Writing

Why You Shouldn’t Rush Your Writing

I know—you’re eager to finish your story or whatever else you’re working on ASAP. I get it. Many writers probably dream of having a good story within as little time as possible. It’s been four years since I started working on my current project, and I’m still not done. I wanted to get the story over with as quickly as I could.

However, I ended up rushing the draft of this novel. And I realized how flawed it was. While I could easily distinguish my characters, an editor said that they pretty much sounded all the same, except for the protagonist. I had aimed for at least 40,000 words, but ended up with around 32,000.

I’ve always been inspired easily. When I researched how to write a book faster, I tried the techniques, but they resulted in little to no success. I’ve even envied authors who could write several thousands of words a day as well as those who could work on different writing projects at once, which I am teaching myself to do as I don’t want my book series to take forever. I just turned 26 and my goal is to have all 7 installments published by my 30th birthday (the first two are already out).

Regardless, I realized that it was a mistake to rush my story draft within a few weeks. I am now going to go slower and take my time.

Another reason you shouldn’t hurry your writing is that you get errors and may not notice them until it’s too late, no matter how many times you read your writing. I have spotted typos in things I wrote, whether they were stories or blog posts, a year after I published them. No kidding.

I want to type more slowly. But sadly, the Internet has little to offer about that. So, I’m pretty much on my own with that.

Unless you have a tight deadline that isn’t flexible, it’s best to take your time with your writing, regardless of the length or topic.

Writing

Why I Can’t Write Without Planning

Image from Pixabay

Ten years ago, I returned to writing fiction after a while of not being interested. However, unlike now, I hadn’t studied the writing craft. I had only studied marketing and how to get published.

Anyway, I wrote my first original novel without planning ahead and before creating it. I also dreamed of having it published, even though many people said it was not good enough. Little did I know that they were right all along. I published it, but received no positive feedback. Once I turned 18, I removed that story from the market and actually studied the writing craft. That was when I could no longer write without having a plan.

It is not just with writing where I need to plan far ahead. I need to plan ahead with pretty much anything, including parties, trips, and much more. Sometimes, especially when I was younger, I would over-plan a lot. Many times, last minute changes would occur and I didn’t want to give up my plans.  I was often described as being inflexible.

However, those times have passed. Yet, the part where I have to plan ideas in advance still remains with me. Regardless of that, I have learned to be more flexible than when I was a child. That even goes for my writing.

While I praise my writing and ideas, I am more willing to listen to feedback than in the past. Sometimes, when an editor suggests I remove something, I find a way to make that unnecessary element more important. One example was a certain character, who was a dog that just barked when the doorbell rang. Instead of removing the dog, I managed to find a way to make him crucial to the story.

Anyhow, I have also tried writing without a plan in recent years, but I’ve failed. So, I am meant to plan before I write.

fiction

The Difficult Decision: A Flash Fiction Piece

My energy arose as I thought about my friend, Kylie’s, birthday party happening in two days. Kylie and I had been friends since first grade. I had just completed my freshman year of college, so I looked forward to seeing Kylie after a year.

            But I received a text message from my college friend, Astrid. I read it.

            Lila, my mom just lost her battle with breast cancer. Her funeral is this Saturday.

            Pain shocked my body and my jaw lowered. I responded.

            Oh, no, I’m so sorry to hear.

            The door to the house opened. My mom entered, dragging her feet and lacking energy.

            “Mom, are you all right?” I asked.

            “Lila, did you hear what happened to Mrs. Jackson?”

            I paused for a few seconds. “Astrid’s mom?”

            “Yes.” My mother sat. “Her mom and my mom used to be roommates in college, too.”

            I hesitated and then said, “Why didn’t you ever tell me this?”

            “I…I lost touch with her until you met Astrid.”

            My phone sounded another text alert. I checked it. It came from…Kylie.

            So excited for Saturday. Can’t wait to see you.

            I stared at the communication, but did not respond. Kylie’s birthday party and Mrs. Jackson’s funeral fell on the same day.

            I had attended my grandpa’s funeral two years ago, and I’d had a tough time. I missed him, but I hadn’t cried over his death once…not even after hearing about his passing from my mother.

            While other people had wept at his funeral, I had just stood, bored for hours until the speeches had begun.

            I had hoped not to attend any more funerals since. I recall how the time at the funeral home had dragged and I’d been there for hours with my family.

            Aside from that, I had not seen Kylie since graduation from high school. Her party would start at three P.M. So, maybe I could attend the funeral and then leave for the birthday event. But wait—would that offend Astrid? I had a feeling that it might.

            “Lila, we should go to the funeral this Saturday,” my mom said.

            “How long will it last?”

            My mother gave me a sharp look.

