Tag Archives: theme

In Case You Were Wondering…

You may have noticed that there is no longer a tree-and-starry-skies motif going on around here.  Instead, there is a brightly colored amalgamation of Precocious characters, ponies, puppies, and my friend Bryce’s face.  Allow me to explain via screenshot:

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You Deserve

Every year at Lake Ann, there seems to be one worship song that becomes our theme, a song that encapsulates all that God is doing in and through our ministry, and this year, that song is “You Deserve” by Hillsong.  Every Friday night, after chapel is over and before Glory Bowl begins, we sing this song together as a celebration of our amazing God and the work that He’s done in the lives of the campers and staff, and the effect could not be more electrifying or uplifting.  Listen to the song, read the lyrics, and let its truth encourage you.  It really is all about God, and He does indeed deserve our praises and, more importantly, our lives.

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What’s Not To Like?

We’ve all been there before.  You’ve just finished watching a movie or reading a book and there was just something about it that left a bad taste in your mouth.  You can’t quite put your finger on it, you just didn’t enjoy it.  Unfortunately, in most cases we don’t give it any further thought.  Our only concern in entertainment is whether or not it successfully entertains us, so the reasons behind our reactions are often left unconsidered in favor of simple like-or-dislike assessments.  That’s a shame, because we could glean dozens of lessons by stopping for a moment to question why the things that please us please us and why other things don’t.  Which parts of the story failed to hold your attention?  What lines made you cringe?  Which characters annoyed you and which did you wish had gotten more attention?  What is it about those things that you find boring, unnerving, obnoxious, or appealing?  For a story-lover like myself, these questions perform a double purpose.  Not only can they offer boundless insights into what makes me who I am, sometimes even convicting me of things that I need to change, but they also unlock a wealth of truths about what separates the great stories from the weak.

One example is yesterday’s new episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, “The Show Stoppers”.  A lot of fans didn’t like it, but they were awfully vague as to why.  Most of them gave one or two reasons at best, and many of those were superficial, but I have to admit that I agree with the general consensus.  There was something about the episode that didn’t work well, and my writer’s mind had to know what it was.  I spent a little time thinking through those critical questions, and pretty soon I had an idea of what was off about the episode: there was no focus.  One of the things that I loved about many of the previous episodes was their clarity and focus.  Each episode was moving toward a goal, a moment of character development, and each scene served to build up to that moment, developing a theme and moving the story toward a satisfying conclusion.  In “The Show Stoppers”, though, a lot of scenes seemed tacked-on.  Instead of weaving jokes into scenes, they added unneeded scenes as platforms for their jokes, and there were a couple of montages that really could have gone without saying (or showing in this case).  Because of all of that time spent on scenes that didn’t add to the theme, any attempts at character development felt rushed, and by the end of the episode there was still no real theme.  None of the characters changed, none of them learned anything, they simply experienced the events of the episode and moved on.  Every good story needs a goal toward which to move, and it needs to ignore the details that don’t move it there, and that’s where “The Show Stoppers” fell short.

If I’d just shrugged and written off the episode as “lame” or “boring” from the moment the credits rolled, I wouldn’t have learned anything from the writers’ mistakes.  By thinking through what I didn’t like and how I might have done it differently, I got some great mental exercise in pacing and theme development.  Think about all of the opportunities that we pass up when we settle for merely being entertained, and imagine all we could discover if we approached entertainment with our minds engaged and probing questions at the ready.  Every story we experience could become a chance to think and learn and grow, and what’s not to like about that?

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Hunters in the Snow

Today in Research Writing class, we discussed a powerful short story by Tobias Wolff called “Hunters in the Snow”, so for this week’s Thoughtful Friday post I’m going to let Tobias do the work for me.  I encourage you to take a few minutes to read the story, but read critically, there’s a lot packed into this little narrative about three hunters and their struggles with denial.  Also, just as a warning, it includes some minor cursing.  It’s hard to write a post about “Hunters in the Snow” without getting into the intricate details of the story, so all I can say is, please take the time to read it, and if you do, leave me a comment below and let me know what you think  of the story.  If you want to discuss some of the meanings behind the story, let me know and I’d be more than happy to work something out.  Goodnight, and happy reading.

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And They Called the Madness… April

Hey, look everyone, it’s spring!  Time has sure flown, and now that April is just around the corner I thought that I’d let you know what I’ve been up to lately (and will be up to soon).  I’ll start with the blog maintenance.  As many of you know, I’ve been planning and enacting some changes to the site.  As far as the appearance goes, I’m working on getting a new theme and a name that better represent my passion for writing and my love for God (I’d love feedback and suggestions on what you would like to see!).  Also, I’ll be posting more frequently, hopefully once a week or more.  Then there’s Script Frenzy, a challenge to write 100 pages of TV, movie or play script (or a graphic novel) in the month of April.  You remember NaNoWriMo from November, right?  Well, Script Frenzy is her sister program for the more theatrically inclined.  I’m very excited to co-write the pilot for a Sci-Fi TV program called “Aldaeus” with my brother, Andrew (more information on that will be forthcoming).  Last (and, of course, best) is my next Hard Thing: a Distaction Detox.  That’s one week without television, internet, MP3 players, video games, and all manner of electronic noise that normally envelopes my life.  One week to step away from the things that keep me busy doing nothing and spend more time with the God I love, the family I love, and the things that I love to do (and that are worth doing).  I’m not sure when I’ll be doing it yet, but I’m excited to see what kind of difference it makes in my emotions, relationships, and especially my relationship with God.  When I’m done, I think God wants me to encourage other young men and women to step back from the distractions in their lives, too, and listen to the things that are worth hearing.  All in all, April looks to be a blast, and I’m excited to share all of these experiences with you!  Please pray for me, that God will guide me in all of the writing and working and playing and especially in the distraction detox, because it’s all for his glory, and to help me know him and love him in a deeper way.  Here’s to an exciting April adventure!

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