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Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Writing Prompt #4

            PROMPT 4 – LYRICAL MUSE

            Songs are a great source of inspiration for story ideas. Not only can you generate ideas from the title, but the lyrics seem ideally suited for coming up with interesting story concepts. The music itself often translates directly into mood and setting.
            Listen to a few songs. If you have a rough idea of what you want write about you can even pick songs that have a tempo appropriate for the story. Since lyrics are interpreted differently by each individual the chances are good that it will lead you to create a unique storyline. I think the trick to this method is to think outside the box. Most songs have a message that is easily followed (when you can understand what they’re singing), but ignore that and really stretch your imagination on what it could mean.
            Here are a portion of the lyrics from a few songs.

1. Children of the Sun by Billy Thorpe

The people of the earth stood waiting
Watching as the ships came one by one
Setting fire to the sky as they landed
Carrying to the world children of the sun, children of the sun

2. My Generation by the Who

Why don't you all f-fade away (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
And don't try to dig what we all s-s-say (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
I'm not trying to cause a big s-s-sensation (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
I'm just talkin' 'bout my g-g-g-generation (Talkin' 'bout my generation)

3. Holiday by Green Day

There's a song sounding out of key
To a hymn called Faith and Misery (Hey!)
A plead, the company lost the war today

I beg to dream and differ from the hollow lies
This is the dawning of the rest of our lives
On holiday

4. Savin’ Me by Nickelback

Heaven's gates won't open up for me
With these broken wings I'm fallin'
And all I see is you

5. The Look by Roxette

She's got the look.
She's got the look.
What in the world can make a brown-eyed girl turn blue.
When everything I'll ever do I'll do for you
and I go: la la la la la

            Based on the lyrics above I generated the following elevator pitches.

Based on “My Generation” is a pitch for a YA book. Most teenagers complain about their parents, but Jerrod may have the coolest parents on the planet. The problem is—they’re too cool. How can he convince his friends to pay more attention to him than his parents?

Based on “Holiday” is a pitch for a dystopian book. After a brutal war, the Holy Voice has brought peace and harmony to the nation as it recovers from near annihilation. But when Sunflower’s parents mysteriously disappear she discovers a diary that chronicles their activities with a secret society intent on overthrowing the government. And that’s when the Holy Voice takes notice of her.


Monday, November 30, 2015

Movie Review - Spectre

Spectre  $$


148 Minutes
Starring: Daniel Craig, Cristoph Waltz, Lea Seydoux, and Ralph Fiennes.
Director: Sam Mendes.

            The Bond franchise had some worthy competition this year with Man From Uncle and Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation this year and Kingsman: The Secret Service  last year. Frankly, I feel that all of those films outperformed Spectre.

            In this film we find James Bond primarily operating on his own as MI6 undergoes changes and the threat of shutting down the Double-O program entirely. James is on the trail of a secret organization that was the driving force behind several of the threats he has dealt. In order to find the leader of this organization he has to protect Dr. Swann (Lea Seydoux), the daughter of the assassin known as Mr. White (Jesper Christensen). 
            Spectre has all of the traditional 007 elements. This is how I ranked them.

1. Fun – Not so much. My son, a friend, and I all agreed that we were more interested in the movie ending so we could go home than we were in seeing what happened next. It felt slow and uninspired.
            Spectre gets 0 MB for fun.

2. Story – Nothing we haven’t seen before. James does some globe trotting in search of the bad guys, seduces women, and kills a few bad guys. The unfortunate part about it is that he does all of this without demonstrating hardly any emotion. It was nice to see the Spectre storyline finally introduced into the franchise reboot and as an origins story for the villain it works fairly well.
            Spectre gets Full MB for story.

3. Technical – There are many state of the art special effects. Most of the time, the high end films get a Full Movie Buck rating in this category because they have employed top people in this field and made the film look and sound tremendous. While Spectre does look fantastic and the rest of the special effects are excellent I can’t get past the vehicle chase seen early in the film. The three of us attending the movie all agreed that this was probably the dullest chase scene we had ever witnessed.
            Spectre gets a Half MB for Technical.

4. Acting – As I mentioned before I felt Daniel Craig turned in a performance that reminded me more of an emotionless robot than a man risking everything to save the world. I found it hard to care what happened to Mr. Bond. On the other hand, I wholly enjoyed the performance from Ben Wishaw as Q and Ralph Fiennes as M. The movie might have been better if it had focused on the efforts of these two members of the British spy squad as they worked together to bring down the gathering of villains. Lea Seydoux was a mistake to cast opposite of Daniel Craig. With both of them on the screen together none of their scenes generate any energy. Christoph Waltz turns in an excellent performance as the mastermind who has organized the villains of the world.
            Spectre gets Half a MB for acting.

            Put all of that together and Spectre earns a rating of 2 Movie Bucks. If you’re going to put out a turkey I guess Thanksgiving is the best time to do it. My suggestion is to avoid this film and check out one of the many good selections that are currently in the theaters.

                        Randy’s Rating System

$$$$   = Full Price    See this movie right away and pay full price, it’s worth it.
$$$     = Matinee      Catch this as a matinee or other discounted showing.
$$        = Discount     Wait until this movie reaches a discount theater near you.
$          = Rental         Wait until this movie reaches your local video rental outlet.
0          = No Sale       Don’t see this movie at any price.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Writing Prompt Three

            PROMPT 3 – THE COVER STORY

            Titles are not the only way to find inspiration in the books and movies that already exist. Movie posters and book covers provide a visual stimulation for your creative juices. Look through the shelves of your local book store until you find a cover that grabs your attention. Ignore the title, ignore the back copy and decide what story that image speaks to you.
            The back cover can also give inspiration in the form of the story blurb. Obviously, you don’t want to steal their story idea, but something about the description might stand out and generate a unique concept of your own.

            Here are five classic movie posters

            Airplane (Plane tied in a knot)
            Vertigo (Man in a spiral)
            True Grit (Cowboy silhouette with eye patch)
            Singing in the Rain (Three people wearing rain coats and umbrella)
            The Shining (Twin girls blocking a hallway and boy on bigwheel)

            Based on True Grit I generated the following pitch.

Cyber Eye – The eye always knows. Jake is a detective who doubles as a bounty hunter. Unfortunately, the bounty hunting business is booming. His cybernetic eye has made him the most sought after bounty hunter on the continent. Until he captures a criminal who claims to know where his dead wife is living.