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Last month, my fiancé expressed an interest in re-watching the Star Wars saga, because he’s always loved them.  I’d never seen Episodes 5 and 6, and my memories of 4 were vague, so we began the six-movie journey through George Lucas’ world.

It cannot be denied that the Star Wars Universe is an expansive, nuanced, interesting, and exciting world. I love almost everything about it: lightsabers, alien races, differing planets, space-age technology, political and social upheaval around every turn. It’s a robust creation that rivals Tolkien’s Middle Earth.

The original Star Wars trilogy also made history. It revolutionized the film industry for the better, forever changing how we make films. And it also helped the science fiction genre leap onto the screen in a way that hadn’t been done with such a broad appeal before.

With all of the wonderful things I could say about the Star Wars Universe and what the original trilogy did for the craft of filmmaking, I can say very little about the movies that paint them in a positive light.

They’re simply terrible. All of them. (“I’ve got a bad feeling about this!”)

I am not saying anyone that likes these movies is an idiot – far from it. There are a ton of bad movies that I love; it’s perfectly all right to love bad movies. But just because mass quantities of people love these movies does not mean they’re good. It means that the world created in the films has resonated strongly with people, not that George Lucas succeeded in creating a thrilling narrative. (Because boy, he sure didn’t.)

The reason the world works as he’s created it is because he nails what screenwriters call “The Holy Trinity of Sci-Fi Storytelling” – Science, Religion, and Politics. Every aspect of those three things are displayed throughout the movies in a fashion that’s just vague enough that ANYONE – no matter what race, religion, or political creed – can relate to it.

I’m not going to talk about Episodes 1-3, as those movies seem to be universally panned by even the most devout Star Wars fans. But I have news for you all – Episodes 4-6 are EXACTLY the same as 1-3 in almost every way: bad acting, terrible dialogue, non-existent narrative, and a horribly slow pace with entire chunks of screen time completely diverting from the “story,” all of which creates a boring film. If you think otherwise, then you are viewing the original trilogy through the rose-colored glasses of nostalgia.

The problem is that he doesn’t earn most of his story beats. They just sort of happen, because that’s what’s next in the script. His action scenes suffer from this the most, and they go on for far too long, at the end of which nothing has ultimately changed for the main characters. Many of his scenes do so little (if anything at all) to drive the story forward.

These films are all so light on plot points and filled with sequences that don’t serve the story that I’m confident the ultimate narrative could have been successfully told in a single film. (The opening sequence on Hoth where Luke is taken by a yeti, anyone? Or when the Millenium Falcon is inside the creature on the asteroid? Or how about Jabba the Hut’s Palace? Or the crazy Ewok dinner party where they’re worshipping 3PO? All of these scenes take up a large chunk of screen time and contribute nothing to the story of the films they’re in, nor do they reveal information about the characters.)

After finishing Episode 4, even Brad (who likes these films and wanted me to watch them) turned to me and said, “Huh… that WAS pretty boring…” (Side note: I’m not sure if this was an intentional inside joke from Lucas, or if he’s just that horrible of a storyteller, but the line “I’ve got a bad feeling about this” is spoken MULTIPLE times by MULTIPLE characters in all six movies…)

While many people are quick to say that Luke is the protagonist, I have to greatly disagree. There doesn’t seem to be any protagonist in the original trilogy at all; there are simply people that the script tells us we’re supposed to like. A protagonist drives the action, but rarely does Luke ever push things forward. He spends most of the films being totally passive while (dead) people tell him to do things.

If you look at the movies from a narrative perspective, then R2-D2 is actually the protagonist of Episode 4. He’s the one that holds the information necessary for success. He’s the one that is constantly fighting against the odds to get the information where it needs to go. Although, I’m still not really sure why this is so important, because there doesn’t seem to be a worthy villain in the film for them to fight against. Vader spends the entire movie ominously walking through the halls (slowly) and ordering people around. He Force chokes a dude at one point, but there’s nothing particularly vicious about the sequence.

On top of Luke being mostly passive throughout the series (including spending 75% of his Episode 5 screen time sitting on his butt listening to Yoda talk in an abandoned swamp, leaving all of the action sequences to Han and Leia), in the end of it all, he actually LOSES.

