How to fix the prequels

Published December 31, 2015 by electricbluegaloo

Long ago, in a galaxy far away . . . mistakes were made.  Big ones.

Before I begin my rant, I have to say that the team at Lucasfilm are complete geniuses and I feel utterly humble to be their audience, but I really have to offer a couple of suggestions for improvement when it comes to the prequels.  There a great number of fans who agree with my assertion that the main characters ie Anakin, Amidala (or Padme, or whatever her name was!) and even Obi-Wan were not that likeable.  To summarise Mythic Scribes, the thing, the elec star warsONE thing, that the Prequels promised fans was the tragic downfall of a truly powerful and beloved Jedi master.  But that kid was just ANNOYING and later plain ARROGANT, and Natalie Portman’s introduction to Amidala was the kind of DULL that Kristen Stuart would strive for.  At the climax of Revenge of the Sith, Obi-Wan ultimately shouts at his grievously wounded former Padawan “You were like a brother to me”, but I’m guessing he means the kind of brother you boss around and criticise all the time because you always thought he was a spoilt little shite.  Not much love lost there and a classic example of telling because the showing was all wrong.

But I know you’ve spent the past 15 years debating all the faults of the films, so I’m really just trying to offer some solutions here.  Let me know what you think:

The whole slavery situation was a missed opportunity on so many levels.  Firstly, slavery sucks.  Seriously. It does, and Hollywood is morally ambiguous for glossing over that fact so blatantly.  Little Anakin of The Phantom Menace was just too clean, healthy and had far too much freedom to be a convincing slave.  It’s not only that a person/flying tumblr_m2d149jr0i1qgzqnco1_500dude owns you that sucks about slavery, but they’re generally pretty scummy towards you too, which leads to my second point on this topic.  When Anakin asks Qui-Gon if the Jedi have come to free the slaves the Jedi master says they’re not powerful enough to do that.  BOOM!  There you go.  Motive.  The Jedi, well the Light Side of the Jedi at least, are not powerful enough to free the slaves.  The film even shows that the flying dude is immune to Jedi mind tricks.  So if I was this kid I’d be thinking “what good are you, then?”

Here’s how I would have played it:  Anakin and his mother are kept in a dungeon with stinky straw and rats rather than a lovely light and airy house, but his mother, Shmi, is awesome despite this – like you can see some of the feistiness that will later come out in Leia.  (Visually this scene *could* reference all those times in Episodes IV and V when you waited to find out what was lurking below.) This situation would explain the polarity of Anakin’s character.  On the one hand he is so loved by his mother that he develops a healthy self-esteem, but being abused as slave your whole life is bound to mess with you.  At this point he tries to keep his Jedi skills a secret because he realises his owner would sell him for lotsa money if he found out.  So, the next action is that while Qui-Gon is trying to negotiate Anakin and Shmi’s release from slavery (because Anikin won’t leave without his mum) Darth Maul comes along and snatches the boy.  Totally, that’s what would have happened because don’t you think the Sith would have wanted to get their hands on him ASAP too.  That would help account for why Anakin’s later attracted to the power and swiftness of the Dark Side.  It also gets them off Tantooeen without Shmi; Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan’s pursuit of Darth Maul replacing the pod race.  It’s morally a bit black and white (in a good way for the narrative) but once they have rescued Anakin, Qui-Gon just decides to keep going to Coruscant.  Anakin never really forgives the Jedi for not trying harder to free his mother but Queen Amidala was so shocked by the plight of the slaves that she petitions the parliament for more to be done to abolish slavery, thus giving the relationship something more solid to build upon.  The last part of the journey is, though, that Shmi is never freed, because Anakin blames the Jedi, and himself, for her dying in slavery.  He tells Amidala “If Master Qui-Gon had just been powerful enough to free my mother all those years ago she would still be alive.”  Amidala also feels guilty that she didn’t do more to help.  He never went back to Tantooeen himself because technically the flying dude still owned him and the Jedi council made it clear that if he did go back they wouldn’t intervene to steal him from his owner – that’s against the law and stuff.

