Tag Archives: Sleepy Hollow

The good, the cursed, and the entertaining

This weekend was supposed to be dedicated to Autumn chores, and a few small items to move my writing career forward. On the good news front, I got the hoses coiled up and stored for the winter. I also managed some blogging, and sent my critique submission to the gang to dissect.

I didn't get the furnace filters changed. The fact is, I don't have to change them at all. This is because I live under a curse. I've lived under it since high school, and possibly longer. Maybe high school is just where I first noticed it.

Maybe I'm being punished for some prideful act. I really don't know what it is, but the curse is real. It works like this: If I spend money on something I don't absolutely need, I will be punished in short order with a necessary expense that makes me wish I hadn't indulged.

We bought our camper, and immediately had to buy our daughter four new tires. Tires aren't cheap any more, even cheap tires aren't cheap.

We bought my wife a new car, let's just say the furnace filters don't need to be replaced. We need not only a new furnace, but a new coil to go with it. This stuff is like a foreign language to me. If the repairman said I needed a new warp drive or flux capacitor it would make more sense to me. The end result is financing more stuff that I didn't plan on.

I'm making notes. Life is a big part of the character arc in my next story. The fact that you cannot plan everything will be part of the story. (The later part.) Stuff happens, it's very realistic, and it ought to resonate with readers. I'll make it more philosophical in the book, and it won't involve a curse. If you can't break the curse, write a book about it. What else can you do?

This week has been a wild ride on the entertainment front. Glenn died on The Walking Dead. He's one of those I considered untouchable. There is a conspiracy theory going around the internet now that he isn't really dead. Yeah right, more like undead. Still, it was unexpected, dramatic, and delivered the powerful emotional experience of good fiction.

I got all excited when it looked like the grave of the Headless Horseman was discovered on Bones. I was lukewarm to the idea of a Bones/Sleepy Hollow crossover, but it was great. The dead redcoat turned out to be General Gates, and it wound up being a fun story. A little Headless Horseman goes a long ways, and I think leaving it as a teaser was the right move.

It looks like the Reverse Flash is back on The Flash. It remains unknown whether he is good or bad. Special Agent May is back on SHIELD, and I'm glad for that. May and Colson are the main reason to watch the show. I expect good things ahead.

I've slacked off on Dr. Who. I really don't know if I like Peter Capaldi as the Doctor. I don't know, because I can't hear a word he says. The production team must have changed, because the dramatic music tends to drown out the dialog. I recorded the episode this weekend, and may get around to watching it. I want to, I just feel excluded from enjoying it.

I chose to record Dr. Who, because I watched Ash vs The Evil Dead. Bruce Campbell is back, and in a role that lets him shine. The show was hilarious, and I anticipate a great reunion between he and Lucy Lawless in a future episode. Hail to the king, baby!

That brings me to The Last Witch Hunter. We just got back from the movie, and it was wonderful. I'm not a Vin Diesel fan, but he was acceptable. The story is pretty standard fare these days. I loved seeing the Game of Thrones girl again. (Rose Leslie) It's nice seeing her do something more than trying to kill John Snow.

What pushed this over the top for me was the visuals. I saw things I never imagined in this movie, and loved them. Having a drink at Chloe's witchcraft bar became a bucket list item for about ten minutes. Then Vin Diesel burned it down. The “good” witch visuals were wonderful, even beyond the bar. Tiny scenes like a view of a florist shop, or the herb garden were creative as hell. ( So many mushrooms.)

There were a few nice twists and turns, and some great use of plants and payoffs. I enjoyed this movie more than any I've seen this year, and I've seen some big films this year.

There you have it; I'm broke, entertained, cursed, and inspired. Oh, and the hoses are all put away. How are you doing?

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Let’s talk about television.

I get some of my inspiration from television, and I’ll bet most writers do too. We are products of our environment, and television is all around us. I decided to talk about what I’ve been watching this fall. Here they are, in no particular order:

Dr. Who. I may be the only person in the world who isn’t onboard with Peter Capaldi as the new Doctor. The problem isn’t his, it’s one of poor production. BBC is running this with the theatrical music overpowering the dialog. I really don’t know if Capaldi is good or not. I’ve only heard about a third of what he said. I’ll keep watching, because it’s Dr. Who, but I’m losing interest.

Sherlock. I’m so excited that BBC America decided to run this show over here. I got to see some episodes that ran on PBS a few years ago. So far, I’ve seen these episodes, but it was a few years ago. I like the fact that each episode is about two hours long. They have more time to mesmerize me. Really excited to see what happens after R. Falls.

Selfie. Keeping with a loose BBC connection, I only watched this because of Amy Pond… I mean Karen Gillan. They teamed her up with John Cho. It’s a modern rebelling of Pygmalion/My Fair Lady. Gillan is hilarious as a self obsessed office worker. I never thought it had much staying power, but I’m sad it was cancelled already. I recorded it and watched it when it suit my schedule. It was up against a highly anticipated show called…

The Flash. I really want to like this show. I’m being patient, because Flash is one of my favorite characters. Right now they’re stuck in bad guy of the week syndrome. My biggest issue is that I think it was miscast. I prefer the old Flash with John Wesley Ship. I’m not offended by the racial diversity the network is obviously attempting, but… When I read the comics, Iris was a white girl. This seems to be a comic trend. I heard Marvel is doing something similar with Ben Grimm. I’m being patient with this show.

