Sunday, 24 June 2012

Writers matter

Recent BBC 1 drama True Love, a series of 5 improvised interconnected stories with a stellar cast that included David Tennant and Lacey Turner, highlighted one issue for me – that writers matter.  A lot.  And what I noticed most of all in this series was the absence of a writer. The lack of a coherent and intelligent script really showed and resulted in a disappointing viewing experience. What it especially lacked was depth and pacing. It takes more than good acting to make a drama convincing. 

I also feel it made for lazy television, a trend that has been accelerating for many years now.  A kind of reality TV hybrid.  One aspect of this is the way the lyrics and music of popular songs are utilised to convey the emotions of the characters, functioning like operatic arias; the difference being that an aria is specially composed whereas the current method is to choose an off the peg song and shoehorn it into the drama.  Maybe I’m being harsh.  Sometimes this can work very successfully, but it’s a device that can be overused and intrusive,  as it was in this series. (Soap dramas Holby and Waterloo Road are both culprits, programmes I enjoy watching, but the ubiquitous pop song, used unsubtly, often grates….)

I wondered why True Love didn’t work for me, when I find Mike Leigh’s dramas, which also employ improvisation,  so brilliant.  Answers on a postcard please…..
David Tennant and Lacey Turner in the first part of True Love

Lighting my fire

Names matter.  They evoke, suggest, depict.  They create atmosphere and emotion.   

I give things names.  I label them.  It gives them life, personality.  My Samsung notebook is Nettie.   My red Citroen C4 is Belinda.  Don’t ask me why.  When I looked at her parked in the space outside my flat I just knew she was Belinda.  Why not a French name for a French car?  Who knows? 

Product DetailsI have not yet named my Kindle, however.  Because I think the name given  to my e-reader is sufficient and, actually, perfect.   I love my Kindle.  It wasn’t love at first sight, not at all.  More of a slow burner,  appropriately.  But the word, Kindle, is so apt and clever.   It suggests igniting a fire, and also kin (ship), family.  Familiar.   After initial scepticism and the assertion that it could never replace the feel, the texture of a paper book,  I now read more than I ever have for years.  I still love books, but there’s definitely room for both, as the reading experience each offers is both different and complimentary.  What is so appealing about the Kindle is the fact that you can have so much on the one device and I can chop and change between essays, novels, non-fiction, etc.  It suits the way my brain works as my mind often jumps about when I read.  At the moment, I am simultaneously reading Amazon’s free guides to publishing direct on the kindle; a novel by Douglas Kennedy called The Moment; First you write: the worst way to become an almost famous author by Joni Rogers; and a recent discovery for me, Living, Thinking, Looking: essays by Siri Hustvedt,  which marries my fascination with philosophy and neuroscience. 
First You Write: The Worst Way to Become an Almost Famous Author and the Best Advice I Got While Doing ItLiving, Thinking, Looking

This leads to the other aspect of e-readers that excites me – I can see a book on Amazon that interests me and a few clicks and seconds later, I am reading it.  I often download a free sample and then go on to buy the book.   My appetite for reading is now almost as voracious as when I was a child, which delights me greatly.  The fire has been rekindled.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Blood and bone china

I do enjoy escapist fantasy.  The second series of supernatural drama Bedlam is proving to be fun to watch.  Characters, stories, setting.

But a recent discovery that I am currently recommending to fans of the vampire genre is the award winning web series Blood and Bone China.

Blood and Bone China is a feature length Gothic Victorian vampire film that has been broadcast on the internet in 12 bite-sized chunks. It was created and directed by award winning film-maker Chris Stone and set and shot in his home town of Stoke- On-Trent. Made as part of the Stoke Your Fires Film Festival it stars a wealth of up and coming local talent, including 'Hollyoaks' actress Rachel Shenton as journalist Anna Fitzgerald.

Loved it!  And it really made me think about how the internet has changed opportunities for creatives and opened up previously closed distribution channels for writers.  The future is indeed digital.....

Absence, books and storytelling

I've been away and I've been ill.  Time to think.  Time to think about writing.  And when the thinking is done, it will be time to write.

In the meantime, I have been using my kindle and now regard it with fondness.  I think the immediacy of finding a book on Amazon and having it at your fingertips is especially attractive.

I've also just finished reading (in hard copy) Me Before You by Jojo Moyes, which was utterly compelling and readable.

Me Before You

An engaging story is all about the way the characters are drawn, a statement echoed by the creator of the enthralling Game of Thrones,  writer George R R Martin.  No, I haven't read the Fire and Ice books yet, but am loving the HBO series.  Fabulous, engrossing, complex characters and landscapes.

Game of Thrones Poster

I'm also enjoying the revisiting of fairy tales in the TV series' Once Upon A Time and Grimm.

Grimm Poster

I always had a fascination with fairy tales, especially their darkness.

Life.  Stories.  Characters.  Life

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