I spent yesterday at the Houston Writers Guild conference. After an hour-long Q&A panel with the three agents in attendance (one from Seattle, one from D.C. and one from NYC), the group broke into two tracks. I spent the day in Tom Vaughan’s session on Screenwriting and Storytelling. No, I’m not planning to switch to writing screenplays, but he had a lot of good advice about how good stories are told. About how to pose the Dramatic Question and how and when to answer it. About the importance of introducing something at the midpoint to change the tone and urgency of the story for the duration. Some of it can be applied to all storytelling, of course. Gave me ideas about how to go back to the novel I keep trying to rework and shape it better.
Last night we went to see Date Night. I can’t remember laughing so hard at a movie in a long time. I almost feel like I need to see it again because we laughed over every second line in places. The scene where the borrowed car has locked bumpers with the taxi is hilarious–the taxi driver, played by J.B. Smoove reminded me a lot of the Chris Tucker character in The Fifth Element. It was just one funny set piece after another, although it had an emotional layer that resonated–the couple on autopilot who are worried that they may be becoming, like another couple they know, just good roommates.
On Friday night, we watched up in the air, which we also liked. A sadder story, because the character answers his dramatic question (what does he really want vs. what does he think he wants?) only to discover that the person who incited this change in him isn’t available. Anna Kendrick was very good as the young, aptly named, Keener, who understands the theory of her job but has no idea of the emotional impact of what she’s doing. Vera Farmiga is interesting–she’s not beautiful, but fascinating to look at. I’m not entirely sure why the movie was nominated for an Academy Award–I didn’t think it was that good, but it was thought provoking, at least, which is better than most movies.
Flashforward this week: not bad. The double mole revelation was a bit of a surprise, although they projected it a bit in the previews by having the Dominic Monaghan character say to someone off-screen “They’d never suspect it was you.” When that scene didn’t happen with the original mole, it only made sense that there was another.
Fringe was also decent but unexceptional this week. I liked the exchange between Walter and Peter. Walter: “Could you get a sample of this puss, please, Peter?” Peter: “I always get the good jobs.”
I’m about 1/3 of the way into PD James’s book. Just about to begin the chapter on Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh and two other women authors of that era.