Video Saturday: Advice to #Writers (and #Filmmakers) – Spike Lee

This week’s Video Saturday is from Spike Lee. The loud music in the video is a bit annoying but I love what he has to say about storytelling, and I love even more where he pushes the interviewer about defining his terminology and the importance of being clear.

Guest (Re)Post: Anthony Dobranski – Posture for #writers

For a decade now, I have worked at a standing desk: first on boxes and books piled on a seated desk, then on hasty constructs made from scrap lumber. Now I stand at a custom-built desk, my bare feet on a thick gel mat. There is an obvious and immediate ergonomic benefit for any computer user* — straighter back, continuously engaged body, deeper and easier breathing. I also believe it helps my prose.

Most writing advice goes to helping your plot or consolidating characters, to making things more identifiable. No one ever suggests posture as a tool for writers, the way it is for musicians and actors, so, let me.

Writers play a lot of roles in their heads, and it helps to stand while acting them out. If I want to write a sexy dance, or the discomfort of injury, or a shallow-breathed panic, the freedom of movement gives me more freedom to imagine, to act and to feel.

Writers tend to like cafes, as a balance against the solitude of writing. I wonder if the ability to study other people casually, their looks and movement and ways of being, without the distraction of, say, a film narrative, doesn’t play a role. But cafes are often distracting too.

If you’re looking to liven up your prose in the productive quiet of your garret, why not pile up some boxes and get on your feet? It takes a few minutes to measure your own ideal heights, and possibly some configuring – the distance between hands and eyes is greater standing than seated, so laptop users may need an external keyboard and mouse.

It also opens up some possibilities you might not have considered. I use my monitor portrait now – in fact, I use two!

Of course, you can still sit down from time to time. I don’t stand to pay bills.

*You can write longhand at a standing desk too, but I find it’s better to use a sloped surface so you are not staring straight down. These are less easy to find than they used to be. Search “writing slant” or “writing slope,” or try back sites, calligraphy sites, and of course auction sites.

Reposted from:


Anthony DobranskiTony – I was born in 1966, 900 years after the Battle of Hastings. Libra and horse. My Polish immigrant parents settled in the Washington DC suburbs. After graduating from Yale and some youthful adventures I worked internationally for America Online in the 1990s.

I live in the city of Washington now, with my family. When not writing I ski, skate, and walk in parks. I want to learn tennis and I want to get a 3-d printer. I read novels but also magazines: news, politics and science. I love movies.

In a no-BS Saturday mood, what better motivation than TerribleMinds @ChuckWendig

So I’ve been struggling with getting my gorram novel written and wasting some time on the internet, I came across this from @ChuckWendig ( – freakin’ awesome stuff.  But for today, a no-BS writing Saturday, let me just leave this here on the website.

Terrible Minds - You Wrote a Novel

After that, there’s nothing more to say is there?



A text list that says:

How to Push Past the Bullshit and Write that Goddamn novel: A Very Simple No-Fuckery Writing Plan to Get Shit Done

  • Write five days a week
  • Write 350 words per day
  • Write 260 days per year
  • Weekends off shit yeah
  • Fuck tomorrow, embrace today
  • Write through fear and doubt
  • Give yourself permission to suck


(First Draft Only: Don’t Forget to Edit)

(Non) Video Saturday: Advice to #Writers – Shonda Rhimes (courtesy of Zen Pencil)

Shonda Rhimes: A Screenwriter’s Advice is just too fantastic not to post. Wonderful work by the folks over at Zen Pencils. Please, please, please check them out.  They’re too awesome for words.

For Me, 2014 Was The Year Of Audiobooks – part 2

As promised, here’s part 2 of 2014 in review:

“Skingame” by Jim Butcher. It’s no secret I’m a Dresden Files fan. I’ve posted about the series here. I’ve posted memes on social media. I’ve referenced Jim Butcher’s stories as examples in writing discussions. This one was a hard copy. It’s also number 15 in the series and the latest published. I won’t delve into any details, but I enjoyed the book. There were a few things that left me scratching my head such that I had to chat with other fans to figure out, but hey, it left me talking about the book days later.

“Pines (Wayward Pines #1)” by Blake Crouch narrated by Paul Michael Garcia. What can I say about this story besides wow, what a head spinner. Although this is the first of a series of books, I stopped at the first one. I have not yet decided if I’ll continue the series. The narrator did an acceptable job, but did not leave me with a memorable performance. Crouch does a great job with descriptions, but some of his plot enforcing seems a bit, well forced.

“Kiss the Girls (Alex Cross, #2)” by James Patterson narrated by Robert Guillaume and Chris Noth. I was disappointed in the narrators’ performance. I can’t put my finger on whether or not the switching between narrators for hero and villain threw me off or I had Charles Turner’s performance as Alex Cross stuck in my head. The story itself was an admirable follow up effort to “Along Came A Spider.” Perhaps this was one best left for hardcopy.

“Die Trying (Jack Reacher #2)” by Lee Child narrated by Jonathan McClain. Thus begins the McClain era of Jack Reacher. At first I wasn’t sold on McClain as Reacher, but he grew on me. The story is well plotted out and begins to show that Lee Child has hit on a formula that works. His trademark descriptions continue and weave a tale that keeps me coming back for more Jack Reacher.

