How to use Formulas for Writing

How to Write, Part III 
How to use Formulas for Writing

With an infinite range of characters and plots, how do you consistently make the storytelling interesting for the reader?  Think about a scientific book about the first trip to the moon. The most amazing event of mankind! A feat of engineering genius! The pinnacle of evolution! Yet, your eyes droop, your mind wanders, you reach for the remote. No plot is compelling in its own right. What matters is how it’s told.

Over the years, I've noted some of the techniques other authors use to spruce up their stories, plots, and character development. You’ll forgive me if I make as many film references as I do novels. Scriptwriters are writers too, and in many ways even more attuned to keeping an audience enthralled. Here they are, in no particular order:

How to Escape from Zombies

How do you survive a zombie apocalypse? Are there any tricks you can learn before it happens? Are you ready? 

An explosion in obstacle courses follows that age-old question: are all those hours in the gym making us any more competitive in a Darwinian sense? Joining Tough Mudder, Spartan Beast, and Warrior Dash is new kid on the block Run For Your Lives, a straight up 5K obstacle course with a twist of zombie. Like many keyboard pushers, I thought I'd test myself against the real undead. 

Run for Your Lives complicates a 5K endurance obstacle course with ambling, flesh-eating zombies. To ensure realism, I did not train prior to the event. I haven't run 5 feet in as many years. When there's a fire, I'm the guy walking, not running, for the exits. I wanted to know if I could get up from my keyboard, off my pudgy ass, and run like hell if the occasion called for it.

The Ghosts of Prague

That Prague exists in tangible form somehow escaped my imaginings. Prague has always been the dark heart of fantasy, shrouded in mist and rhyme, colourless. So I wept, overpowered by reality, when I reached out my hand to touch the base of St. Peter on Charles Bridge, wept as I did at the Kremlin wall, to find myself standing on the very stones of history. Prague does exist outside of novels and photographs, rime a-plenty, invaded as it were by the colors of tourism. Modern humanity juxtaposed against spiritualism seems more unnatural than any gruesome tale of Kafka. I am touring the husk of a long-dead beetle. I am out of time, walking among ghosts without the reverence of fear.

How To Write: Part II

The greatest enemy to your unwritten project is you. Your fears, your insecurities, your priorities, your procrastination all block those stories from being told.
Unlike anything else in this crazy world, the written word is always black and white. You're either writing or you're not.
Writers operate under the Newton’s First Law: an object at rest tends to remain at rest until acted upon by an unbalanced force. Journalists have deadlines, authors have editors, copywriters have clients. For an independent or freelancer, getting that push from someone other than a spouse can be hard to find. Who do you have?

How to Die in Florence

Florence. When the temperature drops below 50, that chilling memory sets in.

Italian chianti empties faster closer to the source. Two bottles stand between me and my memories of the day. Night found me wandering the streets with my involuntary companions.

Alcohol is a vasodilator. It drives blood to the surface. The Italian night shears off that fuzzy warm heat like a barber looking for lice. Cold burrows into bones like zoster, happy to find a permanent home. I had to get indoors.

What It's Like to Be a Dad

Here's what it's like to be a Dad:
We're at the M&M store in Times Square. The sales lady fills my kid's hands with tiny chocolate manna. She asks, "Is that enough?" My kid hands her back all but one M&M and says, "I only need one. I can't have too much candy." Then he says,