Journal 8

Like many in the class, I thought Adaptation was a weird movie. The very first scene revealed for me that I was in for quite an experience when I was treated to a sight of the Being John Malkovich set in grainy footage expecting a weird documentary style film then being treated to something entirely new. I think the strangeness the movie made me feel at the beginning was intentional, making me, the viewer, question what I was about to see.

One thing I thought was interesting was the concept of the Orchid thief, as a lover of orchids, I was charmed by this part of the film. I thought both characters were very interesting. One thing I loved that the movie tackled was the romance between Orlean and Laroche. At the beginning of the film, Cage as Kaufman, says he’s not going to make it a romance, only to find out it actually is a romance. The fact that Kaufman, wrote a romance that didn’t even happen in real life was odd, but satisfying. Streep and Cooper played off the chemistry of Orlean and Laroche so well that I was actually happy seeing the romance (despite the weirdness of it).

I also thought the Donald twist at the end was hilarious. There was a point in the film where you could tell “Donald” was taking over as a writer and while it was completely farfetched, it was so hilarious. The death scene of Donnie was beautifully dramatic. I would also like to point out that I am so upset that the flowers at the end of the film aren’t orchids. Why? Why after a movie about people and orchids, and the relationships between them, didn’t we end it on orchids?

I think after looking at some of Kaufman’s other films, it’s not surprising that Adaptatio is such an odd film to watch. Kaufman is clearly incredibly creative, and his movie has a lot of authenticity. It’s a glimpse into the real mind of someone when they release everything to the viewer. Two of the most authentic parts of the movie for me were Kaufman’s stream of consciousness and the car accident scene.

Kaufman’s stream of consciousness felt like my own at times, wondering what people thought of him, procrastinating while writing. It was like someone finally got it right in a film and it was so satisfying to watch (even though Kaufman was so awkward in the film).

The car accident was something that I will admit is personal to me, and the authenticity of it made me extremely emotional. I can handle car accidents in most films, but this one was so well done, it brought me back to a moment that happened 5 years ago. I have to take myself outside the experience to appreciate the authenticity of that moment.

Overall, the film was weird, and traumatic for me. I’m not going to watch it again. I will, however, look at the Orchid Thief, because that was my favorite part of the film. I will also remember certain parts of this insane, odd film, for a long long time.

And because the movie didn’t do it, I’m sorry, but I have to end this post with an orchid:

orchid-care-phal

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Journal 8

I will admit, I had never heard of Adaptations until it was brought up we were going to be watching it in class. I have a tendency to google things before hand to and for whatever reason I didn’t do any kind of research into this movie. Looking at the Wikipedia page post-viewing however I am glad I didn’t. It’s a hot mess and does nothing to really explain the movie or prepare one for what they actually watch. Even now I don’t know whether I actually enjoyed the movie or not. I’m leaning towards the latter but maybe because it’s brand of bizarre isn’t one I’m used to. Looking into this movie beforehand would have probably made me skip class to be honest. While the Wikipedia is super short and vague as hell just that alone wouldn’t have sold me on watching it.

Let’s start with characters. Charlie; bald,fat, and ugly (his words if I recall). Simple enough character backstory, super awkward. His awkwardness  something I think  was meant to be comic relief. Honestly I thought if him and Donald managed to merge into one person they might make a whole human being. I felt that both of them were missing something so why Donald had to die aside from the obvious, “hey he doesn’t actually exist so he doesn’t get a happy ending” I’m not sure. Why Donald was the only way for Charlie to have any characterization is also a good question. I mean, really until they’re in the swamp having a bro-piphany, Charlie really couldn’t decide which shoe to put on first. Except in his fantasies of course but I’ll avoid those. This is such a bizarre movie that doesn’t fit into any of my other molds of odd.

So Charlie is a big question mark, I don’t think I liked him but his indecisiveness being exaggerated might be the main reason for that. I understand that’s his character it just didn’t work for me. Donald was also a meh. It was interesting how his existence was one kind of played around with but once he actually got a girlfriend I don’t know. Again it’s a “hey Charlie here’s how bad you suck” kind of moment. His “love interest” Amelia was forgettable, I didn’t even remember she existed until the party. Overall characters were kind of meh.

