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My philosophy on rejection

(August 4 – 10)

This week I submitted a story to a magazine—my first submission in ages—and received a rejection two days later. I thought this provided a reasonable excuse to share my philosophy on rejection.

First of all [side note] getting a rejection within two days is actually a really awesome thing. Most of these markets have limited staff available and will, unavoidably, take much longer than that to provide a response. All this time you’ll be clinging by your fingernails to the edge of the cliff, wondering if this is finally the story that gets picked up. Getting that repose quickly means you can pick yourself and move on that much sooner.

More broadly, I see rejection is a good thing. It means you’ve written something. It means you’ve finished something. And it means you feel good enough about that something to send it out into the world. Rejection doesn’t happen without any of those things happening first: rejection is a sign that you’ve achieved something, and you can wear that proudly.

Furthermore, rejection doesn’t mean that your story is bad, or a failure. It can mean one particular person (the one reading your submission) didn’t connect with your story. It can mean the magazine already has (or recently published) a story with a similar idea. It can mean the publisher already has enough stories for that month. It can mean your story wasn’t quite the right fit for that market. It can mean one of a dozen relatively minor things, none of which reflect on the quality of your work. The chances of you having the right story at the right time are considerably smaller than the chances of your story genuinely not being any good.

Finally, and this is the most important thing: rejection is not something to get frustrated about. I’ve had a small number of very nice rejections, ones which offered me some insight into what the reader thought, but most of my rejections are along the lines of “it just didn’t work for us”. As a writer I do find that a little frustrating: not only did you not want my story, but you’ve barely even told me why. However, a minute later I remind myself that this isn’t actually about me—this is about someone else’s publication. At the other end of that email is someone who has probably spend hours, maybe even days, trawling through stories knowing they can only pick a few. They need to clear their head so they can read the next story objectively, and the one after that. If they stop to analyse my story then it’s going to require a whole lot more time than writing “it just didn’t work for us”.

At the end of the day someone else is giving up their time, possibly devoting their livelihood, to give you the opportunity to send them a story. Whether or not your story makes the cut, that opportunity alone is pretty awesome.

Watching

On Sunday I watched Zombieland for the first time (at the Elderbeast’s suggestion)—only about ten years after people first started raving about it. Luckily it lived up to the hype, largely due to the strong characterisation (and matching performances). The overarching storyline was arguably a bit formulaic, but having unconventional characters (in a slightly unconventional scenario) delivering that plot went a long towards making it feel fresh. And, sure, I remember all the funny bits, but more importantly, I came away from the film feeling that I’d been on a journey with these characters. I can now go off and watch the sequel and spend the whole time wondering how none of the cast has aged over the last ten years.

I also, finally, checked out The Disaster Artist. Like many fans of bad films, I count The Room among my favourite movies of all time, so the news that someone of James Franco’s caliber was making a movie all about the making of The Room was hugely exciting news. Naturally, I then proceeded to completely fail at watching the movie for several years.

What I really liked about The Disaster Artist is that it isn’t just about The Room. It’s about the relationship between Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero (who wrote the book that the film is based on). It also make an attempt to life a tiny part of the veil from the enigma that is Tommy Wiseau. In short you get a great drama about two friends, but then you also get the lovingly recreated moment from The Room too—and, if you ever watched The Room, you can be assured that for every single scene you had questions, the cast and crew had the same questions.

Now I just need to get on and watch The Room again.

Reading

No big reading news this week, but I have enjoyed continuing to listen to the Scriptnotes podcast. So, if you like listening to people chatting generally about the movie business and script-writing (and knowing that those people are speaking from experience) then give it a listen.

The long-awaited, much anticipated, eagerly celebrated end of Chapter Three!!

(July 28 – August 3)

Well, I finally finished Chapter 3 which felt good, even if it took longer than expected. I have the feeling that it’ll need some serious hacking in due course, in order to get it into readable shape, but at least I’m fairly confident now that I’ve got some pieces worth hacking into shape.

