Friday, July 27, 2012

Shoehorning God by Scott Roche: Religion and Fiction Series, part 1

When I tell people who know I'm a Christian that I'm writing a novel, I invariably get asked, "Is it a book for the Christian shelves?" In some ways, the question makes sense, but to at least a degree, it also makes no sense because the books we write should go where they fit. In fact, I believe they have an important place where they fit best, whether it's the religion section, the sci-fi section, the romance section, or somewhere else on the bookshelves. I've asked some writer friends to share their thoughts on how religion and fiction should mesh (or shouldn't), how beliefs can end up in our fiction (or not), how we can mine our past spiritual experiences for our fiction (if we want to), and whatever else comes to mind when asked what they feel the connection between religion and fiction may be.

Today's guest post is by Scott Roche, whose book Ginnie Dare is a great example of young adult writing that embraces healthy values and is also a lot of science fiction fun. I reviewed it here a while ago, and I highly recommend it. Now, on to what Scott has to share in his post "Shoehorning God."
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My spiritual life has been a bit of a roller coaster. I was raised culturally Christian. By that I mean we attended church on the major holidays and had one of those honkin’ big family Bibles. However, I was a voracious consumer of a whole host of age inappropriate fiction, movies, and music. I was completely, one might even say blissfully, unaware of “Christian” versions of those things.

Fast forward to college. I met and fell in love with a young lady who’s now my wife. She was and is a much more conservative believer than I am. She introduced me to that which I was missing. I began listening to music and reading books targeted at believers. Some of it was good. Most of it was drivel. I think I know why.

Reason number one is the same reason why most entertainment is chalked up to Sturgeon’s Law: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.” Since there’s not a great deal of product targeted at us, though more than there used to be, the number might seem higher. And it might be. There’s another one though; many Christian creators want to shoehorn God into everything. I also call this the Christian Whitewash.

Infusing your belief, whatever that may be, into what you write should be the most natural thing of all. After all, the Bible says, “Out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks”. If you’re a Christian, then that’s going to inform everything you do. The same is true whatever religion you might subscribe to.

I think that the key is not to force it.

Here are a few things you don’t have to (and perhaps shouldn’t) do:
 
1) Preach to the Choir: Assuming that your audience is religious/spiritual in the same way you are, you don’t have to make what you write the equivalent of Sunday School. I listened to a podcast novel recently where it seemed that the author felt the need to take us down “Romans Road,” the steps that some Christians teach as the process to salvation (based on Bible verses found in the New Testament book of Romans). It got tired quickly and bogged down an otherwise interesting story. Instead, challenge us. Use your fiction to tackle the bigger issues and unpack them. Say what you will about The Shack, but it got people talking about the nature of the Trinity. I have my own feelings on the writing, but that’s another rant.

2) Allegorize: Doing allegory right/effectively takes a deft hand. One of my favorite series of all times is The Chronicles of Narnia. Lewis did allegory well, but even he got a bit heavy-handed. I will now bring The Shack up as an example of what NOT to do. If you want a Christ figure in your book, try not to be so on the nose.

3) Demonize the Other: The obvious villain in many Christian stories that I’ve read is The Evil Atheist/Satanist. There’s nothing wrong with that per se. I’ve done that myself. The pitfall here is in making all of the non-believers in your story out to be antagonists. In my novel Archangel, I’ve actually got a protagonist who’s an atheist and he remains such throughout the book. That leads me to the next point:

4) Everyone Gets Saved: When it comes to non-Christian characters, there seems to be a Christian writer’s equivalent to Chekov’s Gun (Don’t include a loaded rifle in the first act unless you intend to shoot someone by the third act). And that rule seems to be: Don’t introduce an atheist in the first act unless he’s on his knees in prayer by the third act. Remember, people are complex and not everyone becomes a Christian. In one of my series, the foil for my main character, a Roman Catholic priest, is an atheist school teacher. I kind of hope that he never becomes a Christian so that I can always have that alternate point of view.

5) Saintly Protagonists: This is the opposite of number three. If you make your protagonist a mouthpiece for your beliefs (not a bad thing, but also not necessary), then make sure he’s a fully fledged person. We all have warts; show theirs. The flip side of this that I often see is the protagonist who starts out as deeply conflicted about their religion but who become a super saint by the end. Sure that happens, but will your audience be able to identify with them?

