#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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Improve a scene: Urban Fantasy story

I’m currently reading an urban fantasy tale. It’s all part of developing a stronger understanding of the expected Tropes in that genre so I can write stronger stories.

Anyway, the book is super fast-paced. WOW! As in if a story is supposed to have peaks and valleys, this one is all peaks. There’s very little time to breathe. I know authors are told to pace their stories and the action in their stories but something tells me breakneck tales are beloved by a large number of readers.
giphy2 Continue reading “Improve a scene: Urban Fantasy story”

writinglessons: The Good Fight

I spent a few days watching episodes of The Good Fight with my cousin recently. She’s pregnant and the baby had her sleep cycle on ridiculous, so scripted tv programs were a perfect way to bide the time.

She (my cousin) informed me that The Good Fight (TGF) was a spinoff of The Good Wife. Neither shows had ever been of interest to me and with an already stacked to-watch-list, I didn’t think I should add TGF to my schedule. Boy, am I happy I did.

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Source: Variety

The show is set in the city of Chicago and specifically in the offices of the city’s most prestigious all-Black law firm. You’d think it would be a show about black people and the crucial or tangential issues involving them.

Instead, and quite cleverly, the story is really about three female attorneys trying to find their way at the firm. Two of those attorneys are white (yes, I know it’d obvious from the poster above).

Their race, while sometimes important, is far from crucial to what makes the show so incredible. Its the complicated relationships between themselves and the characters they encounter that produces the tension, conflict and pleasure of this program.

Take Ygritte Maia (lady number 3 in the poster). The complexity for her lies in her relationship with her parents and particularly her father.

Continue reading “writinglessons: The Good Fight”

#Writinglessons: Embarrassment – A Storytelling Device

Empire is one of the scripted television shows that I enjoy watching. Check out my post on the shows I indulged in last year. The show is a combination of several things I enjoy watching – it’s got a lot of drama, high levels of family conflict (I grew up watching Dallas with my mom in the ’80s), ratchet galore (uh, I watch LHH and the Real Housewives franchise) and fabulous clothes!

Continue reading “#Writinglessons: Embarrassment – A Storytelling Device”

Struggling with the sin of Passive Voice

Yup, that image describes me to a T right now. Well, not really because my hair is in a bun but you know what I mean.

I’m currently fighting against the sin of passive voice. Some instances escaped the last few edits and so here I am trying to eliminate them one by one.

Passive voice occurs in writing when the subject of the sentence is acted on by the verb. It’s the opposite of active voice where the subject of the sentence performs the action or the verb. Continue reading “Struggling with the sin of Passive Voice”

#writingbiz: Mailing Lists – Don’t Overdo It

Mailing lists are extremely important for authors be they traditional or self published. Being able to directly contact a reader allows for affordable and effective marketing, which is essential for small business owners like self published authors.

As wonderful as a mailing list can be, it can also become a problem for not just the sender (in this case, the author) but also, the recipient.

And that’s the point of this here post.

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Continue reading “#writingbiz: Mailing Lists – Don’t Overdo It”

Blurb Work: The Pursual

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Writing the blurb for The Pursual has been the hardest thing ever. As in…the extra hardest.

I honestly didn’t think it would prove as difficult, even though I’ve read that it’s hard work.

(Yeah, I can be as delusional as the next person *Kanye shrug*) Continue reading “Blurb Work: The Pursual”

What’s Your Story’s Hook?

When you look at a lot of blurbs, you usually see a bolded or italicized first sentence that goes something like this:

Winning what you want may cost you everything you love 

  • Winner’s Curse, Marie Rutkowski

 

She is the greatest assassin her world has ever known.
But does she have the heart of a killer?

  • Crown of Midnight, Sarah J. Maas

Such sentences are the hook. Continue reading “What’s Your Story’s Hook?”

#Writinglessons: Emotion Amplifiers

As I noted in a previous post, I’m doing less writing and more reading nowadays.

I’ve got to say, I love it! It took a while for me to accept that this was to be a period of learning and not one of creation. Still, I’m enjoying the focus on craft and have pinned several relevant writing tips at my Writing Tips board on Pinterest as well as shared several links to important writing advice on Twitter.

In my quest to become a better writer, I downloaded Emotion Amplifiers from Amazon when it was available for free. Written by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi, the book provides writers with tips on how to strengthen the emotional tone of a scene. The authors highlight that doing so can enhance a reader’s emotional investment in the story and it’s characters, as well as assist with the pace of the story.

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As a writer whose editor kindly noted a need for such in my WIP, I definitely found Emotion Amplifiers to be useful and recommend it to any writers who need it.One of my goals as a writer is to keep my readers engaged from beginning to end. I want 1o eliminate any skipped pages or paragraphs and encourage my readers to love (or hate) my characters enough to want to see what happens to them. I think this book will help me achieve my objective.

If you don’t have the Emotion Amplifiers book, get your copy at the following online outlets

KOBO

Barnes & Noble

Smashwords

Kindle

As of 10/12/16, the ebook is free on Amazon!

What books have you read recently that you find useful, be it for writing or something else? Do share! I’m currently reading Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey (pen name for 2 dope science fiction creators) and will soon read Let’s Get Digital by David Gaughran to learn more about the self-publishing business.