Tag Archives: NaNoBloCha July2018

The French Scene: How to Break Your Fiction Into Smaller Bites

No. A french scene is not when one character sticks their tongue into another character’s mouth during the scene. It was a term we used in the theater department to break a play into more manageable parts. Allow me to explain.

Having been a theater major in college as opposed to an English major, has given me a different outlook on writing fiction. I’m not sure what all goes on in those fiction-writing classes but I’ve never heard an English major (or any other writer for that matter) talk about French Scenes. Nor have I heard them mention Triggers, Heaps and Beats but that is another blog post! Studying fiction from an acting and directing perspective, has broadened my understanding of storytelling. In the end, I think English majors could learn a thing or two from us theater folk especially when it comes to writing dialogue.

Now I’m not a master of the craft (who is?) But I’ve noticed that when writing a first draft or editing later drafts that larger chunks of work can be overwhelming. It’s daunting – looking at a 7,000 word chapter and knowing you need to break that shit down. So I’d like to introduce to you the concept of a French Scene.

What is a French Scene?

By definition, “A “French scene” is a scene in which the beginning and end are marked by a change in the presence of characters onstage, rather than by the lights going up or down or the set being changed.-Wikipedia

So basically, anytime a character enters or leaves a scene. You may have some french scenes which consist of three lines of dialogue, and some which last more than a page. Granted, this doesn’t work for every work of fiction. In Emma Donoghue’s Room, a large part of the story consists of dialogue between Ma and Jack. The french scenes for this work would be very long. However, there are other ways to break up chunks of fiction.

Some elect to edit page by page or even break their editing up into paragraph by paragraph. I find that when I edit this way, my fiction is clunkier and doesn’t flow as well. Instead, treat each new thought or topic of conversation as a character entering or leaving the scene. This way, you’d still be utilizing the french scene method.

What is the Function of a French Scene?

I first came across the term during a Stage Management class during my sophomore year of college. It was one of the most fascinating and influential classes I took during my college career. The stage manager, much like the author of a novel, is the god of the play’s production. They keep track of EVERYTHING for that production from the stage lighting cues in the script to each actor’s audition papers.

There is even a specific short-hand language and way of writing that we had to learn so that should something happen to the stage manager during a production, someone else can easily replace them. Seriously, we had an entire assignment on the quickest way to hand write (with instructions on how to write every letter of the alphabet, capitalized and lower case) in the least amount of pen strokes.

Please let me know in the comments below how you break down your fiction. You never know when your pearl of wisdom just might help the next greatest writer tackle their work.

Further Reading

If you’re interested in learning more about stage production, Angela Mitchell has a fantastic series of blog posts on the topic. I highly recommend checking out her work.

#NaNoWriMoBlogChallange #NaNoBloCha
NaNo Challenge for the day:

It’s July 4th. Blow something up. It’s what our Founding Fathers would have wanted. ‘Merica!

Blog Art made with Canva

Regina Bethory is a fiction author. She graduated from Christopher Newport University with a Bachelor’s in Directing and Play Writing and from Newport News Shipbuilding’s Apprentice School as a Test Electrician. She also has a degree in Funeral Services. As an avid minimalist and traveler, she enjoys spending her time learning new things, seeking new experiences and de-cluttering. When she is not writing, she can often be found in comic book stores and early morning matinees.

Inspirational Quotes for Writers and Other Creatives

Even the most creative people need a little pick me up now and then. If you’re like me, you rely on reading what others have to say about your craft of choice. It’s very easy to let toxic, in-supportive people bring you down from your creative genius high. Today marks the third day of the July 2018 Camp NaNoWriMo challenge. Whether you’re in full launch mode or you already feel the numbness of week two seeping in prematurely, inspirational quotes can help fuel you further into your writing project.

In order to help set you up for success, here are some of my favorite pearls of wisdom. I tried to keep the list short but there are so many great inspirational quotes that it’s overwhelming. I could spend hours on the internet trying to read them all. Perhaps in reading these inspirational quotes you will realize that though writing is a solitary craft, you are not alone in your endeavors. I hope they inspire you to journey onward, and may the odds be even in your favor!