Personally, I think all of the above are just good writing tips in general, regardless of what you believe. Even if that isn’t true, all of this could be shelved if more Christian writers realized that you don’t have to make your story overtly “religious” at all. This goes back to the overflow of your heart. Hopefully my YA novel, Ginnie Dare, is a good example of this. There’s no mention of religion anywhere in the book. Still, it’s infused with the concepts of love, family, sacrifice, and other values that are deeply rooted in my faith.

Some people might consider that a bit of a “cop out.” I can hear some people saying that by leaving God/Christianity out of my story that I’m short changing it. I couldn’t disagree more. For Exhibit B, I need only reach back to The Lord of the Rings. It hits every one of these pieces of advice, and there’s little argument that Tolkien was a Christian and that it influenced his life and works. What you believe and who you are will come out in what you write.

Copyright (c) 2012 by Scott Roche. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Some creatures feed on blood and revel in the screams of their prey. Scott Roche craves only caffeine and the clacking of keys. He pays his bills doing the grunt work no one else wants to take, bringing dead electronics back to life and working arcane wonders with software. His true passion is hammering out words that become anything from tales that terrify to futuristic worlds of wonder. He’s also constantly seeking out talent for the publishing empire that is Flying Island Press. All that and turning three children into a private mercenary army make for a life filled with adventure. 

Find his blog/website at scottroche.com. And check out his books on Amazon.
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Scott, thanks again for stopping by and contributing to this topic. I loved what you had to share!

Readers and Writers: I'd love to hear you weigh in on the topic of religion and fiction. Are there limits to what is acceptable? Do you like books with overt spiritual themes, or do they get too preachy for you? What about books that are anti-religion? How do your beliefs and values make it into your writing?

Friday, July 20, 2012

How to Make a Novel Happen: An Interview with Bill Wetterman

Today, fellow author Bill Wetterman answers some questions about how he started writing, how he got his new novel, Room 1515, into print, and how he's going about marketing himself. I hope you'll enjoy his insights! (And check out his book; more information on that below).

Bill, tell everyone a bit about yourself.

I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. After college and a career move in Ohio, I relocated my family to Tulsa, Oklahoma. We’ve lived here 34 years. I’ve been blessed with a great partner in life, Pam, my wife of 47 years. She's an author too, so we edit each others work. We have two sons and two dogs.

What inspired you to become a writer?

I’ve written for fun and for business all my life. I wrote poetry at Ohio University for a college magazine, as well as policies and procedures for my employers. I buried the desire to become an author in my twenties to pursue making a living.

In 2006, I looked toward the future and decided to plan for a different career by pursuing my heart's desire to write. As Pam and I watched television or enjoyed a movie, I’d whisper to her, “Watch and see. Here’s what is going to happen next.” Then I’d say, “I could do better than that.” Doing better takes time, though. I’ve studied the craft since 2006, and I learn more every day.

I can certainly relate to that! What genre do you write?

Let’s cover the novels first. Greed, betrayal, lust, and revenge, all the things that make life fun—I write thrillers. The topics tend toward political, psychological, and international themes and plots. I usually use anti-heroine female protagonists and pit them against the flawed men in their lives.

My short stories are not genre-based. Some are non-fiction. Some are fiction—inspirational, western, humor—you name it. I’ve won or placed in the top three in several major online contests, including Writer’s Digest and Armchair Interviews.

Those are some impressive contests! Tell us about your published works.

I have four short stories published in Chicken Soup for the Soul. My short story, The Family Tree, was published in the Writer’s Digest 2011 Short Story Anthology. Storyteller Magazine just notified me that a short story called Endurance will be published in its Fourth Quarter Edition. My novel, Room 1515, came out as an eBook in February 2012 and as a paperback in April.

What is Room 1515 about?

It's an international thriller. A female agent named Peacock is sent on a mission to woo and win the heart of the world's most powerful power-broker. Her job is to learn his secrets and foil his plans. Instead, she falls in love. It's a story of the balance of world financial power, betrayal, and romance.

Now, for a question that a lot of writers are asking these days. How do you market your published work and yourself as a brand?

I market more than I want to and less than I should. I’m an excellent face-to-face promoter. I speak to book clubs at libraries and attend book signings at regional bookstores. I utilize Facebook and Goodreads to promote my blog. My publisher, Book Country, a subsidiary of Penguin, set up my distribution network. The rest is up to me. To that end, I’ve hired Stormie Johnson of Lightning Book Promotions to guide me along the way. (Bill did a book trailer, which you can view below.)