            “Well, I’ve got Kylie’s birthday party at three.”

            “Lila, I think you should skip the party and stay at the funeral.”

            My mouth opened.

            “I get it—we’d all rather go to birthday parties than funerals. But frankly, you’re more friendly with Astrid than Kylie now. Plus, going to the funeral shows that you care and you’re willing to give your condolences. I think it would be more polite if you go to the funeral instead.”

            I sighed and texted Kylie.

            Hey, I can’t go to your party. I’ve got to go to a funeral.

            I sent it. A few seconds later, Kylie responded.

            Oh, ok. I understand. Sorry to hear.

            At least she comprehended me. But maybe my mother had a point. Summer break had just started. So, I’d probably hang out with Kylie another time.

Writing

Focusing on Foreshadowing

If you’re a writer, or even a student, you should know what foreshadowing is. It is when clues are given in a story, visual or written, that something might happen later. While twists and surprises are important, too, foreshadowing is essential. After all, everything that happens in a story must be crucial to the plot—eventually.

That being said, I have witnessed some stories using too much foreshadowing, such as the Disney-animated movie, “Aladdin”. Don’t worry. “Aladdin” is a great movie and I enjoyed it very much. However, I still think it overdid it on the foreshadowing, and therefore, it was a bit too predictable for me.

That is another thing to watch out for—too much foreshadowing can displease the reader or audience. Notice how in most forms of storytelling, there is a balance of foreshadowing and unexpected plot twists? That is what people want. It makes a story more enjoyable. A little bit of both is what makes a book, movie, TV show, play, or anything else more pleasurable.

I, myself, have used some foreshadowing in my own books. For example, in one of them, the antagonist hears my main character’s dog bark, and then leaves. I won’t spoil anything beyond that. However, I will assure you that the specific moment foreshadows something that is bound to occur later and remains important.

In another novel of mine, there are characters that are introduced through the phone, but don’t appear in person until later. Once again, I won’t spoil anything. In fact, spoiling is another risk you run when you foreshadow too much.

Of course, it is not easy to use foreshadowing properly. But as you learn over time, it can be doable for you.

art

Graphic Design and Invitation Creations

I was a graphic design major for one semester of college, but didn’t enjoy it that much. So, I switched over to fine arts (big mistake). Anyway, what I learned included typography, the study of type, sizes, spacing, colors, arrangements, and fonts. I had to learn how a font could communicate the message that was intended. And that was anything but easy. Nevertheless, I got a B+ for the class.

Despite not being super-passionate about graphic design, I did take home the skills I learned when designing birthday invitations. I took into consideration everything about design I’ve listed in the above paragraph.

While the invitations weren’t intended to be judged, since they were for my friends, I still executed as many design elements as necessary.

Take a look at my 25th birthday party invitation below:

Not only did I use colors that screamed “Hollywood” as well as add a filmstrip, but I also made the heading font pop so that it would be the first thing people saw. The message about my birthday needed to stand out, too, but not as much. And, of course, the gray lines are meant to hide and protect my personal information.

The following year, this one, soon to end, I designed another invitation in Photoshop for my 26th birthday that has just passed.

I didn’t want to copy the previous year’s design. However, I still did research and took colors and type into mind. Notice how “Double-Feature” and “Movie Night” look kind of 3D? That was what I wanted people to pay attention to the most.

The other information in the white font felt natural to be on the sides, including the white lines hiding my personal information again. Instead of a filmstrip, I added a camera with a yellow spotlight.

While the invitation for my 25th birthday looks more exciting and will more likely remind everyone of Hollywood and movies, the 26th birthday one seems more relaxed due to the deep shade of red.

I might not have loved graphic design, but it sure did teach me valuable tips and tricks.

movie

It’s a Critique for “The Santa Clause” (1994)

Warning: contains spoilers***

Tim Allen plays a guy named Scott Calvin who has a son named Charlie. Charlie firmly believes in Santa Claus, but his dad is a bit rebellious against it. After an incident occurs, Scott Calvin has to become the next Santa Claus.

I haven’t seen this movie for years until recently. So, I picked up some new details. Here are the elements that pleased me and those I felt could’ve been better.

1: The plot

The storyline is similar to that of “Evan Almighty”, which was released several years later in 2007. The way Charlie and his dad got along progressed well. At first, Scott would be a bit tough on Charlie and then their relationship improved over time. The scene where Charlie is sad when his dad has to leave him as he has become Santa Claus was very emotional. Another element that felt believable to me was when Charlie’s mother and her boyfriend, Neil, were suspicious of Scott Calvin when Charlie was telling stories about him being at the North Pole. Scott Calvin was suspended from being with Charlie.