Watching

This week we finished off Stranger Things 3, and it was definitely worth the ride. The early episodes, as I mentioned, were a little on the slow side but this series was a case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. Or something like that. I wrote about the emotional core of this particular season being a little lacking, and the writers falling a little too hard on using conflict (i.e. characters arguing with each other constantly) as the basis of drama, but I’d mostly say that these issues were symptoms of the much stronger structure that was applied to this season. 

The Duffer brothers aim to craft each season as a ‘novel’, with each episode being a chapter, but this was far more prevalent in this season. In previous seasons you could easily pick out a handful of episodes that could stand on their own, but with season three it was very much about the parts leading up to a satisfying whole. That said, there were definite elements that stood out: the character that myself and the Elderbeast were fond of calling Russian Terminator, for one; Robin Buckley (who, like Steve Harrington, spent the whole season in a ridiculous sailor outfit, but was still awesome); and the arc they took Billy on was pretty damn good too, Also: The Neverending Story.

Friday’s horror movie was Annabelle: Creation, which was pretty good, if fairly routine. I was pretty impressed by Antony Lapaglia’s very understated performance; playing a character with a whole bunch of stuff going on under the surface. 

I also had the chance to sit down at watch Alien with my Awesome Partner. If you don’t already know, Alien is pretty much my favourite film and the one that;’s most likely had the greatest influence on my over the years, so this was a pretty awesome time. I’d recently bought the 4K release and it looked amazing. I’ve probably watched this film a hundred times, but I noticed all sorts of details I’d never spotted before—in particular how damp and grimy everything looks on the Nostromo (in fact, I was reflecting that my first copy of the film was a VHS off-air recording, complete with ad breaks and bad words cut out—a world away from a 4K edition—but it was still good enough for me back then).

It was quite remarkable watching this film, which I know down to the frame but hadn’t seen for a few years, and being able to get a fresh perspective on it. What really struck me this time around is how enormously different the movie feels to modern blockbusters. It’s precisely crafted, but almost primal (helped by the actor’s various improvisations). It’s no revelation to say it’s almost like an art film, but something I really felt was how much it conveys the mood of what’s going on. You really share the terror and discomfort of the characters, and that’s probably why it’s had such a last impression on people.

Reading

Watching Stranger Things this week reminded me that I had yet to finish the Stranger Things: Worlds Turned Upside Down book that my friend got me for Christmas. Firstly though, this book is absolutely gorgeous. It’s been very deliberately designed to look like a book that’s been doing the rounds in your local library for a few years, complete with torn paper cover and plastic wrap. The inside is just as gorgeous and even includes an upside down section. I highly recommend it if you need a little Stranger Things fix.

Unfinished …

(July 21 – 27)

After the holiday break I didn’t quite feel ready to go back to the novel, so I made a start on the short story idea that I had while away. I have an ending, but no idea how to tell it in a compelling way, which means this story is highly likely to remain unfinished for some time yet. Despite this, it’s a good way of flexing my writing muscles, and the prose style I’ve opted for is different than anything else I’ve written lately. 

I also spent some time wrapping up the final edit on another story I’ve been working on. Hopefully this light introduction back into my writing routine will have me raring to go back to the novel by next week.

Watching

A little behind the rest of the world, I began watching Stranger Things 3 with the Elderbeast this week. We’re only three episodes in, so no thoughts to share yet—expect that I totally get why people have found this season slow. I’m enjoying spending time with these characters, but the story is taking its sweet time to get going. However, I’d argue that this is one of the advantages of shows that are delivered in a single, bingeworthy package: the writers don’t need to deliver a capsule story each week anymore, they can focus on the entirety of the story and go for that slow build up if it works. As viewers we need the pace to vary—we’ll get tired if a story is going at full speed right from the outset, or if each episode starts to feel the same as the one before.

Friday’s horror choice wasn’t a horror film this week. I noticed that Hotel Artemis had turned up on Stan and we were both intrigued enough to watch it. Gotta say, I loved it. The fact that it was a sci-fi movie, but had a classic noir story just added to its quirkiness. I’m also now of the opinion that Dave Bautista is surely one of the greatest movie actors to have ever lived. I have loved him in everything I’ve seen him in.

