Please, Make It Stop: A Rant About Game of Thrones

DragonAvast there, me hearties! Here thar be spoilers aplenty! (Wait! It’s not Talk Like a Pirate day? What was I thinking?)

Let’s get this out of the way first. We’ve all been holding off saying this for a while, but it’s time.

Game of Thrones is a soap opera.

I don’t know about you, but I feel a lot better after saying it.

I’ve recently found an interview with George R.R. Martin where he argues his book series is not a soap opera, maybe it was his way of preparing an argument before it came at him from outside his circle, but it is. Both the TV series and his book series… two words… soap opera.

Look, I hate to say it as much as the next person. The idea of someone truly doing something new in a very established (and usually predictable genre) is an awesome idea. He combined the history of the middle ages and fantasy… but the result is a freaking soap opera. With history almost being used as an excuse (or as a resource) for twists that help the soap opera continue.

Consider:

  • Soap operas and A Song of Ice and Fire both has multiple POVs of good and questionable individuals.
  • Both end every moment in a cliffhanger (You can almost hear the “stay tuned” at the end of some of the chapters in the books).
  • Both have meandering plots (I feel like I should be capitalizing meandering; no seriously, all caps).
  • Time seems to have its own rules. And both have marriages that seem to last for the same amount of time (and just like in soap operas most are bad matches).
  • And both are not working towards a clean resolution. There is no Mount Doom in sight from what I can see.

Oh, and all of these points is before I even bring up the fact that George R.R. Martin used to work in television and was a writer on a popular fantasy-lite soap opera in the 1980s.

Game of Thrones is a soap opera with people in funny costumes and dragons and we have bought into it.

Heck, I didn’t just buy in, I bought the DVDs, the books, the shirts and even gave them as Birthday presents to people I love. (I was like: “Hi, I love cocaine, I want you to take it too. Here- Happy Birthday!”) Continue reading

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This and the Other Thing: A Writing Update

Even Superman writes!So this is my life right now.

I got this book. I can’t really talk about it. I mean, it’s still being created. It’s fresh, still new, like a babe. Let’s call it SB for Secret Book. This book has taken over a good part of my daily thoughts, and I’ve spent the last few evenings just working on it.

SB has also entered my dreams. No seriously, I’ve had two dreams with it and both moments ended up in the book.

This is the part of writing that I love about writing. The pure joy of creation, not being bogged down in marketing, query letters (to agents and publishers), etc. Just me and a blank piece of paper. Nothing but possibility.

The only thing I can compare the feeling to is back when I used to play jazz. For me it was the saxophone (alto and soprano), and there is this wild feeling of freedom once you know a song and its chords. That confidence that you are on this, you are in control and you can take the song wherever you want. There is pure improv possibility at that moment. It’s a flash of lightning, controlled energy.

That… right there, is what putting together a first draft feels like for me. And I’m in the midst of it. That is the smile on my face.

Hello. Continue reading

If I could wear a Halloween costume…

Trick or TreatAs an adult, it takes a certain amount of courage to put on a costume. Let me correct that…  it takes a certain amount of courage and alcohol to put on a costume.

A costume draws people’s eyes towards you almost like being on a stage except it’s more personable. There isn’t the protective separation because of spotlight and distance. It’s real, you are a dude dressed up and they can see you… and talk to you.  

I have always been impressed with people that have the strength to put on a costume. I look at them with a certain amount of awe, even those that attempt the cheaper creations. Of course, there is nothing like a great one though. For example, there is a woman down the street that on Halloween will dress-up as the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz and she has the look and cackle down perfectly. It can take a fan’s breath away… and also instinctively take two steps back in fright.

For me, I never feel more like an introvert than at this time of the year. I go into my shell as I hand out candies; always being sure to give a little bit more to the kids who look truly great.

Oh wait, does that make me a bad person? The fact I judge a kid’s costumes and award accordingly?

Possibly.

Actually the more I think about it, the more I am embarrassed I admitted that. Because even those in a bad costume are braver than me at that moment. But if I was to dress up… Continue reading

Why I Don’t Like Fan Fiction

BooksThere is a beautiful safety in books. In that time, when you are in a great novel, your focus is clear, and reality can gracefully slips away, leaving you to play in the imagination of the author. You walk with the characters, you explore the land, you fall in (and out of) love, and when the book is closed, a bit of you feels lost, returning to the too real world.

The sad thing is that when you return to a book again it is never the same. That initial spark is diminished. This is because the surprises are gone, and with each additional reading it slips more and more; until it is nothing more than words on paper, something to be almost merely analyzed. It is a memory now, a glimmer of that first magical escape.

The fact is I understand the desire to create fan fiction. As a lover of books and an author, I truly do.

It’s hard to let go, move on, especially if you want more than what the author wanted to give to you. It can feel like an early death, especially when there is so much more to live. And maybe it is that book, that author, that inspired you to write yourself! Your inspiration driven from a need for more and more.

The problem is at the heart of every piece of fan fiction there is one bit of truth, one thing the fan fiction author doesn’t want to consider:

It is not their decision whether the story continues or not.

They are not the author and only the original author should make that call. Continue reading

Five Things I Am Into Right Now, July 2013

Happy SunI’m not going to write about Star Trek and Doctor Who.

