Writing Skills – Learning What Not to Do

I am still here! :-D

Life’s kind of hit me over the head these past few months, so I haven’t been around as much as I’d like. But here’s my most recent post for the RRFS blog, wherein I combine two of my favorite things: talking about TV shows and talking about writing.

The Rabid Rainbow Ferret Society

Lots of writing advice encourages you to read books you love, to break them down and find out what makes them work so well, and why you love the story so much.

But what about stories that drive you up the wall?

You can learn just as much from writing you don’t like as you can from writing you do. Learning what not to do is a critical part of the writing process.

For a while, one of my guilty pleasure TV shows was Teen Wolf. Eventually, I had to quit watching for a number of reasons, but the biggest one was that the writing went from “solid” to “more holes than Swiss cheese.”

I learned a lot about what not to do from watching that show, but the most important thing I learned?

Think your story through.

It seemed like the show’s writers had a tendency to…

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Movie Review: Into the Woods

Into_the_Woods_posterHere is what I knew about Into the Woods before I went to see it:

  1. It was a musical about fairy tales, specifically a funny musical.
  2. I’d heard one song from it.

That was pretty much it. I hadn’t seen a trailer, hadn’t paid much attention to casting, and hadn’t seen anything else from the original musical. It was just the only thing showing at that particular theater that I thought my mother and I would both enjoy, so we got tickets.

I think fans of the musical will probably enjoy it more than I did, because while I really loved the first part of the movie, the ending kind of left me with a bad taste in my mouth.

Into the Woods opens with a number of different fairy tale characters—Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack (of Jack & the Beanstalk), and a baker—all heading into the woods that neighbors their little village, all for different reasons. Cinderella desperately wants to go to the ball at the palace, Red is going to visit her grandmother, Jack is going to the next village to sell his cow, and the baker is looking to break the curse on his house that’s keeping him and his wife from starting a family.

However, they all should be a little more careful about what they wish for, and that’s what they’ll learn in the woods…

The casting is excellent all the way around. Meryl Streep was perfect as the witch (her introductory song is amazing and hilarious), I absolutely adored Emily Blunt and James Corden as the baker and his wife, and Chris Pine was kind of perfect as Prince Charming.

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Trailer Park: Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Jurassic World

I know, I KNOW, I’m so late to the party on these. Honestly, I’ve had them in my drafts folder for two months, and then the holidays hit me like a Mack truck and I feel like I’m just now getting back in the swing of things.

I didn’t expect to be as excited about the new Star Wars movie as I am, but apparently all I needed to hear was John Williams’ score and now I’m set. Bring it on. I’m totally here for it.

And I’m including the Jurassic World trailer because I’m pretty sure my brother would give me grief for DAYS if I didn’t:

The only reason I want to see this movie is Chris Pratt on a motorcycle riding in a herd of velociraptors, and let me tell you THAT is a sentence I never thought I’d type. (Also, I have mentally dubbed this movie “Chris Pratt: Raptor Whisperer,” and I’m going to keep calling it that until the marketing gives me a reason not to.)

So, which are you more excited for? Star Wars or Jurassic World? Or is there another movie you’re waiting for?

Movie Review: The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner posterIf you remember why I went to see The Internship, then it should come as no surprise why I went to see The Maze Runner. I made the choice not to read the books before the movie came out, since I was going with Eris and she had, because I wanted to see how it worked as a movie, without any prior knowledge on my part of what was going to happen.

And it did work as a movie. Not perfect by any means, but a well-paced and enjoyable film overall.

In The Maze Runner, Thomas wakes up in an idyllic glade with no memory of who he is or where he came from, surrounded by dozens of other boys who have no memories, either. The Glade is surrounded on all sides by a giant maze, which no one has ever made it through. But Thomas is too curious, and he might be the only one who can help the Gladers find a way out.

I really enjoyed all of the characters. Even though none of them have memories of who they were before getting dumped in the Glade, you still connect with all of them and who they are now. My favorite characters were easily Newt, Minho, and Theresa, though Theresa wasn’t in the movie nearly as much as I would have liked. But when she was, she was pretty great.

Thomas, Theresa, Alby

“Welp, time to run!”

I especially loved how she was treated. There was no forced romance or love triangle; she wasn’t even remotely sexualized. Once the guys got over the whole “HOLY SHIT GIRL” thing (considering none of them had seen a girl in their lives, as far as they knew, it was understandable), they treated her like a fellow Glader/comrade. It was really fantastic.

I was a little worried I wouldn’t be able to see Dylan O’Brien as anyone but Stiles, but once the movie started that concern literally never entered my mind, which speaks to how well he did. From the first moment he was on screen, he was Thomas to me, and that never changed.

The visuals were great within the Glade—beautiful and idyllic, with an underlying sinister sense thanks to the imposing walls of the maze. It was both easy to forget that they all were trapped there, and hard to, if that makes sense.

But my favorite part of the film? The maze itself. It was creepy and freaky and holy shit the Grievers. Just about every scene inside the maze had me on the edge of my seat, and I thought we’d get a chance to explore the maze with the characters. Which is what leads me to my biggest disappointment with the movie.

Honestly, for a movie called The Maze Runner, I was expecting a lot more, you know, maze running. There was only one time Thomas was in the maze as an actual runner (one of my favorite scenes). Most of the movie takes place in the Glade at the center of the maze.

I also wish the previews had given us a better hint at the antagonism between Gally and Thomas, which ended up being a pretty central part of the movie.

Plus, the way that no one would tell Thomas why he shouldn’t go beyond the walls when he first got there confused me. “Those doors lead to a maze. They open at dawn and close at dusk. The maze is filled with monsters that will eat you after dark, so just chill here ‘cuz the doors are about to close.”

The Gladers - The Maze Runner

“Are you sure there’s a good reason we shouldn’t go in there?” “Yes, now be quiet.”

It’s not like it was some big secret, literally every other person in the Glade knew what was up (hell, even the audience knew what was up because of the trailers), so the fact that it took a full day for someone to tell Thomas what the hell was going on bothered me. Minho was one of the only people who would talk to him about it (Newt being the other), which probably contributes to why I liked him so much.

Also, dreams/flashbacks to give Thomas clues/plot points? Please, no. I understand that it’s an easy visual way to do that but my God, it’s so overdone. Those bits were probably my least favorite part of the movie.

Some of the fight scenes with the Grievers had really fast cuts, and that made it difficult to see what was going on at times. I know it’s how action scenes tend to be shot these days, especially violent action scenes in YA movies where teenagers are being brutally murdered (see also: The Hunger Games), but I would really like to be able to tell who is getting flung into a wall.

Totally unrelated to the movie: Holy shit it was loud. More so during the previews than the movie itself, but during the Interstellar preview I had to cover my ears because it was too loud.

I know it sounds like I’m picking on the movie a bit, but honestly, I liked it. Even though I hadn’t read the book (at least, no more than the synopsis), I never felt lost, I never felt that I was missing something, the world was intriguing, and I was rooting for all the characters to find their way out.

I really think people who enjoyed the book will like the movie, and people who couldn’t get through the book because of the writing but liked the world will really like the movie.