Over the weekend I introduced the Kinderbeast to Pacific Rim (which was fun because Pacific Rim was the first movie I took the Elderbeast to see at the cinema). It is now, of course, his favourite movie ever because what sort of deranged child would not love giant robots fighting giant lizards?

I will admit I love the film, but the script is painfully inept in parts and the movie overall is somewhat totally inconsistent. Until Shape Of Water came along I was fairly convinced that Guillermo del Toro was another Tim Burton—great at visuals, but lousy at story. This movie doesn’t do anything to change that opinion, but it does ride fairly successfully along the outrageousness of its premise.

Reading

Yep, I’m still not reading. Yep, I’m still immersed in podcasts. However, this week’s listening had a pretty good theme going on: endings.

For Our Opinions Are Correct the narrators, mindful that several major franchises are coming to an end this year, provide a few examples of endings that worked, or didn’t work for them. It’s a great little discussion about why certain endings feel better than others. 

One point that really jumped out at me was regarding Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy (which, you may recall, I recently stopped reading after struggling though volume 2). The highlighted issue was that we start the trilogy with Lyra, a strong female protagonist, who ends up mostly shunted aside in favour of a new male protagonist in the second novel. When a character that you’re invested in becomes secondary to the story, the conclusion of that story suddenly has much less significance. Alongside the clunky plotting of The Subtle Knife, I suspect this the major reason why I have almost no interest in rereading the third novel in the series.

The Imaginary Worlds episode took a slightly different stance, and instead review the validity of Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey in light of our current cultural landscape. It’s an interesting listen and, as often happens with IW, the discussion goes off in some surprising directions.

Holida-ay

(Week 29: July 14 – 20)

This week I was on holiday (as in literally away, not as in sitting in my home and not going to work) which enforced a bit of writing break. Sitting out in the fresh air, surrounded by nature, and listening to the distant crashing of the surf did, however, inspire an idea for a new horror story … which I may get onto next week.

Watching

Returning home on Friday meant that Horror Friday could continue as usual. This week we watched The Conjuring 2 which, to my mind, was actually better than the first one. With its 1960s working class British setting it was a little bit like Ken Loach’s The Conjuring for a while; and, to the director’s credit, things managed not to get too Hollywoodised from there. Eschewing the jump scares of the first movie, this one maintained a steady creepiness throughout and, thankfully, didn’t descend into all-out horror cliche territory, which kinda pulled the first one off the rails towards the end.

For those keeping track, the Marvel rewatch caught us up to Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War (which I’d been particularly excited about) this. Not much new to say about these two except that they both remain superb movies and I continue to wonder what sort of satanic deal Marvel Studios has signed that allows them to continue producing excellent movies and breaking box office records after a decade.

Reading

I did take some books on holiday, but somehow didn’t find the time for reading. True story.

Imitations of life

(Week 28: July 7 – 13)

A good writing week, in terms of word counts, but I’m still enmeshed in chapter 3. I don’t have the ending worked out for this one yet, and it’s a bit hard to write without knowing where I’m heading. More on this when I get there …

Watching

A real grab-bag of viewing delights this week, so let’s get into it.

Rather happily, the Marvel rewatch brought us up to Spider-Man: Homecoming over the weekend. I was, perhaps, a little worried this one would seem like old news in the wake of the very excellent follow-up, but it still stands up. I’ve seen this several times now, and I still get a kick out of the big twist in the second act.

On Sunday (and Monday) I had some time to spare and fancied watching some classic Doctor Who, so I picked The War Games, which I had never seen before. For the uninitiated, this is a ten-episode story, so it’s a bit of a meaty epic and not something to be plunged into lightly. I was surprised how easy it was to watch. There’s not a huge amount of plot going on, but the writing keeps things moving at a snappy pace and there are some great performances from all the key players.

