I was going to wait until October to do this, but I’m in the Halloween spirit and it can’t be stopped. For the next seven weeks leading up to Halloween, I want to spend Wednesdays talking about my favorite movies to marathon during this spooky season. Not all of them are necessarily Halloween films, but they still capture that October nights essence for me. So who am I gonna call for #7? The 1984 hit, Ghostbusters!
Unlike most people my age, Ghostbusters wasn’t a part of my childhood. I didn’t see it until I was a junior in college, which was roughly four years ago. Still, I loved it when I first sat down to watch it on TV and after it was over I stayed on the couch to watch the sequel, which I also loved. The cast is a huge part in my admiration for the film given the immense talent they put together (Rick Moranis is a gift to the acting community). It’s difficult for me to watch this without being charmed by their characters in someway.
Ghostbusters may not be a scary movie for the Halloween season, but I don’t pick those kind of movies based on a scare factor. I like the more lighthearted, ghoulish movies over gore and horror. Ghostbusters is goofy for sure and by no means a masterpiece, but it has humor and heart. It doesn’t ask the audience to think too deeply, but it also doesn’t feel like mindless TV. It’s a creative piece complete with unique folklore for the spirits. In fact, if I have one solid critique, it would be that the film doesn’t spend enough time on the folklore.
Ghostbusters: It’s silly, filled with ghosts, and ends with a marshmallow man destroying the city.What’s not to love with this favorite?
Everyone knows that phrase uttered in every creative writing course. The famous, “write what you know.” This is solid advice for writers both new and experienced. My only problem is that people tend to take it at a face value. They assume they should only write about plots or settings that they know well. If that were the case, then fantasy and sci-fi wouldn’t exist. I doubt J. R.R. Tolkien truly experienced a trek to Mordor.
Writing what you know doesn’t always have to be a place. Sometimes putting qualities you see in yourself or those around you into your characters is writing what you know. Sometimes looking at the way people speak to one another or the way emotions are handled in times of stress or happiness is writing what you know. To create a character who breathes, it helps to be perceptive on the way real people think and act.
When I write, I tend to give my cast a few of my own flaws. This normally happens organically, but once I pick up on those characteristics I start to explore them. Since I know this trait firsthand, it becomes easier to write someone with the same faults or personality quirks.
I have a character I’m writing now who is a “golden boy.” He feels a great deal of pressure to make something of himself and he’s terrified of what will happen if he amounts to nothing. Yet, no one else in his personal life has placed this stress on him. His friends and family don’t care if he becomes someone important or not. Fame doesn’t mean much to any of them because they’re content with just finding happiness even if that means living a simple life. The sad thing is, he sees this and he understands this, but that stress just gnaws at him. He’s created this pressure himself and now he’s stuck with it.
This is an aspect of me. This is something I’ve gone through my whole life and am still dealing with. I just hope people find that rawness to the classic golden boy character. I know that when I fall in love with characters, I fall for ones who have this underlining realness to them.
When you write, don’t assume you’re tied to one place because you want to draw from your own life. Think about yourself. Think about the people you see everyday. Look at those characteristics and write them. Let your characters breathe.
Write what you know.
Hi everyone! It’s the first Friday of the month, which means it’s time for Adventures in Art! (Is this a cheesy title? I’m still trying things out). This is when I’ll post something art-related that I’ve been doing recently whether that be photography, painting, a craft, or poetry. I wrote this introduction poem for my first poetry class the other night and, since I have no intention of publishing it, I thought I’d share it with you all.
They say the Aries is strong
Brimming with courage and curiosity
I’m not much of an Aries
Despite silent words from silver constellations
I relate to the Taurus
Keeping myself down to earth
Where I’m content with the small successes
And enamored with adventure
With unfulfilled wanderlust
An amateur artist
Searching for simple serenity
I’m not the first person who has said this, but I need to say it to set the stage for this post. In this past year we’ve lost so many iconic figures to old age, disease, or tragic events. Why does it hit some of us more when we lose a celebrity or artist? Why do I feel so heartbroken at the loss of Gene Wilder? Why did I, someone who rarely sheds a tear, cry my eyes out after hearing the news of David Bowie’s passing? What causes that sting despite never knowing these people on a personal level?
I think it’s because most of us have grown up in a movie centered culture. Everyone remembers the Disney film they watched constantly as a kid or the first feature they saw in theaters. People associate movies with specific events or emotions. And when this happens, people become attached to the characters they see on screen, which is then extended into a connection with the actors behind them.
So when we lose people who were part of our childhoods or are associated with meaningful moments in our lives, we lose a piece of ourselves with them. They take a fragment of our nostalgia with them to the grave. On the night of Gene Wilder’s death, Twitter had hashtags trending for all of his works where people were posting quotes, pictures, and gifs from his films. They were desperate to hold onto the moments he made for them all because there was a bond present. These moments provided us with inspiration and hope. They sparked our creativity or made us laugh on a godawful day. And they stayed with us so in that way, we’re connected to these films. We’re connected to the people behind the curtain.
Then when we lose one of those icons we remember how nothing can be protected. We’re reminded that there’s a reality behind the screen where these actors are only human. They breathe. They create. They die.
But they aren’t lost. Those movies and songs still exist. Their presence is still with us, which makes us fortunate. All of those moments are just a click away if we need the comfort or the laugh after a bad day. We may have lost these figures in the real world, but their work hasn’t vanished. This world isn’t always pretty, but I say we hold onto the work these people have done so that we can keep learning from it. We can keep smiling from it. We can keep being inspired so that the world is never short on creative souls.
