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Showing posts from May, 2010

Lessons from Push and The Last Airbender

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It's a good day when you're able to take pieces from other works of art to better understand your instincts in your own art. In working on my YA fantasy, I've struggled with how far do I have my heroine go in avenging her father's death. I didn't want to forget that my heroine starts out as an overgrown child in many ways, but learns and grows through her journey. She reacts in fear, makes poor decisions, and has to learn so she can do the right thing. When I originally plotted out the story, I had her kill someone, in self-defense, but still the person died because of something she did. As she reached the climax of the book, I realized she couldn't do it and the climax switched gears toward a less violent ending (but still as full of drama, I hope). I admit, I was a little worried about this, though I knew I was being true to my character, I wasn't sure how it would read.

 I was watching Push with the commentary and was fascinated when the director noted t…

More Lessons From The Last Airbender

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"Why am I so bad at being good?" Zuko - The Western Air Temple I've been reading my own YA fantasy and thinking a lot about The Last Airbender as I do. What's stuck in my head is the character, Zuko. He's the villain in the first season, a villain that starts toward redemption and switches back to villain in the second season, reluctant villain in the beginning of the third and then completely switches sides in the end to join the heroes. It all goes back to what I talked about in my last blog post. If you're writing about young people, remember they are growing and learning and will take steps back. Zuko is a perfect example of this.

I've been thinking a lot about his back and forth. How he lets his anger get in his own way. How his strong sense of honor often leads him to do the right thing even if he wants to do the "wrong" thing. How he refuses to give up on his "quest" of capturing the Avatar to regain his father's approval ev…

Lessons from The Last Airbender

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I don't know about you, but I am very excited for the movie The Last Airbender. It's based on the animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender. When James Cameron's Avatar was coming out this is the movie I thought it was going to be - enter the blue people and I realized it was not the same story at all. LOL

On to the lesson I've learned from this animated series. If you haven't seen the show, the Avatar is a person that possesses the abilities of all four nations - air, water, earth, and fire. Other characters may have the ability to manipulate a single element, but not all four. What is interesting about this show is you have a young boy (they show him as being a preteen) who is the next Avatar and has to work to control all four elements before any other Avatar was required to because of a war. A child being thrust into a massive quest isn't new, but what Avatar: TLA does so well is they don't forget that Aang (the Avatar) is still a child and his traveli…

A Choice Between Two Classes

I mentioned in a previous post that I was thinking about finishing up my screenwriting certificate from UCLA. I have to take 3 more courses and I'll be done. I saw that my favorite instructor is teaching this summer and had planned on taking her course.

My dilemma: it is a rom-com class and I have absolutely no idea what to write about. It isn't that I don't like rom-coms. Some of my favorite movies are rom-coms and I admire their cleverness. Being a romance writer I generally prefer movies that have some sort of romance (as long as it isn't forced in). But I have no flipping clue of an idea of what to do in this class. I know that Jacque can be very flexible in you coming in to one of her classes with just a basic idea, and outline, a part of a script, or a completely written script. But I don't even have a basic idea waiting to be told. I find comedy challenging.

So, I think, maybe I should try a new instructor and genre, something I haven't done yet, learn s…

Blog Contest to Win a Copy of Horse Schools

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I am running a blog contest on my other blog for a chance to win an autographed copy of my book, Horse Schools: The International Guide to Universities, Colleges, Preparatory and Secondary Schools, and Specialty Equine Programs 3rd Edition. Head on over to the Horse Schools Blog to enter.

Lessons from Parenthood

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I've watched parts of three different Steve Martin movies this week (two I just caught the last half because of when I turned the TV on). Parenthood is currently in our Instance Queue on Netflix because it is one of my favorite movies. A great ensemble cast in this movie, but it was watching this and the end of two other Steve Martin comedies that got me to thinking about character.

I'm one of those writers that casts actors in the roles of my character so I can visualize what they look like when I'm writing. I'll print up a headshot of a picture that I think suits the character and put it on my bulletin board to help me get back into character if I'm struggling. Often watching the role that made me think they would be good as my character can also help when I'm having a hard time. I know plenty of other writers that pick people they know or random people of the street. Other writers flip through magazines and cut out pictures that interest them: real people, a…

Lessons from Madeleine L'Engle

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My DD recently read A Wrinkle in Time with her grandfather. She immediately wanted to know if there was a movie and low and behold there is a fairly recently made movie version of A Wrinkle in Time. I unfortunately didn't get to watch the whole movie with her, house chores, ugh. But I did notice a bonus feature which was an interview of Madeleine L'Engle talking about A Wrinkle in Time and writing in general.  If you get a chance I highly recommend that you check out this bonus feature as she discusses writing Wrinkle and trying to get a publisher to sell it.

The two main lessons I learned from this interview are:

1) She wrote with little children underfoot and grabbed five minutes here and there to write whenever she could and that is how she wrote her books. I know this in theory, but rarely do it in practice. I tend to focus on getting large chunks of time to accomplish anything, but I wonder if I grabbed the five minutes here and there as she did if I would get a lot more …

Lessons From Push

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Just re-watched Push (twice) to see what lessons I can learn from this extremely complicated movie. Another one that people either love or hate. Go figure. As I was thinking about taking lessons from this movie I realized that the last three movies have all had opening narrations. Hmmm. What is that telling me? Should I open all my stories with a narrator? LOL

One lesson from Push is how to do an extremely complicated back story and world building. A reviewer mentioned that this is one of the few movies of this genre released recently that isn't based on a comic book series. So, the makers couldn't assume that people would understand the basics of the world and how everything works. Therefor it all had to be explained. The basics are told via Dakota Fanning's narration during the opening credits. We now know the basics of the psychic warriors and how the Division was created and why our heroes are running from them. The rest is interspersed through the actual plot. Our ch…