No I am serious. I am not. Frankly, I have written enough about those two shows. And even though I am happily watching a Doctor Who episode each night with my wife (which I wrote about here) and rediscovering Star Trek from the 90’s (which I discussed in these two pieces- here and here). The fact is I have said enough.

A blog needs to move forward, I need to move forward…

But what the heck am I also into right now when I am not at the beach with the family, getting sun burned, or avoiding lawn work?

Think, Southard, think! Continue reading

Writers, why does everything need to be a series?

This is your new book, be gentle with it...Like a seed, a book idea begins small. So very small. Maybe it is a flash of an image, or maybe it is a question that needs to be answered. Whatever the case, it grows and grows until finally a novel emerges fully grown.

Yes, I consider writing and creating a very organic experience. And when I am done with a book, I’m happy to have one “tree.”

So I can’t help wondering why do so many writers today want to grow a forest?

 

Book One: By chance or fate the heroes meet

It was last year that I began really reaching out to other writers on Twitter. The thing that surprised me the most (besides the sheer number of all of us), is how many are focused on writing a series.

Paranormal, scifi, fantasy, mystery, thriller, horror, romance (the innocent to the definitely NOT innocent at all), historical fiction, adventure, etc., some are even a combination of genres; but whatever the case they are never a solo book. Traditionally published, indie published, to self-published, everyone seems to be on the series train.

Choo Choo! Continue reading

The Posts of an Anglophile

Guarding the QueenCheerio!

What inspired me to write my editorial this week, “The Happy Anglophile,” is that I am in the process of editing two different books- A Jane Austen Daydream (to be published in April by Madison Street Publishing) and Maximilian Standforth and the Case of the Dangerous Dare (which I am self-publishing and sharing the experience via posts, like this one where I discuss my great new cover artist). They are both very British books; one putting the spotlight on Miss Austen, the other trying to capture the world and vibe of Sherlock Holmes.

Not bad for a kid from Michigan, eh?

And it doesn’t stop there! I’ve been thinking about writing a post on a controversial belief I have on Shakespeare next week, and I have been debating myself for months on writing on my love of PG Wodehouse and Douglas Adams (I should have done the Douglas Adams one nearer his Birthday… damn).

Anyway, looking back over the blog, my anglophile-tendencies have been on display ever since I started writing, from books to movies to television to music. For your reading pleasure this weekend here are links to some of my more popular posts on my favorite second home.

Pip pip!

Five Things I Am Into Right Now, July 2012

Yeah, last month I complained about the heat, but I had NO idea what I was talking about when I wrote that. (Naive little man.)

July has been painful here, and besides the heat the weed pollen levels have been off the charts, making my allergies go crazy. Seriously, I awake each morning with red puffy eyes because of it. I look like Rocky Balboa screaming to be cut.

Anyway, through red eyes, here is my list for this month (I apologize in advance for the amount of superheroes in this installment):

Summer Blockbusters

This has been a phenomenal summer for blockbusters; the ones that have found success definitely deserve it. From The Avengers to Brave to The Amazing Spider-Man, each of these films are well-written, well-directed, and, well, just plain good. When was the last time we had a summer that knocked it this perfectly out of the ballpark? I keep thinking back to the summer of Batman and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade but that was decades ago. Continue reading

Adapting One’s Precious: Why most new novelists should personally avoid adapting (or thinking about) the inevitable screenplay

It’s always funny to me how often, when speaking with new novelists, that they are already planning the movie version of their “epic”… sometimes even before they finish the book.

We are a very film-focused society and it is hard to escape the world of movies, especially for someone excited for the world to embrace their first major story. What can I say? We writers are nerds and we want everyone to love us and think of us as popular. Movies are the “cool table” in the lunchroom; novels are the table near the library.

Oh, you are different? You never imagined a certain actor playing one of your characters? Reading one of your lines?

Yes, the dream of adaptation can be like a drug for a writer and, like a drug, dangerous; since it can effect how you write your novel. The fact is each of the storytelling mediums are different with different pros and cons, and if you allow yourself to think too much about, for example, movies while writing a book it can limit the possibility of the book.

How are the storytelling mediums different? Well, let me explain: Continue reading

UPDATE: Okay, I have a new (and this makes third) dwarf explanation around The Hobbit. What if, honestly, the dwarf party is a little more upfront pathetic. Follow this, Thorin wants to go to the Lonely Mountain, he asks the dwarf community for two warriors (asking like the king) each and this is the best he can get. If it is explained like that in the film, it paints an interesting picture of the group (explains the humor more) and makes Thorin more a shadow of greatness, as compared to a well-respected leader in the community. He is chasing a dream to the mountain, and these are all that will follow him.

The Musings & Artful Blunders of Scott D. Southard

Growing up, I would read J.R.R. Tolkien’s works once a year. Yeah, I was that kid.

I wanted to escape to Middle Earth, and unlike other writers and novels (where I was happy with just having the book), there was always something about his creation that made me wonder about adaptations. I wanted to hear, see, and visit Middle Earth and other mediums would only get me closer to that escapism goal. So I would “try out” every version I could get my hands on.

The Lord of the Rings is not a perfect book. It is a classic, but it is not perfect. That is fine, there are very few perfect books out there (I can only think of Pride and Prejudice and A Christmas Carol off of the top of my head). What “perfect” means to me is that there are no fluctuations in the plot that are…

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