Category Archives: flying

Levels

It’s time to start making some order on our story.

Levels, what are they? 

In short, it’s the same process we analyzed before, but this time we’re bound to a scheme that goes down into our character through levels.

Level A

Let’s call it level A, the most simple kind. Imagine introducing someone as in the famous scene in Bridget Jones’s diary:

“Introduce someone with thoughtful details, as in ‘Sheila, this is Daniel, Daniel this is Sheila. Sheila likes horse riding and comes from New Zealand. Daniel enjoys publishing and comes…”

Well, no. Maybe this first level should get less intimate. Visualize yourself instead as a TV quiz presenter and you want to introduce one of your contestants:

“This is Sheila. Sheila is in her mid-thirties, a respectable citizen and an excellent teacher in a school for the hearing impaired. She likes swimming and she and her wife are now moms of a wonderful boy called Josh.”

Level B

So, level A gave us a bird’s eye view of our character’s life. We know she is a middle-class mid-thirties woman, a mother, and has some hobbies. We start now wondering if this is it. We dig some information there, but is it enough to make an interesting character?

That’s why we have a B level, like in that monstrous Dubai parking where I used to get lost between ‘Parking lot F 32 12th floor or F32 11th floor’. The only difference is we need to constantly explain why we parked our characters in such a parking spot; we cannot just assume it was the best spot for us and the characters have to fit there.

Now start asking yourself and, therefore, your characters why they make some decisions. Sheila is a teacher for children and teenagers with hearing disabilities, but why she’s doing this job? Is she or her sister, her mother, or her wife deaf? 

We know she’s married to a woman. How does this fit with her character, her background, and the place she lives? What is it like to live in a small town and be a gay mother? If you decide to place her in a specific location, it’s not coincidental and never has to be.

Although sometimes during Christmas time we need to park our park in a very random parking spot far away from the mall’s entrance, that’s not an excuse. Our characters must arrive when the mall is closed and park their car in their correct spot. I hope you get the sense of this simile.

Level C

So, we raised a hairbow creating a flat, stereotypical character that a quiz presenter can introduce in a handful of seconds. Then, we raised a second hairbow to our reader by giving that quiz participant some critical information and background history.

Now it’s time to psychoanalyze the characters and take from them all resourceful details. You can ask your characters whatever you want, way more questions than the ones you asked them before.

You can ask what your Sheila would choose between a beautiful university research career in Geneva and a simple life as a teacher in a small town in the U.S. And why not? She doesn’t want to, or she’s scared? She tried already and failed? Is it related at all to any other characters?

Yes, that’s an important point to keep always in mind:

All the details you raise about your characters must be helpful in the story’s development and, therefore, for accomplishing the final goal they need to reach. The characters would eventually pass hundreds of small goals in a story, from getting out of the sofa to saving someone from being hit by a car.

Levels, graphic by Daniele Frau

But they will always have a final, super goal to accomplish. They will fulfill or not, but that’s irrelevant. The important is they reach that crescendo and arrive at that last moment ready, together with the reader.

So, to paraphrase Collins, if a woman is obsessed with money all her life, a perfect detail to put in could be her playing with a small golden ring when she’s nervous. Then, the reader would know that the second would always prevail between her personal happiness and a lot of money.

That’s all for today. Let’s go back to write something interesting. I have a couple of lovely characters to write about. And you?

The Ozarks

The importance of writing well

A few people don’t know The Ozark. I started watching this successful series and asked myself what the secret behind that was.

Why was I so drawn into it, and why were the characters in Ozark so engaging?

Then, I watched the interviews with the cast, and there wasn’t a single one that didn’t mention the quality of the screenwriting.

I quote one of the actors:

“Thanks to Bill, I was able to explore my character. I knew perfectly well what I had to do, how I had to interpret my character.”

So, how important is the writing?

Fundamental

Writing is essential for the actors to be more confident in acting their roles and it is critical for the audience to be completely engaged in the fiction world prepared for them.

How many times have we spoken about the importance of reading?

The importance of reading.
The importance of reading.

So many times, I lost the count.

It’s not just about reading, but it’s mainly about understanding more about the world surrounding us and shaping it through reading. Writing has to come naturally, as a form of expressing what it would need too much time to tell by simple words.

 Every time I start writing, I don’t enter another dimension, but I remain silent and hear my thoughts flowing. Someone uses some techniques to relax, but I try to focus on techniques only when creating good characters

I study every day how to improve my writing, make it more or less dense, raise the hairbows of the audience in curiosity, and create something really, genuinely original.

Go back to the future, story by Daniele Frau.

But then, as every writer would say, you need to read, you need to experience, and you need to write. If you read and experience, but you don’t write, your hands get rusty after a while, and you start overthinking.

