The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Public Readings--Do's and Don'ts

        A group of writers (poets and story-tellers) got together at a restaurant/bar recently, and I went to their public reading. I've compiled a list of (hopefully) helpful hints.

1.  If you are nervous and tend to mumble/not enunciate clearly, shave off your beard and mustache for the occasion. (Ladies, that goes for you in the hairy menopausal phase, too.) We can't read your lips with all that hair obscuring our view, and as fast and mumbly as you present, we need all the help we can get.
Give the audience what they want.

2.  You may think your twenty minutes of rambling introduction. About. Each. Poem. is engaging, but look at your audience. Their eyes are closed. Drool is coming from their mouths. They're snoring. Be aware of your audience.

3.  If you're nervous, and alcohol is available, have a drink. A glass of wine might help out with #1. Drink.  (Sorry. That's all I could come up with for that one.)

4.  Be passionate/involved in your piece. Speak with expression. Pepper your piece liberally with Sioux's favorite word. Make the crazy redhead happy.

5.  Be humble. Come up, give us a tidbit of an introduction, and then read, darn it, and when you're finished, leave the microphone. That's why we came--to hear you--and if you're good, your words will speak for themselves. Give the audience some credit.

What tips do YOU have for writers who read their stuff in public?

By the way, Linda O'Connell has almost reached her Chicken Soup goal. Is it a gross of stories (144)? Is her goal equal with her age? Find out what her next goal is, since she's about to hurdle over her current one...(Ask her.)

Monday, August 5, 2013

Creating Engaging Characters

       Meth. The science behind it is intriguing. The business of it is fascinating. And thanks to Vince Gilligan and Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul, I get to immerse myself in the life of a meth-maker. All because of the show Breaking Bad. On August 11 the final (sixth) season begins. (Sigh.)

       This show begins with a high school chemistry teacher--a very nice guy who never breaks the law--and after finding out he has a horrible cancer and mere months to live, decides to make meth (really pure meth) to take care of his wife, his high school-aged son (who has cerebral palsy) and his not-yet-born daughter after he dies. What began in season one with just drug manufacturing and distributing has spiraled out of control. Murder. Horrible choices. And lots and lots of lies.  

      As writers, we have to create interesting people when we craft fiction. We can't just have a person in our story go instantly from calm and rational to homicidal. Internal things have to start percolating. Tiny fuses have to be lit so when the explosion comes, the reader is left charred right along with the character.

         What shows or movies did you love (or do you love) that immerse you in a different life?  (And if you do watch Breaking Bad, don't tell me about how it ends. I don't have cable/satellite, and will have to buy the DVD once it comes out.)