Can Your Story Use a Little Love?

Can Your Story Use a Little Love?

Valentine’s Day is around the corner and love is in the air! It’s been a while since  we talked about story  and February seems the perfect time to discuss love stories. How important is romance in a story? Very! Even if you’re not writing The Notebook, having a romantic subplot strengthens stories in all genres. A touch of romance can be the glue that holds together the other elements of your story, be it action, drama, or comedy.

Why Audiences Love Love

Love stories are the easiest way to get the audience invested in your characters. The tension of will they or won’t they get together keeps the audience on the edge of their seat.  This tension works particularly well in long form television because it can be sustained over several seasons or similarly, in a book series.  A compelling love story, even if it’s a subplot, is full of obstacles that will keep your audience guessing at the outcome. Is it a happy ending or does our couple go their separate ways at the end of the story?   With a heartwarming, well told love story, the audience is bound to be drawn in and root for the couple.

Another reason audiences invest in love stories is they are relatable and universal.  Everyone has experienced the pangs of falling in love or wants to.  People see themselves in the characters.  And when a viewer or reader identifies with your main characters you have story gold.

Love Develops Your Characters

As we follow characters through the obstacles of their love story we get a unique lens to see into who they are. We get to experience their feelings, their wounds, and learn more about what drives them. Romantic subplots are a wonderful way to deepen the audience’s understanding of your characters. And through their romantic relationship, you can make the audience care about the couple even more.

All Genres Can Use a Little Love

Even genres that don’t seem romantic can benefit from a little love. Take the James Bond franchise for example. In every Bond movie, we have two women – one that gets murdered because of her involvement with Bond and the other who ends up being his romantic partner for the length of the film. These relationships not only add depth to the Bond character but also provide a much-needed emotional component to the high-stakes action scenes.

Romance can strengthen horror too.  For example, the romantic subplot in Halloween Kills (2021) involves Karen Strode (Judy Greer), Laurie’s daughter, and her partner Ray (Anthony Michael Hall). They have a strong relationship and work together to protect their families and survive Michael Myers’ latest killing spree. The subplot adds emotional depth to the film and provides a contrast to the horror and suspense of the main plot.

Happy Ending or Tear Jerker

Finally, it’s important to remember that not all love stories have to be happy endings. In fact, sometimes the most memorable love stories are the ones where the couple doesn’t end up together. Some stories are more impactful when the couple is split apart by choice (Casablanca) or by death (Titanic.)

When done right, a good romantic subplot can bring depth, tension, and emotional investment to your story. No matter what genre you are writing in, don’t be afraid to incorporate a touch of romance into your story. Your audience will thank you for it.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, look at your projects with fresh eyes and see if they could use a little love.

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Do These Four Things to Worry Less

Do These Four Things to Worry Less

I am a worrier.  I worry a lot and I always have. I know I’m not alone. The world in the past three years has gotten scary and everyone’s anxiety has skyrocketed. As creative people, it is easy to let our imaginations run wild creating the worst possible outcome.  I call this running out into the cornfield (named after the Twilight Zone episode about the evil little boy wishing people into the cornfield.)  Here are four ways to tame your worry and stay out of the cornfield.

Imagine the worst case scenario

Ask yourself what is the worst thing that could happen? Follow it to the absolute worst outcome.  Then think about what you would do.   When I practice this technique, often I realize that even if the worst thing happened, I could handle it. I could learn from it, and I would be okay.  

Plan for the worst and expect the best

Set yourself up for success by having a contingency plan if things go south.  This plan will give you more confidence and assuage anxiety.  At the same time, expecting the best will also keep you calm. 

Practice Surrender

Whether we like it or not, most things are not in our control.  Do your best with what you can control and surrender the rest.   Don’t worry about things you cannot control.  That is easier said than done, but once you start to practice surrender, you will notice your anxiety lessen significantly.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Reinhold Niebuhr

Embrace failure by cultivating curiosity

Fear of failure often stops us from trying new things and taking risks. As creative people, fear of failure is especially acute because when we share our creations, we are sharing parts of ourselves. If things don’t go your way,  try adopting a curious attitude . Curiosity reframes failure as a learning opportunity. Ask yourself questions. What worked here? What didn’t? What could I have done differently? What will I do differently next time?

Success is not final. Failure is not fatal.  It is the courage to continue that counts.

Winston Churchill

I hope these practices help you with your anxiety. If you have other tips to curb worrying, please comment below.  I am always on the lookout for new ideas.

Don’t let fear steal your funk. 

Marshall to Ted in How I Met Your Mother

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Why You Should Cultivate Curiosity

Why You Should Cultivate Curiosity

Curiosity is a powerful force in the life of a creative person. It is the spark that ignites our imagination and drives us to explore new ideas and possibilities.  When we are curious, we are open to learning and experiencing new things. This allows us to see things from different angles, which can lead to new insights and breakthroughs.

Be Permanently Curious

Tap into the power of curiosity by adopting a mindset of permanent curiosity. This means approaching everything in life with a sense of wonder and a desire to learn and understand more.  It’s important to practice the habit of asking questions and seeking new information. This can be as simple as asking a colleague or friend about their interests or reading an article on a topic you know nothing about.

Always be…

A simple way to practice curiosity is to always be…

Always be reading. Read at the level you want to write. Read the kinds of books, articles, and screenplays you want to write. Read about new topics and read about your industry. Know and follow the thought leaders in your business and the business you want to be in.

Always be watching. Watch the kinds of stories you want to tell. Watch short videos and documentaries about things you know and things you don’t.

