Optimism is NOT Arrogance

Arrogance is the belief that you are BETTER than others. Optimism is the belief that you have the same CHANCE as others. We all have the chance to achieve our dreams. Don't ever let anyone tell you differently.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

I don't like to blog much...

You can probably tell by my infrequent posts that I'm not a big blogger.  So today, in free form style, I'm going to explore why that is.

Writing is hard work.  There's that.  Not just the typing, I mean, that's easy for anyone who can type 72 words a minute.  But the mental preparation required to write takes discipline, and most important of all, confidence.  I kinda lack both.

Discipline means being able to get yourself focused to the task at hand.  Knowing you have something to say and a strong will to make sure it gets said.  Confidence means you don't think what you have to say sucks.

I have a discipline problem because I have a confidence problem.  It's hard to stay focused on what you want to say when there's a big part of your mind telling you "No one cares what you have to say."

Anyone else hear that voice?

Thought so.  So here's what I'm going to try to do from now on.  I'm going to write despite what that voice says, and I'm gonna say what I wanna say regardless of who listens or who cares.  Because here's the most important perk of writing that no one tells you about:

It's your way to capture your thoughts, your dreams, your characters, their thoughts, their dreams, all down on paper (or digital) forever.  It's a manual recording device for your brain.  That's it.  Some will read it and love it, some will read it and hate it and some may read it and not understand a word you're saying.  But that's like you, isn't it?  Does everyone immediately "get" you?  Even after meeting them do they fully "understand" you or know exactly where you're coming from?  No.  Some will meet you and love you, some will meet you and hate you and some will meet you and not understand a word you're saying.

But that's ok.  That's what makes us unique.

So after just getting rejected from an agent for the bazillionth time, I'm going to try working on a new book that hopefully may make some of what I'm saying a little more clear.  I may have mentioned the book before:  Dealing With Dudes and Chicks.  It's something that's been brewing in my mind for close to 10 years, but I've never had the guts to self-publish it, because it's a controversial way of getting teens to think, based on my ideas as a parent.

Well, I've got the guts now.  So keep an eye out for Dealing With Dudes and Chicks.  Coming to Amazon soon.

.....and in the meantime, if you haven't, check out my Timepiece Chronicles and Under a Broken Sun...  :)

Sunday, January 3, 2016

The Core of Good Writing - And Why Star Wars The Force Awakens Missed Its Mark

Full Disclosure:  In 1977, as an intensely creative 10 year old, I sat in the front row of a small theater and saw the Star Wars scroll explode on the screen for the first time not long after it opened.  There had never been anything like it, and to date, very little has come close to matching it.

I don't geek out over it because I'm now 48 and no one wants to see a chubby Stormtrooper (or as Leia would say, "Aren't you a little dumpy for a stormtrooper?")

In many ways, Episode IV, A New Hope, is a near perfect story.  Good plot lines have conflicts.  Good characters are conflicted.  Great stories have both.

Not so with The Force Awakens, at least not matching the hype.

I have no issue with the antagonist.  Rey is a blend of confusion, conflict, strength, determination, and delusion.  She is a less whiny version of Luke Skywalker from Episode IV, but still prone to crying and fits of rage at her situation, which many of us can relate to.  The fact that she's a female is irrelevant, as it should be.  I related to her as much as I did Luke.

Too bad she wasn't as central to the story as Luke was.

The movie starts out with Po Dameron, who is an ace pilot and tough guy and that's about all we know about him.  No internal conflict.  No back story.  No reason to feel anything for him other than he delivers a couple of one liners well.  Useless character clearly meant to move things along.  The conflict in the plot exists with or without him, and he has no connection or interest in the hero, even after the movie ends.  (Don't get me started on the "what the hell is Max Von Sydow doing in there?")

Secondly, there is inner conflict in the main bad guy, Kyle Ren.  Which is a BAD idea.  Inner conflict in the antagonist is fine to some degree, but when it shapes the bad guy's motives and intentions, the audience loses interest in the hero winning against the bad guy.  If anything, towards the end of the movie, you find yourself rooting for Kyle Ren to die just so you won't have to hear him whine anymore.  Darth Vader never had an inner conflict in Episode IV.  He did in Episode VI, which, not coincidentally, is the worst of the original three.

Imagine if Hannibal Lechter began to question whether or not eating people was really such a good idea.  He wasn't even conflicted about his feelings for Agent Starling.  He was steadfast.  Bad guys are immovable, unshakeable, and Kyle Ren struggled so much with his daddy issues that I waited earnestly for him to fall into a fetal position and start sucking his thumb. 

Good antagonists have no inner conflict.  It weakens them.

Finally, this movie clearly was written with two additional movies in mind.  Bad idea.  Good series, either books or films, can stand alone without much knowledge of previous or latter series.  Episode IV was labeled as such because Lucas had an idea of what happened before and what would happen after, but wrote it and filmed it as if it were just going to be one movie.  There was only a hint that a sequel could be coming, but if it didn't, we were fine with the way things turned out.

You can't write a book or a film and tell the audience "Oh, don't worry, that'll make sense in the second book (or film)."  You may never get that chance. 

So while I will recommend the movie, if for no other reason than the hero Roy's journey, I would caution anyone going to it thinking it's a shoo-in for best picture.  It's not.  And for you writers, there's a lot of lessons in there on how to write great plot lines, characters, and conflicts.  Watch Episode IV as if you've never seen or heard of Star Wars.  Then watch Episode VII the same way, and you'll see the difference.

Take that with you, and WRITE ON!

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