Sunday, December 19, 2010

Red Poppies/Rote Mohn

No, I'm not blogging about Remembrance Day. I'm looking into the world my dad was in as a young fellow. I know he loved to dance so I'm checking out some of the big singers that he would have heard during the war over in Germany. I've discovered Rosita Serrano. One of her big hits was called "Roter Mohn" (or red poppy) - which is a tango. By coincidence - I have an oil painting of red poppies done by him - in my living room. So, the writer in me is imagining all sorts of things!

Rosita Serrano is an interesting figure. She was born in Chile and entered the German scene in 1936 where she was nicknamed the Chilean Nightingale. But in 1943 she supported some Jewish refugees in Sweden and the Nazis blacklisted her. Her career never recovered and she died in extreme poverty in Chile in 1997.

Still, thanks to our amazing technology, her music lives on.


Friday, December 17, 2010

McNally Robinson Book Signing

It's a signing! Books for Christmas gift giving.

Where: McNally Robinson (Grant Park) in Winnipeg.
To be specific - at the bottom of the spiral staircase which leads
up to the kids' books section.
When: Saturday, December 18th. I'll be there between 3 and 4 p.m.
There'll be children book authors signing all day.

Featured authors include: Rae Bridgman, Martha Brooks, Anita Daher,
Gabriele Goldstone, Brenda Hasiuk, Perry Nodelman, Craig Russell,
Margaret Shaw-MacKinnon, Joe McLellan, Susan Rocan, Chris Rutkowski,
Duncan Thornton, and Larry Verstrate.

I'm just thrilled to be in their company.



Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Logline

I hummed and hawed. Why do I want to go to a scriptwriting workshop? It’s not like I’m about to try writing a movie script. But I was curious, that’s all – especially when I checked out the workshop facilitator’s website. Danishka Esterhazy was not only an award-winning writer, but she’d worked with historical fiction. I knew then that I had to go. My curiousity was not disappointed - the three hour workshop was fantastic.

I learned so much – not about film-making (just awed) - but about story. And without story, you have no movie, no novel, no reader. Danishka dropped the names of a few big weights in the movie scriptwriting business – names of workshops she’s participated in. But I want to be brief here, so I’ll just share one gold nugget.

In her introduction she said, “Art is fire plus algebra.” I don’t remember who she attributed that quote to, but it’s a great image. Now, while I don’t have the happiest relationship with algebra, I have overcome some of my childhood aversion.

Here is the formula for a logline. What is a logline, you ask? It’s the pitch, the story condensed down to its barest form.

(Title) is a (genre) story about (your main character) who (experiences a life changing event) and then must (struggle towards a goal).

The logline should be thirty words or less and it should contain active verbs. It’s a great exercise for any writer and I’m really liking the challenge of applying some algebra to my own work.