Tag Archives: Writing

Radcentric: Writer/director Jake Wood

This week on Radcentric, writer/director Jake Wood comes on the show to discuss his involvement with “Making a Scene: A Night of One Acts.” As discussed in the last episode of the podcast, the one acts are being performed May 1-4. Jake is directing the dramedy “Sunday Night” by Julian Sheppard in the festival. The play is about a newly wedded couple that begin to go through immediate regrets about their decision to be married. The play has plenty of adult content and extremely likable characters.

Along with directing his first stage play, Jake also has a youtube channel where he uploads short films and other various videos. His most recent video is a short film titled “Until We Get it Right.” It focuses on a couple trapped in an endless cycle of replaying the same breakup until they, you guessed it, get it right. Continue reading Radcentric: Writer/director Jake Wood

1,700 written words a day. Could you do it?

November is National Novel Writing Month, and nanowrimo.org is challenging young writers all over the country to write a 50,000 word novel, about 175 pages, in 30 days. This year, Radford University’s English Club teamed up with the McConnell Library to sponsor a number of events to support writers who are up to the challenge.

NaNoWriMo is an annual creative writing project that takes place over the Internet and is organized by a nonprofit organization called the Office of Letters and Light. Chris Baty, who lived in the San Francisco Bay area at the time, started it in July 1999.

Photo by Brian Hollingsworth.

The first event had 21 participants. The next year, the event was moved to November because Baty felt the writers would be happier to spend time indoors writing if the weather was more “miserable.” That same year, a friend of Baty created a website and Yahoo! group for the event and 140 people participated. Each year since, the number of participants has grown exponentially. In 2001, 5,000 people participated, and in 2010, over 200,000 people took the challenge, with participants writing more than 2 billion words.

In order to officially participate, writers had to first log on and create a short profile on the project’s website. After creating an account, the writers had access to resources available on the site. Participants also had the option to join writing groups and write-ins in their area by searching the site’s directory.

The challenge doesn’t have many rules, but the few it does have are important. Writers can start typing away at midnight Nov. 1, and the novels must reach a minimum of 50,000 words before 11:59:59 p.m. Nov. 30. Planning and notes by the writers are permitted, but no material written earlier than Nov. 1 is permitted in the body of the novel. In order to “win” NaNoWriMo, participants must write an average of 1,667 words a day to finish on time.

Photo by Brian Hollingsworth.

The site emphasizes a quantity over quality standpoint in this challenge. It doesn’t matter what gets written, as long as it gets written. They also highlight the fact that they do not expect the novels submitted to be edited or checked.

The official NaNoWriMo site does not store any novels. When writers submit a novel to the site, the word count is finalized and the novel is deleted immediately. If the participant reached 50,000 words, their profile will say so and they can access the winner’s rewards, but what they do with their novel at that point is up to them.

“The point of this challenge is to write; plain and simple,” OLL said in a “newbies” forum on the NaNoWriMo website. “Don’t under-estimate and don’t over-think. Don’t think at all: just write. Write until your fingers ache and you’re seeing double because in the end, you’ll have a beautiful thing. A novel, written by you.”

This year, Radford University is trying to get students involved. April Asbury is the faculty advisor for the English Club, which helped promote NaNoWriMo on campus this year, and she is also the municipal liaison for Virginia: Elsewhere, the region that includes Radford and the surrounding areas.

Photo by Brian Hollingsworth.

The events at RU were held in the library, and everything started with a kick-off party on Oct. 31, hosted by Lisa Vassady on behalf of McConnell Library. The party had refreshments and motivating words for the 20-25 attendees. Vassady explained the guidelines of the challenge and also shared past experiences.

“People dropped by throughout the event, which allowed us to mingle, answer questions and demonstrate the national website,” Asbury said. “What I found most exciting about the kick off was that it brought together Radford University students, faculty and staff and community members.”

Then, in the first three weeks of November three “write ins” were held in classroom B in the library. Each write in was two hours long and offered participants a quiet place to concentrate surrounded by other people with a common mindset.

“There’s something energizing about working side-by-side with other writers, even if you don’t have time to socialize,” Asbury said.

The final event will be held on Dec. 2 at 2 p.m. and is entitled, “The Thank God It’s Over Party.” Participants will be able to talk about their experiences over refreshments.

“People will be able to drop by and share their struggles and discoveries. Everyone is welcome to attend; even if people weren’t able to participate this time,” Asbury said. “They can always make plans for their own writing marathons and enjoy some coffee with us, too.”

Sean Doyle: Through the lens

Sean Doyle ready for his close-up! Photo from Facebook.

When he was in middle school, Sean Doyle became fascinated with films. His favorite genres were action, drama, martial arts and sci-fi. The impressive graphics, detailed choreography and gripping storylines drew him into places where creativity knows no limits. Eventually, they inspired him to create worlds of his own.

Today, at 24, he is a media and film student at Radford University, and is set to graduate in spring 2011. He has already created three short films and launched a YouTube channel with 144 video clips. In addition to acting, he also has experience with writing scripts, directing and editing.

“I get kind of nervous sometimes,” Sean said. “I might stumble because, as you may have heard, I have a bit of a speech impediment.” He refers to a slight stutter that made itself almost scarce about five minutes into our conversation. “I’ve learned ways of controlling it. It also depends on the way I talk. Occasionally I don’t really trip on my words at all.”

