Introduction of Objects into Scenes in Non-visual Media

A podcasters worst nigtmare … or at least mine!

Many podcasters will know this struggle. You need to convey a character has a knife, or a plant, or even something as mundane as food without it sounding strange and unnatural. While it can be tempting to have your character state, “Oh, why golly gosh! Look I have myself a plant!” to keep the story moving, it can sound stilted. Here are 5 ways I’ve used objects in scenes without sounding like a robot (hopefully!).


Photo by Tommy Lopez on Pexels.com

Oh, why golly gosh! Look I have myself a plant!

To immediately contradict myself, sometimes, especially in comedic scenes, you can do exactly that. For example, if your characters are trying to distract a villain, and as a part of who they are and the tone of the story they may simply grab a plant and exclaim “Oh! Look at this plant!” It will be silly and potentially funny and a really great way to move things along. My general rule of thumb is that, if something serves the story but goes against the traditional rules, that’s fine! For new writers, this may be difficult to discern, or even sometimes for more experienced writers, but trying things out and breaking the rules is what helps us learn our craft, so it might be fun to give the obvious a shot and see how it works!

 Do I need to state what the object is, or will people assume?

This rule looks at how distinctive certain object sounds are when combined with the correct context. For example, say you are creating a nonfiction podcast about a crazy restaurant. You might need the audience to know there is a knife in the scene as one of the characters might accidentally nip their hand. While you could have them talk about the knife they’re using, or have one of the other characters say something like ‘be careful with that knife’ instead you can use chopping sounds and then when they accidentally nip their finger their reaction will still make sense thanks to the audio context and the context of the show itself.

It’s not unheard of for kitchen staff to accidentally nip themselves while cooking, however, if someone were to accidentally cut themselves while swimming you would probably need the verbal introduction of the knife. But who knows? Context does a lot of the work!

Do people need to know what the object actually is?

This rule looks at the importance of the object itself, is it important you know the character is eating a peanut butter sandwich or do we just need to know that they are eating? While it can be tempting to be specific about the objects the characters are using sometimes it’s not necessary, for example, if you need your character to throw their food at another character, we simply need to know that first, character A was eating and then threw food at character B. This whole bit can mostly be carried through sound effects for example:

SFX: wrapping rusting light chewing noise

CHARACTER B: Just saying it wasn’t that – (sound of crinkling and then light thwack as sandwich hits character B) – hey!

While the audio editor will need a general idea about what kind of food, to create or find a good sound effect, the audience only needs to know the basics. However, if the character has a nut allergy, eats food, and then starts to have an allergic reaction you’ll need to get more specific, something more like:

SFX: wrapping rusting light chewing noise

CHARACTER B: Just saying it wasn’t that – (sound of crinkling and then light thwack as sandwich hits character B) – hey!

CHARACTURE A: Gasping wheezing sounds

CHARACTER B: Are you alright! Was that a – dude! That was my peanut butter sandwich! Your jam sandwich was over there!

Sometimes the audience needs to know and sometimes they don’t, it can be tricky but once you figure out how much to tell, life gets easier!

These are all well and good, but I need to be explicit about my object

In some scenes, there’s no getting around it and you need the audience to know exactly what your character is holding. This can be especially difficult with obscure contextless objects, but before you continue ask yourself one more time does it really need to be this object and does the audience really need to know, because it can be tricky, and sometimes if the object is not that important it can be easier to simply change the object.

However, if it has to be a specific object there are two main ways to communicate what it is and even then, they can come off a bit like the plant situation if you’re not careful. 1) the confused question and 2) the monologue in disbelief. The confused question is when you have two or more characters in a scene and looks a bit like this:

CHARACTURE A: Is that a candlestick?

CHARACTER B: unfortunately

For this to work well you really need to build the context around the scene and regardless of what you do it will be painfully obvious. However, it will do the job, it can also help to disguise the obviousness of the object for the characters to debate the object a bit, which may seem counter-intuitive, but people will generally assume the object to be there for comedic purposes instead of whyever else you need it later on:

CHARACTURE A: Is that a candlestick?

