I haven’t blogged this week. I know. Bad writer. Back to your cave.
So, here’s the rundown. There comes a point in every person’s life when they make sweeping assumptions about the human race based on their personal experiences. And, this is one of those times.
I tend to look at my life as a game with specific objectives I’m attempting to achieve. I think this was a week of secondary objectives, which is sort of a terrible thing to say (you’ll see why in a moment).
I cultivated a social life this week.
My main objectives are…not going so well. This may have to do with the fact that I feel like I’ve been treading water. It’s terrible to consider a social life secondary, but hey, I never said I was perfect. I just insinuated…
This last weekend, I wrote a spec script for a television show. After sending it on its merry way (for your eyes only), I decided I wasn’t going to write anything until next Tuesday. Not one word. Except, quotes. And, this blog post, which is hardly coherent.
The demonic writer within me flipped me the bird and hunkered down in the back of my head. It’s been poking me more insistently as the time passes. Last night, it said, “Hey, you know that one scene? What if you do this? You better go jot it on a notecard or something because you’ll forget it by morning.”
Not gonna do it.
Characters are sort of bunching up in my head seeking escape. And that’s just fine.
What to do with all that time?
Reading. That’s a big one. Watching movies. I actually played a little bit of a video game. Played Solitaire for a long time on my iPad. You don’t really notice how long you’ve been playing Solitaire until it’s ten games later and you realize you haven’t blinked in an hour and a half.
But, here’s something cool. I saw friends. Like, real life actual people outside of the Internet box. We talked about stuff. Stuff that mattered. Stuff that didn’t. Stuff that might or might not ever be.
I complained a lot. I’m not making any headway on that main objective of moving out of parents’ house, you know, so I make a stink about it.
It was cool. Sort of nice to see what it’s like to not work all the time. Achievement unlocked.
I’ll be a bit more bloggy next week. Until then, I’m going to sit in the sun and finish reading The Automatic Detective by A. Lee Martinez.
Summer’s here. You should take some time to…you know. Whatever.
Phew. That was a close one. I almost didn’t find anything that I was interested in this week.
It’s been rough.
But, enough about my mental instability.
Items of Interest: Ep. 16
The Power of Three. Or, Rule of Four.
Find a need, fill a need.
You’re all familiar with the four humors, right?
Okay, crash course. Look at this.
All right, now look at the group of friends you hang out with.
Chances are, there are four of you. And, each one of you fall into one of those categories very specifically. Before you get all huffy and jump to another feed, hear me out.
You rotate. There are shifts. Things change. But, if Simon shouted “Stop!” in the middle of a rotation, these four basic types would still be filled. Almost like there’s a need to fill the basic personality types. If it works in real life, it must work in story.
Sex and the City. Will and Grace. Frazier. The Electric Mayhem (sans Dr. Teeth).
Why does this work? No idea. Just thought it was interesting. Moving on.
The Power of Three
It’s like someone saw this trope and thought, “All I have to do to be different is get rid of a humor.”
This was a great plan because it adds a layer of previously unreachable conflict. The group of three is unnatural. It lacks balance. We are always trying to find the fourth humor to complete the picture. This is a gut-conflict. It has nothing to do with the story, or the action. We the audience feel like something is wrong and needs to be resolved. We just don’t realize it’s the fourth humor.
Harry Potter. Throughout the series, we see Ron, Hermione, and Harry rotating through the four humors. Hermione stays pretty solid as phlegmatic while Ron is pretty stable sanguine. The dynamic of the group changes every time a fourth member is added. Neville is melancholic. The Weasley Twins are choleric.
Harry remains the wild card, which helps the audience empathize with him. Like us, he is not always aware of what role he needs to play in the ever-changing dynamic.
And, all this in a world of fours!
Four Houses, four Marauders, four Founders.
We’re happy. In the end, we get our fourth. Ginny. The roles are set, the group dynamic stops spinning.
That’s why you have an epilogue. To prove you’ve stopped searching for the fourth.
This stuff is visceral. It’s not about defeating Voldemort. It’s about finding where you fit in context of four.
That’s simplified, of course. And, as all things in the real world, it’s not necessarily true all the time. But, that’s what stories are, right? Trying to find their way to a universal truth.
Guess what? I’m teaching a class on writing?
Aw, you guessed it.
Luckily, I’m teaching teens, so if someone calls me out…yeah, I’ll probably get beat up, but, hey, you take a risk.
Anywho, if you know someone in the DFW area who is 13-17 and wants to take classes on writing over the summer, I’ve got the best deal in town.
Because it’s not just me.
We have real-life writers and authors. You know, like people with agents and books that have their names on them. Like (feel free to squee) Jenny Martin, and Rosemary Clement-Moore, and Candy Havens, and A. Lee Martinez.
Did I mention it’s free? How much money? None. Because it’s free.
You can get contact info here. It’s sponsored by the DFW Writers’ Workshop.
Sessions are on Saturdays, 1pm-3pm starting June 18th and running through July 30th (no session on July 2nd, due to Independence Day).
Seriously. You’re not going to find a better teen writers workshop this summer. Spread the word.
Storytelling is not confined to the Written Word. We should challenge ourselves to find and hail good storytelling regardless of medium.
And, no, that’s not just an excuse for not finishing a book this week.
So, here’s something else for your enjoyment.
(like there’s humor in a situation)
Hot in Cleveland
I remember seeing ads for this and thinking, “I should watch that.” But, like most series I mentally bookmark, I forgot about it. When it popped up on Netflix Instant Play, I had no excuse any more. Queue it up!
Three vapid LA women on their way to Paris are grounded in Cleveland, where they find life is not the same as it is on the West Coast. They buy a house that comes with a snarky caretaker.
I am a fan of Jane Leeves. I’ve seen every episode of Frazier, and I loved her as Daphne. All right, you guessed it, I love British accents no matter who’s “ew-ing” the U’s, but, hey, that’s good casting.
I’m not a Betty White follower, but concede that she is a great actress and has a knack for comedic timing. The relationship between Elka (White) and Joy (Leeves) is great.
You cannot go wrong with the cast. Wendie Malick and Valerie Bertinelli are playing roles they are perfect for.
Sean Hayes (Jack from Will & Grace) has a hand in the series as executive producer.
I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again. Hot in Cleveland took a 30 Rock concept (S1:Ep.20) and turned it into a series.
This is 100% okay. Hot in Cleveland coasts on concept for six episodes. I was starting to think “Okay, I get it. Just one more.” Man cannot live on concept alone.
Boom. Episode 7, everything is a well-oiled machine, and this series hit its stride. It’s nice to see a show that can make fun of the vapid and fast-paced culture of the coasts, as well as the detached and relaxed culture of Middle America. No one is safe.
I started watching season 2 and snorted coffee.
Season 2 begins in a courtroom with Wendie Malick’s voiceover, “In a situation comedy, there are two separate, but equally important, stories.” A Law & Order tribute? Yes. Yes, indeed. A million times yes.
TV Land, hats off to you. Good choice and well done. A hearty Midwesterner cheer for your continued success.