He changes his expression slightly, raises one eyebrow, and speaks with perfect clarity. “I talk like this, see? Let’s get down to business right now. Talk things over. Do it nice and easy. No game now, right?”

His ability to emulate various personalities is evident whenever he is in front of the camera. His YouTube channel, Chosenviper, is made up of a variety of topics, including discussions about his projects, reviews of different types of media, and funny character impersonations.

“I impersonated Doug Walker. He has a YouTube series called ‘That Guy with the Glasses.’ Viewers ask him questions and he gives hilarious answers,”Sean Doyle said before launching himself into character mode. “What should you do if you are kidnapped by aliens? Absolutely nothing. Just let them take you.”

Humor is not the only thing Sean brings character to. His newest film project, “Daring Intervention,” was completed in 2011, and a sequel is already in the works. The plot follows an FBI agent who finds himself in the midst of a dangerous game. A former partner that he’s previously fired plants a flash drive with codes that have the ability to prevent a missile from launching and hitting the governor’s mansion.

“People might nitpick about it,” Sean said. “It’s not perfect, but I’m trying to get a better feel for what film is like.”

His education in filmmaking began long before he came to Radford University.

“My brother Devon and I started doing theatre in high school,” Sean said. “We were in two plays, ‘What Use Are Flowers’ and ‘An Italian Straw Hat.’”

Sean with his brother, Devon. Photo from Facebook.

That same year, both brothers got to work as extras on the pilot episode of “Commander in Chief,” a drama series on ABC.

“The thing is, I think our scenes were deleted because when the show finally aired, we didn’t really see ourselves,” Sean said.

They did show up onscreen later in the HBO miniseries “John Adams” as Redcoat soldiers in the Boston Massacre scene.

In 2006 and 2007, Sean and Devon attended Southern Mystique Film Camp where they made two films, “A Beautiful Murder” and “Fish Story.”

Devon, recalls his enthusiasm for “Fish Story,” which he directed.

“I was passionate about making a fresh and fun movie for the camp,” Devon reminisced.

Since then, Devon has created an equally impressive resumé, such as working as a videographer with pro wrestling organization UPWA, making a demo reel for the Landfall 2010 Golf Tournament in Wilmington, N.C., and making a short documentary called “Squeak Etoys.”

“Sean and I, along with another friend, are now in the writing process of a possible TV pilot episode about a high school for students who wish to face the supernatural,” Devon said.

Devon is proud of Sean’s accomplishments at Radford University, and points out the strengths that he appreciates when the two of them work together.

“Sean is the type of student and film maker who appreciates the little details in what he does and is one who knows how to use the camera to help tell the story.”

Dr. Joe Flickinger, a media studies professor, has been one of Sean’s greatest supporters at RU. He has taken two classes with Flickinger, and has impressed him with his talents with editing.

“I think he learns better visually than he does from a written standpoint,” Flickinger said. “I think that ties in with the films that he’s making. He can see what he’s doing in the films and he can start to apply what he’s doing. I know I’m one of those learners, too.”

After graduation, Sean wants to move to North Carolina to be closer to his brother. He plans to apply to companies that work with news, television or film, such as Screen Gems or Warner Brothers.

Whatever he winds up doing, Sean made it clear that it was important that he do what he loves and that fame was only secondary.

“I doubt it will lead to fame or anything like that, but who knows?” Sean said.

NaNoWriMo: What is It?

National Novel Writing Month Starts in November. Graphic by Alex Morgan.

I was surprised when a professor and a friend of mine brought NaNoWriMo to my attention. As a hopeful writer and an editor, I relish the chance to get a little practice and NaNoWriMo is the perfect opportunity for anyone who enjoys writing or wants to start.

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It starts on the first of November, a date that is rapidly approaching. It is a month-long frenzy of writing just to write. The basic premise is this: writers from all over the world will be writing a novel of at least 50,000 words before the end of November.

Before you say that NaNoWriMo sounds like a way to an early death, hear me out. NaNoWriMo isn’t about writing something good, or something that is ready for the world. It is simply about writing. Let’s face it: a lot of us writers procrastinate. NaNoWriMo is an excuse to sit down and write it out. If you don’t reach the goal of 50,000 words, then oh well. You’ve started a novel, and you have some extra practice under your belt. I didn’t even get 10,000 words last year.

NaNoWriMo isn’t about quality; it’s about volume. Your job is simply to crank out as much of a novel as you can. For the most part, you can write about anything. Say you’ve got a brilliant fan fiction burning a hole in your mind. Just start writing on November 1st and see how far you get. Each week you receive encouraging e-mails from various writers. I saved one from my favorite author, who happened to be one of the writers as well. This year, a few of the ‘pep-talkers’ include Lemony Snicket, Mercedes Lackey and Holly Black, among others.

If you are interested in NaNoWriMo, sign up on their website. Then, when November rolls around, you can submit your novel as you write it to the mechanical word counters. They offer a scramble feature so you can keep your novel secret if you like. Your word count total gets added to the region you are registered with to see how much each region writes.

It might seem hard, but it really is a lot of fun. As college students, of course, your exams and school work are important and should come first. But even people busy with life can give it a try. Who knows, when you’re finished, you might have a diamond in the rough, something that, with a little refinement, will one day be a published book. If you don’t finish, that’s fine too. You still have something that you can go back to, and practice, which is extremely important to all writers. Like the website says on their “How NaNoWriMo Works” page: “Win or lose, you rock for even trying.”