Monday, September 21, 2015

Dr. Smith and Character Arc.

Last weekend was great. I finished a second draft of "Rebel Shifter." I was feeling excited, but then the second week of school started for my kids and since then I haven't been able to get back to it. I hate getting pulled out of story for several days because I have to re-read a few chapters (at the very least) to get back into it.  


A few days ago, I read an article about character arc. This got me thinking about Dr. Smith from Lost in Space. I know this is outdated and don’t laugh, but I’ve always been disappointed in the movie. All I wanted the movie to be was a redo of the original first few episodes with modern special effects, better acting and more realistic personalities. Instead, the 
movie turned out to be some sort of convoluted thing about fathers not spending enough time with their sons. 

The character arc article reminded me of Dr. Smith because his character arc was never completed. On the original show, he started out evil and then turned into a bungling idiot/coward that at times had some soft moments, but continued to be evil. In the movie, he was evil and eccentric, which I thought was an interesting way to play him, but in both cases his character arc was never finished. 

Ideally, he should have been shoved out of an airlock, but the excuse was Professor Robinson didn’t want his family to see him as a murder. But why not? Isn’t it worse to leave your family in danger? Realistically, anyone would’ve killed him. Robinson could have done it when they weren’t looking and blame it on an accident. If Major West would’ve killed him, I feel that would’ve added an interesting dimension to his character.

There was another option. Since Dr. Smith was not killed, he could’ve been played as more of an anti-hero. There may have been a hint of that in a few episodes, but usually he reverted to his old ways despite learning lesson after lesson, he STILL got messed up in some evil plan and was allowed to live in an endless loop. It would’ve been much more interesting going into his background to find out why he went wrong and then slowly have him change from villain to hero. Instead, they relied on Smith to be the source of conflict, which was the lazy thing to do and the series dissolved into more of a comedy.

Anyway, it’s an interesting example of character arc not being completed. To some extent Loki from the Thor movies has this problem too. It will be interesting to see what happens to him.

Meanwhile, stop by Good Book Alert and check out the cover reveal for P.T. Dilloway’s latest release "Justice For All" now available for pre-order.

Monday, August 31, 2015

A Street Cat Named Bob is a good read.

Last week I came across a free copy of the book “A Street Cat Named Bob – And How He Saved My Life.” By James Bowen. I heard about this book somewhere before, and a friend at work let me borrow it. I like real life stories of people who overcame the odds, so I was curious. James had ended up homeless and for some reason he turned to heroin to help him sleep on the streets. The story starts where James had made some progress. He has a low-income apartment and is taking a Heroin substitute drug that is part of a phase in order to eventually quit completely. His only source of income is playing guitar on the street in London for money. Then a homeless cat starts hanging around. James eventually helps Bob who has an injury and isn’t getting enough to eat.

The interesting thing is just having the cat motivated James to improve his life. Bob became his friend when the rest of the world ignored him. There are also some unexpected benefits of having Bob around. The story goes through all the difficulty James has trying to overcome both drug addiction and homelessness.

In general, the book is an example of how helping someone can only come back to you in good ways.

Anyway, it’s a short novel and only took me a few hours to read it over the weekend.

Check out the video of James and Bob.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Everyone Loves a Skinny, Female Stock Character

Today, I have Miri Castor here to talk about trends in female characters. Thanks for being here today Miri.


Marvel movies are a blast to watch. If you’ve seen the more recent ones like The Avengers: Age of Ultron, or Antman, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. The action (more like the CGI), the corny one-liners, and the secret endings make them an enjoyable experience. Then there’s the one badass woman who likes kicking and doing acrobatic takedowns on the evil henchmen, and the one genius woman who’s a scientist and uses her brains to aid the superhero. In a world where women are objectified, glamorized, and glorified for their appearances, girls admire these token heroines because that’s all we got. I know I did when I was in my teens and my nerdiness was at its pinnacle. As I got older though, I began to notice a glaring pattern in the heroines I had admired-they were always skinny.
                I was beginning to wonder, “How come none of these heroines are ever fat? Not even a bit chunky?” People would tell me like it was a fact, “Fat women are unhealthy and can’t move around as much, duh.”  We instinctively correlate healthiness and fitness with skinny women, unhealthiness and laziness with fat women. But it’s wrong-being fat has to do with many factors other than food and a lack of exercise.  Associating thick thighs and chubby bellies with junk food and laziness is-well, lazy. Similar to the extreme end of skinniness, being morbidly fat comes with a slew of health problems. But you’re telling me Marvel can’t feature a woman with plump thighs as a love interest? A biophysicist? A sidekick? All of the above?
                Now you’ve probably assumed that my upcoming novel is full of fat female characters doing unrealistic backflips and jump kicks. You’re wrong-I have one. Adaeze, one of the denizens of the alternate world my protagonist Opal has to save, has got thick thighs and isn’t stick skinny. She’s got the brains and the brawn-if scifi/fantasy authors can create female alien races with two tails, one eye, blue skin, and four arms-and always making them slim if they’re love interests-I’m sure they can create a thick-boned alien girl. It’s 2015, we can have fat women in combat that doesn’t involve crashing into cars or rolling around on the ground for laughs. We can have fat women who create superweapons in their sleep, and have different kinds of fat women as our token heroines (until equality becomes a part of society, which I think will take a while). We can have heroines with thick thighs that save lives.
I think it’s high time we stop over-representing one type of female stock character, especially in the sci-fi genre. Apparently, every female alien, superhuman, and sidekick love interest exists as a size two.  At this point, you’re definitely rolling your eyes and saying, “Look at this bitter, fat girl who’s trying to write a novel about fat women fighting and being smart.” You are again, terribly wrong! I’m a skinny, twenty-one year old who’s grown bored of seeing the same type of women in my favorite books, my movies, and in the media.


Miri's book "The Path to Dawn" is soon to be released. You can find out more about Miri here...