CHARACTER B: unfortunately

CHARACTURE A: Is that really the best you can do?

CHARACTER B: Well, we are in an abandoned house, with no electricity, no access to torches, and no time, I wasn’t exactly going to spend half an hour hunting for something that might not even be here!

CHARACTURE A: But what if the curtains catch fire?!

CHARACTER B: I think we might have some bigger problems; don’t cha think?!

It’s not flawless but it does work, and your audience should then remember the object in question. Additionally, if you want to throw your audience off your tail just a little bit, you can add a couple other weird objects into the scene, that are discarded quickly or are thought to have use but actually don’t.

Option 2 is the disbelieving monologue where a character focuses on how silly or strange something is as a form of distracting themselves from or emphasizing a situation and is usually done when there is only one character, this working similarly to that of option 1, for example:

CHARACTER A: I can’t believe it, all I found was a shovel and now I’m going to enter the creepy very possibly haunted house with nothing but a, a – (sigh) when I see them again, I going to shovel them right into their gave!

Once again it will be obvious, but it does flow more smoothly than simply stating “I am holding a shovel”.

These are not all the ways you can introduce objects into a scene just some of my favourite, and hopefully, some will help with your audio project! Happy audio creation!

By Ashley Thompson

My Favorite Books!

2021 Reading Review

As the year draws to a close I would like to review my favourite reads of 2021! *Please note these books may not have come out this year, they may have simply been my favourites that I have read within this year.* We will be sticking mostly to fantasy as that is the main genera I read, but who knows, maybe there’ll be a few surprise genres!

Photo by Emily on Pexels.com

‘The Starless Sea’ by Erin Morgenstern

The Starless Sea is a book that seeks to understand narrative, while also revelling in the power, beauty, and humanness of story. The main protagonist Zachary Ezra Rawlins is enraptured in a hunt for explanations after finding a startling and horrifying account in a book in his university library, of himself. From there the book whirlwinds out to an adventure one filled with books, and meaning, and love, and hope, and story, and pirates, and a library that all lovers of books would want to visit. Reading this book feels like flying in an aeroplane over a city at night and seeing all the golds and silvers of the lamp-lit streets, a feeling of coming home and awe that warms hearts and slowly (normally after the aeroplane has landed) teases the tensions out of muscles for just a moment. This book is utterly gorgeous, its’ enchanting and poetic style adding to the experience and capturing the attention of the reader. Zachary Ezra Rawlins is human and fallible and unbelievably curious, making for a wonderful main protagonist, and the love interest Dorian is interesting, capable, and sweet.

While reading this book I became lost to its depths while remembering exactly what fantasy can be capable of. It is now one of my favourite books and a go-to recommendation, its narrative form may be frustrating to some readers, but it is well worth sticking with, and just might be your favourite read of 2022.

I give this book 3 swords, bees, keys out of three!

‘The Girl in Red’ by Christina Henery

The Girl in Red is a chase in darkened woods. It is Little Red Riding Hood mashed together with zombies and the very real problem of racism in our world today and what that might look like in an apocalyptic situation. We run with Red, as she faces not only the predators residing in the wood but also the worst of man and nature, whilst attempting to get to her safe haven, her grandmothers’ house. It is horrifying and hopeful and while we see the worst of humanity we also see the best. It is also strange to read this book after having experienced the pandemic and seeing some people initial thoughts and reactions reflected back in a work of horror fiction.

While this book is not for the faint of heart it is absolutely a book I would recommend. It has the right vibes for reading under a quilt with a flashlight and jumping at all the noises of the outside and the crash of a shattered plate. I was addicted from this first sentence, and who knows, you just might be too!

I give this book 7 scary rustling noises out of 7!

