I came across this list of Pixars’s 22 Rules of Storytelling today, originated by Pixar’s Story Artist, Emma Coats. While these rules were developed for screenwriting, I believe they can apply to all sorts of storytelling. The comments are also interesting, if you don’t mind scrolling through all the pingbacks.   It led me to the original post by Emma Coats.  I think the list is useful and provides a  bit of sorely needed inspiration, as evidenced by my lack of blogging.  Many people eschew rules, but I look at these as general guidelines–  keep what is useful and ignore what isn’t.  What do you think?  Do any of these speak to you?

The  initial link led me to another blog on a list of 10 Writing Tips by Joss Wheden, creator of, among many things, Buffy and The Vampire Slayer.  Good stuff. Enjoy!


Welcome to November and the first day of NaNoWriMo aka National Novel Writing Month, billed as “thirty days and nights of literary abandon.” The object is simple in concept, if not in execution. Write a novel in a month. Specifically, 55K words of a novel. That equals 1833 words a day. Not easy, but possible if one makes it a priority. I’ve been on the fence about doing this, as I really want to revise a novel I’ve already written. I sat down with it last night, thought about the problems that I see with it, but felt no desire to revisit it just yet. So, instead, I will try to write something new from the seat of my pants. I will give myself permission to write for quantity and see where it takes me. This week will be especially challenging, as I have no plot, no characters, or ideas. That, and I have plans for the next couple of nights after work and a weekend visitor. Still, I am up for the challenge. I won’t be posting my writing here, but I will post on my progress. Good luck to everyone participating!

Today is All Hallow’s Eve, a favorite holiday of mine. It’s a day when it’s acceptable to recreate yourself. To be something you are not. A time when even so-called adults can play dress up and escape from reality for a bit. With the right costume, one can be an anonymous observer, if not quite a fly on the wall. The experience can be quite liberating, and I wonder if this is how actors, and to an extent, fiction writer’s feel on a daily basis. When I was a teenager, I used to read novels set in regency England, and it seemed as if the idea of a costume ball wasn’t limited to once a year. Most often, the ball was a device used to create more drama in the novels, yet it begs the question. Would our lives be richer if we had the chance to create alternate personas on a more regular basis? Or would turn into another obligation and lose it’s mystique? Has Halloween already lost its shimmer for you?

The start of it all!

While I am enjoying participating in the postaday challenge, I can only wonder how long I would have lasted if I started in January.  Do you think quantity is better than quality?  Is it the exercise of doing it daily that is important, or the quality of the posts?  Last weekend I was out of town, so I had my posts “timed” to appear when they did.  Is that cheating?

I’ve decided to read that novel I finished a year ago and decide if I want to bother to revise it and resubmit.  I figure three chapters a day of reading and making notes.  First three chapters tonight.

This isn’t much of a post, so I will add a pretty picture.

Train Smoke - Munch

I found this prompt from the book “What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers” by Anne Bernays and Pamela Painter.

The exercise:

Begin a story with this line: Where were you last night?

The objective:

The objective is to once more start the story in medias res– in the middle of things. Notice how this questions begins in the middle of a situation. For example, “last night” the subject of the question, has already happened.  If one character asks another this question there are already two people “on stage.”  And the question will probably produce a conflict. But don’t get hung up on making it a line of dialogue– it can be used in many different ways.

My attempt:

“Where were you last night?”  Susan donned her sunglasses. “We missed you at the launch.”

“At home. I wrote a song.”  They sat outside at Café Dupont, an early Sunday morning ritual they’d shared for years, drinking coffee and sharing stories. Candy could see Susan’s eyebrows rise behind her Chanel glasses.  Despite all the Botox she could still move her brows.

“Since when do you write songs?” Susan smiled. Candy knew that smile. It was the indulgent but superior smile that told you what she thought while being too polite to say it aloud. The smile her sister had acquired after she stole Candy’s boyfriend.  The same smile she had perfected after dumping him for a man with money.   Twenty years she’d endured that smile every Sunday over the two-egg special.

“Since last night.  It’s a blues tune.”

“Oh, dear.”  Candy watched her sister delicately pat her lips with her napkin.  “Is something the matter?”

“Daddy died two days ago.”

“Oh.” Susan pursed her lips.  She had been estranged from the rest of the family since she had betrayed Candy all those years ago.

Candy squeezed her sister’s hand and smiled at her. In a moment Susan would be ordering mimosas and toasting their father, and it would ring as hollow as Candy’s heart.   Pity to be her.

I received a couple of emails about a tomato sauce I mentioned on Twitter.  I find it much better than your typical jarred variety.  A friend shared it with me, but I have altered it slightly.  The original is from Jo Pratt’s In The Mood For Food.

Simple Tomato Sauce

Serves 4 – takes about 30 mins to make

Put 2 x 400g tinned tomatoes in a saucepan with 1-2 tsp of dried chilli flakes, 2 crushed garlic cloves, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar, 1 teaspoon of caster sugar and a good pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Bring to a simmer and cook over a low heat for 20-30 minutes until the sauce is rich and thick.


I use less dried chilli flakes, maybe half a teaspoon.  I also use regular sugar and add Italian seasonings (like you get from McCormick) and rosemary.

Very cheap and very good.