Friday, January 29, 2010

My two stories - worlds apart

“The Beautymaker” makes me nervous because of the cunning and manipulating characters. I’m afraid I won’t make it. That it will be too big a challenge to write.

I find myself writing one action-driven story and one propelled by character.

I need them both.

I will not muster initiative to start writing on “The Beautmaker” unless I have “ERG” which is much easier to feel an urge to write on. But although “ERG” is an expression of the past years experiences and writing skills development, “the Beautymaker” is in some ways the real challenge.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Blue morning

The world was deep blue.

It was an early morning with the sun still below the horizon.

White snow was on the ground and whirling around in the air.

Three excavators stood with their floodlights on, together, like they had a meeting. They moved their shovels slowly.

I knew they stood there because of the new road. And if not for the thin layer of snow I would actually had seen their work.

But now, in this blue world, they looked misplaced on the white ground with the snow storming around them.

This blue landscape and the excavator’s floodlights caught me. I wanted to take a picture of it. To keep it saved forever.

But the bus moved on, not caring about the magical, fairytale world it was passing through.

I saw it through a dirty window.

Three excavators in a blue world passed by.

Never to return.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Happy Ending of Heat

Talking about Happy Endings, I think Heat is a great movie.

I disapprove of the ending though. It’s not because it is a sad ending, but because it is pointless and predictable.

I think it would have been better if Neil McCauley gets his call from Nate that all is clear, Vincent Hanna sits with his wife at the emergency and then the movie ends.

First of all, the fact that Neil McCauley goes for Waingro is not according to character. Neil has proven to be a very disciplined guy who has a plan and doesn’t get tempted. Like the robbery they just left in the middle of the act.

Then suddenly he decides that Waingro is worth the risk. He has his dreams within reach and he risks it all? No, it doesn’t work for me. Waingro is not that important. Van Zant might have been, but not Waingro. There was a great setup for killing Van Zant, but very little so for Waingro.

Secondly it is the second pay-off of the same setup. The setup is Vincent Hanna and Neil McCauley’s spontaneous heart-to-heart meeting in a diner. Great scene.

They both make statements that they will shoot the other down if it comes to it.

Well, it does come to it, but before the ending. At the bank robbery, they shoot at one another, not caring about the other. No need to prove it again, at the end.

The ending is there only to make sure it is a big climax between Al Pacino and Robert De Niro. A second face-to-face meeting.

Predictable and pointless.

Filmography links, image and data courtesy of
The Internet Movie Database.

Copyright of poster
belongs to Warner Bros. Pictures

Image of poster edited by the writer.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt

Is it true that Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are breaking up? I don’t know. And why should I care?

But I find that I do care.

Because of the hope. Because of the Happy Ending. I want them to be happy ever after.

Journalists have always hunted them like vampires and speculated about the stability of their relationship.

Six kids, rich, both extremely good looking and they help building houses in a pour part of Asia. They just can’t be for real, can they?

I don’t know them. I’ll probably never meet any of them.

But like a fairytale when the prince gets his princess, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt symbolizes the Happy Ending.

But they were too good to be true. They couldn't be kept alive. The paparazzi and the vampire journalists made sure of that.

We can’t have living proof that the rest of us are failures, can we?

Lets thrive in their misery instead. That is so much more fun!

Then maybe we live happily ever after.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

About reading and reviewing a book

Yves Lavandier has contacted me about what I had written about his book on my blog.

If I got him right he didn’t think that what I said about what was said in the book corresponded what he actually had written.

I’ve been thinking about that. If I read a book I take in its contents. How does this intake work? I react depending on my mood, my experiences, and my opinions. So my final experience of the book is a conclusion of what was written and my reaction to that.

Yves Lavandier wrote to me:
“I never wrote a talking car does not work […]. I wrote a normal car, a non-anthropormophic car, cannot be considered a character since it cannot have an objective.”

Was it wrong of me to write “He also disagrees with characters appearing as talking candelabras or cars (tell that to Disney and Pixar – they make millions on this concept).”?

I can’t remember that he wrote that talking cars were okay. But I have a clear memory of him using the word “candelabra” and me thinking of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” and the talking candelabra in that movie.

Maybe I misunderstood his intentions. Maybe he had another image in mind that he didn’t successfully pass on to me.

