Tag Archives: storytelling

Story = Plot + Idea + Character + Emotion

A story is most powerful and memorable when tethered to an emotional reaction. People become emotional when something negative happens to someone they care about. That’s why you will never forget traumatic events involving close family members, whereas a story about an acquaintance from years ago may easily slip your mind. Likewise, you will struggle to remember anything from a history test you studied for twenty years ago. With no emotional connection to those events, they did not get stored as lasting memories.

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The Art of the Novella

I am growing tired of trilogies these days—and series in general (in both books and film). It seems like every successful piece of intellectual property in the entertainment industry must be prolonged indefinitely. What happened to a single complete story with a beginning, middle, and end? Most series would best be novels, most novels would best be short stories, and most short stories would best not exist.

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Visceral vs. Cerebral Horror

As a child I was terrified of horror movies and avoided watching them. Two of my favorite movies were Jurassic Park and Independence Day, and while they were not directly horror, there were certain scenes in each film that I had to close my eyes during because I was so terrified. (They were when the raptors popped out and when they showed the alien body in the Area 51 base). Though I avoided explicit horror, I enjoyed spooky movies and TV shows intended for children, such as Disney’s Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Nickelodeon’s Are You Afraid of the Dark?. I liked PG horror because it was merely spooky and creepy, not outright terrifying. The first true horror movie I remember seeing was Scream, which came out in 1996 when I was ten years old. Though that movie was meant to be somewhat comedic, the Ghostface mask nevertheless remained burned in my mind and gave me nightmares for months after.

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Mystery is Key to Story

Mystery is the key to every successful story. Even if a story is not explicitly a mystery, it needs to have some element of mystery within it. If there’s no mystery, wherein the reader is wondering what will happen next, they have little reason to continue reading the story.

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My Rabbit Holes

Throughout my life, I get super-interested in certain topics and go all-in, becoming completely absorbed in the subject for weeks, months, or sometimes years. Eventually, when I’ve learned everything worth knowing, I become bored of the subject and move on to something else, becoming super-interested in that new topic… until I’m not. Then the cycle repeats again.

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Best TV of 2020: Too Many Shows

The theme this year is that, due to the abundance of streaming services, there is simply too many good TV shows to keep up with. I don’t have time to watch shows that are merely “good”—they must be great. Perhaps it’s just me, and other people (especially during COVID lockdowns) have more free time to devote to television. I used to have lots of time to waste watching TV before I became a writer. These days, the vast majority of my time is spent writing and doing other writing-related business. The second-most amount of time is spent reading. Books, especially science fiction, are generally better than TV. Then there are the daily essentials like exercising, eating, and other errands, during which I listen to podcasts. That leaves me about two hours at night before bed to watch a TV show, movie, or documentary. I’ve cut down on my television watching this year, focusing more on movies and documentaries—again because I don’t have the time to watch multiple multi-season series. I can easily get through a mediocre movie when it’s only an hour or two, but watching a mediocre TV series can take dozens of hours, which is time I don’t have to spare. In the past, whenever I started watching a TV series I’d see it through to the end no matter what, but I’ve been cutting the cord early on TV shows more and more.  My patience for mediocrity evaporates over time. Having said that, there were at least ten shows I saw in 2020 that were worth my time. 

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Why I had to Completely Rewrite my First Novel

My first foray into creative writing was through screenplays. I always loved movies and thought in moving images, so screenwriting came naturally to me. After about four years of writing roughly ten screenplays, I decided to try shifting to prose. I decided to adapt my best screenplay into a novel. I already had all the plot and characters and world-building done. It should have been easy, right?

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LOST Revisited

There have been many great television shows since, and the ending wasn’t perfect, but I’ve never had more fun watching a TV show than LOST. The finale was extremely divisive at the time, with many fans claiming it ruined the entire series for them. I won’t spoil any details of the ending other than to say that the dissatisfaction came from frustration that it didn’t provide enough answers to the many mysteries set up over the years. I thought the final episode was amazing in itself, but I was also frustrated that I didn’t get answers to certain mysteries—though ultimately that didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the show.

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The New Star Wars Trilogy That Could Have Been

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With the conclusion of the latest Star Wars trilogy, and supposedly the end of the Skywalker saga, I’ve been thinking about the series as a whole and its legacy. I liked each movie in the new trilogy upon first watching them. They were all enjoyable and exciting in-theater experiences with seemingly had everything you’d want in a Star Wars story: the Force, the Dark Side, lightsabers, space battles, aliens, planets, robots, Jedi, Sith, old masters, young apprentices, new characters, old characters, science fiction concepts, and more. I truly had a great time watching each movie the first time around, but it was only upon later reflection that I realized the parts didn’t quite add up to the whole. The acting, writing, and direction were all top-notch, especially compared to episodes 1-3, but the problem with this new trilogy, and the one area where the prequels were superior, is perhaps the most important part of all: story. Continue reading

What Movies Can Do That Books Cannot

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Film is the most popular art form today because it is the art form that most resembles real life. In the future, that medium may become virtual reality (VR) and ultimately full-world simulations. But for now, movies are the most visceral medium because they look and sound like real life. Continue reading