Friday, July 31, 2015

The unlearning part of the learning process

Each time I learn something, I am intrigued by the unlearning part of the learning process. And I seem to enjoy that process.

This is the part where, as you learn, you need to be fully in the moment. For example, as the coach (and the coach may be someone half your age) says, don't use your wrist use your forearms. It takes conscious effort of everything in the mind to tell the wrist to stay still and put the forearms to work. It take conscious effort to keep the racket at the right position.

And you have to do it every single time. And just when you think you have got it, the mind slips into bad habits. The wrist suddenly takes over and you feel a stinging pain. Or the knee doesn't bend and the upper body does and you receive a message that, you got it wrong. And there are these delicious moments when you know you got it wrong and you know it just that at point when you got it wrong and then you get into position again and, well, try it again.

As you might have guessed - these are from my own lessons for the two tennis classes I took. Since I have always played badminton, tennis and a bit of cricket - the wrists are always in play. Not so in tennis - so it is an amazing unlearning process.

Previous posts on unlearning, here and here.


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

On Story Telling

Twitter is cool - perhaps the entire internet is. I found this piece on Neelesh Mishra (well, I heard this name for the first time - more on this phenomenon later).

And found his stories on youtube.

Wow...this is great. And he is quite a story teller. Never heard a story on radio, I must admit...and this is a first for me...

Am not an audio learner, but this one was surely interesting...I wish we had story tellers in other languages as well on the internet. And may there are...Maybe there are podcasts and radio stations relaying forgotten stories.

Now thinking what can be done with this...

Big Hero 6

That Pixar principles of story telling post was not a coincidence.

The kids wanted to see a movie and as we searched through Chromecast, we saw a movie called Big Hero 6. I had heard from a friend that the kids enjoyed it so I thought, well, why not.

I however, was sceptical. Yet another childrens movie - how different can it be.

But it was and the children were rolling in laughter, gaping in amazement, debating forcefully, hanging onto the edge of their seats and as the movie came to an end, their eyes moistened.

And then the inevitable, post movie discussion - why did this happen? Why did he do like that? How did that happen? Why could it not happen that way? Why did not bring him back?

And so on and so forth...

A great story makes you do all that. Stay with it for as long as it continues and then it stays with you for a long time...And Big Hero 6 does that...

The Pixar principles of storytelling

I had come across the Pixar principles of story-telling some time ago.

And while there is some fabulous advice there, often many movies, stories, just do not live up to the expectations of the audience.

But when they do, the effect is magic! Here are the rules reproduced from the Pixar Touch blog.
[Pixar Touch Blog]
#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 v. 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.
My personal favorites are 4,12, 14, 22, but well, you do need all of them!