‘The House in the Cerulean Sea’ by TJ Klune

The House in the Cerulean Sea is a treasure (for the friends we made along the way, of course!). This book explores family while also analysing the bias and privilege within overarching systems, namely ones designed to support children. It is a book about challenging your world views, observing the places you work for, and who you support critically. Linas Baker is a caseworker for the department of magical youth who gets sent to assess the state of the most dangerous of orphanages … at least according to the paperwork and the heads of DICOMY. It’s a hilarious tale that challenges Linaus to accept concepts such as, just because one is the son of Satan does not mean one will burn the world to the ground … or murder Linus. The reader is asked to consider concepts of nature vs nurture and peoples abilities to change (and I’m not talking about the children). It explores the idea that we are not who we work for and that past success or failures do not determine if the future will have the same outcome. It is moving and funny and everything you want when you curl up to read in a hot bubble-filled bath on a rainy night.

I loved this book, and it is my go-to book for comfort after a sad day or simply a relaxing tale when I don’t want to think too much and sometimes for when I do want to have a good think. I couldn’t recommend this book more.

I give this book 9 world-ending events out of 9! A truly fantastic read!

‘The Affair of the Mysterious Letter’ by Alexis Hall

The Affair of the Mysterious Letter is a book for all those who like bazaar world lore full of Doctor Who aesthetic when combined with witchcraft and the 1800s. It is incredibly rapturous and dry-witted, filled with chaos and all the best parts of a Sherlock Holmes novel, which is good because it is. It follows the adventures of John Wyndham a reserved fellow who once served in the elemental war that happened on a different plane of existence, and his roommate Shaharazad Haas a sorceress who sometimes when she wants to, solves crimes. This book travels from tight and curling cities to the ocean floor, woods, and into strange shows and gothic mansions. It has everything you could imagine and then some!

Reading this book reminds me of those scenes in movies where everything is wavey swirling colours and blinking lights. It is stunning and enjoyable and the perfect companion for recliners and thoughtful expressions!

I give this book 5 impossibly dangerous spells that should not be attempted, out of 5!

‘A Monster Calls’ by Patrick Ness

A Monster Calls is a haunting and tragic exploration of grief from the perspective of a child, whilst also being the best parts of bedtime stories from when I was a child. A Monster Calls explores grief and family and fear. It is a book that will pull tears from the depths of your soul. This is the story of Conor who through the help of the monster outside his window learns to cope with the idea and reality of death as he is forced to understand his mother in the context of someone who is dying with cancer. It is melancholically beautiful while also being fantasy and a story of hope. Reading this book feels like walking down a laneway in autumn after reading sad poetry while staring at the colour changing leaves. It is an experience in humanity.

I loved reading this book even when I cried, and as with all the other books on this list, I couldn’t recommend it more.

I give this book 1 giant tree monster out of 1!

Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed this list and maybe found something useful tucked away in all the words! These books were a pleasure to read and each one of them gave me something special and I can only hope they do the same for you. I wish you happy reading for 2022 and all the best!

WRITTEN BY ASHLEY THOMPSON

Poetry for Poets

Inspiration to Try Something New!

Chances are if you’re reading this you fall into one of four categorise. 1) Your a poet! Keep going! You’re doing a fantastic job! And I hope this blog post inspires you to try some new forms of poetry! 2) You’re thinking about trying poetry! Congratulations! I’ve found poetry to be a rewarding pastime that allows me to reflect on my life, how I’m feeling, and what’s important to me, as well as being a lot of fun! 3) You follow my blog and this just happened to appear, in which case I hope you find this as interesting as I did while researching it, and maybe it might inspire you to get your writing hat on! And finally, 4) you don’t know why you’re here, but you are. I hope you keep reading and maybe even give writing poetry a shot!

This blog post aims to explore three uncommon types of poems, why you should consider writing them, and how to write them! When we find our poetry style, at least in my case, we tend to stick to it, continuing to rewrite the same form every time, and while there’s nothing wrong with this, sometimes it can be nice to try something new, to get our brains thinking, and inspire us in ways we don’t expect! So without further ado, let us begin!

