Telling a good story

I listened to a talk by Ira Glass on how to tell a good story.

I feel like most of the writing done in middle and high school are all analysis papers with a rigid structure. It was always about having a thesis, and topic sentences that connected to the thesis. There was always an introduction (say what you’re going to say), three body paragraphs (say it), and a conclusion (say what you just said). We never really learned how to captivate readers and tell a truly interesting story. I think this skill is way more important than writing literary analysis because in the “real world”, you are often paid based on if people actually read your writing, and if you can captivate your audience.

I agree with Glass about how Anecdotes are interesting. I also agree that an anecdote is not enough, but there has to be a purpose for it – or a moment of reflection. I love it when someone uses a silly story to illustrate an important life lesson. I will read the story and wonder “how could this possible mean anything, and why are they telling this?” and then when they reveal their reason for telling the story, it all makes sense.

From my experience with video editing, I completely agree with the part about how you have to get a lot of content before finally finding the right story, or in my case, the right shots. Another video editor told me that when you are really cutting a video to just the essentials, it needs to hurt. It has to be hard to cut out certain parts, because you have to be ruthless. It is hard because you put the effort into getting all your content, but in the end, only a small percentage is used. It is important to only include what is necessary and great content, and not just put in a bunch of “filler”. For example, when I make snowboard edits, I often have hours of film, but generally, I like to keep my edits under five minutes so people will watch them.

 

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Finally, I like his point about how you will suck at the beginning, but yo need to carry on. If you know the content you put out at the beginning is not good, that means you have developed a taste for what is great and what is not. That is a good sign. Push through the suckiness and you will eventually achieve greatness. I look back at my first snowboarding edit and it is terrible. I realized that if I look at a video I made four years ago and I think it is good, it means I have not improved. My hope is that in the future, I will look at my current favorite video I have made, and I will laugh at how bad it is.

But one can only dream…Screen Shot 2016-02-24 at 3.23.53 PM

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Intervarsity Christian Fellowship Meeting

Intervarsity Christian Fellowship at SNC is a new club that started in the Fall of 2015. We meet on Mondays and Tuesdays at 8 in Patterson lobby. We do a discussion based bible study, where students are encouraged to find out the meaning from the passage, and form their own opinions. We also have fun playing games!

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No Regrets

It is only February and I have had 2 injuries from snowboarding so far. Both of them were dislocated shoulders. I dislocated my left shoulder in December and my right shoulder in January. The first one was pure bad luck, but the second time was because I was trying a new trick.  I think getting hurt is part of snowboarding. A person can do as much as they can to avoid it, but in the end, it is a high risk sport. There’s got to be a first time for every trick.

Some might call trying a backflip on a snowboard pure stupidity or recklessness. I believe I made the right decision. I had literally done hundreds into a foam pit or trampoline. With some fresh snow to soften my landing, I got out there with my coach and set out on a mission to land that backflip. We found a good jump and hit it a few times. Finally it was time to go for it. Four times, I went up to the jump and changed my mind at the last millisecond. it was extremely frustrating. I imagined going home without trying the backflip, and knew in my heart that that day would not end that way. Finally, I went for it, and committed fully. That is the thing with backflips. If you do not commit fully, you land on your head. You could literally die. I figured as long as I got more than halfway around I would be fine. I made it about three quarters of the way around and crashed hard. I was so happy I had tried. Even when I knew I was hurt, at that moment I had no regrets.

Here is the video

Both injuries were extremely painful and frustrating. The fact that I had to take time off my beloved sport was much worse than the initial pain of injury. I remember when I hurt my right shoulder, my left shoulder was not entirely healed. I was so helpless I could not even open doors for myself or carry anything.

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Before this season I had never had any serious injuries from snowboarding. It was easy for me to say that my passion for snowboarding would make me push through any obstacle, including injury, but putting that to the test was another issue. I used to wonder how I would deal with it. Would I really love snowboarding as much if it wrecked me?

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My first day back on snow after my second injury of the season

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Snowboarding with a view at Diamond Peak

It turned out that my two injuries had made me love snowboarding even more. Every time I felt pain from either shoulder, it was a reminder of how I had overcome my fears and rebelled against my cautious nature. I used to be one of the most careful people you would ever meet. As a kid, I didn’t do diving boards, roller coasters, or heights. When I started snowboarding, I didn’t turn into an adrenaline junkie overnight, but I had found a passion that would pull me out of my comfort zone. I think the danger and having a tangible way to overcome fears is what drew me to snowboarding. I may still not be fearless now, but I like to pretend I am.

Summer isn’t all that bad – by a snowboarder

When I was in Elementary and Middle School, summer was my favorite season, simply because we didn’t have to go to school. However, after my first time snowboarding in 8th grade, summer became my least favorite season. I remember in those first few seasons snowboarding, I would get “seasonitis”, a disease I made up which was basically extreme boredom from not being able to snowboard. I dreaded the summer.

In the past year or two, I have been opening my mind more and changing my attitude in general, including my attitude to things I do not like, such as summer. I have realized that things (like summer) are as fun as you want them to be. This past summer, my first in Tahoe, was a complete and total blast! In addition, I took away two important lessons:

  1. go for it, why not?