As far as movie progression plot wise I had to wonder the entire time what exactly the point of it all was. It was interesting to see how things transitioned and the cliche world beginning sequence, of course accompanied by a birthing sequence and all that voice-over work done I don’t think did much to prepare one for the ending. Orlean blitzed out of her mind and then alligator death then maybe Charlie getting his life in order? I’m sure the movie meant for itself to be ridiculous as it was but overall it just didn’t appeal to me. I did like Laroche for a while but hey then he was killed a la gator. I can see how it would be a popular/successful kind of movie in a general sense. It’s odd and quirky nature may appeal to some people. I however was not one of them.

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Journal 8

Adaptation was a very weird film for me. I can honestly say that I have never seen a movie like that ever before. However, I do think that it does illustrate the struggle that writers can have when they’re stuck or just trying to start something. While it may not be that extreme for some writers, starting a piece is really hard. It was really over the top, especially near the end, but the entire film was very meta about writing and the struggles of adaptation and writing well. I thought that the process was very interesting. Not only does the audience see Charlie writing his screenplay, but we also see Susan’s process of writing her article, which then turns into her expanding that into a book.

The plot was structured simply, similar to the plot outline we usually learn about during middle school. The film started with exposition, Charlie meeting with the film executive. After some explanation of who he is and a basic introduction to the important characters. Then, the rising action, where he starts to write the screenplay and fails. Over and over again. The climax, I think, is the part where he and Donald figure out that Susan is sleeping with Laroche and then they get chased and Donald dies and a lot of stuff happens in a row. It’s also, funnily enough, the denouement, because that starts settling things. The resolution is when Charlie finishes the script.

It was interested in how there was a lot of foreshadowing throughout the film, especially in the writing seminar with his mention of deus ex machina. There were two deus ex machina in the film: the car that hit Donald and the alligators. I was not surprised at all when Laroche got eaten by alligators, given that they were in the swamps of Florida, but they were a little jarring when they just suddenly came on screen. The car was also surprising in how quickly it came onscreen and hit Donald. I was not expecting that to happen at all and I was sure that Donald would just pop back up, perfectly fine. After all, it seemed like a film that would play around with tropes and what’s a better trope to play with other than faking the dead?

Speaking of Donald, I thought the inclusion of him was interesting because, throughout the movie, he could have actually not existed, except for when he had a girlfriend. I think that the audience was supposed to think that because, for a lot of the beginning of the film, Donald only existed in Charlie’s house. And, like we all found out, Donald does not exist in real life. Charlie, who, like everyone else in this movie, is real, does not have a twin brother. I think Donald was included to have someone for Charlie to talk to and to be his foil. Charlie wanted to write a serious film about flowers, while Donald wrote a thriller that included what sounds a little like an impossible plot. I thought the differences between the two brothers made their characters and their relationship really interesting.

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Journal 6

Colt picked himself up and dusted off his chaps. He had being trying to break this mare for weeks. He had gotten her used to the saddle and reins quickly, but she wasn’t having someone actually riding her. Colt walked over to the bay horse who was standing at the edge of the ring and pets her nose.

“You’re one stubborn horse.”

“Well, I guess she learnt it from her owner.” Colt’s mother Laruen said from outside the ring.

Colt looked over his shoulder at her. “Hey, Mom.”

“Colt don’t you think you’ve been at it enough for today.”

Colt looked at the horse while still petting her nose. “Not yet, I think I’m going to try a few more times.”

“Colt, I’ve seen you get thrown off that horse six times while I was just washing the dishes from lunch.”

“And?”

“We’re a family of three we don’t have that many dishes. It took me all of ten minutes to do them.”

Colt checked the saddle over to make sure nothing had come loose.

“Colt if you do get on that horse one more time today. I’m going to get your father on you.”

“What’s he going to do? Grunt and tell me to listen to you.”

“Probably, but you listen to those grunt way more often than you listen to my fussin’ “

Colt placed his foot in the stirrup and mounts the mare, who immediately started to buck, and twist, leaving Colt to hang on to the reins and the horn of his western saddle. Before the mare landed with the front hooves going to the right and the back hooves swinging to the left, sending Colt rolling in the dirt of the ring again.

