Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Because I Needed SOME Way to Freshen Up These Announcements

There once was a podcast re: stories,
From action films to allegories,
Shared with tout le monde 
By a ginger and blonde,
Who each loved their narrative glories.

And as plotlines are most in the pink
When action and characters sync,
Behold: our new show!
(They're weekly, you know.)
You'll find it by clicking this link.

For more about this episode of The Narrative Breakdown -- which features material from the "Quartet:  Character" talk in Second Sight -- please visit the show page. And follow us on Twitter at @NarrativeBreak

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Good People of Seattle! I Have a Mission for You!

Over a year ago, Arthur and I were contacted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation regarding a young Seattle-area writer named Stephanie Trimberger (who was 13 at the time; she’s 15 now). Stephanie has brain cancer, and her dream was to have her novel edited by “the Harry Potter editors.” Arthur and I read it and wrote her an editorial letter, and she began working on revisions. A year went by, and we didn’t hear anything more. Then last week, we heard that she had finished her book and wanted us to take one last look. 

Thanks to the terrific coordination of a lot of people at Scholastic, we not only managed to edit it quickly, but our designers typeset the manuscript and created a gorgeous cover for it. And with the help of an extraordinarily generous donation from the printer, three hundred copies of Stephanie’s THE RUBY HEART have now been printed. 

Your Mission, Seattle Area People!:  Next Tuesday, September 25, at 6 p.m., Stephanie will be doing a reading and signing of her book at the Pacific Place Barnes & Noble. Will you please, please attend? It would be so very awesome to have a big audience there to applaud her accomplishment and make it a great day for her. Stephanie is a huge reader of YA and fantasy fiction; she lost her mom to brain cancer nine years ago, and it sounds like she’s been writing about that long. I’m sure ALL writers can sympathize with her dream of publishing a book, and it should be an amazing evening in seeing that dream fulfilled.

The details in full:

Tuesday, September 25
6 p.m. (it was scheduled for 5:30 earlier; the time has been moved back)
Barnes & Noble Pacific Place
600 Pine Street, Suite 107
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 265-0156

You can RSVP or leave a message for Stephanie at the Facebook page for the event. Thank you!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Breaking Down Bond -- James Bond.

This week on The Narrative Breakdown, James and I go beat-by-beat through this delightful scene from the 2006 version of Casino Royale. We chose this scene because it never ceases to please me extremely in its wit, sexiness, and -- as you'll hear us realize in talking about this -- really well-done power dynamics. Not to mention it offers excellent characterizations, perfect scene structure, a great example of subtext-becoming-text, and of course, discussion of Daniel Craig's derriere. So if you are interested in learning about any of those things:

Subscribe in iTunes 

Listen on the show page

Shamefully for us, we did not give credit to the screenwriters within the episode:  They are Robert Wade and Neil Purvis, who have together written all of the Bond movies in the last thirteen years, and more interestingly, Paul Haggis, who also wrote Crash, Million Dollar Baby, and many episodes of The Facts of Life. My sincerest thanks to them.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Another New Episode of The Narrative Breakdown -- Now with More Bird!

We have another new episode of The Narrative Breakdown* live here at our iTunes page, and it's a really fun one this week:  As the start of a new series on scene construction, screenwriter  Matt Bird joins us to discuss strategies by which characters try to get what they want in a scene. As you know if you follow his blog The Cockeyed Caravan, Matt is a certifiable writing-craft genius, offering terrific tools like "The Ultimate Story Checklist" and essay series on "The Storyteller's Rulebook" and "How to Build a Scene." (And as my kidlit readers might know, he is married to the illustrious Betsy.) He has a TON of terrific ideas and insights to offer on both developing characters and showing their behavior playing out in a scene, and James and I had such a great time talking to him that at one point we ran out of disk space to record our conversation (a mistake we quickly corrected, obviously). Please check it out!
* A copyediting-dork digression: In writing this, I experienced a brief bit of existential doubt at how The Chicago Manual of Awesome would style something so lowly and unofficial as a podcast. . . . Would it be in roman and quote marks, a la an episode of a TV show? Or all caps, as I've done it before here as per Internet style? Or just a link? I'm going with itals as this is the title of a real show, dammit; and hence it shall be forevermore.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

New Episode of THE NARRATIVE BREAKDOWN now live!

This time, James and our friend Jason Ginsburg discuss generating and developing science-fiction and fantasy story concepts and ideas. I had the pleasure of seeing both The Avengers and Prometheus with Jason and James this summer (and Jason's wife Wendy), and our guest host knows his stuff. Please check it out on iTunes, and rate and review the show if you enjoy! 

While I'm here, a quick Summer Movie Report Card:

The Avengers:  A-. Maybe a little bit too long, but Joss Whedon's dialogue and sense of humor + great relationships + terrific action + shawarma = the most enjoyable thing I've seen this year, I think.

Prometheus: D+ -- and even that is entirely based on how pretty the whole thing was, most especially Michael Fassbender (though still not as wonderful as he was as Mr. Rochester, because my word, his Mr. Rochester!). The characters were idiots (especially as scientists!) and the plot made no sense at all. But truly a nice use of the film's CGI budget. Maybe it will be redeemed in the Director's Cut.

The Dark Knight Rises:  B-? After the brilliant intensity of The Dark Knight, that thrilling and terrifying examination of the worth of human beings as a class and as individuals (through the Joker's nihilism vs. Batman's goodness vs. Harvey Dent's whole journey), this came off as a little bit scattered to me, with too many stories to cram in, not enough time to develop any of the relationships, an all-over-the-place economic vision, and not as much thematic coherency as the previous movie. I also think the story put itself at a disadvantage by having to spend so much time convincing Batman to come out of retirement . . . It starts slow and then has to cram things together later, with many, many plot holes along the way. But wonderful visuals, as ever, and all the actors acquitted themselves nicely, especially Anne Hathaway.

If you're a Christopher Nolan fan, you must see this -- useful for punctuating conversations as well: The Inception Button.

Ruby Sparks:  B+. I have quibbles with the ending, but up until then, this is a smart and thoughtful take on writing, relationships, and the dangers of creating or applying the former through/to the latter. I loved the sequence where he was creating Ruby's character especially. And hooray for a female screenwriter and co-director! Highly recommended for writers and people who love them.

Beasts of the Southern Wild I don't even know how to grade this movie, it's so unlike anything else I've ever seen. An A for its heroine and her performance, for sure; an A for the beauty of its visuals; an A for originality and imagination; a N/A for plot structure.

The Amazing Spider-Man: B+. The best parts of this by far to me were the conversations between Peter and Mary Jane, when the real spark between Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone seemed to imbue their characters as well. Those also seemed like the only times Andrew Garfield smiled -- I wanted to love him, wanted him to be my fun-loving Spidey superhero, but his performance seemed to actively resist offering any emotional warmth to me as a viewer, which left me a bit confused. But a good, creepy villain and Martin Sheen being wise are always pleasures.

Still would like to see (and now might have to catch on DVD):  The Bourne Legacy, Premium Rush, The Campaign, Brave, Seeking a Friend at the End of the World, Snow White and the Huntsman, Searching for Sugar Man. Anything else you'd recommend?