Come join me Sunday, July 30th!

Come join me Sunday, July 30th!
Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore- San Diego

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Going for broke...every single time

Today I'm going to be using some TV show season finales to illustrate some writing points- so fair warning on spoiler possibility.  I'll try to not disclose details but if you watch Castle or Agents of Shield  and haven't seen anything about the season finales, turn back now.

Ok, so everyone settled in now?  Spoiler-phobic people gone or come to terms?  Excellent!

I'd like to talk about going for broke in our writing- every single time. This doesn't always happen, both with us novelists and our screenwriter brethren.



First up, The not good- "The phoning it in" writers: Castle.  I love this show.  I love Nathan, I usually enjoy the writing, the other characters, etc.  This finale had me very annoyed.  Now, to be fair, these writers are secure in a top rated show, they know they are coming back, they've been doing this for a while.  But there was no excuse for the weak writing. A cutesy, kinda, "been there, seen that" adventure while trying to get a wedding underway.  Then, at the last minute they throw in what appears to be a major death.  Really?  Was that the ONLY way you felt you could pull folks into the next season?  First off, unless they are changing the name of the show, what they want to make us think happened, didn't happen.  Secondly- killing or making it look like a character is dead as a season finale has been done to death. And in far better ways. 


Second up, The well done- "The Bring It" writers:  Marvel's Agents of Shield.  For those of you who don't watch- just see the word "Marvel" and know it should be a bit over the top, fun, and heart-pounding.  And it was.  Those writers pulled out everything and went for broke with more one-liners than at a stand up comic convention.  They built the tease for next season by giving a sound emotional resolution, introducing us to what we'd have going forward, and throwing in a few mysteries. The reader (in this case watcher) has been on a great run, had it mostly resolved in a satisfying way, and is intrigued to want to keep "reading".

Now for our side of the writing world.

 Some novelists hold back, thinking they should save some of the good stuff  for later.  I'm thinking the mind-set behind this is that they will run out of the "good stuff" and need to ration it out like candy.  "There's only so much good stuff in this head of mine, I need to make sure I keep something back for the next book!"

No, no, no. Just, no.  For one thing,  you're a creative person.  The well of "good stuff" isn't going to vanish.  Everything in your life, every time you go somewhere, see something, read something, you're adding to your store of good ideas that your brain can pull in on. Even a badly written TV episode can spark and idea. ;)

Secondly, if you hold back you may never sell your book- or if you're going Indie, you may never build a reader base.  Throwing "held back" books into the void is just a waste of time for you and your readers.

Another reason, I think, that authors hold back is laziness- "This is good enough, I really don't need to make it awesome every time."  Um, yes, yes you do for the same reasons the holding back folks need to pour it all out there- the lazy folks need to step it up.  Good enough usually isn't. Look at that Castle ep.  I know they have very good writers on there- but they sure didn't show it. Don't become the writer who will never publish a thing because they are NEVER good enough, but at the same time make sure you have done the absolute best you can.

As writers we owe it to ourselves and our readers to always put everything we have into each book- into every line, paragraph and page.  Play big or stay home.

6 comments:

  1. AMEN! Everything you said about Castle was spot on. I don't watch Agents of Shield, it didn't capture me enough. Castle though, I've loved for years until the stupid season finale. Now I'm not sure I'll come back next season at all. I agree with the writing part too. Sometimes you have to give the readers what they want, like a happy wedding like Bones did, so that they will come back to see what new things happen. If the characters or world is strong, then a happy reader will keep coming back. My $.02.

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    1. I love your $.02, Rachael! And I completely agree with it. Yeah, I'm not sure what the folks behind Castle were thinking, but it turned out horribly :(.

      Thanks for coming by and commenting!

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  2. Perhaps the writers of Castle figured they hadn't done that particular person's death before so why not have at it, so to speak? They could be thinking we killed one of the duo a while back, time for the other begin a journey toward the light which they'll never complete. (Repeat! Repeat! Repeat! And not in a good way!)

    I haven't seen any of this season of Castle. Started watching it in rerun before this season started, so I'm behind. Love the writing. Love the characters, but understand where you're coming from. This using a storyline you've already used smacks of laziness. There can't be just so many stories to tell that you have to recycle them. I'm hoping not. If there are, at least none have been told by me in my way.

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    1. Very well put, Sharon! Yeah, part of the Castle disappointment is that they usually have very good writing- that just made this entire ep very blech.

      But yes, we all need to put our spin on things- make them our own!

      Thanks for coming by and commenting!

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  3. I haven't watched these shows, but I read a book recently that ended in a cliffhanger that was supposed to make me believe the main character was about to die. This seemed a bit lame, since I'd read that the next book in the series was already in progress and it included the main character, who obviously didn't die. Anyway, I completely agree with you about not holding back. It's so much more fun and exciting when you lay it all out there.

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    1. So true, Lori! I personally hate it when I can tell the author is holding back, or clearly trying to manipulate me. I know moving the reader is important, but I don't want to see the author doing it! ;)

      Thank you for coming by and commenting!

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