The only reason the rebels ultimately succeed is because Darth Vader (in an unbelievable 180 from villain to good guy in a matter of a few seconds) stopped the Emperor from killing his son. Luke does almost nothing of import in the entire series, not to mention he does all of this after only having about a day of Jedi training when it’s supposed to take years to become great.

I also don’t have any idea why people have an inexplicable love for the character of Boba Fett, who only has a total screen time of about five minutes across the original films. I don’t even think he’s got any dialogue, so why did he become so popular amongst fans? I can only assume it has to do with information about him that has come out in the expanded universe materials, because it can’t possibly be from his minimal amount of forgettable screen time in the movies.

Princess Leia is also a pretty big jerk. Yes, she’s a badass fighter, and that’s great – but there’s also almost nothing likeable about her, which means that Han was only going after her for her looks, which doesn’t make me want to root for their relationship.

But my biggest point of contention with all of this stems from something that plays a major role in the universe of Star Wars…

The Force.

It is insanely inconsistent throughout the movies, and most of the time, it’s used as a really cheap deus ex machina because Lucas couldn’t come up with a good story reason for things to happen. These Jedi push things all over the place with the Force – except when they actually SHOULD be using it. There were a monstrous amount of moments when I’d be watching, and I’d say, “Now why the heck didn’t he just use the Force to push that thing away like he did FIVE MINUTES BEFORE in the previous scene?!” This happened far, far too often.

And one of the big twists in Episode 6 – “Leia’s my sister!” I turned to Brad in legitimate confusion, and I said, “Wait, did I miss something? How did he know that?” And Brad’s response was: “I don’t know. He used the Force, I guess.”

That’s a pretty lame excuse to reveal major plot points, and it seems to only exist to get the characters out of sticky situations, which further drives home the point that many of the moments aren’t actually EARNED by the characters, which is how the majority of this six-movie journey felt to me. Nothing was earned – not even the franchise’s popularity.

The Bottom Line:

I love the Star Wars Universe, legitimately. It’s a great world with many great aspects, and I like Star Wars video games and other forms of entertainment. I also fully recognize that the movies did amazing things for the sci-fi genre and the craft of filmmaking, but they’re just so terrible as narrative devices.

My favorite was actually Episode 3; that’s the one that felt like the narrative was actually building toward something that ended up having a satisfying payoff (cheesy dialogue aside). In that regard, Episode 6 was my second favorite, for a lot of the same reasons (minus most of the Ewok scenes). The biggest bummer of it all was that Luke never earned any of his successes. They were always due to someone else helping him or flat-out doing it for him. And that is not a strong protagonist.

Loving Star Wars and its expanded universe is fine, because it’s exciting and fascinating. But you can’t critically look at these movies and say they’re great, because they’re far from it.

I really do try not to be one of those people that uses Facebook as a soap box, which is why my feed is usually filled with cat photos, silly videos, and crazy comics.  But every now and then, I have something to say.  And whether anyone out there actually cares what I have to say or not, it makes me feel better to write it down.  I don’t keep a journal, and I don’t often update this blog, so Facebook has become my permanent record of thoughts.  As always, I’m willing to engage in logical and rational debate, but everything else will be ignored and possibly deleted.

When I share my opinions, I tend to lack tact, but I am going to do my best not to make this sound like an attack.

We lost a well-known celebrity yesterday in a tragic car accident.  But this isn’t about Paul Walker.  And it’s not even about the Porsche’s driver, who also died.  It’s mainly about one internet meme that has been spreading like wildfire in an attempt to shame everyone that felt some kind of loss with the news of Paul Walker’s death.  The meme reads: “R.I.P. to the other guy in the car with Paul Walker, who no one is mentioning because he wasn’t a celebrity.”  Please consider these three facts:

1.)  When you get behind the wheel of a car, you assume responsibility for all of your passengers.  Therefore, everyone who has posted this meme is technically saying, “Why aren’t we also showing sadness about the man that killed Paul Walker?”  A harsh way to look at it, but true whether it was an accident or not, and that’s probably not something we will ever know.  But in my opinion (which lacks any kind of professional crime scene or car knowledge), a car that looks like that Porsche did after a wreck does not end up that way when driving laws are being followed unless there was something SERIOUSLY wrong with the car.