Inspirational Quotes About Writing

“Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.”
–George Orwell

“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”
–Toni Morrison

“One thing that helps is to give myself permission to write badly. I tell myself that I’m going to do my five or 10 pages no matter what, and that I can always tear them up the following morning if I want. I’ll have lost nothing—writing and tearing up five pages would leave me no further behind than if I took the day off.”
–Lawrence Block

“A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” (This is so me.)
–Thomas Mann, Essays of Three Decades

“There are no laws for the novel. There never have been, nor can there ever be.”
–Doris Lessing

“You can make anything by writing.”
–C.S. Lewis

“A word after a word after a word is power.”
–Margaret Atwood

“A book is made from a tree. It is an assemblage of flat, flexible parts (still called “leaves”) imprinted with dark pigmented squiggles. One glance at it and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, the author is speaking, clearly and silently, inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people, citizens of distant epochs, who never knew one another. Books break the shackles of time–proof that humans can work magic.” (If this isn’t inspiring, I’m not sure what is.)
Carl Sagan

“People say, ‘What advice do you have for people who want to be writers?’ I say, they don’t really need advice, they know they want to be writers, and they’re gonna do it. Those people who know that they really want to do this and are cut out for it, they know it.”
–R.L. Stine

“I am irritated by my own writing. I am like a violinist whose ear is true, but whose fingers refuse to reproduce precisely the sound he hears within.” (Always good to know I’m not alone in this.)
Gustave Flaubert

“I went for years not finishing anything. Because, of course, when you finish something you can be judged.” (*Raises hand* Me too.)
Erica Jong

“Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can do anything really good.”
William Faulkner

“Write while the heat is in you. … The writer who postpones the recording of his thoughts uses an iron which has cooled to burn a hole with.”
–Henry David Thoreau

“The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading, in order to write; a man will turn over half a library to make one book.”
–Samuel Johnson

“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”
–Ernest Hemingway

Inspirational Quotes About Art

“When you make music or write or create, it’s really your job to have mind-blowing, irresponsible, condomless sex with whatever idea it is you’re writing about at the time. ”
–Lady Gaga

“Every artist was first an amateur.”
–Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Art is the only way to run away without leaving home.”
Twyla Tharp

“Have no fear of perfection, you’ll never reach it.”
Salvador Dali

“To send light into the darkness of men’s hearts – such is the duty of the artist.”
Schumann

“Life beats down and crushes the soul and art reminds you that you have one.”
Stella Adler

“Don’t think about making art, just get it done.  Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it.  While they are deciding, make even more art.”
Andy Warhol

“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”
Pablo Picasso

“Art is a lie that makes us realize truth.”
–Pablo Picasso

“Inspiration does exist but it must find you working.”
Pablo Picasso

“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.”
Scott Adams

“The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless.”
Jean-Jacques Rousseau

“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” –Michelangelo

Humorous Quotes About Writing

“Writing is like sex. First you do it for love, then you do it for your friends, and then you do it for money.”
–Virginia Woolf

“Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards.”
–Robert A. Heinlein

“If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn’t brood. I’d type a little faster.”
–Isaac Asimov

“I always start writing with a clean piece of paper and a dirty mind.”
–Patrick Dennis

“A blank piece of paper is God’s way of telling us how hard it is to be God.”
Sidney Sheldon

“Writing books is the closest men ever come to childbearing.”
Norman Mailer

“I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.”
Douglas Adams

“Half my life is an act of revision.”
John Irving

 

Happy Writing!

#NaNoWriMoBlogChallange #NaNoBloCha
NaNo Challenge for the day:

Use the word LITHE in today’s writing session. [It means “slender”]

Blog Art from Dreamstime.

 

 

Regina Bethory is a fiction author. She graduated from Christopher Newport University with a Bachelor’s in Directing and Play Writing and from Newport News Shipbuilding’s Apprentice School as a Test Electrician. She also has a degree in Funeral Services. As an avid minimalist and traveler, she enjoys spending her time learning new things, seeking new experiences and de-cluttering. When she is not writing, she can often be found in comic book stores and early morning matinees.

5 Essential Items for the Traveling Minimalist

It may sound like an oxymoron to say that there are essential items you must have while being a minimalist. To clarify, being a minimalist doesn’t mean only owning a specific amount of items. Yes, there are people out there who only own 51 items or fewer. But that’s not what it means to be a minimalist. Ultimately, the goal is to only own things which bring you joy or serve a purpose. As a traveling minimalist, keep in mind that you don’t need to bring your entire home with you on a two week long trip. Just a few items will do. You’ll be surprised with how much you can live without!

