Kathy Fuller: More On That Annoying Creativity

by Kathy Fuller

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If you’re a creative person, yes you are. At least to some people.

I just finished reading the article posted last weekend on TVWriter.com about how we creatives are unappreciated. Since I’ve been doing a little personality checking and soul searching as of late, I found the article to be interesting, but missing a key reason why people get irritated with creative people–they often don’t follow through.

While some “idea people” also have that special combination of goal setting and discipline, many don’t. It’s not for lack of trying (okay, maybe it is) but many, many, MANY times a creative person with a brilliant idea will jump to the next brilliant idea as soon as the next brilliant idea pops into their heads. It’s how we’re wired.

Ideas bounce around our brains like pinballs, hitting the bumpers of excitement and fueling the lights in our eyes until we’re bursting with enthusiasm to tell someone, anyone, who will listen about our latest world changing idea. But once we’re tasked with executing that idea, we’re at a loss. We have to make a plan? We have to set a goal? We have to see this idea through to the end? Are you freaking kidding me?

This is so very true for writers. The successful writer isn’t one with the most ideas, he’s the one that finishes the novel, script, short story, etc. She’s the one who can slog through the boredom of writing an outline, a rough draft, editing and polishing, and working on the piece until it is near perfection. They are the ones who after their masterpieces are complete can market themselves to get that work seen and produced. Ideas are never a writer’s problem.

Non-creatives–the ones who don’t have the ideas but excel at execution–often stick with works because, hey, it works. It might be soul-sucking and mind-numbing, but at least there’s a product at the end of the process.

If you’re a creative that sucks at following through, take a long look at yourself. You’re probably never going to enjoy the mundane steps it takes to finish a project or to get that project out to the masses. The next story will beg to be told while you’re still writing the words Act One of your current project.

Ignore the inner voices. The idea will still be there (write it down on a Post It note if you have to) and focus on finishing. Be the type of creative that not only has amazing ideas but is also a whiz at implementing them. Tapping into both sides of your personality will make you a better and more successful writer. Then people will find you really annoying–but because you’re so awesome, you won’t even care.

Kathy Sees Thor 2: The Dark World

by Kathy Fuller

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I’m only here for one thing, and it ain’t plane Jane.

If you didn’t get a chance to read Frank Darabont’s interview posted here on TVWriter™, stop now and go read it.

No, no, it’s fine. Really

I’ll wait.

Ah! Welcome back. Remember this part?

The other thing is, a lot of the best writing has fled to television because they don’t want it in movies anymore. Hopefully the pendulum is swinging back, but I think movies by and large have sucked for some years now because it’s all the special effects extravaganzas, and I don’t give a damn about any of the characters because there’s no writing there

I can’t think of a better quote to sum up Thor 2. The story and characters (except for Loki) were as dull as the first movie, which is why Darabont’s quote is so perfect: clearly no one gave a damn about the story or the characters when they made this movie. But of course the special effects were ah-mazing.

The lack of characterization in Thor 2 saddens me, because the potential is there. Even Loki, who wins because he’s an anti-hero here, suffers from character development. Thor is just muscles and a hammer, and Jane is as nebulous as the purple ether the cardboard villain is trying to acquire. I still have no idea what Thor sees in her.

Of course Thor 2 succeeds in it’s special effects and action. I guess that’s all that matters anymore. I’ve become increasingly disappointed in superhero movies since The Avengers–which proved that you can write a good story with great characters and still have a lot of action and CGI. While they’ve all been entertaining on a certain level, the creators should strive to go beyond that. Why be merely good when you can be great?

Then again, being great means thinking outside the box and taking a risk or two. Who in Hollywood wants to do that anymore?

Kathy Fuller: Weird Things Writers Do

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Feel free to try this at home.

 by Kathy Fuller

I didn’t come up with this awesome .gif fest over at Buzz Feed, but I wish I did. Here are a few they forgot:

How we act when our work is rejected:

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How we really feel when our work is rejected:

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 What we do when our work is rejected:

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 Then we start all over again:

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EDITOR’S NOTE: But…but…what’s weird about any of this behavior? To us it’s just so wonderfully writerly!

Kathy Fuller: In Defense of Binge Viewing

by Kathy Fuller

Or as I like to say, Ken Levine doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

This may or may not have been me this past week.
This may or may not have been me this past week.

Totes kidding–Ken makes some valid points in his post about binge viewing, especially about the shared TV viewing experience that comes with everyone in the country watching the same cliffhanger and discussing it at work/school/with a friend on a rotary phone…

Yeah, I said rotary. And perhaps many of you are wondering WTH is that? Because if you’re going to talk about your favorite show, it’s not going to be around a cliched water cooler, but on the internet. Twitter, a message board, a TV community–this is where people talk about the shows they obsess about love, and time is fluid on the web. So what if I didn’t watch the Breaking Bad finale until four days after it aired? I can find a message board where they are still talking about it. Dissecting every detail. Establishing conspiracy theories about the actors and writers. Stating how they would rewrite the episode. And that’s way more fun than chit chatting about The Walking Dead five minutes before your fourth class of the day.

