September 27

Movie Credits

I’ll admit it…I’m one of “those people” who likes to sit through the credits at the end of a movie. It’s sort of an obsession of mine. And no, it’s not because I’m hoping for mid or after-credit scenes (although they are fun to watch).

The reason I do it is because, well, I feel somewhat obligated. If I just sat through a ninety-minute or two-hour movie, I feel inclined to watch the credits and acknowledge all those people who worked to make it happen. I figure they probably spent upwards of a year (in some cases) of their lives working on this story, from pre-production to post, hundreds of hands were in there moving cameras, adjusting lighting, applying makeup, hair, costumes, catering, Foley work, editing, CGI, stunts…the list is incredibly long.

I’m not sure exactly what all these folks do. Best boy? Did he get straight A’s in school? But that doesn’t really matter too much. I may not know what all these people did on the film, but there were there, they did something to help bring this story to the big screen. And I appreciate that. The least I can do is read the names. Who knows? Maybe this was the only film one of these people worked on and this is their immortality. Their name will always be in this credit roll, even after they are dead and gone.

Which brings me to classic movies. I’m a fan of film noir, those gritty black and white films from the 1930s, 40s, and 50s. Detectives, mobsters, tough dames, and shady con men. The folks who worked on those films are mostly gone by now, but I sit through the credits and read the names and think about who they were, what they did. I mean, without them I wouldn’t have the Maltese Falcon, or Double Indemnity. Even sixty, seventy years later, these films are entertaining people, inspiring people. That’s a great memorial to the cast and crew.

I’m also not above being silly. My partner and I like to point out the unusual names, the funny names, and the unpronounceable names. If you’ve ever sat and watched the credits after a movie, you know what I mean. You’ll see the names scrolling by, the John Smiths, the Jane Johnsons, then suddenly you see a name that you can’t quite get your head around. You quickly try to sound it out before it disappears off the screen, but to no avail. I know, it’s childish, but it’s still fun.

I guess a part of me feels that the actors and directors get the bulk of the credit, while the crew and secondary actors sort of get overlooked. I think stunt people get the short end of the stick. They don’t get any awards, but they put their lives in danger on an almost daily basis. And for what? Maybe five seconds of action? I’m going to read all their names every time. It’s the least I can do.

While the director has a vision, and the actors have their characters, none of it would matter without the rest of the team. The writers, the animal wranglers, the lighting technicians, the drivers, the set designers…they all deserve some thought and appreciation. If it weren’t for them, the movie industry wouldn’t exist.

RB

September 22

A Weird Dream

If you’ve listened to my podcast or read some of my previous posts on here, you’ll know that, to me, dreaming is where some of my ideas come from. I had a weird one last night. I wasn’t in it, but I was witnessing it from a third-person point of view.

Basically, a woman was being interrogated. She was tied to a chair in a dimly lit concrete room. The interrogator kept asking her who she worked for and who she was, but the woman would only answer, “I don’t know.” Being a dream, I knew that she was telling the truth. She really didn’t know who she was, where she was, who she worked for, or what she was doing there.

Finally, the man leaned in close to her face and said in a whisper, “It’s time to dissect your memories.”

Shudder.

I don’t know what that meant and I woke up shortly after that. But man, that was chilling and stuck with me even now, hours later, as I sit here and write this. Obviously, there’s a story here, somewhere, but I have no idea what it is. Is this the beginning? A mid-way point? And yeah, who is this woman and what’s she up to? And who’s this jackass that has her tied to a chair in a bunker? So. Many. Questions.

But you know, that’s part of the fun of writing…having some fragment like this and trying to make sense of it, trying to find the story. Before writing this blog post, I first wrote down what I remembered from the dream. There may have been more, but this was all I remembered. Still, there’s something good here, something sinister, something crazy. That’s right up my alley.

There are still too many unknowns for me to do much with this, but I’ll mull it over for a while. The pieces of the story will fall into place eventually.

Do you ever wake up with fragments like this? If so, what do you do with them? Do they eventually become stories, or just another entry in your dream journal?

I’m going to try and recapture this dream tonight and see if I can get more of it to play out. Wish me luck!

RB

 

September 10

Character Development

Creating characters for stories is a step in the writing process that authors either love or hate. The ones that love it look at it as just another part of the creative process. They often spend inordinate amounts of time thinking about their characters, writing up biographical details, backstories, creating a look and a personality. Some go so far as to draw the characters so they can see how they would look in reality. There’s nothing wrong with this. If it helps them to understand the character’s motivations, then more power to them. When it’s time for them to write the story, their protagonist is like an old friend who they know everything about. In theory, this should make for a fully-realized character.