How do you research and prepare to write your books?

My research is extensive. Before I write a novel, I go through a step-by-step process to develop the world of the novel.

Step 1, Physical Surroundings:
Creating a novel begins for me by researching the world into which I will drop my characters. This world must be physically correct. In Room 1515, the settings are Washington D.C. and Great Britain, primarily London. The details must be accurate, so readers who live in those places will recognize the locations. Since I place the action a few years in the future, I have the liberty to alter things a bit. I can put a new hotel in a location where there isn’t one today, and that’s all right. I’ve been to Washington and London. That helps. Even if I hadn’t, the Internet provides views and layouts of buildings, inside and outside. I research every building, park, etc., for accuracy before I write about it. I read about where political meetings are held, so I don’t have an event in my book going on in a place where it shouldn’t. I’m sorry, but I love Wikipedia.

Step 2, Tension:
Once I’ve fleshed out the physical world and the mood of that world, I’m ready to create the tension. I do this before I fully create the characters. Sure, I have an idea about who they are. However, I need to have a setting and situation that is tension-packed to drop my characters into. In Room 1515, I take the tension in today’s world and make it worse. The world economy is collapsing. A group of rich financiers is causing the collapse for its own purposes. American sends a seductress to woo the leader of this group and steal his secrets.

At this point, I ask myself a million whys. What would each side’s motivation be? How could they achieve what they desire? Who could best accomplish each major task? In the case of Room 1515, I had to study how the economy in one part of the world affects another. Once I'm done with asking questions and doing research, I give each main character motives and plans. Tension must increase as the story moves along, or readers go to sleep.

Step 3, Uniqueness: 
Ever read novels where the bad guys have no redeeming character while the good guys are Dudley Do-Rights? The real world is not this way. The more conflicted people and events are, the better your novel will be. I mentioned the anti-heroine earlier. To put a true protagonistloyal, honest, loves dogsinto Room 1515 would be sinful. Instead, I want a flawed woman pursing the enemies of her country, until she questions the tactics of her own government. I don’t want an evil antagonist either. Instead of Dr. No, I want my villain to be unique. I want to create a sympathetic character with a noble purpose, who is likable while also being ruthless. Unique, complex characters hold readers interests.

Step 4, Fleshing Out Characters:
Here is where many authors start their novel, but this is the last thing I do. Knowing the world into which I’m dropping them, knowing the tension and conflict they’ll face, I ask myself more questions. What is the character’s worldview? What events shaped their past? What strengths and weaknesses will cause them to succeed or fail? I research where the main characters were born, if it’s important, the history of the area. I describe how each looks and fill out a character profile.

Once the character is solid in my mind, I talk to them. I show them the outline of the book. I set the rules. “I’ll give you some freedom in each scene. Surprise me by showing me something unique. However, do not sin. I am God. I determine the outcome I want. Don’t change my novel. Enjoy yourself within your scenes. Sin, in the world of my novel, is a character attempting to change the outcome I’ve slaved so hard to build.

Once I flesh out my characters, I’m ready to write. A novel takes me two months of planning, two months of writing, and two months of editing to complete.

Do you have a specific writing style?

Yes. I use dialogue and interior monologue as the main tools to convey my story to my readers. When I use descriptions of a places and events, I concentrate on only two or three key features so as not to bore my readers. Have you ever tried to read James Joyce’s Ulysses? 450,000 words written in stream of consciousness will not capture the 21st century reader. I keep the dialogue crisp and the paragraphs short to give a feeling of fast-paced action.

What books have influenced your writing most and why?
Tom Clancy’s novels, particularly Debt of Honor, are examples of well-researched political thrillers. He set the standard for me for attention to detail. Thomas Harris’s Silence of the Lambs stands out as the psychological thriller. I can only hope to achieve his level one day. Finally, Stieg Larrson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo features the perfect anti-heroine, Lisbeth Salander. Her character is a model for me to play off.

When did you decide that you were officially a writer?

I knew I was a writer when other writing professionals told me I was. Recognition comes in the form of entering writing competitions and winning. It speaks volumes when you receive an award in a national or regional competition entered by numerous writers and judged by the best. Simply saying “I’m a writerdoesn’t make it so.

