Friday, January 27, 2012

renewing biographies and a new casting choice

The most interesting things seem to come out in my re-edits lately, all of which are extremely welcome. The only thing not welcome: a friend of mine forwarding me a link to an Amazon "breakthrough writer" contest... when I don't even have a completed novel I want to enter.
Granted, I'd love to enter Jonas's story into the running, but after the things I'd come across in the editing bay, especially over the past week where I've been rehashing/polishing storylines for the minor characters... I'd like my audience to see my final edits rather than ripping them off with my previous version just because I'm in a hurry to get the story published.

As far as I can tell, I'm nowhere near ready for it to be published. The one thing I seem to have found fault in, the reason why a lot of people don't want to answer my queries: when they ask for sample chapters, I'd been including my prologue, which I have found out to be a turn-off. You send the first couple chapters with no previous stuff and if including the prologue at all, call it chapter one...

Hell no am I selling myself short in calling my prologue "chapter 1"... not to mention I'd have to include a little blip about it being in present day or the prologue being eons ago... going from prologue to chapter 1 in general has got to be a little jarring... especially when you're in a completely different environment in chapter 1... must be a true WTF moment to people not familiar with my material

Anyway, the whole matter of that contest had me almost having panic and anxiety attacks because that would mean I'd have to be working non-stop up to Feb 5th... and there's no way I'd be able to do that. And this is something I've natured and allowed to grow (the most growth has happened in the past 6 months, moreso than the past 8 years I'd been writing it and tweaking it for publication) for a long time... I'm not going to do a rush job just for even a CHANCE at winning

Romantasy probably wouldn't get that many votes to begin with.

In the strangest of ways and also in the most commonplace of ways (best of both worlds, insanity mixed with renewed common sense), in watching several of his interviews, most of which several times each, Robert Downey Jr. has become somewhat of an inspiration, an influence and otherwise anything he has to say when it comes to movies, just because he can choose his words with so much ease and spontaneity that it's a talent I'd kill to have. I make the most sense when I'm writing things down.
Just to cut matters short (I've spent the past 51 weeks on my other blog with all the fanatical comments and repetition, so no need to bring that crazyness here), there are two things I've brought into the project this time around.

1) the way he can pitch a movie & the character he plays so well, I would like to know my characters that well, really getting down to the bare bones, knowing them as well as, if not better than, the back of my hand.
Thus: the renovation of a lot of my minor characters, really figuring out what makes them tick and giving them more importance than just for me to have a person to bring into a scene as part of the scenery

2) He hates motives, so as far as the hypothetical casting goes, I'd like to keep that in mind. Like I've considering casting some of the actors (including him) in certain roles just because of the off-chance I'd get to meet them during the auditioning process... I tend to get extremely fanatical about celebrities so I kinda don't go about things the right way.
Yesterday I was considering the idea, after watching one of his earlier films (i.e. pre-"Chaplin" and post-"Less than Zero"), to cast him as Peter Bronson, Jonas's guardian... then I remembered what he said about motives. I'm more or less doing this with that realm of impossibility in mind, having a hidden agenda about things.

I was merely looking for an excuse to cast him in this movie with that motive in mind... but if I'm being completely truthful and I totally am, he's a big name that could give the whole thing a boost cuz he's hot right now. Even if he'd consider it himself, I doubt he could fill the shoes of this important character and use him to his full potential.

I read a short article a little while ago, one of the many writer's digest newsletter articles I click on to read more. Writing about teenagers and such. It said to not make the parents/guardians an opposing force... in other words, don't baby your characters. Almost like what Dory said to Marlin in "Finding Nemo"... "that's a silly thing to promise. Well, you can't have nothing happen to him, or else nothing will happen to him" (I threw that quote in for good measure cuz I'd become such a movie buff lately).
In some stories, the more dramatic ones, you have abusive parents or overprotective parents that shelter the kids and nothing really comes of their tribulations... in other words, having the parents stand out of the way would allow more things to happen to the story.

I swear I had the idea in my head last night and I can't remember... but there was one other story I read where... or maybe it was a movie... where a parent worked behind the scenes to support their kid in whatever it was they were trying to achieve...
I have Peter Bronson written as: "a tall 55-year old man with a charcoal beard & whiskers. A former English lit professor (I wrote about having several bookshelves in the den yesterday). He accepts Jonas for who he is, enables him and supports him in the most dire of times without question. [I might not make it clear in my narration, but] he knows a lot more than he lets on and people give him credit for."

The whole persona seems like somewhat of a challenge for Mr. Downey. I can't recall him playing anything close to that before.
But still... I'd like to think that after seeing 30+ of his movies in the past year (6-7 more than once, 3-4 of those more than 5 times) that I know a little bit about what he brings to a role. I'd be brown-nosing by saying, to paraphase his words, this isn't a role that would enrich his life or help him learn anything about himself. He did do movies like Iron-Man, Sherlock Holmes, A Scanner Darkly and Fur where you're expected to accept a little more than what you can see on the surface... so I have my doubts he'd buy into the concept of my book even if I slaved away for hours on how to explain it in layman's terms
But that's something I can totally live with. He doesn't have to get anything I throw at him.
It's just that I'd like to aspire to slave over my craft and really know it backwards and forwards, live by it, the way he does with his acting... so I have my writing going for me rather than superfluous comments on pop culture, not wasting as much time with stuff leading nowhere but perhaps driving me more and more insane.