Of course another problem with the prequels was that we needed more of the relationships, less of the circus arts.  At the time it seemed really cool that CGI could allow Han Solo to walk all the way round Jabba the Hut, and all the ninja stuff seemed awesome (especially how many Aussies were involved in those scenes), but looking back, and now with the Force Awakens to reference as well, it all just seems a bit unnecessarily fancy.  At the end of the day, the Original Star Wars films were triumphant for the same reason that Shakespeare rocks – the setting, and even the looking-for-loveaction are secondary to the relationships.  IV, V and VI are really just a story about these 3 scared kids trying to save the galaxy, fight evil and get laid (thankfully in that order or it would have been a different kind of movie YIKES!).  I
get that there was a bit of confusion about the actual evil they were trying to fight in the Prequels, but can you imagine how the experience would have been different if Anakin, Obi-Wan and Amidala were just three kids trying to save the galaxy.  That, in a nutshell, is where the story went wrong.  Apart from the Lake District scenes, they were just hating on each other the whole time.  No wonder Anakin turned to the Dark Side, no one had his back on the Light Side.  Even Amidala spent more time disagreeing with him than loving him.

Here’s how I would have played it:  I would have had a lot more scenes with Anakin, Obi-Wan and Amidala together.  Obi-Wan could see there was something going on between Anakin and Amidala, but he’d say, “Yo, bro, I know how it is.  I had a girlfriend once, but use the force.  You just can’t go there”.  Anakin would be less of an arrogant butt face in my version and Obi-Wan would give his blessing to Anakin to go back and try to free his mother, maybe even attack-of-the-clones-portrait-banner-star-warswith Amidala, who is now showing signs of being strong with the force too.  The question of killing the flying dude would have been a moral dilemma because really, he’s not much of a threat physically, but he sort of deserved it (He would never have let Shmi take the protocol droid, C3-PO, and that just messes up the start of A New Hope anyway.)  And Qui-Gon would have come back as a ghost at least once.
I’m not sure how the Count Dooku and Clone Army stuff would have fitted in there, but leave me a comment if you have any suggestions.

One final piece of advice I would give the writers of the totally new versions of the Prequels: Get over yourselves. You fd1ucknow why the jokes in Christmas crackers are awesome?  Because they’re so bad they unite the family at Festivus. And that’s kind of how the humour in the original Star Wars movie worked: No-one considered the Cantina Music intellectual and the snot on Jabba’s face was not meant to be thought provoking.  The Prequels just took themselves too seriously and any attempt at humour was contrived.  You know which race of characters I’m talking about.  They should not be the only comic relief.  It was a lot of the background stuff that made audiences snortle in the first trilogy, so let’s see more of that.  Thankfully it looks like the writers of The Force Awakens seem to have heeded my advice so I don’t really need to go into detail here.

So anyone who wants to run with that – you are welcome to start working on the scripts.

2018 update – if you’ve read this far I’m guessing you’ve already seen all the films, but if you want to send me some love, you can buy them here and really get down to Star Wars marathon

Letters From Rapunzle

Published July 6, 2014 by electricbluegaloo

Letters from Rapunzel by Sara Lewis Holmes

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the story for anyone who loves fairy tales and the power they have to transport and transform. 12 year old “Rapunzel” is struggling to find her feet at a new school, a task made all the more difficult by the fact that she’s “three standard deviations above the norm” and her dad, beloved, strong and heroic, has been hospitalised with CD, Clinical Depression, the Evil Spell.
The story is told beautifully through the letters from “Rapunzel” to the mysterious owner of Post Box #5667 with a yearning and confusion that is balanced by a quirky and mischievous sense of humour. The retelling of fairy tales throughout demonstrates the creativity of both the protagonist and author herself. That “Letters from Rapunzel” won the Ursula Nordstrom First Fiction Contest attests to this being a very promising beginning to Sara Lewis Holmes career as a children’s author. She has tackled a difficult topic with sensitivity and a well developed understanding of Clinical Depression from the point of view of the child.
I would recommend this book to anyone looking to move on from (or to compliment their reading of) the traditional fairy tale, parents, teachers and anyone who would like to gain further insight into the experiences of children whose parent are effected by mental health issues.