I’m a fan of binge watching. Having been burned by way too many shows that I was way too invested in, I like knowing in advance if a season or a show is worth my time. I’ll let other viewers do the work for me, then if I’m intrigued, I’ll start watching. If I hear the first two season suck, then I’ll start with the third, where things begin to pick up. If I feel like it I’ll go back to the beginning. Or I won’t. It’s my choice.

Which brings me to my biggest point: choice. I love the TV landscape right now, in that I control my viewing habits. I don’t have to be home at 9 on a Friday night so I don’t miss the latest episode of the number one show on the air (they used to air the best shows on Friday nights, for those of you who remember Original Recipe Dallas). I don’t have to remember to set my DVR, or freak out when it freaks out, which happens. If I’m bored by an episode I can skip it and move on to the next one instantaneously. I am lord of my TV viewing habits and I revel in it.

Embrace binge viewing, I say. Take control of your TV. If you want to spend an entire weekend in your underwear drinking skunky beer and scarfing Cheetos while catching up on all those Gossip Girl episodes you missed, have at it. No judgment here. And if you’re dying to talk to someone about something that happened to Chuck Bass four years ago, I guarantee you’ll find an internet community who will embrace you and welcome your insight and wisdom.

Now excuse me. I have to restock my fridge. Orange is the New Black is waiting for me.

Kathy Fuller: What Writers Can Learn From BABY DADDY

No, this is not a joke. But it is a beautifully photoshopped promo pic.
No, this is not a joke. But it is a beautifully photoshopped promo pic.

by Kathy Fuller

I know what you’re thinking. How can writers (or people in general) learn anything of import from an ABC Family sitcom? A sitcom that’s a total rip-off of the classic (and over-rated) Three Men and a Baby? A sitcom with a premise so thin it makes a spiderweb look indestructible?

Writing instructors will tell you to study the classics. Learn from the greats. Absorb the wisdom of genius. But I’m of the mind that the mediocre and downright bad can teach you just as much, if not more, about how to write…or rather how not to write.

One caveat–personally I think this show isn’t that bad. It’s fluff entertainment, and sometimes people need that. Not every show can be Boardwalk Empire or Breaking Bad or even The Big Bang Theory. But that doesn’t excuse the fact that Baby Daddy fails on several levels including plot, conflict, and characterization. Since there’s not enough blog space to go into all its foibles, I’ll focus on characterization.

The main character of your story should drive the plot. In Baby Daddy, the main character is Ben, who I had to look up because I seriously could not remember his name. He’s that unremarkable. Think of your favorite shows. Ever have trouble remembering the main character? Of course not. But Ben is so forgettable and ineffective you could ditch him from the show and not even notice.

What makes him so boring? He has no goals. Even though he’s a new father (and clearly has no idea what birth control is) his life goes on. His baby daughter doesn’t bring any conflict, because he doesn’t have to deal with her–everyone else is thrilled to babysit. He’s a bartender, and while the show hints at him wanting to do something more than that, he never actually does.

He hits on anything that has a whiff of femininity, so most of his stories are about whether he’s going to get into some girl’s pants by the end of the episode. But we don’t care because he’s empty–no personality, very little charm, and zero growth.

Contrast that with the secondary characters. I’ll focus on his brother, Danny, who despite being a dim bulb, seems to drive some of the story. Why? Because he has layers. He has a job–he’s a professional hockey player. He harbors a secret–he’s in love with his childhood best friend (who for some bizarre reason only to be found in TV land is in love with Boring Ben).

His obtuseness causes conflict–like getting the wrong girl’s name tattooed on his wrist, then getting the right girl’s name tattooed on his other wrist, only to have her break up with him before he unveils either name. He’s also a good uncle to his niece, and tries to do the right thing. He would be great as the main character…except the writers have fallen into a common writerly trap: making secondary characters more interesting than the protagonist.

The rest of the characters are straight out of central casting–the metrosexual roommate (who is also the token black character), the former fat girl who’s now hot so the main character will finally notice her, and the quirky mom who says whatever she thinks and doesn’t need a margarita in her hand to do it, although she’d prefer one.

These characters, while predictable, also have a few surprising layers. Like Danny, they overshadow the star of the show–what’s his name again?

So what can be learned from all this?

1) Always make your main character interesting. Give him layers, secrets, fears, conflicts, and goals. Out of everyone on the show, he should learn the most, grow the most, and change the most by the end of the story.

2) Don’t let your secondary characters overshadow your primary protag. If that happens, consider switching protags. Or do more character work on your main guy/gal.

You might be surprised to know that Baby Daddy is now shooting it’s third season. Maybe they’ll have fixed the character problems by then. Then again, probably not.