“Colt, you’re never going to tame that mare. You’ll give yourself a concussion or worst if you keep going like this.”

“Then what the hell am I supposed to do?”

“Take it slow start with a sack of grain on her back then another and another, before you hop on. She’s never been riden before Colt, she’s not use to any weight on her back. Sometimes you have to start out slow.”

Colt was silent while he once again picked himself up off the ground and dusted off his chaps. He walked over to where his hat had fallen and slapped it across his thigh knocking most of the dirt off before placing it back on his head of sandy hair. He grabbed the reins and hoisted himself back up on the horse just to get thrown off again.

“Colt!” His father Jim yelled from across the barnyard. Colt picked himself up off the ground yet again and walked over to the gate that his father had just walked up to.

“What the hell do ya think ya are doin’ Colt!”

“What’s it look like? Trying to break this damn mare.” The horse snorted as if she understood what he was saying.

“Well, not anymore ya not. Unsaddle her, wash her down then muck out all the stalls before dinner.”

“But Dad, I’m close to breaking her I know it.”

“No ya not! If ya were close ya’d be able to ride ‘er for more than eight seconds.” Jim walked back across the barnyard, followed closely by Lauren. Colt stared after them before returning to the bay mare that was staring him down from across the ring. He had decided that he was going to break the mare on this ride and placed his foot in the stirrup and mounted the horse again. The mare bucked and twisted and turned and kicked. Colt lasted longer on her this time but she still wasn’t having anyone on her back. She poised herself perfectly and bucked as hard as she could and sent Colt flying through the air. Colt’s head smashed into the gate post and his back hits the metal gate hard making it ring. At the ring Lauren and Jim turn around to see their son’s body slumped on the ground by the gate and the horse on the other side of the ring staring at him.
“Colt!” Lauren screamed as she took off running to see if her boy was alive.

 

I decided to pick a genre that I have never written before. I was thinking that I have writing at least a little bit in all different genres but then realized that I have never written anything in a western genre. So this is what I came up.

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Journal 6

The woman crept down the stairs, breathing as shallowly as possible to not make a sound. She clutched a baseball bat in her hand, gripping it tightly. The second stair from the bottom creaked and she froze as the thundering sound of footsteps moved closer. Closer and closer, a shadowy figure moved towards the stairs. She raised the baseball bat above her head, ready to strike. As she swung down, the hall light turned on, blinding her.

“Hey!” the man said, grabbing the bat. “What are you doing?”

The woman looked at him, eyes wide. “What are you doing back here?” she asked. “I thought you were in Chicago for the week.”

“Change of plan.” He slid the bat out of her hands. “Were you going to hit me with my bat?”

“I thought you were a burglar! Why didn’t you turn on the light or something?”

“I didn’t want to wake the dog.” He leaned the bat against the wall and smiled at her. “Honey, I’m home.”

She walked past him. “Did you eat on the way here? There’s leftover lamb in the fridge.”

“Sounds delicious.”

Once they were in the kitchen, she started microwaving leftovers for him as he sat at the small kitchen table. A cocker spaniel bounded into the room, skidding to a stop at his feet.

“Don’t forget the gardener is coming this weekend,” she said, putting the plate of food in front of him.

“Why is the gardener coming?” he asked.

“To till the back garden, remember? I’m using it as a vegetable garden.”

He pushed peas back and forth across his plate. “I can take care of it, honey. Just call the gardener and cancel it.”

“You have another business trip next week. You won’t have time to do anything with it. Hank can just take care of it on Saturday.”

“I insist, honey. I’ll do it.”

She looked over at her husband. “What is the big deal about one little tiny patch of land?”

“It’s too small to have Hank take care of,” he said quickly. “I’ll just deal with it and save us some money.”

“You were fine with this when I called him last week.”

“Just call him and cancel. Tell him he can take care of the lawn on Monday like he usually does.”

“Why can’t Hank take care of it? He’s a professional. He’ll do a great job.”

“Because I said he can’t!”

He got up and stormed out of the kitchen, slamming the front door as he left.

She waited until she heard the whine of a car engine before she went outside. She grabbed work gloves and a shovel before going to the tiny plot of land on the edge of their property. Pulling the gloves on, she started shoveling, only stopping when the shovel hit something hard. She knelt on the cold ground and began brushing dirt away from the object.

