Welcome to my blog!

Welcome to my blog! This is my journey, my first steps into the world of fictional writing. This blog is an online journal of sorts, where I share the progress of my work as well as what I have learned along the way. I hope you enjoy your time with me and that my experience may be of some use to you.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Inspiration Part 10 - Field Museum

Welcome back!

            Since March had no theme per se, I was left wondering what to talk about in this month’s inspiration post. Going over my files, I realised there is still plenty of content from my trip to Chicago that is still unused.

This presented itself as the perfect opportunity to share these pictures. I had taken hundreds of photos, so deciding which to chose was not easy. But then it dawned on me; the Field Museum was mentioned in the book I reviewed last month (The Time Traveler’s Wife), so best cover it now while it was still fresh on everyone's mind.

First let us take a look at the building itself. The outside has a strong greco-roman feel to it, giving it an appearance that is both sophisticated and imposing. Once past the main doors, we enter the main hall, with its white walls, marble floors, high ceilings and the presence of giants (two elephants, totem poles and of course SUE, the T-Rex) succeed in making you realise just how small you are. Truly an awe inspiring experience.  

              Further inside, the main hall divides into several exhibition areas, each showcasing displays with different themes. There was obviously way too many things to list here, so I will stick to some of the most memorable. In order to try and include more content, the picture I will be posting will be panorama’s, so sorry if the images seem a bit distorted.

             First on the tour we have the animal displays. Large rooms with multiple aisles, each composed of large glass displays. Each display contained real, stuffed animals from various regions around the world. I believe it was mentioned somewhere that all of these animals had died of natural causes, either donated from zoos or wildlife reserves (but don’t quote me on that, since my memory has been known to be hazy). For those who have read The Time Traveler's Wife, below you will see Bushman the ape, who was mentioned in the book during Henry’s first encounter with himself.

             Next we had my favorite exhibit: dinosaurs! I have had a love for dinosaurs ever since I was a child, so I was super excited to see this exhibit. I have posted only a few pictures here, as I plan on making an inspiration post in the future centered on bones and archeological research, so I don’t want to give too much away. For now, enjoy some of the panoramas I took.

             The museum had two floors, a large portion of the area was dedicated to exhibits featuring cultures from different countries from various time periods. Among them were Ancient Egypt, Tibetan artefacts, the african slave trade, native indians and so much more. I wish I had had the time (and memory on my camera) to take more pictures from each display. These displays contained a plethora of potential reference material.

             As you can see, a trip to the museum, especially one as diverse as the Field Museum, can be especially beneficial for a writer looking for inspiration. Maybe you need references for a period piece taking place in Ancient Rome, various animals for a jungle setting or maybe just the layout of a museum for a particular scene. Bottom line: go visit one, you'll be surprised at what you will find.

            I hope you enjoyed this month's inspiration post and that I encouraged you to go out there and experience it for yourself. Until next time.


Patrick Osborne

Friday, March 18, 2016

BOOTCAMP LESSON 12: Cutting Back

Welcome back!

    After completing this months book review, I was reminded of the importance of one of my earlier lessons; word economy. Since the subject was brought back on the table, I decided it would great to make it the focus of this month's writing prompt.

Cutting the fat!

Lesson 12 - Cutting back

The point of Word Economy is not to cut back on what you are trying to say, but to reduce the amount of words needed to convey the same message. By being more concise, your writing will not only be easier to understand, but will be less of a hassle for the audience to go through, therefore increasing their interest and sense of immersion.

In order to avoid being too verbose, try eliminating unnecessary words. Avoid common mistakes, like redundancies, excessive clarifications, exaggerated embellishing or literary crutches. An author’s goal is to get their ideas across by employing the appropriate vocabulary while making their work as concise as possible.

    The goal of today’s game will be to simply the given statements, while still keeping the message clear.


  1. Below you will find 10 generic phrases to work with.
  2. For each phrase, write a shorter, concise version.


Phrase: The reason why he came to Joe’s Diner was because the coffee wasn’t bad and the food was inexpensive in price.
Answer: He came to Joe’s Diner because the coffee was decent and the food inexpensive.


Phrase: Despite the fact that he was feeling ill, his first priority was making his way to work as quickly as possible.

Phrase: The magic spells he casted were rendered null and void by his opponents counter attack.

Phrase: This was not the first time this incident occurred, it was reported multiple times before.

Phrase: The very expensive cargo was moved and placed into the moving vans by the workers.

Phrase: The building had been completely destroyed by fire, having results that cost people a lot of money.

Phrase: She told him in a loud angry voice that the door of the car was still open.

Phrase: He came to the conclusion that the victim's body had fallen through the window of the house.

Phrase: During the experiment, he poured liquid in a beaker, boiled the contents for 5 minutes, and measured what was left.

Phrase: Because of the fact that the children were tired and exhausted, he came to the conclusion that they needed the night off.

Phrase: Several years after the town was founded, it was abandoned. The reason why was because the local factory closed, causing people to lose their jobs.

If anyone is interested in sharing their entries, feel free to post them as a reply to this article, or send them to me privately. I may create a page for submissions in the future for those who are willing to have their work shared.

Hope you have fun giving this exercise a try. Until next time!


Patrick Osborne

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The punchline! Writing comedy.

Welcome back,

    I’m a stern person by nature. Just ask my wife, she will confirm my tendencies to over dramatize simple situations or that I take things too seriously. I’m also not a big fan of comedy movies, and have an ever-growing list of comedians that irritate me. It also appears that I am afflicted with a medical condition known as “resting-bitch-face”, which apparently makes me scary to some animals and small children.

Comedy is, in my opinion, probably one of the hardest genres of writing out there. Not everyone has a sense of humor, finds the same things funny as you do or is capable of understanding a punchline. Regardless of the type of story, incorporating comedy can be of great benefit. Humor is a tool that is compatible with many other genres in literature, and comes in a variety of forms; from slapstick to wry wit, or from subtle to obvious. The ability to write Comedy requires skill, practice and a special awareness of your audience. So I plan on trying to absorb as much as possible from this lesson.

It is to laugh!

The basics of storytelling is a plotline which follows the exploits of the main characters as they attempt to resolve a conflict while making their way to their intended goal. So how exactly does Comedy differ from other genres? In comedy movies, laughs are achieved through actors performances, their reactions and their interactions while dealing with various situations. The same can be said for funny stories, however in books, the writer must pay closer attention to their pacing, point of view and how they feed information to the reader. Comedic forms require tight, vivid writing to make the reader experience the humour depicted by the writer (for more information see my post Showing and Telling).

To be effective, a comedian must see the humor in things others may overlook, and build up to it by creating expectations or adding a twist. Keep in mind that the unexpected is one of the main reasons why people laugh. Humor comes naturally when the logical and familiar are thrown out the window, replaced by things that don’t normally go together. Incongruity and misdirection causes our minds to recognize that something is out of place and try to find a way to correct them, which usually leads to funny results.

Of all genres, Comedy sets itself apart as it is seen as a socially acceptable way of pushing buttons and boundaries. There are a few different approaches that are effective when accentuating humour in a story. Let's explore some of the various ways of expressing comedic expressions

  • Alternative Comedy: Form of humour which tries to break from the mainstream, either in terms of routine, content or delivery. Examples of this type of humour are satire, slapstick, surrealism or improvisation.
  • Blue Comedy: Also known as Ribaldry, is a form of humorous entertainment that borders on indelicacy and indecency. Playing on sexual themes, its purpose is to make fun at the flaws and weaknesses of human sexuality rather than be stimulating. Blue Comedy may also use sex as a metaphor to illustrate a non-sexual subject.
  • Dark Comedy: A story based on problems often involving gloomy and disturbing subjects, but to which is added a comedic twist in order to make light of the subject matter. Also known as gallows humour, Dark Comedy will usually broach subjects such as death, disease, drugs or war.
  • Deadpan: This form of comedy is defined by its delivery: telling jokes without any noticeable change in emotion. Also known as dry humor, the humour in deadpan comes from the connection between the joke and the contradicting tone in which it is delivered.

  • Observational Comedy: Form of humour which focuses on aspects of everyday life, making fun of what society considers to be the standard. Observational Comedy is often achieved by over-dramatizing trivial things or by looking at the mundane aspects of life from a different perspective.
  • Parody: A form of humorous expression which focuses on mockery through imitation. This mimicry relies on elements such as satire, sarcasm or irony, and can be done for the purposes of good hearted banter or distasteful derision.

  • Potty Humor: Unpretentious type of humor that relies entirely on obscenity and tastelessness. Also called toilet humor, this form of comedy is known for trying to get a reaction from the audience by being vulgar and gross.
  • Prop Comedy: The term "prop" refers to any object an actor handles in the course of a performance. Therefore Prop comedy is humour in which performers use objects in humorous ways.
  • Satire: Is a type of humour which uses irony, sarcasm, and caricature to highlight the real-life vices and flaws of the intended subject matter. However, the purpose of Satire is not just to make fun of something, but to make a relevant social point while doing so.

