Tag Archives: writing

A Picture is Worth a …Movie Script

"Last Kiss" by Mo Gelber
This photo by Mo Gelber was a finalist in a contest sponsored by Ron Howard. The winner wins a movie based on the photo. Unfortunately, Gelber announced on facebook an hour ago that his photo was not chosen.

But, wow! What a cool idea to base a whole movie on one instant caught in a snapshot.

When I was an editor on my college newspaper, we did a similar ritual for the April Fools’ edition. Chuck, the photo editor, had access to all photos that had ever appeared in the newspaper. Note: this was in the days of film photography. Chuck dropped a stack of black and white 8x10s on a table, and we spent an hour or so sorting through them to find inspiration for fake news stories. (We only did that for the April Fools’ edition, I swear.) I chose a close-up photo of a line of policemen in full riot gear and wrote a little article about how the university had hired tuition cops to torture students into paying their debts.

Flashing forward many years, writing about photos is still a powerful way to unlock a story. In my high school literature class, I show photos from the news as the starting point for discussion as well as grammar and writing assignments. As a writer, I take a ridiculous amount of photos, sometimes of the most mundane things, in order to get a mood right for a future story. If I don’t have a camera with me, I pull a Cam Jansen and record it the best I can in my head and write it down later. That brief moment can be the spark that any writer needs to creating a masterpiece.

Mo, your photo is amazing. Thanks for being an inspiration.

Deadline Approaching…Kitten Not Helping

Three days ’til I need to have revisions completed on project 1. And we are kitten sitting for friends.

New Article is Live

My new article is up on Engage, the International Reading Association magazine, “Making a Point with a View.” It’s all about improving writing instruction by changing the student’s perspective.

In other news: One quarter of revisions finished. I need to get moving to meet my June 30 goal!

The List of Power!

My wife’s superhero name is List Woman!

There are lists everywhere: on the fridge, next to the phone, on my place-mat. Things need to get done, and she’s gonna make sure they do. Dylan has a list of things to do in order to get into college. I get a daily list to accomplish, she has her own list of Master Plan events. The most dreaded list of all, The Summer Project Uber List, casts a dark shadow over my near future.

Her real superpower, though, is infection. I tried to fight it with the penicillin of defiance and jokes, but still I caught the list disease.

The things she writes down get done. Not because my wife’s a tyrant. It’s probably because once it’s written, it’s out there. The world knows you’re supposed to do it, so you’d better step up. That’s the philosophy behind NaNoWriMo, but November is way too busy for me. However, since I’ve taken a 2-year writing hiatus due my teaching schedule, I need to accomplish some major work in my two months of summer.

I’m not even sure if you are still reading this, but that’s OK. This list is out there, so it will be accomplished. And that’s what gives it super power.

And now…

[the sound of trumpets]

The Summer Writing List…

Write article for Engage, the International Reading Association’s online magazine (June 11)
Finish revision and submit book project 1 (June 30ish)
Finish rewrite of book project 2 (July 31ish)
Agent things (July)
Update too many blogs and web pages. (Throughout—but start today!)

And oh yeah, it’s summer, so I should schedule in some fun
Take a road trip with the fam
Take kids to ballet, band, karate, and whatever…
Kayak and train for next obstacle race (Zombie run?)
Go to the beach and get better at skim boarding
Read 10 books this summer (I’m on number 2).

OK. Let’s get to it.

New article out today on Engage.

Every month or two, I write an article about teaching writing to my high schoolers for the International Reading Association’s online magazine, Engage.

This one’s about using Picasso and Dali. Just follow the link. You may have to register.

Story Starter of the Day

“I can only turn invisible when the cats run around my head.”

–from my son’s psychedelic dream last night.
I may take him to the pharmacy for a drug test.


I have no school today so I’m going to….
*Christmas shop
*Drive with 16-year-old on back roads
*Food shop for Thanksgiving
*Take same kid to orthodontist
*Write 3,000 words (currently at 42,619)

And that’s before wife and other kids get home.

I’m going to need more coffee.

Labor Day Recap

No Earl + No violent nature-imposed writing retreat = No 4,000 words this weekend.

Instead, I cut 1,500 words, added about 500, and laid out the next six chapters while sitting on the beach. That’s not too bad. Plus I got to go to the beach on Labor Day: something I usually avoid because of the crowds.

In other news, I graded a ton of papers and played taxi driver for 4 days. Bonus: my son found out that they really don’t let 15-year-olds watch Machete if they aren’t with a parent or legal guardian.

Here’s Cape Henlopen beach yesterday at 8:30 am.