Room 1515 is done and in print. Do you  have any other works in progress?

Yes. I have several novels in various stages of development, two that should be released this year. Fury and Fire, the sequel to Room 1515, will be ready to go to the publisher in late July or early August. This is the second book in a trilogy about the struggle for world domination and the establishing of a one-world government. 

The Fifth Step, a psychological thriller about an out-of-control pornography addiction, will be ready for publication toward the end of the year. A prominent preacher’s addiction threatens to destroy his reputation, his ministry, and his wife’s life. The Fifth Step comes from the 12-Step Program, Step 5: Admitted to God, myself, and another human being, the exact nature of my wrongs.

I also have another novel going through the layering process, but that’s for 2013.

Wow, that's impressive, Bill! Best wishes with all your novels, especially Room 1515.

Readers, what do you think? Do you ever find yourself following Bill's approach of plotting first, characters second? For me, I find it's a mix. I get the character in a situation first, then ask what's going on, and create a world in which that situation makes sense, and use that to further character development. Does that make me crazy? Hahaha... Now you can tell me the real truth. So, share below if you dare!

For more information about Bill, please visit his website, visit his Facebook page, or check him out on Goodreads. You can contact him for speaking engagements via emailFor more information on Room 1515, watch the book trailerRoom 1515 can be purchased as an eBook or paperback on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Sony.

Copyright (c) 2012 by M.A. Chiappetta and Bill Wetterman. All rights reserved.



Friday, July 13, 2012

Random Thoughts

I am somewhat remiss in getting my blog post for this week completed and fascinating. Well, I can remedy the first issue. But fascinating? We'll see.

Anyway, I've had it in mind to get some book reviews done, so let me share what I've been reading with a thumbs up or thumbs down, plus a short observation about what it is about the writing that worked or didn't work for me. You can take it as a quick and dirty look at what readers think when they read somebody's writing. This is a great tool for figuring out what's working and what isn't in your own writing, as well as what you might want to try adding to your stories. This may not be pretty, but it will be informative, I promise.

A Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare
OK, I fess up. I have not read this book yet. But I keep stopping to pull it off the shelves at the bookstore, because it's got a terrific cover. In fact, the covers for all of Clare's books are compelling, which goes to show that your book cover art matters in a big way. Because I like the artwork so much, I've started reading through Clare's work. Which brings me to:

City of Bones and the rest of the Mortal Instruments series
by Cassandra Clare
This series is Clare's young adult urban fantasy set in New York and a fictional realm called Idris. It takes a lot for me to get excited about a series these days, partly because it takes so long for most authors to finish writing their series, and then it takes the publishers so long to publish them. I feel like I'm on the Long March with George R.R. Martin, for example. But Clare makes it a pleasure to read her books, and I suppose it's partly because it has romance, lighthearted characters, terrific fight scenes, and a mix of darkness, light, and grey areas so that the story maintains its flow without getting overly depressing. Clare is especially good at working with her ensemble cast of characters, so if you like to read (or write) about groups of people working together, you'll probably enjoy the Mortal Instruments series. I should also add that she's worked out a schedule with her publisher so that she's publishing novels once a year, to keep feeding her fan base. And she is very active in communicating with fans on her website and Twitter, so she keeps things lively for her readers, which is key if you're writing a series and expect readers to wait on your production schedule.

From Victim to Hero: The Untold Story of Steven Stayner by Jim Laughter
At the polar opposite of Clare is this book, a non-fiction retelling of the life of Steven Stayner, a young victim of a pedophile who manages to save another victim from abuse. I think Laughter does best with recreating the tension and sadness of Steven's life, as well as his confusion when he has to deal with coming home to parents and siblings after a life that has changed him. The story itself is compelling and sad, but I also give Laughter credit for managing the story in such a way that I didn't get depressed reading it. What the author could have done better is to have made sure the book was professionally proofread before it went to print. There are a lot of errors that a pro would have caught. In this case, the story is strong enough to keep a reader reading, but it's also discouraging to see so many obvious errors left uncorrected. It makes the book look unprofessional, and when you consider that this book could easily be marketed as a textbook for preventing abductions and integrating recovered victims into their homes again, this is a case where errors may prevent the book from being used as the tool it is meant to be.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
This is a case of not judging a book by what you hear. My first impression, before I read the book, was that it was hyper-violent and all about kids killing other kids. So it took me a long time to commit to reading it. But when I learned that teachers were teaching the book, I became curious. (I'm a teacher too, and I wanted to know why it was becoming a textbook for English classes.) Now that I've read it, I have to say I was highly impressed and can see exactly why it's being taught. It raises so many issues for a class of students to discuss, think about, and then write about. That's probably the book's biggest strength: its ability to raise questions about how we live. It's an idea book, no doubt about it. If you like reading (or writing) books that are focused most on existential themes, satire, and a challenging of the status quo, you'll want to read The Hunger Games. The other elements of writing, like characterization and description, are there, but I wouldn't say they are Collins' strong point. She's not horrible at it, but there are others who are better. But the ideas in the book and of course, the race to survive, will keep you turning pages.