Buy the book 

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No Explanation Needed

Published June 26, 2014 by electricbluegaloo

I have finally managed to get hold of “The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making” (downloaded it onto my phone from Audible) and it is a breath of fresh green air.

I’m only up to chapter 5 so there will be no spoiler alerts but I just have to share. I am so excited by it because in many ways it is exactly the book I have been trying to write for so long. I love the fact that there is no explanation (thus far anyway) for many of the peculiarities of Fairyland and its inhabitants. It is written in such a way as to give the reader a lot of credit for firstly, having a robust imagination and secondly, being able to find explanations when and where necessary. I say this is the kind of book I have been trying to write because it is similar to the imagined world my characters inhabit. When I had finished my session with Kate Forsyth last month I was so glad she didn’t ask certain questions like “Why this?” and “Why that?”, and as she was the one who recommended I “The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making” I can see why she was able to accept some of my characters just as they are. I think I have been reading so many standard story structures that I forgot a story written in this way is possible. I let Kate know from the beginning that the narrative voice was the thing I was most struggling with, but having started to read TGWCFiaSoHOM I can see why she told me to let it go. I really appreciate advice from extremely knowledgeable and experienced writers and others in the field, but sometimes I feel like these checklists are a bit like trying to write by numbers. I’m not saying they can go hang, but it is important to remember not to try to fit a round peg into a square hole.

I have just watched the trailer for the new hunger games and it pretty much reminded me of everything that annoyed me about “Mockingjay”.

The bloody blood and roses smell. If I didn’t need to know, if I accepted it as “just is” in the first book, then don’t mess it up by explaining it later. I do think there was a bit of second guessing, the old “second album” jitters and pretenciousness about Mockingjay. Anyhoo. Back to writing my own masterpiece of creative fiction.

List of 200+ Fun, Cool and Interesting Words

Published June 20, 2014 by electricbluegaloo

I love this list. It’s such as lovely way to wallow

Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)

Rainbow coloured swirl background

All writers love language. And we especially love fun words, don’t we? Some have funky spellings, tongue-twisting turns, a satisfying “ooh”…and some sound too hilarious to be true! So I’ve put together a list of favorite fun words that I’ll add to periodically. Have fun, lexicon lovers!

  1. adagio
  2. aficionado
  3. akimbo
  4. alfresco
  5. ambrosial
  6. anemone
  7. aplomb
  8. apoplectic
  9. appaloosa
  10. archipelago
  11. avuncular
  12. balderdash
  13. bamboozle
  14. barnstorming
  15. befuddled
  16. berserk
  17. boffo
  18. bombastic
  19. boondoggle
  20. bozo
  21. braggadocio
  22. brouhaha
  23. bucolic
  24. buffoon
  25. bulbous
  26. bumbledom
  27. bungalow
  28. cacophony
  29. cahoots
  30. candelabra
  31. canoodle
  32. cantankerous
  33. caterwaul
  34. catawampus
  35. chichi
  36. chimerical
  37. chimichanga
  38. claptrap
  39. clishmaclaver
  40. clodhopper
  41. cockatoo
  42. codswallop
  43. comeuppance
  44. conundrum
  45. convivial
  46. copacetic
  47. cornucopia
  48. cowabunga
  49. coxcomb
  50. crestfallen
  51. cuckolded
  52. curlicue
  53. demitasse
  54. denouement
  55. diaphanous
  56. digeridoo
  57. dilemma
  58. diphthong
  59. dirigible
  60. discombobulated
  61. dodecahedron
  62. doohickey (this is what I call a library due date card)
  63. doppelganger
  64. ebullient
  65. effervescence
  66. egads
  67. ephemeral
  68. extraterrestrial
  69. finagle
  70. fandango
  71. festooned
  72. fisticuffs
  73. flabbergasted
  74. flapdoodle
  75. flibbertigibbet
  76. flummoxed
  77. foofaraw
  78. fortuitous
  79. fracas
  80. frippery
  81. froufrou
  82. fussbudget
  83. gadzooks
  84. gallimaufry
  85. gewgaw
  86. gibberish
  87. gobbledygook
  88. gobsmacked
  89. gorgonzola
  90. gossamer
  91. grandiloquent
  92. guffaw
  93. haberdashery
  94. harumph

