Tag Archives: stream of consciousness

Thunderstruck


When you hear something that matters, you know it. It’s a shock to the system, 1.21 gigawatts right down the ol’ fluxcapacitor. You feel supercharged, empowered, motivated.

I’m working my way through Save the Cat!, (something in me rebels against punctuating a comma right after an exclamation, but Save the Cat! is the title, so there you are), a tiny tome — giddy guidebook, prognosticating pamphlet — on screenplay writing.

Which is to say, on story writing. Snyder focuses on film, but film is just one storytelling medium among multitudes, and I’ve yet to see anything in the book that wouldn’t fly for novels, plays, games, perhaps roleplay with that special someone. It’s all gold, and I’m only 40 pages in.

The book is less bespectacled-professor-reading-from-a-musty-tome and more Morpheus-pulling-back-the-veil-of-reality. “Here’s a story,” the book says. “Look at it, see it, yes, it’s about these things, sure. But look closer. Strip away the trappings and look at what it is behind the mask.” Rather in the vein of Campbell’s monomyth, or Booker’s Seven Basic Plots, Save the Cat! is about archetyping, codifying, categorizing. Once you know the categories and the tropes that your story plays to, you can then maneuver more expertly within them; becoming the Han Solo to your own personal Kessel run.

Anyway. I’m finding it useful to take it just a few pages per day, so that I can marinate on the chapter I’ve just read without getting inundated trying to process too much at once (which is my fancy way of saying it’s my toilet reader of the moment). And today’s pages were all about making sure that your protagonist is the right kind of protagonist for your story.

Ka-BLAM. Thunderbolts and lightning (very very frightening [and yeah, that lyric has always bothered me, THUNDER DOESN’T COME IN BOLTS]). Just like that, I see why my trunked novel failed — my protagonist was all wrong. Or rather, all wrong for that story. The realization was like opening up a corpse for the autopsy and finding the spleen where the heart should be, the lungs crammed in behind the bladder, the leg-bone connected to the neck-bone.

Right pieces, wrong arrangement.

And while the current project isn’t exactly a stunning specimen of anatomical narrative perfection, it seems like most of the current appendages are at least in reasonable places for the phylum. Whether that’s by accident or because I grew a little between novel #2 and #3 is for fate to decide, but needless to say, this story doesn’t feel broken the way the last one did.

All of which is to say that I heartily endorse this book, as I’ve mentioned at least once before.

Save the Cat, read this book.

This post is part of Stream-of-Consciousness Saturday. I misread the prompt, but by the time I went back, I didn’t feel like starting over, so rather than getting a word that starts with “oc”, you get a word that contains “oc”. Deal with it!

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Progress, Quantified


So here’s what’s going on with my current project:

It’s a Superhero story (I’m currently reading Save the Cat, which, if you haven’t read it as a writer, I can only encourage you to pick it up right away, even if you’re not writing screenplays) about a guy in a family of supers who has no powers himself. So he’s a little jaded. When he finally develops an ability of his own, he quickly finds himself at the top of the food chain and sets about a plan to wipe out supers forever.

It’s an idea I love that I kicked around in the ol’ brain for a good couple years before I wrote the first words, and once I did start writing it, it really took on a life of its own, as they say. Lots of twists and turns grew organically out of the thing, which is just one of the measures I use to tell me when an idea is worth pursuing.

And now, as I find myself neck-deep in rewrites and edits, the story is growing out of control like a Mogwai tossed in the deep end of the pool. Every day or two, I have an idea for something I want to add to the story, some twist to throw in the road. Every time I re-read something, the characters seem to be speaking to me: that doesn’t make sense, I should be doing THIS instead.

Gremmy

Playing whack-a-mole with ideas like this is frustrating: obviously not everything that springs to mind can make it to the page. Every widget you add over here throws things out of balance over there, and if you’re not careful, the story will go to pieces trying to accomodate everything. But it’s also encouraging, because it makes every writing session exciting. Every page is Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates; you never know what you’re going to get.

So every day is taxing work — pruning here, shaping here, splicing here, all without end — but it’s also fulfilling and of late, it’s actually been enjoyable. Like I wrote yesterday, the words are coming easier and faster of late. Given the loggerheads I was at with my other project, I’m taking all this as just another sign I’m on the right path, moving in the right direction.

Maybe I’ll even set a deadline, soon.

(I haven’t given myself a deadline in over a year.)

*flies into panic*

*jumps out the window*

This post is part of Stream-of-Consciousness Saturday. Today’s prompt was “the 6th, 7th, and 8th word of the page of the nearest publication. That happened to be “at the top”, from my current read, Otherworld, by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller.


Welcome to Christmas 2017!


*Announcer voice*

Are you ready to make some bad decisions?

Welcome to The Holidays ™ 2017, a time of year when things are destined to go badly, and maybe even catastrophically so, in a year when things have already gone badly, maybe even catastrophically so. It’s been a year of shredded dignity, metaphorical slaps to the face, general disillusionment about the world we thought we lived in, and some good ol’ run-of-the-mill human evil, soooo —

Let’s bring it all to a head by surrounding ourselves with fatty foods, last-minute shopping surges fighting the slow encroaching crush of humanity at your local consumer shrines, relatives you only see once a year for damn good reasons that you somehow forget about in the intervening year, and top it off with some crippling debt!

During this 3- to 14-day span, yule definitely make some decisions you regret, including but not limited to:

  • Ingesting three times your usual daily caloric intake (bonus points if you get it done in one sitting), and then reaching for another piece of pie anyway!
  • Rushing out “for just a minute” to the store to get that one last gift you forgot, or that ingredient you were sure you had in the pantry, only to get caught in traffic for half an hour. When you get to the store, it goes without saying that they won’t have the thing you need, which — after a brief fit of catatonic rage — will have you either repeating the process or going home in a right proper tizzy, ready to snap at loved ones who only wanted to bake you a pie.
  • Getting dragged into a “discussion” with that one family member about the politics of the year. Politics are always toxic talk at family gatherings, and doubly so this year. If you must get involved, try to do so during a course where nobody has a knife.
  • Hearing somebody say “Happy Holidays” or “Merry Christmas” and doing or saying anything other than a reciprocation or a thank you.
  • Putting a purchase on the emergency credit card — no, not that one, the OTHER emergency card, the one for real bona fide emergencies — because you’re not sure how much money you have left and the first emergency card might already be maxed out, you’re not sure, let’s just be safe.
  • Anything involving fruit cake.
  • Somehow failing to deliver on even the tiniest of promises to yourself vis-a-vis exercise, hobbies, or the nebulous idea of “me-time” despite days where your actual obligations are so few and far between, you could sail barges in between them sideways.
  • Reaching for another piece of pie because everything’s in the ditch already, why not splash around in the mud a bit?
  • And more —

And, finally, don’t forget to wash it all down with a huge helping of guilt and bad juju when you come to your senses and realize what an absolute jackass you’ve been. You’re going to feel like hell by the end of it, so why not enjoy the ride?

Remember:

Christmas comes but once a year, but the mistakes you make now can last all year.

xmasbingo

via Imgur.

*Turns off announcer voice*

Seriously. Take care of yourself this Christmas. Breathe. Make like Elsa and Let It Go.

This post is part of Stream-of-Consciousness Saturday.


Snowflakes (Real Ones)


The post is late this weekend because Atlanta literally got buried this weekend. In my neck of the woods, it was almost a foot of snow, which in Atlanta is basically the equivalent of encasing the entire city in Amber to be fished out and mined for DNA by overzealous scientists in hopes of making dinosaurs many millenia in the future.

I know, I know. Much like the “blizzard” of three years ago which sealed the city in an icy tomb from which it didn’t emerge for five days, the rest of the country is laughing at us. The south can’t handle snow. We get it. This time is legit, though. Below is a horrible-quality picture (thanks smartphones for not knowing how to handle flash settings and low light) of me standing by our fence. Notice that it’s literally deep enough to cover my entire head, were I to stand on my head, which is a thing I might be likely to do, given that I’m a southerner and do not know what snow is for. (You can cook with it, right?)

20171208_222646.jpg

(No, those are not my wife’s pajama pants. They are mine. And they are most comfortable.)

Snow would continue to fall for twelve more hours. I’d have more pictures of the coverage, but a) do a little google image search for “Atlanta snow” and you’ll come across scads of pictures better than anything I could take (and funnier jokes, too!) and b) my kids ruined the pristine blanket immediately, because that’s what kids get paid to do.

More to the point, though, the heavy snowfall was bringing down branches and trees like Mueller is bringing down Trump associates, leaving us (and hundreds of thousands of our closest relatives and neighbors across the state) without power all night and most of the day on Saturday. And there just isn’t enough liquor in the county to deal with problems like that. So we did what any red-blooded, 21st-century humans would do: saddled up the kids, loaded up the minivan, and drove to Grandma’s house to charge our phones spend some time with family.

