality. In the end make sure the world behaves in a constant natural way, even if natural means giant big blue birds poo on your lawn everyday. But the giant blue birds can’t suddenly start planting crops on your land for you if they have never done so before, or maybe they can if it is some crazy curse, but you get my point.


Get those fingers typing and those pens writing. I’m currently reading “Robin Hobb’s” “Liveship Series”. I have read 9 of her other books and love them all. Her world are ancient but have a alternative reality feel. There is magic, dragons and talking ships but it all feels real.


So remember a good writer is a good reader. And please go like my Facebook page!!!

Info-Graphics 4 writing

Enhance your writing with info-graphics!

Info-graphics for Writers


In the modern world of HTML 5 and new web media, info-graphics have become a creative way to express data and make audiences understand things in a visual and interesting way. I am obsessed with info-graphics as it is a fun and entertaining way to consume vast amounts of data. So I did some research and found two great writing info-graphics.


The fist one is from TheOatMeal and it is for all you second language english speakers in the world. I myself was born in South Africa, and still live here. English is an official language but there are 10 other official languages so everyone might not be as proficient as they would like to be. So the first graphic helps you understand some basic yet import words that many people misspell.


Check out the info-graphic by clicking anywhere in this line!!!



The second graphic is aimed towards writers and story structure. It show different story types and outlines. This info-graphic helps the writer figure out which type of story he is writing. And if you read THE WRITERS JOURNEY, then you will know how much help it is to know which type of story you are telling. (Buy the book by clicking the link on the right of my page.)


Check out the STORY STRUCTURE infographic by clicking anywhere on this line!!!



So I hope you guys aren’t stuck with Writers Block like I currently am. I was on a roll writing my fingers off but somehow I lost that spark again this week, maybe it was all the drinking? So at least I’m blogging which is a form of writing. I’m going to play THE SIMS now! Procrastination is my station today. I started a new animated screenplay, but I’m kinda stuck…So if you readers have any Writers Block cures comment below please, help!


Get Educated

Financial advice for Artists, Freelancers.

Financial Advice for all the Artist and Freelancers


We all see ourselves as artist. We write, we paint, we photograph, we capture and we create. But in the end if we can not eat we can not do any of the above. We must take care of ourselves financially as well as creatively (spiritually). Nothing makes me get writers block like unpaid bills and credit card debt. Most people have day jobs with clear budgets and outcomes. But as a creative and probably a freelancer it isn’t that easy to know how much to ask for certain things.


This is where my amazing Internet skills come into play. I have found a FREELANCE price calculator that takes in all your yearly expenses and gives you the rate you should be asking. What is great about it is that it has a break-even rate so that you know what you need to charge just to survive the year, it also has a Ideal Rate which is the rate you should be charging per hour to reach your yearly income goals.


So check it out HERE. (click anywhere in this line to go to the calculator) It is FREE!



Do yourself a favour and make the numbers in your local currency, then head over to www.xe.com to convert RAND or POUND or YEN into US Dollar and see how much you have been undercharging all your friends and family over the last lifetime.


Making prices is really hard and this calculator is the best way to make sure you can put not only food in your own mouth but also in the mouth of your family.


Hope you liked this post, please share on facebook, or twitter or whatever else.

Get Educated
Get Educated


Remember a good writer is a good reader. And a smart writer knows his financial statements. (substitute writer with artist or whatever you be)

Check out the show at Ora.tv

Being Creative

Being creative is all about letting go. Letting go of fear and regrets. Just sit down, get that track playing, open that word processor or get a pen and paper. Get writing, keep writing. If the song changes make sure you like it, if you feel it write it.


Discovery is at the heart of creativity. The best investment you can make is in information. So go do research and make sure you get the cheapest and fastest uncapped Internet connection possible. And Google your fingers bloody. Don’t know what something means, or how long it takes for the light from the sun to hit the earth, then Google it and figure it out. Learn, get infused, get excited, get inspired and most importantly get creative.


So here is something I found while exploring the world. A great new online channel called Ora.tv , it is an online TV network and seems to have a lot of potential. So get a VPN and pretend your computer is in the USA and check out some of their shows. There is one featuring Larry King but my real interest is in Recessionista, a finance show. It is hosted by Nicole Lapin, an energetic and fun loving smart lady. So check out this post on “How to fake it till you make it”.


