Weekly Writing Update

Miracle of miracles, I actually stuck to schedule this time?  Absolutely has nothing to do with the fact that I’m sick of English homework and am trying to distract myself from it, absolutely nothing at all…

This week on the writing front has been fairly productive.  I’ve gotten further on my Star Wars fic and pushed through a difficult character introspection scene, and I went back on some older scenes and started editing them.  The thing I find about writing is that the deeper you get into your work, the better picture you form of your characters, so it’s a good idea to go back to the beginning some times and review how your characters are written there.  There’s character growth, but there’s also character constants (coincidentally, that’s a huge part of the introspection scene I just wrote this week), and in my experience, it’s good to make sure your portrayal of the character is consistent.

The Star Wars fic continues to be my big project, though there are several other pieces in the work.  I’ve got another assignment for creative writing that I’m starting to develop and which I’m leaning more towards creative journalism for, and I’ve got the beginnings of another fic floating around, which I won’t get too much into until the Star Wars one is done.  I’m not going to go too much more into that, mostly because I should really be getting back to English instead of blogging about writing.  As always, feel free to comment below or message me about writing and stories, I’m always happy to talk about the subject!  Until the next time 🙂

Advertisements

Weekly Writing Update

He he…weekly…that’s right…completely accurate, what’re you talking about?

My inability to stick to a schedule aside, writing has been a whirlwind since my last update.  Finished the original piece I was working on for my course, not the highest quality thing I’ve ever produced, but it’s decent enough at a pinch and hopefully the TAs think so too.   It certainly confirmed once and for all that length is my Achilles heel – the longer the story, the better I write, which is great for page/word limited projects.

My other story that I mentioned last time, the as-yet-untitled Star Wars fic, has had it’s ups and downs.  I’ve written quite a lot for it actually, several thousand words at least, and then cut most of those because they weren’t right for the tone, themes, and direction of the story.  So that was great.  Was productive, but had to cut a lot or majorly edit a lot of it.  Still, at least I’ve got a clearer picture in my head now of where I want to take the story, and I’ve got a good sense of the climactic scene that I want to drive the story towards.

Any new projects?  I’ve got a few ideas floating around in my head that only time will tell if they develop into anything more solid than a few notes and dialogue bits on my phone.  At any rate, I don’t want to focus on them until I’ve finished my Star Wars fic, which I should really get on with if I’m to aim for a publishing date before The Last Jedi comes out and smashes all my headcanons and predictions.

I’m not going to blather on too much more this time, since I’ve got a few exams coming up that I really should be preparing for instead of doing too much creative writing, but hopefully I’ll have some more time later this week to get back into the swing of things. Maybe I’ll even post the little 4-panel slice-of-life comic I did for my writing course?  As always, if you want to chat about writing or anything else, just leave me a message in the comments section below.  I’m always happy to chat with a fellow writer or reader!

Weekly Writing Update

Trying something new this week that will hopefully be more successful than the not-so-weekly Songs of the Week, which really didn’t take that long to flop.  Hopefully this new (do I dare say it?) weekly series will have a much better run, and actually force me to write more as well.

Basically, (hopefully) every week, I’ll be posting about the writing I’ve done that past week.  I’ll talk about projects I’m working on, concepts I hope to develop, writing strategies I’ve learned or am developing, and maybe even a few excerpts.  Most of my writing is creative, and while fanfiction is currently my predominant genre, I’m also in a creative writing course so I’ll be working on some original pieces as well.  For this first week, I’m just going to give a brief summary of two pieces that I’m currently working on: a Star Wars fanfiction piece and an original short story for class.

The Rundown:

Untitled Star Wars story: I’ve been working on this monstrosity since May, and at 27 pages and 15,000+ words, it’s just about halfway through.  Every time I start a new section to advance the plot, the plot just decides that things don’t need to progress that quickly, and I end up with another 2000 words and only halfway to the point I originally planned.