Graceling by Kristin Cashore
I loved this book! Actually, I loved this book specifically because of the two main characters, Katsa and her lover Po. Man, they make a great couple, and they are both intriguing in their own rights. They're opposites in some ways, but Cashore doesn't overplay that to excess or hyper-comedy. She simply makes it realistic, so that I felt sucked into the actual development of a real relationship. Katsa's developmental arc from a girl who feels controlled by others to a woman knowing her own freedom and power was wonderfully executed. For that reason, this book should be mandatory reading for all teenaged girls. If you have a daughter, you might want her to read this book. It's liberating without a loss of femininity, which I like very much. The book's writing style is not typical of what you'll read elsewhere, but it works for this story. I'm not so sure it works for Cashore's other books. I put down Fire, but I'm going to give Bitterblue a try. Cashore's other books are told in the same world as Graceling but with other characters. Publishers are always asking for this: standalone novels with series potential. But I think Cashore's books may be an example of how this philosophy can fail. Fire takes a character I hate and focuses on him, while not mentioning Katsa and Po at all, so I was disappointed. I'll bet other readers felt that way as well.

Well, I'll leave it at that for today. Just some food for thought, and hopefully some suggestions for reading that you'll take and enjoy.

Next week, I'll have an interview with a fellow author who just published an international thriller. He'll be sharing tips on the writing process, finding your genre, and marketing. And following that, I'll be kicking off a series on religion in fiction: Does it belong? How do you do it right? Can you overdo it? I'll talk about it, and so will several guests who come at that issue from different backgrounds and different points of view. It's going to be great, so stay tuned.

In the meantime, happy writing!

Copyright (c) 2012 by M.A. Chiappetta. All rights reserved.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Five Writing Lessons the Movies Taught Me

Recently, one of my favorite film podcasts, Filmspotting, did a list of the top 5 things they learned from the movies. I thought, what a great idea! There are some lessons from movies that have stuck with me for years. I suspect that when those lessons stick, it's because of good storytelling. The truth in the tale resonates for us and becomes a part of us.

As a writer, I suppose these lessons come from the themes of our stories. They're the deep things that believe and want to communicate. So, as you write your work, keep in mind: The better you express your story's themes, the more likely it is that the lessons will stick in the minds of your readers.

Here are my top 5 lessons that the movies have taught me:

Lesson One: Balance is a lesson for your whole life
The Karate Kid (original 1984 version)

Ah, Ralph Macchio as a stick-thin, annoying teen. Who doesn't love that? And Arnold (Pat Morita) from Happy Days dispensing advice. It's a match made in heaven.

Seriously. Even though the movie is a bit cheesy, Mr. Miyagi's lesson about balance has helped me maintain my balance and my boundaries for years. Socrates* would have said, "Everything in moderation," but he wasn't a movie star. Still, the concept is timeless. Balance helps us make sure our lives are in order, that we're not pursuing something to unhealthy excess or ignoring something that we need to do more often. It helps us manage our drinking and our diet.

It reminds us that we need to write sometimes, and we need to take a break sometimes. That it's good to market but not good to market to the point that you piss off your Twitter followers. That writing is important but some things are more important, like your health and your relationships. Balance is good advice.

Lesson Two: You can embrace the good and learn from your parents, and also let go of the bad stuff at the same time.
Star Wars

Hi, Dad!
As the granddaddy of all space operas, Star Wars brings up many things to talk about. But at its heart, it's a simple story about a teen who idealizes his long-lost father and wants to be exactly like him. Until he finds out that his father is the devil, and he wants to be nothing like him. Until he figures out that his dad is just a guy you know, with strengths and flaws. Luke learns to admire and adopt his father's good points (like his decision to develop his Jedi skills), while rejecting the things that made his father's life a mess (like listening to Palpatine, being ruled by anger and fear, and you know, killing people who tick him off).

