When I was a kid, I rode my bike every Saturday to the local library, which was less than a mile from my home. Where I live now, a child would have to ride her bike 10 miles to the nearest library. Even by car, it takes a dedicated parent and engaged child to make the trip. All the more reason adults, whether they have children or not, need to show enthusiasm and support for public libraries.
With NaNoWriMo less than a month away, I thought it time to post a warning about plot bunnies. Sure, they start out cute and intriguing, but they can lead you to a very dark place. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing…
This quote by Anton Chekhov isn’t just referring to show-don’t-tell. He could have easily said, “the glint of light on a pool of water” or “the glint of light on a dark window,” but these don’t evoke the same response.
Broken glass suggests action, rising tension and potential conflict. The crunch of glass beneath a character’s feet should make us cringe along with the character.
I thought of this quote when I saw the Season Six opener for “Supernatural.” In this case, the broken glass could refer to a broken world with heaven and hell asunder, or to Sam’s brokenness as he grapples with his soul. In any case, the ethereal light shining off the shards shows us we’re about to embark on a dark tale.
Neil Gaiman is a bestselling, multi-published author in a variety of media, and yet here he gushes like a fanboy over Doctor Who. Gotta love that.
I also love what a great single paragraph, mini-synopsis this is. One of the hardest things we are asked as writers is to briefly describe our stories. Perhaps we should put on our fan hats and trying writing a synopsis that is both descriptive and entertaining.
Last night I went to see “The Rocky Horror Show” live on stage at City Lights Theater in San Jose, which put me in the mood to create a Dr. Frank N. Furter gif. This being a literary kind of blog, I added a quote from the show’s creator, Richard O’Brien.
Along with writing the stage play and co-writing the screenplay, Richard O’Brien is most famous for having played Dr. Frank N. Furter’s treacherous handyman, Riff Raff. In a candid interview with Dominic Wells of The Times, O’Brien discusses the creation of Dr. Frank N. Furter.
"He’s a drama queen, really," O’Brien says of Frank. "He’s a hedonistic, self-indulgent voluptuary, and that’s his downfall. He’s an ego-driven … um …" and here his voice lowers to a stage whisper, "I was going to say, a bit like my mother.”
Blink-blink. Who knew? And yet isn’t that the point? As writers, we create characters from bits and pieces of what we know. But you don’t want your seventh grade English teacher to know that the crazed hatchet murderer in your novel is based on him. Maybe all you’re really borrowing is the teacher’s coffee breath, bad complexion and inner rage.
Richard O’Brien borrowed certain of his mother’s attributes and created a flamboyant, murderous and yet free spirited and poignant character that is still memorable today. You can read the interview here.
When I saw this quote by Kurt Vonnegut, it made me think of the angel Castiel from the TV series “Supernatural.” Castiel remindes me of another angel, Cassiel from the German movies, “Wings of Desire” and “Faraway, So Close.” Images of both seem to confirm there’s a connection. So I was delighted when I found this quote from Misha Collins, the actor who portrays Castiel:
"The producers really have never said to me if this is true, but I kind of think the character is a little bit based on Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire character Cassiel, who was an angel. It’s a really cool movie, and it’s based on a German poet’s work."
Both Cassiel and Castiel are angels in trench coats who become fascinated with humanity. Each struggles and fails to help the humans in their charge. As they jump off their particular cliffs, are they falling from grace or leaping into it? Do they lose their wings or gain a new and better pair?
As writers, we have to do the same thing in terms of writing outside our comfort zone. If our characters get too comfortable, we have to shove them off a cliff. If those characters are angels, real or metaphorical, we must break their wings and see if they can grow a new pair as they plummet.
Joss Whedon’s quote explains why so many of us write. We want to be the larger-than-life hero who overcomes adversity and saves the day. His protagonists often face their fears with humor and wit, making us like them even more.
His heroes and anti-heroes contend with larger-than-life villains: vampires, Reavers, Loki. Yet their tragedies are deeply personal. That’s why I chose Dr. Horrible for the last sentence. Who isn’t afraid of losing the one person they most love? Dr. Horrible loses Penny in the worst possible way. She’s the collateral damage of his ambition. That final frame of his wounded face is haunting. It says, “I did this to myself, for myself and in winning, I lost everything.”
Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog made me laugh most of the way through, but by the end I was crying. It reminded me of a quote from the Bible:
For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Mark 8:36
This is a fearful thing, but it makes for great fiction!