For Fridate horror I picked the found footage anthology film V/H/S/2 after reading about it in an article earlier in the week. Each of the stories was completely different from the other, and found different ways of building in the found footage conceit (e.g. an eye implant, a GoPro, a documentary crew, etc). I think my favourite has to be the cyclist out for his morning ride (wearing his GoPro) who gets attacked by zombies. It was a completely original way to tell a zombie tale, and brought both laughs and tears. And excellently gross zombie effects too.

I also managed to catch up with a film I’ve been meaning to watch for ages: The Imitation Game. Gotta say, I was a bit disappointed in this one. It was pretty engrossing, but it came off as a by-the-numbers Oscar contender. The thing that puzzled me most was that it clearly strove for a sense of authenticity, while also embellishing or outright changing the true story in numerous ways. I get that movies have a different agenda, and different limitations, than history text books but this was a case of creating a new story with the bleached out bones of the facts. It really undermined my appreciation of the film, knowing that I was seeing something that bore so little relation to true events.

Reading

I’m not going to list out every podcast I listened to this week (or all the things that I failed to read). I did, however, want to single out an episode of Scriptnotes called How To Write A Movie

I started listening to Scriptnotes mainly because it’s co-hosted by Craig Mazin, who wrote Chernobyl and who I enjoyed listening to on the accompanying podcast. He normally partners with John August (whose website I’ve enjoyed in the past) for Scriptnotes, but for this particular episode he’s flying solo. 

As the title of the episode implies, he provides his own framework for writing a solid movie script—and it’s refreshingly different from most of the structures you’ll have followed before. Now, as the core of a good movie script is having a strong story and compelling characters, there’s also a lot of advice here for writers in general. 

The podcast is about 45 minutes long, and completely free to listen to, so go out give it a spin.

Slow pants

(Week 27: June 30 – July 6)

Chapter three of the novel is proving, if anything, even slower than chapter three. It’s not surprising, really. I’m far enough into things by now that my writer brain is busy trying to add depth to the characters, work out what their journey is, and build more of a structure around the novel. This works completely against the way I’ve started the novel, which is essentially to write it and see what happens: my brain is busy focusing on the bigger picture, and not really helping me to get those words down on the page.

I still plan to carry on ‘pantsing’ the novel for the most part—there are too many fun moments of random inspiration finding their way into the work for that to stop—but I’ll clearly need to carve out some time to work on the structure.

For this, I plan to use the age-old method of creating an Excel spreadsheet to break down each character journey across the chapters of the novel. At this point, I’m thinking there’ll be a column for each character, outlining what they learn, or how they change in each chapter. There’ll also be a further column to help work out how the relationship between the two characters evolves across the course of the novel.

I’ve got this all in my head right now, but it tends to get in the way of everything else, so I’m keen to get it all out of my head instead. Damn writer brain, getting all crowded with stuff.

Watching

This week’s viewing was almost entirely repeat viewings, so to save time here’s a one-line review of each thing I watched (and, if I’m suitably inspired, whether I got anything new from it this time):

  • Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes – I think I appreciate this film the more I watch it; even the obligatory action-packed third act doesn’t get in the way of the story. One thing I noticed this time was how well the script navigates the tricky terrain between Caesar being both the protagonist (in the sense that our sympathies lie with him) and the antagonist (in the general sense that he spearheads the attack against the humans and would traditionally be seen as the villain).
  • Sherlock: The Reichenbach Fall – rewatching Sherlock is always a treat. There’s so much going on in this episode, but I really enjoyed the constant shifting of Moriarty’s character: just when we think we’ve got a read on him, it turns out there’s something completely different going on. I swear these Sherlock episodes have about three different plots happening in each one.
  • The Babysitter – this film is so much fun. This was my second viewing, so I was able to watch the set up for the various twists and turns that happen. I came away really admiring Judah Lewis’s performance as the victimised main character. It’s a tough ask to play someone who’s the victim almost all the way through, but still comes out as the hero while delivering a portrayal that’s totally consistent.
  • Thor: Ragnarok – I love this film and really can’t watch it enough. On this viewing I was watching out for the tonal inconsistency (the laugh out loud comedy vs the merciless destruction of Asgard) and decided that Cate Blanchett’s portrayal Hela does a lot of the heavy lifting in terms of making her villain sufficiently humourous to work within the film. I do still wish, however, they’d left the Warriors Three completely out of the story; seeing them despatched so easily is still a bit of a kick in the guts.

