Kurt Vonnegut’s Rules for Short Stories
1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.

2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.

3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.

4. Every sentence must do one of two things–reveal character or advance the action.

5. Start as close to the end as possible.

6. Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them–in order that the reader may see what they are made of.

7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.

8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

— Kurt Vonnegut 

(Source: chrisarrant)

On Sketchbooks

victoriaying:

I got into a conversation with someone on Twitter about Sketchbooks and how to work in them. 


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Personally I’ve got a long and fraught history with Sketchbooks and like many difficult relationships in my life, it took years to finally get to a place where the Sketchbook and I could be friends who fight fair and make each other better. 


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When I was a kid in High school, I had a ton of sketchbooks. I had no fear and just filled my cheap spiral bound whatever purchased from Wal Mart full of drawings. I was proud of almost all of them (blessed that naive ninny) and never had a problem filling them to the brim. 


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As I got older and started engaging online with artists communities, I found myself pushing to create better work and this caused me to start realizing that a lot of my sketchbook drawings were (gasp) actually quite terrible. I started getting self conscious when I was around other artists or when I was sharing my work online. 


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I remember the first time we had a meet up of our artist community at San Diego Comic Con. It was amazing to meet all these great artists who I had gotten to know online in person! (I also met my future husband here, but we only said hello and didn’t actually ‘meet’ until two years later) But I was so nervous about my sketchbook. These events were all about passing around your sketchbook to show other people and to have them do a drawing for you in yours, so it was very nerve wracking to see these professional full time artists looking at my high school sketchbook. That book was very thin because I just kept tearing pages out of it. This was bad because not only was the book thin, it was also obvious that I was a very self conscious artist. 

After this I actually abandoned sketchbooks entirely. I chose to draw only on copy paper so there was less pressure. I would walk around with the pages on a clip pad so that if one was bad I could just toss it and nobody would be the wiser. 

I would start sketchbooks, but would never get further than halfway through before I abandoned them. I would go through a lull of not drawing and then the drawings would just show a skill level so far away from where I was I had to just get rid of them from the shame. 

It also didn’t help that I had a weird hoarding tendency with sketchbooks. I used to travel a lot with my family and would bring back blank books from all over the world. I had some from Nepal, Japan, Germany, and all of them were beautiful and perfect. 

I was too afraid to touch them. I knew that the drawings wouldn’t all be good and I couldn’t ruin this one book that I had. This led to me having a whole shelf in my house of blank un used sketchbooks. 

It wasn’t until we did our first Kickstarter, with Curiosities, that I sort of got over that way of thinking. I started to realize that this project that we were working towards could be good, could be bad, but we had to finish it. If it wasn’t perfect, that was okay, we were learning and we would do better next time. With our next project we could always show improvement and have people remember the good drawings/paintings rather than the less than stellar ones. 

This philosophy got us to finish a project that I couldn’t have imagined that we would have done if I had still been that insecure high schooler tearing out pages from the sketchbook. It’s incredibly important to move on and just keep moving forward even if those mistakes are embarrassing. 

After this, I started to think about my sketchbook in the same way. If I did a bad drawing, I just had to do a better one next. People don’t tend to remember failures only successes, so even though my book isn’t totally full of great drawings, people walk away only remember the decent ones. If I had torn out a bunch of pages in the book, I don’t think that I would have been able to finish any of them.

The year to date, I’ve finished two sketchbooks. A huge acheivmenet for myself. I feel like I finally broke through a wall that had been haunting me since high school and now I’m able to move more quickly learn from my mistakes and get better fast. 

Even Hayo Miyazaki, the legendary film maker, feels the same way about his films Acorrding to his new book “Turning Point” Miyazaki says: 


"Making films is all about—as soon as you’re finished—continually regretting what you’ve done. When we look at films we’ve made, all we can see are the flaws; we can’t even watch them in a normal way. I never feel like watching my own films again. So unless I start working on a new one, I’ll never be free from the curse of the last one. I’m serious. Unless I start working on the next film, the last one will be a drag on me for another two or three years."  — Hayo Miyazaki

And that’s the way we should feel about our sketchbooks, we know that there are flaws but we have to keep moving, share it with the world and make the next one better. 