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Rock Star Writers

Published June 4, 2014 by electricbluegaloo

rock star writers  I’ve just come across a fabulous article featuring the fabulous Tristan Bancks (Thanks Belinda Murrell for sharing).

The gist of this article is that children’s authors are able to pull rock star like crowds – which is fabulous news, not just for myself as an aspiring author.  It comes back to the question of what is an author’s job.  To write books, duh.  But how do you manage to sustain yourself, and possibly a family, while writing said books.  This is not like the old days when only a few were published.  As you know many a book is self published through Amazon etc, which makes your book just one tree in the forest.  Have you ever noticed that people still refer to a hugely successful author as “the next JK Rowling”.  Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was published 17 years ago, a phenomenon like that does not come around every day.  Also, I think the general public would be horrified to discover how little of the cover price goes to the actual author.  You must realise that  there are a lot of links in the chain that gets a book from the brain to the bookshop.

So how does an author make some cash, to be able to give up the day job and keep writing.  By building a brand, for more on this, please take a look at Authors and the Marketing Conundrum

A lot of authors’ work these days consists of public appearances.  Many years ago now, Mal Peet spoke at a CBCA NSW International Connections dinner in which, I’ll paraphrase and possibly exaggerate, he told us:

“I became an author because I wanted to shut the door and write in privacy.  Today I have spoken to 600 students at 3 schools, and am up here speaking in front of you now.  Please buy my books.  The CBCA will receive 10% of books sold here tonight, and so will I.”

And with the advent of piracy in the digital age, the notion that authors can write a book and kick back, living off the royalties is even more out-dated  Check out the Facebook group Authors v Pirates if you want to read a real horror story.   This dilemma was discussed at the #SWF2012 #Forestforthetrees seminar.  I asked the panel if they thought there was anything that could be learned from the music publishing industry, to which the answer was “We can’t live off concert ticket and t-shirt sales”.  Well maybe, just maybe, we can! Can you imagine a hipster walking around with Roald Dahl’s mug on his tummy?  Or William Kostakis in his gym wear?  He he he! I can just picture it!  Oh yay for the rock star book writer in lycra.

 

As I muse in previous post, “Stories by the Digital Fireside“, the rise of social media has not lead to the decline of good literature, in fact making authors, and other fans of said literature, more accessible has obviously had a very engaging effect on the community.  I was going to use the word youngsters, but if you take a look at the crowds at a literary festival you will see a great diversity of age.

I hope that, as Tristan Banck’s article alludes, we will one day see stadiums full of crowds cheering for their favourite wordsmiths (there was a National Poetry Slam entry circa 2010 who spoke about this, but unable to find the clip I have instead included one of my other favourites below)

In my future, authors will be recognised on the street, hopefully not mobbed by paparazzi, but I think we are on our way to achieving the rock star status of the article above.

I once proposed a community service announcement to promote the CBCA/Book Week in which authors briefly described their memories of book week as a child.  Very sensibly, my CBCA colleagues suggested we approach footballers, actors and other celebrities to do the talking and appear  in the CSA.  Authors, you see, were just not cool.  Ok, we maynot be totally cool yet, with the exception of Oliver Phommavahn, but thanks to the work of people like Tristan Bancks, who recently appeared on breakfast TV as an expert giving his opinion of Disney’s Frozen, we may be on our way to being, well, not-totally-uncool.cool hunter

 

Once Upon A Time at the Sydney Writers’ Festival

Published June 3, 2014 by electricbluegaloo

Alas, I could not be there. Thank you for recapping this session

Field Notes from Fairyland

In this post, I recap and reflect on the Sydney Writers’ Festival session ‘Once Upon a Time: Myth & Fairytale‘, which was held on Saturday May 24 2014 at Walsh Bay.