The amount of new activities I tried in my first month of being a Tahoe local was pretty impressive. In about three weeks, I had tried paddle board yoga, cards against humanity, cliff jumping into cold Lake Tahoe, mountain biking (on a narrow path with a 1000 foot drop on one side), a high ropes course which involved climbing up a wobbly 50 foot tower with a trapeze jump at the end, white water rafting, falling out of a white water rafting boat, performing in an open mic night, backpacking in Desolation Wilderness, and skateboarding in an actual skate park. I literally signed up for every trip I could, and tried everything offered to me.

And I don’t have a single regret. I remember when I signed up for the Flume trail mountain biking, I contemplated not doing it. I had only been mountain biking once in my life and apparently this was a sketchy trail. They told me about the steep, long uphill and the narrow part with the 1,000 foot drop. In the end, I decided “why not?” and went for it. It was intense, but when I was finished it was well worth it!

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Another moment from this past summer I’ll never forget is when I jumped off a rock in Emerald Bay. I’m ok with heights but I hate cold water. In the end, after watching some other people jump off the cliff, I went for it, and it was awesome! I climbed right back up and jumped again!Screen Shot 2015-08-13 at 6.05.41 PM

A couple weeks before moving to Tahoe that summer, I got to try sailing on land. Confused? Here’s a video I made.

2. Who cares if you suck?

I remember in middle school, I cared so much about what other people thought of me. I started skateboarding in 7th grade, but I never got good at it because I was always worried about other people judging me. I never set foot in the skate park unless no one was there, and I hid if I saw someone.

After joining the snowboard team last fall, I started going to their fall conditioning. Because of the lack of snow in the summer, we often had practice in the skate park. I jumped at the opportunity. Where else could I have actual instruction in skateboarding?

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I remember the first skate park practice I went to. It was all guys, except for my roommate and I. It was intimidating because they were all so good! I watched in awe as they did kick flips, jumped over huge gaps, and sped all around the skate bowl. I finally got into the mini halfpipe and started going back and forth between the walls. I started off going really slow, but each time I got higher and higher until I was almost at the top!

The biggest lesson I took away that day was that it was much more fun to be the worst person in the skate park than to not go to the skate park at all. For the next month or two until the snow came I went to every skate park practice I could go to. I am still nowhere near the level of any of the guys, but I had a lot of fun, and in the end, that is all that mattered to me.

Avalanche at Tunnel Creek response

“A group of 16 skiers and snowboarders, all of them experts, all of them unable to refuse the temptation of an hourlong excursion into steep powder, had been reduced by three lives.”

This sentence is from the article “Snowfall” by the New York times, written by John Branch.

Some people won’t be able to fathom the idea of going out into a crazy, dangerous situation just for some turns in that fresh, white powder. The article about the avalanche at Tunnel creek really resonated with me because I understand that love for powder. The crazy thing is that it could happen to me. Although I have not been backcountry snowboarding before, it is my dream to do so. I understand that in order to go out and ski in the backcountry, certain skills and equipment are necessary. The people in this article were experienced and prepared, but in the end it was bad luck that got them. It is so easy to see these things happen to people and think “well, I’m me. That can’t possibly happen”. However, it can happen to anyone.

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This is me shredding some powder!

The article did an excellent job of capturing all the little details that are often ignored in news articles. Although it took a lot of patience to read the whole thing, I really like how it got personal with each character, for example, Jim Jack’s high school car. It made me as the reader care about each character, rather than reading a headline that states “3 people die in avalanche”. I like how the story composed of what went on that entire day through the lens of each character. It kept me at a cliffhanger as to when the avalanche would be set off. From the moment the article went into detail about how Johnny met his wife, and how he said goodbye to his family when leaving to tunnel creek, I had a feeling he would be one of the victims of the avalanche. Especially when he said he would be back at 2 and to “be there, because I’ll be there”. going back and reading it after I found out he died gave me chills. You can go into something with no idea that it could be the last thing you ever do.

Fate is another interesting topic that I pondered on while reading this article. One section that I found particularly interesting was,

“They wondered if their mere presence at Stevens Pass that weekend gave rise to the Tunnel Creek trip, a group of proud locals eager to show off for influential out-of-towners. They wondered why they recognized all of the danger signs, starting with the avalanche report that morning over coffee, but did not do enough to slow or stop the expedition. They wondered if they could have saved lives after the avalanche by speeding to the bottom rather than combing the path.”

After something crazy happens, you start to wonder if one small thing had changed, how the situation could have been entirely different. From a personal example, I was once injured in an unlucky snowboarding accident. I started to think thoughts such as “what if I had not taken that particular run? What if I had left earlier? What if I had gone to a different resort?”

This article inspired to notice all the little details in life. It inspired me to write not only about the main event, but all the little back stories that make it unique. It also reminded me that crazy things happen, and you can be prepared but still have bad luck get the best of you. It is part of the risk of doing such a dangerous sport such as snowboarding. This story did not ruin my dreams of going to the backcountry to snowboard, but it gave me more respect for the dangers of mother nature, and uncontrollable forces.