Ekphratic Poetry

Ekphrastic poetry, pronounced ek-FRA-stick (https://forvo.com/word/ekphrastic/), is poetry that describes a piece of art (such as visual art like a painting, or it could pertain to another form of art such as prose), it can be a way of showing appreciation, or critique of the other artwork, of finding hidden meaning, or exploring a work of art further. While it has no set rules, it can be fun to look at the work of someone else and examine what it means to you or relate that artwork to overarching ideas about humanity, death, or other such themes (https://www.tckpublishing.com/types-of-poems/; https://www.thoughtco.com/ekphrastic-poetry-definition-examples-4174699). For example, if you absolutely love ‘Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland’ by Lewis Carrol you, might write something simple like this:

‘Alice fell into a world of wonder,

of caucus` races,

of adventure,

of lost heads and stolen hearts,

and as I tuned the final page I found my heart too was stolen,

left trapped in the book,

but not by a queen of hearts,

but by the magic of fiction and a place I will never see.’

~Down the Rabbit hole

This poem is both a reflection on ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ and my own response to reading the novel when I was younger. Or you can write a more complex poem such as:

‘The silly girl in a dress so blue, thought I,

I sat upon the branch,

Or not,

Or not,

My head swivelling on my absence of neck,

My great yellow eyes watched,

A silly girl indeed,

Don’t you know you shouldn’t talk to strangers?

Such strange strangers such as I?

For directions no less,

“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.” says I,

Such a silly girl.’

~Cheshire Cat

This poem is a reflection of both the moment in ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ where Alice meets the Cheshire Cat but also a reflection on the innate trust of youth and the dangers of such trust, from the perspective of one who sees the folly in Alice’s behaviour that she herself may not see (https://www.alice-in-wonderland.net/resources/analysis/themes-and-motifs/). I deeply enjoy this kind of poem as it asks me to consider another’s work and what I take from it.

Epigram Poetry

Epigram poetry are short poems that feel reminiscent of the comedic talking parrots in comedies with pirates, and that important moment in speeches where the presenter makes a grand bold statement that just so happens to rhyme. This poetry challenges the poet to use minimal words to communicate serious, satirical, or even another message, as you only get 2 – 4 lines following an A, A, B, B, rhyming style, (the last word of the first line rhymes with the last word of the second line, the last word of the third line rhymes with the last word of the fourth.) (https://www.tckpublishing.com/types-of-poems/; https://poets.org/glossary/epigram)

For example:

‘Once I saw my cat fall flat,

Laughing, I did not think myself a brat,

But then one autumn night last June,

I fell, and so I changed my tune.’

~Lessons in Courtesy

In this poem, I reflect on both myself and societies tendency to watch funny videos of cats falling off of tables and slipping on polished floors, all while laughing, and then the irony of falling over in front of my own cat and seeing the amusement in her eyes (whether its imaged amusement or not). I found this to be an entertaining subject, while also reflecting on empathy and connection. All in all, it’s a fun poem to write, it’s quick and easy, and it’s a brilliant way to get ideas stuck both in your head and others’ heads!

Nonsense Poetry

Nonsense poetry is one of my favorite forms of poetry, as it embraces the absurd and often makes no or little sense. It’s the art of playing with words to make them sound good without necessarily being constrained by meaning and invites an exploration into vocabulary that otherwise can be difficult to find cause to engage in. One of my favorite nonsense poems, (falling into that category of a Ballard of impossibility, as the words individually make sense but not the poem as a whole (http://folklore.bc.ca/one-fine-day-in-the-middle-of-the-night/)) has no agreed-upon title but is sometimes known as ‘Two dead boys’ or ‘One Fine Day (in the Middle of the Night) (https://itseemsamyis.wordpress.com/tag/ballad-of-impossibilities/). It is a poem of contradictions that stumbles the brain and intrigues the reader. This type of poetry has no set structure but often rhymes with the express purpose of making no or little sense. It can be a fun activity to get your mind working (https://thanetwriters.com/essay/style/how-to-write-a-nonsense-poem/; https://www.britannica.com/art/nonsense-verse).

For example:

‘We sat and talked of hours,

The silence of ours was flowers,

Our garden gorgeous,

For the lack of thesaurus,

As we finished that walk of ours.’

