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Picturing a World

Mapping the story

Kathleen Jennings' recent post on Mapping movements in stories sent me surfing the 'net. Eventually, I landed on Misty Beee's map, winner of a 2021 Atlas Award at the Cartographer's Guild. Oh, to be able to create something like it or like Jennings' whimsical communicative sketches! Actually, I do sometimes make rough maps and house plans to help me with my stories, and I highly recommend non-verbal exercises as a way to broaden a writer's experience of her worlds. Here's one adaped from Jennings' post:

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Tanaudel’s TV sketching

Blog post alert: Something I would never have thought of: jotting down quick sketches—graphic or verbal—of what you see in the background while watching television series. Kathleen Jennings did. Read her post on TV Sketching—Backgrounds. Then try it!

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Small miracles

Ericka V, Augsburg Book of Signs (2021)

My day got off to a good start with progress on my current short story. Afterward, I read Kathleen Jennings' post, Observation Journal—Little Groves on what she likes "about "'little woods and wildernesses' in art and stories and life, and as art and stories." So much to think about, agree with, and send me out looking with new eyes. And then, THEN, I went to the post office. Waiting for me was Ericka V's exquisite miniature version—you can really turn the pages—of the Augsburg Book of Miracles. Perfection.

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Socar Myles

Blog post alert: For an insider's look at commercial art, ghostwriting, and publishers, the always interesting Kathleen Jennings has a long interview—"Ghoulish but sentimental"—with fellow artist and writer, Socar Myles. Myles's startling artwork is gorgeous. I've never read any of her fiction, whether ghostwritten or published in her own name; but I was fascinated by everything she had to say.

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Ten Terrible Ideas

Blog post alert: In Observation Journal: Ten Terrible Things, writer-illustrator Kathleen Jennings illustrates and explores an exercise she picked up from Helen Marshall: As quick as you can, jot down ten terrible ideas for a novel based on the X-meets-Y model. Examples: The Elements of Style as a musical, Where the Wild Things Are if it were a cooking show. Writers can use it to loosen up. Readers can turn it into a parlor game—or in these days when we should not be gathering for parties, one of you can plot a story about a group who did. My quick variation: Ten Terrible Romances, e.g., Heathcliff meets Bridget Jones, Elizabeth Bennett meets Superman. What's yours? (Warning: As Jennings observes, you may find yourself trying to develop one of your wacky ideas. Well, why not?)

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Sketches for Flyaway

Kathleen Jennings, early story sketches for Flyaway

Blog post alert: Readers of this blog know how much I admire Kathleen Jennings' illustrations, writing, and Taunadel blog. Reading an essay at Tor.com, Illustrating Flyaway: Kathleen Jennings on Creating Art and Prose Together, has me wondering whether those of us with no art training could nevertheless doodle our way to visualizations that move our fiction. Worth a try! And do read Illustrating Flyaway: it has great pictures of finished work and silhouettes as well as sketches, adn you can get a high-rez version of this early-sketch page.

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Kathleen Jennings is the first to say that her new short novel, Flyaway, is not for everyone. But if you are a fantasy-fiction aficionado, yes. If you keep an eye on the arts Down Under, yes. If you are a fan of illustrated books and especially Jennings' own silhouettes, yes. If you are interested in how to adapt traditional European folklore to modern settings in the rest of the world, yes. And if you want to observe a skillful unfolding of one plot (the gothic story) that at the same time explores a quite different center of emotion (a damaged yet potent friendship), yes.


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Jennings’ Undine Love

Kathleen Jennings, 2020 illus. for "Undine Love"

A post, Undine Love: Reprint, new art, at Kathleen Jennings' blog took me to the reprint of her story, "Undine Love," in full at Tor. What a treat—both the story and the silhouettes! They are a reminder that updating a fairy tale or folkloric motif can be a great way to begin a story of your own. The backbone of plot comes essentially ready-made, leaving you free to work on other aspects of composition—setting, character, dialogue, incidents (as opposed to the underlying structure). The talent to illustrate would be a big bonus—and might just affect the tone and finished piece. Wish I had the talent and the training!

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Kathleen Jennings’ ink blots

Another Jennings blog alert: What did I tell you? Kathleen Jennings' Tanaudel blog is always worth looking at. I love her post this week on Inkblots as creative stimuli. You wouldn't even have to be as good an artist as she is to make blots, doodle pictures, and then string a few together to make a story—at least as an exercise. (Though, let's be honest, some of us might want to keep the results private instead of giving them to the world!)

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Kathleen Jennings face masks

Blog alert: In catching up on artist Kathleen Jennings wonderful blog, Tanaudel, I found her post on PPE face masks made in fabrics from her designs and available at Redbubble. I've ordered some. I hope you are finding masks that lift your spirits, too. And do scroll through her blog: it is full of delightful art and great suggestions for creative people.

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