The story itself is essentially a character study/exploration of Rey, focussing on her character growth and the relationships she has and makes with other characters.  It’s going surprisingly well: in a rare turn of events for me, I can reread sections I wrote months ago and not instantly cringe in loathing, so hopes are high for this one?  I want to get it finished and published before The Last Jedi comes out and completely obliterates my headcanons, and it’s going to get tougher as my schedule starts heating up, but I think it’s doable.  It’s one of those pieces that I’m really passionate about, months after I first started it, which gives me hope that I’ll be able to actually finish this one.  Stories, like rebellions, are built on hope…

Untitled short story: This is an assignment I’m working on for class, crafting a short story in five pages, and I’m enjoying it so far.  I’m about halfway through it, and it’s about a small-town kid and his dad coming to terms with his mother abandoning them.  My biggest challenge in writing this so far has been defining the end result, what I want this story to say and how I’m going to get it there.  Five pages seems at once both impossibly short and impossibly long, and trying to work within this constraint to craft a story arc has been difficult.  If my Star Wars fic didn’t make it clear, I’m an epic-type writer.  I like to ramble.  My early stories were huge paragraph blocks, much like this current one.

This piece is a continuing but good challenge for me, as I struggle to write a short story with the same depth and complexity of a longer story and without bluntly stating everything.  Speaking of which, I should probably get back to it.  I’ll have a definite answer for you next week how it ends up going – I’d better, or I’ll have handed in nothing and gotten a 0.

That’s all for me from this week, I really hope this new series works out better than the last one, if for no other reason than it’ll force me to actually take the time to write every week.  Every day, preferably.  If you want to know more about my writing, maybe check out some stuff I’ve written in the past, or if you just want to talk about writing, leave a comment below or send me a message!  I’m happy to talk with fellow and aspiring writers about the creative word.  See you soon!

Tra-la-la-lally: Songs of the Week

Hello all!  Welcome back to another Songs of the “Week,” though at this point, I think it qualifies rather as a ‘Top __’ thing than a weekly update.  I really underestimated how long I get stuck in music ruts when I started this thing.  Ah well, the show must go on.  This week’s theme, going a bit into the vault and my old Doctor Who days, the best of Murray Gold, composer for the 2005 reboot of Doctor Who!

1 – Song of Freedom and Captivity (2008)

Of all the songs on the Doctor Who soundtrack, this one has been my absolutely favourite from the moment I first heard it.  It was heart-wrenchingly sad in ‘Planet of the Ood,’ magnificently triumphant in ‘Journey’s End,’ but my favourite performance of it comes from the Doctor Who at the Proms concert in 2008.  Very beautiful, always worth a listen.

2 – This is Gallifrey, Our Childhood, Our Home (2007)

What a brilliant piece of music.  Even without knowing the story, it calls to mind ancient alien civilizations, a sad, wistful nostalgia, a lonesome longing.  Excellent use of the instrumentation as well, I love hearing the melody come through in the percussion and bass instruments.

3 – Vale Decem (2010)

Possibly the saddest music for the Doctor to regenerate on.  I mean, ‘The End of Time’ itself is pretty sad, but this song!  It’s like rubbing salt onto the wound.  In a good way though.  Impossibly sad, absolutely perfect.

4 – I Am The Doctor (2011)

It’s quite a nice little introduction song for the Doctor, especially after the show itself ‘regenerates.’  Watching that first Matt Smith episode, this song playing as he stepped through the faces of the previous Doctors really legitimized him as the Doctor.  It’s full of confidence and drama, and paired with the scene, it’s a nice assertion of Doctor-ness.

I think that’s enough nerding out for now, so this is where I’ll leave you all.  Do give these a try, they’re all great pieces, and they come out of great soundtracks too.  Even if you’re not a Doctor Who fan, they’re pretty good musically, I think, and you could just appreciate them for their orchestration.  That’s my pitch done, see you all next time!

Tra-la-la-lally: Songs of the Week

At this point, I probably shouldn’t even be calling this “Songs of the Week,” more like “Songs of the Month,” but I live in hope that the title will continue to shame me into following a schedule.  What’s the theme this time?  I’m feeling some movie magic, let’s go John Williams’ songs.

