Friday, December 31, 2010

Being a Kid Again: Toy Story 3

Last night I finished watching Toy Story 3 for the third time. And for the third time, I'm very impressed with Pixar. First, because usually animated sequels are poorly done technically and it's much lower quality than the original. Second, because usually story sequels stink. Anyone could expect them to keep Andy a kid forever and have the toys go on some adventure, but lacking any emotion. But the story was so well-done because it faced the fact that kids grow up and toys aren't played with. It had different emotions and challenges than the others.

And third, because they finished it. What annoys me is when movies (and books) go beyond the point that they ought to. The storyline is there, and once it's finished, it should be done. It might be too early to say, but I hope that Toy Story 3 remains the last in their saga. It ends perfectly and there's no need for more: Andy and the toys' story is complete (Land Before Time could take a page out of Pixar's book).

Another little, selfish thought of mine, though, is that Toy Story 3 wasn't really written for all of the five-year-olds out there. It was written for my generation, the first five-year-olds to see this new, amazing animation. The first ones to buy the Woody dolls and Buzz Lightyear action figures. We're grown up now. I saw Toy Story 3 right after I graduated high school, and I was a few weeks away from moving off to college myself. The passage there, to realize I had to let go of my childhood but still remember everything it left me hit me as I watched Andy drive away. Five-year-olds right now don't get it, although they will in about thirteen years. But still, I think it was a nice tip of Pixar to thank the original kids who got excited for it.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Auditions and Storyboards

Well, I was going to go to Six Flags today, but it's raining here. I'm pretty disappointed, it was going to be my first time going. But this just leaves me time to reflect and blog on a book I've started reading, Writing Great Books for Young Adults by Regina Brooks.

As the title says, this is a guide to writing YA and eventually getting it published. I finished Chapter 5 last night. In Chapter 3, "Meeting Your Characters" Brooks suggested something for discovering your protagonist that I found interesting: hold "auditions" for your protagonist, as if it were for a reality show. Find the one that suits your story. I think for the most part, I'll be doing this for secondary characters, because I feel I often have trouble evolving them when I'm not as focused on their thoughts and motives as I am the character(s) who's story I'm telling. It's pretty easy for me to figure out what a character is like when the story is centered around them. However, one of my protagonists is causing me some trouble. I've started writing this one character's story, but she's not quite right yet. Among other problems with the plot, I'm scrapping that one and starting over. And I think I will begin with auditions for my main girl.

Also, in the last chapter I read, "Building Your Plot" Brooks suggests storyboarding, writing out events on index cards an arranging them. I think that I'm going to use this tool as well. In the past I've had ideas in my head but never really wrote them down in any order. In general, I'm not much of a outline on paper person, I just keep it in my head. But I might as well start practicing different methods to improve.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Why I Started This Blog

I don't know if anyone is going to read this with the plethora of other blogs out there, so I started this blog for me. On a blog I follow by literary agent Mary Kole she went through the scale of mastery of writing. I can't say that I followed her signs completely for Unconscious Incompetence (having never sent a query before), but I've been there where I've thought I was ready before I was. Right now I'm at the Conscious Incompetence stage, where I realize that there's a lot I have still to learn. I made this blog so that hopefully I can enter Conscious Competence by looking at what other writers do, the tricks of creating a great book, and learning the publishing business.
And for those wanting to take the journey with me, welcome.