Can I Get This Done?

Today I have to figure out how I am going to get pitches/proposals for four shows done soon.  Not that there’s a rush. I should get them done so just the same. Part of this process if for me to help shape my stories a lot stronger than i have in the past.  It will take a lot more effort that I put in projects in the past, and will keep working towards professionalism and excellence.

With this in mind I want to buckle down and throw my inner-censor out the window.  I also want to embrace character-driven stories, so that means thinking more of the emotional stakes of the characters.  That doesn’t always shine through at the initial stages of my writing, but if writing is rewriting, then I know it’s a matter of time before I get there.  

As I mentioned yesterday, I love plot-driven stories, and I have had a steady diet of them, but I’m willing to try new methods of storytelling to reach my goal of becoming a full-time televisions writer-producer who creates his own shows.  I also eventually want to help others reach their goals, but one step at a time, right?

Happy creative endeavors.

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The (Emotional) Payoff

Well, as I write, figure stuff out, and do my research, one question comes to mind: Am I writing a plot-driven story, or a character driven story.  Most of the time this seems like a simple choice, but I can’t find there balance between the two.

For the record, plot-driven is when events happen to your main character(s), and the MC(s) react to the the plot.  Genre stories can (not always) be plot-driven.  Melodrama (my fave) is for sure plot-driven–bad things happen to good people.

Conversely, character-driven stories focus on the desire and/or fears of the MC(s)–how the MC(s) react that tells the story. Literary stories are often considered character driven, and many of the the stories are about the character’s journey. The story has an emotional payoff.

Therein lies the problem for me. I like both, but found myself straddling the line between the two in an incomplete way.  What this does mean is looking at my work and revising it to be more character-driven. As always, I got rewriting to do, but I like that when I fell off the wagon, i was able to refresh my POV.

As always, happy creative endeavors.

 

Tropes, Archetypes, and Sterotypes

Was looking over tropes and archetypes and came across something interesting.  In my novel I needed a mentor archetype to teach my MC (hero) the ropes. The MC is white and the mentor is black. I didn’t think this was a trope, but came across what is called “magic negro.” BTW I bristle at the word, and should. It’s a pejorative.

For those not in the know, the term refers to a black character, usually of a lower economic and social standing, who is “in touch with the earth,” and may or may not possess magical powers. He or she may be the sole black person within the story, and his/her sole purpose in a story or film is to find the clueless white leading character, and give him or advice, then sacrifice himself for the MC.

This magic black man/woman typically doesn’t have their own storyline other than he or she is to be the MC’s guide. The magic black person has no family, no origins, and kind of a blank slate. This makes their character role pivotal, but also underwhelming.  Even Obi-Wan got to hang out and guide Luke after his death. Dude had more than agency—he had staying power.

By contrast, mentors are the archetype, and serve to guide the hero. They may sacrifice themselves, however they have agency and are viable parts of the narrative. For the record, the mentor for my novel has magic, and knowledge he teaches the MC how to use magic properly, but this is a world where magic exists.

The mentor in my novel evolved from being simply a mentor, to having elements of an ally (potential friend/companion), and trickster (who’s side are you on, anyways) archetypes.  He definitely has his own story arc, and he’s not the sole person of color in the story.

For the record, I love mentor roles in stories. I also love teachers, ad teaching. Academics is important to me personally. It’s important for me to get story elements correctly without falling into tropes and/or racial stereotypes.

Do I think I can have a black mentor for a white student? Do I think the roles can be misconstrued or misunderstood?  Can I give my mentor the role he deserves, past perceived limitations? Can I even defy expectations by not having a mentor be perfect or a great role model? The answer is “yes” to all of these questions.

Happy creative endeavors.

An Emotional Response

Here’s something I was thinking about, in regards to writing stories and scripts. I was wondering what and how I, the writer, can create something that I, the viewer, could emotionally respond to. Sounds simpler in my head.

A while ago, I wrote out a story where the characters’ actions dictated a lot of the conflict, as opposed to dialogue. It had a sense of urgency and danger, and I kept the scene, not knowing how or when to use it.