~The Impossible Garden

But your nonsense poem doesn’t have to be a ballad of impossibility, it can simply make no sense. Your poem can be nonsensical by having contradictions, and things that don’t exist, even in folklore and myth, or you can write such poems by making up new words that have no meaning but feel as if they have meaning. A good example of this is Lewis Carrol’s famous poem, ‘Beware the Jabberwocky’. Below I have written two more nonsense poems with varying degrees of nonsense:

‘There was an old cat called Crumbs,

who often forgot he had thumbs,

He grabbed the milk,

It suddenly spilt,

So he sighed, and cried, and moaned out why,

for that night he had to do sums!’

~Cat Called Crumbs


‘It was a snarqutic night,

The air was fill with smite,

It zagred and jakbird and ciumbered, and clotherd,

Though nary a person was unduly bothered,

It still didn’t feel like a show.

He didn’t hear it,

And neither did she,

A song and a lorning, something of a warning,

So the silly man lost his head.

Though in the morning,

The moon bright and calling,

He still breathed,

His mustache unseized.

and thus he went to bed.’

~It was a Snarqutic Night

I find the creation of these poems to be fun and a way to make my brain think outside the box, which I find can then help with my other projects, but sometimes I write them as they can be just a lot of fun!

Conclusion

This post covered three uncommon types of poetry to hopefully inspire long-time poets to try some new forms of poetry and inspire new poets to write poetry in the first place! I hope you found either something interesting, to challenge your brain, and/or something fun to do to pass time. I wish you all the best with your creation!

WRITTEN BY ASHLEY THOMPSON

(The following poems were also written by Ashley Thompson: Down the Rabbit hole, The Cheshire Cat, The Impossible Garden, a Cat Called Crumbs, and It was a Snarqutic Night)

The Age of Stories

A commentary on connection

These days our world is drenched in storytelling and storytellers, and quite often we latch onto the differences in what we consume. Conversations lost to arguing between the benefits of audiobooks compared to podcasts, and whether film is superior to the written word. It’s not to say these conversations aren’t valuable but perhaps it is also valuable to remember the similarities and find the common ground in what we love, to potentially better other mediums through outside-of-the-box thinking, and to find compassion on the battlefield of ‘better than’. This article will highlight the Three key similarities found in most stories from the plot critiques to our favourite characters and finally the less thought about analysis of theme, and maybe even give you some ideas for your next conversation or even essay.

Plot

As defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary, plot is ‘the plan or main story’  (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/plot). However, unfortunately, it seems plot is most commonly used to find a ‘better than’. For example, ‘the comics are better than the movies as they actually cover Capitan X’s backstory’, ‘this book is better than that book because my plot is more interesting’, ‘I like this podcast series as the plot twist was less obvious unlike your movie’, and the list goes on. This is most noticeable in adapted works such as Eragon by Christopher Paolini, as when a comparison is drawn between the book and movie it is usually negative. A blog post by ‘Here, There be a Writer’ (http://missdragonlady.blogspot.com/2013/02/eragon-book-versus-movie.html) highlights this fact as they go through the movie and find all the differences between the adaptation and the original as to critique the movie, and while this is not a bad approach it also fails to consider what the movie did well when it preserved the plot.

For example, ‘Eragon’ as a book contains 500 pages full of intricate plot, multiple unique places, several ongoing storylines, especially if you take into account needing to prepare for representing the second book in movie form as was originally the intention (https://screenrant.com/eragon-movie-behind-scenes-details-making-trivia/). If you were a director and you knew you couldn’t include everything what would you choose to keep? What would the most important and memorable plot points be for old fans and people who had never even heard of the book?

While I tend to agree that the movie was a mess, it is impressive that the director managed what he did especially as it was his first time directing. For a comparison, ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ by J.K Rowling had 223 pages and was adapted into a 2 hour and 30-minute film, whereas ‘Eragon’ only ran for an hour and 40 minutes while needing to fit 500 pages into that time frame. I’m not saying it was the best movie ever but maybe some recognition about what it did well wouldn’t hurt.

Next time ‘Eragon’s’ movie adaptation is brought up in distaste, it might be your opportunity to shine by marveling at what the director did manage to keep and bring a positive spin to a conversation that is usually full of lamenting disappointment.

