Monthly Archives: July 2015

Writing with Music: Going Dark

While I haven’t talked much about my actual writing process, one thing is almost always a constant – music.

Music lets me see, hear, breathe the atmosphere I’m trying to get across on the page. It helps me pace a scene, lengthening sentences to build tension, or speeding up when a character is about to get into trouble. Sometimes, a song will crystallize a character or event so perfectly, that the rest of the scene flows around it like it has a life of its own.

TL;DR – If you’re having problems getting into a scene, or suffering from blank page syndrome, listening to music can be a good way to help you visualize the section and get started.  Don’t believe me? Well, it’s time to experiment!

 

Here’s how this works – I’ll post a link to a song on Youtube, along with a couple of prompts or ideas to get you started. This is not necessarily to make you write more, but to get your brain juices flowing. If it turns into a new idea you want to flesh out later, great! Practice is perfect, and this is just another method to help get the practice in. Think of it as a writing prompt.

I have some… eclectic musical tastes. Even if the song I post isn’t your style, it should jog your memory enough to spit out one that’s more your speed while making you think about the same mood/atmosphere/tone.  *Sometimes I may post a second song; this isn’t to make you do two exercises, but so you have another option if the main song is too heavy/crude for you.

Ready? Let’s go!

 

Vacuity by Gojira

(Side note: I personally don’t like the bridge that follows the second chorus, so I usually just repeat the first two minutes)

 

The theme this week is Going Dark. Here are some sample prompts:

– write a scene where a monster or beast hunts a victim; alternatively, a scene where a character is fleeing something/someone

– a scene where your antagonist (or protagonist!)  gets his/her hands dirty

– someone watching a violent storm or other act of god approaching a shore, destroying an island village, or ripping through a city

 

*Alternate video – Animal I Have Become by Three Days Grace

 

Take five or ten minutes, and see what you come up with. Where does the song take you? What kind of scene did you write? In that scene, what does the character (or narrator) see, hear, smell, taste, feel? Did you get a sense of urgency or anger? Or did the song(s) bring out an atmosphere of fear or foreboding?

I hope this helps, at least to spur some new ideas if it doesn’t warm you up for a work-in-progress. Remember, too, that whatever you jotted down doesn’t have to be perfect, shouldn’t be perfect. Draft quickly, cut it all up and sew it back together later.

Since I’m the instigator of this, I’ll share a snippet from my messy tidbit.

 

“Up now. Time to catch the tide.”

“Have you lost your mind? Those things are out there!”

“Hah. That noise you hear is coming from behind us, gaining fast.”

“The floor is swaying beneath my feet, so much that I might not even make it to the boat without losing the fare my little coin could get.”

“Oh no boy. That smacking you feel b’neath you is the Lord of the seas ‘imself.”

“So he’s trying to kill me too?”

“Nah, he’s keeping them at arm’s length. But we hafta go now. I don’t have that much favor with the beast.”

“What kind of beast?”

“The Kraken, man. Who else could rule the seas?”

This is a really bare-bones example of my jotting. I mainly wanted to get the dialogue and important details down before I forgot them. It will be easy to go back later and add character names, action tags, and flesh out the scene since the gist of it is solidified in my head now.

*If you like the exercise, what you wrote, or have a suggestion for the next installment, feel free to leave a comment!

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Food Journal – Top 5 Restaurants in San Antonio

Remember that last post a few months ago where I talked about a food blog? Well, here it is!

Brief preface and/or disclosure – I have been to San Antonio exactly once in my life. In April. For three and a half days. Naturally we couldn’t try every restaurant, but picked based off of general TripAdvisor consensus and friends who live in the area. So if you get all butthurt because your super favorite isn’t on this list, let me know in the comments and I’ll try it out the next time we go.

 

#1 Ácenar

This was my favorite of the entire trip. A good friend recommended it as the one place on the Riverwalk that wasn’t overpriced or over-exaggerated, and she knew what she was talking about. The patio had a nice breeze coming in from the river, and a vibrant albeit relaxed atmosphere. Fantastic food and service, delicious margaritas. Just go, right now.

Acenar - Spicy ShrimpSpicy Shrimp – hubby’s dish. Not spicy in the least, but definitely creamy goodness.

Acenar - Duck CrepesDuck crepes –  I don’t know what’s happening on the top of it, but boy, that cheese was something else. It had a sweetness to it that brought the whole dish together. The corn crepes didn’t give have any chalk-like taste or texture that I usually get from corn tortillas.  This is definitely on my list of must-eats whenever we go back to SA.

 

#2 Bakery Lorraine

This little bistro/bakery is one of many gems nestled in the increasingly popular Pearl Brewery area. It’s quite the hot spot for lunch, so be prepared to wait for a table if you get there late. The sandwiches are huge — my husband and I split a Rueben (or some other such roast beef sandwich) and were almost too full to go to Cured (see #3). In addition to breakfast and lunch, they have a number of different pastries and baked goods. Make sure you try the macaroons!

Welcome to Pearl

I didn’t get any pictures of the building or food itself, so you’ll just have to trust me. Don’t skip this place on your next San Antonio trip.

 

 

#3 (Tie) Azuca & Cured

Ok, you got me. I couldn’t decide which of these I liked better. DEATHMATCH!

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Entry to Pearl, not Cured.

Cured – another neat little establishment in the Pearl Brewery area. Inside its brick walls, industrial-style lighting, and warm hardwood floors give it a cozy yet modern vibe. You can see their charcuterie meats hanging in a glass case right when you walk through the front door, and they don’t disappoint. Our favorite was the Mortadella and a citrus marmalade accompaniment. We also tried the Blue Ribbon Burger; it looked a little small, but is the perfect size for a second lunch.

Graffiti = awesome.

Azuca – offers another take on Mexican/Latino food. It’s not in the immediate downtown/River Walk area, which makes it a good choice if you want to try a less touristy place. Like #1 and #3, they have a diverse menu – pork belly, ceviche, and paella are just a few examples. Fair warning, you probably won’t have any room for dessert.

 

 

#5 Boudros

We went back to the River Walk for this one. Mostly because I’d read they had tasty drinks, and it wasn’t far enough into the trip that I was tired of drinking. I tried the Strawberry Caipirinha first, but it was a little too tar. Not enough strawberry. The Prickly Pear Margarita, though… well, have a look.

Prickly Pear MMarita

 

Almost too pretty to drink. Almost.

Food-wise, the Gulf Coast Seacakes we split as an app rivaled the oysters from Ácenar. Past that, I honestly don’t remember what I had. But even if you don’t go for the food, you have to go for the Prickly Pear Margarita!

 

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Skip it – La Fonda on Main

While it’s a lovely restaurant with wonderful service, the food really didn’t impress me. Compared to the other places we experienced the days prior, La Fonda doesn’t offer anything new or different. It has your standard Mexican fare – enchiladas, chile relleno, etc. – but nothing that sets it apart. The locals love it, so be prepared for the place to be packed and loud the entire time.  It’s a good place to get your feet wet in Mexican cuisine, but otherwise I’d recommend skipping it for better flavors around the city.

 

 

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