Monday, January 21, 2013

Random Comment #2

It's been cold here. Perfect soup weather and I've been making kreplach, wonderful stuff now that I've discovered the potato variation. I'm not a fan of the chicken liver filling, but I love matzo ball soup and it always looks so lonely with just matzo balls, even though I always make at least a couple dozen. Maybe it's overkill--I dunno, but it's good overkill.

Today I found something I'd circled (yes, I write in pen in my books, 'cause they're mine, lol):

"Too many of our students have only studied other films and television. They know NOTHING (the all caps is part of the quote) about life and real characters, therefore what they write winds up sounding like the TV shows and films they've seen." Producer/director Gilbert Cates, dean of the school of Drama, Film and Television at UCLA (1991)

Today's thoughts:

I agree with this comment, too. Maybe I'm just saving the bad ones for when I have time, but this one resonates. Not just because it's spot on, but because I'm one hundred percent guilty. I mean, c'mon--I wrote a bodyguard romantic suspense. Everybody and their great-aunt Gertrude thinks bodyguards and romantic suspense go together like a horse and carriage. I know writers are introverts, but sometimes we're so blinkered in our own little worlds, it's hard to understand what editors and agents mean when they say, "I just want something different. Something fresh."

I can almost guarantee that there are thousands of bodyguard rs out there, tens of thousands of bed and breakfast owners, and a gazillion plucky reporters waiting to bore unlucky readers. The thing is--like Cates says, (okay, I'm paraphrasing so I can take it sideways) it's not what you're doing, it's what you know. If you haven't lived, and don't pay much attention to people your bed and breakfast owner will sound just like everyone else's bed and breakfast owner.

It's super easy to say, "I saw a woman at the grocery store today, her kid wanted a treat and the woman snapped at her, slapping her hand down. What a jerk. People like that should be locked up."

It's harder to look for motivation. Why does the kid have a fancy new jacket and warm gloves when the mom's hands are all chilblained and she's wearing worn out shoes? When it comes to public scrutiny, people are funny. Some people give you "the look", some flush--and some, like that woman, react badly. It doesn't mean she doesn't love her kid, look at that expensive jacket, but that she might have issues showing love, reacting to embarrassment, or a whole host of other things.

We all have times when we respond to events superficially. Too busy, too stressed, too many problems of our own, but any storyline, even hackneyed old story lines like the plucky reporter, can be fresh if you give your characters strong, fresh motivation and emotions. And I know I'm going out on a limb here, but it's all about empathy and being willing to--if not in body, at least in spirit--step outside of your bubble. Using someone else's motivation from a book or show isn't cool and no motivation at all is worse.

Second comment? A good one.

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