He also wrote in his e-mail:
“I am not in favour of "American storytelling", even less of most American guru's dogmas, I'm in favour of the storytelling in many American movies (a good part of which were written by Europeans such a Chaplin, Lubitsch, Hitchcock, Wilder). In any case not necessarily the films, always the same, that are quoted by Field, Truby, McKee, Seger and all.


Again, that does not correspond to my thoughts. I try to be less manichean. For one, I rather mention storytelling in American films versus storytelling in European films. For two, I don't apply the same reasoning to European plays. And for three, I don't say that Europe has not been successfull, period. Less successfull does not mean not successful.


What I really mind about is when people attribute me thoughts which are not mine.”

When I write a scene in a script and I get the respond “I don’t get it” I’ve always been taught that it is my problem, not the reader’s. If the reader don’t’ get it, rewrite it.

Anyone can tell a story if the audience is in the same mood as the storyteller. The key is to guide the audience to the right mood. (I think I read this in Yves Lavanger’s book, but I cannot check that right now.)

So if I, a reader in great favor of the “American way” of storytelling, read a book about the subject, I of course read anything about the “American way” as something positive. It is absolutely possible that I misunderstood what was written about the “American way”, especially if the writer presumed that the reader was of the same opinion as himself.

Should I re-read everything I read, to make sure I got it as close as the writer’s possible intention as could reasonably be done?

Or is the answer found in here:

“[…] if your reading of my book was such a subjective experience, maybe you could use the ’I’ more often. Instead of writing : ‘Yves Lavandiers says this and that’, you could try : ‘I think Yves Lavandier says this and that’ or ‘I have the feeling Yves Lavandier thinks such and such’ or ‘If I understood well, Yves Lavandier...’.”

I’m keeping my opinion of his book. I still think it is the writer’s responsibility to guide the reader.

But as he points out, I should have been more careful about what I think he said and what was actually written.

About that I humbly apologize.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Be careful what you wish for

What is harmony?

An image that comes to my mind is two summers ago, me sitting on the balcony eating breakfast and reading National Geographic. The rest of the family was away for a few days. I was alone and needed to care for none other’s business but my own.

That is my image of harmony. And when I feel I’m up to my ears with other things than writing that is the day I keep thinking about; those hours of being in Heaven.

But it is nothing I thrive for as the ideal state of mind and body.

For a few hours, yes. Or maybe even days. But more? No. I would be a lazy, fat meatball within a week or two.

I believe in harmony in small doses.

It can be as small dose as a minute of beautiful sunrise when the bus crosses the bridge. Or a silent moment during a snowfall an early morning.

In times of chaos or stress, I try to feed myself on those little moments.

I don’t mean that life should be completely chaotic, but harmony for me is a moment of perfect balance.

And as nice as it may be, it does not bring life forwards.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The happy ending

For me, a happy ending is essential.

It does not have to be a cute, all pink, cloud-filled ending, to be called happy. For me it is a matter of hope.

The main character changes during the story. He/she reaches the very bottom of life, gets back, fights and proves his/hers worthy.

Should all this be proven pointless?

I want to transfer hope.

Every writer has an agenda, something to tell. It sounds very pretentious to say that I have something important to tell the World, but that’s what it feels like to me, pretentious or not.

For me a happy ending, an ending where things were worth the trouble, where things meant something, an ending with mutual respect and understanding are essential in my storytelling.

It is not a matter of what is it like in real life, but a matter of what kind of World we wish for.

Read more here

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Get your #¤%$ out of the wagon!!!

It is amazing how hard it is to get started with a character’s exploration.

I love it when I get started, but to get my butt out of the wagon. . . Well, the problem is that I don’t have a clue what to write. And when I don’t, I don’t see the point in starting.

Which is ridiculous, because I know I don’t have a clue before I get started.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Characters with answers

D Sharon Pruitt

“Why?” That is the answer I get every time I write about a character’s background.

I didn’t quite realize this until now. I have a character behaving in a certain way, but I don’t really know why. Until I have explored the background.

Why is she so passive? Why doesn’t she make any decisions? Because she has been living with far too dominant man for so many years.

What does it add to the story by knowing this?

I don’t know yet.

She might have an attitude towards men. She is likely to expect people to arrange things for her, to make things work.

If she as well have been told that she can’t do anything, and what she does, she executes bad, she is likely to excuse herself every time she dares to do anything.

I have one more character to work with in “The Beautymaker” and three in “ERG”.

Then it is time to start Final Draft and write. At last.