She pulled a long pale stick out of the ground. No. It was a bone.

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Journal 5

I really like Michael Kardos’s book. I’ve been going through it on my own time and even thinking some of the exercises through can help me think of different ways to improve or experiment with in my own writing. A lot of them have you recall something personal or something along those lines but it’s so easy to just apply them to a fictional character! Trying to create a character and having these exercises to think through I think helps create a clearer image in my mind on how I want my characters, like Natasha, to be. Like on page 24 theres number 5, about a location through new eyes. There’s probably going to be a point in my story where Natasha ends up someplace she’s never been so thinking now how she’s going to react is just going to make that scene better when I really get to it. I really enjoy the exercises in this book and it makes me sad I only rented it for the semester because this is something I’d love to be able to hold onto even after this class is over.

Really, at this point in time though I know where my story is going to end up in a general sense but as far as the journey to that point things keep changing. Like Jen giving me the idea of a public outing to a coffee shop. I love that idea and it’ll be an interesting way to introduce heaven and angels and poor Death. Also to give some more onto the politics of this Hell I’ve created. It feels like the more I write the funnier it’s getting, which maybe is just my own lack of self control but I feel making this serious out right is kinda boring. I am a funny person (to me at least, a few people have agreed in the past), but with such a topic as Hell, that’s going to be off putting to a lot of people. So I think humor is a way to make it more relatable and readable, nothing but death and torture and gore, while can be fun in it’s own right, narrows the scope of people this story could reach.

But of course, what kind of story doesn’t have blood and guts and some gore. As with my recent installment, things kick off in a brutal way but one that I think is appropriate. A lot of foreshadowing, some pretty out right I think but that’s part of building the mystery and making people want to read. To see the little hints come full circle and then BOOM! That’s what I’m aiming for anyway, which comes to that balance of humor. I’ll admit for a while Natasha’s personality drops out of the story but once things pick back up and she’s Satan, she’ll have her time to shine! And then Beelzebub and Astaroth, both of them wanting the same thing in the end but really how that happens is where they disagree. Not that they really get along to begin with. Kind of like opposite brothers. But the story is going to pick up pace but I just don’t want anything getting lost. So many ideas. So little time.

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Journal 5

 

     I stop dead looking at a shelf of books, as a flash of a red headed, green eyed man runs across a rolling field, bare chested and wielding a sword. I have never seen him before but I knew who he was and I feared for his life at that moment.

“Ma’am!” a lady scoffs from the coffee shop half of my shop, and it shook me out of the flash that just overwhelmed me.

“Oh, Hi there, how can I help you?”

“Yes, I need a half caf, skinny, double shot macchiato with no foam.” I roll my eyes as I walk over to my coffee counter and start grinding espresso to make a latte since the person who just ordered doesn’t have a clue what an actual macchiato is.

“Here you go ma’am that will be $4.95”

“Really that much?”

“Sorry ma’am. Kinda have to make a living here.” The lady throws down a five and walks furiously out the door, the bell smashing forcefully against the door. I throw her change in the tip jar and smile at the fact that she was so mad she still ended up leaving a tip.

I glance up at the clock, and sigh upon seeing that I still have two hours until I can close up. I walk back over to the bookstore and examine the shelves, finding a few books have carelessly been placed. I put them back in their rightful place. I giggle at the eclectic books lying carelessly on the shelf, Nature’s Hallelujah, The God Delusion, and The Grimoire of Pope Honorius. The bell dings above the door.

“Good day, How can I help you today?”

“Yes, I was wondering if you had the latest Nora Roberts book?” the customer asks while flipping over The Grimoire of Pope Honorius before cringing and sitting it back on the shelf.

“I’m sorry ma’am I deal mostly in rare books.”

“Oh, what made you decide to do that?”

“My grandmother ran a bookstore and when she passed, she left them to me, most of them were rare editions. So I decided to collected a few of my own and re-sell what I could.”

“Well, Thank you.”

“You’re Welcome.”

