Closure for Star Wars?

From a Hollywood Reporter article on Star Wars 7:

Arndt is said to have focused on the offspring of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), with the original trilogy’s heroes taking on supporting roles. Abrams, however, wanted Episode VII to focus on the classic trio of characters, so audiences could have one more chance to enjoy them before a fitting send-off. The new characters, the offspring, will now be in supporting roles, according to these sources, and take center stage in Episode VIII and IX. Some characters have disappeared from the Arndt script and new ones are being added.

Star Wars creator George Lucas, who directed the 1977 original and each of the most recent trilogy, was also involved in the debate, according to insiders. But Lucas, who sold his Lucasfilm to Disney in 2012, acquiesced to Abrams and producer Kathleen Kennedy, who now runs Lucasfilm.

Look, I’m all for Lucas stepping aside so that the next generation of filmmakers can take over Star Wars from him, but I think he’s right in this case.  His plot outlines were never the problem, really.  The end of Return of the Jedi is closure times 11; there is no need for a more fitting send-off than that.  So let the old characters be Obi-Wans to the new ones.

Community Rises

Just a quick note to say: I can’t believe that something I considered dead is now alive again. Community is back to what it used to be.

Will there be a sixth season?  Will there be a movie?

At least we have Season Five.

Writing Tip Wednesday: Fun with Food

Sometimes I really hate when authors talk about how clearly they visualize each and every moment from their work.  I hate it because I so frequently have trouble with just that. It can be hard to visualize the world of your story, and it can be downright impossible to make it as real to yourself as it should be for you to write it well.

So here’s the problem in short:
I can’t just close my eyes and explore an invented world visually; I need to have real objects that I can see, touch, and manipulate in order to best imagine something else.  I can’t conjure much out of nothing.

This all naturally leads into the Writing Tip: [Read more...]

Trope Tuesday: Kick the Dog

A literary trope in a story is like a cliché with impunity.  It’s a recognizable convention, but if the author knows what to do, it can be used to great effect.  Any writer looking for ways to add useful details and situations to a narrative will find tropes helpful.  Any reader interested in why tropes can be reused so often will also benefit from their exploration.  As such, this series of posts analyzes the endless well of information that is TVTropes.org (from a literary perspective).

This Week’s Literary Trope: Kick the Dog

TV Tropes defines the trope as follows:

A character performs an act so casually cruel or evil that you know that they are scum, incompatible with the moral rules of the series that they’re in. This is a signal to the audience that it’s okay to dislike the character. In short, dog-kicking is a sure sign that the writers want the audience to be wary of this character, even if he is nominally one of the good guys.

We’ve all seen this one before.  There has to be an establishing act for the villain to show us that he’s, well, the villain.  The boldest example I can think of is from Battlestar Galactica, where Caprica Six snaps the neck of an infant before the beginning of the nuclear attack on Caprica.  This scene works because it is actually fairly ambiguous.  Did she do this accidentally–in a way that suggests her inability to comprehend human vulnerability?  Did she do this purposely–because she just loves to kill babies?  Or did she do this mercifully–to spare this infant the terrible death that was to come later on?  A good “dog kick” can actually make us think, but all too often such moments end up being entirely unoriginal.

How can you avoid that lack of originality? [Read more...]

Motion Monday: Confrontation Edition

Every so often (by which I mean multiple times a day), I procrastinate by searching YouTube for clips from favorite films and shows that I haven’t seen in a while.  I thought it was worth sharing these clips on a regular basis for two reasons: (1) Just to appreciate them and (2) To examine what makes them good writing/filmmaking worth revisiting.

This clip is from The West Wing, so spoilers if you want to watch it one day (a significant character death is discussed). [Read more...]