Lately, we’ve been traveling a lot more than usual. In those travels, which I will be posting blogs about soon, I have learned how to pack and to travel as a minimalist. Below I’ve created a list of items that I never travel without. They are the only items that I pack other than my clothes and occasionally my laptop. However, I don’t consider my laptop an essential item. It’s something I can do without if need be.

5 Items for the Traveling Minimalist

1. Proper Luggage

This one may seem pretty obvious but you’d be surprised at how many people insist on having to check their luggage. I’ve been told that I’m not like most women in that I can pack for two weeks in a single carry-on. Whether that’s true or not is beside point. The point is, you can fit essentials in a carry-on no matter what your lifestyle or fashion sense.

As with many things, I purchased my luggage from Amazon. That being said, if you go to Amazon and type “luggage” into the search bar, you’re going to be greeted with thousands of results! Some of them are 5 piece sets…who needs all of that!? When selecting my perfect luggage I took price and reviews into consideration as well as carry-on size measurements. In the end I settled upon this:

And I usually only take one, not both! For less than $50 (click on the picture above to be taken to the Amazon page for more details) I got two sizable and durable pieces of luggage. I never have to worry about someone else taking them because they are never checked – always with me.

2. Smart Phone

It’s true. In today’s day and age there are still people without smart phones. I thought I was the last one to jump on the bandwagon! Smart phones are a great device to have with you during a trip. If you’re traveling abroad, you may need to invest in a travel phone or a separate SIM card for the country you’re going to. However, that is a whole different post. For domestic trips, a smart phone can hail you an Uber/Lyft, it can be used as your boarding pass (as opposed to having to track more paperwork), it serves as your camera, and you can book flights, hotel rooms and rent cars all from the palm of your hand.

We also use popular apps such as Yelp! to find great local places to eat, and Groupon to see if there are local deals for a date night. I often wonder how I ever traveled without a smart phone in the past. They truly make traveling that much more convenient. Not sure about a place? Check TripAdvisor for reviews. The pros to this one are endless.

3. Solar Charger

No joke. This little device saved me in Chicago. When we landed in Chicago this past Christmas, it was -2 degrees and I was naive enough to think that once the weather is below freezing that cold is cold and it all feels the same. Boy, was I wrong! After standing in the sub-zero temperatures waiting for an Uber that was on an entirely different level of a massive and foreign airport, my phone battery went from 53% to dead.

I panicked. That was our lifeline. Rushing back into the airport and embracing the warmth of the indoors, feeling rushed back into my fingers and all I could feel was pain. Early signs of hypothermia? Probably. Not being able to find a spare outlet, I pulled the solar charger out of our luggage and plugged the phone in. Immediate battery life= immediate happiness.

I’d love to be one of those people who can survive off the land…or at least I say things like that. But the reality of it is, I love the convenience of technology. Solar chargers are also great for camping trips if you need an emergency power source. Seriously, it was the best $20 I’ve ever spent. Spending the few days after Christmas in Chicago and Philadelphia, the cold temperatures took their toll on my phones battery. It was nice to know that I always had this back up with us.

4. Headphones

There is nothing quite like a good pair of headphones to drown out the noise of the plane’s engine, the screaming baby a few rows back or the city traffic outside of your hotel room window. Investing in a good pair of noise-canceling headphones is worth it. If you’re like me, you have trouble focusing on your work or writing in noisy, crowded places. I get distracted easily by busy airports, contented with watching people and eavesdropping on interesting conversations. (I know that sounds creepy but my play-writing professor in college said it’s the best way to get realistic dialogue.)

When it comes to noise-canceling, no one does it quite like Bose. They have the most superior sound technology by far and it’s the only brand I trust. But I’m kind of a brand snob now-a-days. Yes, they are a little on the pricier side. The wireless ones are almost double the price of the wired ones! But of the few things I recommend dropping a large sum of money on, I highly recommend these for avid travelers.

