13 November 2006

Frustrations

My novel is driving me insane. I feel like the whole thing is shite and I just want to chuck it in the bin. Hopefully this is a temporary state of mind and I just need to take a break from the thing.

I feel like I should take a break and work on something else, but nothing else is coming into my brain at the moment. Maybe I should just take a break and do something totally unwriting related. I have been thinking about putting together a zine so that might be my task for the week - maybe even doing lots of arty stuff, drawing and collaging shit.

Meanwhile, I've been working on my MySpace profile.

03 November 2006

Fun With Dick and Jane

'Raise the stakes' - it's one of those bits of writing advice you hear constantly and, while I'd like to think I learn by reading great literature, the truth is sometimes I only truly grasp a concept when I see it completely balls up.

The other night, my sister and I watched Fun With Dick and Jane - the whole point of stakes in a story became clear. I just didn't care - I didn't care about the characters, I didn't care about what they had at stake. Sure they lose stuff - he loses his job, they lose their car and then their house is on the line. But that isn't enough.

We've all lost our jobs and our cars and our homes at some point. Well maybe you haven't, but I bet you know someone who, through hellish circumstances havs hit rock bottom financially. It's tough but in a movie or a book, it's not enough to make you give a damn. Especially when it happens to a white, middle-class couple who still have a maid.

There has to be something personal involved, something more than just material possessions. Houses and BMWs and Vice-President jobs, I don't care about.

Then, to make it worse, after turning to a life of crime to get money, they go back to their previous lifestyle of home improvements and barbecues to impress their middle class friends. No character growth, no redemption, no increasing the stakes for further tension.

There was only one thing that worked in the movie - their front yard is bare dirt because the instant lawn they are about to have laid can't be paid for. As their situation declines, the front yard stays bare. When they hit rock bottom, Dick takes a knife and steals squares of lawn from around town. For a brief moment, you connect with the characters.

By the end of the movie, I felt ripped off. It wasn't a bad movie, it just had nothing to it but at least I learnt something.