Link of the Day: Writing Fight Scenes

Fantasy often gets a bad rap for relying on violence and action because such narrative elements are frequently seen as cartoonish and therefore childish.  When I try to respond to such accusations, I think back to the way Joss Whedon explained his approach to The Avengers:

Ultimately these people don’t belong together and the whole movie is about finding yourself from community. And finding that you not only belong together but you need each other, very much. Obviously this will be expressed through punching but it will be the heart of the film.

“This will be expressed through punching” is pretty much exactly what many people don’t get or refuse to acknowledge about fantasy.  The violence is metaphor.  Somehow many can understand horrific violence as metaphor in The Iliad but cannot recognize the same in modern fantasy.

Whether critics accept it or not, compelling fight scenes are essential to both entertaining and thoughtful fantasy narratives.  As such, today’s link offers writers some tips on how to write fight scenes well.  It comes courtesy of MythicScribes.com, where author Codey Amprim offers such jewels as this:

Fight scenes, however brutal and enthralling, are delicate things.

Definitely give it a read.

Fandom Friday: Sherlock’s Return & The Lost Lie

Sometimes, it’s necessary to forget the writing tips and the writing process entirely and just geek out.  That’s what Fandom Friday is for.  Today is definitely feeling like a Sherlock day, and I’ve got some thoughts about the Season 3 opener.

Spoilers if you haven’t seen it yet!

  1. The explanation of Sherlock’s survival is preposterous, stupid, and unsatisfying (if indeed Sherlock was telling the truth, and if he wasn’t then that’s even more unsatisfying).
  2. It doesn’t matter for a second.
  3. 99% of the time I hate when people say what I just said (“It doesn’t matter for a second”).  I hate when people say “the answers” to a mystery set up by a story are irrelevant because “only the characters matter” and “only the emotions need to be satisfying.”
  4. This is the 1% of times when I’m fine with it. [Read more...]

Theory Thursday: Reading too much into “The Little Mermaid”

A while back, I wrote posts that were meant to be primers on Literary Theory. Writers and fans alike are used to being accused of “reading too much into” something, namely the stories we love.  Most such accusers have no idea how much people on the Ivory Tower side of things are reading into literature, so I thought it would be useful to dip into that world and really go overboard.

Of course, I don’t think we are ever reading too much into anything.  You can’t overthink literature if you enjoy the thinking that gets done.  You can only come up with ideas that others then have a chance to fight against, and in that fighting, greater understanding takes place.  So, I thought to continue on with my “Theory Thursdays,” I’d quit profiling a theory and start applying them in unlikely places.

If you want to look back into the original post, the most relevant one for today can be found here.

So without further ado:

A Marxist Look at The Little Mermaid

I posted the above video clip last week in a post on Frozen.  While watching the clip for other purposes, I started thinking about Ursula as a villain and what Marxist literary theorists would say about her.  Here’s the thing about Ursula:

She follows the rules. [Read more...]

Writing Tip Wednesday: Emergency Lever

It’s Wednesday night, and I need to write.  The goal: 500 words.  The time: all night if I must.  

Can I do it, you ask?  You’re goddamn right I can.

Will it be any good?

That’s the question we don’t want want to ask when we try to meet our goal of getting anything on the page, and sometimes, that is perfectly fair.  If you’ve had an otherwise enormously busy and stressful day, getting down any words, no matter their quality, is a Herculean triumph.  Other days, you rush through your goal, say you’ve done it, and then proceed to Netflix for three hours.  That’s not an achievement.  I felt good after I went to church as a child (the 4-5 times I went), but I promise you, clocking in that time didn’t expand my spiritual horizons.  If I felt bad about that fact, I wouldn’t blame the priests: I’d blame myself for equating clocking in time with achievement.

So here’s the problem in short:
Sometimes we sit down, write a good amount, but do it so mechanically that none of it actually ends up being useful and our time spent furthering our craft hasn’t done anything at all for us.

And here’s the Writing Tip:

Create an emergency lever for “Thinking outside the that-thing-that-other-less-original-writers-would-call-a-box-but-you-are-instead-referring-to-as-something-else.” [Read more...]