Between a number of things, though, Gary Oldman came to mind. The more I thought about it, the more I thought he could bring something great to this character. I'd only seen him playing good guys (Sirius Black in the Harry Potter series and Commisioner Gordon in the Dark Knight films-- one of the few good things I took away from them), but there was just a certain spark where I figured... yeah, I really do believe that Gary Oldman could make this part everything I thought it would be, if not better.

So for the part of the chapter that went between Peter, Jonas and Nina, I wrote a few bits and pieces as if picturing Gary Oldman reading the lines... trying to find what works and what doesn't. A lot of actors are attracted to roles by good writing and putting two things together, I went through each sentence to make sure that they all had their purpose and weren't just filler.

As far as the other roles I'd assigned... I think I went for the non-biased approach... trying to put faces to names that would really bring them to life rather than me trying to get something out of it.
Taylor Swift is the only casting choice that might have had me with a hidden agenda, but at the given moment, unless someone else comes out of nowhere, I can't see anyone else bringing to life this character who really is the catalyst for this story to get going. The activating incident, if you will... it's almost funny how she's the new girl, but this is really Jonas's story more than hers.

Just checking into my go-to fiction book real quick: "Master Class in Fiction writing: techniques from Austen, Hemingway and other greats" by Adam Sexton.
I'm getting this from an Internet site: Nostalgia Chick made a comment that "The Little Mermaid" (her least favorite movie in the entire world) is more about King Triton than Ariel because he changes as a character from start to finish while she only has one goal and achieves it rather than learning one of life's lessons.

Anyway, I'm trying to determine whether Nina has the composition of a well-rounded secondary character or if she's a primary character.
When I think about it, she really doesn't change all that much from start to finish. She's a very kind, generous, open-minded, accepting person. The only change is that she meets Jonas and falls in love, simultaneously falling into this other world that she really doesn't question... just accepts the fact that Jonas has this mysterious persona and this would explain a lot of it.

The one thing I want to avoid are the same critics who ripped apart "Twilight" and the rest of Stephenie Meyer's vampire stories. Aside from the people that hated what she did to vampires, giving them emotions and not having them be monsters... there are the people who really don't buy into the plot in general.
I read someone that a couple people thought that Jasper, Rosalie and Alice were more interesting characters than Bella & Edward... which I guess you could say I somewhat agree with a bit...

There are people who loathe the set-up... this plain uninteresting girl ending up with someone who she thinks is perfect, but really isn't as perfect as she thinks... :sigh: take away the vampires, though, Bella definitely lived my life's story in high school, not really fitting in anywhere or knowing what she wanted out of life. I'm a bit of a nerd myself and don't think I'm the prettiest girl in any given room (otherwise people would have asked me out throughout high school and college... nobody was interested and simultaneously, the two people interested in me... I really wasn't interested in them... maybe because I still am figuring myself out)

The comment I loathe the most is people calling Bella a lackluster character who is stubborn, helpless and otherwise unable to stand on her own feet without Edward around (not just because she's the world's biggest klutz)... she's dependant on Edward too much and has no sense of self.
some of those same people wondering what is wrong with her because she detests surprises and birthdays... as if that's such a big red flag that she's not normal :roll:

Selfish is another word that gets thrown around a lot.
Me, I don't see that so much. A lot of people neglect to notice in the 3rd act of "Twilight" (oh great, he's got me using that phrase too... 3rd act), the book, Bella is uber-freaked out that everyone around her is going to get killed because of her. She's frantic about Charlie, the reason why she wants to go back to her house to make sure James doesn't go after him. She's frantic that her friends will get hurt more than worrying about herself getting hurt. Then she's frantic that James will go after the rest of her family, ultimately saying that the Cullens can't protect everyone she cares about forever.

Man did I take a long time to get there.
My point is that, in addition to hoping nobody thinks I'm ripping off "Twilight" especially when it comes to Jonas (trust me, there are enough differences where only the Twi-haters could nit-pick until they find similar faults in him), I'd hate for people to think that the two characters are too dependant on one another. That Nina's new life completely revolves around Jonas, that she can't stand on her own without him.
In response to all that, I think I'm going to cut down on the dramatics just a tad.

There are a number of incidents that start piling up. Most of which really aren't necessarily or pivotal to the plot.
The first, of course, is important. He gets struck by lightning and Nina's there to witness the occurrence. She learns that this strange phenomenon is the reason behind his explicit absences.
He returns to school and has somewhat of a panic attack... which has Nina a little shaken up and he believes that she no longer trusts him... one thing leads to another, he gets thrown off the back of one of his horses into the iced over river and goes temporarily deaf.