Writing Advice: by Chuck Palahniuk

In six seconds, you’ll hate me.
But in six months, you’ll be a better writer.

From this point forward—at least for the next half year—you may not use “thought” verbs. These include: Thinks, Knows, Understands, Realizes, Believes, Wants, Remembers, Imagines, Desires, and a hundred others you love to use.

The list should also include: Loves and Hates.
And it should include: Is and Has, but we’ll get to those later.

Until some time around Christmas, you can’t write: Kenny wondered if Monica didn’t like him going out at night…”

Instead, you’ll have to Un-pack that to something like: “The
mornings after Kenny had stayed out, beyond the last bus, until he’d had to bum a ride or pay for a cab and got home to find Monica faking sleep, faking because she never slept that quiet, those mornings, she’d only put her own cup of coffee in the microwave. Never his.”

Instead of characters knowing anything, you must now present the details that allow the reader to know them. Instead of a character wanting something, you must now describe the thing so that the reader wants it.

Instead of saying: “Adam knew Gwen liked him.” You’ll have to say: “Between classes, Gwen had always leaned on his locker when he’d go to open it. She’s roll her eyes and shove off with one foot, leaving a black-heel mark on the painted metal, but she also left the smell of her perfume. The combination lock would still be warm from her butt. And the next break, Gwen would be leaned there, again.”

In short, no more short-cuts. Only specific sensory detail: action, smell, taste, sound, and feeling.

Typically, writers use these “thought” verbs at the beginning of a paragraph (In this form, you can call them “Thesis Statements” and I’ll rail against those, later). In a way, they state the intention of the paragraph. And what follows, illustrates them.

For example:
“Brenda knew she’d never make the deadline. was backed up from the bridge, past the first eight or nine exits. Her cell phone battery was dead. At home, the dogs would need to go out, or there would be a mess to clean up. Plus, she’d promised to water the plants for her neighbor…”

Do you see how the opening “thesis statement” steals the thunder of what follows? Don’t do it.

If nothing else, cut the opening sentence and place it after all the others. Better yet, transplant it and change it to: Brenda would never make the deadline.

Thinking is abstract. Knowing and believing are intangible. Your story will always be stronger if you just show the physical actions and details of your characters and allow your reader to do the thinking and knowing. And loving and hating.

Don’t tell your reader: “Lisa hated Tom.”

Instead, make your case like a lawyer in court, detail by detail.

Present each piece of evidence. For example: “During roll call, in the breath after the teacher said Tom’s name, in that moment before he could answer, right then, Lisa would whisper-shout ‘Butt Wipe,’ just as Tom was saying, ‘Here’.”

One of the most-common mistakes that beginning writers make is leaving their characters alone. Writing, you may be alone. Reading, your audience may be alone. But your character should spend very, very little time alone. Because a solitary character starts thinking or worrying or wondering.

For example: Waiting for the bus, Mark started to worry about how long the trip would take…”

A better break-down might be: “The schedule said the bus would come by at noon, but Mark’s watch said it was already 11:57. You could see all the way down the road, as far as the Mall, and not see a bus. No doubt, the driver was parked at the turn-around, the far end of the line, taking a nap. The driver was kicked back, asleep, and Mark was going to be late. Or worse, the driver was drinking, and he’d pull up drunk and charge Mark seventy-five cents for death in a fiery traffic accident…”

A character alone must lapse into fantasy or memory, but even then you can’t use “thought” verbs or any of their abstract relatives.

Oh, and you can just forget about using the verbs forget and remember.

No more transitions such as: “Wanda remembered how Nelson used to brush her hair.”

Instead: “Back in their sophomore year, Nelson used to brush her hair with smooth, long strokes of his hand.”

Again, Un-pack. Don’t take short-cuts.

Better yet, get your character with another character, fast.
Get them together and get the action started. Let their actions and words show their thoughts. You—stay out of their heads.

And while you’re avoiding “thought” verbs, be very wary about using the bland verbs “is” and “have.”

