Thursday, March 31, 2011

A writer’s voice is often difficult to define, but Victor Lavalle and Amy Minton have a great dialogue on the meaning of narrative voice. Amy often relies on this quote to describe what she means by voice (which, it seems to this writer, also accurately describes sex, love, food, friendship and about a million other things):

“If you have it, you don’t need it. If you need it, you don’t have it. If you have it, you need more of it. If you have more of it, you don’t need less of it… The point is, if you’ve never had any of it, ever, people just seem to know.”

Victor’s definition is much more simple and to the point: voice is personality.

If you’ve ever wondered about your voice as a writer, read the entire piece. You won’t be disappointed.

Posted by geoff at 8:35 AM | 0 comments
Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Miss Good on Paper has some great advice for aspiring writers: write, read, and live. Well, the first one is pretty obvious - I mean you can’t spell writer without write, right? Reading is also essential, but if you’re anything like me, you have to be careful. Once I start a book, nothing else gets done (including writing) until I’ve read it cover-to-cover. Lastly, you have to live. I mean, really, who has ever heard of an author who wrote a single word after (s)he was dead? If you don’t live, you can’t write.

OK, I’ll admit, that was a bit tongue-in-cheek, but the advice is solid. I think the first thing you have to do (whether you want to be a writer or not) is live. The writing will come later, for most people. There are those few (bastards) who can experience a moment, or event, and know immediately how to put it into words. For the rest of us, live while you can and write in your spare time. Trust me, you’ll be happier and the words will flow more freely than a drunk at five cent beer night.

Posted by geoff at 8:15 AM | 0 comments
Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sometimes a story just catches your eye, like this one about the six-sided writer’s block - “a small cube-shaped creature that can fit in the palm of your hand, which shows up on a writer’s doorstep after it smells the tasty prose inside…” As the author notes, it is important to know all six sides if you ever want to get rid of the little bugger:

  • Hypnotic eyes that distract you from writing
  • Dancing feet that force your hands from their task
  • Flatulence that smells of your favorite foods
  • Freezing temps that make you want to crawl up somewhere cozy
  • Music that gets stuck in your head
  • ESP that causes others to interrupt you when you finally get on track

Of course, once you identify it, you’ll need a book and a butterfly net to actually rid yourself of the fella’. A must read if you’ve ever had (or are currently experiencing) a writer’s block of your own.

Posted by geoff at 7:00 PM | 0 comments
Monday, March 28, 2011

Don’t get thrown by the name of her blog, “Business Administration Degree,” Molly Cunningham has some great advice for ways to help prime your creative pump:

  • Do something different
  • Write about something new
  • Take a break from writing

We’d like to add a fourth tip: Do something fun. Not only will it take your mind off your work, but the physio-chemical changes in your brain will help you think differently. Now what are you waiting for? Get out of your chair and do something - FoldingStory will still be here to capture all of your brilliant folds when you get back!

Posted by geoff at 8:58 AM | 0 comments
Sunday, March 27, 2011

OK so many of our FoldingStory fans have been hesitant to get in and start folding because they’re afraid that they aren’t clever enough to put together a line that people like.  I’ll admit, everyone on the FoldingStory team shares this fear.  Our avid users have shown surprising creative endurance, and while it probably comes natural to them, we think there are some strategies that you can use to generate ideas on the fly and earn some points.

Since we launched the site we’ve been keeping track of all the votes that our users have made on each fold, and by analyzing the top folds here is what we’ve found:

1. So this guy walks into a bar…

Most of the top folds are in that category because they are funny.  We’re not talking stupid funny either, we’re talking REALLY stupid funny.  The zanier the better, trust me. 

2. Get me a paper clip, a stick of gum, and some tinfoil…

Action folds make up almost as much as the funny folds. In some cases there are funny action folds, and these are my personal favorites.  If you can move the story along with some block-buster special effects, you’ll find yourself on that leaderboard.

3. It was the best of folds, it was the worst of folds…

Sometimes starting new stories can be your ticket to FoldingStory stardom.  These are often easier than you think.  Try something that happened to you that day, or perhaps start the story at the middle or end of a situation to get the Memento effect.

4. Tap into your inner Thomas Hardy...

A great fold is only as good as its previous folder’s set up.  While we’re not against ending a fold with a period, most of the best folds are open-ended gems that add something wild or creative to the story and then

5. Suppress the desire to write one-liners…

Most of the top folds include more than just a quick hit-and-run, often times using up as many characters as you can from the number of available ones in each fold.

Tell us what you think make up the best folds.  We’d love to hear from you!

Posted by dan at 3:50 PM | 2 comments
Friday, March 25, 2011

J. Timothy King has some great tips on getting (and receiving) feedback:

  1. Get a fresh perspective on your writing.
  2. Feedback must be offered as a means to help the writer improve their writing.
  3. Sandwich your feedback with the bad and the good.
  4. Be mindful of who you allow access to your work.

Great advice for authors and editors of all stripes. And those are just the highlights - check out the whole article for a more in-depth discussion on feedback.

Posted by geoff at 7:57 AM | 0 comments
Thursday, March 24, 2011

M.J. Rose has an interesting article on self publishing your work. Prompted by Barry Eisler’s decision to turn down a $500,000 deal to publish his next novel himself, Rose discusses her experience in 1998 and how the industry, and perception, has changed since then.

On a somewhat related note, have you heard of Amanda Hocking? She is the self published author who is making a killing selling her novels for less than $5 each online. I think we’re in the wrong business.

