Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Where Was I?

Hi, guys, sorry for the no-warning black-out.  I suddenly got sick and tired of hearing myself pontificate.  I do miss blogging, though, and I intend to come back soon, but I'd like some suggestions for what would you guys would like to see next.  I've gotten some emails with some good suggestions but I thought I'd throw it open to everybody. What topics have I not yet covered?  What ramifications of my past pieces have I not yet considered?  Any old features you'd like to see return?  Let me know, and maybe you'll see that topic soon. (And be sure to check out this neat, new Pulp-o-mizer!)


Mark said...

As a non-screenwriter, although I get tons of valuable info from your more technical posts, I always look forward to the more analytical ones (eg Underrateed Movies and TV, Cheesy Movies, What Should Have Won, etc.)

Crystal said...

It would be cool to see you analyzing humor. Humor (done right) is so hard, such an art form.

j.s. said...

You could slow down even more, just twice or even once weekly.

You've already done so much systematic work, you might follow your bliss a little and back off focusing on more connected series' until or unless you generate some new ones organically through learning on your own script work.

I like the idea of investigating comedy more, focusing on specific overlooked or classic films more for the different lessons each one offers.

You've done this before here and there in various posts, but I'd be interested in lessons you learned from other media, other art and also if you've ever learned anything surprisingly practical from an unlikely source, like a really obscure or artsy novel or film.

At this point you have an audience full of vocal and silent fans, some of them real working writers. What about interviewing a few of them for some posts along with other peers or mentors you feel have valuable insights?

And there's always High School Hell Week for the darker side of the experience.

You can count on this, though: You've offered us all so much already that we're gong to stick around for whatever you feel like writing at whatever pace works best for you.

MCP said...

Not to seem overly gushing, but I have found this blog more valuable than every other blog and book about writing I have read put together. So obviously thank you for all this work and I will be reading and re-reading whatever you choose to write about going forward.

That being said. Here is my own personal wish list of things I would find fascinating to hear your opinions on.

- More in-depth analysis of ways to pair-off your problems when revising. The idea is very attractive and your examples were clear improvements for the films/books mentioned. What types of pairs tend to be good for fixes would be incredible.

- Empathy holes in a work - you gave good ideas on how to interpret notes that might point in this direction. But ways to deal with this type of hole, or general thoughts about them would be interesting.

- Scenes and Sequences - You gave amazing advice on how to get scenes from 1's to 5's. So on the micro (scene) level you've done in-depth analysis and the macro (overall structure) you've done in-depth analysis. That mid-level (sequence) analysis is something I would love to know more about. Just how scenes and sequences tend to work together, or questions that could be used to diagnose problems at that level which affect the flow or rising tension of a script.

Thanks again for all the great work! Totally understand if you never do any of these subjects.

Matt Bird said...

Thanks so much for the feedback, everybody!

Mark: I do miss doing movies, which injected some pure positivity into the blog, and renewed my "learn from the movies" batteries. I stopped doing it because it took too long (and because I was getting obsessive about watching more than one movie a week for WSHW, just to make sure that I was picking the best movie from that year, which was silly) I should really fire that series back up, or start doing the occasional underrated movie again.

Crystal: I wish I had more to say about humor, especially since I'm trying to write more of it. Hopefully I'll learn more sharable stuff as I go.

J.S.: * Yes, I need to slow down. * The series are actually less work than individual pieces, because they allow me to let my mind sprawl, but once I begin one, I'm always tempted to rush through it, for fear that I'll bore readers who aren't interested in that topic. I should get over that worry. * Posts or series on other media might be fun. One problem is that it's east to re-watch and analyze a movie, but a big commitment to re-read and analyze a book. * Interviews/posts from working writers is something I really should be doing.

MCP: Pairing off problems are hard to address without specific examples, which is why I tend to have to do a "Meddler" to point out where they didn't do it, and I tire of those easily, unfortunately, but I'll look for other places to point them out. * My "How (Not) To Alienate an Audience" series (found in the sidebar) identifies many Empathy holes, though it doesn't call them that by name. * More work on sequences might be good.

Keep the suggestions coming! I'm making a list of new topics, and it's growing, so I'll be back soon.

Daniel Smith said...

Go read Brian McDonald of The Invisible Ink Blog and be inspired.

Mike said...

I like the underrated movie feature. The things I miss, and getting another perspective is fun.

Anonymous said...

Hi Matt! I adore your blog (I found it through fuze #8 a few years back and stuck around). You've given me some very useful insights about plot structure and character (especially the clarity of framing plot in terms of a character trying different ways to overcome a problem).

Its hard to find good story analysis of films as opposed to reviews that just don't get in to that nitty gritty, so I often find myself wishing you'd analyzed this or that that recent film. But that's a purely selfish wish, not necessarily an educational request! It might be fun to do the occasional analysis of something recent you've seen, rather than an older Underrated Movie (though I love those too). But only if you have something to say about it and are moved to write it.

Thanks for everything you've done, it's been great fun and great education to read.

Beth said...

Hey! I want to second Hazelwillow
s comment about reviews for recent movies. I would love even a quick post about 3 things that succeeded or 3 things that failed.

Personally, I would love a fuller analysis of genres, breaking down genres into strengths of setting or character. But that's just me.

James Kennedy said...

How about embedding your thoughts in videos, a la Red Letter Media? This might open up new insights that are harder to express in just prose, and will probably extend the reach of the blog, if that's a goal.

Unknown said...

I also want to hear your thoughts about any new movies you have seen and how they work or don't work, and to see if they support principles in recent blog posts.

rams said...

Everyone knows good books make lousy movies -- except... sometimes they don't. Housekeeping and The Rievers are two examples that come to mind, and I'll bet The Readership has others. I'd love to see you analyze why the occasional transition gets it right.

Harvey Jerkwater said...

I'm a fan of "The Meddler."

How about dragging out the old high school chestnut "Compare and Contrast." Take two movies with similar premises and see how they work or fail. You could run a great "Goofus and Gallant" series that way.

PREMISE: A handful of elite cops are trapped in a high-rise slum under the control of a crime lord. Things go bad and the cops must fight their way out.

Goofus: DREDD. A boring, boring movie that sacrificed everything upon the altar of Cool. And yet wasn't very cool, either. DREDD made me want to kick someone in the nuts out of frustration.

Gallant: THE RAID: REDEMPTION. An action epic that maintains audience interest throughout. THE RAID made me want to kick someone in the head, because it shows us how cool kicking people in the head can be.

PREMISE: An outsider in a futuristic totalitarian society with rigid emotional controls gets involved with the underground and is called upon to use his outsider status in a plot to assassinate the society's leader.

Goofus: EQUILIBRIUM. A shameless ripoff of FAHRENHEIT 451, 1984, and THE MATRIX, yes, but also a bad, boring movie in its own right, and one that accidentally reminds me of...

Gallant: SLEEPER. If I had a band, I would name it "Erno's Nose." The best climax involving a steamroller, a handgun, and surgical scrubs in modern cinema.

How do they set tone? What do they get the viewer to anticipate? What works and what fails?