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What the hell do you want now? Inspirational writing 3 of 10

Wanter’s Blog, desire date 130315:23

So we have all these people in your story. Do they all just sit and watch tv all day? Sit in a coffee shop and stare at their phones or laptops?

NO, all these people want something. Something big, a story worth writing about often involves someone’s life work or life goal. And chances are the story/ book/ movie is about what each of them want and what they’re willing to do about it, or the consequences of not doing something. Or likely you’ll show how people screw things up.

A well crafted story will combine steps 1 & 2. An introduction of a character will instantly start piling a list of things they want or have to do (by the end of the story). Certain action figure/ video game/ comic book driven stories often pile on all the good guys and bad guys in rapid succession, which I think is hack. You can tell they‘re trying to get as many action figures out of it as they can.

Each person should get more time to develop than a parade of 1) hey, I wanna get laid, 2) hey, I’m the tough guy who’s going to kick ass for our cause, 3) hey, I’m the sarcastic sidekick, 4) hey, I’m the girlfriend of the protagonist and mother of the group. Yeah, these are overused story elements, the better writer can turn these elements on their ass and make something no one has seen before. Yes, we know now the girlfriend kicks ass and the guys are shlubby wimps. You know people who defy movie/ tv stereotypes, use them!

This is the part of the story where the leading male/ female sings the ballad of how they have to save their country, but they also want crazy sex and if there were only someone out there that can help with both.

Sometimes it’s not all about the big goals. There was an episode of Community based on the group looking for a purple gel pen, and 1 person (Annie) basically holding everyone hostage til she gets her favorite thing back. But out of it came a lot of discussion and revelations from the group.

A good story can have people on the same “side” that want things that conflict with each other. A lot of times it comes in the form of a competition, or someone has to get the 1 promotion. Tickets are selling fast for a show and who can get a pair?

Sometimes the need is an accident that disturbs our character’s every day life. There’s an earthquake. A couple is having problems, the wife gets on a plane and then it’s hijacked.

And chances are a protagonist will even be content with the way things are (at a “low“ level). This thing that happens disturbs that and they have no choice but to act. Many characters have their caretakers actually killed or living area literally wiped out. They have nowhere else to go. They have no family left. The crew is enjoying their snacks when they get dispatched to an emergency call. You and all your friends get fired instead of laid off so the bought out company wouldn’t be responsible for your unemployment.

The real trick is to not broadcast the ending by the character’s need. We know the single guy starring with Drew Barrymore is going to wind up with her at the end. We know the poor guy will get a job and money. We know the team that can’t get a win will take the championship. The trick is to make the goal interesting enough to hang in there, but there may be an unexpected result. A whodunnit is only good when you can’t figure it out in the first 20 minutes.

Okay, so now what do we do, team leader?

 

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2013/03/15 Posted by | Writing course in 10 sessions | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What great tv series should have..

Flix Blog, DVD date 130308:06

I have a new favorite show and it’s all on DVD. Let me tell you how and why this show is amazing to me.

When people tell me about their favorite show(s), I eventually ask many questions they can’t answer. I don’t really get upset at them about them, but I really want to know there is a value and things to learn from a show.

Of the main cast, is there a wasted character? Do all of them shine somehow, at least by the end of the first season. Do they do something incredible, is there an incredible revelation or change? Better developed shows not only have a main awesome cast, but even their nemeses are cool. Even the ancillary characters around them get developed. Even the extras become developed into the “C” team. And it’s not the sickening hack tropes we’ve all seen too many times, no new twists. The creepy characters are even hilarious and may have redeeming episodes. It’s good to know what event(s) happened to make people assholes.

There are character arcs over each season. We live in the age of dvds now, so, to be honest, we can look at last episodes and determine a show’s overall value by it. We have all seen how a last episode can affect a series. Some shows were cancelled and we want to know the answers before cast members or their creators pass away. Shows have been ruined by their last episodes when they could instead be made for people to watch the series again. That’s the big solution? That’s who they wound up with? So they just move away and everyone splits up? At least Gilligan’s Island had people wondering if they ever got rescued for over a decade.

Some finales are awesome, but they answer TOO much, they button everything up which I don’t like. We want to know the characters have something to do after the series besides move, raise their new baby, have no more bad guy to defeat, etc.

This show I like does a lot of things and blows away expectations. When we’re sitting alone, we’re the biggest critics of tv. For some reason we laugh easier in an audience because we subconsciously want to fit in when others are laughing. And by my self, this series has me rooting, cheering and oh, shitting consistently above those insult on a couch sitcoms shot in docu format.