Posted by geoff at 8:54 AM | 0 comments
Wednesday, March 23, 2011

FoldingStory T-ShirtAlthough we typically spend no more than a few hours a month thinking about clothes, we came together and decided that it was time to pair fashion with FoldingStory to create a new line of Social Storytelling gear that we could collectively wear to look good while folding lines.  Since fulfilling our own orders, we decided to create a CafePress store so that you could order your own. 

OK, we’re not saying that you need to look any better than you already do, but if you ask us, it feels good to write when you look as good as you do wearing this stuff.

DIRECTIONS

Before visiting the store, keep this in mind:  We have four different designs on the third-party site and CafePress gave us no option to pair our logo designs with specific colors…so if you don’t see anything on the T-Shirt preview, you must manually choose a darker or lighter color (or a different logo from the left column) to make sure the shirt looks normal.  Otherwise you might end up with a plain white t-shirt with a white FoldingStory logo (this happened to one of us, don’t let it happen to you).

Here is the web address for the site:  http://www.cafepress.com/FoldingStory

Choose a logo from the “Shop By Design” menu, then choose what gear you want and what color you want it to be.  Let us know if you have any suggestions for T-Shirt designs and we’d be happy to add more designs.

Also, if you purchase a shirt, take a picture and send it info@foldingstory.com.  As long as you’re wearing more than just the t-shirt, we’ll post it on the blog!

Enjoy!

Posted by dan at 8:35 PM | 0 comments
Tuesday, March 22, 2011

We at FoldingStory don’t usually read the Economist and seldom understand what they’re talking about when we do, but this article on gaming really hit home for us:

“[Computer games] help fulfil [sic] human needs. Simple online games…played between friends on Facebook, can help sate the desire for companionship among atomised young people. Collaborative multiplayer games cater to the need to feel part of a group.”

And when they force you to think creatively rather than just pointing and clicking, games have an even greater impact.

Posted by geoff at 6:54 PM | 0 comments
Monday, March 21, 2011

ShawGuides has a fairly extensive list of writing workshops across the globe. From Hamilton, NY (have to give a shout out to my alma mater) to Ireland, Italy, and Ghana, these workshops offer a unique opportunity to leave the rest of the world behind and focus on your writing. And if there’s an Internet connection, you can invite some new friends to join you on FoldingStory.

Oh, and here’s a creativity workshop if you need to exercise that part of your brain.

Posted by geoff at 7:18 PM | 0 comments
Thursday, March 17, 2011

Writermag.com is offering free access to all of their content for one week only. From noon on March 17, until midnight on March 24 you can access all of their paid content, including articles from The Writer magazine. Visit WriterMag.com to get in on the all the good freebies until the promotion ends.

Posted by geoff at 5:23 PM | 0 comments
Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Ides of March are upon us. Last month FoldingStory was picked up by ReadWriteWeb and TheNextWeb and was featured in a news feed along with stories about Apple, Baidu, Google, Twitter, and Firefox. So keep folding those stories, you're in good company!

Announcements

A FOLDINGSTORY LESSON PLAN

We’ve received several requests from forward-thinking teachers who would like to integrate social storytelling into the classroom, and we were delighted when blogger/educator Kristian Still experimented using FoldingStory with his year 10 English Functional Skills class. He wrote up a great step-by-step guide and conclusion for trying this in your own classrooms. If you’ve tried this in your classroom please let us know how it went, we would love to hear from you!

A NEW MILESTONE

We’re pleased to announce that in the last month NixonBlack was the first user to reach 1,000 folds and also 1,000 votes! We would also like to give a shout out to MoralEnd for being the only other user to reach this level.

WORD COUNT TRENDS

Inspired by the number of folds adding up, we decided to take a look into the expanding FoldingStory universe to see if we could find something of sociological value in the words used by all of you folders. In time we hope to uncover some interesting trends, but for now here’s a revealing look at the top 10 most referenced proper nouns used since we launched the site last October: 1. Christmas (51 folds) 2. Jesus (27) 3. George (25) 4. Jackson (24) 4. Jack (24) 6. Santa (23) 7. Sarah (21) 8. Bob (20) 9. China (19) 9. Starbucks (19)

1,000 USERS OR BUST

We’ve found that the more diverse the authors of a story, the more interesting the final stories turn out to be. Therefore, in an effort to keep the collective ideas flowing and the stories as fresh as possible, we’re currently on a push to break the threshold of 1,000 FoldingStory users. So please be sure to tell your friends and share with the rest of the world how much fun we’re having over here at FoldingStory! Use the links at the bottom of the page to Like us on Facebook or Follow us on Twitter.

Featured Fold & Story

This month’s Featured Fold was submitted by MoralEnd, whose “Waxen Queen” offers her royal subjects no explanation: “…and performed ‘Rent’ in Spanish. Her Edict demanded that the still life perform all theater works in Spanish because, well…she was the ‘Waxen Queen,’ she didn’t need reasons…” Unless you’re too busy conducting still life Spanish theatre yourself, read the full story here. Want to check out more great folds and see how yours stack up? Check out our Top Folds page.

Proctologists, penguins, and naked strangers conspire to keep up with the Joneses in this month’s Featured Story, “This world’s remaining strange mysteries exist among the nooks and crannies of civilization…

Site Activity as of March 16, 2011

10,426 Folds
1,512 Stories
597 Finished Stories
824 Members

Be sure to Like us on our Facebook page and follow us on our Twitter feed!

Thanks for using FoldingStory!

Posted by dan at 7:13 PM | 2 comments