For example:
“Ann’s eyes are blue.”

“Ann has blue eyes.”

Versus:

“Ann coughed and waved one hand past her face, clearing the cigarette smoke from her eyes, blue eyes, before she smiled…”

Instead of bland “is” and “has” statements, try burying your details of what a character has or is, in actions or gestures. At its most basic, this is showing your story instead of telling it.

And forever after, once you’ve learned to Un-pack your characters, you’ll hate the lazy writer who settles for: “Jim sat beside the telephone, wondering why Amanda didn’t call.”

Please. For now, hate me all you want, but don’t use thought verbs. After Christmas, go crazy, but I’d bet money you won’t.

(…)

For this month’s homework, pick through your writing and circle every “thought” verb. Then, find some way to eliminate it. Kill it by Un-packing it.

Then, pick through some published fiction and do the same thing. Be ruthless.

“Marty imagined fish, jumping in the moonlight…”

“Nancy recalled the way the wine tasted…”

“Larry knew he was a dead man…”

Find them. After that, find a way to re-write them. Make them stronger.

— (via 1000wordseveryday)

(Source: redactedbeastie)

caledoniarps:


I don’t know about you guys but I am psyched to get an education, woo. This year is a hella important year for me because if I don’t finish this school year with five As then I am a dead man walking, you get me? So this started off as a collection to help me get those fabulous As but I thought, what the hell? I’ll share this perfection with everyone else because sharing is caring. Anyways, down to the nitty gritty

001. CALEDONIA’S DECLASSIFIED SCHOOL SURVIVAL GUIDE
advice for college
how to survive in college
how to survive freshmen year of high school
college packing list
alternative to buying expensive textbooks
dorm room survival
free online college courses
002. WRITE LIKE A FUCKING ANGEL
the ultimate guide to writing
how to write good
how to write an essay
how to write a good essay
the five paragraph essay
deadly sins checklist
formatting your paper
tips on getting started
seven tips to become a better writer (stephen king)
four ways to have confidence in your writing
seven ways to speed up your writing
five ways to add sparkle to your writing
how to finish what you started: a five step plan for writers
thirty-one ways to find inspiration for your writing
tips for dealing with writer’s block
003. READING ISN’T ONLY FOR NERDS AND FANGIRLS
how to take care of your books
how to read shakespeare
no fear shakespeare  (i found this incredibly useful when studying macbeth!)
one hundred most read books
how to read difficult books
how to read faster
books made into movies
books made into tv shows
350+ free ebooks
004. STUDY MOTHER FUCKER
studying tips
studying techniques
how to pull an all-night and still have a successful exam result
how to get motivated to study
tips to help you concentrate
time management tips
chrome site blocker
005. LEARNING SHIT
solve any maths equations: 1, 2.
when your teacher says not to use wikipedia (an alternative)
square root calculator, cube root calculator
for when you can’t do your homework
chemical equation balancer (what got me through chemistry last year)
cliffnotes, sparknotes
college courses
how to: multiply big numbers
crash courses (youtube)
teaches you everything
006. PRESENTING YOUR BEAUTIFUL SCHOOL WORK AY
free powerpoint (prezi)
free powerpoint presentations on anything
help with presentations
007. USEFUL WEBSITES BECAUSE THE INTERNET IS A WONDERFUL PLACE /SOMETIMES/
TED (basically gods gift)
challenge your brain
feed the hungry and up your vocabulary game
free online textbooks
final grade calculator
a whole page dedicated to studying and organising
008. MUSIC TO CALM DOWN UR SCHOOL DAY BLUES YO
a really chill playist
coffee shop blues
coffee shop sounds
calm nature sounds
concentration/focus playlist
relaxation is key
four hours of classical music
playlists to listen to: xxx, xxx, xxx, xxx, xxx, xxx, xxx, xxx, xxx, xxx, xxx, xxx.
009. ALL THIS STUDYING??? YOU NEED A BREAK, MY FRIEND.
watch a cute ass dog lick your screen
one hundred thousand stars
movies masterpost
foreign movies
gay movies
lesbian movies you should definitely watch
broadway musicals
LGBT+ books
download free books
read any book
the best masterpost ever if you’re bored
010. TIPS FOR SCHOOL N STUFF BCUS I WANTED TEN BITS
try your best. not everyone can get all As, and getting all As does not make you better than everyone else. just do the best you can and be the best person you can be.
don’t sleep in class! i know it seems so so tempting but slept my way through geography last year and i got a C in my exam instead of the expected A so…
Don’t tick off your teacher, follow the rules to an extent, get to class on time, respect your classmates and teachers. you know, just be a decent person.
be positive!!! and not just for the first week or so, keep the positivity going throughout the whole school year. if you don’t believe in yourself then why should anyone else?
"you can do it, wildcat, i believe in u" — something troy bolton said one time probably definitely