 

The ones that don’t like to go all out, well, they’re another breed. These writers have an idea of who their character is, what motivates them, what they want. It may be fully fleshed out in their heads and they simply don’t want to take the time to put it all down on the page. That would take time away from writing the story. Or they may only have the briefest idea of who the character is and they’ll wait to see how it develops as the story unfolds. That’s okay, too.

 

There’s no right way or wrong way. There’s only the way that works for you. And that may change depending on the story you’re trying to tell. 

 

Personally, I like to have an idea of who my character is and what they want before I start writing, but I don’t like to know the character too well. I like little surprises when I’m writing a story. If I know my character inside and out, then I basically know how they’re going to react in any given situation. I know their secrets, their desires, their fears. That takes the fun out of it for me. 

 

I may have a name and maybe a gender. Rarely do I consider race, sexuality, or ethnicity. If it’s important, then I’ll hint at it with the character name or a brief physical description. But then, I also want to leave it up to my reader. I like to leave a little something to the imagination. Just like writing the story, I’m not going to tell the reader everything. There’s context, and then there’s sub-context. The things left unsaid. If I write a character and I’m unsure if they are male, female, or an alternative gender, then I want to leave it up to the reader to decide. So if a young woman is reading my story and imagines the protagonist to be female, so be it. 

 

To me, going into a story with only a vague idea of who my protagonist is gives me some freedom. I don’t feel locked into making my character behave a certain way. They’re free to be brave or run away, to yell and scream or to sit quietly in a corner. I generally don’t know what they are going to do when they’re confronted with a conflict. I mean, I know how I want the story to go, but there have been occasions where my stories have taken left turns because my protagonist did something unexpected. My reaction when this happens is a combination of dismay (because I thought I had a great narrative going) and elation (because my story is going somewhere unexpected). And I’m genuinely happy, too. As I mentioned above, I like surprises in my stories, both for the reader and for myself.

 

I’ve tried the detailed character development method, but it doesn’t work for me. I’m one of those people who can get bogged down in the details. I’ll spend so much time creating a fully-fleshed out character that the story gets put on the back burner for too long. I like everything to come together organically. I have a story, I have a basic character. I put the latter inside the former, then sit back and watch what happens. 

 

Does this ever backfire for me? Nope. At least, not yet. I think the thing that usually trips me up is coming up with names for characters. I often begin writing a story without naming my protagonist, then go back later and add it. Names are important. They have meaning. They have power. Picking the right name for a character – to me – is more important than their physical appearance. This doesn’t mean that every name has to have a deeper meaning. Sometimes “Bob” is just Bob. It doesn’t mean he likes to float in the ocean. However, there are times when I want the name to mean something, to give some insight into the character’s background, ethnicity, gender. Those are the times I struggle. 

 

When I begin a story, all I really need to know is the character’s motivation. What do they want? Once I know that the rest will fall into place. 

 

Do you have a preferred method for creating characters? 

RB

September 6

Post-Dorian Thoughts

I’ve lived in Florida for most of my life, and I’ve been lucky enough to survive twelve or so hurricanes. Some were much worse than others. Hurricane Micheal, for example, blew through the panhandle last year and there is still debris and damage to contend with. Dorian was one of those storms, much like Michael, that wasn’t doing what the forecasters thought it should do. When the folks with the big brains say they aren’t sure how strong the storm is going to get or where it’s going to end up, well, that’s scary.

I have family all across the state, so the last week was tense as everyone waited to see what was going to happen. Unfortunately, the Bahamas bore the brunt of it (and if you’re able, please contribute to a legitimate charity to help the people on the islands recover and rebuild).

I’m a storm-watcher during hurricane season. After some of my previous storm experiences, I err on the side of caution. I follow the National Hurricane Center, I follow the Tropical Weather sub-Reddit, I get as much information as I can from reliable sources. Call me crazy…but you might be right.

The season appears to be kicking into high gear now. But instead of bottling up all that worry, I’m going to focus that energy into creative projects. You know, express my nervousness, my fear, my worry into something creative, something productive. I think that’s a positive outlet.

If you live in Florida, or anywhere along the US East Coast or Gulf Coast, I hope you and your loved ones stay safe. And if you’re feeling any apprehension about this busy hurricane season, try to channel it into something positive.

Cheers!

RB

September 3

No Podcast This Week

Due to Hurricane Dorian, I wasn’t able to get the Prometheus Project Podcast recorded this weekend. My apologies. Between having to keep the website updated at the office, I was on the phone with friends and family who are closer to the storm than I am, making sure they had what they needed or were evacuating.

A new episode will be posted this coming weekend.

In the meantime, send positive thoughts to the people directly affected by this monster storm. And try to do something creative this week.

Cheers!

RB