Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Seven Things Writers Can Learn from Marty McFly

by Gary Fearon

October 2015 was a milestone month for fans of Back to the Future, having reached one of the target dates in Marty and Doc's cinematic adventures. Three decades after its release, the trilogy boasts a cult following of DeLorean restorers, cosplay devotees, and less fanatical folk who simply enjoy well-told tales.

With that enduring popularity in mind, I offer seven things that make the Back to the Future series worth a second look for writers...

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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Getting Into Character

by Gary Fearon

As they do every October, costumed youngsters will soon be ringing doorbells in search of the good stuff.  If recent eBay sales data is any indication, we can expect to see a few Minions, the gals from Frozen, and the perennial assortment of superheroes and princesses.

A neighbor friend, whose very young tykes will have their first foray into the fray this year, showed me a photo of them wearing their Mario & Luigi costumes, over which I appropriately fawned, all the while wondering how these video game plumbers from ancient history have...

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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Look Out

by Gary Fearon

If you're a media junkie like I am, you find the comings and goings of popular phrases entertaining.  You've probably noticed that "At the end of the day" has all but replaced "The bottom line" to preface a conclusion.  I often wonder who was the first person to say whatever is the phrase of the day.

Some years ago, a famous magazine editor tried to make "mouseburger" a catch phrase, to describe a woman who had to work extra hard to get noticed.  From the moment I read it in an interview, "mouseburger" seemed so random and ridiculous that I think I actually prayed for it not to catch on. That prayer...

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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

There Oughta Be a Flaw

by Gary Fearon

In virtually every story we write, it's a given that we will give our hero challenges to face.  Those obstacles we put in his/her path are likely to be external in nature, delivered by either circumstances or an antagonist.  But we can increase the drama further by slipping in some internal struggles for our hero too.

Besides making our protagonist more lifelike, a character flaw has the power to add the fascinating element of irony.  A hero who becomes the guardian of his brother's kids will have a worse time of it if he had vowed never...

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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Spice of Life

by Gary Fearon

This weekend, a friend shared his childhood memories of the "family movie night" that was a weekly ritual in his home.  Each member of the family got to take turns picking the flick of the week at Blockbuster.  As you can predict, the kids always picked out movies geared toward children, while the adults chose more sufferable fare.

For every Ninja Turtles movie they watched, my friend's dad had them sit down to a classic like On the Waterfront. Or A Streetcar Named Desire. One week it was even Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. (Don't worry, grade school exposure to these...

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

10 Things Writers Can Learn from the Beav

by Gary Fearon

Jerry Mathers as The Beaver
Today being June 2ndthe birthday of Jerry MathersI thought it would be a fitting tribute to recognize some of the things any writer can benefit from through the TV classic Leave It to Beaver.

1. Give your characters a believable setting
The fictional town of Mayfield gained credibility via regular reminders of local landmarks like the malt shop, the fire station, and Friends Lake. Leave It to Beaver purposely included more outdoor shots than most other sitcoms of its time. A strong sense of place gives added personality to the story.

2. Find drama in simple things
Nowhere in its run from 1957-1963 do we experience...

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Is There a Story Here?

by Gary Fearon

At a party this weekend I enjoyed having a conversation with a fellow who has been a postal carrier for thirty years.  At one point in my childhood I had wanted to be a mailman, so I had a fair share of questions that he likewise seemed to enjoy answering.  But the most interesting thing he had to say wasn't related to delivering Amazon packages or avoiding getting bit by dogs.

Years ago when his daughter was very young, he would bring her to the post office on Take Your Daughter to Work Day.  She helped him sort the mail for his route in the appropriate slots, and on one occasion she drew him a picture, which he proudly hung in his cubicle.  That drawing has remained in the same place for years.

His daughter is in her late twenties now, so that picture holds special memories for him.  As you can imagine, he wasn't happy when...

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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Long and the Short of It

by Gary Fearon

At a Southern Writers authors event a couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of speaking with several novelists about their approaches to writing (you'll read about many of them in upcoming issues of Southern Writers).  When I spoke with one author in particular who writes both novels and short stories, I sought his perspectives on writing for the two different formats...

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