  • Self-Deprecating: Probably the most easily accessible subject matter, this form of humor relies entirely on belittling one's own character. By making fun of oneself, the audience can better relate to the author, either through their socially awkward habits, common mistakes or other similar experiences.

  • Slapstick: One of the easiest forms of comedy to identify, Slapstick achieves a humorous effect through manipulation of the body. This is usually done through exaggerated gestures, physical stunts or making funny faces. Good examples of this type of humour include mimes and clowns.
  • Surreal Comedy: Leaning towards the bizarre, this form of comedy attempts to defy logic and use nonsensical situations in order to achieve a humorous effect. When Surreal Comedy focuses on a subject, it will twist and ridicule certain aspects of that subject to the point of absurdity.

  • Topical comedy: Humour which makes fun of current news and events. This form is easily accessible to all as it deals with pop culture and recent goings-on, but its subject matter quickly becomes dated.
  • Witticism: Amusingly clever expression and manipulation of language which leads to memorable images in prose and verse. Also known as Word play, this form requires a quick mind, perfect timing and keen perception, allowing the writer to establish connections between ideas that are humourous.

The most important thing I learned today, is that comedy requires the writer to look at things differently and a lot more planning than expected. If you are going to be writing comedy, think outside the box and don’t be afraid to push your limits.

Until next time!


Patrick Osborne

**All images in this post are considered public domain under the Creative Commons law (CC0)**

Monday, March 14, 2016

Interview - S. Jean Brenner


Welcome to this month's writer interview. While networking, I got the honor of meeting S. Jean Brenner, author of the Life Blood series, who kindly volunteered to answer some of my questions.

During my short interactions with her, she came across as a very polite, honest and kind hearted person, quite willing to assist other writers on their journey. I am delighted for the opportunity to have her on my blog.

Short Bio: S. Jean Brenner is the author of the new dynamic, adventure, mystery series Life Blood. The best selling first in the series, Life Blood is followed by two stunning sequels, Bleeding Heart and Pure Blooded, now available as paperback and ebooks.  

Published Works: The Life Blood series. (Life Blood, Bleeding Heart, Pure Blooded)


Current Projects: "In Gray" under the name Sara J. Bernhardt.

When did you begin writing?

I have been writing since before I can remember. I've been publishing poetry and short fiction since before I was twelve. It has always been a passion of mine.

Did you receive any special training or attend a school?

I have not gone to a writing school, only because there is not one near me.  I have taken several creative writing classes and college English courses.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I get my inspiration from anything around me, including my dreams.  My biggest inspiration is a dream I call "Adam." I have been dreaming about him most of my life and he is definitely my muse.

Do you use any special resources when writing? (other books, computer programs, etc)

I don't use any special resources but I do have a charm that my sister gave me. It's a pendant with Saint Paul.  When I am having trouble or am feeling blocked, it helps me find my inspiration.

What is (in your opinion) the most important thing to remember when writing, and why is it so important?

I think the most important thing to remember when writing is that nothing is ever perfect. It's okay that not everyone will love what you do.  That doesn't mean it isn't quality work.

What is (in your opinion) the most challenging part of writing, and how do you overcome it?

The biggest challenge for any writer, I think, is self doubt.  Between our own insecurities and bad reviews, we all feel it sometimes.  It's important to remember that it's normal, and you have to push through it.

Did you use an agent, and how did you get your book published?

I did not go through an agent because I don't believe I need one enough to share my royalties.

Did you use an Editor? If not, what process did you use to edit your work?

I edit my own works but I also have an editor who works for my publisher.

How did you get your book published? (self-published, Vanity publishing, Mainstream publisher).

I have a traditional, small press publisher but am getting with someone better soon.

Do you handle your own marketing?

I do handle my own marketing.

What is your best marketing tip?

My best marketing tip is to not try to hard to sell things to people, but rather to just talk to people. I am on several writing sites and I talk to a lot of people and offer my help and tips for fellow aspiring writers.

What advice do you have for other writers?

My best advice is simple. Never give up!

Once again, I would like to thank Jean for taking this interview, her participation is truly appreciated. Hopefully everyone found it as helpful and inspiring as I did.

Until Next time,

Patrick Osborne

Monday, March 7, 2016

By the Book: Cross Fire

Welcome back!

    This month's’ book review is my first time reading award-winning author, James Patterson. My wife's family are avid readers and go through books like crazy. When Linda's mother gave us two large boxes full of books her family had already read, roughly half of them were from James Patterson. Lets just say, Mister Patterson’s books have made the rounds in my extended family!