caledoniarps:

I don’t know about you guys but I am psyched to get an education, woo. This year is a hella important year for me because if I don’t finish this school year with five As then I am a dead man walking, you get me? So this started off as a collection to help me get those fabulous As but I thought, what the hell? I’ll share this perfection with everyone else because sharing is caring. Anyways, down to the nitty gritty

001. CALEDONIA’S DECLASSIFIED SCHOOL SURVIVAL GUIDE

002. WRITE LIKE A FUCKING ANGEL

003. READING ISN’T ONLY FOR NERDS AND FANGIRLS

004. STUDY MOTHER FUCKER

005. LEARNING SHIT

006. PRESENTING YOUR BEAUTIFUL SCHOOL WORK AY

007. USEFUL WEBSITES BECAUSE THE INTERNET IS A WONDERFUL PLACE /SOMETIMES/

008. MUSIC TO CALM DOWN UR SCHOOL DAY BLUES YO

009. ALL THIS STUDYING??? YOU NEED A BREAK, MY FRIEND.

010. TIPS FOR SCHOOL N STUFF BCUS I WANTED TEN BITS

  • try your best. not everyone can get all As, and getting all As does not make you better than everyone else. just do the best you can and be the best person you can be.
  • don’t sleep in class! i know it seems so so tempting but slept my way through geography last year and i got a C in my exam instead of the expected A so…
  • Don’t tick off your teacher, follow the rules to an extent, get to class on time, respect your classmates and teachers. you know, just be a decent person.
  • be positive!!! and not just for the first week or so, keep the positivity going throughout the whole school year. if you don’t believe in yourself then why should anyone else?
  • "you can do it, wildcat, i believe in u" — something troy bolton said one time probably definitely

Consider, for example, the way the advancement of medical knowledge was paid for with the lives of slaves.

The death rate on the trans-Atlantic voyage to the New World was staggeringly high. Slave ships, however, were more than floating tombs. They were floating laboratories, offering researchers a chance to examine the course of diseases in fairly controlled, quarantined environments. Doctors and medical researchers could take advantage of high mortality rates to identify a bewildering number of symptoms, classify them into diseases, and hypothesize about their causes.

Corps of doctors tended to slave ports up and down the Atlantic seaboard. Some of them were committed to relieving suffering; others were simply looking for ways to make the slave system more profitable. In either case, they identified types of fevers, learned how to decrease mortality and increase fertility, experimented with how much water was needed for optimum numbers of slaves to survive on a diet of salted fish and beef jerky, and identified the best ratio of caloric intake to labor hours. Priceless epidemiological information on a range of diseases — malaria, smallpox, yellow fever, dysentery, typhoid, cholera, and so on — was gleaned from the bodies of the dying and the dead.

When slaves couldn’t be kept alive, their autopsied bodies still provided useful information. Of course, as the writer Harriet Washington has demonstrated in her stunning Medical Apartheid, such experimentation continued long after slavery ended: in the 1940s, one doctor said that the “future of the Negro lies more in the research laboratory than in the schools.” As late as the 1960s, another researcher, reminiscing in a speech given at Tulane Medical School, said that it was “cheaper to use Niggers than cats because they were everywhere and cheap experimental animals.”

