Overcast, cold and yet oh, so toasty here in my office…
Just a quick note here about how the stories are going.
Mostly, I’m very impressed. Those of you who kept to the 3 lines really worked at it, and that’s the idea. You learn to be concise, to stay on target, and still deliver a good story.
For those who had to go over 3 lines: Some very nice stories… but they can all be trimmed to 3 lines. Trust me on this.
I had an idea of how to help: Check out “haiku” on Wikipedia. It’s the Japanese poetry form that is strictly limited to 3 lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables each. No more, no less. Forced to adhere to such limititations, the resulting Zen poetry is crushingly beautiful. In the West, we tend to go more for story lines (rather than koan-type mysticism)… but it’s still the 5/7/5 form.
The marketing equivalent: Adwords. You have strict character limits for each line (though you can do less, but never more). We’ve taken to calling it “Adwords haiku” because of that.
Few Westerners have been forced to “write inside the lines” like this before, and we tend to struggle with limits. But I’m telling you, it’s worth doing.
As you listen to great storytellers, notice how economical they are with words. They find just the exact right word, or short phrase, to nail the mood, direction and plot. This is “power words” in action.
You may scratch your head, at first, looking at haiku. But notice how long the entry is in Wikipedia… and know that it’s long because people care. And it’s good stuff.
You’re about to be enlightened in ways you won’t understand for a long time yet.
Side note #1: Kudo’s to Moffatt for his insight on the exercise. People who collect and tell stories lead better lives… and when they sell, they almost always do a better job of it. Stories are about the human experience, and at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about — broadening and enjoying the experience you’re having, as a human.
Side note #2: Karen, is that YOU? In Kiwi land? (Of course, I know it is. No one else knows the piano disaster story.)
How are you? I tried to find you in the phone book during a short lay-over in NZ last year, but you weren’t listed. Damn. I’d love to catch up. The boys have my private email — just shoot Kevin a note. Hope all is well.
Great story, too. Hard to believe we survived the chaos of those times…
Side note #3: I hope everyone is reading all the stories. When you hang out with writers, you don’t really need Hollywood at all, you know. Even a relatively uneventful evening at the hotel bar with a snaggle of wordsmiths will put the entire acadamy awards to shame…
Side note #4: Dean, I recognized your KKK story. Made me laugh out loud. And would somebody translate Javier’s comment for me? I just wanna make sure it’s not dirty or anything…
Side note #5: Weird things happen when you collect stories, too. “John” in the comments told a nice one about some train tracks in his home town that disappeared… a nearly identical experience to one I had. I grew up ninety feet from a Sierra Pacific line, and the house rattled twice a day for fifty years. I both love and am comforted by the sounds of trains… but one day I went home to visit Pop and the tracks were gone. Just gone. Big weedy path where they once proudly laid, like a scar running through my old stomping grounds. Whew. So much of the world that surrounded me as I grew up is now alive only in memory and photos, always at risk to wash away like tears in rain…
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