Pacific Rim Deserves Success

Readers, I am going to shamelessly ask you a favor. I implore you, go see Pacific Rim. Here’s why. Not enough? Here’s another reason. If you end up loving it, go again or buy a ticket for a friend. Give it some love. I’m going to be at the theater as soon as possible to show some support. I haven’t even seen it. But I know I’m already going to love it.

Two reasons why: It has giant monsters and equally huge robots — things I’m obviously programmed to love — and it’s being put down before it’s even given a chance to succeed. Here’s the sad part.

Hollywood reporters should hang their heads in shame for predicting terrible opening weekends for big adventure films that aren’t part of a series that’s already lucrative (e.g. The Avengers or Star Trek, which are excellent movies in their own right). That same useless prediction was a self-fulfilling prophecy for John Carter, and I pray it won’t happen again with Pacific Rim.

How could you not love this? Picture courtesy of SlashFilm

How could you not love this? Picture courtesy of SlashFilm

Yes, I’m telling Variety to shut up. Why put the emphasis on the pile of cash from a movie’s first days in the public square? Isn’t the story it tells more important? What of the sense of joy and thrills Hollywood used to get from adventure movies? What happened to enthusiasm?

It seems everything’s more about money and picking something apart, today. We can’t just enjoy a movie anymore. Even when films end up being great, my Facebook feed clogs up with nitpicks and negative opinions that drag the whole mood down. Before I realize what’s happening, I’m paying more attention to a movie’s flaws than I do to its strengths.

Can we please try celebrating a good film more than we criticize it, or at least try to not cut its legs out from under it before opening night? We ought to encourage more movie-makers to go big and take risks. And don’t you want to watch movies made by people who care, instead of cynical marketing teams? That is where the classics come from. Star Wars and Lord of the Rings could have failed big, but found the support of people who believed in them. Those people are rare in Hollywood. And it shows.

Encourage filmmakers to love what they do, and make new classics. Pacific Rim could sure use some encouragement.

Thanks for your time.

Advertisements

Characters Need to Feel the Burn

…whether by real fire, a horrible boss who’s always on his case, or a gallon of coffee in his lap.

One of the lessons I’ve been learning and applying recently in fiction writing is that characters (especially main characters) should suffer in some way, throughout the story. They cannot only have fun as the tale goes through its motions, and they cannot be given everything they want, certainly not at the moment they want it — where’s the drama in ordering a cup of coffee and getting it without incident?

And they can’t always shrug it off when they aren’t getting their way. If nothing is important to them, why would the reader think it important? Protagonists need to be hit where it hurts, because then the reader is more invested in their story. Pain breeds empathy, and the more your reader can connect with your character, the better.

To demonstrate, I will link to a hysterically funny clip from the Robot Chicken Star Wars parody, about Emperor Palpatine’s visit to the second Death Star. All copyrights and such belong to Adult Swim, Robot Chicken, Cartoon Network, etc. Go check it out.

Are you back? All right. That should start to give you a general idea of what happens to characters worth reading about: throughout the story, things keep happening that get in their way. Whether it’s from external conflict or their inner flaws and fears, characters’ journeys should not be easy.

Keep the pressure on your character by having new tortures thrown at them, or else one half of the novel will rivet your eyes to the page, and the other half will drag you, bored, through cold and dull mud. Readers want to read about people triumphing over adversity, not going for a pleasant stroll in the countryside without drama or danger.

Of course, there are many ways to make someone suffer, and different people should encounter adversity in various ways. Depending on the effect and the kind of story you’re telling, your character doesn’t need to be in constant pain or terror. It seems less than honest when the character (and reader) gets no chance at all to breathe and gather their thoughts. It varies, and you might have to trust your instinct a little. Tristan Thorn got to relax, smile, and take in the scenery quite a bit in Stardust, and Buttercup and Westley had many tender moments together in The Princess Bride, with episodes of adventure and peril in between. On the other hand, Arya Stark hardly ever catches a breather from trauma and tragedy in Game of Thrones, and Kvothe in Name of the Wind similarly has a devil of a time navigating a city or a magical academy on his own initiative.

Even if they win in the end, your beloved characters should get a rough ride. Now for the real challenge: to try applying that in my own work….