Monday, January 25, 2016

Can you predict how well you're going to write?

One of the things that might keep us from writing is the idea or thought that we won't be able to write anything good. We might think that we already 'know' that things aren't going to work out, so why bother at all.

This is a rather common thing that we all tend to suffer from every now and then. We tend to lack confidence in our abilities, so we try to postpone our projects and things that we're supposed to do as much as possible.

I myself tend to have pretty big problems when it comes to getting started, especially when I'm having a bad day. Writing anything feels impossible because I 'know' that I won't write anything good, no matter what.

Instead of paying attention to what's important - that is, usually the writing process - I waste my energy on things that might seem important, but really aren't. I do my best to pay attention to things that keep me from trying.

I think that my ideas aren't strong enough and that I'm just going to fail completely. I think that I should try to come up with another idea because that other idea would carry me through the writing process more easily.

Naturally I think to myself that these thoughts that I currently have are the ones that must be true. How else would I be able to have any talent or anything special to say if I didn't have the ability to judge even myself?

But that's not how it usually goes when it comes to making predictions about yourself or how well you're going to perform based on your thoughts. You simply have to acknowledge that your instincts might be wrong.

In fact, when I look back at the stuff where I thought that my ideas were horribly weak and thought that no way I would write anything good, I was usually wrong. It turns out that most of the time what I wrote was actually important and had meaning behind it.

That's why we shouldn't usually give up writing even when you might think that there's no way you're going to write anything good that day. Don't let your inner critic decide for you what you can and what you can't do.

Instead, just try to start writing, even though you might not feel like doing that at all. Try, because in my opinion there's a pretty big chance that you'll come up with something that will surprise you in a good way.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The importance of having coherent storylines.

Last week's episode of Modern Family's S7e11, 'Spread your Wings' had received pretty solid reviews, so I felt pretty optimistic about seeing it. There was a good chance that I would manage to enjoy the episode quite a bit.

According to the reviews, this was supposed to be a funny episode that also managed to make you feel.  Especially the storyline that had to do with Phil and his daughter Alex was supposed to be really heartfelt and genuine.

Yet, after I managed to watch it, I wasn't really happy with how things went. Even though I couldn't immediately tell where the problems were, I felt pretty strongly that this episode had pretty big flaws that one shouldn't overlook.

So after I gave the episode another look yesterday, I noticed that just about all the storylines - taken individually - had major thematical problems. There was very little continuity within the storylines when you paid attention to them.

For example, the first storyline was about Phil being very serious and worried about Alex. Phil was thinking that not only is Alex not doing that well, their relationship as a father and a daugther wouldn't be the same again.

This was all good in my opinion, but in the very next scene in this storyline, when Phil went to visit Alex in the university there was absolutely nothing in the scene that indicated that he was worried at all about her.

I suppose one might have been able to take that as an isolated incident and think that this was just a semi-innocent faux pas. After all, we all have a tendency to make mistakes that we can't notice that easily.

However, once the episode moved to its second storyline that involved Manny, Cameron and Gloria making their chili sauce, the very same thing happened again. There was very little continuity within the storyline.

When Manny started talking about stealing those precious chilis that they needed (Mission Impossible-style & voice-over), all I could think was that this was something that you weren't able to derive from the scene that had happened before.

Even the storyline that involved Claire wanting to get rid of Phil's family ducks felt awkwardly incoherent when it came to its implementation. In this case too it felt as if the whole story progression came out of nowhere.

As unfortunate as it is, there was no connecting scene that would have enabled them to release those ducks. The whole thing was briefly mentioned during the first minute of the episode and then eleven minutes later the ducks were gone.

Mistakes like these really bothered me about Modern Family's S7e11, 'Spread Your Wings'. Clearly the writers of the episode should have paid more attention to their storylines and what the storylines were supposed to be about.

