Winter fire

I’m writing this on one of South Texas’s few days of cold, which means I’m writing it in front of a raging fire. I love fireplaces, especially brick ones, and especially stone ones. Maybe one of the reasons I love fantasy so much is because fantasy books feature so many scenes in taverns and inns and castles with massive stone hearths. The fireplace at Bag End sets the scene for Frodo’s quest in Lord of the Rings. My favorite location in all of The Sword of Shanara is the Ohmsford family inn because of its enormous centerpiece fireplace. And the great Calcifer from Howl’s Moving Castle is more or less a living, magical fireplace.

If you’re not lucky enough to have a fireplace at your disposal, or if you’re stuck at the office on a cold day, Friday Morning Videos has you covered. Here’re a full 8 hours of HD fireplace. Stay warm!

Black Friday Dollar Store

I’d say you’re probably reading this while waiting in line at Target or JC Penney, but is Black Friday morning even a thing anymore? Or do we now make all retail professionals work Thanksgiving afternoon and evening?

Wherever you’re getting your Friday Morning Video fix, here’s an appropriate-for-the-day gem from Improv Everywhere: Black Friday at the dollar store!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2a5pWMZxlIA]

¡Felíz Cumpleaños, Mickey!

Two days ago, two friends of mine celebrated a birthday: my friend Zack and Mickey Mouse. Mickey is 88 this year. “Steamboat Willie,” Mickey’s first cartoon, premiered on November 18, 1928.

Walt Disney Studios is still making Mickey Mouse cartoons. The latest series of them started in 2013, and they are some of my family’s absolute favorite things to watch. For Mickey’s birthday, a new one was released. If you’ve seen the series, you know that when I call it the craziest one yet, I’m making a pretty bold statement. Look for cameo appearances from José Carioca (who also appeared in “O Futebol Clássico”) and, in his Mickey Mouse debut, Panchito Pistoles!

Satisfaction of the Soul

Today’s Friday morning video combines the words of Bill Watterson with some artwork inspired by his to make something special.

If you’re not spending your life doing exactly what you most feel called to do, try spending some time this weekend thinking about how you could.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZUMonLNbQw]

Friends of Babe

My beloved Rose is a big fan of talking animals. Babe is one of her favorite, and most quoted, films. (“Pigs are definitely stupid…”) There is also a small handful of videos that make her laugh almost to the point of wetting her pants. Today’s Friday Morning Video lies at the intersection of those two loves. What better way to celebrate the first Friday in Rose birth month? Enjoy your weekend and your talking animals.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6R-Hm0enGg]

Japanese Elevator Prank

Happy Halloween! I hope your Friday morning cereal today was one of the monster cereals. For your Friday morning video, enjoy a Japanese prank show clip. I don’t understand a word that is said on Japanese prank shows, but laughter is the universal language. This one might not be entirely funny, though. It might just be scary.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lpODZRUFB7k]

The Seven Point System, Finale

Happy Friday! Here’s part five of Dan Wells‘s presentation on Seven Point Story Structure, the grand finale in which Dan demonstrates how all of your seven point plots can come together into key scenes that prove the power is in you!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jD-T-ku4ynk]

Seven Point Story Structure Videos:

  1. Part 1
  2. Part 2
  3. Part 3
  4. Part 4

The Seven Point System, Part 4

Happy Friday! Here’s part four of Dan Wells‘s presentation on the Seven Point Story Structure, in which Dan finally defines “Ice Monster Prologue.”

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0WC_WWErNd8]

Seven Point Story Structure Videos:

  1. Part 1
  2. Part 2
  3. Part 3

The Seven Point System, Part 3

Happy Friday! Here’s part three of Dan Wells‘s presentation on the Seven Point Story Structure, in which Dan shows that even Jane Austen used the Seven Point Story Structure.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNZDL9-dN8k]

Seven Point Story Structure Videos:

  1. Part 1
  2. Part 2

The Seven Point System, Part 2

Happy Friday! Here’s part two of Dan Wells‘s excellent presentation on the Seven Point Story Structure. This one contains one of my favorite quotes on writing, a quote I turn to for comfort and affirmation often:

There is no outline in the world, especially for a genre novel, that doesn’t sound stupid when you describe it to somebody.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mrP9604BEOM]

Seven Point Story Structure Videos:

  1. Part 1

The Seven Point System, Part 1

It was inevitable that at some point, I was going to feature my favorite writing video series as one of my Friday Videos. So here it is! Dan Wells is by far my favorite of the four authors on Writing Excuses. His advice is always spot-on, never pretentious, and is delivered with wicked humor. Just like the video series you’re about to see!

If you’ve never seen Wells’s presentation on the Seven Point Story Structure (sometimes called 7PP for Seven Point Plot), you’re in for a treat. He not only explains it thoroughly, he puts all sorts of stories from all sorts of genres through it to show off its universal usefulness.

I can’t remember if it is in this video series or in an episode of Writing Excuses, but I’m fairly certain I once heard Wells say that he doesn’t necessarily consciously make a 7PP for each of his books, but when he gets stuck on a plot, he falls back to this technique to figure out why. I’m much the same.

Four kids!

Sorry I’ve been such a stranger ’round these parts lately. This Friday Video is your explanation why. Here’s Jim Gaffigan to tell you how wonderful it is to have four children (I have six), but how it can also at times be a little… crazy.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GEbZrY0G9PI]

90% skill

I recently finished reading The Syndrome: A Kingdom Keepers Adventure, the last of the nine (so far) Kingdom Keepers books by Ridley Pearson. At one point in it he quotes Stephen King. I can’t find this exact King quote anywhere, but considering Pearson plays in a band with King, I figure even if he’s not quoting him verbatim, he’s making a pretty accurate paraphrase. “Stephen King, the [horror novel] master,” Pearson writes, “had once said success was ninety percent hard work, five percent talent and five percent luck.”

In today’s Friday Video, fantasy master Brandon Sanderson says much the same thing in a lecture to his Brigham Young University creative writing course. He calls the “ninety percent hard work” ninety percent skill. “For the baseball player, it’s not a matter of luck when they connect. It’s a matter of having spent thousands of hours practicing how to do that.”