I finish rearranging the shelves and walk back over to the coffee shop and start proofing for the next day and cleaning up. My little clock on the wall in my office dings reminding me that it is 5 p.m. and time to closing. I flip my open sign to close, grab my notebook, pen and my favorite green military style jacket, and walk out of the shop locking the door behind me. I walk through the little town of Lilydale, past the bar Moose Country and Thompson Lighting Protection before stepping onto Lilydale road and following it past the Pool and Yacht Club before finally settling into a spot overlooking the Mississippi River to write for the afternoon.

After about an hour or so, I get up dust off my pants, walk back to my shop, to finish cleaning and to check inventory. Inventory showed me that I also had to place a few orders for milk, coffee and pastries. I then sit down in one of the chairs by the window to read a book that my friend has suggested and realized halfway through that it was one of those overly romanticizes  romance novels. I only reason I decide to keep reading is that I know she will be a pain in my ass if I don’t. I read about some western cowboy trying to win over some bar maid. When my reading hour is up, I go and fix myself a healthy meal of chicken breast, with broccoli, zucchini and wild rice before showering and going to bed.

At the beginning of the novella assignment I was thinking that I was going to tell the story from the 3rd person point of view but realized that I didn’t like it and that I ended up playing with the idea of 1st person instead so this is part of the 1st chapter done in 1st person and a lot shorter that the original 1st chapter because I think that this established her daily routine which will be interrupted later.

I decided to make the change in P.O.V because I felt it told the story better that just overseeing what was happening and especially since Amélie will be having visions/dreams depicting her past lives.

 

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Journal 5

Amelia walked down the brightly lit hall, heels clicking along the tiled floor. It wasn’t the first time she had been here and it most definitely would not be the last. The ominous text message she had gotten from George only said to come quickly. She had left campus immediately, not even texting Jonathan to tell him where she was going. If it was what she had feared, he was going to be where she was and wouldn’t need a text anyway. This was the hospital their entire family went to. It was the only one they would ever use. The only difference was which room she needed to be in.

The door at the end of the hall slid open soundlessly and she slipped inside, fearing what would be in the small bed on the other side. She clutched the bouquet of stargazer lilies tightly in her hand, crushing the bright red bow wrapped around them. She hadn’t known what flowers to get at the florist right near the hospital. As soon as she had seen the bright pink flowers in the tiny shop, she remembered when Jonathan had given Phoebe a language of flowers book the Christmas before their huge fight. She and Phoebe had poured over it for ages, trying to come up with the most ridiculous bouquets. Stargazer lilies meant optimism. How ironic.

By the time she got to the hospital, the rest of the family was there. She unwrapped her dark blue scarf from around her neck and tried to smile, but she couldn’t force herself to act like everything was normal. Jonathan was there, as expected, as were the rest of her siblings. Even Richard was there, in his dumpy old argyle sweater he refused to get rid of. Her twin walked over and pulled her into a hug, resting his chin on top of her head. She couldn’t hear what he was murmuring into her bright red hair, trying to keep himself from crying. Then he let go of her and wiped the tears from her wind-reddened cheeks.

Amelia walked over to Joseph and held out the bouquet. He took it and smiled sadly at her, trying not to let his sister see him cry. She hugged him tightly and then stepped back.

 

This short piece of writing was me experimenting with using no dialogue in a piece. I’ve noticed in class and workshop that I depend too much on dialogue in my novella and I want to make my work more balanced. Cold Mountain is an excellent example of a work that does not depend on dialogue to get a well-written story across, instead using descriptions of emotions and places.

I think that it would be good to balance dialogue and descriptions in my work. Too many paragraphs of descriptions can be boring, but too much dialogue leaves the world empty of what it looks, feels, and sounds like. A balance of the two is good for making sure that the reader gets the best of both worlds.

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journal 5

When I started thinking about my idea for the novella, I went back and forth between starting the pov characters before Yellowstone erupted or plopping them right into it. I wanted to explore how this changed these characters and how this urban fantasy setting would integrate the magic and the technology, and that would be better paced with a before explosion segment. I decided to go with a post-explosion start, ultimately because of the page limit. This is a novella, not a novel and I ain’t got endless amounts of time or pages to devote to in-depth world building.

