Thursday, December 22, 2005

Wrestling the Ten Ton Gorilla

I've managed to insert enough BS into my current story that it now clocks in at well over 50,000 words (that's a million-zillion pages for those of you not in the know).

I've never written remotely near this number of pages, my previous attempts at long-story writing maybe hit the 20,000 word mark. My Gorilla is twice the size it's ever been before, pardon the topical reference, but it's a bit of a King Kong.

No longer do I flip back a few pages, or even ten, to see if what I wrote before makes sense now. No, I'm sitting at page 70 and wondering if what I wrote made sense on page 9, and does it all lead up to that climactic point on page 88?

I feel like I just can't keep that many pages straight in my head. By the time I'm at page 88 I don't even remember what page 9 said, let alone if it flows well.

What about the subtlety? The delicate phrasing? The gradual unwinding of emotions so that the end point, where all subterfuge is gone and the characters have grown as people and they can finally freely and joyously declare their love for one another, is as satisfying as a spicy scallop roll on a hot day?

I was so worried about being too obvious and heavy handed (my mother refers to it as being like Oliver Stone) that by the end of my first draft one got the sense that the characters might possibly have some sort of affection for one another. I don't think either had even thought about love the whole story. And when you are writing a romance that's bad, like writing a murder mystery without a dead body - very unsatisfying.

That's one of many things that I am fixing as I grapple with this monster.

Will it ever get any easier? Will I be able to write a story with a climax so powerful that makes silly things like me tear up and then check to make sure no one is watching? That the gradual building of feelings keeps the reader on edge, knowing it'll all turn out well but loving the torture that the daft characters keep putting themselves through? Will I know if and when I hit that point? Or will it still feel so weird and unmanageable?

I don't have the answer, just an excessive number of rhetorical questions.

But at least I must be enjoying this insane wrestling match on some level, or why would I be doing it?

Thursday, December 01, 2005


I have a friend who is very sensitive (perhaps with good reason) about when people complain about recognizable special effects in Film/TV. I must admit that I rather tormented him with my ignorance in the early stages of our acquaintance. Years have passed however and I now have a more, ahem, intimate acquaintance with SFX and understand just how many of them the average audience does not notice.

Of course there are still plenty of times when the space ship looks just a little to smooth, the background doesn't quite move in sync with the characters, and the debris from the explosion are oddly chunky. I now realize how often however, low budgets and time crunches can be an excuse for such imagery.

But tonight I saw bad Special Effects for which there is no excuse and it has raised my ire.

I saw bad CG in a period BBC show.

Foyle's War is a show that I have quite fallen in love with in the past several months. Tech Support's mother loved it so much that she sent us the first two seasons on DVD just so we could enjoy it ourselves. It's a mystery series set during WWII. While most of Britain are either off dying in the war or being killed in bombings, Mr. Foyle gets to deal with the few Brits who are still killing each other. Michael Kitchen, as Foyle, has a marvelously dry, tired way of dealing with the lies that people tell in their attempt to hide their crimes. The supporting cast is nuanced and wonderful as well.

So you can imagine why garish, flat military planes moving through a monochrome sky and exploding rather abruptly might be an affront to my senses. That after the melody of the British accent a flat, story-book looking city radiating light in an odd way meant to imitate a bombing, might be less than satisfactory. I won't even bring up the airplane oscilliscope-type-thing the nazi's were pointing at that was very obviously generated in a computer invented long after the plane fictionally went down.

Of course I am not so cruel as to pretend as though these sort of scenes are easily done in any practical sense, still, I have a few suggestions:
  • Smoke is your friend. Cloud your plane in it as it 'flies' through the sky.
  • You don't need a sharp focus. Especially when your buildings look so flat.
  • Perhaps the suggestion of bombs and plane crashes are better than the distracting affect of poorly done fake ones?
  • If nothing else, get Terry Gilliam to do some animation instead, it looks more realistic.

    Luckily all of this occured in the first 5 minutes of the episode and I was able to once more submurge myself in the drama of WWII England and dead bodies.

    Still, with all due respect, while I don't mind and even expect bad CG when it comes to the Sci-Fi channel, no more bad CG in my BBC shows, please?
  • Wednesday, November 30, 2005

    Morning Person

    For as long as I can remember I've been a morning person. There was a brief stint in college (isn't there always?) and when I first started sharing a bed with Tech Support where I would sleep in (modestly though, I could never sleep in past 10am), but eventually I always reverted back.

    Mind you, I'm not one of those militant morning people who wake up at 5:30am and go for a 30 mile jog to get me started. Generally I wake up at 7am, roll groggily out of bed trying not to disturb Tech Support, and start the day in some mellow manner. Occasionally (like this morning for example) I wake up at 6am, and sometimes I sleep in until 8am.

    As a morning person I find I have always been regarded with some suspicion. I remember in High School classmates frequently being rather appalled "You don't sleep in?" They'd remark, aghast at my poor taste. It wasn't that I didn't sleep in it's that I couldn't sleep in. Never have figured it out. It's not for lack of trying. I lay there and try desperately to think sleepy thoughts, remind myself that I stayed up until 2am so there is no reason I shouldn't be sleepy right now, and proceed to lay there quite awake and ready to go about my day. Admittedly, the hungry cats aren't much help either, they're morning kitties I think.

    The truth is though, that I like the morning. Far more than I like the night. While it would be easy to fall into the trap of explaining why I dislike night, let me attempt to elucidate why it is that I like morning.

    It's quiet in the morning. The kind of quiet where even my ears can hear the soft noises in the distance, like the gentle roar of the ocean. Everything feels fresh in the morning. The dew from the night makes the scent of the soil, and even the asphalt, gently reach my nose.

    I like the sunrise, bringing light once more to my little spot of the world. Sometimes it only serves to brighten the morning fog rolling in and surrounding my little home like a cloud. On other mornings the sun shines brightly and gently warms the cool air.

    The morning is about opportunity to me. There is a list of things that I am going to get done in a day, and the morning is the time to start. I have the whole day before me to succeed (or not) at my goals. Even if I have failed at my attempts the day before, with a good night of sleep the morning brings new possibilities, new angles, and a new chance.

    And lastly, because I am anti-social and morning people are a rare breed, the morning brings solitude. Tech Support is still in bed, most people are still in bed, those who are awake clutch their coffee like a lifeline as they start off to work. My company in the morning is the (sometimes not-so-quiet) presence of my cats, the garden, the world without people. At risk of waxing poetic, in the solitude of the morning I feel closer to the Earth.

    Good Morning.

    Saturday, November 19, 2005

    A List of Romantic Demands

    I saw Pride and Prejudice again and, while I was sighing in my seat and thinking how I wished life were more like the movies, the perverse realization of what that would actually entail came over me.

    So, in the interest of assisting Tech Support towards being the most romantic boyfriend he can, I am creating a list for him.

    Don't tell me you love me.

    Of course you've already told me you love me and that spoils it a bit, but we're just going to have to backtrack a bit. Please stop telling me you love me this instant.

    Instead I would prefer that you direct very intense stares at my neck at every possible moment. Extra points if I am doing something particularly graceful or requiring particular skill and you stand behind me with admiration warming your cool eyes. Of course I must be mostly unaware of these stares, except for a few moments where our eyes meet and then quickly part again. Should I catch you at it too often however, the illusion will be ruined. I must not actually know that you desire me.

    Don't be too obvious in your affection. This of course goes with the above, you should not pay too much obvious attention to me. Furthermore, when you do pay attention be sure to be as confusing as possible. Engage me in excellent conversation, make me laugh, and then the next time we meet be as cold and reserved as possible. Do not encourage me at all towards a romantic attachment, if anything, deter me from one with veiled hints, or even send some friends to crush my spirits. Bonus points if I start sobbing in confusion at some point.

    Make things as difficult as possible. If men just declared their love the instant they felt it and offered to marry the object of their admirations the world would be a far poorer place. Leave the city I am in and move away. Declare you love me in such terms that I feel it is an insult, try to insult my mother while you are at it.

    Have several others vying for your affection. How romantic is it if I should win your heart when there is no other competition? Make sure the other party is particularly nasty and underhanded.

    If possible, orchestrate some sort of terrible family tragedy that threatens to destroy all my happiness. Only when I have sunk to the deepest despair can I truly realize how much I love you. Of course the fact that you may not love me will only deepen my suffering.

    And if you successfully achieve all that, I will finally consider you the romantic boyfriend worthy of all my love and affections.

    Friday, November 18, 2005

    Abandoned Projects

    Back when I was in film school I had a class where of all things we would make short films. We'd work in groups, not together, but at the same time. So that when it was time for us to edit our pieces inevitably we would find the same group of people in the edit lab with us, staring blearily at each other and complaining about anything at hand rather than dealing with our films.

    When we did turn back to our films, and the hours grew late we often sat there noodling with a few frames, trying to make it as perfect as possible. In discussion it would come up that none of us ever felt like our films were really perfect, we'd just had to stop working on them. At some point a quote started showing up repeatedly, "a film is never finished, only abandoned." None of us ever felt like we finished a single film, we'd just finally had to abandon them.

    Being film students we of course attributed this quote to Woody Allen, who is very quotable in film school. A quick google search however has led me to conclude that not only was it not said by Woody Allen, it was not about film at all.

    "A poem is never finished, only abandoned." - Paul Valery

    Which is very pertinent to me as I have come to the conclusion that this quote can be applied to any form of art. How many sculptures have I looked at, seen some small flaws, and decided that life simply had to go on and the flaws would be okay. Perhaps they would add character.

    Now I am in the process of finishing the first novel I have ever written. I have legitamately abandoned a great many stories in my career as a "maybe I'll be a writer" which started back when I was maybe 6 or 7. This time it is different though, this time I have a beginning, middle and an end. It still needs a great deal of work right now, but as I noodle with words like I used to noodle with frames, I have to wonder when I'll be ready to abandon it.

    So what is the point of this self-important musings? I suppose that I take comfort in this way of thinking. My writing, my story will never be perfect, I will just abandon it one day. Perhaps I don't need to stress out so much about it.

    And if I can get paid to abandon it, that would be great too.

    Wednesday, November 09, 2005

    Proof Of Girlness

    Nothing could ever beat the 6 hour BBC version of Pride & Prejudice, so why try? I remember the other 2 hour version, it was terrible. Kiera Knightly? Who the heck is this scruffy guy who thinks he can be Mr. Darcy? Well, I'll see it, but I probably won't like it.


    Two days later and I am still sitting here thinking about it almost nonstop. I want to go see it again. I'd see it now if I didn't have other things I felt more important in the long run.

    Meanwhile, Tech Support still isn't sure what hit him. His normally prickly, brat of a girlfriend is now fawning all over him and has the rather terrifying habit of either calling him "Mr Darcy" or ordering "No! Say it like Mr. Darcy would say it!"

    Sometimes it is hard to come back to earth.