S.H.I.E.L.D. This show is much better than last year. They’ve allowed a bit of character growth that most new programs overlook. The episode when Coulson and May infiltrated the party was awesome. May was so out of character working under cover it was funny. It looks like Ward is going to be forgiven, and I think that’s a mistake. I also like the changes between Fitz & Simmons. They were a bit cloying in season one.

Sleepy Hollow. I really like this show. The cast carries the load here. The relationship between Crane and Mills is wonderful. The little bits of Crane being out of touch with modern times are hilarious. It’s a nice spice in an otherwise grim show. I’m not impressed that the horseman is one of the four horsemen, Death. I also don’t like the idea they gave him an invisible head and dialog. Sometimes the monster should remain a monster. His scare factor went from boiling to simmer. Someone once said The Force was so much cooler before we learned about metachlorians. This is how I feel about the horseman. I was a bit disappointed in the 30 pieces of silver episode. Everyone goes there. Crane and Mills carry the show.

The Walking Dead. This show was always good, and it still is. The world is genuinely dangerous, and cast members die off with regularity. There is no safety in knowing a character will be back next week. It’s gritty, scary, and dangerous and I like it.

Last Man Standing. It’s Tim Allen, do I need to say any more? The guy just cracks me up. They poke fun at very current events and do it from a standpoint of common people. The supporting cast is good, and they’ve been allowed to grow a bit too.

Note: There are no reality shows on my list. I was tired of them years ago, and quit watching them all together.

So what’s on your list? What have you given up on? What did you pick up? Is anyone still watching Bones or Once Upon a Time?

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Putting New Work out There

I’m going to try an experiment. I’m going to talk about some television shows, and try to draw conclusions for novelists. This may not work, but I’m going to try it. I’m choosing television, because more of us are likely to have seen the same show than read the same book.

Besides, it isn’t nice to call out a novel, which is the work of one stressed out author. Television is a team event, and it feels safer.

The idea is that new work has to meet certain landmarks. The idea is to keep me interested. This feels the same whether it’s a program or a novel.

One caveat. I’ve made plenty of mistakes. Any of you who read Wild Concept probably noticed a few. I’m not perfect, but I can still talk about this stuff. I’m a sucker for Science Fiction, Paranormal, and Fantasy. These shows all fit that bill in one form or another.

Sleepy Hollow is our first show. Ichabod Crane is resurrected in modern times. He’s the only live character in the show that wears clothing from the 1700s. He’s a nice looking white fellow with a pony tail. His modern day partner is Abby. She’s an attractive black girl. Oh, and the main bad guy doesn’t have a head.

Ichabod and Abby have a cute relationship. He’s way out of date, and as she helps him there is a nice, nearly romantic, tension that gets my approval. There are a few funny bits woven into a darker story line. Most of the lighter parts take place in broad daylight, and the dark stuff happens at night. You would think this would be pretty obvious.

For the novelist here are the points I appreciate. I can tell the characters apart. Black girl, white guy, no head – got it. Nice mix of light and dark, in more ways than one. I like Abby and Ichabod. I will go out of my way to watch this next year.

Authors don’t have the ability to use those kinds of visuals, but we have an advantage too. At least every page or two, we have to write “Ichabod said.” Pretty hard to get lost or confused. We can weave in light and dark moments, along with light and dark settings. The trick is to make our readers like the characters they’re supposed to cheer for.

I don’t give up on a book, program, or movie easily. I used to watch a show called Copper. I gave it about three episodes and quit. The stories were pretty good. I had a hard time keeping the characters straight. They all talked alike, refused to shave, dressed alike, and the actors looked alike. After about the fifth time asking “Which one was that?” I was finished.

Writers can give our characters some quirks. As long as our names are distinct, we won’t have much problem. If needed, one of them can go everywhere with a toothpick or something.

Almost Human is a decent bit of science fiction. It involves a white male cop, John, who has a prosthetic leg. His partner, Dorian, is a black cyborg. These guys bust on each other like actual people. They aren’t marionettes simply following a plot. They each have a quirk that makes them slightly less than everyone else. John is a grouchy old school kind of guy. Dorian is high tech and does some surprising things. Great sci-fi effects here too.

As a writer, putting opposites together might be a good idea. There’s a stress between John and Dorian, but they have a common goal too. They’re willing to go some crazy places with the stories. When Dorian scanned John’s balls it was hilarious. I like these guys too. Likable characters, I want to watch more.

Turn is a new show. It’s about an American spy ring during the American Revolution. The characters are distinct enough. Abe looks vaguely like Tom Hiddleston. It’s easy to tell him from the others. The settings are mostly gloomy, even in daylight. I’ve never seen anyone happy in this show ever. It’s pretty easy to tell that the Americans are the good guys and the British are the bad guys.

