Posts Tagged ‘Joss Whedon’

Admit your faults

Posted: February 4, 2014 in Writing
Tags: , , ,

SplatterA lot of writers have a hard time letting go of their manuscripts and just getting the damn thing published. One of the biggest reasons is because it’s constantly not ready, it’s not done, it’s not perfect.

Perfection doesn’t exist, and it never will. Even the most beloved books on our shelves have their issues, but it’s a matter of those issues being outweighed by brilliance.

So learn to live with your mistakes. And learn to admit your faults.

Sometimes you’re going to have to settle when it comes to your story. You’ll have to use that cliche to get from point A to point B, or maybe you’ll have to leave that plot hole because there’s just no way to fill it.

A perfect example of this is The Avengers. If you listen to the audio commentary, you’ll hear Joss Whedon talking about his experience writing and directing the movie. The commentary itself is brilliant if you’re a Joss Whedon fan. I could listen to that man talk about anything. He so funny and insightful, and I love the way he operates.

But that commentary is also a gold mine for writing knowledge. And one of the biggest things that stuck out to me was when he talked about the scene where the Chitauri all died after their mothership was destroyed by the nuclear bomb.

I’m not proud of that either, okay? That’s… It was necessary to make sure we understood that they didn’t have to just clean up for the next 17 hours by still fighting, but… So they could actually have their moment of triumph. But it’s a device I am not fond of and probably shouldn’t have brought up.

I’m glad he brought it up, though, because we often think that writers don’t know when they use a cliche or can’t tell they’ve used a trope in their story, when in fact they probably just couldn’t find a solution to their issue. It’s not the end of the world, and it doesn’t mean they’re not brilliant. It’s just how things have to work sometimes.

Let me rephrase that.

It’s not the end of the world, and it doesn’t mean you’re not brilliant. It’s just how things have to work sometimes.

Your manuscript is not going to be perfect. Not ever. Make it as good as you can and then send it off to live in the hands of your readers. If there’s something wrong with your story, admit to your faults. Sometimes it just can’t be helped. But being aware of those issues and trying to avoid them in the future is the best thing you can do.

Have you ever written something and known it was a cliche or a trope, but also knew you couldn’t get around it? What did you do in a situation like that?


There are going to be a lot of great shows airing this fall. Some oldies-but-goodies will return, and there are even a couple of spinoff shows, which I always enjoy watching if I like the original.

There are going to be some new shows too, but I’m throwing down the gauntlet right now: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is going to be the best one.

If you haven’t seen the promo yet, watch it here:

Reasons why ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ is going to be AWESOME:

1. It’s a spinoff of The Avengers. I mean, you kind of can’t go wrong if you’re basing your show off of the third highest grossing movie of all time, right? People love The Avengers for about a million reasons, and even though nearly all of the characters from the film won’t be involved, it’s still based in the same world. And that’s definitely something to be excited about.

2. It’s a TV show. I’m a huge movie buff, but sometimes television just kind of trumps film. Would you rather have a two hour movie, or a 22-episode season? I guess that would depend, but in this case I’m super excited this wasn’t turned into a spinoff movie, but a spinoff show instead. We’re going to be able to get so much more action and information now, and it’s going to be amazing! I’m sure it’s going to go on to see many seasons.

CLARK GREGG3. COULSON LIVES. “I’m clearance level six. I know that Agent Coulson was killed in action before the battle of New York.” *Coulson emerges from the shadows* “Welcome to level seven.” YEAH, THAT JUST HAPPENED. It was so heartbreaking when Coulson died in The Avengers, so I’m so glad to see him back. I knew he was involved with the show, but I thought this might take place pre-New York Battle, but it’s not! He’s going to add so much to this series. 😀

4. It’s got it all. Action, comedy, mystery, supernatural elements. Seriously. We’ve got some kickass characters (they are spies, after all), some hilarious lines (I want to walk around quoting “Don’t touch Lola” all day), some intriguing story lines about the protags and antags alike (“S.H.I.E.L.D. Government. Scary men in dark suits that come after guys like you.”), and we’ve also got some superheroes. The latter is probably what I’m anticipating the most because we’re going to be able to see a lot more characters than just the ones in the movie. Yay!

5. Joss Whedon is involved. Whedon is like King Midas of the movie and television industry. At this point, it’s like saying, “Yeah, Chris Nolan is directing,” or “Yeah, Morgan Freeman is starring.” You know it’s just going to be out of this world. Whedon has a great record with television (well, according to the fans, at least), and this is going to be exactly his element. I wish he were MORE involved, but as of right now he’s sort of overseeing it and directing the first episode. Good enough for me!

