Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Famous Songs Inspired by Real People

by Gary Fearon

A couple of years ago on the blog, in a post called Songs in the Key of Life, I chronicled some famous songs whose inspiration came from real-life situations in the writers' lives.  In this post, let's look at a few hits that were inspired by real people, some as well-known as the songs themselves.  I suspect you'll know several of these origins already, but some may surprise you.

This one goes back a ways, but 60s songster Jimmy Dean's claim to fame (long before he became a sausage king) was story songs about people, some imaginary, some drawn from life. While "Big Bad John" was fictional folklore, "P.T. 109" celebrated the heroic Navy background of...

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Five Ways to Get Into Your Character's Head

by Gary Fearon

"If you could read my mind," Gordon Lightfoot once sang, "what a tale my thoughts would tell."  We may approach a story that we write as one single story, but it has more layers for readers to enjoy when we take advantage of the fact that each of our main characters has his or her own hidden history. 

How do we unlock those secrets deep inside our fictional friends?  I offer these five easy pathways to perception.

Knowing your characters' primary goal for the story (finding the right mate, conquering an enemy, winning a case), imagine the worst that can happen to them.  What will be...

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Tuesday, November 29, 2016


by Gary Fearon

Perhaps you've heard of (or played) a game called "Fortunately/Unfortunately".  It's been around since the 80s, although I only learned of it recently. Apparently I travel in the wrong playgroups.

This verbal game requires nothing more than people to play it. You simply take turns making up a story, alternating sentences with the first words "fortunately" and "unfortunately".  For example:

"Fortunately, I won a trip to Paris."
"Unfortunately, my car had a flat tire on the way to the airport."
"Fortunately, a friend...

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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Writing Prompts You Can Use Today

by Gary Fearon
I'll admit it.  Every once in a while I get stuck for a story idea, and when I'm desperate enough, I resort to googling "writing prompts".  Inevitably it's a dead end because "Write about your favorite Christmas memory" or "What's your biggest pet peeve" isn't what I have in mind.

When talking to writers, I'm always curious to learn whether they like to listen to music while they work, or whether they prefer to have it as quiet as possible. Being aurally oriented myself, I enjoy knowing that many authors listen to music that...

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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

In the Summertime

by Gary Fearon

Down here in the South, most students have just wrapped up their school year and begun their summer vacation. Up North, many kids are still hitting the books, and will continue to well into June. Officially, the calendar says the first day of Summer is June 20th. But the days have been hot and summery enough lately that many Southerners consider Memorial Day Weekend the start of the sunny solstice.

"Summertime and the livin' is easy," said George and Ira Gershwin (actually, it was DuBose Heyward, the author of Porgy, the novel on which Porgy and Bess was based).  Regardless of whether your daddy's rich and your mama's good lookin', there are plenty of folks...

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Based on the Book

by Gary Fearon

Each year at this time, I get a kick out of looking at the Best Picture Oscar nominees with an eye toward how each story originated  This year, a record seven of the eight chosen films were based, at least partially, on books.

Michael Lewis' nonfiction bestseller about the housing and financial crisis of 2007-2008 was released in 2010, and Paramount picked it up three years later. Dialogue and data-driven, this is one of those films released just under...

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