“Tripwire (Jack Reacher #3)” by Lee Child narrated by Jonathan McClain. McClain’s character voices truly shine through in this performance. I think “Tripwire” is my favorite in the Jack Reacher series. The villain, Hook Hobie, is a memorable one who deserves a place among other great literary blackguards.

“Joyland” by Stephen King. I had high hopes for this book. It was published in 2013 as the second book for the imprint Hard Case Crime. I have enjoyed King’s evolution into mysteries and thrillers and away from the purely supernatural horrors he started with. The descriptions are great. The concept is great. The execution, eh.

“The Cold Dish (Walt Longmire, #1)” by Craig Johnson. I picked up this book for no other reason than I’m a fan of the TV series “Longmire” on A&E. As I read, I could easily hear most of the characters’ voices in my head. The writing style is unique at times, so unique I was left confused on a few pages and had to thumb back and read again to figure out what was being said. Despite that problem, I did enjoy this book. If you’re a fan of the TV show, read this book.

“Mr. Mercedes” by Stephen King narrated by Will Patton. Of all the books that blew me away in 2014, this was near if not at the top of the list. I love watching Will Patton on the screen, but listening to his narration was a whole new experience and really made me a bigger fan of Patton. As of this date, this performance is the only one that has made me actively search for a way to leave this narrator a love note for his reading. Now, King did an admirable job as well. I loved this story and found myself conversing with a stranger in an airport over the book. If any book could bring back the age of Stephen King movies, this would be it.

“The Dragon Factory (Joe Ledger, #2) by Jonathan Maberry narrated by Ray Porter. What can I say about this book that I didn’t say about “Patient Zero.” This is my new favorite series. The descent in madness of the world around Joe Ledger is near palpable in this book. Read this series.

“The King of Plagues (Joe Ledger, #3) by Jonathan Maberry narrated by Ray Porter. Maberry wrote a “love letter” to Ray Porter on saying that when he writes Joe Ledger’s lines now, he hears Ray Porter’s voice in his head. What bigger compliment could a narrator receive. I loved this book, but its reach for a global scale nearly slipped through Maberry’s fingers. Some of the plot points were confusing. Some of the chapters unnecessary. But, I’ll still pick up book 4 for a listen.

“Locke & Key, Volume 1: Welcome to Lovecraft” by Joe Hill. I was turned on to this graphic novel after having read Joe Hill’s “N0S4A2.” The art is wonderful and the story gritty and magical. I’d love to see this come to the small screen. If you don’t mind a little horror and gore in your comics, pick this up. Disclaimer: not safe for the kiddies.

“Running Blind (Jack Reacher, #4) by Lee Child narrated by Jonathan McClain. This book is the last of the McClain era, but his performance holds true. One of the parts of Child’s Reacher formula is that he’s always on a deadline. And those deadlines can be tight at times. This story had Reacher flying all over the place to talked to witnesses, potential suspects, etc as he worked with the FBI. Having faced first hand much of the read tape and the slow moving bureaucracy of the U.S. Government, I found it hard to believe he was able to jet all over the country at a moment’s notice so easily. Good story, Lee Child. But, keep it closer to home next time.

“Echo Burning (Jack Reacher, #5) by Lee Child narrated by Dick Hill. The return of Dick Hill. I don’t know if the fans spoke out for Dick Hill’s return or if the author did, but either way, he’s here to stay. I listened to this book out of order, but it didn’t matter. It still worked out just fine. Apparently, Lee Child took my advice from #4 and kept everything in a much smaller locale, although that locale was Texas. Reacher faces off against a killing team with high stakes if he fails…formula complete.

“Without Fail (Jack Reacher, #6) by Lee Child narrated by Dick Hill. Reacher is haunted by the life of his brother. This time, he interacts with the Secret Service and provides advice on how one might kill the vice president of the United States. At this point, Child may run out of government agencies to call on Reacher’s expertise before he even reaches book 10. But, as I said before, the formula works. Child’s writing is solid. Dick Hill’s performance is superb.

“The Curse Merchant” by J.P. Sloan. I picked this book up at a book launch at a local brewery. The author let each person who bought a book pick a tarot card. If they chose a particular card, they got the book for free. Very cool. I don’t want to say much about this book at this point because I intend on doing a full blown review and author interview on this book. Yes, J.P. Sloan is in my writing group. Yes, I’m doing a little sucking up. But, I don’t care. I liked the book. You will too.

Check out some of these books.  Heck, check out all of these books, and leave me a comment to say what you think!

Video Saturday: Advice on #Writing – How to Get an #Agent (and of course, the dreaded #query letter)

Okay, today’s Video Saturday is about how to get an agent. We picked three short quick videos for friend-of-the-blog (and guest posterTony Dobranski who is in the middle of this process right now. Who better to hear from than the prolific Stephen J. Cannell (one of my favorite inspirations for great dialogue), “Literary Agents: The Best Pitch Letters They’ve Received,” (with some fun examples), and “2 Quick Tips on Writing Query Letter from Agent Kristin Nelson.”   Good luck, Tony!

Stephen J. Cannell


Literary Agents


Kristin Nelson

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