Honestly, there’s about a hundred other reasons why I seriously can’t wait for this show (not least of which is that Melinda May looks completely amazing and whoever plays Agent Ward is, whew, *fans self*), but these are the big ones. I was excited before, but the premiere is better than I ever could have hoped it would be. It’s just…ahhh…*flails*

Yeah, that pretty much sums it up for me.

Are you excited for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.? Will you be watching it? What are you most looking forward to?

Bottom Line:

Watch it.


[No spoilers]

So, last week I shared my thoughts on the TV show Firefly. This week, I’m here to talk about Serenity, the follow-up movie that was made in 2005. As I mentioned before, Firefly only made it through the first season before it was taken from the air. Joss Whedon decided to make a movie to tie up loose ends and give loyal fans of the show some closure.

Whereas Firefly was a show about Mal and his crew, Serenity was very much a movie about Simon and River. River was the driving force behind the plot in Firefly in a lot of ways. It was because of her that the crew had to keep running from the Alliance – more than usual, anyway. But in the movie, River is the plot. She begins to act out, sometimes in dangerous ways, and Simon has to find a way to control her before Mal is forced to kick her off the ship. All this goes down while they have an intelligent and deadly assassin right on their heels.

So, how did this movie shape up against the show? Fairly well, actually. I watched it a few days after I saw the season finale of Firefly and I didn’t notice any major discrepancies. It felt exactly the same – just like an extra long episode. There were some things that threw me off a little bit, but I wasn’t sure if that was because I wasn’t paying attention, or because the movie didn’t do a good job of explaining it.

I definitely liked knowing a bit more about River and what it was like to be inside her head. She’s an incredible character with such a rich and complex personality. Summer Glau had a lot of time to shine in this movie, and she definitely delivered. Simon was also a bit more fleshed out, which was nice to see. I especially liked seeing some of the more lighthearted moments that they both brought to the table this time around.

I also liked some of the development with the other characters. Certain relationships came to a close. I’m happy with all of them, even if they all didn’t get a happy ending (and that’s as much as I’m going to say about that).  I’ve come to terms with it, and regardless of my personal feelings, it was good storytelling.

Also? Best tagline ever.

I also want to point out that River is not someone I’d want to mess with. She had some pretty action-packed fight sequences in the movie, and I was so, so happy to see that. Again, Summer Glau was just incredible and there was some beautiful choreography here.

So, what didn’t I like? Well, I didn’t like that it was over. These characters are so realistic and well thought out that you end up investing a lot of time and emotion into them. It’s sad to think that we might never get something new from this world.

It also left a few questions open. One in particular was Book’s backstory. It wasn’t a necessary thing to know, and maybe it was Joss’ way of leaving room open for a sequel of some sort, but I would’ve liked to have known who he really was.

Have you watched Firefly yet? What about Serenity?  What did you think of them? Was there anything in Serenity that didn’t sit well with you?

Please note that the comments section is NOT a spoiler-free zone. Feel free to talk about anything to do with Firefly and Serenity, as I’d really like to have a good discussion with other fans of the show. If you haven’t seen either one yet, proceed into the comments with caution!

Joss Whedon’s cult TV show Firefly aired in 2002, and it’s all but dead in the water. You see, it only aired for a single season before it was cut from our TV screens. It had a small but loyal audience, which continues to grow thanks to Netflix and word of mouth. Joss even did a follow-up movie called Serenity, to tie up loose ends.

So, it got its 15 minutes of fame and it blew it – why should you care?

Well, the thing is…it didn’t blow it. The TV execs did. It’s a great show, and one that I’d recommend to anyone – sci-fi nerd or not. The ratings obviously weren’t high enough to keep it on air, but I think that must’ve had more to do with finding the right audience rather than the story line.

Without further ado, here’s my top five reasons why I think you should watch it.

5. It does cowboys and aliens better than Cowboys & Aliens. Well, technically there really aren’t any aliens in Firefly. But it does have a definite Western feel to it. And it doesn’t seem hokey at all. I mean, think about it – they’ve lost the use of Earth and have expanded their reach throughout the universe. They’ve terraformed new planets to suit their needs. It gives a different meaning to the New Frontier. I’m not a big fan of Westerns, but this makes it feel new and fresh. It takes everything that’s good about Westerns and everything that’s good about sci-fi and mashes them together into something original and interesting.

4. They swear in Chinese. The show is set in 2517, and the only two superpowers left are the United States and China. These two have combined to form a central government called the Alliance. Two cultures have fused together, hence the strange combination of old-school pistols and Mandarin cuss words. I don’t know why, but it makes me happy whenever I hear them do this.

