Tracy's blog

I’m Tracy Au and I have graduated from the Professional Writing program from university. I am an aspiring screenwriter, so this blog is used to promote my writing and attract people who will hire me to write for your TV show or movie. I write a lot about writing, TV, movies, jokes, and my daily life and opinions. I have another blog promoting my TV project at

Monday, June 19, 2017

Emma Coat's writing tips/ "That lesbian-blogger hoax"

May 24, 2015 Emma Coat's writing tips: I found Emma Coats writing tips in the Great American Pitchfest e-newsletter.  I then looked her up, and it's on her blog too:

22 #storybasics I’ve picked up in my time at Pixar

I tweeted these forever ago, but the internet just noticed and I figure I should probably at least put them on my blog. I’m glad people are finding them useful.

Here they are, a mix of things learned from directors & coworkers at Pixar, listening to writers & directors talk about their craft, and via trial and error in the making of my own films.

#1: You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.

#2: You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be v. different.

#3: Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about til you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite.

#4: Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.

#5: Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.

#6: What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?

#7: Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.

#8: Finish your story, let go even if it’s not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.

#9: When you’re stuck, make a list of what WOULDN’T happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.

#10: Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognize it before you can use it.

#11: Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you’ll never share it with anyone.

#12: Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th – get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.

#13: Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it’s poison to the audience.

#14: Why must you tell THIS story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.

#15: If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.

#16: What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against.

#17: No work is ever wasted. If it’s not working, let go and move on - it’ll come back around to be useful later.

#18: You have to know yourself: the difference between doing your best & fussing. Story is testing, not refining.

#19: Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.

#20: Exercise: take the building blocks of a movie you dislike. How d'you rearrange them into what you DO like?

#21: You gotta identify with your situation/characters, can’t just write ‘cool’. What would make YOU act that way?

#22: What’s the essence of your story? Most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there.

You can find more stuff I talk about on twitter as @lawnrocket - film and storytelling mostly. I try to keep the what-I-ate-for-lunch posts to a minimum.


Tracy's writing tips: I have learned a lot as I write. 

Sympathetic characters: I was writing a scene, and then I remembered it was kind of done on Alias.  There was a scene where Sydney gets into a fight and stabs a masked guy with a knife.  Then she unmasks him and sees it's someone that she knows and loves.

Sydney is still a sympathetic character even after killing someone because it was in self- defense.  The audience knows she would have never have killed him if she knew who he was.

When 2 characters fall in love, they have to transform each other: I got this tip from the Edmonton Public Library writer-in- residence Conni Massing back in 2010.  First she read some of The Vertex Fighter.

Then she read my script Garret which was like Fighter.  In Garret, there was more of a love story.  The audience has to root for the relationship.

Hacker movies: I did try to write a bit about it.  There are a lot of hacker movies out there.



The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo:  


Jun. 29, 2015 Successful bloggers:

1. Diablo Cody: She started a blog and then she wrote the movie Juno

2. Kelly Oxford: She started a Twitter feed and then wrote a book.

I put up an article about her on my blog:

3. Neil Parischilla: He created a blog called 1000 Awesome Things.  Then he put up a book called The Book of Awesome.

Dec. 20, 2015 "That lesbian- blogger hoax: smut or the messy start of a new art?": I cut out this article by Kathryn Borel in the Globe and Mail on Jun. 18, 2011.

I actually wrote about this before:

Here's the whole Borel article: Inline image

Before his resignation, followers of Internet-generated scandals were granted a merciful reprieve this week from imagining what lies beneath the cottony confines of Anthony Weiner's underpants. The distraction took the shape of a hot lesbian blogger in Syria who allegedly had been arrested. The blog, A Gay Girl in Damascus, turned out to be a hoax. Its author, Amina Abdallah Araf al Omari, was fabricated by 40-year-old Tom MacMaster, a straight, white man from Georgia, living in Scotland.

Cue the outrage: No one likes to be tricked, especially the 100th time. Blogging hoaxes are as old as the Web, but the media are like the rest of us: easily titillated, with a lazy taste for low-hanging fruit. Sometimes they won't bother to verify if a courageous lesbian activist in a war zone is in fact a middle-aged man who may or may not be typing into the ether while wearing a pair of flesh-coloured pantyhose and gleefully eating flayed oranges.

