Saturday, November 24, 2012

Survive the Zombie Apocalypse

I started watching AMC's The Walking Dead because I saw this poster and it cracked me up.

I don't like zombie movies. Shaun of The Dead and 28 Days Later aside, I think most of the genre is a bloody gross-out fest for those who don't enjoy good film.

I had heard this was a good show, but honestly, telling me that a zombie show is good, makes me doubt your ability to judge value.

That said, ahem, this show is great.

Since I'm playing catch-up, watching the DVDs, I have the benefit of hindsight. I tolerated the first episodes' arty factor as them getting their groove on. And the next thing I knew, I was hooked.

I just finished Season Two. I read the reviews first. They were criticized for too much talking, not enough action. Fair enough, but only half the story.

There is a lot of moralizing in this series. Morality, moral imperatives, moral decisions,* civilization, oy, when the characters pause, and the two shot is framed, brace yourself for moralizing that will make you wish for someone to jump in and gnaw their faces off.

But when they stop talking about it and the series shows them behaving within the new morality and you're right with them there, then turns that 180 degrees, they knock it out of the park.


When the little girl walks out of the barn. Holy crap.


Great writing is always instructive. 

The Sopranos was a delicious guide on how to make a villain sympathetic. I mean, sometimes, didn't you wish Tony could get a break. Carmella would drive anyone around the bend. But I digress.

The Walking Dead excels. You will invest in these people. You will be surprised.* If you're just there for the bloody gore fest, they have that too.

Which brings up another point. I'd rather be intrigued than grossed out. That's just me. 

One episode of The Walking Dead made me gag.

Something IMAGINARY evoked a real physical response.

I want my writing to do that.

Although gagging is not the response I'd prefer.

*Ha! Got it right in one.
*Ha! Did it again. The curse is lifted.

The Magic Factory

From the Los Angeles Review of Books,  A Three Act Journey in the Land of Screenwriting Gurus.

While I agree with most of his take on the gurus, he misses two points.

Screenwriting has long been considered the next "Gold Rush" and like the one 1849, the good money, the reliable money, the real money was made by the folks who sold stuff to the miners.

Levis, gold pans, treasure maps kept many a merchant, banker or con man afloat while the miners chased glistening pay dirt.

Once in a while, some intrepid soul would survive the elements, the work and his fellows to strike it rich, fueling not only his life, but dreams for the rest of the mob. Who then, clad in dusty, worn Levis, clutching dented pans and wrinkled maps, doubled down.

Hope is a richer intoxicant than gold.

So the gurus market while the wannabes shop. That's human nature. The cycle will reset when the shoppers wise up.

Point #2.

I've lived through the fever dream of this book, that article, some blog post will slot the miraculous last piece of the puzzle into place so, voila, success arrives at last bearing Hollywood's Standard Rich and Famous Contract. Alas. It is not so.

I smiled when I read Zimmerman's lament that having read 25 screenwriting books and written three scripts, he feels no closer to success.

I suggest he read less and write more.

-- UPDATE --

Mr. Zimmerman read this post and tried to comment. Blogger is misbehaving today, so I add his comment here, and thank him for his good humor and graciousness.

"I agree entirely with your thoughtful response, but I felt the uncontrollable urge to point out that I have only written only three "features". I've written dozens of "scripts": tv specs, pilots, plays, etc. Actually, the only thing I do more than reading is writing. And napping. And, clearly, googling myself. Thanks!"

Monday, November 19, 2012

Surprise Decision

... are two words I can't spell.

I have looked up decision at least 500 times thinking it needs two Es instead of two Is. Decesion is how I think decision should be spelled. Mr. Webster and every spell checker I have disagree.

Last weekend when I was posting elsewhere, I looked at that word and thought, is that right? Looked it up for the 501st time and also thought, why don't you learn to spell this already?

Don't you think SURPRISE would look good with a Z in it? I do. For years, I have. SurpriZe. Wouldn't that be surprising? Surprise just doesn't look right with two Ss. It obviously needs a Z. No one else agrees.

I noticed this when, in something I was writing, I managed to correctly spell everything except decision and surprise.

Which, I decided, was weird.

Something, I decided, must be done.

Solutions being considered:
1. Put brain in gear and learn to spell SURPRISE and DECISION.
2. Stop writing stories that include SURPRISES and DECISIONS.
 Guess which is more likely.

Friday, November 09, 2012