Don't we all have to figure this out in order to truly grow up and be healthy? Our parents are just people. Messed up in their own unique ways, but adorable too. The key is to become your own person, not just an appendage of your family history.

Writers carry around their families in their heads, and of course, this ends up on the page. But if we can filter our personal experiences and make them balanced (hmm) and meaningful to readers beyond ourselves, we can put lesson two to work in our writing without driving readers off the deep end.

Lesson Three: No man is a failure who has friends. (Aka, you influence people and are loved more than you realize. You make a difference.)
It's a Wonderful Life

Some people hate this movie and have a problem with how it's written, but I think it's brilliant. George is a deeply flawed individual, full of contradictions. He sacrifices for his brother and father, but sometimes resents the price he has paid for those sacrifices. He hates Potter and yet is sometimes tempted by what the guy can offer him. He wants desperately to travel and yet he won't because if he goes, others will end up in trouble, which means he desperately doesn't get how to set boundaries.

And yet... When things go haywire, all those people whom George helped, probably thinking he'd get nothing in return, somehow show up to give him money. But it's not really the money that counts. It's the fact that he made enough of a difference that they showed up to support him when he was hurting. This is a movie largely about relationships that pay off when you'd think they wouldn't.

The lesson for writers is, we can make a difference with what we write, even if only one person reads it. Yeah, we all want to be on the New York Times Bestseller List. But if you're not... If you're just an average George toiling away and sacrificing, don't despair. There are people who you deeply matter to. And having those people in your life means you are not, nor ever will be a failure.

Lesson Four: Family matters, and being in a family is one of life's greatest treasures.
While You Were Sleeping

This is one of my favorite movies. I always enjoy Sandra Bullock and I think she and Bill Pullman are quite charming together. But what I really love about this movie is the family in it. I mean, the nuttiness. The circular conversations that happen at every dinner. The mom taking one for the time by saying "I'll do it" when they need to find out if Peter has one testicle. (Really, who else is going to do that but a mom? That's why they really deserve Mother's Day.)

At one point, Lucy talks about how much she has wanted to be part of a family. And she's right. Having a place within a stable, loving group that provides emotional support is essential to having a good life. Those little rhythms we get into with our families, as kooky as they can be, are also reassuring on a deep level, giving us the stability to do what we do best.

For writers, that's writing. Your family helps make your writing better because of what you learn about life through them. They also help you stay stable when things get wild and wooly. Make time for them every day and let them know how much they mean to you. (And use them as fodder for character development, as long as you change enough that you can avoid lawsuits.)

Lesson Five: Life is a matter of perspective, of how you view things.
The Blues Brothers

I confess, one of the funniest movie scenes of all time for me is in this movie. Dan Akroyd and John Belushi, as the two brothers, are trying to escape the police, so they drive into a mall. Literally. They drive their car down the corridors, past a variety of stores, forcing people to jump out of the way. It's totally crazy.

But what makes the scene funny is the brothers' response. They talk about the stores they see. Comment on the sales and the merchandise. It's like they are engaging in a totally normal activity, although of course, they aren't. But it's all in how they view it. They've decided to treat it all as normal, and so for them, it is. (No wonder they keep ending up in jail.)

What's the lesson for writers? Well, you can look at that stalled project as a casualty of deadly writer's block. OR you can see it as a sign that your muse is actively telling you to wake up because something in the story isn't working and needs to be fixed. You can define your success as selling a million books, OR as selling one book, OR as writing 1000 words a day. OR however else you want. Your writing career is a matter of how you see it, and no one can take that away from you. So, take charge of what you want to accomplish. And keep your outlook positive as much as you can. It helps.

Now you chime in! What lessons have you learned from the movies? If you want to relate them to writing, go for it. Or if you have writing lessons you've learned (even if they don't relate to the movies), you can share those too. I'd love to hear about it all.

*Due diligence: I don't really know if Socrates said this. The saying is attributed to several ancient Greeks, including Socrates and Aristotle. If he didn't originally say it, he probably would have talked about it as a well-known Greek philosophical thought.

Copyright (c) 2012 by M.A. Chiappetta. All rights reserved.