If anything, the only function of his deafness is that he misunderstands Corey and Nina spending time together and he feels left out because he can't hear the song they're working on for Mai... long story there, but otherwise, I can't really see his deafness having any real use. Not to mention I worm my way around it using his mind-reading ability

I mean, the incident that has Nina temporarily freaked out... a little of that might be good for her, but the consequences of it really have no point. Not to mention he's put out of commission three times scattered over maybe 2 weeks... the first time makes sense, but after that, people might get bored with it. Not to mention that's around the part of the story, the middle, where I start to lag in all kinds of places.
Not to mention the panic attack in the middle of Social Studies... kinda pointless... especially because a case of deja vu occurs later on... Eric is put out because Mai chose Corey over him and eventually, Jonas becomes an unwilling participiant in the fight and he loses control

After which, everyone clearly remembers what he's capable of.
I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. And if none of this is making any sense, my humblest apologies. I'm just thinking aloud here, answering my most crucial questions that have been bugging me since I decided to go into full-on rewrites

He might be a little old to play the part now, but after seeing Kris Allen perform "Heartless" on YouTube (better version than what he recorded for his album) and listening to his album for the first time in sevearl months... I remembered what a great contestant he was on American Idol and the great attitude and presence he had. Some people might say they don't even remember Kris because Adam Lambert stole the show because he was oh-so interesting... not to be confused with talent... there were maybe 2 performances the entire season that I liked at all... the rest he just was over the top and I'm still getting the ear-piercing screams out of my head a couple years later...

Kris's lackluster performance on the charts amounts to two things:
Adam Lambert has Max Martin writing his songs, the Swedish king of catchy songwriting (Backstreet Boys, *NSYNC, Britney Spears, Katy Perry to name a few)... with Kris, the only name I recognize writing his songs aside from him on maybe 3-4, is that guy from Train... and I don't even like their music to begin with.
Therefore the music's not nearly as catchy and memorable to the casual music fans.
...and secondly, the marketing and promotion of the album has been appalling... I've heard two different songs on my primary radio station and the one played the most is "Live like you're dying"... which is possibly the weakest, worst song on the album that they could have put on the radio... the guy from Train co-wrote "The Truth"... but there are at least 4-5 other songs that were better for the radio, so people would remember them and therefore go out and buy the record...

okay, that's another rant that should be on my other blog.

I'm starting to think that someone like Kris Allen would be perfect to play Corey... the guy who becomes Mai's boyfriend, one of Jonas's best friends and the two of them have a role to play later on. He has the right look and attitude, the only thing off is his age :-P

Before I completely go off the handle again, here are the biographies I renewed.
I may/may not split Chapter 4 in half because there are two different settings... too big for one chapter (kinda makes the other chapters look tiny in comparison)... I just finished the first part of it that introduces Peter and the iguanas Sparky & Scorch

I had an epiphany, a couple actually, while writing the introduction. I had decided that at their size, they might be too large for a single cage that Jonas carries downstairs... and considering the relationship that builds between him and Scorch, only one iguana makes an appearance.
He comes down the stairs with Sparky and coincidentally, Nina isn't one of those girls who can't stand to be around reptiles... he eases the transition to her because he has to tend to a new wound he's acquired: "Scorch was a little less than cooperative"... went to explain how he found the two of them, how they used to get along, but Scorch turned nasty after he had to move them into separate enclosures. Nina considers jealousy as a factor because Sparky's terrarium is closer to his bed. That gets shot down after Jonas tries to switch them around, still getting bitten. The vet attributes it to Scorch getting on in age, losing sight in one eye, but Jonas thinks its more the fact he separated them than the fact Scorch is getting oddly senile.
Iguanas rely more on smell than sight, so he's not sold on that explanation.

What I'm not explaining in this chapter will be explained later:
he found the two of them shortly after his first incident of lightning (the day after his first public panic attack).
In the past, the elements of fire and lightning were under the sorcerer's control, but after his defeat, the dragons came under Jonas's allegience.
But something went wrong somewhere. He may not have officially gained ownership of the elements. He gave the dragon of lightning (and the pegasus of thunder) the power of speech, so fire could have taken that as an insult. Somehow, though, the power of lightning is still under Nightariel's alliegence. For whatever reason, that explains the lightning strikes that keep happening (and you'd think that Jonas would just stay indoors after the first couple times, but he has to go to the stables to feed the horses... that can't be avoided)...

quite possibly... I kinda put that Sparky had a scar on his tail in the original draft, but I omitted it for the time being cuz it has no relevence... Jonas never saw the iguanas fight so he didn't think it was from one. But I'm thinking Scorch became unforgiving because Jonas separated them... knowing that was going to happen, he takes a bite out of Sparky's tail... perhaps taking hold of some of his power... dealing under the table, if you will, to Nightariel...
between him believing that together they're a stronger opposing force and a number of other things, the separation of the two is the activating incident for the vendetta that emerges

Huh... I can't help but feel I might have overcomplicated that just a little bit. :-?

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