5. City Pass

This one is optional depending on where you are traveling to. Applicable to some major US and Canadian cities, the city pass saved tons of money and hours of time! In Chicago, the line to Chicago 360 and Chicago Skydeck had wait times of over 2 hours! I’m not kidding. However, with City Passes, you get to skip the lines. Instead of waiting 2-3 hours in line, you can be in the door, up the elevator, see the main attraction and come back down within 30-40 minutes…while others are still waiting in line and paying more money.

https://www.citypass.com/

When going on any trip, it’s important to plan ahead. If you can find anything like this that gives you package discounts and lets you skip the line- WORTH IT! I seriously felt like royalty being able to breeze past everyone in line. While traveling, there were very few others in the City Pass/Express Lines. Take advantage of it! And no, I’m not getting any kind of freebie or commission for sending you to them.

Those five essential items (along with underwear) are things that I never travel without. Even as a traveling minimalist, there are certain things I need for my own travel pleasure and peace of mind. Is there something that you can’t travel without? Please let me know in the comments below! I would love to hear your essential items for travel!

Happy Trails!

-RB

Blog Art created with Canva

Regina Bethory is a fiction author. She graduated from Christopher Newport University with a Bachelor’s in Directing and Play Writing and from Newport News Shipbuilding’s Apprentice School as a Test Electrician. She also has a degree in Funeral Services. As an avid minimalist and traveler, she enjoys spending her time learning new things, seeking new experiences and de-cluttering. When she is not writing, she can often be found in comic book stores and early morning matinees.

The Pre-Writing Ritual: The Work Before Work

Hello readers! Today is the first day of my self-imposed NaNoWriMo blog challenge for the July camp of 2018. If you follow my blog for topics other than writing, don’t worry. I will be posting about minimalism and travel throughout the month. However, for today’s first post I want to focus on the pre-writing ritual. Personally. I don’t have a pre-writing ritual that I do every day. I do have a pre-NaNoWriMo ritual.

For those of you competing in NaNoWriMo this time around, you may have already started, or you may be procrastinating, or you might be taking part in your pre-writing ritual as you read this. Whatever the case may be, I would love for you to share what your ritual is in the comments below.

What is a Pre-Writing Ritual?

As human beings we can be very superstitious. By nature, we are ritualistic. Perhaps we wear the same socks or racing flats for every cross-country race? Maybe there’s lucky underwear involved or a lucky hat we wear when we sit down to write our academic essays? I for one have never had a pre-writing ritual. However, with NaNoWriMo it’s a different story. Being that NaNoWriMo is a whole month and I try to focus most of my spare energy towards it, I don’t like to spend a lot of time paying bills, cleaning and cooking. You know those daily chores that tend to add up?

I have a pre-NaNoWriMo ritual. Whether you started your NaNoWriMo challenge today, are waiting until tonight or next weekend, it’s still not too late to complete your ritual.

My ritual usually lasts the whole day. Luckily this month’s challenge started on a Sunday. I was on the NaNoWriMo forums yesterday and saw some other writers talking about their pre-writing rituals and what they did to get ready for the month ahead.

Suggestions from Others

Some of the ideas I got from other writers included logging out of Netflix and Hulu, Facebook, and other social media accounts. Some of you may think what’s the big deal? If you wanna get on, just log back in… So many of those programs and social media platforms keep us logged in so we forget our password. Manually logging back to succumb to hours of procrastination and wasted time becomes a chore when you’ve forgotten your password. Fail too many times and your account becomes locked.  That turns into logging into your email before the “reset” link expires… it’s not worth that much trouble to not write. And trust me, writers spend a lot of time avoiding writing. (Non-writers don’t understand that).

Other writers that have large families participate in a 30 day meal preps. I feel like this one is a little bit easier for the winter months because it’s easier to make casseroles, chili, stews and thicker, heavier meals in bulk and then freeze them for the month. Summertime is a little bit different. Usually we don’t eat as heavy. We rely more on fresh fruits and raw vegetables – things to keep us hydrated and cool which may pose to be a bit of a challenge for a meal prep. If you’re looking for ideas I’ve put a few links below to some 30 day meal preps.