On my way to the festival, I felt like a heroine in a fairy-story.

2014-05-24 10.15.37

I forged my way through echoing tunnels

2014-05-24 10.16.49

passed high castles

2014-05-24 10.19.14

stopped to speak to a rose

… and wandered up and down the steps of an empty tower (wrong wharf at Walsh Bay) until I finally walked beneath some fluttering pennants and came upon a crowd of people adorned in bright colours.

If I was in a fairytale, I would probably have been the first sister in the tale – the one who is easily turned aside from her quest by selfishness – as I looked aside from my quest for the right venue, distracted by the desperate need for coffee. And then the bookshop. And taking photos of the…

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Pinning Is Writing

Published June 3, 2014 by electricbluegaloo

So, after many years I have finished what I consider to be the first draft of my novel “Isa Ines and the Monkey Man”, although given all the editing I would probably call this 1.1 and hopefully in the next couple of days I will have 1.2 finished.  I have written about 25 000 words of this novel in about 3 weeks, not so bad for a single working mum!

I have managed to get this far with the support and encouragement of friends and under the direct orders of my very favourite author, who insisted that I allocate “sacred time” for writing.  She offered no sympathy for my situation, and insisted that I could make 2 hours a day and one day a week my writing time.  I have been able to manage to almost do this, and voila! here she is!

Wordle: Isa Ines and the Monkey Man

And so this brings me to the point of this post. If I am to spend 6-8 hours at the computer “writing” what counts as writing?  I know trawling through Facebook doesn’t count, but does pinning count?  I’m going to argue yes, it does.

I have been very good at not allowing housework to interfere with my sacred writing time, and have not been on any social media forums at all during my sacred time for writing this first draft. But the funny thing is, even after 14 years I’m not sure I completely know who these characters are.

Lets go back to ye olde Harry Potter.  A brilliant work of fiction, primarily for my part in the fact that I often found myself saying “Yes, that’s exactly what Hermione would do in that situation.”

I L.O.V.E. Hermione, Ron, Mrs Weasly, Snape, etc, and that’s what drags me along for the ride.  I feel such genuine happiness when the twins gloriously set off fireworks etc at Hogwarts, and it’s partly because I knew that’s the kind of thing I knew they would do.

As much as I would love to dive in and write the possibly 3-4 thousand words I think I need to in order to achieve draft 1.2 I think my time today would actually be better spent getting to know my characters.  It is essential that my readers L.O.V.E at least 2 of my characters and at this point I’m not sure that they do.

How do I achieve this?

Well, confession time – I once wrote a love poem to my hot water bottle, ok, guys it was winter and I didn’t own an electric blanket back then.  I think I need to spend a day falling in love with each of the characters.  When I write I will have them do something because that’s what the reader knows they will do, and just by doing what they know they will do this will have to solve the problem that they are facing.

My only problem is that I only have 35-40 thousand words for the whole story, JK had 6 thick books to flesh out these characters in . . . can I do it?  I’m not sure, but if I can I know the story will be better for it.  No the story is already good.  I know my telling of the story will be better for it.

So here are a list of activities that fall loosely under the banner of writing:

  • Writing (obviously!)
  • Pinning – settings, quotes, clothing, any relevant accessories, what the characters look like.  Create a board for each character, setting or event.
  • Drawing/scrapbooking-  the old fashioned way of pinning
  • Writing exercises – what’s in the bag, 24 hours in the life of, hopes and fears,
  • Asking questions – what questions might a reader (or interviewer) ask about the book – Why?  How?  What questions would the characters ask?
  • Reading – books.  Today I asked myself “Who is Alex?”  after some thinking, I realised Alex is Quintana, and a little bit of the dark side of Halt, and Froi. But we have to end up loving him.  I really needed a break from writing recently, I was like, when you smash too much dirt in MineCraft and fall into a cave and can’t get out, and then it turns night and the bloody zombies are trying to chase you.  So I read a book instead (They Came on Viking Ships, Jackie French).  I also like reading blogs by wonderful authors and by other literature lovers.