Luckily, aside from a bunch of power outages, a healthy share of downed trees, and a truly maddening array of pictures of people on their back porches sticking measuring tapes and rulers into the snow (rest assured, I have my own pictures, but I won’t cross that particular line of insufferability), there does not seem to have been much loss of life or injury caused by this little winter surprise. Which is to say that, after a second straight day of sun in the wake of the storm, life will quickly return to normal. As life is wont to do.

Which means that when I’m late with the Saturday post next week, I’ll have to make a much more pedestrian excuse. (Which may or may not involve actual pedestrians. Stay tuned!)

This post is part of Stream-of-Consciousness Saturday.

 


Just GO (A Terrible Reviews Short: Thor: Ragnarok)


New parents:

Did you know that it is possible not to take an ill-tempered child to a crowded movie theater on a Friday night?

It’s true!

Yes, it’s a little bit unfair that having a kid cramps your style a bit. You want to continue doing the things you’ve always done. Having the fun you’ve always had. And you can, but you have to give a little bit of consideration to the squalling anchors tethered to your nethers before you do so.

Consider:

A movie theater is a great environment for adults! It’s dark and comfortable and conducive to naps if you so choose. There’s only one thing to focus on, which is great news for our aging, overwhelmed brains! (In point of fact, instead of staying home last night stressing about the tax bill that was just passed, or getting my blood in a good boil over the latest news in the Mueller investigation, I headed to the movie theater to block all that out for a few hours and relax. Best choice of my week!)

A movie theater is also a great environment for teens! It’s dark and private and a great opportunity to suck face with your selected face-sucker without the possibility of your parents barging in. And with all those hormones raging through your system, you can easily ignore the loud sounds and bright lights of the film. Win-win!

But a movie theater is not a great environment for young kids! It’s dark — which deprives them of the stimulation they so very much crave! There’s nothing to do but sit there and watch the movie — which deprives them of the stimulation they so very much crave! You can distract them with food, but your popcorn tub and extra-large drink are only so deep — they will run out of things to stuff in their face before long, and then you’re back to the first two problems, except now they’re full of sugar and caffeine! And don’t forget, a five-year-old probably can’t follow the thread of the film without help, which means he will be bombarding you with questions for as long as he is paying attention (to say nothing of the two-year-old you also brought with you for some reason).

Your kids, in short, are likely to make going to the movies an unpleasant experience for you — their parent, who has a biological imperative to love and not murder them — to say nothing of the unsuspecting members of your community upon whom you are about to inflict this pain. And you’re paying to bring your kids with you — you pay more for the experience of going to the movie and pissing everybody off than we paid to come to the movie to have a nice time not thinking about our country circling the drain. Put another way — we put in nice, sensible bids to have a delightful little evening, and you outbid us to pee all over our nice little thing. (Incidentally, you might make an excellent Republican senator!)

Lastly, and not for nothing, not every movie is appropriate for children — let alone children whose ages can be counted on one hand! When the movie contains four of the seven words you can’t say on television, numerous references to sex and orgies, and a literal orgy of violence and terrifying imagery, you might be doing your child a favor to not bring them along for the ride.

It’s just a thought!

You have options:

  1. Accept that, as a parent, the life you knew is over. Stay home from the movie theater and check out your movies on Redbox or Netflix like a reasonable sleep-deprived adult. Watch them after the kids go to bed. You’ll fall asleep halfway through, sure, but that’s part of the fun.
  2. Find a sitter. Yes, this is inconvenient, and depending on your arrangements, possibly expensive. But weigh it against, if not the displeasure of everybody you’ll be in the movie theater with, your own annoyance at sitting through the movie with your toddler-anchors talking and crying and whining and kicking the seat in front of them and generally doing all the things toddlers do. You may find that the investment is worth it!
  3. Go to the movie anyway. It’s not illegal, but everybody will hate you, and if you have a soul, you just might hate yourself.

Finally, if you do find yourself in a movie that’s inappropriate for children with your little bundles of joy, and they start acting exactly the way you would expect a child to act in such a situation, it’s okay to leave. You don’t get bonus points for staying and prolonging the pain for everybody. It’s really okay. Just take the kid (who doesn’t want to be there anyway), your spouse (who also no longer wants to be there), and your self (who should now be fully dead inside), and go.

We won’t hate you for it. On the contrary, we’ll love you.

This has been a public service announcement.Image result for thor ragnarok

In other news, we saw Thor: Ragnarok last night. It was pretty good, I think. I can’t be entirely sure, because we were distracted by something totally unrelated.

I do know that Chris Hemsworth’s abs may have single-handedly given me an eating disorder.

Image result for chris hemsworth abs

So there’s that.

This post is part of Stream-Of-Consciousness Saturday.


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