Stories and Dreams

Not much of a post this week. So here are some pin-able quotes about the importance of stories.

Stories are life!

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10 Quotes about Life from Babylon 5

I’ve written another post of quotes from sci-fi and fantasy, but I thought I’d do a part two and make it exclusively quotes from the sci-fi TV show Babylon 5. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that I’m rather fond of that show. Not only is it one of my favorite TV shows ever, it’s one of my favorite epic fantasy stories, in any medium. The writing was brilliant, and the episodes were full of witty dialogue and quotes of wisdom.

As I asserted in my previous quotes post, we can learn a lot about real life from stories of fantasy.

It takes a rare kind of wisdom to accept change and redemption in another. Many would refuse, seeing only what was, not what is. – G’Kar, “The Hour of the Wolf”

You seek meaning? Then listen to the music, not the song. – Kosh, “Deathwalker”

We are all born as molecules, in the hearts of a billion stars – molecules that do not understand politics or policies or differences. Over a billion years, we, foolish molecules, forget who we are and where we came from. In desperate acts of ego, we give ourselves names, fight over lines on maps, and pretend that our light is better than everyone else’s. – Delenn, “And All my Dreams, Torn Asunder”

We are all the sum of our tears. Too little, and the ground is not fertile and nothing can grow there. Too much, and the best of us is washed away. – G’Kar, “Objects in Motion”

Touch passion when it comes your way, Stephen. It’s rare enough as it is. – Marcus, “Lines of Communication”

I am both terrified and reassured to know that there are still wonders in the universe, that we have not explained everything. – G’Kar, “Mind War”

We are dreamers, shapers, singers, and makers. – Elric, “The Geometry of Shadows”

Fighting a war is easy, destroying is easy. Building a new world out of what’s left of the old: that is what’s hard. – Delenn, “Lines of Communication”

Faith and reason are the shoes on your feet. You can travel farther with both than you can with just one. – Brother Alwin, “The Deconstruction of Falling Stars”

Now we make our own magic. Now we create our own legends. Now we build the future. Now we stop being afraid of shadows. – Delenn and Sheridan, “Into the Fire”

10 More Wonderful Quotes from Oz

I recently compiled a list of ten great quotes from the various Oz stories – everything from Baum’s original tales to the 1939 movie to Wicked the Musical. But I couldn’t stop at just ten. Even if you’re not an Oz buff, I’m sure you can find a witty or meaningful quote in this bunch.

 

“Everything in life is unusual until you get accustomed to it.” The Scarecrow, from The Marvelous Land of Oz

Says the man made of burlap and straw. Point taken. Different isn’t bad – it’s just different.OzHat

 

“So much of me is made from what I learned from you. You’ll be with me, like a handprint on my heart.” Elphaba, from Wicked the Musical

This is one of the best quotes about friendship I’ve ever come across, and reminds us that a love story does not have to be about sex and romance.

 

“But in Oz we are loved for ourselves alone, and for our kindness to one another, and for our good deeds.” Princess Ozma, from The Road to Oz

Even in Oz society is not always as perfect as Ozma claims here, but to her credit, this is a creed that she herself lives by and employs as she rules her people. And here on earth we’d do well to keep this attitude more in our daily lives.

 

“Nothing’s impossible if you just put your mind to it.” Oz, from Oz the Great and Powerful

Just remember that if a small-town circus performer could defeat two wicked witches with this attitude, then you can do anything.

 

“The only way to do a thing
Is do it when you can,
And do it cheerfully, and sing
And work and think and plan.
The only really unhappy one
Is he who dares to shirk;
The only really happy one
Is he who cares to work.”
Johnny Dooit, from The Road to Oz

This little rhyme speaks the truth for itself, I think.

 

“A heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others.” The Wizard, from The Wizard of Oz

This is so true. And one who is deeply loved usually can’t help but love in return.

 

“No one can be unlucky who has the intelligence to direct his own actions.” Scraps, from The Patchwork Girl of Oz

The stuffed patchwork doll named Scraps displays almost Scarecrow-level wisdom with this statement. Even in the most unfortunate of circumstances, we still have free will and can make choices.