2.)  You are all largely correct; the sad truth is that we DON’T care about the driver simply because he was not a celebrity.  People latch on to any kind of public figure that brings them joy, whether it is a movie star, a civil rights pioneer, or a home improvement expert.  It makes us form an attachment, no matter how shallow, to these people.  As silly as it may sound, there are many people out there whose lives were changed in some way by Paul Walker, his movies, and his off-screen interactions with society.  Unfortunately for the driver of the car, the lives this other man may or may not have changed were not as widespread or well known.

3.)  Yes, this entire event was a tragedy, and nothing I say here is meant to diminish the loss that many people (friends and family of the two men) have felt.  I have a friend that lost her grandmother yesterday, and while she was trying to grieve, all she saw all over the internet was people mourning the loss of two men they didn’t even know.  My main point is that tragedies like this one occur every single day, and none of those people are recognized either.  So please, before you decide to get “high and mighty” about the lack of attention the driver of the car has received, turn the mirror on yourself first and recognize that the ONLY REASON any of you have posted your condolences for the driver in the first place is BECAUSE HE WAS WITH A CELEBRITY WHEN HE DIED.  If it had been the driver alone in that car, no one on the internet would have said a word about him.  So unless you post news articles daily, sending your condolences to victims of tragedies like this one, you are being a bit of a hypocrite expecting all of us to care as much about the driver as we did the celebrity.

No one is trying to say the driver’s death means nothing; many of us simply have no connection to him, so his loss isn’t felt as strongly.  I feel very sorry for all of the friends and family of both men that perished yesterday, as I’m sure all of you do as well.  So how about we stop spinning this incident around to try to make ourselves look better in the eyes of everyone by using snide internet memes.  In a world where it seems nothing is sacred anymore, we should still maintain our dignity and humanity.

The Academy Awards get a really bad rep overall.

People scoff and say that it’s nothing but the richest people in America getting together for a glitzy ceremony to kiss each others’ bums and talk about how great they are.  (And I have a feeling that deep-rooted jealousy plays a part in those comments…)

And having an extensive background in theater, I also have many theater friends who, on Oscar night, suddenly turn into pretentious snobs, talking as if their own craft is far superior to anything that can happen in the movies.  Like theater performers are the only “true artists.”  (I can’t say whether jealousy plays a part in this attitude or not, but I don’t think it does; it’s something different all together that I can’t put my finger on.)

But here is the reality around which people need to try to wrap their minds: Filmmaking — whether it’s Directing, Cinematography, Editing, Screenwriting, or even Acting — is hard.  It’s hard, and it is grueling.  There is nothing easy about it, and those that approach it like it’s easy will end up making a bad film and will likely never get work again.

Now, this isn’t a discussion about whether people in the movie business are overpaid or not, because then this will spiral out of control as I bring up our favorite music artists and sports players that also get paid a ridiculous amount of money, but you don’t often see people complain about THAT.  (In fact, many people actually look up to their favorite sports players, and even treat them like gods.)

On to the point of all of this: I love the Academy Awards.

I’m a screenwriter, and to me, the Academy Awards are a constant reminder that the stories we tell as filmmakers and the hundreds of hours of heartache we endure to get it out of our heads matter to people.  To me, winning an Oscar is the ultimate validation and recognition of the blood, sweat, and tears that were poured into the project.  I want to win an Oscar at some point in my career.  It has been my dream for years now to walk up on that stage and feel included in the group with many of the people that I admire.  Before her Alzheimer’s really kicked in, my grandmother made the comment a few years ago that “some day soon” she would get to see me accept an Oscar.  Sadly, I don’t think she will get to see that day.  Not with her eyes, at least.  But the more depressing part of my dream is this:

I will never be nominated for an Oscar, much less WIN one.

It’s easier to cross genres as an actor in the business, but as a screenwriter, once you’ve chosen a genre to write, that’s pretty much about all she wrote.  We all fit a mold that can’t / shouldn’t be broken, and this is largely because our agents need it this way to find us work.  No one is banging down the door of J.J. Abrams in hopes that he will write the next Meg Ryan romantic comedy, and I can all-but-guarantee that Tyler Perry won’t be hired to write a superhero film that takes place in space.  It is what it is.

