Tuesday, June 30, 2015
Movie of the Summer
Okay, it’s summer, and what’s the movie we’re all watching? I’d dare to guess, JurassicWorld. There are rabid fans and there are the detractors.
But even with a few plot holes we can drive a truck through (such as, as pointed out by my comic writing niece, Corinna Bechko, kids piloting the rolling bubbles unsupervised and the fact that said bubbles would be rolling through dino poo) let’s face it, most of us love it.
And somebody(s) wrote it. Apparently there’s a dispute over writing credits for Jurassic World and the WGA arbitration panel ruled credit is to be shared by two writing teams. First the credit was given to director Colin Trevorrow and his writing partner Derek Connolly (and of course the original Michael Crichton gets a ‘based on the novel by’ credit). But then there was the dispute as Rick Jaffa and Amada Silver, a husband-and-wife team who’d written an earlier draft of the script were deemed to share credit with a ‘screenplay by’ credit. The dispute isn’t over though as Trevorrow and Connolly are appealing on the basis they wrote an entirely new screenplay that wasn’t based on the original draft by Jaffa and Silver.
I have no intention on weighing in on who’s right, but there you are, the writer’s life.
Be that as it may, why do we love it so much (despite the ‘holes’ and glitches)? I doubt that question can be thoroughly answered, but come on, we love dinos. And on top of that the truth is we want to see said dinos chasing people (and occasionally eating them). Don’t we all have someone we’d love to put in a dino’s path? Don’t we all love excitement and danger in 3D when we can immerse ourselves and not actually be there, but feel like we are?
Works for well-written books as well. Readers love to be drawn into the story, to become part of it. There are books like the Special Edition Junior Novelization of Jurassic World
and a Jurassic World book claiming it brings dinosaurs to life and I guess it sorta does using an app that lets the user move the dinos and make them bigger, etc.
It’s all escapism and fun. It’s why we have always loved story-telling in all of its many forms from earliest times. It’s what writers and creators do; write scripts and books and create worlds (whether common or very uncommon) for us all to get lost in.
Hey, there's even a Jurassic World Monopoly (how does that work?) And if you're really into it, toys galore.
So if you’re a writer, get busy creating those worlds. If you’re a reader and movie-goer, enjoy!
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
If you're a writer of any stripe, fiction, non-fiction, articles, in an office, business letters - anything then this sight is a helpful one for you. Common Errors In English Usage is an outcrop of a book, but it's a great site unto itself. Check it out along with all the other resources offered at the bottom of the page - and head back to the home page as well.
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
Today I’m addressing writers and readers. It’s interesting how writers get lost in their own stories at times, even to the point of forgetting it’s their readers they want to engage and draw into the story and the lives of the character.
So I’ll focus, for the moment on characters and more specifically, the hero or heroine of the story. Characters are integral to the story. They aren’t just stick figures to be moved about, populating the world the writer has created in order to move those exciting and cool twists and turns of plot forward.
Right readers? You’re in it for more than that. Rarely do you readers wish you could read more about the plot, but rather wish you could read more about the characters, spend more time with them, learn what makes them tick. I’ve heard that from so many readers.
Think about the stories you’ve read and which ones are truly memorable in your mind. You know, the ones that kept you up late reading or made you forget to fix diner or for which you skipped the trip to the gym or climbed up on your stationary bike with book in hand and kept reading while pedaling.
Plot is important, plainly, but it is the empathy with the characters and their problems to be solved that truly drags the reader in for the full ride.
Tell me, reader, isn’t it true you like to know a bit of background, what makes a character tick so that when the trouble you know is coming arrives you can empathize and identify with that character. You can move through the action, understanding, if not liking, the hero’s response.
Readers, all of us, identify, or not, with the actions of characters with thoughts like, “get inside stupid!” or “I sure wouldn’t do that”, or “why didn’t you kill the SOB?” What really pulls a reader into a story is the character’s actions and reactions. And knowing something about the character makes it all more real. If a character who’s a doctor comes home after a miserable day, finds the house empty, his spouse gone because he has never reconciled the tragedy of his son’s death while out surfing, then gets an emergency call from the hospital that he’s needed and puts all his personal baggage aside to go save a life the reader comes to deeply care about him. They’ll be rooting for him to succeed in whatever challenges the writer throws at him.
All of this is why it’s important for characters to be real. To have flaws, to make mistakes. To have had a life before the story the writer is telling.
Take a minute to tell us what you’ve loved about a character as a reader or what you’ve loved creating in a character for your audience. And go out there and read/write more great books!
Tuesday, June 16, 2015
Who’s story is this anyway? Is it the main character’s, Tanith Aesir, aka Stormrider, or does it belong to the wolves?
