Sunday, January 28, 2007

Writing Lessons From the Sci Fi Channel

I just watched a very bad Sci Fi Original Movie called Gryphon. There are a few writing lessons to be drawn from this movie, mostly about what not to do. The movie is set in a fictional pseudo-medieval world with two warring kingdoms that were once one land. An evil wizard brings the ancient Gryphon to life in order to rule the world and the hiers to the kingdoms must work together to defeat him. Surprise! The heirs are male and female and they fall in love. This movie has every possible cliche every imagined. In fact, I think that every single line of dialogue is advancing some kind of cliche. Also, the special effects are cheap and cheesy, even by TV movie standards. But all that does not make up the lesson for today.

The acting is horrible. The dialogue is incredibly bad and melodramatic. Now what are the similarities to writing? There are two parts to unbelievable acting, the dialogue and the actors. The dialogue is your fault. If you write schlocky melodrama then you can only be saved by some supremely talented actors. Question: Who are the actors in your writing? Answer: Your reader plays all the parts. Readers invent character voices and looks and actions in their head. Some readers can take great writing and ruin it by not being able to visualize it in their head. Some can take terrible writing and turn it in to mental Shakespere.

The lesson here? I don't really know. However, this does shed some light on how very bad novels get published when some works of genius are overlooked. It also is a warning to all writers; you may be writing the next Really Bad Novel.

(By the way, to see melodrama done right, you must watch Invader Zim FOR I COMMAND IT!)

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