And remember to keep reading, exploring and learning. We only live once, and it is so short a time to experience as much love and awe as possible. So don’t waste a minute.


Check out the show at Ora.tv
Check out the show at Ora.tv
Music to Inspire

Inspired 2 Write 4 Jan 2013

Inspired to Write
Music Post 1

Music to Inspire
Music to Inspire

When I have writers block I have many methods of getting out of that energy draining, guilt filled black hole. The best way to escape the block is to get inspired. There is one thing in this world that has inspired people for thousands of years, yes music.

So this weeks MUSIC 2 INSPIRE is Tegan & Sara, and in particular their song called “Closer”. I love this band and they have been around for a long time and yet just haven’t made it to the mainstream. Grammy-nominated Canadian indie rock band was formed in Calgary, Canada in 1995. Yes that is 17 years worth of amazing music for all your moods, sad, happy, angry, love, angst, joy and elation.

I love indie bands so much that me and my sister spend almost R30 000 to go to America to go see Tegan @ Sara live! Yes this band inspired me so much that I actually spend all that money and time to go to USA to see them.

Me and my sister at the Tegan & Sara show
Me and my sister at the Tegan & Sara show


Ok so when writing I let the music play in the background. If I want to write and find my self not in the right mood, e.g.. sad scene, I just play some sad music and I get myself in the right mindset to write what I need to.

Sometimes I play music and I just free right, I just write what the music makes me feel. As the music changes I change the mood in the story accordingly. Free writing helps to open up your creative pathways… so does blogging. So make some play-lists that are mood specific, I have a SAD, Happy, SciFi, Speed , Spooky, Love, Travel and Friends play-list to name a few. When I need to write a happy scene I listen to the Happy Play-list. This method works like a charm for me, so give it a go. I will post more inspiring bands and songs as I get them. If you want to buy there music just click anywhere in this sentence, easy! 

Noteworthy Songs by Tegan & Sara (Click on them and listen to them on YouTube, and buy on iTunes)

On Directing
Walking with a Ghost
The Ocean
The Con


Till next time, remember a good writer is a good reader, and it seems listener

Must Know

Must Read Must Know Part 1

Learning to write 101:

Must Know, and Must Reads Part 1

Must Know
Some things you must know and to know you must read.


When you start your study of writing you imagine some kind of handbook that will give you step by step instructions, a quick overview of needed skill sets, basic writing musts and a historical guide to how other writers write. Quickly you discover that this is not the case. Writing is not something you can learn with just one manual, it is in fact a combination of thousands of different things. As a struggling writer myself (and having studied writing formally at three universities) I have come to find a few must read books.


Most of my must reads have NOTHING to do with writing. Instead it has A LOT to do with psychology and ways of thinking. Why? Well you see to write great characters you need to understand what makes a person tick. Yes we all want to eat, sleep, have sex and watch reality TV shows after a long day of work but what makes us decide things and what makes us act in a certain way.


My worst HATE in a movie is when I watch some movie for almost 60 mins and then the main character suddenly does something so strange and unlike the character that we have been forced to watch for so long, that I walk out of the CINEMA. If your characters reactions are not motivated by the characters internal forces, mindset or philosophy then you don’t have a dynamic and engaging character.


Ok so here is this weeks MUST READ, MUST KNOW:

MUST READ: The Writers Journey, Christopher Vogler

MUST KNOW: Carl Gustav Jung, Philosopher


Carl Gustav Jung, or known as just JUNG by most, is one of the most prolific philosophers of mind, and human decision making. Jung was fascinated with culture and the internal mechanisms of the mind. He wanted to categorize people according to universal archetypes that would sum them up and help you figure out how they think and react to the world around them.


The best book to read is THE WRITERS JOURNEY, it is based on Jung and his theories about personality types and most importantly ARCHETYPES. It also has the 3 act structure and other amazing writing tools to help you shape your story. What makes this book great is that it is used by Hollywood to test scripts validity and was used on Disney’s “The Lion King” and many other massive  and indie films.


This book might come close to being the best manual for writers out there. So if you must buy something to help you become the best writer you can be, buy Christopher Vogler’s, “The Writers Journey”


Till next time remember, a good writer is a good reader.