#writinglessons Um, Transformers The Last Knight

The weeks before Avengers Infinity War came out, my sons and I watched most of the movies in the Marvel Universe. Thor, Spiderman, Iron Man, Captain America, Black Panther. We were ready when we finally got to the Avengers flick.

After all that ‘studying’, I wanted some more action. Some more…franchise. And so, I opted for a goody I was familiar with–Transformers. Right now, I’m humming the theme song to the cartoon from the 80s, loll!

From the very start, it was clear the movie had an insane budget, I mean the opening sequence was nothing but a huge fighting scene from Arthurian times. Then, we were introduced to Merlin and things went left. Why? Merlin was trying to be funny. He really wasn’t funny and from that point, the more it went downhill.

As a writer, I’m always trying to learn from more experienced content creators out there. Hollywood movies are a goldmine to tap from and so despite my reservations, I chose to continue watching. I quickly realized that the movie had way too many ‘comedians’. There were all the transformer bots with their ‘witty ‘ commentary. Then there was the MC played by Mark Wahlberg, who always had something snappy to say. The little girl, who he called mini J-Lo, she’s apparently Latina and so must be saucy and comparable to Jennifer Lopez, I guess (my point being nothing other than the comment wasn’t funny). Oh, I better not forget the black guy who wasn’t funny either or the apparently Native American ‘Chief’ who came out of nowhere but played no role and didn’t need to be there.

Gosh, I started off talking about having too many comedians and have delved into having too many characters it seems. And in this case, both issues are connected in the movie. There were more characters talking and playing semi-important roles than necessary and I took that as a lesson to not repeat in my future books. Limit your story to essential characters. Remove those who add nothing to the plot.

As for the comedians, the lesson there was clear–unless your story is a comedy, rely on fewer funny characters. And actually make them funny. Too many cooks in the kitchen and all that. I don’t hold the Fast and the Furious franchise as an example of movie distinction but there’s a reason why the last movie did so well. (I watched that one again as well). The Tyrese character added a little bit of humor by being silly as did the character played by Ludacris. That was it. Light banter and chemistry, no full on jokes. Their story was cohesive and not disjointed with a bunch of irrelevant characters trying to outspoken each other.

Oh well, maybe I just miss the Transformer cartoons of my youth. They were straightforward — bad bots got crushed. That’s why I invested in the movie franchise, frankly. The Witwickis need to come back in the next installment. Now that was a funny family. That and Megan Fox.  Her replacement in the last movie was just fine but it would be nice to see the old gang back.

Gosh, I got distracted again.

I’ll end by saying my boys (both on 15) enjoyed all the explosions. Sadly, the story seemed disjointed and disconnected to me. I know the creative process is far from easy (boy, do I ever), and one additional lesson I’ve learned from this flick is you can’t distract consumers from the flaws in a story with…well, explosions.

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FFJ’s Freebies, June 5th, 2018

Today’s freebies come to you by way of C. C. Ekeke’s Star Brigade.

Humankind is under siege. Time to send in Star Brigade.

Following a deadly ambush, Captain Nwosu is tasked with resurrecting a once elite unit of covert supersoldiers.

He must now rally an unlikely, untested band of brothers to protect Union Space–and humankind’s survival–from galactic empire upheaval.

If he can’t, they’re all as good as dead.

Star Brigade: Resurgent is filled with wonderfully complex layers of character drama and space soldiering, political conflict and rich world-building. The intensity of Arthur C. Clarke with an expanded universe found in the likes of Mass Effect.

Get lost in the kind of immersive space opera you love to read today. 

Only 99c until June 6th, 2018! Get your copy now!

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FFJ’s Freebies, May 28th, 2018

Today’s freebies are brought to you by –

LegionMarked final ebook cover F F John

A soul in the balance. Humanity at risk. A supernatural alliance could save us all.

My name is Vaughn Prentiss and although he tried and failed, Lucifer still wants me dead. With each passing day, I fight off foul-smelling orcs, fire-spitting drachen and other demon spawn intent on delivering my soul to their master.

I’ve had enough! I want my life back.

To do that, I need an army and Legion won’t do. I’ve got to travel to New Orleans and make friends with some dangerous supernatural types. I’m talking druids, werewolves, witches, and vampires. And I have to move quickly because Lucifer has offered me an ultimatum I can’t accept.

Trust and time are of the essence for one who’s marked like I am. And if I fail, life as I know it will be over.

LEGIONMARKED is book two of the LegionBorn series, an urban fantasy tale in the tradition of Kevin Hearne, Jim Butcher, and Patricia Briggs.

Preorder your copy today!

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FFJ’s Freebies, May 22nd, 2018

Today’s list of freebies is brought to you by

Shifters fear her. The police despise her. The world needs her.