 

“We get up at noon and start to work at one. Take an hour for lunch and then at two we’re done. Jolly good fun!” The citizens of Emerald City, from The Wizard of Oz

This is my kind of workday. Can I live here? This line is from the song “The Merry Old Land of Oz”; so if you’ve seen the movie, you now have that song in your head. You’re welcome.

 

“But those as knows the least have a habit of thinkin’ they know all there is to know, while them as knows the most admits what a turr’ble big world this is.” Cap’n Bill, from The Scarecrow of Oz

Sad but true. I’m sure we’ve all met an ignorant know-it-all or two.

 

“He had nine book-trees, on which grew a choice selection of story-books. …the books were picked and husked and ready to read. If they were picked too soon, the stories were found to be confused and uninteresting and the spelling bad. However, if allowed to ripen perfectly, the stories were fine reading and the spelling and grammar excellent.” from Tik-Tok of Oz

I love the magical land that Baum invented, where most anything you could want probably grows on a tree somewhere. I also love Baum’s not-so-subtle hint to aspiring authors everywhere: if you pick (publish) your book too soon, without giving it time to ripen (with rewriting, revising, and editorial help), then most readers will be confused, bored, or just get bogged down in grammatical errors.

Bonus quote:

“Eleka nahmen nahmen ah tum ah tum eleka nahmen.” Elphaba, from Wicked the Musical

I put this in here to be funny, because nobody knows what this means. And if you’ve seen Wicked, then you are now singing the song “No Good Deed.” You’re welcome.

10 Wonderful Quotes from Oz

If you know me, then you know that I’ve always been a big fan of the Oz stories. I’ve seen the 1939 movie more times than I’ve seen the original Star Wars trilogy (if such a thing is possible). I love the two (different but equally awesome) prequel stories Oz the Great and Powerful and Wicked (the musical. I haven’t read the book yet. Yes, I know they’re rather different).

I’ve also been working my way through L. Frank Baum’s original books. You can see a recent post I wrote about that here. As I’ve been exploring the Land of Oz, I’ve started collecting some great quotes. So here are ten of my favorite quotes (so far, since I’m only on book 6 of Baum’s original 14) from books, movies, and shows.

 

“Some people without brains do an awful lot of talking, don’t they?” The Scarecrow, from The Wizard of Oz

This is one of the most famous quotes of the Scarecrow, and possibly one of the most well-known quotes from the entire movie (with the exception of “Fly, my pretties!” and “There’s no place like home.”) Apparently the Land of Oz has its share of morons who won’t be quiet, too, just like earth.

 

Oz: “You want me to lead an army that can’t kill?”

Glinda: “If this was easy, we wouldn’t need a wizard.”

from Oz the Great and Powerful

Poor Oz. There’s really nothing he can say to this. At this point he’s really wishing his balloon had never left Kansas.

 

“When music is not very good, and is indulged in all the time, it is better that the performer should be alone.” Princess Ozma, from The Road to Oz

I love Ozma’s polite, stinging slap to obnoxious people everywhere. I need her in the car with me at traffic lights, so she can roll down the window and say this to the guy next to me who has the bass cranked so loud that it can be heard all the way to Oz.

 

Fiyero: “You think I’m really stupid, don’t you?”

Elphaba: “No, not really stupid.”

from Wicked the Musical

Elphaba, the master of the back-handed compliment. Love it.

 

Elmira Gulch: “I’m here to see Dorothy about the bite on my leg.”

Uncle Henry: “You mean she bit ya?”

Elmira Gulch: “No, her dog.”

Uncle Henry: “Oh, she bit her dog, eh?”

from The Wizard of Oz

God bless acerbic, long-suffering Uncle Henry. This is one of my favorite dialogue exchanges in the whole movie.

 

“I’ve been lost before, and always got found again.” Dorothy, from The Road to Oz

The beautiful logic of a child. Baum did a good job in his books of portraying Dorothy with the emotional maturity of an adult so she could remain clear-headed during her various adventures, while still maintaining the imagination and purity of a child.

 

“Some things I cannot change, but till I try, I’ll never know.” Elphaba, from Wicked the Musical

Elphaba is never afraid of trying or pushing the envelope, and we never should be, either.

