Monday, September 29, 2008

Special Hitchcock Marathon

Shadow of a Doubt
what shadow of doubt?
it's as shady as sunshine
though it's still creepy

Notorious
don't drink the champagne
don't drink the coffee either
don't trip on the stairs

Rear Window
one room apartment
no a/c, some nice neighbors
just one murderer

Vertigo
haven't seen it yet
overrated? I wonder
or good as they say

Friday, September 26, 2008

Cake

the band, not the food
so many delicious songs
whoa... pop sugar rush


Some sample treats:

Disco Delight
Italian Pastry
Sunday Strudel
Valentine Cupcake
Energy Muffin
Desire Doughnut

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Monday, September 22, 2008

Search Results

the oddest searches
lead 'net surfers to this blog
how do they respond?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Listen, we have to talk.

Ah, the sun is shining! The birds are chirping! Life is perfect! Your protagonist must be in love. Or maybe it’s stormy? Is there an undeniable feeling of disaster in the air? Again, your protagonist is probably in love.

Not to be too cheap psychology about this, but the kind of character your protagonist is attracted to says quite a lot about him or her. Actually, no matter which character you’re talking about, it says a lot about him or her. But precisely because I don’t want to get too cheap psychology about this (“she’s attracted to mean men so she must like punishing herself” or “he’s attracted to weak women because he likes to feel powerful” and all that), I’d rather focus on the relationship between the two characters.

There are all kinds of loves and relationships: doomed, illicit, romantic, codependent, platonic, mercenary, going-through-the-motions, first love, true love, rebound, forbidden, unrequited, perfect-on-paper-but-really-mismatched, love-hate, unlikely, competitive – name your flavor, I’m sure we can manufacture it.

One of the most frustrating things about a romance, whether comic or tragic, is if there’s no significant explanation for the relationship. Granted, initial physical attraction is something, but often it’s not enough to carry the romance. It’s typical of average and below-average romantic comedies: our leads are two attractive people, why shouldn’t they be together? Whether it’s plausible or not is an entirely different matter.

You take your protagonist and then you take a character that’s the complete opposite – such as a computer geek and a cheerleader, a rugged gunman and a prim schoolmarm, an uptight lawyer and a yoga instructor – and bingo. Opposites attract. Then you get as much mileage as possible from these two characters finding common ground. A sound formula – it’s worked before and it will continue to work.

The problem is in leaving it formulaic and letting the genre bear the responsibility of making it interesting. As in, “It doesn’t matter that no woman in her right mind would fall for such a whiny loser. And it doesn’t matter that she’s shrill and controlling. This is a romantic comedy(/drama)! Bring on the kissing! (And the cute soundtrack!)” It’s as though the philosophy is, “What a highly unlikely pairing! Let’s throw these two in a room and see what happens.”

The crucial thing is establishing what in the interaction of the two characters creates this dynamic – not only possible external factors, but internal ones as well. For example, a classic interesting relationship is two characters from disparate socio-economic situations. But this isn’t simply a matter of one character being from the good side of town and the other being from the bad. It’s also a matter of attitude and education. Or, for another classic example – adultery – why is the character committing it at this point? Boredom, loneliness, revenge on their cheating spouse? Were they tricked into it by a manipulative character?

There’s a whole range of possibilities and combinations of factors. An attraction or a relationship is rarely built on one factor alone. If you’re relying solely on physical attraction, on the unlikelihood or illicitness of the romance, that makes for a pretty flimsy relationship. Decent dialogue and a decent soundtrack can help, but they might not get you farther than the honeymoon.

And now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go write dating tips for my cheap psychology manual.

Next time on Technical Saturday... Foils, or, getting caught up in character comparisons.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Robin, Boy Wonder

There's something strange here...
Holy poetry, Batman!
This thing doesn't rhyme!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Star Trek Special

Captain Kirk
There's... something... about...
thisformthat... makesme... suspect...
aplanof... somekind.

Spock
a structure built of
merely seventeen units -
most illogical

Dr. McCoy
what did you expect?
damnit, Jim, I'm a doctor
not a haikuist!

Scotty
I canna do it!
These lines won't hold much longer!
I need more power!

Uhura, Sulu, Chekhov
diverse ethnic crew?
an interesting concept!
it just might catch on...

Friday, September 12, 2008

Plato's Symposium

good love is divine
(I say, old man, pass the wine)
knowledge is better

Monday, September 8, 2008

His Girl Friday

wouldyoujustletme
getawordinedgewiseplease
I'mtryingtotalk

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Getting to Know the Enemy

The term “antagonist” is often used synonymously with “villain,” but an antagonist is really another character who gives the protagonist a hard time - not necessarily evil or out to kill, but definitely causing trouble. Now, I wrote that in creating the protagonist, one of the most common mistakes is making he/she(/it) too perfect or too flawed. In the case of the antagonist, however, I think the most common mistake is in making he/she more interesting than the protagonist. You always have to remember that it’s the protagonist’s show and if the antagonist is more interesting, then there’s something lacking in your protagonist.

It has nothing to do with making the antagonist too sympathetic. That could be precisely your point: that the antagonist is sympathetic and it’s the protagonist, rather, who is questionable. You can’t deny it - writing the bad guy can be a hell of a lot more fun than the good guy. From the gossipy neighbor to the tyrannical monarch, there’s nothing like writing a character that annoys other characters or is simply pure evil. But an antagonist can also be every bit as “good” as the protagonist – they may simply be on opposing sides of an argument.

Romantic relationships can also provide the protagonist-antagonist dynamic. It’s a classic element of romantic comedy wherein the two main characters bicker their way through the story though they really love each other. Sometimes they know it, as in His Girl Friday, and sometimes they don’t, as in The Shop Around the Corner. You might not even need another character to antagonize your protagonist – they can antagonize themselves. Emma Woodhouse, for example, is a classic example of a character that creates her own obstacles. Though other characters do sometimes give her grief, it’s her own vanity and lack of perception that she has to overcome. Of course you can also have any number of characters antagonizing the protagonist. No character need be captain of the team.

Finally, let’s say the POV switches between the characters, probably altering the roles of protagonist and antagonist. So what? Your protagonist can nevertheless be a minion of Satan and the antagonist can be an angel of shining virtue. There’s no need to suddenly reverse the characterization already established. Naturally, from a different POV, another character’s words and actions can be interpreted differently, but there’s still a limit to this switching around. Credibility can only be stretched so far.

Next time on Technical Saturday... managing your character’s love life: the love interest.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Breakfast at Tiffany's

Holly daaarling
mind if I borrow that dress
well, how do I look?

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Previously on Stellascript...

Derek finally admitted to Melinda that he’s been having an affair with her sister Marianna, but what he wasn’t prepared for was Melinda’s confession that she’s pregnant with his father’s baby. Meanwhile, at a stylish loft across town, Caroline has finally confronted her daughter Vanessa about her drinking problem. After a tearful scene, Vanessa acknowledges that she can only face sobriety with the help of her long estranged sister Alison. Begging Caroline to reconcile with her, Caroline agrees to invite Alison to stay. However, when she attempts to contact her, she is disconcerted to find that Alison has gone missing.

Meanwhile, in a blog across cyberspace, Stella wrote several posts:
Originality
Style
Realism
Editing
Remakes, Sequels, and Series
Adaptation
The Protagonist

And in an online magazine just across the street at The View from Here, where she toils away with Mike, Paul, Kathleen, Naomi, and Jen, she wrote:

You can’t say I don’t have goals.
Do writers dream of gilded monuments?
Different Interpretations of the Text
Reading Lists and Side-effects
O frabjous day!
What authority figure?
Novels for Breakfast
The Author’s Cut

Next time on Stellascript... Cole swears his undying love for the pregnant Melinda, promising to shield her from the jealousy and resentment of his son Derek. But Melinda is still in love with Derek and is torn between revealing it to Cole or keeping the secret, in the hopes that she'll overcome her feelings. Later, Dr. Holden, who also has feelings for Melinda, reveals to her that there was a mistake in some of her tests, indicating that Derek may be the father of her child. Meanwhile, her sister Marianna is smarting over Derek’s desertion. After discovering her sister’s predicament, Marianna proposes a plan to Dr. Holden that may solve both their problems...

Need to catch up on more Stellascript? Recap #1 and Recap #2 will bring you up to date!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Fahrenheit 451

I can feel the smoke
in my eyes nose throat and lungs
what's with the ending?