What I feel I’ve truly given up in this decision is the character relationships that need to be fluid in this piece. These students had a life before this disaster and they all knew each other, to some extent, and I’m currently trying to figure out how to smoothly narrate how these people knew each other without going ‘so and so was in this person’s class. They sat next to each other and now they are friends,’ or ‘they just hate each other, end of story.’ I think reading Cold Mountain has been helpful with my sense of time in prose. I feel like I don’t have to do things in the exact order in which they occur. My goal will be to organize the events by ideas, instead of their actual order. We’ll see how that turns out.

Another debate I’m having with myself is whether or not I should put in any romantic subplots. I generally don’t do this because I find the courting processing boring and contrite, but everyone seems to think that Noah and Michel have chemistry, but that might be because they are really the only two characters to fully interact. I’ll have to see how everyone reacts to other character interactions before I believe that I accidently made character chemistry.

I’ve been fiddling around with different types of magical systems, and there are literally thousands of variations, both modern and tradition, that I could choose from. And on top of that, I have to figure out how to blend it with modern technology in a realistic way. Obviously, there will be more than one type. Maybe with the dominance of the scientific method and invention of technologies that rely on gathered energy rather than energy, some types of magic systems would be phased out or dismissed because they were found to be inefficient compared to the shifts in technology, but then I would have to figure out just what magic focuses on.

Overall, I’m not feeling set in my novella yet. There are a lot of things still up in the air for me, and that’s a new experience for me. I’m usually sure of my characters and my mechanics before I actually start writing. But then again, all the other things I write are not up to par, so maybe this will be a good experience for me, just making things up as I write.

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Journal 4

87 #3

Maybe going to the mall right around Christmas had been a bad idea. The mall was filled with crowds all trying to get the perfect Christmas experience, whether it was all the right gifts, or the perfect picture with Santa.

“Anyways,” Liz said when they finally got their Starbucks and started making their way to the Victoria’s secret. Someone reached between them to get their own coffee and Liz bristled. “Aaron told me he was going to be going to visit his grandparents for Christmas, which I don’t mind. It’s something his family does every year.”

They stepped out into the main part of the bookstore where the Starbucks was located. Liz and Amber had to navigate around displays, people, and stressed out staff.

“It’s New Year’s that I’m upset about because he-”

“Would you be interested in buying our latest Nook model? It can hold ten times as many books as the Kindle Paperwhite.”

“No,” Liz said.

At the same time, Amber brushed the associate off “Kindle has a bigger library.” With that they kept walking, finally making their way out of the store.

Liz had to speak louder over the echo in the mall’s bright hallways. The high ceilings and shiny floors were nice, but they made conversation during the Christmas season almost impossible.

“So he promised me we would spend New Year’s together,” a shrill child’s scream echoed from the shiny vinyl playplace. Amber glared at it. “But then he made plans with his mom’s side of the family to spend it up in New-”

A very angry looking woman holding about ten bags shoved them apart, knocking Amber’s drink to the floor. “Excuse you!” Amber shouted after her. She and Liz looked at the spilled drink, mourning it for a few moments before someone stepped on its remains, breaking them out of their trance.

“So now he’s spending New Year’s in New York even though he’s always told me it’s,” A woman next to them was speaking very loudly on the tone and Liz retorted by speaking louder herself. “Overrated to spend New Year’s in Times Square because they won’t even let you out to pee and I know if I did that I’d totally get a UTI.”

There was a small lull in the noise that made Liz’s statement about urinary tract health the loudest statement in the area.

“Oh stop judging,” Liz said as she looked at all the people around her. “At least I care about my body.”

“Anyways,” Amber said as she grabbed Liz by the arm and started pulling them towards the Victoria’s Secret, a pink glowing beacon in the distance.

“Yeah, so anyways,” Liz said as she dodged a potted plant in the middle of the walkway. “Aaron is probably going to kiss some random stranger in Times Square on New Year’s and I’m going- Excuse me.” Sarah shoved past someone stopped in the middle of the walking area. “I’m going to be spending it alone despite the fact that I’m not single.”

“Well hey, we can be alone on New-” Someone’s child plowed into Amber’s legs. If she still had her Starbucks she would accidentally drop it on his head. “We can be alone on New Year’s together.”

“Just like how we’re shopping for nothing together at-”

“Donate to the Salvation Army?”

“No thank you. Shopping for nothing at the mall on Christmas.”

 

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