Friday, 29 April 2011

A New Editing Process (Part One)


There are two problems that I consistently have with my writing that I am aware of. The one that is seriously affecting me at the moment is my inability to create consistent characters. Maybe it's because I have my fingers in so many pots right now, but I have trouble thinking of my characters as real people rather than 2D entities.

The Sol Stein 'Triage' Method, which I am roughly using for a guide while I edit my latest work has inspired me to ask questions about my characters. How old are they? What do they do for a living? Where do they live? What would it like to go on vacation with them? How do they feel about money? I have now created a new Word document for each character that appears in my story. Each time I clarify some detail about my character, it goes in there. Fingers crossed this will work.

I'm also in the process of asking myself whether or not I would be able to write the story from another character's point of view. Perhaps if I feel so inclined, I might try that with my more difficult scenes.

Also, to make my minor characters more real to me, I am making sure I know as much about them as all my other characters. Just now, I've spent a good 45 minutes on The Sims 3 Ambitions just making the characters- how they dress, their make up, their hair... everything down to the shape of their eyebrows. Now if only I could print photos of them, I'd be pretty set.

This level of detail is really making me feel bogged down but I hope it will help in the long run. Will let you know.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Film Review: Post Grad

Last night, I realised that someone had tried to make a movie about me, and that movie is called Post Grad.

Total bookworm style over-achiever girl graduates Uni. Has a contingency plan that includes working at a publisher. Wants a loft apartment. Plans to cover entire walls in floor to ceiling bookshelves. In other words, me. Or perhaps not... observe.

Ryden Malby, played by the stunning Alexis Bledel is mostly a likable character, except for the fact that she regularly asserts that books are all she knows, because you actually never see her pick up a book. The movie basically follows her journey as she experiences the pitfalls of (shock horror) not getting everything that she wants. When she loses her dream job (as- get this- assistant to the editor, which if the movie is anything to go by includes shoe to gum ratio maintenance in its job description) to her foot-faced rival Jessica Bard (or some similarly forgettable name) Ryden's life is turned upside down. To add to her frustration, her family is nuts and her best friend is conveniently in love with her. I say conveniently because he seems to spend the whole movie chauffeuring her, rubbing her feet, buying her things and generally flattering her ego.

The movie starts to deviate from my own life in several key ways before the first half hour is even up, much to my disappointment. For a start, my father doesn't act like a four year old, or think selling belt buckles out of a van is a career. (Poor, poor Michael Keaton. He'll be looking back on this one in a few years time and cringing.) Ryden is so unbelievably arrogant that she assumes SHE WILL GET THE FIRST POSITION SHE APPLIES FOR. Then, she feels put out when she receives a less than lukewarm reception from some random Happerman and Browning (fictional publishing company) employee in a big scary office. Who is she kidding? The publishing industry is in decline and there were like 80 000 other applicants, including someone who beat her to the role of valedictorian and won't let her forget it. Insert job related stress (been there, done that), a fun but substance-less affair with hot Brazilian neighbour (sadly, not done that), a brief stint as the world's worst friend (more on that later) and then cheesy movie finish straigh out of the Hannah Montana storyline. Yawn. A good one to watch while you're ironing.

Sue Lynch is a sadly un-utilized part of this movie. Aside from coddling her weird son and bitching at her mother in law, she makes perhaps one joke in the whole film. There is also no chemistry between her and Keaton; they act like a married couple maybe once. This is unsurprising. I don't mean because Lynch is gay; if my husband acted like he needed to repeat preschool, I'd act like I didn't know him either.

Strangely, the movie is not only about me, it could have been written by me (if I had eaten way too much cookie dough/ other substance)- the scene where Ryden doesn't make it to Adam's first playing gig as a musician even though she is his muse is directly out of one of my own stories... also featuring a character called Adam. Either I am psychic or I'm just not as original as I think.

I really wanted to like this movie, simply because I could relate to the situation and to the character, initially. Had the writing and the characterisation been stronge, it would have been passable. On the whole, I would have to give this movie a D.


Friday, 15 April 2011

Long Distance Phone Call

I said, the news that you are married is the tsunami after the earthquake. A fire, standing inside a kick drum at a rock concert. Eating chalk. He said, that’s very poetic. And topical. And tasteless. The operator said, to continue your conversation, please insert one euro. She said it in Catalan. Then in Spanish. Then in English. I yelled. He lectured. But but but, I said. What you did to me, I said. The lack of passion, we said, the eyes glossy like fishmarket cod. Your lecherousness. Your manipulation. Your superiority. At least wait until you come home. I can’t trust you anymore. You’re making a scene, lower your voice. Don’t tell me what to do. Don’t you remember the beach house? Don’t you remember how quiet it is there? Books about birdwatching. Mismatched plates. Video tapes and a sand-filled VCR. Let’s go back there. The wife never mattered there, you didn’t know she existed. She matters now. She doesn’t have to matter. She matters.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

How to Feel Happy (When you Can't Get Out of Bed)

Step One: Put on some headphones.

Step Two: Start the video.

Step Three: Close your eyes and sing.

Hope you feel better. (Hope you felt amazing to start with.)

Thursday, 7 April 2011

And Then the Rains Come.

My facebook page has been in a frenzy. All day, people have been getting excited about the rain. And with good reason, too! Today marks the end of a very long, very warm dry streak.

Just before, it started to absolutely bucket down. There was a solid wall of water cascading down the outside of my window. I could imagine the seals around the glass not being quite good enough, and water starting to spurt in. Drenching me, drenching my furniture, drenching my books, and maybe washing everything away. But probably not.

Perhaps it's a bit sad that I can be so excited simply because it is raining.

Just for fun, here is a list of my five favourite things about when it rains.

1. Snuggling up with a good book
2. I sleep better because of the constant, soothing patter
3. Cute rainy weather clothes. Boots. Hats. Umbrellas.
4. I don't have to wash my car as much
5. Writing until late at night. There's something very Wuthering Heights about it all.

What do you like about rain?

Rain rain, come again.