I did see one new film this week, and that was Spider-Man: Far From Home. This movie wraps up phase three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and does an excellent job in that capacity. It also does an excellent job in almost every other capacity, building confidently on the foundations of Spider-Man: Homecoming, and even including some smart (If mostly throwaway) nods to the events of Infinity War and Endgame. It was also good to see some post-credits scenes that truly expand the story and set things up for the future (the ‘gag’ credits scenes are always fun, but these particular scenes not only throw a new spin on the movie you’ve just watched, but also get you chomping at the bit for the next one).

Reading

I’ve somewhat lost momentum with Wool, and haven’t settled on a new audiobook to listen to, so this week’s ‘reading’ has been primarily listening to podcasts including, but not limited to, Scriptnotes and Imaginary Worlds.

Filing for chapter three

(Week 26: June 23 – 29)

I continue to do battle with chapter three of the novel. Part of the reason for this is that half of my writer brain is now busy looking at the big picture, instead of focusing on the immediate words. I’ve been working with these characters (and the premise) for long enough now that I’ve got a fairly good idea of where they need to go and how to get them there. Consequently, I’m busy planning out the rest of the novel’s chapters in my head and dawdling over the actual writing. 

This is an inevitable consequence of launching into an idea without a detailed plan (a clear case of pantsing, not plotting). In this instance, it was a very deliberate choice to strike while the iron was hot and get started on the writing, with a reasonable degree of confidence that I’d be able to flesh out and develop the larger story as I went. And, so far, it’s more or less working.

Meanwhile, in a nice development within the current chapter, some of the characters continue to have minds of their own. Or not, perhaps. The supporting characters in this chapter are, basically, idiots. And yet, somehow, most of them have chosen to behave in a way that’s even more mind-meltingly dense than I originally conceived. I take all this as a good sign that the story is generall working.

Watching

Friday’s horror choice this week was the remake of Pet Sematary, which was pretty interesting. It’s a mostly well made movie, albeit one that is consistently desperate to let you know that it’s a horror movie. There are various creepy moments that don’t really add up to anything, and then other creepy moments are there to force the story forward. They’re all very well done, but the story is eerie enough on its own that the film shouldn’t have to wear its horror heart beating and bleeding on its sleeve. There are a number of genuinely effective moments, but they’re somewhat undermined by the rest of the film screaming out: “Look at me! I’m a Horror Movie!!”

For Saturday I treated myself to a rewatch of John Wick 2, which remains excellent. I’ve noticed an interesting structure to the first two movies at least: the first act tends to be almost cripplingly slow (with the exception of the cold open for John Wick 2) but thge movies then build to a crescendo (and I do find these movies particularly operatic in their violence).

There’s enough difference between the first two movies that I can’t place one above the other, but I do enjoy the continued development of the ‘world of the Contintental’ in this sequel. Hopefully I can catch the third one before long.

Reading

The observant among you may have noticed that I’ve not been reading much of substance lately – my ‘reading’ has consisted of podcasts and audiobooks. Yes, I’m having one of my regular reading lulls.

However, I recently bought my Awesome Partner a copy of Wool by Hugh Howey, because it’s excellent, and I figured it would be a good choice to get me back into a reading habit. It’s interesting reading it for the second time, knowing some of the twists that are coming up, and seeing how skilfully Howey lays the groundwork without ever really signalling what’s about to happen. I’m also taking some time to study his prose style: he has what I would called a Stephen King style of writing, by which I mean he gets a world of detail into his words, but delivers a very comfortable read. I can only hope that some of this might eventually rub off on me.

The end of thrones

(Week 25: June 16 – 23)

Yay! I finally finished chapter two of the novel and got stuck right into chapter three. This will be an interesting one: I have the characters and settings, and about half of a plot. I’m just going to see how this one pans out.