1 – Leaving Hogwarts – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001)

A lot of people would name Hedwig’s Theme as their favourite or most iconic song from the Harry Potter movies, but for me, this song has always been the clincher.  It ends the story in such a complete way, encapsulating all that has happened and the spirit of the story without words.  Every time I watch the movies, I look forwards to hearing this song play at the end.

2 – Star Wars (Main Theme) – Star Wars: A New Hope (1977)

I mean, this is probably the most iconic movie theme of all time (John Williams does have a habit of writing these fantastic, iconic pieces, doesn’t he?), and it is so grand.  Not so fun on the piano, but as a trumpet player, playing it is great fun, and that opening trumpet fanfare?  Beautiful.

3 – Force Theme (Ben Kenobi’s Theme) – Star Wars: A New Hope (1977)

That mournful melody line, so simple yet so grand?  John Williams has a real talent for capturing so many emotions and entwining them into simple musical themes.  Long before I started being an active fan, I loved the music, and apart from the Main Theme, this song always stuck with me.

4 – Harry’s Wondrous World – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001)

What a great song, it really make you feel like you’re right in the middle of this wonderful magical world.  Swooping melodies, grand harmonies, a touch of childish whimsy and wonder.  It really is quite spectacular.

5 – The Imperial March – Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

What John Williams list is complete without the menacing beat of The Imperial March?  It’s Darth Vader in a song, not just the perfect accompaniment, but as notorious and foreboding as the character himself.  You can practically hear the rasping breath as it plays.

I didn’t intend for this to turn into a Best Of Harry Potter/Star Wars, but they’re what comes to me when I think about John Williams’ music.  Give them a listen on YouTube or iTunes or what have you, they’re easy enough to find.  If you’ve heard them before, they’re always great to visit.  If you haven’t, give them a shot!  The man is a legend and his music is legendary.  I’ll leave you with that, see you all next time!

Tra-la-la-lally: Songs of the Week

Continuing the tradition of not updating on schedule and having a themed post, this week’s post is going to centre on pop songs that I like to dance to.  Most of these may or may not come from watching too many YouTube fan videos and could possibly be described as pretty cheesy, but I like them all the same.

1 – Shut Up and Dance – Walk The Moon (2014)

I mean, ‘dance’ is in the title, of course it’s a good dance song.  I’m ridiculously fond of it and it’s got its charms.  Probably one of my favourite pop songs, or in the top few, at any rate.

2 – Anything – Hedley (2013)

Not gonna lie, the official music video for it is pretty weird, and it’s something you should probably listen to with headphones if you’ve got the uncensored version on, but it’s pretty catchy.  Likely not for everyone, but it’s not bad to bop along to.

3 – Best Day of My Life – American Authors (2014)

I didn’t really think of this as a dance song first, since I first learned it in choir, but despite its unorthodox introduction into my life, I’ve gotten vaguely fond of it.  It’s got a good beat and a bit of harmonizing, and paired with expert fan editing, makes for a not bad dance song.

4 – Did I Say That Out Loud? – Barenaked Ladies (2014)

First heard of this song while browsing through Rooster Teeth videos, and it’s gotten stuck into my head since then.  Nice little romance-y type song, good rhythm, and the music video is a nice bit of production on Rooster Teeth’s end.  All in all, a pretty good song to dance to.

To clarify, I’m absolutely not a dancer, and these songs are all a matter of personal taste.  Being pop songs, most of them are probably pretty well known by now, so I don’t think the usual recommendation to give them a shot is needed here.  These are just the tunes that get me up and moving when I’ve been sitting at my computer too long.  See you all next time!

Tra-la-la-lally: Songs of the Week

Think I’m going to start doing more themed posts, instead of just songs of the week, since I usually tend to get the same few stuck in my head for months at a time.  Thoughts?  This week’s theme: classical (including but not limited to the Classical era) music.

1 – Hallelujah Chorus (Handel’s Messiah) – George Frederic Handel

The entire composition is a masterpiece of music, but I’d like to specify its most famous chorus in particular here.  There are lots of words to describe it: grand, majestic, rich, and as I like to sum it up, WOW, yet all these still fall short of truly defining it.  It leaves you speechless.

