Tag: Write Monday

All You Zombies by Robert Heinlein

A story stranger than fiction

“I’m going to tell you the strangest story you ever heard.”

Thus opens a famous fantasy story by Robert A. Heinlein. How could I not read the original story after watching the movie version entitled, Predestination?

As we watched the first fifteen minutes of Predestination (streaming on Netflix), my friend related, “Oh, I read this story as a teen. I think this is the same story. Back then, I thought it was the best short story I had ever read. I think this is it.” After watching for another ten minutes, he paused the movie to explain that the story and characters came from Robert A. Heinlein.

A short fantasy fiction entitled, “All You Zombies.”

Available on Amazon
What is predestination?
"Learner's definition of PREDESTINATION: the belief that everything that will happen has already been decided by God or fate and cannot be changed" Merriam Webster, anEnglish Language Learners Dictionary

pre·des·ti·na·tion prēˌdestəˈnāSH(ə)n/ Google
noun (as a doctrine in Christian theology) the divine foreordaining of all that will happen, especially with regard to the salvation of some and not others. It has been particularly associated with the teachings of St. Augustine of Hippo and of Calvin.”

The subject of predestination, as an article of Christian faith, ruled my life. As a bookish child, I read often. Looking back, my study of the Bible had been colored by the church I attended. I began attending Sunday morning services with my beloved grandmother, Alice. I remained in that church from eight years old until the age of fifteen. As a solemn introvert and serious thinker, I attended Wednesday night Bible study along with friends. As preteens go, we lived in our heads and looked like nerds. In mid-week Bible study, we discussed the idea of predestination. We grappled with why an all-powerful God allowed free will, why that same one God let innocent babies and young children suffer and why God gave humankind the choice to commit violence, war and torture.

Fast forward a year or two, the church that baptized me, split in two! Feeling shocked, hurt and confused, the Bible study group  ask me to choose between them and the mother church. By this time, the Bible study group believed that humanity did not have free will, that God predestined individuals for salvation or damnation. Could I stay where I began my study and belief in Christianity?

Did I believe in predestination?

In hindsight, I chose the wrong church. The new one held the belief that God creates all human beings and either predestines them for salvation or damnation. This idea of God seems twisted and cruel. Why would God send the bulk of all mankind into sin and suffer an eternity in hell? That’s not what I believe now. But the idea that humanity lives without free choice, comes as a premise in the bizarre and fascinating story, All You Zombies.

Robert A. Heinlein at his desk reading
Robert A. Heinlein
Living in a time loop?

After seeing the movie, I got busy and found a paper copy of Robert A. Heinlein’s at my local library. Now I find I want to read all the stories so I will be looking for my paperback copy. Living in a time loop, what would that mean to you? Would you repeat parts of your life to figure out what happened and why? Would you relive your best times over and over? Would you live all the parts of your life, playing different roles, such as your best friend, your father or brother?

By the way, the story opens from the barkeeper point of view with data as to date, and time and setting. The movie opens and ends differently. I liked both versions, the original short story and movie. The only spoiler I will add is that the movie has been stretched into an action thriller. Thus the close character point of view seems weakened, yet I found the end of the movie an example of how to end a story splendidly.

Could you read just one?

 

Predestination, a movie take on All You Zombies-

Ethan Hawke Is A TimeCop

“The most famous story of time travel and predestination is getting a movie adaptation, starring Ethan Hawke. Robert A. Heinlein’s “All You Zombies” features a guy whose very existence is a time paradox — but the movie looks like more of a gritty, noir-influenced thriller. The movie entitled Predestination comes from Peter Spierig and Michael Spierig, the Australian brothers who previously directed Hawke in the futuristic vampire film Daybreakers.” In the movie of Heinlein’s All You Zombies

A bit more that I read on this movie from the site link above:

“Peter Spierig and Michael Spierig, the Australian brothers who previously directed Hawke in the futuristic vampire film “Daybreakers.”
The new movie, made from Heinlein’s story, received mixed reviews and a weak response, but we enjoyed it for the story and the bareness of the filming. No special effects were used, an exception to the rule of thrillers. The film focuses on the plot and doesn’t let us marinate in the characters’  internal conflicts, yet the characters become unforgettable.”

You will find available as an Amazon e-book with four other fantasy stories by Heinlein,  “All You Zombies-“: Five Classic Stories by Robert A. Heinlein Kindle Edition

The image of Heinlein at his desk came from “Robert Heinlein and the Harsh Politics of Science Fiction.”