30-Day Meal Prep Links:

http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/22226/mealtimes/dinner/best-30-day-meal-plan/slideshow/the-best-30-day-meal-plan/

https://www.shape.com/healthy-eating/meal-ideas/30-day-shape-your-plate-challenge-easy-healthy-meal-planning

https://girlinhealing.com/how-to-plan-30-days-of-meals-in-1-day/


My Pre-Writing Ritual

Those are just a few suggestions that I received from the forums. Though they don’t really apply to me, you have to know what works best for you. We’re all a little different. Some of us are better at saying no to distractions than others. As a minimalist, I have removed a lot of distractions from my life. But there are still certain things I need to take care of for the month. While I know that there will be times laundry will pile up, I try to keep it at a minimum as best as I can.

Yesterday was Saturday and my day was filled with cleaning the apartment. We have a small two bedroom apartment and as mentioned before no children or pets so I’d like to think it stays  orderly. Below is a list of things and tasks that I completed that you may want to take a look at to help you determine what needs to be done in your household before you commit a month of your life to writing 50,000 words or more.

1. Wash, dry, put away as much laundry as possible.

As always, minimalism helps because we don’t have that many clothes. Take the time to put fresh sheets on the bed and clean all of your dirty laundry.

2. The dishes…

I’m terrible about letting dishes pile up in the sink or not emptying the dishwasher once it’s done cycling through. And I get fussed at for it… It’s not in my nature. The kitchen really isn’t my area, I usually let him do the work. However, I contribute to the mess and I know that I can’t really concentrate when I know that there’s clutter somewhere. It drives me nuts. Run the dishwasher through once or twice, put all of the clean dishes, away scrub the countertops and the floor, and empty the trash.

3. Buy groceries and clean your fridge.

I’m not talking about junk food. Of course, buying healthy food can be frustrating because it goes bad before you can eat it all. I’m used to going to the grocery store 2 to 3 times a week to get fresh produce. Perhaps for this month switch it up a little bit. Buy a lot of frozen fruit and vegetables instead. It’s the next best thing to fresh. I rely heavily on home-made protein shakes for meals during the NaNo months. So frozen fruits are a must in the house!

4. Wipe down all services and vacuum.

There’s something about an uncluttered room or home that just brings peace of mind. Albert Einstein famously said, “if a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”

I’ve never liked this quote. As a minimalist, I like things empty, neat and sorted. I feel like I can’t be creative or think straight if there’s clutter and disorder. Maybe clutter and disorder works for some people? Obviously it worked for Einstein. But I know me and I know that doesn’t work for me. If you have others in the household with you, have them help.

5. Take the trash out and clean vehicles.

By now this list is probably sounding more like your mother’s list of chores than a pre-writing ritual. I’m not talking about giving your car a wash though. I’m talking about the inside, which can also be a hording place for clutter. Some of us spend a lot of time in our cars driving back and forth on long commutes to work. Or stuck in traffic. Do yourself a favor clean out your car.

6. Pay your bills for the month.

The last thing you need is repeated phone calls or text messages from your credit card company saying, “Hey your payment is late!” It’s very easy to lose track of what day it is during NaNoWriMo. If you can afford it, pay everything a month ahead of time. Don’t just consider any credit card bills, take into account rent/mortgage, property tax, vehicle registration, utilities, memberships, insurance, etc.

7. Clean out the medicine cabinet in the bathroom.

Things accumulate over time. It’s only natural. But sometimes that medicine cabinet doesn’t really get looked at too closely. Before long, all sorts of creams, ointments, serums, different size bandages, and medicines stack up. Look under your sinks as well. Throw stuff out!

My pre-writing /pre-nano ritual is basically to do a huge, massive and thorough spring clean on the home. I’d love to know more about how every one else handles their pre-writing time. Perhaps it involves reading a blog post or wearing a funny hat? Please share in the comments below!


#NaNoWriMoBlogChallange #NaNoBloCha
NaNo Challenge for the day:

Use the word PENUMBRA in today’s writing session. [It means “a half-shadow”]

Happy Writing!

Cover Art created with Canva.

Regina Bethory is a fiction author. She graduated from Christopher Newport University with a Bachelor’s in Directing and Play Writing and from Newport News Shipbuilding’s Apprentice School as a Test Electrician. She also has a degree in Funeral Services. As an avid minimalist and traveler, she enjoys spending her time learning new things, seeking new experiences and de-cluttering. When she is not writing, she can often be found in comic book stores and early morning matinees.