This show combines a lot of my favorite television tropes and knocks them on their asses. The super power the main character gets is like Quantum Leap and Greatest American Hero, it comes out at unexpected times. There are governments, international play. It has the main hero king of the geeks at work and starts off as inept among the professional players in the plots. He balances the worlds like Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The show is even a bit like Moonlighting about work professionalism. Things that never would happen in a retail store happen and it’s buy-able as the series progresses.

Some series don’t finish things and leaves topics flat, but a good show like this mines the things in the back of your mind later and expands beyond what you’d think. Even a favorite show of mine like How I met your mother has dropped the ball calling some “sacred” things back and tying an unsatisfying bow on them.

Plus, the show has hot women (and men), plenty of fan service, geek service and horndog service. And retro. Great pop culture references and especially bring backs.

I have branched my writings into my own first fiction aside from my big Project. And not only does this series use a character name that I bashed from a couple of other sources, but this show also answered a question I’ve had in my mind since I was little. Why is there a missing Element from Earth, Wind and Fire?

This show has amazing guest stars that actually have action sequences. They’re well known and the show not only nods to their tropes, but often has them playing against them or parodying roles they’re known for. Scott Bakula’s Sam Beckett, Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor, Timothy Dalton’s James Bond.

They did crossover to appeal to the comic con crowd like a lot of shows do now, but they did have a fan uproar and rescue attempt online. There’s even famous product sponsors to help save the show, which has funny, odd and interesting interruptions in the episodes they appear in. It would be like Scooby having a brand name snack as a favorite.

If you haven’t guessed by now, and I’m running out of page, it’s Chuck that I’m watching now.

2013/03/08 Posted by | Single malts | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Story Writing Part 2 of 10: Our Little Village

Writer’s Blog, typedate 120305:09 (uh, movie spoilers?)

The first thing a story needs are characters, a setting and a “beginning.” And that’s in quotes because the beginning of a story can take place in the future and flash back to now, or sometime in the past, a story’s prologue. Good times, huh?

What a beginning of a story is supposed to do is introduce main characters and give you a status quo “land.” You have to identify with someone in a society and see the story thru them. If a movie starts with a traffic jam, you’re going to see your character break from the pack. Your eye is drawn to it and likely that’s the person that’s going to be followed. Or a herd of animals, same thing. Or one of the robots falls off the factory conveyor belt.

There are a lot of great examples of starts, but here are a few terrible ones.

One of the most overused story beginnings is someone waking up and getting out of bed. It’s hack and lazy and you’re better than that. You may have thought of a dozen examples of this. The first thing I thought of is the student who of course wakes up late for school. And what does he do when he brushes his teeth? See, predictability can be terrible for a story.

Most movies have 15 minutes to reel you in, that’s what studios decide what gets filmed. At the same time, that intro has to make the “before” horrible but exciting at the same time. There are going to be changes in the story to amazing people, places and things, but you have to contrast it to the boring day-to-day life can be for “the masses.” your story will stand out from that.

Some movies take the approach that everything does seem great and incredible and everything works, but then there’s problems people don’t address that character(s) will uncover.

Whoville is great, but the Grinch is watching nearby. Everyone is cruising along on the Enterprise and then the ship takes a dump, to no fault of their own. It’s a space anomaly. This Jurassic Park place is a cool idea! Too bad it’s going to be torn all to shit because you messed with nature.

A cool way I like for a story to begin is often done in Star Trek, which I will try not to over refer to. But everything is going along fine and then a character(s) will do something completely bizarre, but people will go on as if everything is okay. Did you see that? What the hell did they say/ do? Am I the only one seeing this horrific thing going on? And you spend the next 40 minutes trying to figure out what the nefarious space thing did to the crew, their memories or location.

They got that from Twilight Zone, which is something everyone needs to see who starts writing. Sometimes an ordinary person gets a supernatural power. Sometimes the enemy is Earth, or humans! You have to start with “normality,” so people can see the contrast in the story’s changes.

Another cool beginning I like is the “failed mission.” A lot of spy stories and cop shows start like this. Someone falls victim to a calamity, and our protagonists will have to find out and/or avenge what happened. A ship is destroyed and then our ship comes merrily along, unaware there’s a space shredder coming up. Someone is lost and they have to be found. Are they even alive? Sometimes, they are not. Someone loses a battle and the threat is in the wind and has to be stopped.

Sometimes this is called a teaser. James bond can be finishing an unrelated mission. Sometimes a person/ crew will get attacked and fail very thoroughly and horribly only to reveal it’s a training mission (they will have to get better at later). It’s also a chance to show your favorite characters get killed in a sequel, but not get killed.

Next time, we develop the needs of your characters, good bad and evil.

 

2013/03/05 Posted by | Writing course in 10 sessions | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment