Writing Lessons from Stranger Things

When Stranger Things started garnering hype on the internet in 2016, I sent a text to my mom telling her she should watch it. She enjoyed shows with vague paranormal/alternate universe stuff like Fringe, and from what I could tell, Stranger Things was right up her alley. I wasn’t all that interested. I was midway through the first semester of my first year of college, and I preferred to spend my limited free time writing or gaming.

And then within a week of me telling my mom to watch Stranger Things, she messaged me and insisted that I give the show a try. And because I’m a good child (most days, at least), I listened to my mother.

Whatever I thought Stranger Things was going to be, it was so much better.

The Netflix Original series, created by brothers Matt and Ross Duffer, takes place in 1983 in the small, midwestern town of Hawkins, Indiana. The premise is simple enough: a young boy vanishes without a trace, and mysterious events begin taking place around the town. Combining an engaging sci-fi world with 1980s nostalgia set Stranger Things apart, but beyond that, the show features strong writing, dynamic characters, and a fascinating story.

With Season 3 of Stranger Things being recently released, I thought it would be a good time to revisit the show’s first season and analyze what we can learn from it.

Beware – Spoilers for Season 1 of Stranger Things below!

Read More »

May & June 2019 Month in Review

May & June 2019 Month In Review

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Between two different trips, finishing the academic year, and beginning my summer job, I’ve missed not one, but TWO Month in Review posts! I know, I know, I’m the worst. It’s okay, you can say it.

But as atonement for my wrongs, today I bring you a MIR double-header, covering May and June of 2019. That’s twice the stuff to go through, so I’ll do my best just to hit the highlights and keep it brief. But if you missed any of my other blog posts from the past two months, check those out first:

And you can check out my 1 Second Everyday videos from May:

And June!

Without further ado, here’s what I’ve been up to the past two months.

Read More »

Author interview with Sarah Henry: intricacies are just cracks in the wall

Author Interview with Sarah Henry: “intricacies are just cracks in the wall”

black and white photograph of a young woman with short hair and a feather pen tattoo on her collarbone. Sarah Henry.
Sarah Henry, author of intricacies are just cracks in the wall. She is also a photographer and videographer.

I am very excited to be sharing a project that is very close to my heart with you today. Sarah Henry, my friend and fellow English major (and now graduate), is publishing her first book, intricacies are just cracks in the wall through an IndieGoGo campaign. The novel tells the story of a young woman and her recovery from an abusive relationship through poetry. It explores experiences of mental health disorders, relational abuse, and the pains of self discovery.

I had the privilege of being a part of this project near the beginning as a member of Sarah’s writing workshop. It’s great to see all of her hard work finally coming to fruition through the published novel and the short film she created based on it!

As part of the launch of intricacies, I interviewed Sarah to talk to her a little bit about her writing process and the creation of both the book and the film. So what are you waiting for? Read on to hear more about intricacies are just cracks in the wall!

Read More »

Why Group Projects (Usually) Don’t Work

I enjoy an academic challenge. If I hate an assignment, it’s usually not because it’s too hard, but because it’s boring or feels meaningless.

The one type of assignment I just can’t bring myself to like, however, are group projects.

If you’ve never had to survive a group project, I envy you. The name is pretty self-explanatory: it’s an assignment that involves collaborating with other students in order to achieve a (usually shared) grade.

On paper, it’s a great idea. After all, knowing how to collaborate with others is a good skill to have – whether or not it’s as important as people say is something I still debate, but that’s besides the point. Knowing how to work with others and bring people with different skill sets together can allow for more productivity in a project. At least, that’s how it should be.

The problem that I’ve encountered is that in my experience, group projects have been more frustrating than educational. I always come away from a group assignment feeling like the final result would have been better if I had done it myself. Part of this is certainly a character flaw of mine, but I think it goes beyond that.

On the other hand, I’ve had many experiences with collaborative projects that have gone very well. I can think back to some group assignments in college that I enjoyed and learned from, as well as from activities outside of an academic setting, like video games and writing. Based on that, I don’t think the problem is so much with group assignments themselves – as I said, they do have their benefits – but rather with how they’re presented.

So, what makes a group project enjoyable and beneficial? (Or, if not enjoyable, at least not terribly frustrating.)

Read More »

Un Bon Voyage: France Recap

Un Bon Voyage: France Recap

And we’re back! Thanks for sticking with me the last few weeks everyone – I promise this will be worth the wait!

In case you missed it, I spent the last three weeks on a “cross-cultural” trip with my school – basically, a three-week term in another country with the goal of providing a more hands-on learning experience. Our trip took us to Strasbourg, France, located in the eastern region of Alsace (practically sitting on the German border). Most of our trip was spent in Strasbourg and the surrounding area, with a final three days in Paris.

Right before we left, I wrote a blog post about the things that scared me and excited me about going on the trip. I’m pleased to say it was just as exciting as I hoped, and nothing was nearly as terrifying as I feared! But I’ll save the details for later – I promised a recap of the trip, and a recap you shall have.

But hey, if you’re pressed for time, I understand – you can watch the special edition of my 1 Second Everyday project for the three weeks I was gone!

 

Read More »

Going on a Scary/Exciting Adventure

Going on a Scary/Exciting Adventure

When I was a kid, I was terrified of flying in airplanes. Not because I didn’t like heights, or because I thought we would all crash and die or anything. I knew that was highly unlikely – my dad used to explain to me how planes had a gazillion safety features, and how they could land anywhere, even in the water, if they needed too. So, in the event of a bizarre aircraft malfunction, I knew that I would probably be fine.

No, what I was terrified of more than anything was losing my favorite stuffed animal in the event that our hypothetical flight had to make an emergency water landing. I was incredibly distraught when I learned that luggage usually did not make it out of situations like that. So I, at whatever young age I was, resolved to never, ever fly in an airplane, especially over water.

I am pleased to report that I did eventually overcome this (perhaps irrational) fear. I actually took my first flight when I was in middle school for a class-related trip, and it was without my parents if you can even believe it. I survived. And I’ve taken plenty of flights since then, the Florida, California, Arizona, and Montana. Now, I’ve learned that of all the things to complain about on a flight, safety is usually not one of them. You can complain about the cramped seats and you can complain about the food, but ultimately, safety is not usually one of the main concerns. And I’m glad about that, because of all the things that I have to be terrified about for this upcoming trip, I’m glad that flying is not one of them.

Read More »

Lessons Learned from Role-Play Writing Club

Lessons Learned from Role-Play Writing Club

Let me tell you a story. When I was in high school, I had this idea to start a creative writing group. I’d been a part of one in middle school, but sadly, my high school was lacking in that area. I had spoken to other students to get their feedback, and then my English teacher gave me the go-ahead.

She also mentioned that my “Writer’s Nook” would be teaming up with another group. Each group would be led by different people and have different goals, but since we would attract a similar group of people, it made sense for us to share a digital space.

This other club called themselves the “Role-Play Writing” group (RPW), and I didn’t know much about them. They struck me as a rather… eclectic collection of students (not that I’m one to talk, but I digress). I wasn’t really sure what to make of them at first.

As it turns out, what they did wasn’t really “roleplaying” in the sense I was used to, but more of a collaborative writing project. Each writer had one or two characters (some had many, many more, but perhaps we’ll save that for another day), and using those characters, they would build a story. Once that was explained to me, I was interested. I decided to join the group, but I warned them I wasn’t sure how active I would be, since I had my own leadership responsibilities.

My warning was ultimately meaningless, because it didn’t take long for me get into RPW (some might say in too deep, but that’s a bit harsh I think). I fell in love with the challenge of writing a complete story together, especially on a time limit – the length of the school year. The people I was working with were funny, interesting, and all brought something unique to the table. We became more than just writing partners; we became friends. Even now, three or four years after we all graduated, I still keep in touch with a few of them.

All of this to say, RPW was a unique writing experience for me that I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to replicate. I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, so today, I invite you to do on a little nostalgia trip with me as I share a few of the things that RPW taught me about writing.

Read More »

21 songs for 21 years

21 Songs for 21 Years

I had another birthday yesterday (May 5), right on schedule. I spent most of the day writing papers and working on projects for school, but I got to do it while eating cake, so it was still an improved experience!

Anyways, for my past birthdays I’ve done posts with fun facts about myself, the things I want to do as I grow older, and the lessons I’ve learned throughout my life. They all sound very profound (though some are actually rather silly), so I wanted to shake it up a bit and do something that’s a little less words-focused. This is mostly because I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about how information and stories can be conveyed through other media like images and audio, but also because I have two days before exams begin and there is so much to be done.

So this year, as I turn 21 and become an actual adult (so I’m told), I’m sharing 21 songs that have been important to me over the years. I might write a sentence or two for each one, but for the most part, I hope they’ll speak for themselves.

Read More »

April 2019: Month In Review

April 2019 Month In Review

Happy May! This is arguably the best month of the year (not that I’m biased or anything… it is my birthday month after all), but April was also a great month! I’m excited to share just a little bit about what I did this month, but first, in case you missed anything I wrote about…

You can also check out my 1 Second Every Day compilation for April!

Read More »

Favorite Lines from Camp NaNoWriMo April 2019

Favorite Lines from Camp NaNoWriMo April 2019

It’s every college student’s favorite time of the semester, and by favorite I mean that we have a week and a half of classes left before exams and it seems like everything is due all at once.

Anyway, in between working on research papers and rewriting the end of Jane Eyre, I’ve spent the past month starting the rewrite of my fantasy project. The working title for this project is Quest, though I have been playing with some more official ones… but I’ll save them for another day.

animated image of teenager aggressively writing in a notebook
Some days the writing feels like this…

I set my goal to write 25,000 words by the end of April, or about 850 words a day, give or take. I knew that wouldn’t complete my story by any stretch, but I wanted to hit the ground running and get off to a good start before life got too busy. Fortunately, I did reach my goal on April 26, which has given me some breathing room to complete my other responsibilities.

animated image of octopus in an office chair slapping a keyboard with a tentacle
…and other days it feels like this.

Anyway, as part of my big writing push this month, I’ve been sharing my favorite lines on Twitter every day. I did it as a way of motivating me, because sometimes when you write a lot in a short period of time, you get frustrated with the quality of your work. And yes, I know that a lot of what I write will be cut and revised and altered in the future, but I wanted to appreciate the parts that I do like, as a reminder that there is still some good that comes out of this first draft (other than it being written, of course).

So as April is coming to a close, I thought I’d celebrate what I accomplished this month and share a few of those favorite lines here. Most of them don’t have context, but hey, that’s part of the fun!

Read More »