2: The humor

The movie was very funny. It had great dialogue and the characters’ decisions often cracked me up. I laughed throughout much of the film.

Now onto the parts that could have been portrayed better.

1: The characters’ reactions at times

When Santa fell off the roof, he died and somehow vanished. Charlie and his dad didn’t react strongly enough nor believably. In fact, they accepted it too much like it was no big deal. Um…Santa lost his life. And no one seemed stressed out about it.

Other examples of weak reactions include when a kid in Charlie’s class at school called a girl stupid for asking Scott Calvin if he made the toys. And the teacher was way to relaxed and gentle about it. She even smiled. A truly responsible and believable teacher would’ve gotten angry and said something like, “Excuse me, we don’t call others stupid. That’s not nice. Apologize to (whatever the person’s name is).”

And when Calvin gained weight as he was turning into Santa Claus, one of his co-workers commented on it and Scott seemed to casually accept that. Hey, other guy, that’s not your business that Scott was gaining weight. He should’ve known better.

2: Why do the elves look like human children?

Not only do the characters in the movie mistake the elves as kids, but so did I when I first saw it many years ago. The elves are apparently more than a thousand years old. So, why do they look like human children? Bernard, the elf who was involved with Charlie and his father, resembles a teenager.

I am pretty sure elves aren’t supposed to look like human kids. I think the portrayal of them in the movie, “Elf”, that came out years after in 2003, is far more accurate.

3: The bizarre special effects

Okay, okay—I get it. This was released in the 90’s, when special effects were still in their infancy. But seeing the shape changes for plot convenience, such as when Scott’s form alters so that he can fit inside a pipe, looked weird to me. It reminded me of something that would have occurred in a kiddie show, such as “Barney and Friends”. But whatever.

Regardless of the flaws, I enjoyed “The Santa Clause” very much. I would rate it 5 out of 5 stars.

movie

Review for “A Christmas Story” (1983)

A man named Ralphie narrates a time from his childhood many years ago, when he was 9 years old. He is preparing for Christmas and wants a BB-gun, but is constantly told, “You’ll shoot your eye out.” Yet, Ralphie remains determined.

This film was a pretty difficult watch. Not only is it because it’s about a kid who wants a weapon, which wouldn’t be acceptable today, but also that the characters are too unlikable and stereotypical. It wasn’t until after I watched it that the unbelievable characters were done on purpose. It turns out that Ralphie’s memories were exaggerated. However, that doesn’t make it more enjoyable for me.

For instance, Ralphie says a four-letter word when he makes a mistake as he and his dad are getting a Christmas tree. He gets in an extreme amount of trouble for that. On the other hand, when the pure-evil bullies taunted him, he beat one of them to the point that the other boy bled. And he seemed to be praised for that.

Another moment that bugged me was when the mall was closing, the elf people and Santa scared the kids who came up to him. Yet the line didn’t shorten, no one complained, or tried to report the people in elf and Santa costumes to authorities. I don’t know if that would have happened in the 1940’s, when the film is set. But the children should’ve left, horrified—at the very least.

Regardless of the flaws, there are some good moments in this movie. As Ralphie and his family were leaving the mall, four people in “Wizard of Oz” outfits did their “We’re off to see the wizard” dance behind them. There was also a parade with Snow White and Mickey Mouse. And despite the other characters lacking appeal to me, Ralphie was developed well and was, perhaps, the most believable and relatable person.

I would rate “A Christmas Story” 3 out of 5 stars. If a movie is supposed to exaggerate their characters and not make them 100 percent accurate to a person’s memory, they should state that before the opening scene. No one should have to rely on outside material to watch or read anything.

TV show

Hold on Your Diapees, Babies, We’re Going to Analyze “Rugrats”

Anyone born in the 90’s probably watched, or at least heard of “Rugrats”, the show about talking-babies. Well—they also speak to each other, but never the adults, except Angelica and her peers, Susie and Edwin, and possibly a third kid. I can’t recall.

Anyway, there are many memorable moments. One is where Chuckie dreamt about what life would be like if he was never born and he had a guardian angel, which he called a garden angel. It was pretty sad since Tommy was stuck in the garage, his parents were slaves to Angelica, who was obese and would force Dee and Stew, the parents and aunt and uncle to her, to bring her cookies.

Speaking of which, there is a Passover episode, since one family is Jewish, and Angelica is told that she couldn’t have cookies during that time since bread isn’t allowed during that holiday range. Angelica pointed out that cookies didn’t have bread in them, but then learned and understood why she couldn’t eat them during Passover. Regardless of her lesson, that’s pretty mature for a 3-year-old. Most real children that age would unlikely understand that and throw a tantrum to get what they want.

