#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!

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#writinglessons: Mike & Dave Need Dates

Have you ever watched a movie that you’ve wanted to turn off once or twice but then you somehow managed to watch it to the end?

I’ve done that before. The first time (as far as I can recall) was Showgirls. Have you seen that movie? It’s so bad that it’s awesome! I even re-watched it with a friend some years ago.

Anyway enough of being sidetracked.

The last movie I watched but wanted to quit was Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates. It was bad. As in. Truly. Really. Honestly. Bad.
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#writinglessons: Star Trek Beyond

I finally watched Star Trek Beyond and loved it!

Image result for star trek beyond

What a great movie. Right amount of laughs, tension, action and heart-racing fear to keep me engaged. Even the bad guy made sense in the end.

So, what did I learn from the movie?

Plenty. Continue reading “#writinglessons: Star Trek Beyond”

#writinglessons from Independence Day Resurgence

I tried y’all.

I really tried.

But.

Independence Day Resurgence was super hard to watch and put me to sleep (granted, I have a lot going on and have been underslept as of late).

Source: meowgifs.com

I don’t think I got halfway through this flick but in an attempt to stay awake, I pulled out my phone and started taking notes.

Continue reading “#writinglessons from Independence Day Resurgence”

#WritingLessons from Nollywood

Nollywood is the colloquial term for Nigeria’s homegrown movie industry. It’s considered the second largest by volume, after India’s Bollywood and America’s Hollywood.

We all know quantity does not equate to quality.

Nollywood movies, while dramatic, highly entertaining and (sadly) often realistic portrayals of real life for the average Nigerian, do not always measure up to well-crafted stories. That has something to do with the economics of Nollywood – films are made quickly on the cheap.

(You think I’m kidding when I say they are dramatic, heehee)

I recently watched a movie (because despite their challenges, I enjoy Nollywood) and walked away with the following #writinglessons –

Continue reading “#WritingLessons from Nollywood”

#WritingLessons from Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens

I love science fiction and watch it religiously.  Luckily, there are quite a few sci fi franchise options to indulge in, one of which is Star Wars.

Recently, I was on an American Airlines flight and got to watch Star Wars VII for a second time. The first time I watched it, the movie was boring to me. I watched it as a regular consumer of creative content but didn’t feel any attachment to the characters or the story.

So, given that experience, I wasn’t interested in a second viewing, but I am so glad I did it because I learned a lot about storytelling from watching the movie again.  And as a novice writer, I’m happy to take good tips from almost anywhere. (I lie. I’ll take ’em from anywhere.)

Continue reading “#WritingLessons from Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens”