Thursday, June 28, 2007

Back to my roots - For the love of Writing

With my recent obsession with the TV Show Supernatural, my *ahem* current project got shoved to the side as an undeniable need to write some fan fiction came over me.

My roots go back to fan fiction. My first 100 to 200K words were fan fiction after I wrote the novel that shall not be named. Fan fiction, and the wonderful input of some very well versed fans, was where I cut my teeth on this whole writing thing. Where I had epiphanies, and gained understanding. Everything I am as a writer sprang from there first. And while I still dabble in it once a year or so to that first fan fic love Kagaku Ninjatai Gatchaman, it wasn't something I had ever planned to pursue again. I was trying to make a name for myself out in the "get paid for your writing" world, right?

I tried to fight it. I really did! I had some short stories that needed work. I was slowly but surely plodding forward on my latest fantasy novel. The last thing I needed was to be distracted by other things! Soon, however, I realized there was no putting it off. The Muse was on a roll and it would not be DENIED! Luckily for me, work had been a little slow, or I would have truly been in trouble. :P

So I tried to be somewhat good by splitting my time and make myself work on the possible money generating projects before giving in to the Muse's demands and working on the Supernatural bit. But it got harder and harder. The darn fic even absconded with the research material I was amassing for a possible short story idea and decided to use it for its own. I was doomed and I knew it. Pretty soon the ideas were slamming me so hard I was skipping scenes all over the place just trying to get the bits down so I could go back later and connect them. (This is NOT my usual mode of operandi, so it was freaking me out a little.)

I did toy with the idea of trying to see if I could get a contract for a TV tie-in book (still thinking about that making money thing), but after contacting one of the people who is doing one, I found out that that market is pretty much a "the editor knows me and assigns the work" type thing. So no go. But it was information I didn't have before. Even more strange, the tie-in books were contracted by DC (who is also doing the comic - which you do NOT want to ask me about - grrrr) through a book publisher, not the CW directly. But I digress...

So anyway, 25K words later, the first draft was done. Phew. I figured I could breathe again, get back to business. WRONG. Another idea hit that wants to be worked on NOW. heck I haven't even had the first one beta read and edited for the 3rd/4th time! So off again I go. Then it hit me...

I was smoking and having a total BLAST! Why did I ever fight against this in the first place? Yeah, I would have to use a pen name (too many contradictory things out there on how fan fic can help/hurt your career). And yeah, it's for no pay. But darn it, I was in the ZONE! I was working the craft! And not only that, there's a huge amount of fans of the show out there looking for good fiction to tie them over between seasons and episodes, and I could deliver. So not only could I have a ball writing the thing, I could possibly give someone else enjoyment for taking the trouble to read it. -- And so came my latest epiphany (hey, those of us who are a little slow tend to get these a lot when the bulb and electricity finally connect - it's a thing.) :P -- or perhaps it was a bit more like remembering -- This was why I got into writing in the first place! For the pure enjoyment of doing and sharing, entertaining others, whether I got paid for it or not.

Writing, and enjoying it, for writing's sake. What a concept! I was home again.

BOOYAH! Baby, let the Muse roll!

Tags: ; ;

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Dark side of Fandom or A Fan's Responsibility

This topic has been on my mind for several weeks. Been fighting with how to broach it and haven't had much success figuring out the best way. So I figured I'd just jump in with both feet and see where it took me.

Before I became a published author, I was fan. Still am a fan. Will probably always be a fan of something or other till the end of my days. Being a fan is an exilirating thing. Full of posibilities, excitement, drama, and agnst. Depending on how deeply something touches your heart, it can even make dreary days pass faster, giving you something to look forward to seeing or hearing when you get off work.

In our generation, the possibilities have never been so ripe for fandom. Shows, books, music, movies can touch people in the millions. All those people can then share with you the same thrill for the particular thing. The internet and email have opened up the virtual world so that no matter where you live, you can find people who love the same things as you. In mere moments, you can share news, gossip, rumors, ideas on your favorite episodes, actors, authors, plots. You can share homemade videos from clippings made from the shows, buy goods related to people or things, and have them sent to your very door in days.

Fan sites and news sites will have intimate details of every aspect of an author, model, actor's life all just a few keystrokes away.