Medical knowledge slowly filtered out of the slave industry into broader communities, since slavers made no proprietary claims on the techniques or data that came from treating their slaves. For instance, an epidemic of blindness that broke out in 1819 on the French slaver Rôdeur, which had sailed from Bonny Island in the Niger Delta with about 72 slaves on board, helped eye doctors identify the causes, patterns, and symptoms of what is today known as trachoma.

The disease first appeared on the Rôdeur not long after it set sail, initially in the hold among the slaves and then on deck. In the end, it blinded all the voyagers except one member of the crew. According to a passenger’s account, sightless sailors worked under the direction of that single man “like machines” tied to the captain with a thick rope. “We were blind — stone blind, drifting like a wreck upon the ocean,” he recalled. Some of the sailors went mad and tried to drink themselves to death. Others retired to their hammocks, immobilized. Each “lived in a little dark world of his own, peopled by shadows and phantasms. We did not see the ship, nor the heavens, nor the sea, nor the faces of our comrades.”

But they could still hear the cries of the blinded slaves in the hold.

This went on for 10 days, through storms and calms, until the voyagers heard the sound of another ship. The Spanish slaver San León had drifted alongside the Rôdeur. But the entire crew and all the slaves of that ship, too, had been blinded. When the sailors of each vessel realized this “horrible coincidence,” they fell into a silence “like that of death.” Eventually, the San León drifted away and was never heard from again.

The Bleached Bones of the Dead 
What the Modern World Owes Slavery (It’s More Than Back Wages) 
By Greg Grandin (via howtobeterrell)

hammpix:

As an artist, you’ll have to draw turned heads countless times. But when the head is turned, drawing the far eye poses a special challenge. This is because we must foreshorten that eye more than we’re used to, and because we’re tempted to shape it like the near eye, which is less foreshortened. Therefore, it’s useful to practice drawing the far eye by itself, without the near eye to throw you off. Print these sheets, draw the eyes, and you’ll save yourself great difficulty later.

Note that all of these eyes are facing our left. You’ll need to practice right-facing eyes as well, so flop the sheets in Photoshop, print them again, and draw those also.

pigeonbits:

Color palette tutorial time!

This is by no means the Only Way To Pick Colors—it’s just a relatively-simple method I use sometimes.  I’ve found it works pretty well, almost regardless of what colors you pick—as long as you can keep them organized by those light/dark warm/cool categories, and make sure one category takes up a significantly higher proportion of page space, it usually turns out pretty good!

jessuhart:

Been keeping an eye on this series since it was started back in December :3 I think it’s time that I blew the dust off of my website and actually put a portfolio up, and methinks that starting a portfolio from scratch would be my best bet. I’ll be working my way through this series and so figure it’d be nice to put the information I’m working from up for any other artists that may be interested in some solid portfolio advice.
ArtOrder Portfolio Building Class
Introduction/Syllabus
Week 1 – What is a Portfolio?
Week 2 – The Self Assessment
Week 3 – Setting a Strategy
Week 4 – Developing a Plan
Week 4a – The Insanity Loop
Week 5 – Storyboarding & Presentation
Week 5a – Presentation
Week 6 – Talking Points and Questions
Week 7 – Sealing the Deal
Extra! - Portfolios on the Web

The series was written by Jon Schindehette, Senior Creative Director/Art Director over at Wizards of the Coast and owner/organizer of the ArtOrder and ArtOrder Challenges. All kudos go to him for it’s existence, I’m just spreading the wealth :D

jessuhart:

Been keeping an eye on this series since it was started back in December :3 I think it’s time that I blew the dust off of my website and actually put a portfolio up, and methinks that starting a portfolio from scratch would be my best bet. I’ll be working my way through this series and so figure it’d be nice to put the information I’m working from up for any other artists that may be interested in some solid portfolio advice.

ArtOrder Portfolio Building Class

The series was written by Jon Schindehette, Senior Creative Director/Art Director over at Wizards of the Coast and owner/organizer of the ArtOrder and ArtOrder Challenges. All kudos go to him for it’s existence, I’m just spreading the wealth :D