This post sounds and will be awfully geeky, but hear me out. No matter how many projects a writer might have going on, there is always time to work on improving their skill. After all, how can you master an art if you never take the time to practice it? One of the best things about writing is that there are a lot of creative ways to get better at it, and one of those ways is through fanfiction.
I’ll admit it, I wrote fanfiction when I was maybe 10 or 11 before I knew what it was. Then I grew older, learned it was a real thing, and kept my distance from it. I didn’t consider it real writing, and I already felt geeky enough so I didn’t want to add “fanfiction writer” to the list. That was until about a year ago when I wanted to try out different writing styles, but couldn’t come up with a good practice prompt. Normally, I’ll play around with flash fiction for this, but I wanted to work on generating short stories. Somehow fanfiction came to mind so for the first time in 14 years, I opened up a blank Word document and wrote one.
Oddly enough, it worked. The benefit of using this form as writing practice is that the characters and universe are already set up for you. Unless you want to practice worldbuilding, having an existing universe helps you focus more on style, voice, and general writing. Think of it like a prompt where the rest is already there for you. Now it’s easier to pinpoint areas you want to work on while having fun along the way.
The nice thing about fanfiction is that it means you’re revisiting a story you love, and all that reminiscing can bring forth forgotten inspiration. Maybe it will remind you how you fell in love with the narrative or what about that universe drew you in. Those tiny reminders take you back to where that creative inspiration is rooted. It also provides you a bit of fun because, if you’re anything like me, you take your main projects way too seriously sometimes. Fanfiction lets you play and have fun with writing again. It’s silly, but that’s what turns it into a great activity. You don’t have to take the pieces too seriously since it won’t be for publication, which opens up a lot of creative freedom.
So remember that old movie, book, or TV series you loved? Go write it. Have some fun while improving your art along the way!
I’m not against books being adapted onto the big screen even if, as the saying goes, “the book was better”. Of course the book is better. It’s impossible to fit every detail and moment into a 2 hour film, and sometimes characters and plot points fall into a pit where they’re completely forgotten.However, books being adapted in television series is another thing, and I’m honestly taking a liking to the rising trend.
In a TV series, the crew is given more room to handle a larger cast of characters and play with those intricate details. I still believe Harry Potter would make an excellent Netflix series so I’ll use it as an example. Having one book adapted in a 20 episode season would allow more time to show those slice of life moments at Hogwarts. The books themselves, especially the first few, go through the entire school year with many day-t0-day scenarios. These scenarios just include magical beasts and wizard high jinks. Imagine a whole episode about a field trip to Hogsmeade or Hargid teaching them about the Hippogriff. There would be time to neatly go through a year at Hogwarts through 20 episodes rather than squeeze all of that time into a roughly 2 hour film.
(The show would even have spinning transitions like an old Batman episode).
Also, for content material like Harry Potter, a TV series would allow more room for the characters to breathe and grow. In the films, many are left out or rarely shown on screen. One of Ron’s brothers, Percy, is absent despite having a vital role at times in the books. In any adaptation plot points will be cut, but with the format of an hour long TV series, characters like Percy would at least get a chance at being more involved than the films allowed them.
Not to mention that lately people enjoy television series more than movies. By adapting into this format, the books would have a better chance at reaching a wider audience. For longer book series, this might be more beneficial in case the movies don’t last as long as planned (think the Chronicles of Narnia). I’m not saying every adaptation will be perfect, but changing up the medium that novels get adapted into is a smart move. After all, look at the success of shows like Game of Thrones or Sherlock. Personally, I can’t wait for more book to televisions adaptations (looking at you American Gods and Dirk Gently).
Editing while writing: good or bad? Most of us are told to write it all down and then edit to avoid getting stuck in one place. To me, it’s like hiking that way because you plan to go down one specific trail. You have the map, supplies, everything for this trail and this trail only. Sure, you may see other paths along the way. Some might look more appealing, and you may think about backtracking to try one out. The problem is you don’t want to get lost. If you spend too much time on one path, you might not find your way back to the original one. Or you might get distracted and linger too long on one trail to a point where you’re no longer headed anywhere. Then it’s night, you’re lost, a wolf may or may not have just howled nearby, and your story is trapped in a purgatory where it will never be finished.
The last part of that scenario is why people avoid editing during the writing process. No one wants to get lost, but remaining on a path you don’t like can also damage a story. In my experience, editing while writing isn’t always harmful. If I didn’t edit chapters or scenes, I would have kept going down a beaten path instead of exploring uncharted territory.
I don’t write like a normal person. I open a blank Word document and just go with whatever idea is running through my head. There’s never an outline, I just write and see where it goes. This technique works for me, but I do come to stand stills within my work. There are moments where I’m not sure what should come next or the story is heading into a place that I have no interest in visiting. At times like this I go back to read through what I’ve already written so I can edit what I feel needs to be edited.
In my current project there was a scene I loathed entirely. I had trouble getting through the next few chapters because I kept thinking of this one section that was gnawing at me. So I went back, read through from the beginning, highlighted the infamous scene, and deleted it. Then I rewrote it, still hated it, and wrote it a third time. It ended up becoming something entirely different that actually set up the rest of what I had in a much cleaner fashion. This also made the writing process less frustrating, which is always a bonus.
Through this process I have a better understanding of where my story is rooted, and I often remember details that can be lifesavers in terms of character development and plot. It’s fine to keep yourself on one trail, but sometimes the one you start with isn’t the one you want to stay on. The hiking experience is more rewarding when you allow yourself some exploration. Those alternative paths can lead to amazing views that can be missed if you wait too long.