So at what point is enough, enough? From talking to other authors, from hearing stories at or about conventions, there is a very dark side to fandom. A side that crosses the line from enjoyment and information of shows, books, actors, authors to invasion and madness.

Celebrities are expected, heck anymore, required, to have face time with their fans. Interaction with those who enjoy their work or product creates a feeling of closeness between all parties, and is normally a celebrity's way to give back to those who have supported them in their endeavors and at times even ways to get new supporters. It can be a healthy and mutually beneficial experience. They respect you for your patronage, you respect them for their work. But then things can also get ugly.

This may seem like something inane and rather obvious to state but...celebrities are people too! They have feelings, desires, frustrations, family. They covet time alone, want other to respect their space, want moments of peace and quiet. Heck, we all do! Yet respecting or even realizing they want and deserve these most common of things at times goes out the window.

To some, because a person is a celebrity, they suddenly aren't people anymore. They have become things -- property. As if the normal rules that are used for getting along and with everyone around you no longer apply - when nothing could be farther from the truth!

You're an actor or author and you go to a convention. People ask you if you'll take a photo with them, and doing your bit, you say sure. So far so good. But then as the individual poses for the picture, the fan reaches behind them and squeezes their bum! Goodness! While the fan has just received the thrill of a lifetime, what about the poor celebrity? If you were the fan and someone asked to take a picture with you, you'd scream bloody murder if they took such a liberty on your own behind. So then why are there fans that can't see they shouldn't do these things to others?

And what of people, who, due to the demands of fans and the fact money is a factor, will go out there and pursue celebrities when they aren't working, when they're trying to live their lives and invade their privacy so they can spill to the hungry masses every detail of all they see and do?

Stephen King was forced to buy the van of the man who ran him over just so it wouldn't be placed on eBay and bid on! The man was HIT, almost KILLED by this vehicle. Is buying it as a fan any real way to actually show you admire the author's work? How could anyone believe he would ever want you to do that? And that he would be happy about it?

Then there are the cases of stalking. Of fans telling others they are dating celebrity so and so, or married to them in secret, starting rumors and who knows what else. Some even seem to enjoy causing turbulence for the person they supposedly admire, bad mouthing them on the internet or in public. They don't even know the PERSON behind the character or writing they seemingly like. Yet it is as if they feel they OWN them.

As fans we must learn where the line is and not cross it. Let's respect them, respect their space, and who they actually are -- people. Just like you and me. :P

Tags: ; ;

Thursday, June 14, 2007

A Fangirl's Day Out - Casa Mañana's "A Few Good Men"

Earlier this year, once I realized I had an "obsession" with the CW's Supernatural, I joined a Yahoo group. On the very first day, they posted news that had my fangirl heart racing. The main actors in Superntarual are Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles. Both are Texas boys! Booyah! One from San Antonio and the other from Richardson, my own backyard. Well, the news the group had to share was the fact that Casa Mañana, a small theater in the Fort Worth area, was putting on the play "A Few Good Men" and was staring Texan actors who made it big -- mainly Lou Diamond Phillips and Jensen Ackles!!! The play would run from 6/5 to 6/10/07.

Now, like I have stated before, I've never had an obsession before. I've had stuff I liked, stuff I've been excited about, but NEVER like this. The day I found out about Jensen Ackles playing here and that I would have the chance to see his work live, I was pretty much a total freak. I wouldn't have been surprised if I'd had a heart attack. I was basically emailing and telling anyone I could get my hands on about this. Heck, I even did a post to my main blog! lol. (This whole obsession thing really bothers me! I keep thinking I am insane. Yet everyone tells me people do this all the time. I am too old for this! lol!) I survived the day and after a week or so, I was able to put it in the back burner and not worry about it at all! I was even good, and despite reports of people who saw the play before me (booked it on the last day at 2pm to better fit hubby's schedule - since he was nice enough to go with me. :P) and kept myself mostly calm.

I was only a semi-basket case (was working really hard to restrain myself) on Sunday 6/10 as maps flew everywhere, the clothes I planned to wear turned out to be stained, my bladder was doing me no favors (TMI?), and who knows what else. (Last time I'd gone to a show we didn't know how to get to, which was for the Kodo Drummers years ago, we got so lost we only made it to the show in time to see the encore! Never again!)