Outrage has a pesky tendency to masquerade as constructive discussion while actually strangling it. Did Mr. MacMaster lie, cause pain and damage the cause of gays and lesbians in Syria? Yes, yes and probably. Is he a sociopath, or an amateur fiction writer who accidentally hit the blogging jackpot? Maybe both.

But to flip it for a moment: Let's not forget that Mr. MacMaster had a sizable readership who identified and empathized with his character, her stories and her struggle. "We read to know that we are not alone," said C.S. Lewis (at least as played by Anthony Hopkins in Shadowlands). In the first creative life of A Gay Girl in Damascus, there was an author who was working hard to forge a three-dimensional character who was not based on stereotypes about either the Middle East or the gay community.

Whatever his motivations, Amina was believable enough to take on a kind of life, sustained by stories that made her relatable and enlightening. And in her audience, was there not a contingent that tracked the stories of Amina for comfort and to see parts of themselves, parts they were perhaps too fearful to show to their family and friends? And how much thought had you given before now to the real plight of homosexuals in Syria? On my end, not a hell of a lot.

There are innumerable examples of fiction's ability to outstrip fact in vividly illuminating reality. Filmmaker Werner Herzog freely admits to injecting fictional scenes into his documentaries to create "ecstatic truth." These scripted scenes do not compromise the non-fiction narrative; they open up a kind of vortex that pulls the viewer into the heart of the truth. Francis Bacon sums it up neatly: "Truth is hard to tell; it sometimes needs fiction to make it plausible."

Mr. Herzog aside, any time a non-fiction writer announces that every bit of their story is factual, don't we all have the urge to yell j'accuse? Creating a cohesive narrative itself is a lie. It's a fundamental human urge that allows us to cope with the stupid messy nonsense of existence.

The problem here is that we don't yet have a sophisticated set of metrics with which to analyze the utility or benefits of this kind of fiction. Our comfort levels vary based on the case, the nature of the lie and our own specific psychic makeups. Judith Miller's false reports on Iraq's weapons programs - that's an easy one to categorize. It gets trickier with the J.T. Leroys and the James Freys. And then there are the bursts of insight that come to us via Sacha Baron Cohen's clowning in Borat. Or the Coen brothers' fib that Fargo was based on a true story, testing the limits of the suspension of disbelief.

This is not to say Mr. MacMaster should be forgiven for the people he hurt, frightened or put in harm's way. But it is conceivable that in the future we'll look back at these hoaxes as some kind of new art form, even if this particular one was coming from a pervert prankster writer in Scotland who may or may not have been wearing flesh-coloured pantyhose while typing into the ether, giggling like Tom Hulce in Amadeus, while the juice from those oranges dribbles down his chin.

Feb. 20, 2016 Uppercase magazine: I was reading the Edmonton Journal's book reviews section and found out about this magazine:

"UPPERCASE publishes books and magazines for the creative and curious: products that spark the imagination and inspire creativity. The eponymous magazine was founded in 2009 by publisher, editor and designer Janine Vangool who continues to wear pretty much every hat imaginable. The quarterly print magazine is loved by thousands of subscribers around the world. Truly an independent magazine, UPPERCASE is supported by its readers through subscriptions."


Jun. 10, 2017 "Creative theft": Today I found this article by Leanne Italie in the Edmonton Journal.  She interviews David Sedaris:

Q As a teenager, what were you thinking you’d do?

A I wanted to be a visual artist, but I realized I was more affected by what I read than by what I saw. I would go to a show at a museum and look at a painting and say, ‘Oh I wish I owned that,’ and that would be the end of my relationship with a painting. With a short story I would read or with an author I would discover I could be haunted. It would affect my mood and affect the way that I saw the world. I thought, wow, it would be amazing to be able to do that.

My week:

Jun. 13, 2017 World of Dance: I saw the promo for this new show:

NBC's new dance competition series "World of Dance" is led by a judging team of extraordinary dance superstars - Jennifer Lopez (who also serves as an executive producer), Derek Hough, NE-YO and host/mentor Jenna Dewan Tatum.

The 10-episode series from Universal Television Alternative Studio and Nuyorican Productions will give dancers the platform to showcase their talents and the opportunity to receive a life-altering grand prize of $1 million.