Characters

Maybe your best mate loves superheroes whereas you’re more interested in horror, or maybe you love fantasy but your partner is more of a sci-fi kind of person. In these times it can be hard talking about plot as a ‘will they, won’t they’ love story may be a hard sell for someone exclusively into high fantasy quests. Not to fear, sometimes it can be fun to disengage from the general plot and take a closer look at favorite characters and why we like them.

Generally speaking, there are many ways to talk about and compare characters you love and express why you love them however we will only be focusing on the basic technical examination. For a technical approach you can examine how well your character does their job within the story, not in the sense of if they’re a barkeep their bar keeping abilities, but rather in the sense of, as a character are they good? As such it is helpful to know a little bit of character theory, which in and of itself could spark interesting conversation.

From a technical standpoint, characters are either a protagonist (the main character, not necessarily morally good, who the story follows), an antagonist (the person who is in direct opposition with the main protagonist, wants the opposite outcome of what the protagonist wants), a deuteragonist (not the main protagonist but almost a character with emphasis, more focus than a supporting member but less than the main protagonist), tertiary characters (those who come in and out of the story and support the story), romantic interest (while not necessarily in all stories when present is the person who the main protagonist wants to be with), confident (the person who the main protagonist confides in), foil (the character who acts in a manner which is opposite to the main protagonist in order to place focus on the main protagonists’ qualities) (https://www.skillshare.com/blog/your-essential-guide-to-characters-in-literature-and-more/).

For example, Aza, the main protagonist in John Greens ‘Turtles all the Way Down’ and Juno Steel from ‘The Penumbra Podcast’ are fantastic as main protagonists, even though their two stories, world, and even themselves as people, are vastly different, by comparing how they fit the role so effectively we can also begin to see the similarities, as there is such thing as poor performing main protagonist.

It can be an interesting experience to compare how well different characters play their technical roles and common ground can be found here even in exceedingly different genres with exceedinly different plots.

Theme

While not all stories share the same themes, when talking about stories with wildly varying plots or even character performances, it can be useful to take a look at theme, as even horror and comedy can sometimes overlap in the theme of their work.

Theme, as defined by dictonary.com, is ‘a unifying or dominant idea, motif, etc., as in a work of art.’ (https://www.dictionary.com/browse/theme). This idea means that two very innately oppositional genres could be compared and found similar when examining what they wish to express and can lead to potentially interesting conversations about how they achieved that goal.

To elaborate the science fiction novels ‘The Maze Runner series’ by James Dashner has strong themes regarding climate crisis as can be seen in the dystopian landscape, explanations of why the ‘gladers’ are in the situation they are, and even in the politics occurring within the books (https://storiesbywilliams.com/2016/02/17/guest-post-by-maria-ramos-how-cli-fi-comments-on-energy-crisis-climate-change-and-overpopulation/). Similarly, the family-friendly movie ‘Ice Age 2: The Meltdown’ also tackles these challanges in its own but equally impactful way, and while initially, you may see no comparison between ‘The Maze Runner Series’ and ‘Ice Age 2’ if we look closer they highlight their themes in incredibly similar ways (http://phoenixcinema.co.uk/PhoenixCinema/files/PDFs/ICE-AGE-THE-MELTDOWN-teacher-notes-Alice.pdf). For example, both movies focus on the concept of escaping harsh environments, a desert wasteland for ‘Maze runner’ and an overwhelming flood for ‘Ice Age 2’, and the consequences of failing to do so which in both cases is extinction.

While not all media will have overlapping themes, sometime even vastly different genres can and it can be a fantastic way to draw similarities between the media you love and the media your loved ones love

Summery

While today’s culture tends to focus on what divides different forms of media and story it can be helpful, interesting, and insightful to look at the similarities between what we love to inspire interesting conversation and essays. Additionally, by finding similarities with plot, characters, and theme, we can connect to our loved ones by finding commonality in what we love, even if it is exceedingly different. Furthermore, by finding those similarities we can learn from vastly different works and apply that knowledge to new creative endeavors or look at old endeavors with new eyes.

I hope this has inspired you to find the commonality in story and enabled you to engage in conversation from a different point of view.

Written by Ashley Thompson