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Tell One Story…And Then Be Done With It

04 Sep

(no, this isn’t exactly a “studio” piece, but it’s about craft, so I decided it fits better here than on my main blog. Also, it’s part of the WFMAD thing I’m doing this month.)

There is a downside to consuming shows at a rapid pace through Netflix. You see all the flaws. Repetitive formulas? Check. Mediocre writing? Check. 17 episodes of content stretched over 23? Check. The same violin sweep at every dramatic moment at the end of “what a twist!”. I am so very sick of that one.

Most of these I just roll my eyes at and move on. It’s not the show’s fault I’m consuming seasons at a time, right? Every show doesn’t have to bring their A game to every episode. There’s plenty of room for entertaining shows that are “pretty good,” right?

Oh, sure. But there is one thing that’s coming up more and more these days and gets more annoying every time it happens.

It starts with a rough first 1/3 to 1/2 of the first season. This is really not uncommon, especially in genre shows. Before they can get to the meat and bones of a decent story arc and develop lore that spans seasons, they have to make sure they’re going be around past the first mid-season drop off. I mean, wouldn’t you just HATE IT if an awesome show just vanished as it was leading to something great and it was before the days when DVD markets could propel a tv show into a movie?

Digressing, sorry.

My problem is not the first chunk of uselessness. It’s the point just after season 3 (or 4 if they’re better than others but not great) when things go off the rails and without warning, you’re watching a fundamentally different show.

(Spoilers follow for shows you should have watched 2 or 3 years ago but are probably sitting in your queue, too).

It feels like a last-ditch effort to save a dying show, and it is. Sometimes it’s obvious, in the case of Angel’s “And Now We’re a Law Firm” season. Sometimes it’s more insidious, like The Vampire Diaries turning the only non-vampire lead into a vampire. In the case of Fringe, it made me want to throw things once I realized that the bait-and-switch at the beginning of the 4th season was a permanent fixture. Supernatural had a great 5th season. It ended there as far as my queue is concerned. I am half-way through the last season of Breaking Bad and I really don’t understand why [recentenoughi'mnotgoingtospoilit] had to happen other than “because the show needed a kick to get to the end”. True Blood may be the only one that I stopped watching at the exact right moment. From what I hear of their penultimate season, it had no idea what it was doing from beginning to end.

All of this could be avoided.

Tell one story and then be done. Please quit trying to stretch a thing out longer than it needs to go, just to make a few more dollars on the end. It just leaves a bad taste in our mouths and make us wish it’d ended when it needed to.

 
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Posted in Craft

 

Deceptions Challenge: Music Prompt

06 May

The Challenge: On Episode 8 of our Deceptionists podcast Paul provided a writing prompt around a piece of music. The goal was 500-800 words about an encounter between two people. I did not get to 500 words, because I felt that the piece was “over” for me once I got past the first moment. It’s rough, because I’m trying to challenge myself to move on and not focus on mistakes. Read the rest of this entry »

 

Yeah, I know

08 Dec

I lost my groove. I’m aware. I’m going to look for it over Christmas break.

sorry about that.

 
 

Under the Bed: Wheels

30 Nov

Wheels were a dangerous thing.

Wheels made you exciting. A toy like Tommy, who gets revved backwards until he makes that satisfying clicking noise and then zooms the length of the kitchen, was often the star of the afternoon.

But wheels were dangerous.

Sometimes, while you are zipping, the child gets distracted. If you are lucky, he’ll go searching for you. If you aren’t, if it was a call to dinner, you could be lost for days.

And if you are really unlucky, like fast-moving Tommy, you can get yourself wedged so far under the bed that you’ll never be found.

 

Under the Bed: Monsters

29 Nov

“It’s just the house settling,” Billy’s mom always said as she kissed his forehead for the fifth time each night.

Billy knew better.

The creaking sound he heard was the Monster Under His Bed. It would sneak out when the lights were out and the house was silent and walk around his house.

They were afraid of light. Every night, after she turned out the lights and he could tell by the tone of her voice it was the Last Time she was going to come in that night, Billy pulled out his flashlight and kept it at the ready.

 

Drabbles: Mini-hiatus

22 Nov

on the one hand, finding time to compose a 100 word story in the midst of a chaotic day/week is sort of the point.

on the other, this week is crazy.

on the first hand: i’ve been doing this for 10 weeks straight (minus two hiccup days), why break my streak now?

on the other: omg 10 weeks straight? i need a break, yo!

with that in mind, i may or may not be drabbling this week. it certainly won’t be everyday.

regular drabbling will resume the week of 11/29.

 
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Darwin’s Drabbles: Breakfast

21 Nov

“I don’t want you to let Reverend Jacobs’ sermon bother you too much, okay?”

Paula put down her biscuit. She loved her husband, but she hated starting her day like this.

“What is he going to say?”

“That I’m the devil.” He looked at his plate and pushed his eggs around. “And that anyone who ‘has congress with the beast’ is going to burn in hell.”

“Oh, Baby. You know I don’t believe that.” She plastered on a familiar smile. The one that said “I’m not afraid of you” even though she was.

“I know.”

He knew more than she suspected.

 

Breakfast: Home

19 Nov

Tuesday afternoon is bingo. Wednesday they serve meatloaf for dinner. Friday morning she has a hair-setting appointment. Her week has many things to look forward to, but Sunday is her favorite.

On Sunday her favorite son comes and takes her to brunch at The Stuffed Turkey, a local restaurant with a special weekend brunch menu. He talks about his job and her grandchildren and listens while she prattles on about the latest gossip in her community. He drinks coffee and she sips a mimosa, but she’s transported back across the years to his childhood and she feels anything is still possible.

 

Breakfast: Ritual

18 Nov

(Double drabble because I slept yesterday instead of writing. It happens.)

He smacked the alarm clock into silence without opening his eyes. He tossed back the covers and groped for the discarded pair of jeans crumpled next to the bed. He stretched, scratched, and slipped on the pants. His eyes were no wider or more frequently opened than absolutely necessary.

He shuffled into his kitchen and filled the coffee pot with water. It splashed on the counter as he filled the reservoir. Grounds scattered as he tossed the poorly leveled scoops into the filter. He’d clean up later. He growled as he forced the filter back onto its tracks. He pushed the “Brew” button. One breath. Two. The smell of fresh coffee and the anticipation of caffeine granted him the ability to keep his eyes half-open.

He felt around in the cabinet above the pot. Finding nothing he turned to the sink and cursed. He inspected three cups lining the sink and rinsed it out until it looked relatively clean. He turned back to the pot and waited. His eyes slipped shut and he wavered on his feet.

The coffee maker beeped as it finished. With the barest hint of a smile he pulled the pot off the burner and poured breakfast.

 

Breakfast: Early Bird Special

16 Nov

Stu knew before the waitress set the plate down that he was about to experience the best breakfast of his entire life.

“Can you even call it breakfast if you haven’t gone to bed yet?”

“Dude. It doesn’t matter. If it’s served between 5 and 11am, it’s breakfast. It’s like, a law or something.”

“Shut up. There’s no laws about food. Idiot.”

He looked across the booth at his bandmates. This was it. This wasn’t the moment where everything changed. That had happened two hours ago. This was the first moment after it where they calmed the fuck down and enjoyed it.