Jenna Morgan hunts dragon shapeshifters and places them in the cities of New haven–captive cities designed to keep them human and docile.

But Jenna carries a secret that’s on the verge of being exposed. Half human–half dragon–Jenna’s secret could land her on the inside of the barrier–for good. When tragedy strikes, Jenna needs to put aside her own personal rage.

Along with her ex-fiance, her team digs to unravel a murder conspiracy, save an innocent teen girl, and go against the politicians that are controlling them all.

The shifters may be living on borrowed time. To save a girl, to unlock the key to their survival, Jenna may need to embrace her inner dragon after all.

Purchase today for 0.99c at Amazon or for free via Kindle Unlimited!

 

Read on for some freebies.

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LegionMarked Chapters 1 & 2

–I–

Talking business over steak and glasses of bourbon should be straightforward, right? Well, maybe not always but it should be when the client’s one you’re familiar with. My strategy has always been to stroke the client’s ego (those are always bigger than you could imagine), tout my wins then go for the kill—tell him how my law firm can advance his interests.

This meeting with Terry Andrews, the CEO of an insurance conglomerate, should have been smooth sailing. Instead, from my seat by the curved, floor-to-ceiling conservatory windows, I was distracted by three men who made the hairs at the back of my neck stand. Monsters in human skin, they sat casually amid the draped tables, the crystal light fixtures, and the brick walls with paintings of cattle ranches and cowboys.

To the average person, they seemed like any other group of Washington, D.C. power players. However, I saw right through the glamour they projected. They were nothing more than demon spawn and they had me in their sights. Continue reading “LegionMarked Chapters 1 & 2”

FFJ’s Freebies, May 13th, 2018

While buying books to read this week, I came across a couple of freebies.

Here they are, ripe and ready for picking.

Don’t forget to read your books and leave a kind review for the author when you’re done. That is always a great way to ‘tip’ and author. That and buying their books 😀

Enjoy!

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#Writinglessons: Tomb Raider & the ‘status quo’

For writers, the first part of their book typically shows the main character’s ‘Status Quo’. By that, I mean a snapshot of what their life is like at the beginning of the story. From there, things typically go to hell or at least that’s what I aspire to do in my books.

I was recently watching the latest installment of Lara Croft–Tomb Raider starring Alicia Vikander–and the opening scene (which I’d equate to the opening scene and ‘Status Quo’ segment of a book) was an eye opening experience for me. No, not because the movie was an exquisite example of film making or storytelling, but simply because the filmmakers did something that I found instructive.


Now, if you are yet to watch the movie and don’t want it spoiled for you, I suggest you walk away right now and come back when you’ve watched the flick. If, however, you simply want to learn a storytelling technique, then forge ahead!

Back to what I learned. In the beginning of the movie, Lara Croft is in a boxing match. She faces a stronger, more skilled opponent and yet in the face of certain defeat, she doesn’t give in. She rather lose than capitulate.

The filmmakers used the status Quo segment of the story to highlight a major characteristic trait of hers. This stubbornness, or as her father later said to her in a video, “I know you don’t like being told what to do”-plays a major role in the decisions she makes later in the film. (Sort of).

For me, the lesson is to use the status Quo section to not only show the character’s life but to show who the character is. What makes them who they are. Plant the seed of an important part of their story that influences the plot later on. That should arguably help for the creation of a satisfying read for the reader.

As to whether I learned anything else from the movie, the answer is yeah. However, in my opinion, I learned what not to do. For instance, when a character does something that doesn’t make sense, expect a readers suspension of disbelief to abate. (I feel like I notice this more than anything in books and film because it is a problem that terrifies me as a writer.)

Specifically, Lara Croft boxes and when she gets to Hong Kong  (spoiler!) She is able to chase down a petty criminal and retrieve her stolen bag. Then the thief pulls out a switch knife and all of a sudden this boxing, bike racing (yeah, she lives for a thrill) chick is running away from some punks? She didn’t even try to put up a fight.

It didn’t jive well with me though I assume the filmmakers wanted to show an uncertain Lara Croft before she became the adventurer and kick ass Lara Croft fans expect. Maybe I’m just having a hard time adjusting to a Lara Croft that isn’t baddie Angelina Jolie.

Nah, the filmmakers didn’t realize that making Lara Croft scared one minute then able to swing herself off a crashing boat in the middle of a storm the next, would throw a viewer (me) out of the story.

Anyway, now I’m yearning to watch Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Lara Croft: The Cradle of Life. Maybe after I’ve re-watched John Wick and John Wick Chapter 2. I’ve got a beef shawarma and a bottle of Riesling. Yup, that’s what I’m about to do tonight!