Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Book Review: Finding the Core of Your Story by Jordan Smith

Jordan Smith believes that all storytellers should be able to describe their story in a single sentence. Loglines were originally used to describe films, but Jordan has adapted them so that they can be used to describe any story, with an emphasis on screenplays and novels. Not only is this useful for giving a quick and effective answer to anyone who asks what your story is about, but it is also helpful for making sure that, as you write your story, you stay focused on the core of the story.

I was amused to notice that I got an indirect mention in this book, as an example that Jordan gave to illustrate one of his points. I’ve sought Jordan’s advice in the past on a logline, and while I’m sure having him look over your logline is best, having this book is the next best thing. At only eighty pages long, it’s an easy read, and all the information you need to write a logline is thoroughly and humorously laid out within its pages. If you already know you need to write a logline, then you need this book, and if you don’t yet know you need to write a logline, this book will tell you why you need to and then show you how to do it.

(c) 2012 Jonathan Garner

Monday, October 22, 2012

Animal Tips for Writers: Possums

At first glance, the possum’s size, grayish fur, and naked tail might make it look like a giant rat that can menace your hero. However, the possum is actually a generally harmless American marsupial. A scavenger often seen in an urban environment, the possum is known for showing its teeth and hissing when encountered, or alternately, playing dead. The possum has a strong immune system that is resistant to the venom of certain snakes, and its diverse diet includes roadkill, trash, small animals, and fruit.

A possum playing dead.

Female possums carry their young in a pouch, but once the young get bigger they ride on their mother’s back. Adult possums are solitary and tend to roam about in search of food and water. Possum tails can grip branches to help them balance, but possums cannot hang from their tails as popularly believed except while they are small. While the correct name for the possum is “opossum,” to differentiate it from the various possums of Australia and elsewhere, many Americans prefer to simply call them possums.

(c) 2012 Jonathan Garner

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Movie Review: Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey

Two dogs and a cat live a happy life with their family, but when their family has to go on a long trip, the three pets must go stay with a relative of the family. The pets are confused, though the old dog is certain that their family will return for them. However, the young dog was abandoned by his previous family and thinks it has happened again. Eventually, the old dog worries that his beloved boy is in trouble, and sets out to find him, with the other two pets tagging along. What they think is a quick trip over a mountain turns into a daunting trek through a dangerous wilderness, leaving the pets to wonder if they’ll ever reach home or even survive.

The simple story of this film is fairly effective, and when added together with the humorous dialogue and antics of the three pets, the result is a fun film for all ages. The animals who portray the pets are believable and amusing. One of the most notable things about the film is that the cynical and rebellious young dog learns the value of love, family, and home, which is a step above the usual “believe in yourself” moral that many family films have. Some of the scenes where the pets are in danger are fairly intense, and parents might be concerned about children wanting to imitate the snarky dialogue of the pets, but other than that this film is safe for the whole family.

(c) 2012 Jonathan Garner

Friday, October 12, 2012

Book Review: The Windrider Saga by Rebecca P. Minor

After an elven warrior is the only survivor of a dangerous mission, he runs into a half-elven prophetess who shakes up his life even more by revealing that he is meant to become the head of the elven air calvary, with an ancient silver dragon as his mount. As he settles into this daunting new life, he has to endure the seemingly boring religious teachings of the prophetess on the one hand while dealing with dangerous enemies on the other. His adventures will lead him away from his beloved homeland and into strange and dangerous lands.

The Windrider Saga by Rebecca C. Minor consists of two novellas that were originally published as serial stories. As their origins might suggest, they are fast-paced adventures with fun characters. While the world is not described in detail other than some original flourishes, it is fully adequate for the action-oriented tales that are set there, and will likely be fleshed out more if the series continues. This book is probably best for teens and adults due to violence and the presence of a seductive slave girl who tempts the hero with kisses and revealing attire.

(c) 2012 Jonathan Garner

Friday, October 5, 2012

Abstract Experiments

I made these pictures while experimenting with effects in an art program. What do you think of them? Do you like experimenting with effects?




"Fire & Water"


"Land & Sea"

"Moss Map"



(c) 2012 Jonathan Garner