"Scared child"
By D. Sharon Pruitt
Image edited by the writer

This file is licensed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Exploring characters and the Creative Flow

Exploring the characters is an interesting process. Interesting because things floats out of me that I didn’t know about, but feel so natural that it amazes me that I didn’t know about it all the time.

Makes any sense?

Well, let me explain.

I started with the names of the four main characters in one of the stories. I looked in one of those on-line databases with names and their etymology and wrote down every name that had a meaning that I felt suitable for the character.

Suddenly one name felt better than the others. Much better.

Then I started to do the same with the surname. The combination of the two names had to fit well together as a second requirement.

One character I got the name right on first try, the other took longer time, but on the whole it went rather smoothly.

Then I started to write about the characters. I started with the current situation and then went back in time.

And although I only knew the first sentence when I started to write, my fingers hardly left the keyboard, and yet filled the whole page.

Of course in some aspects one character is rather natural opposite of what I have written for another – like if one have had a childhood under small circumstances, the other have had wealth – but characters in a story are constructed to fit the needs. The job is to make them come alive.

And I do feel them come alive as I write about them, constructed or not. And that is the interesting part: Creative flow.

I just love to write.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I fear for mankind

”Wrath is the only engine that makes me feel any hunger” a writer-director friend on Facebook wrote.

I love to meet people different from myself. I love to listen to people talking about their lives and experiences.

But sometimes I feel a monstrous urge to scream; to tell them that they are wrong, that they misunderstood life.

Which of course I have no rights to do.

Nobody has the ultimate truth about life. I might think I know the Truth, but I make a huge mistake if I sneer at everybody who doesn’t agree with my Truth. We are different and that is as it should be.

And there is no such thing as right and wrong.

Never the less a phrase like “wrath is the only engine that makes me feel any hunger” gives me The Shivers and I fear for mankind.

It is my deepest believes that we don’t evolve by falling back to our basic, primitive emotions. It is our ability to get passed this and see beyond our fundamental reactions that got us this far. And can take us even further.

To let anger and sexuality rule with the excuse that they are primal would put us on the same level as a pack of wolfs. I think the human mind deserve better.

Yet my primal urge to scream linger.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Writing a shooting script

The company that bought my latest short script asked for a few rewrites that annoyed me a little. They wanted details that in my opinion do not belong in a script, details like the girl carrying a backpack that is not used in any way.

Then I realized that what I was doing was rewriting my script to a shooting script.

The details were added so that everybody involved in the production should have just about the same idea about the final result. They were there to help, not to limit, as I first saw it.

I had written that they left the house. They wanted me to write what kind of house, which in my world limits, but in their world helps the location scout to find what they are looking for.

I was so blind.

I’ve been writing on speculation for so long. Then you don’t want to limit. You want to leave as many options open as possible. You don’t write things that do not in some way pay off.

But once you want produce the script the details start to be important. If the director sees the leaving girl with a backpack then this need to be communicated. And what could be easier than to write in the script that there is a backpack?

I was even asked to number the scenes. I don’t know if I’m like any normal writer, but it was a very special moment for me when I checked this option in the menu for the first time for real.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Next I'll explore the characters in-depth

I’m almost done outlining “ERG”. When I’m done with both, next step will be to explore the characters in-depth.

Then I’ll probably start writing.

I feel so excited about this. I really want to write. I love writing. (Anybody surprised about this?)

And – not to forget – it would be great to have a finished feature script in my pocket. I have “Kim” but, honestly, if I feel a script needs rewriting it is not something I want to brag with as it is.

Once I start to write on both “ERG” and “the Beautymaker” I hope to be able to analyze “Sunlight” and with a little luck get it going again in its own good time.

Monday, January 4, 2010

I feel great

When I am at home with my family I can’t write.

It’s not that I don’t have ideas or inspiration, but the simple fact that I can – and will – be interrupted any time is the reason why I can't write.

The kids have the right to my attention. I don’t want to be one of those writers who close their doors and only comes out to eat. I have made my choice, and that means my family comes first.

It is my problem that I can’t write when I know I will be interrupted, not my kids’ problem. It is my problem that I get annoyed when I get interrupted, not my kids’. If I can’t handle that, I should not put myself in that situation. Or learn to handle it.

But it’s not like I’m suffering.

The creativity takes other forms that are equally enjoyable, but more on hobby basis. Making furniture for a dollhouse is fun and challenging, but not part of my Big Dream. It is, I believe, important to do those things anyway.

Big Dream or not, in the end I do it all because I want to feel great.