In partnership with preeminent global dance brand World of Dance, the series brings the world's elite dancers together to compete in epic battles of artistry, precision and athleticism. Solo dancers will compete against duos and crews in an unlimited range of dance, including hip-hop, popping, locking, tap, ballet, break dancing, ballroom, stomping and more.

My opinion: I'm probably not going to watch it.  I have stopped watching So You Think You Can Dance by 2008.  When it first came out, I was in my early 20s and I love dancing.  I still love dancing, but not enough to watch dance talent competition shows. 

Big Brother Canada is on hiatus:

On Jun. 10, 2017, I was reading the Edmonton Journal that this show is going on hiatus.  It's not cancelled, but might as well be.  It says Canadian Idol is on hiatus since 2008.

I saw a bit of Canadian Idol when it came out, but stopped.  I never saw BB Canada.  I had stopped BB USA. I watched BB USA from 2001-2009.  I had to stop watching it because I was getting angry.  It was intentionally and unintentionally funny too.

Hudson's Bay layoffs 2000: I was reading in the Globe and Mail and the Edmonton Journal that it is mainly in the US.

Lululemon closing Iviva stores:

Michael Kors closing some stores:

Randstand: They closed down their location by Empire Building in downtown.

a bad-tempered or surly person.

self-confidence or assurance, especially when in a demanding situation.

Elan-energy, style, and enthusiasm.

Bon vivant-a person who enjoys a sociable and luxurious lifestyle.

Amalgam-a mixture or blend.

Polemical-relating to or involving strongly critical, controversial, or disputatious writing or speech.


Post Secret: I read this "I don't want to do my finances because I don't want to know how much trouble I'm in."

Till Debt do Us Part: This reality show about couples and their financial problems and debt.  Gail Vaz-Oxlade steps in to create a budget and give them money when they complete their challenges. 

The couple has to face the truth.  I have seen 1 woman who was upset and overwhelmed by their debt.  Gail did the math and if they follow the plan, they will be out of debt within 3 yrs.

My life: A couple of weeks ago, I did my finances.  I added up how much money I made this year.  It was average.  I don't spend a lot of money.

Jun. 14, 2017 Switchboard: I had gotten a job here back in like 2012.  I thought: "Is that place still open?"  It is.  I checked when I was passing my resumes around.  I did a day of training there and I didn't like it so I quit.

Work: Today I went to work and it was so busy for a Wed.

Sears not well: I was reading in the newspapers today that this store should really be closing down soon.  I have been reading the business section of the newspaper since 2010, and I am always reading that they are closing down locations and lay offs.  But they are still here.

Gymboree closing: This kids clothing store is closing some stores.  I don't have kids so I don't shop there.

Payless Shoe stores closing: However, they are not closing stores in Canada.  That's an alright store where there are affordable shoes.

Athlete's World: I then thought about when and where did I ever buy shoes?  Usually my mom buys 2 or 3 pairs of sneakers when it's on sale.  I thought about this store.  It turns out it closed down in 2013.

Job fears: I'm not supposed to write about my job search complaints, but I can write about my fear and deal with it.  I see how there is a lack of job security in retail because there are so many that are closing down.  I feel like if I apply to one and work there, I would end up getting laid off because it closes down.

However, I still have to work and make money.  This fear can not stop me from working.

Super Flea Market: I'm looking for a job and I found this store.  It seems to sell a lot of things at cheap prices.  There's a gallery to look at what they sell:

Jun. 15, 2017 Lewiscraft stores closed down: Does anyone remember this store?  I was going through my notes.  It turns out it closed down in 2006.

Jun. 16, 2017 Social event: I went to one last night.  It was fun.

Anthony Jeselnik: A guy told me about this stand up comedian last night.

Lazia restaurant: I went to downtown to pass out more resumes and see this restaurant in City Centre has closed down.  I asked the woman at Guest Services if it has closed down (or moved) and she said it closed down.

I've ate there twice.  The interior design is nice.  The food is good.  I did pass my resume to them earlier this year.

This site says it's closed:

They still have another location:

Humans: I was watching the 2nd season of this TV show all week.  It's very good because it's well-written and well-acted.  I felt really emotional when watching it.  I recommend you watch the pilot.  There are 8 episodes each season.

In a parallel present where the latest must-have gadget for any busy family is a 'Synth' - a highly-developed robotic servant that's so similar to a real human it's transforming the way we live.


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