A DISTRESSING TREND
My purpose is not to tell you what to feel about the media you experience. When I started writing I first hit every writing book I could find. I gleaned a little here and a little there. Story telling and doing it right became a serious passion of mine. I’ve always been a pattern oriented person and the world of media revealed a distressing trend.
Story has become over processed or, more precisely, has turned into cooking with ready-made products. This problem has already infiltrated the film industry, we see it in the trend of fewer original screenplays being made into movies. I’m not just talking to the writers out there either! Anyone who loves reading, watching movies or tuning in for a favorite television show should also be concerned. Storytelling is a favorite pasttime that binds us together no matter our nationality or creed. I want to start a discussion, a world wide discussion and I need you to take part. It takes a little more effort and a touch more care but let’s get back to fresh ingredients and proper recipes before we lose the true flavor of a well made story.
My desire is to convert each and every soul who has a love of movies, books or television to feeling just as much passion about story telling. No- good special effects are not enough. Such and such in a starring role does not success make. The popular subject of “this” inspires few cult followers. Instead a well written, well presented story slackens our hunger, allowing all the other elements as gravy.
So you probably won’t see my review out the day the movie is released. In fact, I might review a television show after it’s been cancelled. If you plan on reading a certain book you probably should do so before my review because spoilers will abound. Unlike other review blogs this is the blog you come to AFTER you read or watch a work. If you expect a traditional writing blog you will also be disappointed. I am not here to hone your writing craft. This is about becoming a better storyteller. This is about crafting a stronger story.
As a teenager I lived as an expat in Germany. We were housed off base but went to school with other military dependents. It was the best of both worlds. I never forgot that exposure and returned to Europe as a young adult. As a quarter Japanese (and yet as Caucasian as any American) I fell in love with Asian culture. I found myself engaged by my heritage through manga, anime and Asian dramas. A goal for my future is to work toward a functioning language knowledge for a tour of Asia and my mother’s homeland. Culture became a serious interest of mine and influences my work every day.
As the oldest of five siblings, I lead the way in obedience and duty (like most oldests). I believe there is a proper way to do things and an improper way. As an adult (and as writers), if we want to break the rules then we first have to know and fully understand those rules. My siblings have at turns confounded me, wowed me and stirred the darkest recesses of my heart. We each have our strengths and weaknesses and as a family work together to help the other. Writers are the same way and should share the same vision.
As a child my mother made it a point to read to us every night and then we got to read a book on our own before lights out. This fostered in me a love of books and reading that persists to this day. As a teenager I consumed stories within the genres I loved but as an adult have found my borders with books expanding. You can’t get any more basic a story than a book.
I particularly love stories about survival, mental or physical doesn’t matter; this is probably why I adore apocalyptic and dystopian themes in books. As a consequence I have a soft spot for action and adventure, but I hate guns. The medieval lifestyle is an overused trope but I can’t fight the charm of scrabbling with fists or chinging with swords. Yet my favorite book series is the Deathland survival series started by James Axler, where the protagonists brutally use guns everyday. This is what a good story will do – bring together seemingly disparate details into a winning combination that makes exceptions of any predilections you may hold true.
On the other hand my favorite movies all share the universal theme of relationships and the ties that bind us or divide us. That may be because my family has adored movies for as long as I can remember. This love was fostered by my mother who gathered us around to watch her favorite action and adventure movies like Indiana Jones and Star Wars and old black and white classics like The Thin Man and Angels Have Wings. I came to love movies in direct proportion to my love of storytelling. When I was a little girl I was carried home sobbing from Gremlins. As a teenager I got carried away to a puppet filled Labyrinth. Movies visual nature adds another dimension to stories.
Growing up we weren’t tv people. My siblings and I detested Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers, even staging a silent protest the one and only time our mother tried to engage us with such claptrap. Yet I have fond memories of watching PBS mysteries with my parents, eliciting a secret love of psychology, human behavior and puzzles. This was a blessing in disguise. As an adult, I’ve been able to explore a source of storytelling with fresh eyes. Storycraft eyes. Television shows with their weekly format have such plot and character potential and are a great reason to gather around with family and friends.
I believe there is a God and that He loves me and desires me to improve myself. I know that all truth comes from Him and can be found in all walks of life including faith and science…and stories.
I love the worlds created by the written word. There are several relatively new formats in the media world such as k-dramas, anime, manga and graphic novels. It’s important to delve into these mediums as they too hold truths about story craft. This is why I believe, by examining other stories and how their form in books, movies or television works or… doesn’t, can help us all improve as writers, storytellers and as people who love these different mediums.
I love reading and taking into account other people’s opinions and how and why they were influenced by story or other missteps. I welcome debate or a stanch defending of your own opinions.
Don’t know where to start? Click one of my personal discussions!