My genre is science fiction / thriller, and those films are never nominated for Best Original Screenplay, even if they focus heavily on interesting characters.  Yes, I suppose I could write a drama (that would have to be based in-part on true life, according to the Best Picture track record) under an assumed pen name, but I’m not keen on hiding my identity, because so much of my identity fuels my craft.

My mother always says things like, “So is this script dark and morbid like your others?”  And that’s what happens.  People begin to associate your work with one or two adjectives, and without even trying, a mold has been created for you.  Now, I know that my mother means no offense when she says that, and she in no way is trying to belittle my work.  She’s merely being a typical movie-goer and using the simplest means to describe the experience she had.

I have a person who I consider to be a really great friend, but she doesn’t read my scripts anymore, because she says, “I can’t really take that many THRILLS because I get exhausted.”  Now, she hasn’t read absolutely everything I’ve ever written, but the couple of things she’s read have had moments of high-action and thrills, and now all of my stories have been put into a category for her.

Dark. Morbid. Thrilling.  This is the mold I cannot break, because it has become who I am and what I write.  These simple adjectives hold far more power than they should.  It’s why when you watch commercials advertising upcoming films, you see bold words fly across the screen: “Entertainment Weekly calls it STUNNING, and ACTION-PACKED!” etc.

So here I am.  I’ve voluntarily entered into a career where my goal is to push myself to a level of greatness befitting one of the highest honors that one can receive as a filmmaker — and knowing that I will never achieve it.

And yet, I still push.  I’m a masochist, I reckon.

Maybe one day, the artificial barriers that denote what can and cannot be a “Best Picture” or “Best Screenplay” will be torn down.  But until that day comes, I can only hope that audiences fall in love with my characters as deeply as I do and walk away feeling as if they’ve experienced a meaningful journey.

A Writer’s Point of View

Good morning all,

Last night I had the opportunity to attend a Q&A Discussion Panel with this year’s Academy Award Nominees for Best Screenplay.  The writers for the following films attended the Q&A: “Silver Linings Playbook,” “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” “Zero Dark Thirty,” “Life of Pi,” “Flight,” and “Lincoln.”  It was a wonderful evening, and I took lots of notes.  Thought I would share some of the most interesting for everyone.

 

When asked about the toughest day of the project:

— Learning to cut the scenes you love because they don’t serve the story.

— When the producers almost said “no” to the script due to budget.

— When they got the call to put the script away because there was no one to play the role of Lincoln. (Shortly after, Daniel Day-Lewis called back after Leonardo DiCaprio had convinced him to take the part.

— No particular “toughest day,” but it took over a year to adapt the book of “Silver Linings Playbook” into a good script.

— When the lawsuit was filed based on the screenwriter’s communications with CIA agents via email, and all of his emails were publicly published.

 

Do you use a scene-by-scene treatment, or an outline, before you write?

— Make an outline, but then halfway through writing the script, you realize the script is different than what you intended to write.

— Do an outline, but don’t put much stock in it; as you write, the movie can change what it’s about.

— Uses scene index cards extensively, spending lots of time moving things around and looking at the big picture.

— Yes, this writer relies heavily on outlines.

— No, this writer has never written a detailed outline, but the first drafts are hard to finish and his thoughts wander a lot.

— Do an initial draft of the script (which ends up being around 200 pages), and then once they know what the movie is, they make an outline and trim it down.

 

How many pages per day do you write?

— 10 pages per day

— 12 hours per day

— 3 pages per day

— 5 pages per day

— Procrastinates, and then sits down and writes the draft really quickly

— Tells the story to friends many, many times before sitting down to write, because he finds the blank page daunting.

— “Writing is a horrible way to spend your time.” It’s exhausting, and draining, but it’s something we must do.

 

How did you arrive at your strong script beginnings?

— We always knew the story had to start with the attacks on 9/11

— Struggled with the right beginning for a long time.

— Original beginning of Lincoln was action-packed and bloody, but they decided it didn’t fit the movie.  Also, at that time, the first draft of the script was 500 pages long.  (That’s 8 hours long for those counting…)

— Had to decide the best way to meet the main character, so he secluded the character in a hotel room and showed the drugs and the alcohol, and THEN decided to reveal that he’s also a pilot.

— “Beasts…” had many different beginnings.  Ultimately, they had to pick the best way to take the audience into the world.  (They talked about the big opening number from “Fiddler on the Roof” called “Tradition,” and used that as inspiration on a good way to show the audience how the world works.)

 

How important was the decision of which POV characters were used in the script?

— They decided early on to only experience the world from the protagonist’s point of view. (“Beasts of the Southern Wild”)

— Didn’t want to cloud up the film with info about airlines and politics, so he stuck to the personal POV of the main character (“Flight”)

— Finding the right POV is essential to cracking the code of your script.  If fantastical things were going to happen, we needed the audience to buy it by taking them on the journey through the eyes of our unreliable narrator.  (“Life of Pi”)

—  **MILD SPOILER** Never consciously chose to drift from Lincoln’s POV.  It just made sense.  Lincoln dies in the end, but there was still more of the movie left to tell, so it couldn’t be strictly from his POV. (“Lincoln”)

— Following the unreliable narrator was crucial for the story to work. (“Silver Linings Playbook”)

— The whole event needed different POVs because the protagonist was never at a lot of the big military happenings.  However, we made sure the protagonist was FELT in the scenes that she wasn’t in. (“Zero Dark Thirty”)

 

Any changes that occurred due to budget constraints?

— “Zero Dark Thirty” – a prominent member of the al-Qaeda was detained in a cemetery, but no cemeteries in the Middle East would give them permission to shoot on holy ground, so they changed it to a park in the script.  Surprisingly, it’s one of the only things about the script that hasn’t been scrutinized by historians…

— “Silver Linings Playbook” – couldn’t get permission to shoot in the football stadium, so instead of showing the characters at the game causing a ruckus, the scene took place at a tailgating party after the game.

— “Life of Pi” – Had to make specific decisions about when exactly to use the tiger, because showing the tiger was very expensive.

— “Flight” – Writer learned you have to pick and choose your battles, because you can’t win them all. He fought for two dramatic scenes that contained lots of plane wreckage that the studio wanted to cut and replace with a “simple phone conversation” to convey the information.

— “Beasts of the Southern Wild” – budget was only $1.8 million; they couldn’t shoot anything at night because they had no money for professional lights; the massive storm was created using just the main character looking through a tiny hole in the wall, and hoses were used to simulate heavy rainfall.

 

What did you learn as writers working with actors?

— The actors have all the power over your words.

— Denzel Washington (and lots of other actors) ask lots of questions of the writer. They come prepared. The writer MUST have the answers to give or you will be seen as unprofessional, like the actor is working harder than you did.

— Actors will fight for your words if they love them, so only write what you love.

— Once the film was cast, the writer was inspired to do some rewrites after watching the rehearsals, enabling the script to play to the actors’ strengths.

 

How did you come about crafting your strong endings?

— The ending and the beginning both came into focus at the same time, and from there, the middle was fleshed out.  Both the ending and the beginning needed to use the protagonist’s POV. (“Zero Dark Thirty”)

— Tried to craft an ending that brought closure to all of the main characters and their arcs. (“Silver Linings Playbook”)

— Learned a lot after seeing the cut of the film, so the ending needed to be rewritten and reshot. (“Life of Pi”)

— The resolution had to be just as big, if not bigger, than the beginning.  The final speech was ultimately added per request by the director. (“Flight”)

— The ending of the film was the only consistent thing throughout the writing process.  We started with the ending, and so we always knew where we were headed. (“Beasts of the Southern Wild”)

 

Probably the most controversial question of the night: Did your theme change while writing?

— While writing, he didn’t think much about theme.  He was just out to tell a good story.  He believes that theme is a personal thing to a writer, and he doesn’t like talking about it, because not everyone will be struck in the same emotional way.

— If you tell an honest story, the message will express itself in your scenes.  Doesn’t like to make themes heavy-handed and obvious.

— The script started with a simple theme and grew from there.

— Doesn’t think much about theme, because he believes it forces meaning into the script that may not be intended or necessary.

— They had many different stories they could tell to arrive at the ending; once they found their story, they arrived at the theme.

 

Overall, it was a really great evening, and they seemed like a great group of people.  Here’s hoping I can attend more events like this in the future!