 

“I am convinced that the only people worthy of consideration in this world are the unusual ones. For the common folks are like the leaves of a tree, and live and die unnoticed.” The Scarecrow, from The Marvelous Land of Oz

More wisdom from the Scarecrow.

 

“You’re capable of more than you know.” Glinda, from Oz the Great and Powerful

Glinda’s encouragement to the Wizard is really an encouragement to all of us.

 

“In this world in which we live simplicity and kindness are the only magic wands that work wonders…” from The Emerald City of Oz

Baum may have been a writer of fairy tales, but he understood the truth.

10 Quotes from Science-Fiction and Fantasy

We can learn a lot from fantasy and sci-fi. Sometimes we need to hear a truth come from the mouth of the Other, or to see our situations mirrored in a fantasy world. So here are ten of my favorite quotes about life from fantasy and sci-fi books, TV shows, and movies.

Some journeys take us far from home. Some adventures lead us to our destiny.The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe

A heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others. – The Wizard, The Wizard of Oz

Words are, in my not-so humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. – Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Equality is the nullifier of individuality… Equality is the despot destroyer of self-worth. In a world of sameness, there can be no heroes. – The Watcher, “Earth X #3,” Marvel Comics

Who’s the more foolish? The fool, or the fool who follows him? – Obi-Wan Kenobi, Star Wars: A New Hope

Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens. – Gimli, The Fellowship of the Ring

‘Impossible’ is a word that humans use far too often. – Seven of Nine, “Hope and Fear,” Star Trek: Voyager

You doubt your value. Don’t run from who you are. – Aslan, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

We all have a destiny. Sometimes we do not see it, because we have been taught to believe that we are not important. – Delenn, “Comes the Inquisitor,” Babylon 5

Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things – trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. … I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia. – Puddleglum, The Silver Chair

What is one of your favorite sci-fi or fantasy quotes about real life? Please share!

The Nitty-Gritty of Writing: The Basics of Dialogue

There are many aspects of writing good dialogue, and I’m probably not qualified to write about most of them, as I’m still working on mastering the dialogue art myself. So that is why I’ve titled this post as “the basics.” If you are just getting started with writing your first work of fiction, or you struggle in other ways with conversations between characters, hopefully these points can help guide you in the right direction.

Proper use of quotations. In reading manuscripts (either critiquing for friends, or back in my writing classes in college), I learned that a lot of people don’t understand how to use quotation marks at all. (I recently wrote a punctuation post, and I briefly cover quotation marks.) As a general rule, all spoken dialogue should begin and end with double quotes. Other punctuation, like commas and periods, go inside the end quotes. If a character’s spoken sentence is split up with a dialogue tag, the tag and other descriptions do not go inside the quotes. Example: “I don’t know,” she said, shaking her head. “Maybe we could do it tomorrow?”

Dialogue tags. Many writers (myself included) like those fancy words like sneered, cried, shouted, whispered, etc. Or, worse yet, the offensive adverb: he said loudly, happily, sadly, sternly, sleepily, etc. I may be going against the advice given by professional writers and editors, but I believe that the occasional fancy word or adverb with your dialogue is not a mortal sin. Just keep it to a minimum, and make your selections wisely. Dialogue tags can be filled out with showing action instead of telling, like in my example above. …she said, shaking her head instead of she said glumly paints a fuller picture of what’s happening in the scene. Don’t be afraid of the simple word said.

Read aloud. I don’t do this one as often as I should, but when I do, I usually find a phrase or exchange of dialogue that just doesn’t flow. Reading your dialogue aloud is a great way to quickly find out if what you’ve written sounds real. Would you hear an exchange like that out on the street? Does anyone actually talk like that? Yes, you want to keep the voice of your character – the alien might have awkward English, the mathematics professor uses big words that no one else understands, the fairy speaks telepathically, whatever. But reading aloud can help you even in cases like that to really hear your characters speaking, and thus help you make each character’s voice realistic and unique.

There are other points I could add to this, but three is enough to get you started if you’re struggling with writing dialogue. What are some other tips or tricks that you’ve used to improve your dialogue?