I experimented with this method a couple of times, then abandoned it. There was, however, something to be said when you can only imagine parts of the sounds and words, as well as feeling the urgency and danger.

I think that time has come to revisit this aspect of writing.  I don’t have a why now so much as it crossed my mind moment, and I’m always looking at ways to tell stories and retain some impact past a moment.

Happy creative endeavors.

Creature Features

I’m convinced, in large part, to write screenplays one must watch movies al the time. In my current gaming first mode, there have been less and less movies in my free time. That said, I told myself to find some films on TV to watch. No easy task for a constantly finicky film watcher, right?

By chance John Carpenter’s The Thing was on, so I watched it. I remember when I first saw this film, was too young to appreciate all the nuances of the film, but it did frighten me. Somehow I ended up watching a piece of Kong Skull Island, and I always wondered why monster movies aren’t the joy they used to be.

Granted, The Thing is more of a horror movie filled with paranoia, survival, isolation, and thriller elements. It reminds me of how I love monsters—at least in fiction, and how awesome they can be. I have a small list below of some I’ve seen and loved.

Note: DelToro always makes such interesting creature films. Not surprisingly I like several of his films. I do think his strength is incorporating elements of fairy tales in his stories.

Also some of these films are crossovers in genres. For example, Predator has thriller, science fiction, and action elements in addition to being a creature film. Alien is science fiction and horror film. Pacific Rim is science fiction. It goes on.

  • Jurassic Park
  • Pacific Rim
  • Pan’s Labyrinth
  • Hellboy
  • The Thing
  • Alien
  • Predator

I could add more films, but we’d be here for days. I didn’t get to Tim Burton films, of Harryhuasen films (Sinbad, original Clash of the Titans) Needless to say, the writer in me wants to see more monster films.  Now I gotta go finish watch Skull Island.

What are your favorite creature films?

Happy creative endeavors.

Genre Challenges and Ideas

For the record, I did get some writing done yesterday. I had an idea for a character’s background, and added it to my Moleskin. I was constantly interrupted, but still managed to get it down. So that’s a good thing.

Also spent time contemplating genres and ideas. I tend to skewer towards the fantastical, and that’s fine. I was curious if I could create works in other genres as well. This is me simply having some free time to debate what I could do outside my favored choices o genre.

I also began to think of a horror-themed TV show because why not? Partly I want to know if I could scare myself, but I also like supernatural stories and dark theme, but never thought to put it into a show or a film.

I wouldn’t be unprecedented. Several supernatural shows have horror built into them. Supernatural comes to mind, as does Charmed, American Horror Story, and X-FilesX-Files used to have some scary episodes back in the day.

There was a Dracula TV show–the actual title escapes me, but it had an unintentional, light camp aspect to it, which kind of pulled it away from horror.  I see they were going for a supernatural dramatic vibe, but it was kind of lost in the mix.

Happy creative endeavors.

 

Story Swagger

Yesterday, I tried writing a post about how mood and emotion affect the narratives, characters, and overall aesthetic of the text. It was too long, and didn’t say what I meant. So, I gave it a lot overnight thought.

To give an example of what I mean, a show like Pushing Daises has a fairy tale (or storybook) like quality that is repeated in the visuals, characters, and narrative elements.

Or a film like Bram Stoker’s Dracula was described as an “erotic dream” which did have an impact on the style. It also included a lot of fairy tale elements but that’s another topic.

Last night and this morning, I thought of things like noir, and horror, which definitely make viewers or readers feel a distinct emotions.  Noir was dark, depressing, and had a particular style to the lighting. the characters are a distinct and you had types (hard luck heroes, femme and homme fatales, etc.).

Horror has a basis with fear being the main theme, so elements focus towards that emotion.  The aforementioned Dracula film was steeped in horror, which twisted the erotic aspects into the fantastical, grotesque and frightening.

As a writer, I wondered, and still wonder if style (which incorporates mood and emotion) could and should be at the forefront of my mind as I work on a project.  Also what style am I trying to convey with each project.

It sounds overwhelming, but I think what makes some story distinct and memorable is that they had their own swagger, and internal logic.