After hearing about Adam West’s passing at age 88, I started thinking about his legacy. Of course, most people know him from the 60s Batman television show and as an animated version of himself on Family Guy. There are others which, though less less well known, are thematically appropriate. The most obvious one is from an episode of Batman: The Animated Series.
Batman Portrayals in Visual Media
It dawned on me as I rode the bus to the airport: the debate of who’s the most “iconic” Batman has long been decided. It’s Adam West. While he’s far from the best at portraying the Dark Knight’s character in a contemporary and modern society, his acting and delivery were by far the most memorable. Think about it. We’ve had 6 Batman’s on the big screen, Adam West included. Every single one of them played either a good Bruce Wayne or a good Batman. A decent middle ground wasn’t found until Christian Bale’s Batman, though his billionaire playboy act was a flaw of Batman Begins as you could tell he was faking. Ben Affleck, while in a bad movie, manages to give us a Bruce who can pull off the douchebag billionaire persona. Granted the movies take place in very different points in Batman’s life, but in terms of acting as the Bruce Wayne mask, Affleck’s performance runs laps around Bale’s portrayal of that particular aspect of the character.
Going back to Adam West, while the show was full of camp, West managed to make the character his own. And that campiness also affected the comics. Read any of the space-related Batman stories in the 60s and you’ll see quick, like all media, the two mediums influenced each other.
The 60s Batman show holds up well today. It’s still goofy, but it was lovable It’s sad we lost such a great person, but its even sadder that it took his death for some of us to appreciate his work, especially as the caped crusader himself. RIP, Mr. West.
Image taken from the Adam West Facebook fan page.
Right out of the gate, this audio production has a perfect blend of familiar tropes and interesting characters who turn those tropes on their heads, or at the very least make it more complex than simple overdone fantasy cliches. The nerd who gets sucked into a fantasy world is a cliche of the genre. Yet somehow the writer’s manage to make the tropes enjoyable by adding a diverse cast, both mentally and physically.
The best example of this is the character Jenny, who is the smart cheerleader. She’s more complex than that pithy one-line description, but her character arc in the first book is going from worried high school girl to kick-ass fighter. The journey there, however, isn’t as good as the end result. Though it’s still enjoyable.
The overall plot is pretty basic, but uses all the fantasy tropes to its advantage. Honestly, the story peaked around chapter six…
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I was interviewed on a blog about the supernatural. Not exactly my forte, but I had a good story to share.
For today, we’ve got author Mike Bergonzi talking about his own experiences with the supernatural. Enjoy, and thanks for dropping by, Mike!
DKP: What do you write? What are you working on now?
Mike: So far, I’ve written science fiction and fantasy with a realistic spin. Historical and urban fantasy tend to be the two main genres which interest me. So far, I’ve erred on the side of realism, rather than the fantastical. My world building on the other hand is cherrypicking the good bits of real world history and incorporating it into a secondary world. The best example of this is my first published work: Moon and Star. Essentially it’s Feudal Japan, but the country is not actually called Japan in the book. It was a hard decision to make, but in the end I chose cool things over historical accuracy. Made writing the book a whole lot…
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I don’t update this blog often. Probably cause nothing exciting happens and I don’t feel like blogging about what I had for breakfast. I’ll use Facebook for that.
Shameless Plug #1: Facebook.com/MLBergonzi
Anyways, most people probably know me for writing a blogpost about a revelation I had about the Three-Act Format and re-watching The Prestige. The most views I’ve gotten in one day have been less than 10 and they’ve all been for that one post. Let me be blunt, aside from properly formatting screenplays (and even then I use software to do that).
Shameless Plug #2: Scrivener from Literature and Latte (who is not sponsoring this, but I do highly recommend their product).
Yeah, not sure where I was going with the second paragraph: the one after the first shameless plug, but its time to get down to why I titled this thing the way I did. There will be one more shameless plug later on, but it’s a great group for writers and creators. Also it is on Facebook. Just like my author page. *see Shameless Plug #1 😉
Getting down to business, last week I realized the deleted scene I posted from Moon and Star: Book One was perfect for foreshadowing material for the second book, where Kaito would eventually wield the sun saber. Don’t worry it’s not a spoiler. As the name suggests, the sword draws its power from the sun. I won’t go into too much detail, but lets just say not everyone can hold the blade in a literal sense.
So that’s how a deleted scene became canon, but it doesn’t end there. The scene’s original placement in book one was as a prologue flashback. At first Kaito was much younger than he was in book one and the book then flash forward to the present. It was a great free writing exercise. I got to know younger versions of Yuri, Kaito, and Jin which I hope helped shape their characters. For a scene, however, there wasn’t much going on in terms of the plot and the promises I made weren’t right for the first book.