Watching

I’m finally getting stuck into The Tick. My feeling is that the overall premise is fantastic, but there’s something about it that’s not quite as good as it ought to be. It delivers about 80 percent of what it promises, but I come away from most episodes feeling like the creators have not quite achieved what they set out to do. Overall it makes me want to watch Dirk Gently all over again, which (in my view) really nailed that particular brand of humour that comes from having characters who have little idea how surreal and absurd their world is.

Friday’s horror choice was an eagerly anticipated rewatch of The Babysitter, which is just as much fun second time around.

I also managed to finish up Game Of Thrones this weekend. Overall, I can see why people had some issues with this last series, but I don’t share most of the complaints. Endings are hard, and most people will inevitably come away dissatisfied that something they’ve loved for years is wrapping up. I feel that a few weak points (particularly the specific, and fumbled, moment that shifted Danaerys from hero to villain) distracted from a set of episodes that were gorgeous to look at and absorbing to watch.

It’s worth noting that the same creators have been behind the show from the start. There have always been controversial moments, but people wouldn’t still be watching the show in their millions if those same creators weren’t doing an exceptional job in bringing it to the screen. So, suggestions that this last season has suffered from terrible writing are misguided in the extreme.

Reading

I discovered, a little belatedly, that there was a Chernobyl podcast to accompany the TV series. This features the writer of the show, Craig Mazin, talking about the process of writing the show, the creative decisions he had to make, and being candid about the few instances where the show had to significantly deviate from established fact. Obviously this sort of thing is right up my alley, and I enjoyed listening to this almost as much as I enjoyed the show.

There’s plenty of advice within for budding writers like myself; points about how to maintain and structure narrative, points about character, and just general interest stuff about translating real life events into a dramatisation. This all comes with plenty of fascinating behind the scenes insights about the real events at Chernobyl and the making of the show.

Very highly recommended.

The slow down …

(Week 24: June 9 – 15)

Given that I managed to write chapter one of the new novel in a single week (well, the unreadable first draft of chapter one, at least), it’s a bit frustrating—though not surprising—that work on chapter two has now run into a second week. If I’m honest, it was far more of a surprise to me that chapter one came out so quickly and so fully.

That said, the word counts are pretty good: I’m averaging between 400-500 words each morning, so it’s likely more to be the case that the chapters are ending up longer than I’d expected, rather than my writing pace going more slowly.

Watching

I wrapped up the TV series of Chernobyl early this week and, just like everyone says, it’s a stunning achievement. I’m particularly impressed by the contrast between the very undramatic way that the show is presented, and the intense, gripping drama that it depicts. Writer Craig Mazin very rightly understood that the mere facts of the story were dramatic enough and needed no embellishment. That’s not to suggest that Mazin didn’t do an absolutely incredible job here: the creative decisions that were made (including the few dramatic licenses that were taken) and the manner in which the story was told have contributed towards this being one of the best TV productions of the last twenty years. 

I also have to compliment the incredible performances that Jared Harris and Stellan Skarsgard deliver; while they’re by no means the only characters, and almost everyone shines here, they are the two who lead us through most of the narrative.

On Friday I was finally able to watch Us and find out what everyone else had been talking about. I can’t discuss too much without potentially spoiling things, but it’s an excellent and very clever horror film that I will find myself pondering for a long time after this first viewing.

On Saturday, the Elderbeast and I enjoyed one of our increasingly rare Movie Nights. In an inspired choice, the Elderbeast decided we would watch Casino Royale (the Daniel Craig one, not the David Niven one). I’ve been wanting to watch this a second time for years and it was just as good—probably better—on this second outing. 

Key things that jumped out at me: the black and white opening—while clearly not set in the sixties, there’s a retro feel to these scenes that harks back to the series’ origins; the stripped down origin—while we meet M and Craig’s Bond starts off the film by receiving his 007 ranking, there are relatively few of the other hallmarks of the series here (they turn up in Skyfall, of course); the character—this is the best way of summing up what makes this film work, it’s not a movie that’s setting out to be the next big James Bond blockbuster, rather it’s a film about James Bond as a character that also happens to deliver some awesome action set pieces.

