Enduring stories

I just got some tickets to see The Princess Bride in my local theater for its 30th anniversary, and it has me wondering, what makes some stories stick around and stay loved over the years, and others fade away to nothing? It’s definitely not the ‘graphics’ or ‘effects’… yet this is what hollywood spends 90% of their money on.

Think back on the movies you watch over and over. Are any of them watched for the really cool explosion or fight scene, or awesome looking aliens or cityscapes? No… they’re watched because you love the characters, or the story is enthralling, or they are funny or scary or heartwarming.

I just read that more ‘Avatar’ movies are coming, at the expense of near 1 billion dollars. I’m sure they will be pretty, with all that money spent on computers… but will it have memorable characters or story? Does anyone remember any of the characters from the first Avatar? I vaguely remember an asshole general, just because I remember being irritated at how obviously I was being manipulated to dislike him. I remember the blue people… but not really anything about their personalities. I never watched it a second time.

The Princess Bride, on the other hand, I can tell you every character’s personality, their goals and desires, and a memorable line from them. I’ve seen it at least a dozen times, probably more.  This is more than nostalgia. This is spending time and effort on having memorable, likable characters with full arcs and motivations and integration into the story, instead of spending all your time and money on making things look cool.

The problem is, looking cool is what makes money. People are attracted to shiny, neat looking things. The 90 second trailer showing explosions and fights and crazy looking things is what draws people into the theater, so that’s what the Hollywood machine produces. It doesn’t matter if you forget it immediately after, or even if you hate it halfway through. You went into the theater, they got their money, and now they can start making another one.

It’s not all bad though. Even if we don’t have good movies anymore, at least we have good TV. TV shows have to be good, because if someone gives up after the first episode, the show is going to fail. So they are forced to make it engaging and addictive, instead of just cool looking enough to get you to start watching.

I only wish some shows were shown on the big screen every week!

Leveled up

I feel like I’ve gained a new writing power–the power to do multiple things. I wrote two short stories in the past week, and went back to my novel without a problem. In the past, whenever I paused anything, even for a short while, to do something else, I’d lose all interest and never go back to it.

Now with this newfound power of retained focus, can I write two long things an once?? It remains to be seen, I’m not sure I am ready to try that yet… But at least I know now that it is safe to take a short story break here and there!

Social media

I don’t do much writing related stuff there… but I probably should start. Make contacts, post things, get support and friends and so on. My author page on facebook has been pretty much just links to posts from this blog, but, I must start to do more with it! I want this to be my job after all…

Here is a link to it, Like to see new writerly things from me!


The grind

I logged into my Submissions Grinder account for the first time since 2014, and boy did I used to submit a lot of stories everywhere… I miss that. Writing novels has kind of taken a lot of the excitement and feeling of making progress out of writing for me, since they take so damn long. Well, I want it back!

I think I can allow myself some variation without getting distracted.

My plan, now, is to allow myself one short story per 10,000 novel words. Goals/deadlines/requirements seem to motivate me, so maybe this will actually increase the speed I’m writing this novel.

And maybe… just maybe I’ll actually sell something again…

Who wrote this?

I’ve been re-watching season one of the new Doctor Who, and it is so refreshingly good from the newer seasons. Mainly because it makes sense, character’s choices have reasons, cause and effect exist, etc. That is, until I got to ‘the empty child’. Watching that I started to have the same, vaguely annoyed feeling of ‘what? ugh, I don’t care’ that I get so often in the new Doctor Who episodes, when I have no idea why anything is happening. I looked the episode up on IMDB and, surprise, Stephen Moffat is the writer.

The Empty Child is the first episode that made me sigh with frustration and boredom, and it’s the first one that Stephen Moffat wrote. Not a coincidence. How he became so popular and such a dominant writer of the show I have no idea. But I hope he goes away in this next season, or I probably won’t bother, even with the intriguing new woman doctor.

More spies

I liked The Spy Who Came in from the Cold  so much that I got another le Carré novel,   The Looking Glass War.

Once again it is very good, I might find myself burning through a lot of these…

This one is about a different agent, and he so far seems to be surrounded by incompetents. It’s interesting going from The Spy Who Came in from the Cold  where everyone was pure genius and things were subtle and smart, to this one where everyone so far is being an idiot. I wonder if it is just to contrast how brilliant the agent, Avery, is. I hope so, a book full of people screwing up is less interesting to me.

The writing is great either way, though.

The Spy Who Came In from the Cold by John le Carré

I finished The Spy Who Came in from the Cold and it was not what I had expected.

What comes to mind when you think of a spy novel? Action? James Bond gadgets and iconic villains with plans for world domination? Explosions and murder in the dark?

le Carré writes perhaps the complete opposite of the James Bond style spy story. It is realistic, intriguing, clever, and most importantly you have to think about it. The plots and plans are subtle and in depth. The way real intelligence agencies might plan something, the way a real spy might have to act.

I love when an author doesn’t act like I’m an idiot, or too stupid to understand something. It is very refreshing in these days of simplistic popcorn action stories where the slightest twist has to be agonizingly explained for the people who spent half of it scrolling through their phones.

I was very impressed by this book and am going to pick up another le Carré book for my next read.