Peace,

-Tim

This may get verbose, because that tends to happen to me.  When I set out to write a short story, it ends up a novella, and forum posts are not exempt, unfortunately.

Writer’s Block is just awful.  But as a man who has studied far too many creative talents over the years — piano, violin, drawing, theater performance, film / theater directing, film editing, film score composing, fiction / screenplay writing, and a partridge in a pear tree — I find the term “writer’s block” to be inaccurate.  Because the truth of the matter is that all artists go through this creative block.  I want to share with you what will hopefully be a brief re-telling of the event that happened in my life where I truly began to understand the nature of the creative block.

While pursuing my Bachelor’s degree in Film Directing, I would consistently work with the same editor on all of my films.  She was great at her craft, she understood the craziness in my head, and working with her came easily and naturally.  On my final film that I directed while at school, she tried and tried over weeks to produce an edit of the film with which I would be pleased.  I was never able to pinpoint for her what felt off about it, but she felt it as well.  Neither of us was happy with the work.  At the same time as all of this, she’d been having a rough patch in her relationship with her long-standing boyfriend of many years.  Eventually, she told me that they decided to break up.

The next day, she produced a near-perfect edit of the film.

She had a tremendous emotional block that wasn’t allowing her to stretch her creative wings, and I truly believe that that is the crux of most creative blocks from which artists suffer.

I say “most creative blocks” because I have some other thoughts as well.  When I experience blocks, they are almost 100% due to either emotional weight bogging me down, or one other thing: I find that I can easily hit a wall and become blocked when I’m trying to force my characters to do something that they wouldn’t actually do, just to move the plot forward.  (Or I’ll realize that the uncharacteristic thing that they did was a couple of pages ago.)

I’m very much the type of writer that openly listens to what the characters tell me they want to do, and I often end up deviating from my “plan” because I realize while writing that I was wrong about them all along.

Other advice that I’ve heard is that you should never stop writing when you hit a wall.  Otherwise, the fact that you’re at a wall will continue to loom over you, and you will be less likely to want to sit back down later to finish.  I’ve heard that you should always stop writing when you know exactly what’s coming next, so when you sit back down later, you can immediately jump into it.

I write multiple times per week, if not every day.  Sometimes it’s just brainstorming, sometimes it’s tweaking old work.  And I’m a very kinetic thinker – I pace like a madman while the thoughts of my story swirl through my head.  And when I’m in my chair actually writing, at least one of my legs is bouncing.  It’s like if I keep my body moving, then the story will keep moving too.  Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t.

The other big thing that I do in an attempt to keep my writing on track has to do with the environment in which I do my writing.  I can’t have a bunch of things going on in the background, because I’m easily distracted.  I prefer a quiet and private space.  Except for one thing: I have a specific music playlist in my iTunes set aside for when I write.  No vocals – it’s all instrumental film scores and video game soundtracks.  But I have the tracks separated by style, so if I’m in the middle of an action scene, I play intense music to put me on-edge.  If I’m working on a touching, heartfelt scene, I stick to the songs that evoke that emotion – usually piano and strings.

The music helps to distract me from my own emotional baggage while also putting my mind in the right mood for the scene on which I’m working.

Still though – sometimes I just can’t bring myself to write.  That’s when I step away from the computer and let it rest for a bit.  My blocks usually don’t last for long, and I find that once I’m in the mood to create, it’s hard to stop until I become exhausted and just have to take a break.

I was once writing a particularly intense scene where a man was trying to find the right words to say to his brother before he was escorted away to be executed, and even though I was growing tired, I forced myself to keep writing, because I felt like I was “in the zone” and that the words pouring from me was top-notch work.  When I finally finished the scene, I had exhausted myself so much that I sat back from my computer and started sobbing.

But now I’m off track.  I’ll save that story for another time. 🙂

Movie Quote Fun!

See if you can name the movies that go with these 20 quotes.

No cheating, or I’ll call you a cheater!

 

1. He was their friend, and he betrayed them. HE WAS THEIR FRIEND!… I hope he finds me! Because when he does, I’m gonna be ready! When he does, I’M GOING TO KILL HIM!

