Thursday, 10 March 2016

Studying three act structure

I've recently been analysing story structure, particularly the three act structure. I decided to look into it in detail, and chose as my study example the first episode of "Serangoon Road", a HBO Asia production which was set in 1964 Singapore.

I'm not going to go into too much detail because I don't want to spoil it for you, but it's well planned and well written, with a clear structure fitting the classic model of Act 1 as the trigger or call to action, Act 2 where the bulk of the action lies with tension rising and the odds stacked against the main character, and Act 3 the resolution. It's worth heading over to this Wikipedia article to get more depth on this, but here's a brief analysis

Act 1: Although the action begins to minor characters with an incident in a bar, it starts off with the trigger moment for the main character Sam a little way into the episode, with Sam called into action by the widow of his friend, for one last job at a detective agency.

Act 2: The search begins for the suspect, and ends soon after with the suspect in police hands. Whilst watching the first episode I paused it, as the characters had solved the initial private detective mystery as the suspect was apprehended, but it appeared the suspect was actually innocent, but were now at the point of no return as they said "we can't let an innocent man be found guilty for this"; it was exactly where I thought it would be, precisely halfway through the show, and fits in neatly with the structure of story plotting, putting the point of no return half way through. Sam the main character faces a decision, and decides to help the innocent prisoner. 34 minutes into the 53 minute story, the character is told he faces insurmountable odds to assist the innocent prisoner.

Act 3: Then we move into the final act where the main character is forced to take action, and we move into the end game, where all seems lost for Sam the main character and the prisoner whom Sam is trying to save. What happens? Let's just say it fits into the three act structure with an interesting twist or two at the end. You'll have to watch it for yourself to find out, and enjoy it.

It's always interesting to watch shows or movies, or read books, and try to work out when one act ends and another begins, so why not try it the next time you read a book or watch something?

Monday, 1 February 2016

Poetry reading at Sight Concern, Worcester, 9 February 2016

Damon Lord, reading his poetry
Damon Lord, reading his poetry
Hi everyone! I would like to announce that I will be reading at Worcestershire Sight Concern, on Tuesday 9 February 2016, from 10 A.M. onwards, at the Bradbury Centre, Sansome Walk, Worcester. I am honoured to have been invited along to perform my poetry, along with Worcestershire Poet Laureate Emeritus, Maggie Doyle. It will be for Storytelling Week, and I'll be reading some of my best-loved poetry to their members.

It is truly a blessing to perform there, particularly as the people at Worcestershire sight Concern are so friendly and helpful. They particularly helped me greatly when my eyesight slipped way back in 2009, so it is great to give something back to their members.

Come along and enjoy!

Monday, 15 June 2015

Magna Carta Libertatum

Today is the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta.

Last Friday I was a finalist with the Worcestershire Poet Laureate competition, which was won by the fabulous Heather Wastie.

It is worth noting, King John, the monarch who was forced to put his seal to the Great Charter of Liberties, is entombed in Worcester's cathedral.

I got through to the final with my poem, Magna Carta Libertatum, and it is perhaps appropriate today that I share it below.

Magna Carta Libertatum

Dear John,
You may not be remembered well,
For you were weak, ill-advised, greedy.
But you gave us all a gift,
For which we thank you.

Dear John,
Cowering, fearful of rebellion,
You came to Runnymede
And submitted to the Great Charter of Liberties,
Sealing your place in history.
The divine right of kings was no more.
They knew kings could concede.
In time, kings would bleed.
Largely now repealed,
Still powerful.

Dear John,
Do you know your Great Charter was the foundation of
So, so many great,
Yet somehow lesser,
Charters that followed?
The cornerstone of liberty, which spread to so many lands.
The American Constitution, a symbolic embodiment of freedoms,
Draws inspiration from the vellum and wax symbol of your downfall,
So small, yet bearing such weight.

Dear John,
We truly thank you for your gift,
Even though you did not want to give it.
In your final resting place
Within Severn’s sweet vale,
In Worcester’s hallowed cathedral,
Sleep well.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Worcestershire Poet Laureate competition 2015 FINAL!

Worcestershire Poet Laureate 2014, Fergus McGonigal
Worcestershire Poet Laureate 2014,
Fergus McGonigal
I am one of the poet laureate finalists!

I am happy to announce that I'm in the final for this year's Worcestershire Poet Laureate competition. Its truly an honour to have made  it through to the final again, and it will be exciting to find out who will succeed the excellent, exuberant and always explosively entertaining incumbent Fergus McGonigal as the Bard of the county.

My poetry has been appreciated far and wide, and it is my hope, if I am successful this year, to fly the flag for poetry across the West Midlands and beyond, not only in Worcestershire. Such vibrant events like this only go to show that the literary movement in Worcestershire is truly thriving.

The six finalist poets are (in no particular order):

  • Tony Shadforth
  • Heather Wastie
  • Suz Winspear
  • Damon Lord
  • Betti Moretti
  • Nina Lewis

I have often enjoyed the work of some of the other poets, and I truly know that I face stiff competition.

So, when are winners announced? You have to be there to find out! Come along to the Guildhall, Worcester High Street, on Friday, 12 June 2015 at 7p.m. for a 7:30p.m. start, for an amazing night of poetry and prose. Tickets are £5 per person, obtainable here.

P.S. You can read one poem by each of the six finalists here; can you guess whose is whose?

Thursday, 12 February 2015

How to learn a language - key language learning tools for successful learning 2

To get to the most out of language learning, your learning must serve a purpose. By identifying your purpose in language learning, the drive to learn will only be strengthened, and this therefore is a key tool. A sense of purpose is a highly important key tool, no less. It's worth sitting down and looking at why you may want to learn a language, so we'll go through a few reasons here to help define your purpose for learning.

The most obvious purpose for learning a foreign language is for a holiday. Many holiday destinations around the world can be enhanced by learning a bit of the local language, to improve relations with locals, build friendships, and learn more than you otherwise learn about the place which is not ordinarily accessible to those holidaymakers speaking only English. I always try to learn a bit of the local language, even if just a few words, as a courtesy.

You may find that, with the world getting smaller, there are members of your family or circle of friends who don't have English as their first language. To facilitate inter-cultural understanding, learning their language can help,  You may also wish to bring up your child to be bilingual. I am proud to count many people amongst my friends and family locally and globally whose first language is not English and who are bilingual or multilingual.

One of the first arguments against learning another language is that everyone apparently speaks English, but having travelled widely to countries on three continents, I can easily confirm that's not true. Even in countries which are popular tourist destinations for English-speaking people, once you take even just a few steps into a side street away from the beaten track, you soon encounter a wonderful world where English may not be spoken. By struggling with a few phrases of faltering French in a restaurant in a back street in the Montmartre quarter in Paris, we got better service than the British couple on the next table who insisted on doing everything through the medium of English in the middle of the Francophone capital. My wife and I have been able to get a far warmer welcome through usage of foreign languages. We have even gotten a better deal in some shops in some countries because we were able to negotiate prices at a basic level in the local tongue. We are usually able to learn more than we would otherwise have learned if we had only been bound by the limits of the English language and locals' capability to speak English.

One key purpose for learning a language is moving to another country. You may be moving to a country for a period of study, because the culture may interest you, your employer is sending you there to work, or you might be teaching English as a foreign language. Either way, you'll need to have some way to work out what the menu says when it's time to eat, or what the electric bill says when it falls through your door. I lived in China for six months during a gap year, and found myself having to pick up the Mandarin Chinese language very quickly!

You may wish to explore your heritage and identity through language. In Wales, Cornwall, the Isle of Man, Ireland, Brittany and Scotland, people are learning the ancient Celtic tongues (or reviving them, in the case of Cornish and Manx) to preserve and promote their unique culture and heritage. Similarly, with genealogy, if your family comes from central Europe for example and you are researching your family tree, it may be necessary to learn the old family tongue from several generations back.

There may also be some information in a language which you may need for study which is not so readily available in English. A bit of language learning can open up new avenues to you for research that were previously closed due to the language barrier. I spent a week in the Sorbian region of Germany in the summer 2007 in various museums, bookshops and libraries for a research project I was working on. Apart from a paragraph on the English language Wikipedia website, there were no materials available in English on my chosen field of research, so using German (and a tiny bit of Sorbian that I picked up in the week I was there) was essential.

Even if you don't go abroad, language skills are highly marketable and attractive to an employer, particularly if an employer does business abroad or is considering expanding into Europe or further afield. When I worked with the insurance field in vehicle accident management, I often was appointed by colleagues to examine foreign language insurance documents and driving licences and calling abroad to get vital information, cases which normally would not have been resolved so easily without my language skills. Languages can also open up business opportunities in parts of the world your company may not have previously considered.

The best part, though, about learning other languages is that that my efforts to speak another language have always been appreciated, and with a few words, bridges have been built. Nelson Mandela, the late President of the rainbow nation of South Africa said: “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”