What I Have Planned With Shakespeare

Gorilla and HamletSometimes creativity can feel like you are caging a gorilla.

Most days it will stay in its cage, happily eating a banana, maybe even doing sign language with the audiences, making everyone grin. But, from time to time, it needs to be released. Go wild, get crazy.

I’m having a gorilla moment.

With the blog, with the book reviews, with the new book (which I am really proud of and currently working with an agent on), my creativity wants to do something out there. Everything has felt too safe for a while. I need to do something a little dangerous, something that is honestly… very unsellable.

This screams vanity project in all caps.

This screams vanity project in all caps and bellowed from the top of a mountain.

Wait! I need to back up. I can’t just jump to the introduction.

I need to begin with my last novel Permanent Spring Showers, talk about Shakespeare and then I’ll beat my manly ape chest some more.  Continue reading

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The Happy Anglophile

Union JackIn my next life, I will be British.

I know this is true right down to the fiber of my being.

I will be sophisticated, I will look good in suits, I will enjoy tea and crumpets, I will understand the point of Cricket, and I will have an accent that will add to my wit, not diminish it in the least.

I grew up with a love of the country and when I got married it was only natural that I married a woman whose family is British. Sadly, my wife doesn’t have the accent (she was the only member of the family born in the states), but she still shows hints of it; she perfectly pronounces all of her words and doesn’t have, what I like to think of as the “Michigan slur” that haunts me and many others in my state. (When I was in grad school in Los Angeles you have no idea how many times I was asked to repeat something because of that slur.)

Shirts with the Union Jack, Beatles’ posters on my walls, this adoration for England stems from music to history to, most importantly, books.

Yes, all cultures have great writers to point to, but when you speak of British writers you enter the land of myths and legends for me. These are my Herculeses, my Paul Bunyans.

From Jane Austen’s little villages to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s shadowy moors to Charles Dickens’ cobblestone and dirty London streets, they each had a hand in creating the image that stuck with me of merry ol’ England.  Every major experience I had growing up as a reader involved a British writer, starting with reading Winnie-the-Pooh with my mom (I remember us both laughing hysterically when Piglet was trying to help Pooh capture a Heffalump) through Roald Dahl and then the fantasy realms of Tolkien and Lewis that took my breath away.

And don’t forget, England gave us Shakespeare. Continue reading

This Writing Guy’s 9 Romantic Movie Recommendations

I’ve always found romantic films, and especially romantic-comedies,  to be the weakest of the movie genres. It’s formulaic, it is ridiculous many times, and usually inconceivable that one character would actually be interested in the other (Because, let’s be honest, in every romantic film one of the leads is a jerk that doesn’t really deserve the attention of the other).

When I first started writing screenplays, I really wanted to fix this genre; expose it for all its weaknesses. I created a serious romantic comedy, a silly romantic comedy, an experimental romantic comedy, and even a musical romantic comedy. Suffice to say, none of them got made, so they are now all enjoying a very nice home on a burned CD someplace in my house. Was it because I wanted to avoid all the formula gimmicks that they met their demise? For example, the chase at the end to prove the love, the annoying supporting characters (Don’t get me started on Love Actually and the mind-blowingly dumb storyline of the waiter that comes to America looking for love), etc. Who knows?

Well, I could go on and on and speculate on why they are still around (Let’s all agree on a lack of dumb luck they are still only on paper), but instead here are my favorite films about love.

There is not one Nora Ephron film listed… Not a one. Oh, and no reference to Titanic either (I mean, she seriously dropped him like a load of potatoes the second he died in the cold water, didn’t she?). Continue reading

Writer’s Corner: Four Projects I Would Love to Adapt for the Silver Screen…

A few days ago I went through some of my old writing files on my computer seeing what jumps out at me and what inspires me today; and, for some unexplained reason, my mind began to think about film adaptations.

There is a great public misnomer about film adaptations. When you hear people talk about films adapted from books or plays, the audience seems to think that the screenplay writer had a choice in making changes for the big screen. “Why couldn’t he have just filmed the book?” You would hear that complaint a lot around the Harry Potter films in podcasts and forums, for example.

The fact is film is a different medium than books, and with it comes its own limitations and strengths. While the borders on a book are only limited by the imagination of the reader (and writer), a film has to be focused on one point at a time, understanding that there is only so much space on the screen at any given moment. Length, pacing, and audience need to be considered (You can’t have things happen “off screen” in a movie, for example; the audience will think it didn’t happen if they didn’t see it).

The greatest difference between film and books, is that a film has got to “earn” your attention for every minute. It is harder for a film to “suspend disbelief.” Which means a story, while in a book can be stretched out, in a film there has to be action. In other words, there must always be movement; it’s how they keep our eyes on the screen and our hands out of the popcorn bowl. Continue reading

Kenneth Branagh and the God of Thunder

I have a new article up at Green Spot Blue. This time I talk about the movie Thor and Kenneth Branagh.

You can check it out here.