Thanks for reading and sharing, Deborah Taylor-French

Bonus: Blast from the past band, The Hooters, singing (of course) “All You Zombies.”

What’s your story? Write Monday

Listening to your story

Don't be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth. ― Rumi

 What an idea! Are you living your own story?

How do you know if you are?

How to tell if you are living your own story quiz

  1. Do you wake up glad to be alive?
  2. Do you ask yourself what you want to do for fun?
  3. Do you plan fun things to do each week?
  4. Do you make time to talk with friends and family?
  5. Do you smile at people?
  6. Do you listen to others stories and enjoy them?
  7. Do you often remember good dreams?
  8. If other’s boss or control you, do you stand up for what you want?
  9. Is what others think of you more important, most of the time?
  10. Can you be lazy and enjoy your dog for most of a day (without feeling guilty)?

___________________________________________________

Add up each “yes” answer for 10 points each

Extra Credit

  1. Make time to do regular exercise? Add 10 points
  2. If you have a score of at least 70% or above, you are living your own story.
  3. If you have a lower score, how about adding more kindness, exercise and fun to your life?

A Pair of Noses

 Share your story at NPR.org Story Corps

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What stories do do others tell about you? Are you listening? Do those stories fit? Is it time to tell a new story?

Go give StoryCorps a try. I hear that the app is free and helps make interviewing a family member or friend easy. Do you want to know more about someone in your family?

A few of my life stories, odd & true

You can read some of my true stories on two of my blog pages, Adopt, save the life of a dog or a child and Long Distance Dog Mystery: Grief Plus ESP.

 

Clever story hints from Shakespeare

Story hints

“The point of view, or narrative mode, Shakespeare uses in his plays, like most plays, is the third person objective view point. We know that plays are narrated in third person because we do not see the play through one character’s perspective; we do not frequently see the word I appear in the play.” Tamara K.H. on Notes.com

A limited third person point of view

In a limited third person point of view, an author does not have access to his characters’ thoughts. This strengthens the illusion that the acting on stage is similar to our lives. A well-done limited 3rd person play persuades and enthralls with its lifelike believability. The characters try to keep their secrets and pretend to go along with mischief or the follies of friends.

a truly great storyteller
Portrait of William Shakespeare

Shakespeare, a limited third POV?

From a storyteller’s point of view, Shakespeare pretends to have a limited third person point of view, thus drawing in his audience. This approach allows audiences to imagine that they witness a world that stands alone. Yet this master playwright, who holds himself outside of his creations heads, tips characters into disclosing intimate details, foibles, morals and thoughts through cleverness. He causes his characters to lie. Then he makes others find out a lie and force out a confession. Shakespeare’s characters, a points of stress, have an aloud chat with him or herself. An well-known example occurs in Hamlet when Prince Hamlet gives his famous “to be or not to be” soliloquy.

What can I do? I’m not Shakespeare.

I say that depends on what genre you write in. What type of story you want to tell? 

  • comedy = happy endings, people get married, renew love and hope
  • tragedy= a death, a war, a huge loss, etc.
  • history = fact based story
  • myth & fantasy = a mixed bag of hopeful beginnings & terrible hurts

William Shakespeare wrote poetry and plays. He wrote plays in the history, tragedy and comedy categories. He also added bits of fantasy as in the dream scene in Midsummer Nights’ Dream. Of considered a writer’s writer or the best of all English playwrights, Shakespeare’s genius has been lately questioned. Some scholars challenge the idea of one man writing the massive volume of works attributed to William Shakespeare. Other scholars, of course, argue that a single man, named Shakespeare, wrote plays for a theatre troupe he knew well. The plays tend to use character types and one playwright would unite the plays by the talents and strengths of specific actors. Thus  a single playwright wrote all the plays attributed to Shakespeare.

What do you think? Was Shakespeare a rare genius or a name put to poetry and plays written by more than one man?

Tragedy, comedy and poetry
William Shakespeare

Poems of William Shakespeare #free downloads

10 Shakespeare Quotes that you can use in Modern English

November 2, 2015

Write Monday: a Guggenheim Flash

Does this start a story? Self portrait inside Guggenheim designed by Frank Lloyd Wright

Do spirals have a focal point?

A blasting cold wind sent us inside that autumn. Entering the Guggenheim Museum in New York, we became disoriented to the point that we began to whisper.

The power of visual art to hush the human mind, is that what changed everything that day? The sheer power of an utterly unique building silenced inner chatter. Other people whispered, too.