Ticketmaster did not give me much choice (like NONE! Don't plan to go that route ever again) when I got my tickets, giving me what it called best seats. (Their systems definition on what is "best" seems a little off) I ended up with hubbins at Section 4, Row C, seats 7 and 8. They were both the best and worst seats ever! Let me explain.

Section 4 is by the stage but off to the right side so not great. But I was also only 3 rows from the edge of the stage - awesome. The stage itself was at different heights in different areas. So while I could see everything on the right very well (heck even better than well in a few cases!), anything on the far left, like several of the prisoner meetings and apartment meeting scenes I had a table in my way or a chair or the guy in front of me or the stage itself so I either saw little to nothing or had to contort to see. Not complaining though, the stuff I saw on my side more than made up for it! Jensen and later Lou were like 5 feet from me more times than I can count. And I got super lucky during the trial as even though Jensen was third in on the table, he pushed his chair back enough I had an unobstructed profile view of him and could watch the prosecutor at work and Jensen's reactions to his examinations at the same time. Also got the added treat that the prosecutor's table was on my side, so when Jensen's character upstaged him at the trial on a point, I got to hear the actor's cuss (done too low for anyone else but a nice touch for the character and probably the actor was doing it for flavor) as he shoves the papers into his briefcase in frustration. Plus I got to see Jensen's back, side, front, the back of the neck (which like a geisha's slightly exposed neck did for samurai, it did something to me! Don't ask, I don't understand....), the crease of his white uniform running down his leg, tons of detail - so I can't complain!

The play was AWESOME! Jensen was beyond awesome, but everyone else was also fantastic. This play had a huge amount of dialog, and a lot of it was technical at that, and unlike TV and movies, no second takes. Stage acting is a whole different ballgame from film. Yet they all pulled it off marvelously. And some of the other actors I had seen before! Ayal Miodovnik (Lt Jack Ross) has been on Sex in the City and As the World Turns (I have never watched either but maybe commercials or something because he was very familiar), also Ben Rauch (Lt Sam Weinberg) was in ED, shows on Comedy Central, and Sprint and Burger King commercials. So many seasoned actors from Texas came in for this one, which was a total treat. (Took pics of the theater and program book if you want more details )

Weird stuff - On many scenes I could not see Ben Rauch (Sam), and the character of Kaffee (Jensen) teases him a lot, and every time he said "Sam" I kept thinking of the character "Sam" (played by Jared Padalecki in Supernatural) since I could not see the other actor! Now the whole "Sam" and "Jo" thing was weird enough, (Jo being a recurring character in season 2 but also the name of the female lead in the play) but there ended up being MORE! This was Kaffee's 40th case - we were just discussing the # 40 on a review of the episode Phantom Traveler plus I had just seen the episode last week myself - 40 minute flights, 40 days and nights, a number associated with death - and this was a murder case. As if that were not enough, Kaffee hates FLYING!!!!! I thought I was going to fall out of my chair when that came up! Just like Dean!(The chara Jensen plays in Supernatural.) Weird coincidences I am sure. (Or just my over active mind.) lol.

The stage production did some neat stuff too. Major kudos to the stage staff as they had to come on stage in the dark most of the time and move chairs and desks around. A big part of the set was two tall guard towers connected by a huge fence and barb wire. 15 minutes before the show started, two guys in marine uniforms with M-16's climbed into the towers and started a guard tower routine of looking out each direction for a minute or two as if they were on actual guard duty. Did the same thing at intermission. It was such a nice touch!!!! Then they added in a cricket track in the background (at least I hope it was a sound track! lol!) and that added even more to the atmosphere. Loved how Santiago's letters and the Major's final letter were all done on stage by the actual actor with a light on them alone. The theater is small in size so everything was very personal, almost intimate. During the bows, most of the actors only faced the front of the theater, but Jensen made sure to look in all three main directions so everyone got a look and Lou Diamond Phillips bodily moved himself to each side. Sweet!