In the episode where Angelica gets in trouble for playing in her dad’s study, she sneaks out, takes her little jeep around town, and then orders the babies to get her some cookies. Sadly, the box is too high for them to reach. So, instead, they give her dog biscuits, which she enjoys until she finds out what they are.

There was also an episode where the family goes somewhere where Reptar the dinosaur is, but the group goes to Goober, another character. What I found cruel, and would definitely result in penalties in real life, is that some staff grabbed Tommy’s Reptar toy from him, made him cry, and gave him a Goober doll instead. Not cool.

Another aspect that would usually be too mature in a children’s show is death. Chuckie had lost his mother before the events of the series began. In “Rugrats in Paris”, while on the plane, Chuckie looks out the window and envisions memories of his mother. Now here comes some spoilers***

Chuckie’s dad marries Kira, who becomes Chuckie’s stepmother, and Kimmy becomes his stepsister. From that point on, the intro theme updates and includes Kira and Kimmy. Then there’s the sequel show, “All Grown Up”, where the babies are older and in junior high. I’ve seen a little bit of it, but not enough to discuss my thoughts on the show.

Speaking of older, there was an episode about Tommy liking to be naked and Phil and Lil undressed themselves. Now that I’m older, I realize that that’s too inappropriate for kids.

Anyhow, I could go on and on about more memorable moments. But I’ve seen so many episodes, as well the specials and movies, that I feel it’s too much to list here.

While I watched “Rugrats” when I was younger, I have lost strong feelings about much of the premise and moments. However, the ones I discussed still stand out to me.

fiction

I Dream of Time-Travel: A Flash Fiction Piece

Image from Pixabay

My name is Savannah and I am 26 years old. While I have a lot of amazing memories, so many moments from the past also hurt me to this day. Some I wish I could forget, and others I wish I could change.

            But there is one event from the past that I would consider one of my most painful memories—my seventh birthday. Yes, even when your little, certain things that happen to you can sting so much, you’re upset about them for life. That’s right, when I’m old, I’ll still be haunted by it.

            My second-grade teacher (I had a late birthday in September) forced me to experience something I hated. Then she threw me into a small space that was part of the classroom and had me go through that torture. Then I cried and lost my happiness for the rest of that day. My parents did nothing about it. No one did. You’d think the teacher would’ve been reported for that and would have had to face consequences. Nope. Everything resumed as if nothing had happened.

            Fast-forward 14 years and I attended a fashion college. One of the professors put me down for struggling with my assignments, and even demanded that I switch to another major. My mom freaked out over that. She had me speak to the dean about it, file a disciplinary action report, had me meet with a private instructor instead, and transfer to another college. Even then, she continued to yell at the previous university.

            Five times all those reactions should have taken place with my second-grade teacher. Not only should she have been reported for that awful treatment, but she also should’ve written an apology to me, gotten suspended for a few months, and been on probation for the rest of the school year. Everyone in the class should have apologized, too, along with the principal. She should have sent out a newsletter to everybody, revealing that an incident had occurred where I, the student, had been forced into an uncomfortable position. Adding a reminder that no one should’ve been pushed into those types of situations, mistreatment toward others wouldn’t have been tolerated, and to thank everyone for his or her cooperation, should’ve happened, as well.

            Even though 19 years had passed since, I wish I could go back in time, find my younger self (without revealing that I was her), hand her a note about what needed to happen with the teacher, and remind her to tell Mom. But that will always remain a fantasy.

movie

It was “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” and Won’t You Please Read My Review for this Movie (2019)?

Despite not watching the TV show as a child and not hearing about it till many years later, I saw this film with a bunch of friends and ended up liking it.

It starts with what probably was the opening to the TV program and introduced the latest Mr. Rogers, played by Tom Hanks. Mr. Rogers introduces different pictures and then focuses on a guy named Lloyd.

Lloyd has a wife called Andrea and a newborn named Gavin. They are going to attend a wedding. While there, Lloyd’s father says something unpleasing and Lloyd hurts him, which ends up becoming a fight involving a few other people. Lloyd ends up with a cut on his nose.

Lloyd’s editor assigns him to interview the children’s TV host, Mr. Rogers, and write a 400-word entry about it. But Lloyd doesn’t look forward to it. Nevertheless, he does it.

I was surprised by how the “Mr. Rogers” universe looked more like a toy universe instead of a real one. While I’m sure it was deliberate and meant to attract kids, to me, it appeared bizarre.

That being said, the show’s format was well-thought out and the lessons were great. Tom Hanks did an amazing job portraying Mr. Rogers, who happens to also be a distant relative of him. The real Fred Rogers would have been proud.

The characters were likable, but sometimes, I felt there were silent moments for a little too long as well as not enough emotional tension at times.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed the movie and would rate it 4 out of 5 stars.