Saturday, February 15, 2014
Before I was a writer, I was a filmmaker. But the problems that I faced were always budget. Granted, with a reasonable budget, you can make a decent film. And that's if you have that cinematic eye. Which, sadly, not many people have but continue to make films.
So when I stashed all my ideas in a box, I let them sit.
Then I got the idea of adapting one of them into a short story.
Then I began on a novel.
Now, whenever I adapt one of my ideas into a book, I feel like I am working with unlimited sets and billions of dollars in budget.
So for this series, I figured on showing you how you can take your film-making skills and adapt them to novel writing.
Let's start with the first chapter.
Think of the first chapter as your first scene or a cold open. This is your first impression. Your first chance to win the audience. You have to hook em. In order to hook em you have to toy around with thier emotions, make the scene visceral and cause an emotion. Because if the audience feels nothing, why would they continue with the rest? Your 1st chapter or prologue is what comes before the title credits. And in that short amount of time you have to establish the following:
SETTING, TIME PERIOD, CHARACTERS, GENRE, THEME, CONFLICT, HISTORY, RELATIONSHIPS, MOOD, DIALOGUE, NARRATIVE VOICE, PACING, IMAGERY, DIRECTION, STRUCTURE, SURPRISES, ETC.
It's a lot to set up in a short amount of time, but if you have a clear view of what the story will look like and the direction it will take, then you will succeed in transporting the reader there.
I tend to focus on imagery the most. My wife and my in-laws have told me that I write with a cinematic style and, knowing that, I have a better understanding on not only how to write but how to keep the audience engaged.
Even though writing can be a solitary venture on just using words to tell your story, it is a very visual medium.
So start your first chapter today.
Take us to another world.
The world of your imagination.
Sunday, February 9, 2014
These days I'm more inclined to speak my mind on a variety of topics. The one that often pops up is the question of God. Is there a supreme being who is controlling it all?
Well, from a writer's standpoint, I'd say there is a God.
Now, I know there is a rancorous debate on whether there is or there isn't but if you take a step back and look at it all, you'll find some interesting things concerning this topic.
When my parents told me that there was a God, I saw it as a chance to question belief. The ball was in my court, so to speak. As a lover of science and the arts, I've lived my life digesting all that I could on why we are here. Where did we come from?
Growing up, I'd take both sides in from an objective standpoint. If we were to start at the concept of no God, how does everything weigh out?
Here's why I believe there is a God, a creator of it all. Look at our planet. We live in a world of perfect systems. We have oxygen, water, food, sun - the very things we need to sustain ourselves. We have plants that continually convert carbon dioxide into oxygen for us while at the same time providing us food. If we want more, all we have to do is plant another one. It is a well-oiled machine in which sustainability is constantly recycled. We have gravity which holds us to the planet's surface without barreling off into space. We have an atmosphere and an ozone layer that protects us from any foreign rays or bacteria that could harm us. We have planetary magnetism. The earth orbits the sun in a constant circle.
Take a look at the human body. We are encased in skin which heals itself when harmed. We have a bone structure to keep us upright and stable. An immune system to build up our strength and resistance to things. We are born with information already in us from an equal amount of chromosomes from each parent. Inside the womb we automatically know to receive sustenance from the placenta. How perfect is that?
And what about the human eyes. Now those are two of the most complex organs, wouldn't you say? Yet they are contained in our heads and give us the ability to see.
Everything seems to be created just right.
What is holding all of this together?
When you add it up, there are too many perfect systems in our world for there not to be a God. How can anything be that perfect, you ask? Well, in order for something to be perfect it must first be perfected, yes? Something somewhere had to get something just right in order for us to live.
So why then, is it unbelievable, for there to be a creator for the creation? Whenever we create something, we are commended for our creativity and are dubbed a creator of something in some respect. But the idea of there being no God at all and we are all just here by random chance, somehow inhabiting perfect systems? That's a puzzling concept. That's like a book with no writer behind it. Or a statue with no builder. A painting with no painter? And yet don't things need to be written? Aren't some things molded? Isn't there evidence of a few brushstrokes here and there, a record of something painting a picture for us?
What's important to realize is that science, in itself, is not responsible for creating earth and humans. Science is recording or charting data over long periods. Hypothesis, observation, conclusion.
That being said, I was first told about God around three years old and have always found ways to ask more questions and read all I can on the subject. So, you could say, I've been researching for twenty-six years.
Now, I am by no means a rocket scientist. I graduated high school, took some college and have worked a variety of blue-collar jobs. But I continued to read and continued to explore this question. I'm always open to talk about the subject but people, I find, seem too heated to even discuss it and dismiss it. Some would write me off as dope, fool, imbecile, mark, or a man who is easily swayed. My question is: how is believing in God a detriment to one's mental stability?
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.
Thursday, February 6, 2014
If you had to choose a path to follow, which one would you choose? What motivates you to push it further, think outside the box? What do you want to accomplish?
If you're smart, you should focus on your passion. And how do you focus? What with financial issues and bills to pay, how do you mitigate through all that muck? What would you do if you did not have to worry about bills? Would you become an artist? A sculptor? Painter? A poet?
Well just pretend for a minute that all your bills, all your worries do not exist.
By all means, continue to pay them and be responsible. But for you, you need to focus. Find your room. This room should not be filled with anything that reminds you of your worries. It could be the basement, where you feel it is most quiet. It could be the library, where you feel more calm. It could be your favorite table or chair in a coffee house, where you feel more relaxed. Wherever that room is, go there.
