No Stories For You!

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I’ll admit that it isn’t always easy to find the story in the content you producing, whether its video, instruction or marketing materials. Sometimes the content is so straight forward (or some might say dry) that it’s pretty much impossible to find the story in it. I get it, I’ve been there too.

Solid rivets

Not all content is riveting (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve done a video on the test a single continuous weld (that was riveting – well it was welding, there were no rivets involved). I’ve worked on regulation and planning documents, there’s not much of a story there. Sometimes in instructional design you have to develop content on a subject that is so simple, or so complicated, or bounces back and forth between the two making it difficult to keep a good hold on the thread of the story.

So what do you do? In some cases you can wrap a story around the information. This works really well in instructional design and for writing things like articles and blog posts. Instead of finding the story in the content, you tell a story that you can put your information into. You can draw from case studies, interviews or real life stories if you have them. If not you can get creative and make one up. Be careful if you go this route, if you’re talking about real life information for adults you’re probably going to want a story that sounds like real life and truly believable.

There are times when circumstances, the information or the product don’t let you do that. It still doesn’t mean that the content has to be boring. Look at the audience, the medium and the delivery mechanism and see what you can do to make the information as interesting and compelling as possible. In these cases language choice, sentence structure, writing style, layout and visuals make a huge difference in making your content interesting and memorable.

Finding a story is still a great way to get your point across. It can be an entertaining, educational, memorable (and sometimes sneaky) way to get content to your audience. It’s just not always possible. When it’s not it doesn’t mean your content has to be boring.

NaNoWriMo Results

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I realize I’ve been MIA, my apologies. I was using every spare moment to work on this years attempt for National Novel Writing Month. The final results? I ran head-on with real life in the middle of the month and was unable to write for more than a few minutes for days at a time. I fell short of the 50,000 word goal, but I did more than double the total words I wrote last year! I also like this year’s results 100 times more than what I wrote last year, which I think is even better.

I’m going to keep working on what I’ve written. I’ve really enjoyed having these sort of organized bursts of creativity. It’s so easy to get focus on the day-to-day creative things you need for telling stories for a living that you forget how important it is to stretch yourself. You forget how amazing it feels to push yourself and leave your comfort zone.

To me that’s the most important part of NaNoWritMo – to help people who want a chance to let their creative flag fly a reason and focus to push themselves. To give us a little push, motivation and support to attempt something we wouldn’t think of otherwise.

So what about you? How did your attempt go this year?

 

NaNoWriMo Time Again!

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It’s almost time for National Novel Writing Month again! It’s a great idea – thirty days and nights of novel-writing in an effort to write a 50,000 word novel by midnight, local time, on November 30. It’s brought to life by the great folks at The Office of Letters and Lights. I took part last year, but didn’t find out about it until after it started, and adopted a modified goal of writing every day and getting as far as I could. I have to say I impressed myself with how far I got. It was total crap, but I had a lot of fun doing it.

I had great plans for this year. Story ideas, characters and plans, but so far I’m behind on the getting all the pieces together before November 1st, so I don’t have high hopes of reaching the 50,000 word goal. But that’s ok. It’s the trying that counts. It’s exercising your brain and getting to invent a world. It’s doing something that can give you a natural high. Sure it can make your loved ones a little miffed when you shut yourself up in a room trying to catch-up, but it’s sure a lot of fun.

The best part is that it’s free. Just sign up and you’re in. There’s even support from people online and in person. Everyone has dreamed of writing the great American novel haven’t they? Here is your chance my friend!

So, loyal band of readers…who will join me in the loyal band of writers?

Nora Ephron: Remembering a Ground-breaker

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I didn’t want today to pass without saying a few words about Nora Ephron. She was not just an amazing talent, she was a ground breaker as well. Yes, her smart and funny writing was amazing. She had an eye and understanding for telling stories as a director. But, most importantly, she was one of the first women to be considered a successful writer and director. She fought for acceptance, not by talking about needing it but by going out and being great. By being a force to be reckoned. By being too good to be ignored or denied.

The road still isn’t easy for any female in such a male-dominated industry, but Nora Ephron helped blaze a trail that women will follow for generations. Today the way ahead may be a little darker without her, but talented women everywhere will follow her lead and keep proving that women are funny. Women are smart. Women are talented. Women really can direct and write. And, they are strong enough to fight for their turn.

