From Sarah, With Joy

Writer querying two novels and some other word babies. I tend to effervesce.

New post every Monday

Friday, July 23, 2010

Movie Review: Despicable Me

Here is another brilliant family movie that has come out this summer. Incomparable to Toy Story 3 just because they are such different films, but equally as enjoyable.

It is hard to be as heavy-handed with the sweetness as Despicable Me was and get away with it, but they most definitely did. For example, the type of ending they went for could have been kitschy and eye-roll inducing, but I think the combination of context, good writing and the wonderful voice talent of Mr. Steve Carrell allowed for the ending to be a success.

As the oldest of eight, I can say that their portrayal of children, particularly the young Agnes, was incredibly and joyfully accurate. "It's so fluffy I'm gonna die!" Yeah, thats a true child. Having such wonderfully drawn child characters was probably my favorite aspect of the movie.

So if you're looking for something to do this weekend and haven't yet seen Despicable Me, take your kids/sisters/nieces/cousins and go see it. You won't regret it.

Sarah Allen

Monday, July 19, 2010

My poem is being published in the Boston Literary Magazine!

Good news! Yesterday I got an email from Robin Stratton, the editor at the Boston Literary Magazine, and they are publishing my poem! I think the online edition comes out sometime mid-September, and then the print edition comes out a while later.

My poem is called Soft Pedal, and I wrote it when I was about 15. Its very short. I'm super excited that it's getting published, and I'll let you guys know when it comes out online.

Sarah Allen

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The 6 Types of Heroes

I've been talking literary theory with a friend of mine. I don't know about you guys, but for me seeing how other people categorize and analyze literature is helpful to me in my own writing. Part of what we've been discussing is the six types of heroes.

1-Traditional Hero. Saves himself and us. This is what we're thinking of with characters like Superman and Hercules.

2-Rogue Hero. Saves his own day, but not ours. Personally, I think these can be very interesting and intriguing.

3-Anti-Hero. Saves the day without trying. Again, I prefer these to traditional heroes. I think anti-heroes can be very sweet and sympathetic.

4-Comic Hero. Saves our day, but not his own, with comical consequences. I can see this one as a little harder to pull off.

5-Tragic Hero. Similar to Comic hero. Saves our day, but not his own, with tragic results.

6-No hero. A lot of modern literature has no hero. Think Catcher in the Rye. Its a lot more about people exploring themselves and their world, without someone necessarily trying or not trying to save anything.

Hope this helps!

Sarah Allen

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Re-post: Extra-curricular Activities for Creative Writers

ne of the things I love best about calling myself a writer is that absolutely anything can qualify as "research." People watching, movie watching, book reading, game playing, music listening, grocery shopping, etc. It all counts, because it can all inspire and generate creativity. In fact, I think ever writer kind of needs something extra to keep the juices flowing and the blocks from staying.

Think of 'Julie and Julia.' Julia Powell accomplished her goal of becoming a published writer through the extra-curricular activity of cooking. J. R. R. Tolkien developed Lord of the Rings out of his love for studying languages. Shakespeare was both a writer and an actor, and I bet both activities fed into and inspired each other.

In my case, as an example, I'd say my primary "extra-curricular activity" is theater and film. This is a little easier to tie in to writing because both theater and writing are creative, artistic fields, but it works well as an example. You can meet people who inspire certain characters. You can practice inhabiting a character, which is essential for both actors and writers. You get to practice being rejected over and over again until you finally get a yes. You experience stories in a new and exciting way. All of this can apply to theater and writing.

But there are lots of other activities with more lessons to teach. Extra activities can help you heighten your emotional sensibilities, connect with other people, relax and expand your mind, refresh your bank of characters and plots, inspire a specific story, refresh your mind and body physically, keep you up to date with the modern world, teach you about the ancient one, find creative ways to market your work, and the list goes on and on. Find activities that work for you and derive your own lessons from them.

Here's a very incomplete list of extra-curricular activities that may help inspire you. It may be useful as a starting point:

-Theater/Film (acting, directing, reviewing, costume/set design, cinematography, dramaturgy, etc.)
-Dance
-Gardening
-Cooking
-Photography
-Painting
-Improv (improv groups are a GREAT source of creative inspiration)
-Pets (breeding, training, loving, etc.)
-Mothering (this is a huge one)
-Carpentry
-Sewing, knitting, crocheting, quilting, etc.
-Theology
-Sciences (biology, psychology, astrology, chemistry, etc.)
-History
-Music
-Design (interior design, fashion design, ad campaign design, etc.)
-Physical training
-Collecting
-Anything else you like to do

What extra activities do you do for inspiration?

Sarah Allen

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

America and the Struggling Artist

Ok, so this may have been a more timely post two days ago, but better late then never, right? This is kind of whats been on my mind lately, in regards to the higher ideas about writing. What influence does living in the United States of America have on writers and other artists?

It seems like the stereotype is that great writing comes from a traumatic life. Many writers have lived through wars, poverty, etc. Writing was a fight for them, not just something to do everyday.

Maybe we shouldn't lose that sense of fight. We are incredibly lucky to live in a country where we have both the freedom and the means to do with our time basically what we want. We can't let that make us lazy. We have enough to eat and a law-protected roof over our heads; use those as enabling things.

Maybe this just means that the fights in our lives are a lot more personal rather than physical, and I think thats a good thing. For me at least, personal stakes are much more intriguing than physical stakes anyway. Everyone has problems, though they may not be fear of starvation or family safety. Don't be afraid to use your own emotions and experience to make your writing hit your readers in the gut.

Sarah Allen

Friday, July 2, 2010

Ready, Set: Going from Planning to Writing

This is point I'm pretty much at for all three pieces that I'm working on, and I'm finding it sort of a difficult hurdle to overcome. The planning stage is so different from the writing stage, and mentally its hard to jump from one to the other, at least for me. Sitting down at a desk and typing out words is much harder than laying in bed daydreaming about how awesome your book is going to be.

I think whats difficult is going from abstract to concrete. Its fun and easy to have abstract ideas about your characters and plot lines, but putting them down on paper is a whole other thing.

Besides, how do you know when you've done enough planning? Obviously the planning can't go on forever, but how do you know when you have enough information to fill a book?

This is the general frustration I'm feeling about my projects right now, and I'm thinking/hoping that I'm not the only one who goes through this. Its something you just have to swallow hard and write those first few pages. Once thats done, then you've switched gears and have a little momentum behind you. How much planning is needed is up to each writer, but don't let it go on for too long. I have a bad habit of doing that. I constantly have to remind myself that I can always go back. So take a deep breath, pull up a fresh page and just do it.

Sarah Allen
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