A New Direction for This Blog

Hello, friends! I’m here because I want to take this blog in a new direction. Let me tell you about it.

I have taken a blogging break during the last few years because I have been putting my writing efforts into a novel. That has required a steep learning curve. As part of that, I have begun to take a close look at other stories—in books and movies—to understand how they work and why they have the effects they do. That is what I will be writing about here: what can a writer learn about craft from books and movies?

This has been a fun and stimulating journey for me already, and I hope to share that spirit here. Part of the fun for me has been the newness of this way of looking at works of storytelling. I have three degrees in English and therefore a long background of critical analysis, but I have found that to learn something as a writer from what I read or watch requires an additional lens. As an academic writer I ask, What does this work achieve? What is it about, what does it do within itself and for its culture? These are often separate from my own felt response or interest. It requires detachment. But as a novel writer I must ask more nitty-gritty questions and I must connect with my own feelings about the work, how it works at a human level, moment-to-moment. How does this work do what it does? Why do I care what’s happening? Or why don’t I? Why do I feel happy, curious, bored, sad, uncomfortable, foreboding, or whatever? What character, what setting, what word choice, what sequence of events, produces this response in me?

These won’t be movie or book reviews, though my own critical response may come through. Nor can I tell you whether you should watch or read something. I would invite you to look up reviews in your own preferred way, if that’s what you want; or if you are wondering whether to watch a certain movie and are concerned about content, to check movie review sites for parents.

My goal is to explore what we can learn from any book or movie, regardless of whether it’s good or not. I often find the most interesting lessons come from things that fall in that puzzling category of what almost works, sort of works, should but doesn’t work, or shouldn’t but does.

So if this interests you, please join me!

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