2. Then let us be rid of it… once and for all… C’mon… I can’t carry it for you… but I can carry you!

3. Oh, there’s a big surprise. That’s an incredible… I think I’m going to have a heart attack and die, from that surprise.

4. Ah, how shall I do it? Oh, I know. I’ll turn him into a flea, a harmless, little flea, and then I’ll put that flea in a box, and then I’ll put that box inside of another box, and then I’ll mail that box to myself, and when it arrives… [laughs] I’ll smash it with a hammer! It’s brilliant, brilliant, brilliant, I tell you! Genius, I say! [knocks over bottle of poison on flower, which shrivels up and dies] Or, to save on postage, I’ll just poison him with this.

5. Here’s something that if you want your father to think your not a silly fuck, don’t slap a guy across the face with a glove because if you do that, that’s what he will think. Unless you’re a noble man or something in the ninethenth century. Which I am not.

6. Dolphins. They think they’re so cute. Oh, look at me, I’m a flippy little dolphin, let me flip for you.

7. No! No! Don’t leave me here in hillbilly hell! My IQ’s dropping by the second! I’m becoming one of them!

8. This is one lovers’ quarrel we cannot get involved in, my dear.

9. For God’s sake, Chris! The whole world is watching. We can’t let him die in front of a live audience!

10. If I had known I was gonna meet the president I would’ve worn a tie. Look at me, I look like a schliemiel.

11. You wrote that the world doesn’t need a saviour, but every day I hear people crying for one.

12. I put a gun to my father’s head once. Ever think like that? He was passed out. Had just been yelling at my mom over nothing. Under-cooked meat. I went to my room, I held the barrel right up to his ear, and then I chickened out again. Of course it was a BB gun but still it would have hurt like hell.

13. Do you remember in kindergarten,how you’d meet a kid, and know nothing about them, then 10 seconds later you’d be playing like you were best friends, because you didn’t have to be anyone but yourself?

14. That you can lose yourself. Everything. All boundaries. All time. That two bodies can become so mixed up, that you don’t know who’s who or what’s what. And just when the sweet confusion is so intense you think you’re gonna die… you kind of do. Leaving you alone in your separate body, but the one you love is still there. That’s a miracle. You can go to heaven and come back alive. You can go back anytime you want with the one you love.

15. But look at my little arms. I can’t press the fire button, and jump at the same time.

16. [He] did more for [us] than you will ever know. My single greatest regret is that he had to die for our dream to live.

17. If we all go for the blonde and block each other, not a single one of us is going to get her. So then we go for her friends, but they will all give us the cold shoulder because no on likes to be second choice. But what if none of us goes for the blonde? We won’t get in each other’s way and we won’t insult the other girls. It’s the only way to win. It’s the only way we all get laid.

18. I’ll tell you what. The day I need a friend like you, I’ll just have myself a little squat and shit one out.

19. The whole world out there is full of people who hate and fear you and you’re wasting your time trying to protect them? I’ve got better things to do!

20. I once talked a guy out of blowing up the Sears Tower but I can’t talk my wife out of the bedroom or my kid off the phone.

Before everyone starts loading napalm grenades into their flamethrowers, I want to start by addressing the virtual elephant in the room: I’m a gay man.

Because I’m sure some explanation is expected, I will step on a very brief soapbox for a moment.  I am very proud of who I am and the things that I do with my life.  But what people need to realize is that when I think about “who I am”, being gay is hardly the first thing that comes to mind.  I feel pity for people that define themselves by their sexuality, either gay or straight, because I think it shows weakness of character and lack of identity in other aspects of life.  I grow tired of the “IT’S WHO I AM” argument, and I’ll show you why.

 

SCENARIO #1

Me: “Hi, I’m Tim.  Nice to meet you!”

Them: “Hello, Tim!  Tell me about yourself.  Who are you?”

Me: “I’m a writer, both fiction and screenplay, but I also have skills as a director and pianist.”

Them: “Really?  That’s really interesting!  Let’s get a drink and continue talking!”

 

SCENARIO #2

Me: “Hi, I’m Tim.  Nice to meet you!”

Them: “Hello, Tim!  Tell me about yourself.  Who are you?”

Me: “I’m a gay man.  I sleep with men, because I enjoy it.”

Them: “Oh… well… good for you, but that’s not interesting.  I’m going to go talk with someone else.”

