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Monday, June 29, 2015

Interstellar: Skyscraping Costs

I've been talking about the writing techniques the Nolans used to really ramp up the Interstellar story and in particular, the audience's emotional journey with it. Today's post is all about taking the story's stakes and costs to the max. I mean, totally skyscraping them.

If you're not a writer, you might not know what I mean by "stakes" and "costs."

The stakes are what are "at stake" or "at risk" in the story, what your character has to lose. In The Hunger Games, Katniss's life is what is at stake, and the emotional (and physical) health of her sister. If Katniss doesn't win The Hunger Games, she'll die and Prim will be devastated. In some stories, a relationship is what is at stake. A lot of 90's movies are about the relationship between a father and son being at stake, because the father works too much. In other stories, it can be a job.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Interstellar: Keeping Conflicts Unresolved

Today's post is short, but the writing technique is still strong and effective. I've been talking about what Interstellar did to have a powerful emotional impact. One way was to keep a crucial conflict unresolved until the very very end of the story.

When Cooper has to leave his family, and Murph refuses to say goodbye, it creates strong tension in the audience. See, if Murph and Cooper would have made-up before he left, that tension would have been released, but instead, the writers amplified it by leaving it not only unresolved, but by taking advantage of the parent-child relationship that was going on, and the unknown future of Cooper. All these things worked together to take the emotion to a new height.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Interstellar: Gaining Incredible Emotional Power by Crossing Opposites

When I pressed "play" on Interstellar, I had no idea that I was about to have one of the most powerful emotional experiences of my movie-watching life. Sure, subconsciously I took into consideration that I would cry at the end of the movie. Maybe. I was not prepared to legitimately cry near the starting, in the middle, at the climax (multiple places), and at the resolution (in two places). On top of that, I was not expecting to experience emotion that was that raw. I don't know if I've ever experienced emotion that raw from a movie.

I was not alone.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Interstellar: Flipping Story Stuff

If you follow my Facebook, Tumblr, or G+, you may have encountered my ramblings about the movie Interstellar. And let's be honest. That movie is storytelling at its finest. It works so perfectly, in so many aspects, that of course I'm going to pull it apart and talk about the thing on my blog. Don't pretend to be surprised.

I realize I'm months late jumping on the Interstellar bandwagon, but I made it. And whether you saw the movie the first day it hit the big screen or you see the film this month, it's still a killer story. The movie had a huge impact on me. And frankly, I don't think I've watched a movie that made me that emotional since Les Miserables, and I'm not sure if even then. If you read my rants on social media, some of this particular post will be a repeat, but not all of it. I promise. And there will be more posts after this one.

I've talked several times on my blog about flipping story-parts on their heads for an interesting effect. The example I usually refer to is Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn, which takes the classic hero-journey fantasy story and flips it. One way he does this is by starting the tale after the prophesied "hero" has attempted to kill the god-like antagonist--and died. That's like Harry finally reaching the climax of his battle with Voldemort, dying, and then J.K. Rowling starting the story there.

The point of flipping and twisting familiar concepts is that it creates a sense of originality, breathes fresh life into old ideas, and surprises viewers. Whenever you need to get your story to feel more original, whenever you need to brainstorm new ideas, you can look at flipping, twisting, and morphing a common concept. You can look at flipping, twisting, and morphing what is already at work in your story.

Interstellar did just that in several ways.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Some Good News!

Okay, so, I've been out of the blogging loop for a couple of weeks. I hurt my hand and so . . . yeah. Going two weeks without being able to type definitely tested my patience! Especially since the two loves of my life right now are writing and blogging. I really didn't hurt my hand that bad, but needed to give it time to heal. Health has to come first. But, I have some good news to share.

I'm going to be a guest at Salt Lake Comic Con this year!

Here are some reasons why this is exciting:

  1. Salt Lake Comic Con is the third largest Comic Con in the world. True story. It follows just behind the San Diego Comic Con and New York Comic Con. Salt Lake Comic Con had 120k attendees last year.
  2. Not only do I get to have fun and meet new people (and maybe cross paths with celebs in the backrooms), but I'll get some good practice in as a guest speaker (something I'll probably be doing a lot as a published author.) I love hearing people talk about stories they are passionate about, so that will be fun too.
  3. I've never been to a Comic Con (and frankly, once thought I never would).