Because all artists need a place to experiment.
I've written some of my best work in all three settings and, in the long run, it helped a great deal. Mind you, I wasn't the most financially sound in those times. At one point I owed my bank $700 dollars and had a crummy job that gave me 8 bucks an hour. But I hunkered down, focused on the work and somehow paid off that debt.
Just because you are struggling it does not mean that your work should stop.
It should be your pursuit of happiness. For the thrill of the pursuit gives a whole new meaning to whatever you create.
Saturday, January 25, 2014
About a week ago, a sudden urge took over on my way back from taking a drive and I decided to rent Man of Steel. My wife and I both watched it. It was a good movie but had its flaws. Particularly, the score didn't resonate with me and there seemed to be a lack of joy in it. It's being presented as the darker side of Superman. I tweeted about it later on.
Man of Steel? It was good. A bit darker than I expected. I suspect they recycled some ideas from the Tim Burton script. 4/5 stars.
— Roberto Scarlato (@robertoscarlato) January 21, 2014
Then my wife and I started a conversation about comic book movies. I had mentioned that their making a Batman vs Superman movie. Eventually we both arrived to the conclusion that we are tired of super hero movies. To the point that we have established this ultimatum for Hollywood:
EITHER CREATE A BRAND NEW SUPER HERO OR BRING IN A SUPER HERO
WHO HAS NEVER GOTTEN HIS/HER SHOT ON THE BIG SCREEN
(Caution: Spoilers Ahead!!!)
Think about it. How many Spider-man movies are there? Doesn't that seem like a big number? A little excessive maybe.
Well, I've figured out why.
Superhero/comic book adaptations are a sure thing. They are the quintessential cash cow of Hollywood. How much did Iron Man make? How about The Dark Knight Trilogy? Were they good movies? Yes, but how long before they are rebooted, revamped, reshaped, remolded, or whatever the hell else they plan to do it?
You'd think we'd get tired of it. I know I am. But apparently Hollywood doesn't think so.
Comic Book Writer Grant Morrison said, according to Wikipedia, that "The Incredible Hulk Reboot was proof that the audience will forgive you if you reboot the franchise..."
Well, if that didn't open the flood gates, I don't know what did. These days I feel bombarded with superheros I am already familiar with, grew up with in fact, being re-casted or redone.
I feel like after Batman Begins, all the studios wanted to capitalize on rebooting a popular super hero franchise.
Since we started with Superman, let's take a look at him first. I associate Superman with a pureness. A hero who is friendly, calm but also strong. A hero who stood for Truth, Justice and The American Way. And I feel like the person who embodied that the best was naturally, Christopher Reeve. Made 4 movies from 1978 to 1987. Yes, the last two movies were lacking in both budget, effects and story, but Reeve was a hundred percent committed to the character.
Superman had style, and he was funny and made you happy just watching him fly. But he could also be intense, filled with a righteous burden of holding the reigns of mankind. To keep things in balance and to watch over everyone.
I mean, as far as acting goes, Christopher Reeve brought it. Remember this iconic scene?
But it was also remarkable to see him riff, pull out a one-liner of wit here and there? I was hoping for something to that effect in man of steel. I mean, all I would need is a little boy asking the last son of krypton, "Hey, Superman. How can I grow up to be big and strong like you?"
I mean the movie made you feel helpless. Yes, they raised the stakes from Superman Returns (which I think the grand plan was boiled down to krypton real estate wheras Man of Steel hiked it up to terraforming Earth for Krypton) but at least Superman Returns had some joy in it. Yes, it was long and in some spots boring, but how can ya beat that recognizable score. I know they wanted Man of Steel to be a separate movie but, can you imagine if it had John Williams included?
|"By God...I'm on Mars."|
John Carter, a movie I actually like, made $284 Million and is considered a flop. But why. It's different, its fun and it has a little mystery and a lot of heart. It boggles my mind how movies that made so much can still flop.
And now I hear they are starting Ant-Man, which looks interesting and, mor importantly, different. But when are we gonna have The Flash? The Midnighter? Shazzam? The Phantom Stranger? Moon Knight? The Maxx?
When is Hollywood going to take a risk and be original?
(P.S. If you could have only one super power, what would it be?)
Sunday, January 19, 2014
So it's finally happened. What we all feared. Well, maybe some of us. According to a Chicago Judge, Sherlock Holmes is apparently in the public domain.
For some this is a travesty. How can such a limitless character with hundreds of stories be shoved in the public domain?
For others, it really isn't that big of a deal. Sherlock Holmes still holds his weight in relevancy today. Why else would we continue to depict him in tv shows as well as movies? There are many books that you can get on Kindle which are public domain which are still classics.
I guess the only thing I hope would happen is that whoever reads whatever stories get put up under public domain will walk into a bookshop and buy a physcial copy of the book to contribute to the Doyle Estate. After all, they carried this character through over a hundred years. I think they deserve some compensation for their efforts.
And who knows? What with the advent of streaming television shows, I deduce (see what I did there) that a whole new generation of Sherlock fans will emerge. I mean, take a look at the BBC and what they've done to utilize the character in modern day London. If you listen closely, you will find that a good eighty percent of the dialogue they use from that show are pulled straight from the stories themselves.
So go forth, my young lad and pick up a copy of this bloke's adventures.
The game is afoot...and you're sure to be Sherlocked. ;)