Abe ratted out some redcoats. The only one that needed to die, survived. He’s in American hands, but it’s all over for Abe if this redcoat escapes. This particular redcoat is an asshole. This works for me. Tell me who not to like.

There are good points and bad points to this one. Abe has a wife and son. We’ve seen him philandering with the local tavern owner lady. This doesn’t exactly make me cheer for him. It was three episodes before they told me that two brothers were both engaged. Abe was verbally engaged to the tavern lady. His brother, in writing to the other woman. When Abe’s brother died. Abe married his brother’s fiancé to honor the contract. Things like this actually happened in the 1700s.

They needed to tell me this earlier. I wasn’t exactly endeared to Abe when he was unfaithful to his wife and son. I might have turned away and never learned the truth. This story line brings a nice tension, particularly when the wife gave her approval to the tavern lady.

As a writer, I think it’s important to define the villain and the hero PDQ. If everyone sucks, readers might look elsewhere. I’ll give this one a couple more episodes, but I’m not sure.

Salem premiered last night. This looks at the Salem witches as if witchcraft were real. John Alden is obviously the hero here, I just don’t like him. He left his love, Mary to go fight Indians. he didn’t return for seven years. Go figure, Mary married someone else. There is a plausibility problem here for me.

This guy left for seven years, never wrote, and walks in like nothing changed. Mary is the main witch now, of course. Everyone scowls, everyone’s dirty, and everyone’s violent. (Okay, Mary seems to stay clean, and she’s always in black.) I have no reason to like a single person in this show. There is a redhead girl with a charming smile. She’s the only character that smiled in a whole hour. She’s a third tier character, and I’m cheering for her.

They could have taken 30 seconds to show Alden doing something nice. Lift a kid up to pick an apple, pet a dog, something. Lots of scowls, dirt, and grumbling from Alden instead. On the plus side, there were some cool special effects. This includes the coolest place to hide your toad familiar I’ve ever seen.

Not only do the characters need to establish who they are, the concept needs to have some degree of reality. Seven years, and Alden expected Mary to wait for him? He didn’t even write. I’ll give it a few more episodes.

So as a writer, I want to define who the hero is, and who the villain is. I want the characters to be different from each other. I want to use a contrast between light and dark, both in mood and setting. I don’t want to base part of my story on something that isn’t realistic. I also don’t want to withhold some important information that might cause someone to give up on my story. If I can include a bit of humor, so much the better.

So how many pages do I have to accomplish all this? I’m guessing about twenty. I think there’s a need to establish something on every page up to that point. What do the real experts have to say about this?

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Editing day

I got up early and headed for the cabin. It was foggy, and Pogonip covered the trees. I had to call Lisa* to guide my gyro copper toward the runway. She was able to talk to it and take the controls from her bedroom.

I booted everything up, and opened The Cock of the South. I had a notepad from my conversation with Cobby, the dwarf. He’s the story’s main character.

Doubt** made little karuk noises whenever I needed more emotion or scenic detail. I referred to my notes to get the ones Cobby described. When I got to one spot, Doubt flew over to my desk and paced back and forth. I don’t think he was ever happy with the passage.

The small trick with Doubt is, that’s all he is. He can help me make passages better, or make me doubt myself in a vicious cycle where nothing is ever good enough. Eventually, I have to decide. That’s the big trick, I’m the one in charge.

I got slightly more than half way through before I had to stop. I’ll take a little break, and hit it again in the afternoon. Then I’ll probably spend my evening reading Harry Dresden. I don’t think Sherlock comes on until tomorrow. Then I’ll have to decide between Sherlock, Sleepy Hollow, and Klondike. I can record one, watch one, and probably miss one. Cable stuff usually runs more than once though. I might be able to set a midnight recording.

I went upstairs to check on Lisa. She was standing in the center of the room with three holographic monitors open, one for radar, one for topography, and one for Boise. She wore her tight denim pedal pushers with a blouse that was covered in cherries. Her high heels were a regular thing, and today was no exception.

She glared at her monitors and said, “Going home is going to be dicey. I can help you take off, and point you in the right direction. It’s sunny up high. Dropping into Boise will be the hardest part. You’ll be out of range for me, and there’s another inversion.” She turned toward me and said, “You might be better off staying here and trying it tomorrow night.”

“I’ll think about it,” I said. “I’m going to stretch out on the couch for a bit. Then have a snack and edit some more.” I tugged on my beard, “Is the forecast any better tomorrow?”

“A bit. If Boise gets a little wind, you ought to be okay.”

“I’m off Monday. Let’s stick with my plan and see what it looks like this evening.”

“Okay. You really ought to write yourself a bed for the cabin. Then you can spend long weekends here. I can bring up the Will ‘O the Wisp in the morning so you can write about it.”

“You’re a good assistant, Lisa. I’ll take it all under advisement.”

*Lisa is from one of my early novels. She’s my assistant now, and a robot.
**Doubt is a raven. At least he looks like a raven.

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