Cool Links 6-22-19

Cool Links 6-22-19 edition

It’s been a while since I’ve shared some of the most interesting things I’ve found on the internet. Cool links 6-22-19 edition brings you reclaimed books, bagpipes and dragons.

From garbage to library

cool links 6-22-19

Gellinger / Pixabay

In my opinion, it’s a crime to throw away a book, but some people do (shame). In Turkey, local garbagemen rescued discarded books and started their own library. What started as a private library soon grew to a collection of over six thousand books and opened to the public in September, 2017. 

The full article can be found here.

A litany of bagpipes

a litany of bagpipes

simple / Pixabay

It’s odd how one link will lead to another. I looked up something mundane (I can’t remember, really), which lead me to an article on Fort Dunvegan, an early Hudson Bay Trading Company outpost in Alberta, Canada. It was named by Archibald Normal MacLeod after his ancestral home on the Isle of Skye in Scotland. So, of course, I had to look up Dunvegan Castle, continuously occupied by clan MacLeod for over 800 years.

And then I read about piobaireachd, a term I’d never heard. Piobaireachd is music of the Great Highland bagpipe. If you’re a fan of bagpipes (and who isn’t?), here’s the site for you.

Listen to dozens of tunes. If you’re really serious and want more, you can join the piobaireachd society and pay a monthly fee. Me, I’ll take the occasional lament and call it a day.

A dragon hedge

I’ve never had a hedge to clip, but if I did, I’d follow the example of John Brooker from the U.K. He looked at a 150 hedge near his home and wondered how to make it less boring. The answer: clip it into the shape of a dragon. It took him ten years, but you’ll have to agree, his dragon hedge is awesome and enviable. The full article can be found here.

Cool links 6-22-19

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Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling #ThrowbackThursday

Pixar's 22 rules of storytelling

Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling

This post originally appeared three years ago, on July 22, 2016. I’m reposting it for #ThrowbackThursday

Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling

Pixar Studios has developed wonderful stories in the past twenty-five years. These include the Toy Story series; UP; Wall-e (my favorite), Finding Nemo; Monsters, Inc. We can identify with many of the characters and situations.

There isn’t much difference between writing for the screen and writing for print. The objective is to have the reader empathize with your characters, worry and despair over their troubles and cheer when they overcome insurmountable difficulties.

How does Pixar hit all these points? How are they so successful? Well, it seems they have a formula, or rules. 22 of them, in fact.

These rules were originally tweeted by Emma Coats, Pixar’s Story Artist.

As a beginning writer (many years ago), I started with #3, I’ve since added many of these to my arsenal, specifically, #6, 7 and 16. Pixar’s rules can be applied to writing fiction, and I urge you to review and adopt some, if not all, of these strategies:

  1. You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.
  2. You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be very different.
  3. Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about til you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite.
  4. Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.
  5. Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.
  6. What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?
  7. Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.
  8. Finish your story, let go even if it’s not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.
  9. When you’re stuck, make a list of what WOULDN’T happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.
  10. Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognize it before you can use it.
  11. Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you’ll never share it with anyone.
  12. Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th – get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.
  13. Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it’s poison to the audience.
  14. Why must you tell THIS story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.
  15. If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.
  16. What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against.
  17. No work is ever wasted. If it’s not working, let go and move on – it’ll come back around to be useful later.
  18. You have to know yourself: the difference between doing your best & fussing. Story is testing, not refining.
  19. Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.
  20. Exercise: take the building blocks of a movie you dislike. How d’you rearrange them into what you DO like?
  21. You gotta identify with your situation/characters, can’t just write ‘cool’. What would make YOU act that way?
  22. What’s the essence of your story? Most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there.

Do you use any of Pixar’s 22 rules of storytelling? If so, which ones?

Happy writing,


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Five Plot Elements Every Writer Should Use #AuthorToolBoxBlogHop

Five Plot Elements Every Writer Should Use

Five plot elements are necessary to build a story. Each must happen for the story to succeed, and they must happen in the order given.


This is the beginning of the story, often the first chapter, when the main character is introduced. The reader relates to him through small details—his quest to find the perfect birthday gift for his daughter, the way he watches another family at the mall and wishes his own family was complete. Whatever tool you use to establish the reader’s connection, his sympathy with the character, it must be done quickly, before he loses interest.

Setting is also introduced at this point, anchoring the reader in the location, time period, flavor and mood of the story. Is it a western? Set in the American nineteenth century or modern times? Is it a comedy? A murder mystery? Clue in your reader so he can quickly establish himself in the story.

The initial conflict is also introduced at the beginning. The storm is headed toward the small boat with no land in sight. The patriarch of the family has died, pitting son against son. Show the stakes involved in your character’s life. This is where he moves from the ordinary world and receives the call to action.

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