Monday, February 24, 2014

Critiques, Movies, and Writing

Kind of all over today--the last movie I discuss will relate to writing.

Managing Your Critiques
Over at the iWriteNetwork blog, I wrote a post about a handy technique that will make it easier to manage all the critiques you get back for a WiP. You can check it out here.

Movies
Hubby and I finally got to see a couple of movies that were on our to-watch list. The first was The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

I don't know yet if I liked it. I'm going to hold my judgement until the third movie comes out because I had some plot issues that might be resolved there. It was definitely slower paced, and I kept having feelings of 'been there, done that'.

And good grief but Tolkien sure had a lot of "men who should be king" running around Middle Earth, didn't he?

I knew that the Martin Freeman who plays Dr. Watson on the BBC series Sherlock Holmes (love it!) was Bilbo, but I didn't realize they'd enlisted the aid of Benedict Cumberbatch who plays Holmes to be the voice of the dragon Smaug. Cumberbatch's voice is so deliciously deep that it's perfect--as you can see in this clip:





The second movie was Saving Mr. Banks. Wonderful story and the acting is exceptional. I've watched the movie Mary Poppins many times over the years, but now I want to see it again. I'm sure I'll view it differently.



This story totally supports one of my favorite saying:


You are who you are because of where you were when ...  

What happens to us and around us shapes who we are, how we view the world. Ask Baby Boomers where they were when John Kennedy was assassinated. Few won't be able to tell you--in great detail. It was the same way for people when Pearl Harbor was bombed and when the Twin Towers fell.

One of the (only) advantages to getting older is living enough years to be able to put things in perspective, to have lived through the changing times so you saw the transition.

What does this have to do with writing? 
Writers should be thinking about that statement--we are who we are because of where we were when...--as we craft our characters' backstories. If we're writing contemporary or even historical fiction, we need to consider what major events might have shaped our characters. If we're writing fantasy, we have more latitude since we're making it up anyway, but we should still be asking ourselves what happened to our characters to make them so passionate about whatever it is that drives them.

But, as so deftly shown in Saving Mr. Banks, we must also consider what personal or family tragedy might have made the characters the way they are in the book. This can be so much fun with antagonists, finding what happened to make them believe a certain way.

What about you?
What do you do to manage your critiques?
Have you seen either of those films? Did you like them?
Have you lived through an historical event you'll never forget?

39 comments:

  1. I always consider my characters' backstory because it does indeed shape them. For better or worse.
    I haven't seen Saving Mr. Banks, but I really enjoyed the second Hobbit movie.

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    1. I think you'd love Saving Mr. Banks then.

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  2. I fell asleep five times during DESOLATION OF SMAUG which is two times more than I did with UNEXPECTED JOURNEY :) Jackson really didn't put any life, sparkle, humour nor magic in it. just a boring, overly long lifeless three hours of great visuals and not much else :(((

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    1. Yikes! Five times, really? I don't think I'd have stayed in the theater.

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  3. How do I manage the feedback? with lots of chocolate. :)

    I haven't seen either of those movies (and Dezmond's comment doesn't do much for selling me on DOS). My 11 yo saw DOS and enjoyed it even if it was too long. I want to see Saving Mr. Banks.

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    1. Seriously, Saving is a great example of how a character's history impacts the rest of his/her life.

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  4. As for critiques, I number my lines to make it easy for everyone to comment. I usually store them up and wait a bit on them. Not unless, there's a big issue with the beginning chapters.

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    1. We do that for city council minutes. Makes it easier for them to say "this page, line #" when they want to correct something. I tried that originally with my manuscripts but my CPs were thrown off by it. lol

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  5. Still haven't watched Mr Banks yet, will soon though. Back story for characters does help make them more grounded in reality too.

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    1. And can justify why they act a certain way or have certain beliefs. Powerful beliefs.

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  6. What a great tool for managing edits. Thanks for sharing it. Then again, I don't have five CP just one. I need to find another one soon. ha ha

    Elsie
    AJ's wHooligan in the A-Z Challenge


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    1. Yes, I'm lucky to be part of an online group. Love them. I've learned so much from them.

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  7. Having seen either of these movies but I definitely want to see both of them. I loved the LOTR movies and the first Hobbit movie was good.

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    1. Hubby and I wanted to see Smaug while it was still in the theater. I'm all about the the big screen and special speaker effects. Never the same in my living room. lol

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  8. Saw the first but not the second. Definitely want to watch it when I get the chance. Yes, Cumberbatch's voice was perfect!

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    1. We were such LotR fans, I felt a little guilty waiting so long to see Smaug. Glad to know I'm not the only one. :D

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  9. Great post, Donna! I'm going to brainstorm about how the same traumatic event effected both the protagonist and the antagonist. I had focused on the protagonist. I saw the Des of Smaug and enjoyed it--although I kept my eyes closed during the spider attack!

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  10. It is often the back story that brings depth to our protagonists but also our keeps our antagonists from becoming cardboard villains.

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    1. Yes, but we sometimes forget to consider the "why". Good critique partners will make us.

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  11. Loved the post on organizing critiques! :D

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  12. I kept giggling when watching Smaug, thinking about Watson and Sherlock doing the movie together.

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  13. I feel like making the Hobbit into three movies was a mistake. It just drags in places and goes off on tangents. Looks nice though.

    mood
    Moody Writing

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    1. That is some of the challenge--keeping the story compelling. Sometimes less is more.

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  14. Great info on critiques. I want to see the Mr. Banks movie but your description of the Hobbit sounds like my unimpressed impression of it. 9/11 is a day I won't forget. Thankfully, wedding and other good days have been the majority to shape my memories.

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  15. Nice posts, Donna, you have been busy!

    I definitely want to see Saving Mr. Banks. I'm not so enamored of the Hobbit movies at this point--I couldn't even remember that I'd seen the first one!

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    1. Oh, that does not bode well if you can't remember seeing it. My thought about the first movie was that Gimli had led us astray. Nobody told us there were hot Dwarves!

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  16. Benedict Cumberbatch also voices the Necromancer (Sauron)

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    1. I didn't know that!. His voice is so awesome.

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  17. I'm DYING to see Saving Mr. Banks... Mary Poppins was my favorite movie growing up--I can't wait to learn more!!! And I've never been a LOTR fan... so I haven't seen these prequels yet. Strange that it's been divided into 3 movies...

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    1. At least Jackson is drawing from other Tolkien works to expand the story.

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  18. I really want to see Saving Mr. Banks.

    I loved your post about combining critiques. I'll definitely do that from now on.

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    1. Hope you enjoy the movie. I'd like to see it again.

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  19. I really need help organizing my critiques. Thanks.

    Haven't seen either if the Hobbit movies. I did not like that book. I did see 'Mr Banks' and didn't care for it. I'm sure it was true to character, but I didn't like seeing my childhood hero (Walt Disney) as a manipulative kind if guy who would use sost any kind if tactic to get his way.

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    1. It can be tough to find out that our heroes are mere mortals. But I didn't think they portrayed Disney that way. I thought they showed him to be a very compassionate--though real--man.

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  20. Smaug was great, a definite improvment from the last film. I also commented on your other blog, very neat:)

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    1. Thanks for stopping by over there, Mark. The CGI was great.

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