Thank you, Ms. Ephron, for the wonderful stories you’ve told, and the example you’ve set. You will not be forgotten.

Tell Me a Story Tuesday – Pic Prompt Edition

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Since last week‘s success (Yeah, that’s right…someone finally contributed! Thanks Worninshoes!!) I thought I would try something else that’s a little different. In the past I’ve asked you to tell me a story with a picture. Well I’m turning that on it’s head and asking you to tell me a story about this picture:

Driving through a tunnel near Virginia Beach, VA

My husband took this picture last year while I was driving on our way from Virginia Beach, VA to visit a friend in Norfolk, VA. We both thought it looked pretty cool.

Several things came to mind when we saw how cool it turned out. We started making up stories with the kids about what this could be (if we didn’t know it was a tunnel under the water). What about you?

Tell me a story about what you think this is. Where are we going? Is this a tunnel towards Norfolk or is this a jump to lightspeed? What awaits us on the other side?

You know the rules. Now, tell me a story!

5 Great Reason to Tell Your Story Tuesday!

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There are lots of great reasons to tell your story on Tuesday, which just happens to be today. Here are the five most popular as voted on by our most active participant – ME!5

  1. It’s a great way to practice your craft(writing not witch, but that’s cool too) – Taking part is Tell Your Story Tuesdays is a chance to practice your writing in a low key and supportive environment. I haven’t received any negative comments on anything written so far! (Of course I don’t get many comments, and most of those are spam, but they’re all very polite!)
  2. So you can tell friends and family(who keep ask why you write a blog very few people read)that you’re a guest blogger on another site – Everyone has someone (a frienemy, a buddy from work, a mother-in-law) who asks what you’re writing about on that blog of yours and why don’t you have any followers. Here’s your chance to tell them that someone asked you to share your wisdom on their blog, a major step for any blogger!
  3. You don’t need to change the names to protect the innocent – Since you’re the only one who knows you wrote it your secret is safe with me! What happens on Lorie’s Lens stays on Lorie’s Lens. *
  4. To bring joy to others – I know I would enjoy it if you shared a story. Not that I’m begging, just saying it would be nice. Ok, I’m begging a little…PLEASE share a story with me!
  5. Your reason here – tell me a story and I’ll let you choose the 5th reason why you should tell your story. Consider it your bonus for taking part in this worth while endeavor.
    *Not applicable when actual cameras are involved 

So what are you waiting for, the rules? Oh yeah, those can be found here. I’ve given you some great reasons, so tell me a story!

Holiday Memories – Tell Your Story Tuesday

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It’s the most wonderful time of year. Chestnuts are roasting, sleighs are dashing, candles are flickering and dreidels are spinning. People everywhere are filled with memories of holidays past…

And I want to hear about them!

As my regular followers know, I’ve been challenging people to tell me a story on Tuesdays. I haven’t found anyone brave enough to do it…yet…but maybe this is the inspiration they need. Tell me a story about your favorite holiday memories. They can be good, they can be bad. They don’t actually need to be yours! Just tell me a story.

I’ve told a few stories of my own (and a tall tale of sorts), and I’m willing to do it again to get the ball rolling.

Christmas was always a really big deal when I was growing up. A tree with lights and tinsel, and a train running through a snowy village underneath. As a kid I thought it was pretty magical. I guess I still do.

Christmas Eve, chromolithography

Image via Wikipedia

One of the best parts of Christmas was coming back from Christmas Eve services and getting to open one present. My mother would carefully look through what seemed like mountains of presents and to pick out one each for my brother, sister and I. We would carry them out to the living room and sit in front of the tree. While my dad filmed (8 mm back then) or snapped pictures and my mom looked on we would rip into this first taste of the presents to come.

It took years for us to realize that those Christmas Eve presents were always pajamas. Every year. Eventually my mom told us it was because she wanted us to look nice for the pictures Christmas morning. Every year she picked out three sets of holiday themed jammies and wrapped them up for us to open, and wear, on Christmas Eve.

I have to admit. At first, I thought it killed some of the magic. Those first gits we looked so forward to were all for show – and pictures.

Today, I’m the mother of two. At my house we have two post church service traditions. The first is the girls getting to each open one present containing, you guessed it, new PJ’s to wear to bed. (My husband even surprised me with my own new PJs the last couple of years). The girls know all about the pajama conspiracy and look forward to seeing what kind they’re going to get.

The second tradition is sitting down in front of the fireplace, eating a cookie or two, and reading “T’was the Night Before Christmas” while their daddy records video and snaps some pictures before joining us.

And, for a moment, we make our own Christmas Eve magic.

It’s your turn. There are some rules. You can find them, and other vital information here in my original post.

Now…tell me a story…

 

National Novel Writing Month – Final Result

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Image via Wikipedia

I’ve truly procrastinated about putting the final results of for my NaNoWriMo efforts because, frankly, it didn’t end well. This was my first effort, and as I mention in my first and second posts on the subject, my goal was to write every day. I really did pretty well…until Thanksgiving. Things just went down hill after that.

My final total was far from NaNoWriMo’s goal of 50,000 words. I ended up with 11,621. That’s kind of sad. But, on the bright side, I learned a lot.

First I picked an idea that i had never really flushed out, and it showed. I had no real out line (except for one I hurriedly put together one night when I didn’t have much time to write and wanted to feel like I made some sort of attempt) so the story was loose and unfocused. I had no clear character definition or characteristics so what was supposed to be a strong female character comes across as fragile and whiny. Not at all what I was going for, and is probably part of the reason I had so much trouble finishing the month.

I did prove to myself that I could do it. I’ve also learned from my mistakes, which I’ll use to help me with other project this year. I’ll also be better prepared when I try again next year.

National Novel Writing Month – Update 1

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Image via Wikipedia

I put off updating my status here because, to be honest, it’s not all that great. I was under the weather a couple of days last week and didn’t write one day (instead I worked on fleshing out my outline better). During a couple of days of recouping I only wrote a few hundred words. I’ve been really hard on myself about it, which is something I said I wasn’t going to do! So I’m going to say loud and proud that I’m doing my best and I’m up to 8,530 written words!

Like I said in my first post on NaNoWriMo, my goal isn’t really as much about writing a 50,000 word novel as it is about getting in the habit of writing creatively on a daily basis. So I really am succeeding at my goal. Of course I’d like to do better, and will keep pushing to write more, but every word is a step in the right direction.

I’m also realizing just how easy it is to start second guessing your choices when you’re working on something like this. Most of my writing over the last few years was short and or/work related. None of the actually writing has been fiction. Sure I tell those little fictional stories that are part of daily life (of course I remembered to make that call, I just haven’t heard back or I would love to help you move) but I haven’t taken the time to do much along the lines of real fictional writing.

I have to say, I’m still enjoying it. I know that there will come a point where it will seem like much more of a chore, but right now it’s much more of a gift. A chance to take time to do something for myself and to challenge myself in a different way.

It’s National Novel Writing Month!

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November is National Novel Writing Month! I have to admit, I’m coming in a little late to the game. I’ve heard about it in the past but never really gave it much thought. This year something struck my fancy and I’ve decided to give it a try.

The goal of NaNoWriMo is to write a 50,000 word novel by midnight on November 30th. The website is there to encourage you, provide advice and allow to meet-up with other members on-line and in real life. There are more than 500 chapters around the world, so there’s a pretty good chance that there’s one near you. At the end of the event you can upload your novel for word count verification to be added to the winners’ list an receive prizes (a lovely certificate to print out and frame and a web badge of honor). It looked like fun. It sounded like fun. So I decided late on the 1st of November to jump into the fray.

My goal is the full 50,000 words, but I’m being realistic. I’m a wife and mom and I work full-time, my real goal is to write every day. I want to develop the habit of making time to work on something fun and creative.  This is personal. This the kick in the backside I’ve been looking for to stop procrastinating and making excuses. Since this is personal, I’m going to keep my username and project title between me and NaNoWriMo for now. Don’t worry, I’ll keep you up to date on my progress. Right now I have 858 words written. Hey it’s a start, right? By the way, that’s all written long-hand between getting kids to bed and myself to bed. I think it’s a pretty for two days. Now if I could just find another hour in the day…

So what about you? Are you in? It’s not really about the 50,000 words. It’s about setting goals and being creative. It’s about getting you out of your comfort zone and getting started writing that story you’ve always wanted to tell. Who’s with me?