Thursday, May 31, 2018
Wednesday, May 30, 2018
Tuesday, May 29, 2018
by Gary Fearon, Southern Writers Magazine
Romper, Bomper, Stomper, Boo
Tell me, tell me, tell me, do
Magic Mirror, tell me today
Have all my friends had fun at play?
After this incantation, each regional host would look at the camera and recite the first names of a handful of children in her viewing audience ("I see Jimmy, and I see Cindy..."). Presumably these were the kids whose parents had written in on their behalf. Maybe she supplemented with random names for good measure. Even at my young age I considered that possibility, though it was still a mild thrill when she happened to speak my name, and for that moment it did feel a bit magical.
Spreading similar joy to the other end of the age spectrum, weatherman Willard Scott took it a step further on The Today Show when he would congratulate someone on their 90th or 100th birthday and show their photo (brought to you by Smucker's). No doubt these nonagenarians and centenarians got much the same thrill as Romper Room's pre-schoolers did at the mention of their name, age and city.
These simple factoids delivered from stranger to stranger are often our own starting point when we're creating characters for our story. We typically begin with the standard details like their name; we have a general sense of their age, and we place them in some setting. But, like Miss Jean or Mr Scott, we don't know much of anything about them until we fill in some essential details.
At this point, writers will often work up a fact sheet, chronicling such details as the characters' hair color, eye color, height, weight, race, education, where they were born, etc. Some authors go so far as to include mannerisms, pet phrases, quirks, whether the character has an accent, and so on. These tactics are helpful and come in especially handy if there are multiple characters to keep track of.
Remember to include irony and conflict in your character's psyche; that is, who they want to be versus what is holding them back. Often they are their own biggest hurdle. As author/philosopher Albert Camus said, "Man is the only creature who refuses to be what he is."
A writer who has clearly tuned into their protagonist rarely regrets having invested the time to do so. The result is an authentic and well-defined character qualified to mirror the magic of your story.
Monday, May 28, 2018
Friday, May 25, 2018
Thursday, May 24, 2018
A show of psychological dread, sweaty paranoia, expressionistic imagery, search for demonism, amoral characters, devious behavior, smart mouth sarcasm, and a cynical world view is essential for a true film noir story.
Cry Danger starring Dick Powell was shot in the Bunker Hill section of downtown LA and a seedy trailer park in the same area during the late 1940’s and 50’s. The comedic conversation with dead-pan delivery by Powell makes a wonderful example of film noir at its best. Screen writer Bowers delivers a script that encompasses all the components of classic film noir with a few twists to the normal noir story.
No Questions Asked, a 1951 noir movie starring Barry Sullivan involved in an insurance scam recovery tale. Sidney Shelton wrote the screenplay from an adaptation of Bernie Giler’s story. Giler went on to write television episodes as did Shelton. Shelton then become a popular novelist. In “No Questions Asked," Shelton wrote cynical and amusing twists built into the story that can be seen in his later move into novels.
I’ve recently read a number of current “psychological thrillers” that seem to get a lot of there story ideas and some structure from the classic film noir plots. The Last Mrs. Parrish, The Wife Between Us, The Woman in the Window, The Lying Game, and The Woman in Cabin 10 all have elements of film noir stories. The difference is the expansion of characters' behaviors and interactions with other characters to keep the reader reading. When all is said and done in the end, like in film noir, there will be revenge, retribution and resurrection of the cast of characters.
Watch a couple of film noirs and see what you think. Does it compare to the latest book genre, psychological thrillers?
Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Monday, May 21, 2018
Friday, May 18, 2018