Tuesday, April 13, 2010

This is MY STORY

What I'm reading right now: I Am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells

Self - This is who I am. All of my parts in one place in the order I specify. A collective whole of my lineage.

Tenacious - My life is what I make of it and although there are those who wish me well, no one cares how my life evolves, devolves, or ends, but me.

Orator - If I don't speak, who will?

Resonance - When my actions coalesce with the actions of others, the impression is magnified, for better or worse. Choose wisely.

Yet - Each day is a new chapter, each hour a new paragraph, each thought a footnote toward a decided end-but I have yet to reach my potential.

This is my STORY.
Interested? Want to know more about the impetus behind this post? Click HERE to go to Chris Brogan's website.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

How to Train Your Dragon

What I'm reading right now: I Am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells

I did see a great movie tonight, which I will tie into writing before this is done, but first I want to comment on a situation I observed directly after the movie.

When I exited the men's room a woman asked if I'd seen a little boy in a green coat. I said that I hadn't but I'd check the stalls for her. I found nothing. When I came out again, she said nevermind. I saw that the boy in question approached. This mother then proceeded to do what all good parents do in this situation--berate her son for wandering off (in case you need a refresher, I included a link to the definition of berate, it's pretty harsh.)

I watched from the corner of my eye while taking in a poster for the new TRON movie due out in December. The boy didn't realize what he'd done was a problem. He did not get upset until mom got upset, both due to her anxiety and her tough love. Given that combo, he started crying, sniffling that quickly escalated to wailing. At this point, mom realized the effect she was having and tried to soften her verbal onslaught.

"Do you know why I'm angry?"
"No." wail
"You scared me. You wandered off and I couldn't find you. But I'm glad I found you. Are you glad I found you?"
"No." wail
"Come on. Let's go sit down and talk about it."

I thought his answer, that he was not glad she found him was hilarious. If you ever want truth, ask a kid. In case you're wondering, I saw them later in the parking lot and everything seemed fine.

I am a white personality. Which means I loath confrontation and seek out harmony. I'm sure that I've reacted in a similar manner when having lost track of one of my kids, but I've blocked out that experience. What I do remember is a similar experience where, upon seeing that my child was fine, I did not explode, but calmly explained what I was feeling and why what she did was wrong.

Why do I bring this up? 1) I want to remember the details so I can possibly recreate this scene in a story of my own. 2) I was reminded that kids don't always know to be upset or scared until they see their parents in that state--so keep a cool head. 3) As I mentioned, I thought his answer was darn funny.

~ * ~

Now, on to the show. We did see How to Train Your Dragon  and it was terrific. There were a couple of minor elements that I briefly questioned (coming from a writer's perspective) but quickly granted a pass, as it did seem possible, if not likely. The show was really well put together, and I'm talking from a story structure/plot development angle.

The biggest thing I noticed was the try/fail cycles. In any good adventure story, the hero has to try and fail many times before achieving his desire, otherwise, why bother trying in the first place? Kind of like writing a novel--if it were easy, everyone would do it. We also need cause to empathize with the hero. To root for him. To feel sad, to despair, and to rejoice with him. None of this can happen without failure.

There were moments in this movie and others where I wanted to say, "Oh come on. Just work for him. Let it happen." But I recognize a try/fail cycle and know I have to let it go. I recognize it so much now, that at a climatic point in the movie where it looks like success has been reached, I knew there was more coming, it was a cycle and there needed to be more to wrap up the themes of love, regret, and forgiveness that had been woven into the story.

At one point I thought, "How would I write something like this? How would I convey that?" Turns out Cressida Cowell already did. She wrote the book as well as 7 others in the How To dragon series. I find that usually movies based on books tend to be better movies. There are many fine examples of screenplays that made great movies, but the ones based on books tend to standout more for me.

Two things to wrap this up: 1) Good luck to my friend who is preparing to submit her portfolio to Dreamworks (good vibes coming your way.)  2) Here's a some pretty cool concept art I came across:

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