Remember when I told you I don’t go to another dimension while writing? 

I lied.

Yes, of course, I go to another dimension, I hear my thoughts and I have to work on them to express my ideas. However, I have to come back to my steps and make that inner voice sound more natural, engaging and understandable.

So, thanks to The Ozarks, for reminding one again how important is good writing. To remind me that what I do every day has a significant impact.

Nodo, the Chairs’ mover

A new Project

Writing a story it’s always intimidating. You start asking yourself:

With all the material around on the Internet nowadays, how can I make a difference? What is in my story that makes it so original?


Then, all of a sudden, a character knock at your door. In this case, it was a small man with a big nose. He introduced himself. He was a chairs’ mover.

Yes, he said precisely that name!


We sit down, and while I started writing on my computer, he moved the first chair.


Sorry


He said.


But you could see from his face that he wasn’t sorry at all. He enjoyed moving the chair and startled me. But what do you expect when letting in a chairs’ mover?

Where a character comes from?

Nodo, the chairs' mover
Nodo, the chairs’ mover


This character, as many others, comes from everyday life. Who has never heard a chair moving in their apartment when they’re alone? Yes, there is an explanation, and it’s our small friend.


In general, what I like about writing for children is that they thoroughly enjoy the story. They get engaged and laugh, and cry sometimes. That’s why, in the end, I decided to write this story. To have a chance to make a child smile.


Enjoy more about the story of Nodo the chairs’ mover on my blog Flyingstories.org.

If you want to read the book, request your copy at this link!

Cover of the book Nodo the chairs' mover_by Daniele Frau_Illustrations by DMQproductions.
Cover of the book Nodo the chairs’ mover_by Daniele Frau.


And keep always open the door to a new character!

How to write a matryoshka

Everyone knows what a matryoshka doll is. The name means precisely what you see when you set your eyes on this strange object. You see a Russian woman, and the shape reminds you of an Egyptian sarcophagus. So, you’re expecting to find a mummy, inside?

And now something completely different

Searching in our Matryoshka

What happens is that, when you open your matryoshka, you find out it contains the same one but slightly different. It’ll remind you that present you received for Christmas, once. You got deceived by the size of the pack, but then the more you open it, the less you find. From a huge packet to a tiny present. But, what if the last one is a ring set with a diamond?

Next level, next stop

You remove as much layers as possible, one small Russian matryoshka after another. Yes, in the end, you want to find something important, you want to feel that all that fuss was necessary, the diamond is there waiting for you! And yet, after removing the last copy of your matryoshka, you realised that the last gift is an exact copy of the rest, but smaller.

I need to get upset?

Think about it, how many movies, piece of theatre and also books end up exactly as we expected from the very beginning? We remove one layer at the time, but we continue to see the same thing. Same characters, same flat plot, just smaller and smaller, but nonetheless the same. Nope, there’s no diamond awaiting for us most of the time, but just the old same matryoshka!

How to avoid matryoshkas

It’s quite easy to answer that question. Open up any book, read the first twenty lines and wait. Something inside yourself has to tell you that you’re not waisting your time. The style, the way the characrers are presented (or they’re not), how the plot is open under your feet to walk through it.

You are a Sherlock Holmes, and now in twenty lines, you have all that you need to understand if that book is right for you. At least book are honest, you don’t have to buy them to understand if you like them or not.

To be continued…

 

 

A dirty job

How to be hooked

A few months ago, I was reading an exciting book called Hooked, by Les Edgerton. While I was hooked by the book, discovering new techniques to engage a reader, I find out something else. I found out a book that, in a few lines, was able to take me deep into the writer’s world. And it doesn’t happen every day. The book was A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore.

When I finished it, I asked myself: it would be the same if I’d rather watched a movie instead of reading this story in a book?

Literature vs. Movies

Which one has the most significant “hook”?

I don’t think it’s an easy question to answer. First of all, both books and movies are, and they will always be connected. All the best movies come from a fantastic book or script. And many books are more and more “visual”, citing and referring to movies. What changes sometimes is the audience they’re referred. In some cases, when people want to lay down on a sofa and relax, they don’t want to do it with a book in their hands. Maybe they’re with their wife, and they want to spend their quality time watching something together.

A book is private

Yes, this can be a first answer.

A book is a private game between you and the author. He never had to know how much time and effort the author had to put together to give birth to a single phrase, sometimes. The reader has to jump into the new world she has to discover, and the only way to do so is to forget there is a writer there, somewhere. In this sense, it’s obviously easier for an excellent writer to hook a reader. What a writer has to do is to whisper the right words in the ears of the reader, and he will be tempted to turn the next page.

A dirty, dirty job

Coming back to A dirty Job, you can it’s the quintessence of what I said before. You turn each page thinking:

“And now?”

Your precious key enters in a new keyhole. And this is a magic sensation, something rare, captivating. You feel like the first man entering a pyramid after thousands of years.

What is the story about?

The story is about a beta male who, after losing his wife, finds himself trapped in an unwanted and quite crazy job. Eventually, he will adjust to his new life and routine, but you won’t know who the enemies are and who the good boys are there until you turn the last page.

A world in which souls can be exchanged through an object. A book that profoundly influenced me when writing my book Souls Alive.

Thanks, Christopher Moore.

If you want to read another great book, have a look to The queen’s gambit.

Daniele Frau

The Queen’s gambit

Walter Tevis

I had a chance, a few months ago, to meet a friend.

I want to say he’s a friend, as Saramago or J.C. Izzo or Gogol. You would give a hand to have a chance to speak to one of them.

As everyone else, I like to improve that small soft part well covered by a skull-bone layer, the brain. If I don’t study something new or try to make my mind working, I know I will end up feeding the pigeons as it was the best and most important part of my day.

Which story?

The queen’s gambit, a graphic idea by Daniele Frau

You end up reading the story of a girl, orphan, with no money, abandoned, but highly skilled.

Nothing new, right? The same old story of a girl coming from the bottom of society and climbing over it.

Wrong

This story is something different, which transcend from what you expect, enters a child’s mind, then a teenager, then a woman, and explores letters and numbers of a square that enchants several people over hundreds of year.

It’s a story of misfortune, drugs, solitude, and possibilities. When you are asking yourself :

Why she’s doing it to herself, wasting all that potential?

You are finishing posing the same question to yourself

Reflect for a second: what have you that makes you so unique and why you’re messing with it, losing your chance?

Yes, because you’re special, but in your way.

Not everyone has to be the fastest runner, the best writer, or go to the moon.

But if you discover your exceptional talent, even if this means be a careful person, a smiley and kind soul, nourish it. Try to find the best ground for your soul to grow and spread some special “something.”

That is the advice that this book gave to me

It gives me a sense of immense, infinite talent in a tiny, almost invisible piece of time.

And the secret it’s to enjoy every single moment.

Next, I will speak about another book: A dirty Job, by Christopher Moore.

Stay tuned, the matryoshka is open!

The urge to read

A book is a journey

I was six years old, I was sitting in my room when I realized that reading was the indestructible boat I needed to explore every ocean in the world. It didn’t mean I didn’t need to move. Most of the people start with the assumption that reading is quite dull and static activity, although I thought the opposite. I felt it back then, and I still believe this is true.

A book makes you travel

Reading must be more than just taking ideas passively from a stranger. It must be a journey, an adventure. And as any traveler experienced, you end up penniless (tickets costs, as well as books, have a price), but empowered. The experience, the travel you just made, must give you memories you’d use in times of need.

A good book

What a good book is, then, it’s all about your taste. A few days ago a colleague of mine told me: 

My favorite writer ever is J.K. Rowling.

This is the kind of reader I’d call an emotional reader. It doesn’t matter the style, the message of the story, the layers the writer carefully put one over the other. No, the essential part is how she felt when she was young, and she read those lines for the first time. That journey never ceased for her.

What a great book looks like?

So it’s time to see another critical expression: this is a great book. Think about the travel, which travel do you remember as a great one, and what do you recollect as being just ok? The same stands for reading a book. The great books are the ones that, for different reasons, opened a small door, let us cry or laugh, comforted us like a good friend.

The lake

I called the book a journey, but I can say it’s a lake as well. What a story and a lake have in common?

And a matryoshka? Keep reading, and you’ll discover soon!

Daniele Frau

Flyingstories

Russian!

Russian language

Finally, I did it. After years of dreaming about going back to study Russian, I finally did and with good results. Having a Russian wife helped me, you say? Yes, probably. But you need at the same time to have the will of studying every single day, reading and listening in Russian. And in the last two years I did, more or less every day.

A lot of website

Honestly, if you speak English, there a so many different kind of website and resources to study languages. Youtube is a goldmine if you know what su search. If you’re Italian the number of website and resources are less and less easy to find. But, still you can find something. Few years ago, a person coming from a small city, like myself, couldn’t possibly imagine to study languages such Arabic or Russian. Now it’s quite normal to do so.

The right one

I tried Rosetta Stone, Assimil, and many more. I must say, now my favourite is russianpod101.com . I find it complete, up-to-date and full of resources. Now I have even a personal teacher following me and pushing me to improve my Russian. She asked me to take an exam (not the easiest one, I must say) few weeks ago, and I was surprised when I discovered I passed it.

Daniele Frau Russian Certificate
Daniele Frau_ Russian