Unfortunately, that's not what the writers did and that's why it's so difficult to recommend this episode. Even though it did have some good and honest elements, as a whole the episode just didn't work well. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

007: Spectre's redundant last act.

A couple of weeks ago I managed to see 'Spectre', the latest outing in the James Bond franchise. It took me quite a while before I saw the movie, because I was so disappointed in Daniel Craig's previous Bond film 'Skyfall'.

Having now finally seen the film, I have to say that I enjoyed watching 'Spectre' a bit more than I enjoyed watching 'Skyfall'. At least this film had quite a few enjoyable moments that even managed to make some sense.

There are good things that can be said about 'Spectre' and also not that good things that need to be said too. The writers of the film should have been able to figure out at least some of these obvious problems that I managed to notice.

In any case, one of the things that I liked about the film is that it was pretty down to earth this time. Craig's 007 in my opinion works best when the plots aren't too far fetched and that you can actually spend time with the character.

I liked how the filmmakers tried to reveal something about the character's past that we didn't know that much about. I especially liked how Bond tried to figure out what 'Spectre' meant and who are the people behind it.

I liked the 'bond'-girl in the movie, which is something that unfortunately doesn't happen that often.  I also liked 'Q':s character a lot and didn't really have anything against Blofeld's character or his WWE henchman Batista.

Also I liked how the action scenes weren't mostly about silly cgi-effects that some of the worst Bond movies have been about. I liked how these scenes - especially in the middle of the film - kept pushing the story forward.

There were however a lot of things that I didn't like about the movie at all. These problems with the film helped me to understand why many of the critics didn't rate Spectre' that high either (64% fresh at rottentomatoes).

The biggest problem with the movie is that it was too long and it didn't know when to stop. By that I mean that after Bond destroys Spectre's lab in the middle of the desert, the film had structurally reached its climax.

Unfortunately 'Spectre' didn't end there, since the film kept going on for another 25-30 minutes and had another act that was completely unnecessary. We didn't need the stuff that happened after its 'real' climax.

It wasn't necessary to see 'Q' hacking into the 'new' Mi6 and it wasn't needed that 'C' turned out to be a villain too. The kidnapping of the Bond girl was a horrendous a plot twist and Blofeldt resufarcing didn't get my approval either. 

The film just went on and on way past its time which made me pretty frustrated and angry. The fact that the writers didn't see this obvious problem with the movie's script is something that I'll probably never understand.

All in all, Spectre could have been a really solid movie had the writers understood how the structure works. Instead, what we got was a disappointing Bond film where the writers - as unfortunate as it is - didn't believe in their story enough.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Recapping last year & things that I'll hopefully do this year.

Last year my goal here on my blog was to establish a steady writing routine and publish four articles per month. Those articles would usually have something to do with television writing - or writing in general.

My goal was that if I wouldn't be able to write specs or anything more significant, at least I would be able to keep posting here on my blog. That shouldn't be too much to ask - and in the process I might even provide some good stuff for others to read.

So looking back, I did manage to have a pretty solid writing record last year. In practice that meant that pretty much every week I spent at least two or so days writing and rewriting stuff that would end up being posted here.

Considering that I tried to keep the quality of my articles relatively high, I think it can be said that I managed to be at least somewhat productive. It wasn't that bad of an accomplishment to publish 48 blog posts last year.

Having said that, even though I did write some good articles over the last twelve months, I think I probably should have done more. I should have at least tried to write some scripts, even though I wasn't really that motivated to do that.

When it comes to this upcoming year, I probably have to do something else than to just write these articles. It's not enough to play it safe, even though writing these blog posts isn't always that easy or that simple either.

So what am I going to do this year then if I'm willing to plan something new? Am I finally going to write my first full length movie screenplay or am I perhaps going to write a drama or a comedy spec pilot for television?

I honestly don't know yet, but I feel like it's time to try something new. I feel like I'm in better shape both physically and mentally than I've been in years - so I think it's time to find out again how good I can be as a writer.