On Sunday we started watching The Tick, which I really want to love but am struggling to fully embrace as of the first few episodes. We’ll see how this one goes.

Reading

This week I listened to the new Audible adaptation of William Gibson’s rejected Alien III screenplay. I then went and read the Dark Horse comic adaption (as I was keen to see the visualisation). The scripts for both, unsurprisingly, were near identical so I’ll discuss them as a single story.

Firstly, I’m not surprised this version of Alien III didn’t make it to the screen. It’s got some interesting things going on, but I would describe the story as a bit thin: there’s not enough meat on the bones. The business between two opposing political factions is interesting, but proves confusing in parts (it might be the audio adaptation in particular, but it’s sometimes hard to keep track of which character is on which side).

It’s a nice touch that Bishop, Hicks and Newt are retained as central character. However, Hicks is barely even a character in this adaptation—he’s little more than a grunt. Meanwhile, Newt hangs around only to be safely removed from proceedings about halfway through. You can start to see why they were eventually excised from the final movie—controversial as that decision was—given the risk of either wasting the characters or simply repeating their roles from Aliens.

The story revolves around alien hybrids—in some scenes human characters literally morph into aliens. One the one hand this is a reasonably interesting extension of the current mythology, and adds a ‘Thing-like’ aura of paranoia to proceedings. On the other hand, I can’t help but think this would have looked completely ridiculous on screen.

As a final note, the audiobook brings back Lance Henriksen and Michael Biehn in their original roles (as Bishop and Hicks) which is a nice touch. However, Lance Henriksen sounds oooooold. I mean, it’s over 30 years since Aliens came, so it’s forgivable that he’s aged a bit.

The inevitable comedown

(Week 23: June 2 – 8)

It comes as little surprise, but progress has slowed on the novel this week. I was, at least, able to kick off the week by starting chapter 2, which was satisfyingly well structured accident. Part of the reason for the slowdown is that I’m still discovering the characters as I write, while working out the broader scope of the novel, but it’s mostly a series of poor nights’ sleep and cold mornings that have dampened my motivation a little. The inspiration, luckily, is all still there.

Also, one of my favourite writing things ever happened. I had a whole scene worked out where one of the two main characters was going to pick a new name for herself, after expressing disdain for the name she had originally been given. Then, as I was writing the scene out, the characters decided they were going to take things in a different direction.

And that, dear readers, is why one of my main characters is now called Salmon.

Watching

A relatively light viewing week this week, for a change.

Our Friday horror choice was a low budget effort set during WWII called The Devil’s Rock. I enjoyed this one a lot. The low budget showed through once or twice, but for the most part it stood up well. I love ‘single room’ films (I.e. movies that take place in a single location) and while this one didn’t strictly fit that bill, you could easily imagine it being adapted into a play (minus special effects).

Saturday brought the Marvel rewatch up to Guardians Of The Galaxy 2, one of my favourite Marvel films. Needless to say I had a great time watching this one again and, as I think I’ve discussed it at length elsewhere, I’ll leave it at that for now.

Reading

I spent this week listening to a new podcast called Blockbuster, which dramatises the events around the making of Star Wars. Like any sci-fi movie fan I already know a fair bit about how Star Wars came to be, but Blockbuster takes the refreshingly different tactic of focusing on the key people involved and, particularly, their personal experience of making the film. Through a series of vignettes, linked together by a solid narration track, we really get a feel for the huge emotional rollercoaster it must have been to make this film. We also get to share, briefly, in the making of Jaws and Close Encounters, which serves to broaden the scope of the narrative, place it in context, and put, front and centre, the friendship between Steven Spielberg and George Lucas.

I was thoroughly engrossed in this for the week and certain scenes (particularly the moment when George Lucas first hears John Williams’ score) brought tears to my eyes. The creators made the bold choice not to include advertising in the podcast, but it was an easy choice for me to slip them a donation as a way of saying thanks for creating something that I enjoyed so much.

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