Had tears in my eyes three different times (Yes, I am a weeper!) and I think a half sniffle from me got the fan girls behind me going. Heh heh heh. But I had come prepared with tissues so all was good. lol. (I played wall flower like I usually do, and got to overhear several conversations while at the theater. Bunches of people there were fans of the show and had come in from out of state just to see it! Some bought tickets for multiple showings! Not cheap tickets either. Dang!!!!)

My husband put up with me through all this mess so kudos to him too! The lunatic even suggested during lunch that I could buy tickets for the 7 o'clock too if I wanted. I told him he was MAD! (This was before I learned others actually did it!) But thanks for the thought. Heck he even volunteered to turn back around after we left the parking lot and we saw the awning in the back of the theater and the people waiting there. I told him no. Figured with only 2 hours between shows no one might bother to go outside. (What I don't know I missed won't hurt me?) Besides, I am big believer in not invading people's privacy or space - having been on both sides of the fence (and heard horror stories from compatriots) and how some people suddenly act like actors are their property instead of a person who has feelings and deserves space and privacy, I figured I would not add to the mess. I think I will definitely keep my hubby for another 25 years. lol. (I think he's actually glad I have an obsession now. He's had several over the years in low key ways, but this is my first so he now knows he has something over me if I say anything on his! lol!)

So, I had a GREAT time! I am hoping Casa Mañana does the same type of thing next year!

Gloria Oliver
Unveiling the Fantastic

Tags: ; ; ; ; ;

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Gestures and Body Language - the unspoken dialog

There are many critical pieces to writing. Some are immediately obvious - dialog, using the senses, good grammar and sentence structure. Other are more subtle, but as badly needed - pacing, the flow (or music) of the words themselves, and character gestures/body language.

In a visual medium, gestures and body language tend to be subconscious clues we see as part of the whole picture, which if the actor is worth anything, will convey or emphasize emotions and relationships. They can add flavor and meaning to dialog, or even impart dialog without a word ever needing to be said. The actors Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki, from the show Supernatural (oh yeah, plug the obsession why don't you?), are masters at this. You can pick up just about any episode and watch these two communicate with gestures and glances, or see their body postures add to whatever is going on whether things are being said or not. One beautiful example is at the end of the second season episode called "Playthings", where Sam brings up a promise Dean made and had hoped Sam would not remember. As soon as the dialog is done, they both get in the car. Dean glances over at Sam, hoping to somehow argue against the promise and comes to a stop. On the other side of the car, Sam is sitting like a stiff board, staunchly not looking at his brother but out the front of the car. His face is tight, and a muscle is jumping at his jawline. Seeing this, Dean says nothing and starts the car. Sam's body language spoke volumes to his brother and the audience, yet never a word was said. That's the beauty of body language - speaking without saying anything.

This same visual use of gestures and body language can be applied to written text. It can add dimensions of meaning and information not necessarily available by dialog or general description alone.

Let's take the innocuous sentence of "What do you want?". It's not much of a phrase and pretty much imparts nothing aside from the fact it implies a conversation between two people. Now let's add a smattering of body language or gestures to this sentence and see what happens.

Example 1 - Gary's eyes narrowed. "What do you want?"

Example 2 - Bobby shot Ben the finger. "What do you want?"

Example 3 - Rita leaned forward, giving a better view of her cleavage, her hungry gaze never leaving his. "What do you want?"

Example 4 - Velina snapped her fingers in front of his face, then turned away to drop in a relaxed heap into the nearest chair. "What do you want?"

Example 5 - "What do you want?" Debbie wouldn't look at Bob directly as she spoke, her shoulders hunched and hands clasped in a white knuckled grip before her.

Example 6 - "What do you want?" Rita gave him a sideways grin, and with a sweeping gesture pointed at the wall of goods to her right.

Hopefully, as you read each example, the gestures and body language added a flavor/dimension to what was actually being said, giving each instance of "what do you want?" a different impetuous and even revealing bits about the relationships of those involved. (Did you find yourself putting inflections on the words just from the hints? Cool, isn't it!) Though you know nothing about the characters or their situations at this point, just these tiny bits imparted a wealth of information, which instantly enriched the situation and fed your imagination.

So on your next project, don't forget to add some unspoken dialog to the work.

Gloria Oliver
Unveiling the Fantastic

Tags: ; ; ;
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...