Art is…



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Free Class

Based on past experience, this should be well worth the time:

It’s free.


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Paula, on the coop blog, 8GreatStorytellers, posted this poem a while back:


Sparrows with sparrows,
Crows with crows,
Starlings with starlings.
That’s how it goes.

Inspired by this Nashian observation, I perpetrated this reply:


Does an auk
ever gawk
at a hawk?

Would a titmouse
play house
with a grouse?

Would an ordinary fowl
consider it a howl
to cohabit with an owl?

Do cuckoos
and cockatoos
other lovers?

Do you think a sparrow
Walks the straight and narrow?
Or does he sometimes stray
with a jay?

Would you say
a peacock might
spend the night
with a kite?

Does a parrot think
a whippoorwill
A thrill?
Or is he fonder
of a condor?

And does a coot
think it a hoot
to cover a plover?
Or much more pleasant
to do a pheasant?

Would it be grander
for a gander
to cut loose
with a goose?
Or to spoon
with a loon?

Does a drake
only ache
to get lucky
with a duckie?
Or dream of going insane
with a crane?

Would a grackle
long to tackle
a pteradac’yl?
Or perhaps flit
for a bit
with a tit?

Would a dove
to hobnob
with a cobb?
Or have a yen
to sin
with a wren?

Does a pigeon
ever get an itchin’
for a wigeon,
or, by jingo,
beach blanket bingo
with a flamingo…?
I don’t think so.

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Nims’ Love Poem

I recently came across this poem by John Frederick Nims and thought it was a great example of what a poem can be. I wish most Internet poems came close to this.

UPDATE: fixed the link, which had a resistant glitch in it. Or try the URL below:

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For my Followers:

Won't you be my Wallenstein?

Not your average Valentine…

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Acting Classes

In my last post, I referred to Hal Croasmun’s “22 Ways to Improve Your Screenwriting” (here). One of his recommendations is:

  • 18. Take an acting class.

Several people have suggested this to me in the past, and Croasmun’s advice pushed me over the edge. I’ve signed up for a brief series of classes at Harbor College, near by.

Although I’ve written a lot of script dialogue (13 stageplays, 1.33 screenplays), there’s always something else to learn. I studied my craft primarily by writing novels and short stories, so I can get caught up in content and miss awkward phrasing, as below. I expect some improvement in my dialogue, anyway.


ANTTWON: Forsooth, fetch hither thy zither, Mr. Smithers.
SMITHERS: That’s easy for you to say.


ANTTWON: (gesturing) Zither, Fool!
SMITHERS: (gets the zither)

What do you think of Hal’s recommendation?

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Better Screenwriting

Hal Croasmun has posted a useful list of screenwriting tips here. It’s not one of those content mill shortie lists; there’s some real meat here. Actually, it has 26 tips, taking into account a multi-part item, No. 9. A few samples:

  • 10. Have another writer write one of your scenes in a completely different way.

You often have no idea what you’re missing in a scene, even after you’ve rewritten it ten times. In fact, probably because you’ve rewritten it ten times.. Someone looking at that scene with fresh eyes may spot a dozen opportunities you’ve overlooked.

But what’s important is not that scene, it’s the process, discovering that you do miss chances, then learning to see your own writing with another’s eyes, unimpeded by its familiarity. Pretend you’re someone else and say, “What if this character, instead of helping the prisoner out of the cell, carries him? What if this gal says no, instead of agreeing immediately?”

If you’re not good at pretending you’re someone else, put the scene aside until you can see it anew. See No. 18, below, too.

  • 13. Stretch yourself: Give your character an unsolvable problem and then solve it.

I’ve actually done this exercise. My novel-in-progress, “Teniras, Mad Poet of Zaragoza,” has a hundred chapters. In each chapter, I get poor Tenirax into the biggest trouble I can manage. Then I end the chapter right there. In each new chapter, I get him out of the trouble I just got him into.

Now, when I paint any hero into a corner, I’m sure he will find a rope or a trap-door or a hidden exit or stilts or a chandelier or a beam or a vaulting pole or a fan to dry the paint or someone else’s shoes to get him out or….

  • 18. Take an acting class.

I’ve been thinking of doing this for a while. I guess I’d better follow Hal Croasmun’s advice (and everybody else’s) and do it.

See Hal’s entire list via the link up top.


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