Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Novelist: The Importance of Setting in Fiction Writing

Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore--Dorothy in Wizard of Oz

In my online writing classes and workshops I cover several common pitfalls of beginning writers. One common pitfall is to forget the importance of setting in story. Think of Frodo in Lord of the Rings without his beloved Shire. And what about wayward Dorothy of The Wizard of Oz without her dear home in Kansas and the contrasting Land of Oz…

Setting includes time, place and circumstance of the story. Without a place there is, in fact, no story. In the examples I gave you, place plays a major role in defining major and minor characters. Like the force in Star Wars, setting provides a landscape that binds everything into context and meaning. For author Richard Russo, it goes beyond place; he suggests that “If you’re not writing stories that occur in a specific place (my emphasis), you’re missing an opportunity to add depth and character to your writing.” He describes some of his students’ responses to his challenge, “where does the story take place?”: “it doesn’t really matter; it’s really more about the people.” The irony is that we do want to know and, oddly enough, the more specific you get, the more universal your truth becomes.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Cymatics: Exploring How Frequency Changes the Very Nature of Matter and Energy

Music can help recover damaged brain function by activating parts of the brain that are nearby—Oliver Sacks

If, indeed God moves us to express that within us which is divine, then poetry is the language of the heart and music is the language of the soul—Nina Munteanu

We are creatures of rhythm; circadian, diurnal, seasonal. Let’s face it; our environment—light especially—affects our behavior, psychologically, physiologically and even socially. For instance, mood-altering chemicals generated in the pineal gland in our brain, are partially affected by the light received from our retina. In an earlier post, entitled “the Mozart Effect: The Power of Music” I discussed how music can heal the body, strengthen the mind and unlock the creative spirit. For instance, music with a pulse of about sixty beats per minute can shift consciousness from the beta wave (ordinary consciousness at 14-20 Hz) toward the alpha range (heightened awareness at 8-13 Hz), enhancing alertness and general well-being.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Eyjafjallajokull Volcano: The Gift of Calamity

Have you ever received a gift that you didn’t at first appreciate? Perhaps you didn’t even realize that it was a gift? In fact you thought it was the opposite? When a volcanic dust plume from the Eyjafjallajokull Volcano disrupted air traffic all around the world on April 15th (by affecting the busiest destinations of Europe) no one thought to call it a gift.

The plume left millions of people stranded in various countries, going to or from Europe. The ripples of disruption were felt globally by businesses (e.g., freight delays and other losses) and individuals (e.g., from day laborers in Kenya to the Swiss grocery Migros unable to receive shipments of asparagus for its peak season in restaurants). Airlines lost billions of dollars (around $20 million a day).