2 – Clair de lune (Suite bergamasque) – Claude Debussy

Perhaps a little clichéd, but for me, ‘Clair de lune’ is one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever composed.  My piano teacher has described it as the Impressionistic era in a single song, which is pretty accurate.  Such a wide range and blend of dynamics and emotion in the piece, a lovely song to play and listen to.

3 – Symphony #5 – Ludwig van Beethoven

Normally, Beethoven and I are not the best of friends.  His piano sonatas frustrate me, and I’m just about ready to throw Fur Elise against a wall if I have to hear one more request for it.  But Symphony #5 is pretty spectacular.  It was one of my favourite pieces to listen to when I was studying for my music history exam, and having studied it in some detail makes listening to the piece all the more rewarding.  It’s truly a great piece, hats off to you, Herr Beethoven.

4 – Erlkonig – Franz Schubert

If the poem itself doesn’t send chills down your spine, the music and the vocalist will.  It’s one hell of a poem, and if sung well, one hell of a song.  The controlled frenzy of the piano sets an ominous background for the different voices to weave a strange tale of magic and fear and death.  Really eerie and gets your pulse pounding, and that ending will surprise you!  Just maybe have the English translation handy if, like me, you’re not fluent in German.

5 – Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring – J.S. Bach

I gotta put this one up here, out of all of Bach’s compositions, because it really is such a flowing and beautiful piece.  Johann Sebastian and I are a lot greater pals than Beethoven and I, except maybe when it comes to harmony which I haven’t forgiven him for yet, and out of all his many, many pieces (he’s really earning that money to feed all those children of his), this one has got to be my favourite.  If I ever get married, I hope to hear this playing as I walk down the aisle.

And that’s this week’s post done!  I daresay all these pieces can probably be found on YouTube, though you probably want to be careful about which recordings you listen to.  My general rule of thumb is to go for more established orchestras or performers, though that doesn’t mean amateurs can’t also give a good performance.  I’d probably recommend even going to the library to find these on CD in the classical section – published recordings have a higher likelihood of good quality than Internet recordings.  Please do go and give these a listen, they’re absolutely magnificent pieces and they’re the backbone of Western music today.  Until the next time ❤

Tra-la-la-lally: Songs of the Week

Wow, I’ve really been bad at keeping up with these weekly posts, haven’t I?  What can I say, summer is a busy time, and dashing off a quick five minute post isn’t really my style.  In a continuation of departure from tradition, this week’s post is going to be themed, since I haven’t really gotten into any new songs in the past little while.  This week’s theme: not quite individual songs, but soundtracks and scores!

1 – The Lord of the Rings – Howard Shore

Lord of the Rings is probably engraved into my heart at this point.  Above all other stories or fandoms or what have you, Lord of the Rings along with Tolkien’s other works on Middle-Earth is my absolute favourite.  I was first introduced to it through the Peter Jackson trilogy, which I still love and have watched so many times I can recite half the thing from memory.  Even though I have some issues with how certain aspects of the films were handled, like any fan, one thing I’ve never had cause to complain about is the soundtrack, which is absolutely beautiful and perfectly accompanies, encompasses, and defines the story.  It’s my go-to study music, my casual listening playlist, my mental symphony.  Bravo to Mr. Howard Shore (a Canadian too!) for his amazing compositions that truly made the movies great.

2 – The Prince of Egypt – Stephen Schwartz and Hans Zimmer

One of the very first non-Disney musical films I fell in love with was The Prince of Egypt, and a large reason for that was the amazing songs.  The vocals, the composition, the lyrics, all of them come together to tell the story perfectly.  Moments of mighty grandeur, softer moments of faith and hope, so many of the great scenes in this movie are possible because of the wonderful songs and score.

3 – The Phantom of the Opera – Andrew Lloyd Webber and Charles Hart

In my opinion, for grandeur and skill, no musical surpasses the Phantom.  It’s the first musical I really fell in love with, and though the modified story for the stage is not the strongest I’ve seen, the music is perfectly sublime.  The technical skill alone needed to perform the songs is astounding, and the music itself just catches you up and takes you to a whole other time and place.