    I chose this book because I have been debating for months whether or not I should take the writing Masterclass, so I decided to read one of James Patterson’s books to see what his style was like. The main character, Alex Cross, did not grasp my interest, but this is probably due to the fact that I was never previously exposed to him and this is the 17th book in the series. However, I fully understand how Patterson’s writing style earned him the title of Bestseller on multiple occasions. The story flowed really well and it felt as though I went through this book in record time (by my slow reading standards).

    In the novel, we see psychologist and police detective, Alex Cross, planning his wedding to his girlfriend, Brianna 'Bree' Stone. However, their plans are put aside when Alex gets called in to a murder case involving snipers. The murderers, Mitch and Denny, seem to be targeting political, yet infamous figures. Their goal is to make the public believe they are acting as vigilantes, when in reality they are simply taking money from an unnamed source. Meanwhile, Alex gets a request from one of his closest friend, asking for assistance in a series of murders with numbers on the victims' faces. To add to the suspense, former FBI agent and serial killer Kyle Craig, who seems to be the nemesis of Alex Cross (like I said, I haven’t read the other books) uses a clever disguise to get close to the detective in order to kill him.

Various covers of the same novel. The book can be found on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Cross-Fire-Alex-James-Patterson/dp/0446574716

Back of the book:

Wedding bells ring

Detective Alex Cross and Bree's wedding plans are put on hold when Alex is called to the scene of the perfectly executed assassination of two of Washington D.C.'s most corrupt: a dirty congressmen and an underhanded lobbyist. Next, the elusive gunman begins picking off other crooked politicians, sparking a blaze of theories--is the marksman a hero or a vigilante?

A murderer returns

The case explodes, and the FBI assigns agent Max Siegel to the investigation. As Alex and Siegel battle over jurisdiction, the murders continue. It becomes clear that they are the work of a professional who has detailed knowledge of his victims' movements--information that only a Washington insider could possess.

Caught in a lethal cross fire

As Alex contends with the sniper, Siegel, and the wedding, he receives a call from his deadliest adversary, Kyle Craig. The Mastermind is in D.C. and will not relent until he has eliminated Cross and his family for good. With a supercharged blend of action, deception, and suspense, Cross Fire is James Patterson's most visceral and exciting Alex Cross novel ever.

What I learned:
  • Mastery of the narrative drive: What stood out the most for me in this book, is how much I was motivated to just keep reading. Never have I felt the urge to just read one more page, it’s like I couldn’t put the book down. It was not just a question of how good the story was, but a combination of style, content and even page layout. I finally realise this is what “narrative drive” truly is. James Patterson has mastered how to grab the reader's attention and keep them motivated to continue.
  • Leaving out information: One of the things I constantly see mentioned in writing lessons, is to always remember to tie up all loose ends before the end of the story. This is not the case in Cross Fire. By the end of the story, we are still left with questions (SPOILER: such as the identity of certain characters). So why does a master like Patterson do this? Simple: cause he has a plan to use that question to fuel his next book. This technique should only be used in well established storylines, like the Alex Cross series. Renowned authors like James Patterson can afford to pull something like this off, but I would not recommended this for beginning writers.
  • Less is more: James Patterson’s writing style is super tight, to the point it could almost be considered minimalistic storytelling. He does not use superfluous vocabulary or long winded descriptions, yet the ideas he wishes to convey still manages to get across. This proves he has also mastered “word economy” when writing. This is especially apparent when Alex gets married; the most important event in the detective’s life, and it is boiled down to these simple words; and the priest said “Dearly beloved…”.  Six words, just six words, and the reader not only knows what's going on, but has the entire scene painted in their minds. Now THAT is an impressive use of word economy.
  • Master of Disguise: Having a character impersonating another is one thing, having your arch-nemesis interacting with the main protagonist while in disguise is another. Having the character of Kyle Craig take over the life of another operative, just so he can get close to Alex shows just how determined the man is. It also demonstrates just how talented Kyle is, since the task is a lot harder than it seems.

    James Patterson has sold over 350 million books worldwide, and he currently holds the Guinness World Record for the most #1 New York Times best sellers. He is known for writing thriller novels, as well as children, middle-grade, and young-adult fiction.

For those interested in reading more books from James Patterson, please check out his website and wiki description, where you can find a complete listing of his published works and all other pertinent information:

In closing, I would like to thank my wife Linda and her family for lending us these books and for the tremendous amount of encouragement they have shown me since the beginning.

Until next time!


Patrick Osborne