I’m afraid I have to give it to the wolves. I’ve loved wolves all my life. Not just because they’re beautiful – they are. Not just because they’re intelligent – they are. Not just because they’re loyal – they are, extremely. It’s all of those things along with this amazing aura, this magic that seems to cling to them throughout the ages.
They’re given an exalted place in our art, our history, or mythology, our literature – and on and on. They’re admired, feared, raised to nearly god-like status and dropped to the pit of evil as werewolves. Tell me the sight of a wolf doesn’t move you in some way?
And that’s how Stormrider got its start. The wolves came first, their personalities, their power, and the rest of the story came along after.
A bit of research on our own wolves turned up the fact that there once were over 250,000 wolves in North America and now there are fewer than 5,000. They once had a solid niche to fill having developed side by side with their prey killing and eating the young, the sick and the old, leaving the fittest to survive, reproduce and grow stronger. And, their kills also fed numerous other animals that shared their habitat such as ravens, eagles, foxes, bears and others. Additionally, as is being discovered with their reintroduction to Yellowstone, the wolves even help keep the forest healthy by checking deer and elk populations, thus slowing overgrazing and soil erosion. Surprising, no?
It’s sad (and a little horrifying) that the early settlers equated killing a wolf with the triumph of civilization over wilderness out of fear and superstition. Even more so since the early native Americans regarded wolves as mysterious and powerful beings.
Nature is intricate and beautiful. But what of the savagery you say? Can you claim man isn’t savage? What of his near extermination (and that was the intent) of the wolves? In only twenty-five years more than 80,000 wolves were killed. That’s pretty savage.
So I moved the incredible wolves to another planet, another culture and imbued them with some remarkable abilities. Abilities that Stormrider is swept up in to become a member of the pack.
It was a fun ride and my goal is to have made it as much for the reader as it was for me as the writer.
Thursday, June 11, 2015
I have a cold, or a virus, or whatever the heck you want to call it.
What, you may ask, does that have to do with being a writer, writing or anything related.
Well let’s take this step by step. I’m at the later stages of a nasty, mind-numbing cold and therefore I am now more coherent. If some of you read my blog posts over at Larry Brody’s TV Writer then the latest on there was written just as this thing was settling in so I wasn’t totally crazy yet. It started coming on later on Monday and this is later on Thursday so I have a lost week on my hands.
Now, if I had a day job and was lucky enough to have some benefits I would have had to call in sick (because this thing wouldn’t even let me move, I who never spends sick time in bed. So a couple of days off with pay, not having a good time, but not losing too much. And the day jobs I’ve had in the past would have served that function. But ultimately Mama raised a writer so I don’t have that day job. In the interest of full disclosure I have a husband who does have said day job with said benefits and I may add, health insurance. He even took a day off to stay home with me and take care of me. But if I was an average writer that wouldn’t be true. Food for thought.
So I’ve lost an entire week of work alternating between fever and chills. My brain is barely emerging from its bubble of unconcern and I’m hit with the realization that yes, I have deadlines and a proposal out there and a few other things that I’m going to have to scramble to play catch-up on; which is worse than when I take a vacation because a vacation is actually ‘planned’. You’ll need to be patient here if I go off on tangents, I still can’t hold a thought securely for more than about a minute, so I tend to mentally wander off.
Okay, back on track. The thing is, the writer’s most important tool is the brain. When it’s messed up like what a virus can do to it, things get really bad. When I’m sick, not only do I feel sick, but since I can’t do anything I also get very grumpy, irritable and whiny (that last one I try to keep to myself, but it’s in there, roaring to be unleashed). I kind of want to snarl at whoever is near but haven’t gotten so sick that I can’t control that impulse yet. When I’m a little old lady on death’s door somebody better watch out because if I figure out I can’t complete that script or novel at all I’m going to be really pissed and there’ll be hell to pay.
So this is why having a cold, in this case a particularly nasty one, has something to do with being a writer. It does, after all, have something to do with being a human being. We all cope, or don’t, in our own manner. Thank goodness I have three concerned dogs who pile into bed with me determined to protect me from whatever evil has caused his downtime. Of course that doesn’t help much with the fever aspect of this mentioned above, but they’re sweet to care. So is husband who brought me soup, juice and lots of unreserved love in the face of coughing, whining, bitching and bemoaning lost time.
Whether you’re a writer or not, how do you react to enforced down time? What do you, or someone you love do to make it better? Share your war stores.
Oh, and unless you should think I forgot, here’s this week’s Writers and Readers Websites Wednesday site: Archetype Writing