My latest Fictorians Blog Post


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The Dark Tower

So, I went to see this movie, with zero expectations. I knew from the previews I had seen that it was not any sort of attempt to faithfully recreate any part of any of the Dark Tower books. So I wasn’t worried about comparing it to the book, I fully intended to take it on its own merit as its own story.

It had moments. Not as many as I would like, but some.

dark tower

The best part of the movie was the relationship between Roland and Jake. I thought that fairly closely approximated the gradual warming of the relationship that happened in the book. And I thought it worked fairly well on its own. I thought Tom Taylor did a fine job as young Jake.

Some of the cinematography was brilliant. Some of it was not.

The music and sound editing wasn’t anything to write home about. But it wasn’t bad, just sort of there.

It seems more and more movies these days are ramping up the violence to insane levels, while simultaneously doing their best to portray that very few people actually get hurt. Especially innocent bystanders. It used to be that movies would have insanely high body counts of minions and bystanders, but I think more significant characters died in The Dark Tower than bystanders. I find this bothersome, because it suggests that violence isn’t really that dangerous.

Matthew McConaughey was a pretty significant disappointment. He came off more as petulant than as menacing. And his motives were never remotely explored. Surely when the universe is consumed by demons, he expects something out of it. No idea what that could be.

Idris Elba did the best he could with what he had to work with. He has an excellent ability to smolder, and a surprisingly gentle touch at times. I liked him.

I did not much care for the story itself. It felt both contrived and formulaic. Important things happen without any explanation or follow-up. Very little context is given for the events that happen, and when there is some context, it felt very deux ex machina.

It was an enjoyable evening of eating popcorn and getting out of the heat. But it should have been so much more.

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Round numbers

Finished my night’s writing, checked the project statistics, was exactly at 40,000 words.

Progress is being made. Slow, but steady. And the scene I wrote tonight, I think, is one of the best in the book so far. Out of the blue plot swerve. I think it will really catch people off guard. 🙂

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Life happens

Too much sometimes.

I’ve only done about two thousand words in the past ten days. Mostly because I’ve been working my behind off on the yard, basement and boat. And I did go on the lake today, but I deserved it. 🙂

Anyway, After a major effort this weekend, I’ve got the basement sewing/crafting tables cleared off and I have condensed a garage and basement full of boxes from three moves condensed down to the shelves in the garage and one corner of the basement with seven or so boxes/containers that I will get cleared out this week.

All of this work is to get me to a place I can work without staring at piles of my life in boxes all over the basement. I’m almost there.

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35K and the garage is clear.

Not sure which I find a more satisfying achievement… Well, actually, the garage wins. Now I just have to finish a couple boxes in my basement, and it will be finished too. At least my portion of it. Still have a bunch to do for the sewing section of the basement.

I just wrote a scene that I really like, but I doubt will survive the editing process. Why? Because the entire scene is about my female protagonist (there’s also a male protagonist, remember, two separate story threads coming together) who just copied something from a journal to her own journal.

The reason that is meaningful is that she has never used pen and paper in her life. She grew up in a completely computerized world (on the moon) and the concept of using pen and paper is an archaic oddity, like pounding chisels into rock to create a shopping list.

She has to do it though, because that’s the only way to capture thoughts without any chance of someone, or some thing, spying on her.

Anyway, it’s a cool scene, I think. Too bad it probably won’t survive.

(That was a Bladerunner reference, ICYMI…)

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Spiderman Homecoming review

I normally post reviews and stuff on Facebook, but since a review is analyzing and discussing a story, I think from now on I will do them here on my author blog, and link them from Facebook.

I see a lot of people posting about how this is the best Spiderman ever. It was fun, there were some elements I liked a lot, but my pick for the best Spiderman would still be the first one.

Warning, slight spoilers ahead. Nothing that will ruin any of the story, but some minor things that I just felt like commenting on.

First, here are the things I liked:

  • The movie is the most true so far to the original Spiderman comics personality and style.
  • I liked the enthusiasm and idealism of Peter Parker.
  • I liked that Peter created his own web fluid and web shooters.
  • I liked the relationship between Peter Parker and his schoolmates, particularly Ned. One exception, below.
  • I liked the action, the special effects and the grittiness.

Here are some things I didn’t like:

  • The final reveal of the identity of the villain. I get real tired of stories with utterly implausible connections between characters, just to generate some sort of conflict the writers couldn’t figure out how to do more plausibly.
  • The relationship between Liz and Peter never clicked for me. Clearly they were setting up a different relationship for future movies, and I have no problem with the whole sophomore guy with a crush on the senior girl, but Peter never did anything to warrant their eventual connection. Quite the opposite.
  • The whole spidey suit made by Stark Industries… I like my Spidermen to be self-made, I suppose. Or spider made. Not Tony Stark made.
  • Aunt May being hot. Now don’t get me wrong, I welcome any opportunity to see Marisa Tomei on screen. But seriously, this is the most bizarre casting decision I can remember. Sally Fields was more of a stretch than I liked for the Aunt May I remember as a kid, but Aunt May being hot? No thanks.

Now, some comments on the story itself.

I’m not sure the writers ever really settled on a theme, and the result was a movie that hit some very solid story points, but they never really resonated with a message. Now, I’m not saying that movies should have a message, in the sense that it should have a political or ideological message, but it should have a recognizable theme, and that theme should be driven home by the key story moments.

This movie sort of waffled between several thematic elements, bouncing from coming of age, grazing loyalty, clanging off of young love, swirling around “with great power comes great responsibility,” landing with a thud on family, and finally rattling around the bottom of an empty can of redemption.

But in spite of that, the story held together enough to be quite enjoyable. I really liked Tom Holland, and Zendaya (how does she rate a one-name identity?). I was not impressed with Marisa Tomei, it felt like she mailed the whole thing in. Robert Downey Junior was terrific, as he always is. Michael Keaton has become sort of Shatnerian in that he always seems to be performing as a parody of himself. But he carried the villain role off, the highlight of which was the “I thought that was the anti-gravity thing…” scene.

Anyway, a very nice way to spend an evening at the movies, and I look forward to seeing more of this franchise.

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Progress report – 30K

That’s another significant milestone. Could be 1/3 of the way there. Maybe a little less. But 90K words would work, if the story works in that few. We’ll see.

The scenes I worked on today were all difficult ones for me. Not in the sense of writing down the scene, but in the sense of figuring out how to make the scene interesting. At this point in the story, both threads are dealing with issues that are escalating the stakes, and both story lines involve some hopeful clever negotiation. It’s been my experience that making scenes where people are creating some official treaty interesting requires some real creative writing.

Maybe I did, maybe not. I’ll have to check in edits. But it feels pretty good. And I worked in a fair amount of world building as well.

May not get much done the next few days. Holidays and all that.

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