Shameless Plug #3: This is the part where I interupt your regularly scheduled blog post and mention the good folks over at the Facebook group RoTaNoWriMo, headed by voluptuously voiced Dave Robison of the Roundtable Podcast. A podcast where writers workshop their story ideas. It’s a great podcast and no the mail has not come yet. It’s labor day as I write this. Why do you ask?
Long story short, don’t get rid of your scenes. You never know which one can be used for fodder or kindling for a story. I’m thankful a version still existed somewhere as I couldn’t find that scene anywhere on my computer. Then again, I didn’t look very hard.
Here’s a deleted scene from my current WIP. The scene was a good exercise to get to know the three characters at the same time, but it didn’t add anything to the story. So I thought I’d post it here. Enjoy.
There are many ways to look at story structure. Some of the more popular tools include the three-act structure and the monomyth. Often times the elements of each plotting mechanism overlap with one another. For example, in the monomyth, when the protagonist receives the call to action, that usually correlates with the inciting incident in the three-act format. It’s said that there are only a certain number of plots. While that is true, it should really be plot archetypes. As character can also drive plot and often does.
Electromagnetic plotting is sometimes called thriller plotting, but it’s more than just plots seen in thrillers. Thriller plotting, when done poorly, takes the form of ending every chapter with a cliffhanger. The subsequent chapter reveals that the reason for getting the reader to turn the page was nothing more than a friendly neighbor delivering cookies. A crude example, but it gets the point across. True, thrillers use this technique the most, but this form of plotting isn’t unique to just one genre. Most authors will agree that you [the author] want to keep the reader to keep turning pages. Some would even say by any means necessary.
So what is the electromagnetic plotting? Simply put, it uses the electromagnetic spectrum as a guideline for plot, specifically pacing. For those who aren’t aware, the electromagnetic spectrum is a range of different types of waves—infrared, gamma, and ultraviolet to name a few. You can find more information about the science aspect of the spectrum by reading this wikipedia entry What’s important to know is that the farther right you go on the spectrum, the shorter the wavelengths.
At it’s core electromagnetic plotting is another way to look at Freytag’s theory of dramatic structure.. If you are unfamiliar with his theory, perhaps his terminology will ring a bell: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and denouement. Teachers, including Aristotle, have used this model for ages—but a good story these days has multiple of these dips and troughs. Even the most fast-paced thrillers have moments of rest, even it’s only for half a scene.
The problem with this method is the potential to “ruin” the ending increases. The reason is because if everything leading up to the climax and denouement happens one after another like an avalanche. After the climax, there’s something missing. Stories need to resolve things. Whether that’s in a positive or negative way is entirely up the author. For myself, I tend to go with happier endings with a dark twist.
The first thing I look for are the loose threads that I’ve left for whatever reason. After that I decide which one to wrap up in the denouement. For my first book, that meant having a funeral for the mother at the end, even though she died before the book even began. Essentially I’m picking a subplot to wrap up that ties directly to the one of the stories’ themes. In the case above, forgiveness and moving on after a tragedy.
Doing that gives the story a sense of completeness. That being said, if you have trouble with denouements like me, then thinking about them in turns of wrapping up subplots may help you in finishing your stories.
The writing advice of “show don’t tell” has been passed around by writing instructors and writers for a long time. But what does it mean? Is there a formula to tell you when chances are good that you’re telling, rather than showing. And what is the downside of showing too much. Is there one. To start off this blogpost I’ll answer those questions and go into more detail. Yes, yes, and yes.
The first question of whether there is a formula for telling is true. I’ve found that sentences that follow the structure of “[subject] emotion (noun)” and “[Subject] ‘to be’ verb (emotion)” are tells. For example, the lines “Harry loved Hogwarts” and Harry was hating his time at the Dursleys” are both tells because they are statements rather than actions. Actions are shows and statements are tells. That’s a basic understanding of the difference between the show and tell spectrum.
Spectrum? That’s right, just like the continuum of discovery writers and outliners, showing and telling fall along the same spectrum. Sometimes telling is the best way to go about writing your description. On the show side, there’s a tendency to be vague and making the reader feel uncertain about a character. For myself it’s making sure the reader knows my characters motivation. Extreme telling is something that I imagine most writers do too much when starting out. I know I did. The story in that case reads like a textbook. As a writer, finding the balance between showing and telling is key for descriptions.
A common misunderstanding is that people think showing=visual. As many writers have said, using other senses besides sight will immerse the reader more into the story. Showing doesn’t have to be visual. As i said before, if you’re showing, you are using actions. Describing your world, even if its the most beautifully written paragraph will still be a tell.