  • And, for special occasions like today, hanging out the washing –  See advice from the hugely talented Sandy Fussell

 and now I have just wasted an hour and a half of my precious sacred time trying to insert the wordle (it was so simple in the end!).  Have to get back to real writing now, after I hang out the washing.

I feel good . . . duh na na na na

Published April 29, 2014 by electricbluegaloo

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“Great things are not accomplished by those who yield to trends and fads and popular opinion” – Jack Kerouac.

— Book Quotes (@BookQuotesHere) April 29, 2014

 

I have done the #1k1hr thing and agree with the quote which generally says a writer is miserable writing, not writing and the only agreeable state is “just having written”.  I kept my head down and got it done.  I am taking a quick break now to answer the call of nature, drink coffee and think about how to overcome a big narrative issue while I hang out the washing.

The issue is that the story is being told by the main character to her classmates and teacher who have been mocking her for turning up late to class looking dishevelled.  She has had an adventure in another realm on the way to school and having fallen off a giant bee her dress is torn and she has bruising to the face.  If you have read CS Lewis you will know that time works differently when you pass through doors to other worlds. Therefore it is not a problem that she is only a couple of minutes late having had several months adventures elsewhere.  The problem is . . . why is her face and uniform a mess?  The fall happened about 24 hours into the visit, so I could either erase the reference to it thinking it should be healed but I kind of like it’s reveal and the effect it has on the disbelieving classmates.

If she was to return and begin telling her classmates the story at the END of the story ie tell the whole adventure in one go she should either be wearing her school uniform neat and as it was when she left the house before entering a swirling vortex, or whatever clothes she was wearing when she passed back through the doorway to our world.  And her face should either be as it was BV (Before Vortex) or possibly with a pink scar but no bruising, having healed over a 6-8 weeks.  I am breaking from Narnia Tradition by there being any physical evidence of any adventures had in other worlds.

I think the best option is one I was not expecting which is that she passes back and forth a couple of times, possibly just the twice.  This would however mean that I would have to now write what happened when she got home, having been slightly altered by the experiences in other world, but before the final transformative journey.  The only thing about this is that it would give me an opportunity to explore the “real world” relationship between the girl and her mother which I had hoped to make more subtle.

Anyhoo, lets see what comes of it.  I am determined to wrestle this beast into a first draft but it keeps turning into a bogart. You let it out of the mind closet and you never know what you’ll find. Riddikulus!

Riddikulus!

All First Drafts are Shit

Published April 29, 2014 by electricbluegaloo

Its easy to get miserable when you’re trying to mine your own brain for treasures.

There’s a place I like to go . . .

I have been writing “The Story” for probably close to 14 years now and it has been through so many incarnations that I can’t believe I am still working on the first draft. And agonising over it. I have to agree with Hemmingway that writing is easy, all you have to do is sit down and bleed. The trouble is I have never been into cutting. Keep strum has always been my motto which I think accounts for a lot of my writer’s block. Also procrastination. I just spent 10 minues checking online South African slang guides for the spelling of “strum/stroom” only to find it doesn’t exist, but I am sure it means to keep quiet about something.

Anyway, back to the purpose of this post. I have decided to treat this writing of “The Story” as a first draft, and my laptop is going to get pretty messy as it gets bled all over.

With my Monday writing sprint team as inspiration (being completed on Tuesday to dramatic and pointless ambulance ride and hospital stay but that’s a whole other story), and the promise from more successful authors that

I just have to bleed my way through the “first draft” stage. I have the upmost confidence in the story and what I want it to be, I just have to build a bridge from here to the sublime.
Ok, back to it now and let’s do this shit!
#amwriting
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