Thursday, June 14, 2012

Wildcard: Awesome Terrible Analogies

The title says it all. These apparently came from the Washington Post, and are hilariously funny. Enjoy!
  • He was as tall as a 6′3″ tree.
  • The ballerina rose gracefully en pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.
  • The lamp just sat there, like an inanimate object.
  • The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn’t.
  • You know how in “Rocky” he prepares for the fight by punching sides of raw beef? Well, yesterday it was as cold as that meat locker he was in.
  • I felt a nameless dread. Well, there probably is a long German name for it, like Geschpooklichkeit or something, but I don’t speak German. Anyway, it’s a dread that nobody knows the name for, like those little square plastic gizmos that close your bread bags. I don’t know the name for those either.
  • Fishing is like waiting for something that does not happen very often.
  • It hurt the way your tongue hurts after you accidentally staple it to the wall.
  • The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work.
  • The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for a while.
  • He felt like he was being hunted down like a dog, in a place that hunts dogs, I suppose.
  • He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.
  • The revelation that his marriage of 30 years had disintegrated because of his wife’s infidelity came as a rude shock, like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge-free ATM.
  • She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.
  • Her eyes were like two brown circles with big black dots in the center.
  • He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but a real duck that was actually lame. Maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Wildcard: Bloodgeoning

Write. Shoot. Cut. Survive. This is the motto of New Zealand's V48 Hour Film Festival, which, several weekends ago, I was lucky enough to take part in. Participants have 48 hours, from 7PM on Friday to 7PM on Sunday to create a short film from scratch, after receiving a number of restriction to prevent pre-planning.

It was seriously the greatest experience in the world.

Notable events were getting a face full of red maple syrup (which actually served as fantastic blood), making far too many Blues Clues references, writing my first ever film script, as well the police showing up to the edge of a forest where we were filming at 3 o'clock in the morning. And, of course, not sleeping.

One of the first things I noticed about being tired from not sleeping was that everything was funny, even when it wasn't - and then some. We had some hilarious moments that didn't really make much sense. The other thing I noticed about not sleeping was that it completely blew my sense of time out of the water. One night, I went to bed at 3AM, got up at 6AM and then had crashed again by noon. And when I woke up at about 1PM, I had no idea why it wasn't dinner time yet.

Anyway, this is the film we made: a short horror called Bloodgeoning. Our restrictions were: horror; a leaf as a prop; an unlucky character named Nicky Brick; a line of dialogue, "I did that"; and at least two seconds of slow motion. Enjoy! Oh, and watch the bloopers too (which are the bottom one), because they're completely awesome!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Writing Advice: What Is A Protagonist? (Part 1)

And more importantly, how do you write a good one?

The first thing to note is that the protagonist of a story is not always the same as the viewpoint character, or even the main character. They can, of course, be the same character (like in The Hunger Games), but not always. Often these three terms are confused and defined synonymously, but there is a subtle difference between them.

The veiwpoint character is the one who is telling the story, regardless of whether it is told in first-person or third-person, while the main character is the character the story is focussed on. In the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson narrates the story, making him the viewpoint character, while Holmes is the main character. In George Orwell's Animal Farm, there is no viewpoint character at all - the POV is omniscient, as if the author is narrating the story - and the main character is Napoleon.

The protagonist, however, differs in one significant way: it is the character who possesses the most willpower. He must have a strong and conscious desire, more prominent than any other character's, that drives him to act throughout the story - although, sometimes, the desire causes the protagonist to be inactive.

In the Greek tragedy, Antigone, by Sophocles, the main character of the story is Creon, the King of the city Thebes, as it focusses on his downfall. The protagonist, however, is his niece, Antigone, who desires to bury her deceased and treasonous brother (thus showing his memory respect). As it happens, Creon is also the antagonist of the story, because he is the one who gets in the protagonist's way.

So. I'm glad we have that sorted.

One thing to remember about writing a protagonist is that he must always have the capacity to pursue, and then obtain, his object of desire. He does't have to reach his goal, but he must be able to. The reason for this is that a reader will not connect with a character who doesn't have any chance of succeeding, because no-one wants to believe that their own desires are unachievable. We carry hope until the end. In this way, a character with impossible goals is not empathetic. And, plus, why would we waste our time on someone who is literally hopeless?

This, among many others, is one reason why I dislike Holden from The Catcher in the Rye. His desire is impossible: to cling onto his childhood forever and help others to do the same. While this goal shows insight into his character, it frustrates me in terms of story, because he would never actually to be able to achieve it. And even if he could, he probably wouldn't do anything about it (because, hey, it's Holden Caulfield).

In short, a protagonist differs from other characters because he or she has a desire that is achievable prominent in the development of the story.

Stay tuned for part two. ... (Oh, and you may have noticed that I am posting again after a much-too-long hiatus. I know, I'm awesome.)
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