3. It’s gritty and realistic. The show is dusty, dirty, and bloody. It isn’t disgusting, but people get hurt – a lot. They’re not superheroes, they’re just normal people. Crap happens and they deal with it as it comes. The entire idea of how this new universe operates seems more realistic to me than a lot of other sci-fi shows. It’s a rough and tumble, people-will-do-what-they-have-to-in-order-to-survive sort of show. People die and backstab and make bad judgments, and it isn’t all shiny stars and cool spaceships. To me, this is what the future of space travel will probably look like 500 years from now.

2. It has a great message – hidden behind some otherwise shady dealings. Malcolm Reynolds is the captain of the ship Serenity, and he’s a thief – sort of. He’d rather do the honest jobs, but if it comes between him taking the high road and him being able to eat at the end of the day, he’s going to do what he has to in order to survive. That’s not to say that he won’t take the high road – he’s actually got a good conscience in him. If he thinks something is explicitly wrong, he won’t do it. And he might even find a way to stop it in the process. That’s the weird thing – the people who crew this ship are the bad guys. They’re running from the government. They’re thieves. They kill people. But, in reality, they’re also the good guys. The government is corrupt. They try not to steal from people who really need it. They save lives when they can. The lines between right and wrong are easily blurred out in Deep Space.

1. The characters. This is by far the number one reason why you should watch this show. I love each and every character here. Here’s a run-down:

A. Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds is the captain. He’s the one that makes the hard decisions and you can’t help but respect him for that. He’s tough to live with sometimes, but he does what he thinks is right and he’s earned himself a loyal crew because of it.

B. Zoe Washburne is the second-in-command. She fought with Mal during the civil war and is his most loyal crewmember. She’s just as tough, but her husband brings out a softer side in her. I like her because she’s a warrior, and she isn’t afraid of anything.

C. Hoban “Wash” Washburne is the pilot and husband to Zoe. He’s probably one of the best flyers in the ‘Verse and Mal is lucky to have him. He’s always got a funny crack to make, and he’s one of the more easily likeable characters.

D. Jayne Cobb is a bit of a difficult character to like, but at the end of the day you just can’t help but become attached. He’s a hired hit man and there’s just about one thing always on his mind: money. He’ll do anything for it, much to Mal’s dismay. He doesn’t always make the right decisions – and he doesn’t always care that he doesn’t – but he sticks with Mal anyway, and you have to give him credit for that.

E. Kaywinnet Lee “Kaylee” Frye is the ship’s mechanic and boy does she know what she’s doing! She’s got a natural talent and the ship “speaks” to her to let her know if something is wrong. She’s sweet and wholesome (though maybe not entirely in the notion that we’re used to), and she’s got a sense of right and wrong that’s even stronger than Mal’s.

F. Inara Serra is a Companion, which is the equivalent to a prostitute of high social standing. It’s completely legal and it allows her to enjoy the finer things in life. She isn’t ashamed of what she does, and it’s all done in taste on the show. Her and Mal butt heads quite a lot, but their relationship is one of the most interesting (and frustrating) in the series.

The final three characters weren’t original crew members, but are just as important to the story:

G. Derrial Book is a Shephard, the equivalent to a pastor. He’s got an interesting backstory – that’s a complete mystery to us still. He a devout Christian, but he also has quite a few interesting talents up his sleeves. I think he, above anyone else, understands Mal. He asks Mal the hard questions, the ones Mal doesn’t want to think about.

H. Simon Tam is the resident doctor. He’s extremely intelligent and graduated at the top of his class. But the Alliance stole his sister from him and did experiments on her. He threw away his entire life to save her. It isn’t easy, but his love for his sister is the driving force behind just about everything he does.

I. River Tam is Simon’s younger sister. She was a child prodigy and was taken to a special school – or so her family thought. In reality, Alliance doctors experimented on her and she became quite an interesting person – she’s partly telepathic, partly psychotic, and partly a dangerous weapon. Her character and the fact that her brother broke her out of the lab are the driving forces behind the plot of this show.

River is my favorite character pretty much because Summer Glau’s acting skills are off the charts crazy good.

So, for those of you who haven’t seen the show – what do you think? Does it sound like something you’d be interested in? I didn’t find anything special in the pilot, but each episode after that got better and better. By the last few, I was completely and irreversibly hooked on this show. Give it a few episodes and let me know what you think!

For those of you who have been Browncoats for a while. Here are some questions: Who is your favorite character? What’s your favorite episode? If the story were to pick back up again (we can only hope!) what direction would you like to see the show go in?

I’ll be back next Monday to talk about Serenity, the follow-up movie.