Canned Wisdom #6

Happy Monday everyone. It’s really Saturday on my planet, so it’s time to have a coffee and a snack and write about writing:

20180305_110336_0001.png
Last week’s Canned Wisdom here (painting by my father)

This ties back to the advice about how strong characters carry their own stories. You don’t have to be a hero to have an adventure or go on a big journey. Sure, big powerful heroes may go on longer, more dangerous, and more impressive journeys. They face greater challenges and higher stakes, but that’s not the point.

The point is to tell a good story, and the point is that stories are about characters.

It doesn’t matter if it’s about Frodo going to Mordor to destroy The One Ring, or if it’s about my three year old niece going on a train to visit grandma.

2018-03-08 17.37.58Okay, so it might actually matter a bit, and the stories will be very different. The example may be a bit of an exaggeration. What I’m trying to say is that an adventure doesn’t have to be epic in scope in order to make for an interesting story.

I write fantasy, and within the fantasy genre, it’s very common tell stories on a grandiose scale. The fate of the entire world hangs in the balance and it’s up to the one hero to save the day (and the night, and everything in between).

It doesn’t have to be like that. It’s kind of part of the expectations for the genre, but there’s plenty of room for stories about little people too. They too have things they care about, struggles to face, and challenges to overcome. The entire world may not be at stake, but their world might be – as they know it.

Now, back to my coffee, and to my own story that still needs a lot of attention.

Advertisements
Canned Wisdom #6

Canned Wisdom – Introduction

2018-02-06 17.13.13
Today was a beautiful, but cold day.

In the writing communities I’m part of, the discussion about The Rules of Writing, keeps popping up at irregular intervals. The general consensus at the moment seems to be that there aren’t really any rules, but that there are plenty of advice of varying quality.

The way I see it part of the issue with a lot of these pieces of writing advice is that they’re summed up in short catchy phrases that cut out a lot of the nuance.

The most common example of this is probably Show, Don’t Tell. It’s not a bad piece of advice as such, but there’s a lot more to it than what’s said in these three word. For starters, it doesn’t tell you why you shouldn’t tell, and it doesn’t explain what’s meant by show (or tell).

2018-02-06 15.13.19
I went for a walk…

That isn’t something I will go into any detail about today. It’s just an example to illustrate the problem with The Rules of Writing.

I’m bringing this up because I want to do a series of post with my own take on some of the more common writing rules. It stems from something I’ve done on instagram for a few weeks, where I post pictures with a few words on writing written upon them

Again, these are short sentences, just like what I said was part of the problem. What I’m trying to do is phrase my advice in such a way that it requires the reader to stop and think about it.

2018-02-06 14.37.59.jpg
…and I saw some horses.

The pictures are nice (even if it’s me saying so myself), but instagram doesn’t really leave much room for elaboration, and I often find I’m fond of elaborating. To this end I’ll begin sharing my advice-images here on the blog as well.

I’ve decided on the title Canned Wisdom for this series, because in a way that’s what it is. Each image is a can that holds a little bit of wisdom. It’s small and easy to grab hold of, but it’s also a can of worms in that once you’ve opened it, it’s hard to put all of the contents back inside.

To start with, here’s a piece of rather generic advice. It’s not related specifically to writing, and it really isn’t particularly complicated – at least not in the way I just described above. It’s an example of what I’m doing though:

IMG_20180206_164925.png
I’m well aware that there are countries with very strict censorship laws, and where art is forbidden or restricted.

That’s it.

When I first posted this, I made sure to point out that this advice is to be taken in the context of impostor syndrome, which is something I was reflecting on a lot at the time.

This is for those of us who want to make things, and who can make things, but who worry that we’re not doing it right or aren’t good enough, or that others will think we believe we’re better than them.

In short, it’s for those of use who worry and overthink, and who let that worry be an obstacle we struggle to overcome.


There is also a certain symbolism in putting this text on top of a picture of a cup of fancy coffee, but that’s a different topic of discussion.

Canned Wisdom – Introduction

This Year’s Valentine’s Day Cards

This is the third year I’m making cards for Valentine’s Day, and these are the cards I’ve made this year. The cards, as you’ll see, are very simple. I really only come up with the words on them. Feel free to add your own graphics if you want to.

If you’re short on time and running late, or maybe you just fell in love, feel free to use my words and make a card of your own. It can be as easy as getting a piece of paper and writing it down by hand. It’s the words and the thought that matter, not the cost of the card.

Anyway, here goes:

Admittedly, these aren’t quite all of them. I removed the ones that are too dark, or too weird, as well as the ones that require you to know me personally to understand. I hope you’ll find some inspiration in here though. If you do, I’d be happy to hear about it, and if you make something of your own, well, that’d be cool to hear about too.

Also, for those of you who’ve had about enough of Valentine’s Day, here are a few more from the past two years:

Okay, so maybe they’re a bit sweet too – in their own way. Deal with it.

If you want to have a look at more of the ones from the last two years, there’s an entire book of them (including a free download) here.


Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

This Year’s Valentine’s Day Cards