4 – Beauty and the Beast (1991) – Howard Ashman and Alan Menkin

The original, so of course it comes before the new live-action.  One of Disney’s biggest strengths in its movies has always been its songs, and in my personal opinion, Beauty and the Beast has the most iconic and timeless repertoire of the entire Disney collection (time will tell if Moana joins it there, but forecast is looking good).  Not just one or two songs, but every song is memorable, well-written, and well-performed.  My favourite Disney movie ever, and a huge reason for that is its music.

5 – Shrek – Harry Gregson-Williams, John Powell, et al

Ah Shrek, the movie that defined a generation.  I saw a tumblr post floating around once that said you know a song is good if it makes it onto Shrek, which has a large kernel of truth in it.  The ‘et al’ is for the original songwriters of the many pop songs that were incorporated into the movie and soundtrack, which really gave the film a relatable, familiar feel.  Since the songs are already known to the audience, they provide an emotional and situational context for what’s happening on screen, without having to explain anything in the dialogue.  So Shrek is on the list for twofold reasons – firstly its great and iconic playlist, and secondly its masterful selection and of songs.

Phew, I’ve finally churned one of these out!  Seriously though, soundtracks and scores are great.  They’re my favourite genre(?) of music, I love all those grand orchestral themes and memorable lyrics.  As always, I highly recommend each soundtrack, which are probably available at your local library or on YouTube.  That should probably tide you over until the next post, hopefully next week!  See you then 🙂

 

Happy 150, Canada!

All in all, you’re not a bad country to live in.  Sure, you’re every bit as problematic as other countries, and you’ve got a ways to go in getting better, but let’s hope that the next 150 years will take a large step in that direction.  That’s what today should be about, celebrating 150  years of you and working to always be better than we’ve been and are.

O Canada, our home and native land!  When I’m away, I remember you with utmost fondness, when I’m here, I appreciate your beauty, your quirkiness, your comfort.  There’s no place like home, there’s no place like you.  For all your faults, for all your charms, you are home, and I wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world.

Happy 150th, Canada.  Let’s make the next 150 years something to really celebrate about.

Tra-la-la-lally: Songs of the Week

Sorry I missed last week’s post, I was occupied the entire day and then I never got around to doing it in the days after!  There’s been quite a bit of music this week, though not many recurring songs, mostly whatever comes to the mind in an idle moment.  So to switch it up, I thought I’d do a non-English songs post this week, get a bit of variety from the usual musicals bonanza.

1 – Aya Ngena – Traditional Zulu Folk Song

I learned this song with my school choir and it’s easy to learn and great fun to sing.  As an alto, I usually go for Part 2 harmony, but soprano part is pretty fun too.  Nice little song to sing, and sounds amazing when all the parts are singing in harmony.

2 – Echoes of the Rainbow – Echoes of the Rainbow (2010)

A really sad song from a really sad but excellent movie.  When Aarif Lee sings it in the movie, it’s heartbreaking.  The movie is in Cantonese, but there are English, Cantonese, and Mandarin versions of the song.  Whatever language you hear it in, it really tugs at the heartstrings.

3 – Le temps des fleurs – Dalida (1968)

This song holds a special place in my heart for its fond memories of French class, unlikely as that statement might sound.  Fun rhythm to dance to, nice tinge of fond remembrance in the lyrics, lots of lovely la’s to sing out.

4 – Always With Me (Itsumo Nandodemo) – Youmi Kimura

I’ve loved this song ever since I first heard it in the credits of Spirited Away.  It’s one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever listened to, and it really defies description, you just have to listen to it.  Absolutely beautiful, I never get tired of listening to it.

So that’s this week’s special edition post!  Most of these songs are findable on YouTube, though I’m not sure about the last one, I don’t recall that I’ve been able to find a quality copy on YouTube in the past.  But if you want to listen to it (and I very highly recommend you do), you can do some Internet browsing, or borrow a copy of Spirited Away from the library, and it should be in the credits.  Happy listening, and see you all next week!