Always be listening. Listen to podcasts about a variety of topics. Listen to podcasts about skills you want to improve or acquire. Check out scripted podcasts or listen to an audiobook.

Always be writing. If you are a writer, write every day even if it is just for 15 minutes. The more you write the more your writing improves. Even if you aren’t a writer by profession, practice writing clear and concise emails and compelling presentations. The better the writer you are, the better a communicator you are. And everyone no matter what they do, can be better at writing, speaking, and presenting.

Make curiosity one of your superpowers and exponentially increase your creativity. You will be surprised at the unexpected benefits learning and trying new things. By adopting a mindset of permanent curiosity, you can unlock new possibilities for yourself. So make it a habit to be curious, and see how it can transform your life!

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ChatGBT:  The Future of Writing is Here

ChatGBT: The Future of Writing is Here

The technology for story is always changing.   Humans went from telling stories around a campfire, to writing stories by hand to the printing press and computer. In December story technology took another leap with the introduction of ChatGBT, an artificial intelligence (AI) writing tool.

The Future is Now

Now before you rail against the rise of machines destroying artistic creativity, you are actually already using AI when you write. If you work in Word, the predictive text function as well as the grammar and spelling checks are all run by AI. The two most popular grammar and punctuation tools,  Grammarly  and  Pro Writing Aid , are also run by AI.

Writing just took a giant leap forward. ChatGPT is a revolutionary new writing tool that harnesses the power of artificial intelligence to exponentially increase your writing output and creativity. Whether you write marketing copy, blog posts, screenplays, nonfiction or fiction, this tool makes it easier to produce high-quality content quickly and efficiently.

How to use ChatGBT

I became a techno-optimist after I played around with ChatGBT. If you haven’t done it yet, I encourage you  to try it . It’s remarkable! It looks like the texting app on your phone. There is a box where you input what is called a prompt, which is the instruction for ChatGBT to write your content.

One of the most exciting features of ChatGPT is its ability to generate unique stories and plots in response to a simple prompt. For example, you can tell it to write a story about a monster and it will instantly generate a compelling narrative. You can ask it to tell the monster story in the style of a fairy tale or a slasher film. Or, you can ask it to turn the monster story into a movie structure, complete with character development, plot twists and a satisfying ending.

Another great feature is the ability to use ChatGPT as a brainstorming partner. You can input a rough idea or concept and ask it to generate a story or plot, and use it as a jumping off point for your own writing. It’s like having another writer in the room to bounce ideas off of.

One more useful trick is using ChatGBT to rewrite and improve your content. You can paste something that you have written into the chat box and ask ChatGBT to rewrite it with specific instructions. For example, you can put your book blurb in the chat box with the prompt “make this more suspenseful.”

Some writers are sounding the alarm saying that AI is going to replace us. Personally, I don’t think a computer will ever be able to replace human creativity and ingenuity. AI in general and ChatGBT in specific need human input to produce its content. The tool is designed to augment human creativity, not replace it. It needs our input to function, and it’s up to the human writer to use their own creativity and imagination to take the generated content to the next level.

As a techno-optimist, I believe that ChatGPT is a game-changer for writers. It’s free to use currently, but there will be a charge for it later. Try it out for yourself and see how it can revolutionize your writing process. This is the future of writing. Embrace it and see how it can improve your work, allowing you to focus on the truly important things: your own creativity and unique voice.

Try it out and let me know what you think! Here’s an article about  20 fun ways to use ChatGBT  to get you started.

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Happy 2023!  Let’s Get Rocking!

Happy 2023! Let’s Get Rocking!

Happy New Year! Is your inbox inundated with suggestions about how to set and meet your goals for 2023? I know mine is! And to be honest with you I’m sick of reading the same goal setting methods over and over again. Instead of setting goals, my approach is to think about the projects I want to complete this year and then make a plan on how to do it and a deadline. I like to approach my year like a traditional business and divide it into quarters of three months. Remember whether you are a self-employed creative or have a corporate job, you are the CEO of your career. Below are some questions to ask yourself to plan your stellar 2023.

For Corporate Workers Wanting a Raise and Promotion:

  • Hone your  personal cocktail pitch  to highlight last year’s accomplishments.
  • Add last year’s  accomplishments  to your  Linked In profile .
  • What projects can I take on to become indispensable and/or shine?
  • Who needs help in and outside the company? How can I help them?
  • Make a daily practice to  track your wins  – who you helped and the positive results of your work.
  • Each month compile your list of wins and results.
  • Each quarter compile your list of wins and results. Write them in an email/memo and meet with your manager to discuss. Ask what you can take on in the next quarter.
  • Decide when to use this info to ask for a raise and promotion, at your yearly review or before.

For Corporate Workers Wanting a New Job:

  • In addition to the above, identify what kind of job you want and where you want to work.
  • Who do you know at your target companies? Tap your network.
  • Who do you know who knows people at your target companies?
  • Send emails with specific information about the kind of job you’re looking for and the kind of people you want to be introduced to. Remember people want to help but they need specific requests. Make it easy for them to help you.

For Creative Projects/Side Hustles:

  • Make a list of the 5 projects you want to complete this year.
  • Order them by preference or urgency, assigning one or two to each quarter.
  • Then  chunk down  each project into 5 – 10 steps.
  • Get to work!

Remember  it is never too late . Whether you start your new project or you don’t, time will pass. Just start!

Wishing you a creative, productive, fun 2023!

In case you missed it, here are the December posts about new ways of thinking to help you in 2023.

 Build New Habits Instead of Making Resolutions  

 Not Everyone is a Morning Person and that’s okay. 

 How to be a Long Term Thinker 

 How to be Permanently Reinventing Yourself 

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