For every story action, there must be a point-of-view reaction

beth-baranyBeth Barany, writer and writing coach, did an hour-long live twitter chat today. I tweetily asked “What is the best way to really get your reader into the POV character’s head?”

She tweetily answered, “Create empathy by showing the thought processes, emotions, action from the inside out. #askawritingcoach”

Thank you, Beth. You packed great advice into 140 characters, including the hash tag.

I asked because I am working on two short stories due on Oct 1 (Scripting Change and Fault Zone). They feel dry. Why? I related actions and dialog, but not nearly enough of the point-of-view (POV) character’s thoughts and feelings. For nearly every action to the POV, the POV should have a thought/feeling reaction.

One story POV: Karate Queen, a supervillainess gone straight. Confident, poetic, arrogant, but regretting her past and helping poor abused women. What does the Karate Queen think after tossing Super Holly (the woman who put her in jail) onto the mat three times to help teach those women self-defense? Happiness? Satisfaction? Boredom that Holly didn’t make her sweat even a little? How does she feel when a villain tries to steal one of the abused women by turning Holly’s repressed anger at the Queen up to 1111, and then the Queen discovers that her powers can no longer stop Holly’s super-sledge-hammer fists? Fear? Desperation? Courage? How do I say that in her confident, poetic thoughts?

Another story POV: Cal the Intellectual, a mix of Roger Ebert and Mr. Spock, and a little bit of Batman for scaring crooks. What does he think when the super-hulking Harry Headbutt glares down at him while Super Holly, the love of his life, is preening and posing for paparazzi? Confusion? Fear? Frustration at Holly not doing her job? Calculating how to dodge Headbutt fists that can squash him flatter than a Swedish pancake? (I know those things, I have made and eaten them for decades.) How does he feel when Holly, who was possessed by Bobby Breaker (the evil Soul Surfer), finally fights back against Bobby by machine-gun punching herself in the face because she can take it and Bobby can’t? Love? Pride? Hope? How do I say that in his super smart, movie critic thoughts?

My current critique group said that in my Kittygirl story, they rode in Kittygirl’s POV head. Goodie. I was doing some POV thoughts and feelings in my latest two stories. But I need … nay, I want … nay, I LUST for more!

I can’t wait to work on my two stories again! Strap myself in and ride those two heads! Cranial rollercoaster, here I come! Except I am limited to 2500 words. I’ll likely need to cut some. There is always a little fat.

P.S. This POV lust started burning with me reading Call Me Pomerory. James Hanna strapped me into Pomeroy’s head, and I rollercoaster-rode every arrogant thought and lust-charged feeling of that crazy narcissist in reaction to everyone in the people who need to know his greatness. FUN!!!

P.P.S. In my previous post’s YouTube link, Alfred Hitchcock did not care about what the story was about, just how to use that story to evoke an emotional response. Action is the story, but without emotion, action dries up.

Wizard World: Hollyweird directors and 12 ideas for a dime

happy-hobbit-sisters-and-meAt San Jose’s Wizard World Comic Con last week, I was lucky enough to have dinner with a bunch of fellow nerds and geeks. I had sliders (yum) and nice conversation (yes!). This was a dinner for the Happy Hobbit sisters. Check out their websiteYoutube, and Facebook. One of the sisters talked about working with a Hollywood director to get her screenplay produced. The guy got crazier and crazier during production, ending with him taking a rock with the word “trust” painted on it out of his pocket, stiff-arming it toward an actor, staring with eyes that showed a soul lost in a far-off alternate dimension, and yelling, “This is my trust! You’ve broken my trust!” I asked if I could steal that. I can imagine Super Holly taking the rock, “This isn’t broken,” and then crushing it an inch from the flaky director’s nose, “NOW it’s broken!”

happy-hobbit-dinnerThe guy across the table from me had concerns about the Marvel movies. He felt that the Civil War theme from the upcoming Captain America movie means that the franchise is running out of ideas.

I disagree. First, the Mavel movie machine is riffing off storylines from the comics: that is called respecting the source material. As I think was said on Adventure Time, that’s the opposite of a problem!

Second, ideas are a dime a dozen. At writer clubs, I have found a few (and fortunately rare) aspiring writers who think they have a great idea for a novel or screenplay. Hint: if you refuse to share when I ask, “What’s it about?”, your idea is not worth stealing. Ideas are cheap, it’s what you create from them that counts. After you aspire, you have to perspire!

Alfred Hitchcock said it best. He did not care about content, what his movies were about; he was only interested in how to use that content to evoke an emotional response. Listen to Hitchcock. You’ll write better.


Peter David: Fantastic Writer. Movie Critic, not so much?

A sci-fi and superhero writer, Peter David, liked the new Fantantic Four movie. As much as I respect and love Peter and his writing, I will not pay to see this flick. At least not full price. Why?

Cutting Reed Richards’ age in half was an incredibly bad idea. Mr. Fantastic is the mature intellectual, not Wesley Crusher. (Sorry, Wil Wheaton, you know I love you, right?)

The so-called controversy about Johnny being black? The only people who complained were dropped-on-their-head-at-birth white boys and DJs. I think he would be the only thing I could stand to watch in that entire flick unless Sue Storm does a gratuitous underwear scene. Good actor doing a young hot-head, that’s how you get Johnny Storm.

Was there some reason why Ben Grimm had to be bullied as a kid? Other than: Woe is me, life as a teen is so dark and grim cuz daddy won’t buy me a car.

Doctor Doom is handed superpowers AGAIN, and then his brilliant goal is I’m gonna destroy the Earth because petulance? No, no. NO!!! Doom craves power, not a burning parking lot. Why doesn’t Hollywood get the incredibly simple concept that Doctor Doom is the ULTIMATE self-made supervillain? That he clawed and fought and scratched for every last scrap of power he has, which is considerable? Including, as Stan Lee said, DIPLOMATIC IMMUNITY! Hollywood, I’ll give you a theme for free: those who want power the most should have it the least.

Getting powers via dimentional rift? Why not an experimental space plane? That is close to the comics, and commercial space planes are being done in real life! Just add some unexpected radition, and boom, you got superpowers! Movie execs, to paraphrase Abbie Hoffman: Steal this idea, PLEASE!

And the final fight (also the only fight)? They throw rocks at each other. I guess that other world had nothing else to throw. I remember Peter having the Hulk hold up a Hulk toy which is holding up a toy boulder, and Rick Jones says the Captain America toy has a cool shield and the Silver Surfer toy has the cool surfboard, and the Hulk says, “I got a rock.”

This is another case of cement-headed movie execs saying, “Could you make it grittier?” Daredevil on Netflix is great 3 a.m. gritty, Fantastic Four is dysfuntional funny action-packed family. From what I have read, much of this movie is dark sepia. The director could not film light-hearted even if he was mainlining laughing gas.

P.S. Yes, the age thing bugs me a lot. I get asked about the age of the superheroine I am writing (will it be YA, huh huh huh?). Holly is mid-twenties, not mid-teens! A teenage girl is NOT going to write a Watchmen-esque best-selling graphic novel, not nowhere, not no-how!

P.P.S. I kinda liked John Carter. Just like Peter.