Category Archives for "Inspiration"

Ballet is storytelling, too

When you think of a storyteller, do you imagine a person sitting at a campfire speaking to an enthralled group? Or a writer putting words on the page?

Have you ever thought about ballet as a form of storytelling? If not, then I encourage you to watch this YouTube video. It’s a broadcast of a rehearsal for Liam Scarlett’s ballet Frankenstein at the Royal Ballet in London. Skip ahead to about the two minute thirty second mark to start the summary of the story and then hear Mr. Scarlett talk about his goals for the ballet before the rehearsal starts.

I first became aware of Liam Scarlett as a choreographer during last year’s World Ballet Day Live event. That’s when top ballet schools around the world open their doors to the cameras and we get to see company class, rehearsals, and interviews with the dancers. The 2015 event included a rehearsal at San Francisco Ballet of Mr. Scarlett’s Fearful Symmetries. I was impressed by Mr. Scarlett’s emphasis on having the dancers bring out the emotions behind the movements. You can see that in this footage of Frankenstein. He keeps asking his dancers to dig deeper to reveal the complex and powerful emotions at work.

What I love about this video is that Mr. Scarlett is trying to depict via movement and facial expressions some of the very same emotions that I try to show in my books. Hope. Despair. Love. He uses the body in conjunction with music, while I work with the more limited resource of words.

While I won’t be choreographing a ballet any time soon, I do think that on rewrites I’ll try to imagine myself as a choreographer like Mr. Scarlett, giving my characters directions on how best to reveal the emotions coming up in the scene. Hopefully this will result in more nuanced body movements from my characters.

If you watch this video, I’d love to know what you think!

I Am Not an Architect

In the course of writing a book I often need to put myself into the heads of my characters. No surprise there. What continues to surprise me is how often I need to think like a landscape designer, architect, or interior designer in order to make certain that my characters have the environmental support (or obstacles) needed to fulfill the scene's goal.

Case in point. In my current manuscript I needed to figure out what an external staircase on a hotel would look like. I wanted part of the stairs to be visible, and part of the stairs to be hidden. The staircase is occupied by a couple of terrorists that the hero will ​need to take out.

I became obsessed with figuring out the configuration of this staircase. Finally, I downloaded a free trial of SketchUp, which is an architectural modeling program. As you'll see from the below screenshot, I am NOT an architect. I couldn't figure out how to get the staircase to wrap around instead of dead-ending into the walls, and didn't have the time to dive into the tutorials.

However, this diagram did give me the necessary layout so I could move beyond my block and continue writing the scene.

I think it's a pretty good thing that I gave up my brief goal of being an architect all those decades ago! LOL​ 

What do you think?​

Staircase model

Listen to your heart

Back in the spring, during my quest to find people to inspire me to reach a more positive place in my life, I discovered the website and signed up for her newsletter. If you follow me on Twitter and/or Facebook, then you’ve probably seen me retweeting her quotes, affirmations, and thoughts of the day.

Here’s a Thought of the Day from one of her newsletters in May 2015.

I think it’s a great way to start off the New Year.

Listen to your heart

Is there something that your heart has been urging you to do but you’ve been holding back?

If yes, what do you need in order to give yourself permission to follow through?

These are some of the questions I’m asking myself as I try to figure out the person I want to be on January 1, 2017.