Archive for May 2012
I’ve been meaning to put a cap on this serial for some time, but don’t seem to have found the motivation until now. This is probably because The Fictive Dream workshop is over (has been for about 2 months) and some of my creative energies have cooled. Perhaps a better way of saying it is that some of my creative energies are simmering, though I’m about ready to bring them back to boil. This has been typical behavior as I’ve balanced my writing ambitions with my teaching career. One of them has to be put back to simmer, and it’s mostly the writing since the teaching pays the mortgage. But the school year is wrapping up and I’m finding more time to write.
I’ve got two stories one the verge of being something and going somewhere, which is a strange position for me to be in. Usually I focus on one story at a time, and maybe a poem on the side and a few stray blog entries (I’m always contemplating a few stray blog entries, so that’s more background noise than anything). Now, though, I’ve got command of two full short stories that I’ve been plugging away at with the method I started experimenting with (write 500 words, edit, write 500 more, edit all 1000 words, write 500 more, edit all 1500…). I’m pretty happy with the results, and am finding the false notes in the stories and addressing them before I get somebody to do some editing. This method is brand new territory for me, and I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised to be exploring new territory since fiction writing is still new territory for me and I’m discovering all kinds of ways to traverse the landscape. I’ve also noticed a strange pattern in my writing of short fiction: It takes me about a year to produce a story that I’m happy with (one of my current stories under consideration here is an exception). Not that I’m plugging away at a story consistently for 12 entire months; it’s more like I start stuff with a flurry and then don’t come back to it for a long time. Now that I think about it, that’s how this serial began. I dug up some old bones and thought they were worth dusting off.
So what to do with these 2 stories I feel so good about? For starters, I’ll have to see how good I feel about them in a few weeks when I have them close to wrapped up. After that, I have no idea. I sure as hell would like to get at least one of them placed somewhere (or as a lot of writers like to say, “find a home for the story”), but I’m not sure how hard I’ll try to do that. In the end, if a few friends read them and then they sit on my hard drive until who knows when (the stories, not my friends), I don’t have a problem with that. The practice has been worth it, and what I learned along the way will serve whatever comes next. Practice is every bit as important as product.
There’s also another workshop coming up, and at least I’ll have material that is already pretty far along and that I can submit to the workshop. Another round of feedback for either story is only going to help, and another workshop will probably be enough cause to start a new serial.
Readers: Adam Vollmers is a long-time friend and one of the original followers of The Seeker. Dig through the archives, and you’ll see his comments peppered throughout. With him being the biggest science fiction and comic book afficianado I know, I should have known he would have some thoughts on last week’s post panning Marvel’s The Avengers. He took the most exception to my third point, which brought up the similarities between The Avengers and Watchmen and the trope of destroying New York City. I thought his comments warranted their own post, so here’s Adam setting the record straight:
Having not seen The Avengers yet, but being a comic book geek from long ago, let me take a stab at #3. Historically, The Avengers are based in NYC, so that’s why it’s set there. That’s just always the way it is in the Marvel universe. Fair? No. Logical? Of course not. If I’m a villain, apparently all I need to do is move my evil base of operations about 100 miles in any direction and I can do whatever I want. But that’s the way it is. Willing suspension of disbelief.
Keep in mind that The Avengers started in the early 60s, and it, along with DC’s Justice League of America were designed as gimmicks to join forces of some of the more popular characters (marketing) with some of the lessor characters (to help market them). The formula has always been the same, and Watchmen was working off of it, not the other way around, although Alan Moore’s work is an excellent take on the superhero community and its role within the greater world, and I can’t recommend Watchmen enough.
As far as confusing the audience, let’s be honest: They don’t care, and frankly, rightfully so. The average American knows enough about the main characters to accept what they’re given and roll with it. I think you’re overthinking it and forgetting that despite the medium, it’s still a comic. Sorry you didn’t like it. I, for one, am looking forward to it.
1. This is the third time The Hulk has made the screen in a Marvel film, and Bruce Banner has been played by a different actor each time. Not that it matters a whole lot since the producers want The Hulk on screen about a thousand times more than they want Bruce Banner on screen moping around about how he can’t contain his anger, but how about some consistency in the role so that some more subtleties can be played out before Hulk smash?
2. Thor and Captain America didn’t garner the attention of either Iron Man film (or the second Hulk film for that matter), so the writers of The Avengers had to find a way to sew the backstories of those particular characters into the film as seamlessly as possible so as not to confuse the audience. They succeeded only moderately in doing so. I had no inkling about Thor’s brother, the other-worldly power source at the center of the film, or that Captain America took an ice nap at the end of his titular film. Nick Fury and SHIELD are pretty interesting with all their weapons and espionage and sabotage and camouflage, yet play just tangential roles in the previous Marvel films. Fury and SHIELD could sustain an entire film (they actually have), and having an entire film as background would have helped fill in more background for The Avengers. And none of this is to mention Black Widow or Hawkeye, both of whom play significant roles in The Avengers and whose back stories are stitched into the film using only a few threads. Ten minutes in, and I felt like I had fallen asleep in Math class the day we learned addition. Zack Snyder faced a similar problem a few years ago when he brought Watchmen to the screen. He compensated by having a title sequence that was almost a film unto itself and that brought the audience up to speed with a universe much less familiar to most everybody than the Marvel Universe.
3. Speaking of Watchmen… The Avengers might well be called The Plagiarists, or at least The Borrowed A Lot Frommers. The plot of The Avengers seemed very familiar: Assemble an All-Star Team of dysfunctional, sociopathic crime fighters while the bad guys plot to import aliens into Manhattan to whoop some human ass. About halfway through the shenanigans of The Avengers, I was thinking that maybe Alan Moore should have been credited as a screenwriter since The Avengers parallels his plot from Watchmen. Furthermore, how many times do we have to see New York City attacked or destroyed? It’s a trope dating back at least to King Kong. Can’t anybody find a different place to destroy, especially now that NYC has actually been attacked by terrorists? September 11 was at the root of a significant change at the climax of Watchmen when it went from graphic novel to film, so why does the popular The Avengers get a free pass to wreck the city?
4. 3D has reached it’s saturation point. Nothing can be done in the medium that hasn’t already been done in the past 5 years, and now it’s all a matter of throwing every conceivable gimmick at the audience in tandem with rapid-fire editing to create a spectacular but shallow viewing experience. The end results all too often are tedious, boring, uninspired… I’m afraid that 3D is going to become so passé that it will lessen films that have real potential, most notably Ridley Scott’s upcoming Prometheus.
5. By the time the closing credits were rolling two and a half hours after we had settled in our seats, I was making counter-arguments in my head designed to talk my girlfriend out of breaking up with me for taking her to see this piece of celluloid bombast. In my world, taking the other half to a particularly bad film is grounds for a shot across the bow if not an all-out torpedoing of the relationship. I somehow survived this one (at least thus far), the same way I somehow survived taking a girlfriend to see Lady in the Water six years ago. Maybe I have some credit built up. I sat through Hope Floats and Stepmom some time ago and didn’t push the eject button on that girlfriend. Same with Vanity Fair. And speaking of the closing credits… the Marvel people yet again pulled a played-out gimmick by putting a surprise that changes the plot at the very end of the film. It turns out that the bad guys The Avengers fought this time around were only the second- and third-tier bad guys–Gotcha! Providing the Marvel people can find yet another guy to play Bruce Banner (Ashton Kutcher?), there are even badder guys to fight in a few more years.
Anyhow… Marvel’s The Avengers sucks.