 

I think I’ve made my point clear.  Now, let’s get back on topic and talk about why I will never write a gay couple into one of my stories.

My preferred genre of storytelling is action/thriller/suspense/mystery with sci-fi/supernatural subtleties.  And for those of you who have read my work, you’ll note that all protagonists in relationships in my stories are heterosexual.  While action/sci-fi obstacles can surely present themselves to someone of any sexual orientation, I consciously choose heterosexuals as my protagonists for one simple reason:

I don’t want my readers to become distracted by viewing my work as a political or social tent-pole that it is not meant to be.

I want my readers engrossed in the story that I’ve crafted and care deeply for the characters that I’ve introduced.  And the fact is that there are, unfortunately, still very many people in our society that cannot accept that a homosexual relationship is the same as a heterosexual one.  The second I make two lovers gay, I’ve made everyone – everyone – get pulled out of the story I’m telling and the world I’ve created.

“Oh, that’s gross,” some people will say.  “I don’t approve of this.”  And then I’ve pulled them out of the story.

“Oh, good for you, Tim!  You’re being progressive,” others will say.  So even the people that are OK with homosexuality are pulled out of the story.

And then there’s the “Oh, that’s so sweet!  That gay couple is so cute!” which is something many people tend to say, still proving to me that in their minds, a gay couple is different from a straight couple, like we’ve somehow morphed into adorable puppies when we’re in relationships.

Gays in society these days is too much of a “power topic”, and the thoughts it provokes from people are not the thoughts I want people thinking while they’re reading my stories.  I have a journey on which I’m trying to lead people, and it is my job to pull them out of it as little possible.  I am by no means suggesting that gay couples should not exist in literature.  I’m speaking from my own personal creative style and what I’m trying to accomplish with my work.  I do not write to change the world.  I write to pull people away from their own lives for a few hours and experience a world where anything can happen.  I want to lead people down a smoothly paved road with twists and turns, and anything in that world that is jarring in a way unrelated to my story arc is detrimental.

So, for now, I stand firmly that I will never write a gay couple into any of my stories.  Hopefully, someday soon, society as a whole will realize that gay couples are exactly the same as straight couples, but it is not the purpose of my stories to convince them of that.

I suppose I should never say never, because a time in my life may come when I decide my current style and genre of storytelling is no longer where my passions lie, but for now, it is my job as a writer to make my readers think and feel the things I want them to be thinking and feeling.  And distracting readers with subtle (or not-so-subtle) social and political hot-button topics is not where I want the focus to rest (unless it’s related to the plot of my story).

Perhaps my unwillingness to “be progressive” with the relationships in my stories make you view me as weak, and that’s fine with me.  You can think of me what you like.

I just want to tell a good story.

How true, Mr. Rohn.

I’m a writer.  For those that don’t know, I have an experimental writing blog called “The Prose Project.”  But I’ve been doing a lot of ruminating recently about what it is that makes a writer, and what it is that’s involved in the process of writing, and how — frankly put — a writer’s mind is a finicky bitch.

For those that call themselves writers, it is a job.  Not a hobby.  It isn’t something we do for ourselves, because it makes us feel good.  (It does make us feel good, but that isn’t why we do it.)  We do it in hopes of getting published, emotionally affecting others’ hearts with our stories, and making a living from it.  You don’t collect stamps hoping to affect others’ lives and make money.

Writing is a job.

Click here to keep reading…

I’m Still Here…

Hey guys and gals!

Sorry it’s been a long time since I’ve posted on my blog.  I’m been busy with other things.  More hours at work, less sleep, etc.

But some exciting news: Story 02 in The Prose Project began 2 and a half weeks ago, and I’m really liking where it’s headed.  It’s been a challenge for me, because the writing style is completely different from my norm.  But it’s important to challenge yourself!

Also, I’ve cleaned up the homepage to the site and added a pulldown menu at the top to more easily access any piece of prose you’d like to read!  Check out the revamped site here.

Hopefully I’ll be posting in this blog a lot more in the months to come, but for now, enjoy the weekly posts in The Prose Project!  (And don’t forget to vote in the polls!)

Peace out,

Tim

Read the finale here!

Hope you enjoyed the first story of the Prose Project!

🙂