Clusters of people meditated on form and color,  magnifying a zen like experience. Considering the history of human art, that humans began drawing figures in soft earth, then painted magical or sacred figures in red ochre on cave walls, may have been a factor in our experience. Our human drive to commune with and express visually has not slowed. Looking upward at the circling ovoid dome, I felt grateful for the chance to visit the Guggenheim.

When it comes to paintings we happen to share preferences for cultural forms, historical periods and specific artists. Art history had sparked a lifelong love of painting and history. Not being a stranger to museums, I was alarmed that standing on the ground floor of the Guggenheim I  felt disoriented. I tried to reclaim my balance in this off balance building by holding still and listening to the hushed voice echoes. Where there any echoes?

Do spirals have a focal point? As we walked up the ramp, a sense of vacuum lead our curiosity. Spans of titled walkway seemed to vary into an ever expanding open space. The contemporary art installations drew clusters of viewers. We joined a group of a dozen, puzzling over meaning and intent. What does this artist do? Using negative space, words on a wall drew a crowd. A clever installation artist literally nailed the wall with a cry for help.

Awe felt in the presence of greatness? Beyond the sweeping structure, the Guggenheim Museum in New York, New York, holds a treasury of Kadinsky’s paintings. Each painting compresses what appears to be a complete and alternate visual world. Each of these worlds pump, fall and rise with action. Each painting tumbled in a play of color. The Kandinsky Gallery burned memories intensely alive. The brilliant colors of each painting enthralled. The passion of the painter Kadinsky opened eyes and revived sensations of childhood running and leaping. Such active swaths of black, blue, yellow and red.

It was then I saw the man guiding a blind woman by the arm. A lightning second of recognition hit my eyes, then he guided me to the next painting, whispering descriptions so shameless that I followed him for the rest of my life.

The End

A few glimpses at what we saw at the Guggenheim.

FullSizeRender

Once in a lifetime visit the Guggenheim 

The Guggenheim, New York, New York, U.S.A.

Kandinsky Gallery Guggenheim

Guggenheim Blog Architectural Digest “Visit the Guggenheim from your own home”Frank Lloyd Wright

Dear Reader,

I love comments and questions. “Write Monday” posts center on storytelling. Instead of writing about storytelling, I’ve written you a story. I want to know if this flash fiction entertained or made you curious.

Thanks for reading Dog Leader Mysteries,

Deborah Taylor-French

Big big Dog

Do I need a narrator?

At three minutes to midnight by our planetary Doomsday Clock does it matter?

No, most likely not. But if you have a good story to tell outloud or to write down and share, you need to know about your options. What choices do you have for story narration? Upward to several hundred but let me help narrow that down for you.

A few memorable narrators

  • Cousin Mary in “The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • The self loathing man telling “Notes from Underground” by  Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  • Alec (a fourteen year old boy) in The Black Stallion by Walter Farley

  

    So far, these narrators happen to also be main characters but do not let that fool you! 

      As I began this new series “Write Monday” I gave an example

      I started with a storytelling example by one of my favorite contemporary authors. A brief introduction: this a unique writer who writes novels both for adults and children, also an author who’s fame owes much to the Broadway stage adaption of his novel, Wicked: the Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West,” Gregory MacGuire.

      Wicked…written in the third person pronoun, nevertheless this novel entralls me, due to a strong narrative voice. As a reader I felt instant curiousity for a storyteller who dared tell the story of an longheld character defined as “evil.” 

      Not being a longsuffering reader, I refuse to any boredom in a novel, but will stay longer in a nonfiction book, reported to teach a valuable stream of knowledge! 

      Yep, I read like a hopeless snob! 

      Wink, wink. I write fiction. I hold myself to a near impossible standard of excellence, I know “…the better is the enemy of the good.”

      What do narrators do 4 stories?

      A short list of narrator benefits

      • The Black Stallion by Walter Farley
      • Rivet readers by their voice
      • Layer story POV
      • Take a story to a larger world
      • Shift a story into a new time frame
      • Questions strengthens or foolishness of characters
      • Scatter clues, false or true
      • Make judgements on the plot, the character or the secret history 
      • Add complexity & other stories designed to enrich the central plot or readers bond with characters
      • Make readers love or hate the main character more

       

      It's not whar u look at that matters
      Vincent van Gogh painting
       

      Would this postman make an interesting narrator? I imagine he would speak at least three languages and take his job seriously.

      Thanks for reading & sharing Dog Leader Mysteries. Deborah Taylor-French