Monday, March 26, 2012

October Baby Movie Review

October Baby is the story of Hannah, a college student whose collapse on stage during a theatrical debut demands answers. Answers that lead to a shocking discovery about her birth.

Hannah was born after a failed abortion and deserted by her biological mother. Her adoptive parents, fearful that the truth would be too hard for their daughter, sheltered her from this knowledge.

Angry with herself, with her adoptive parents, and with her biological mother, Hannah joins her best friend Jason and his friends on a spring break road trip that takes her back to her birthplace, a place where she hopes she can find herself.

What she finds is the raw truth – more painful than she could have imagined. And now, she has to decide if she can find the strength to forgive.

Thumbs Up

I went to see this movie with some of my career-aged friends last Saturday and was impressed with how professionally it was done. The acting was superb – not awkward (as has been the case with some private films). The characters were believable, funny and lovable; and the plot unfolded at a quick enough pace to keep my attention.  

At a few points, I had to exercise suspension of disbelief or the willingness not to question the probability of the situation. I’ll just share the obvious one with you – that her parents withheld such a huge piece of Hannah’s history from her. They didn’t even tell her she was adopted, let alone, the product of a failed abortion. Naturally, there are some serious trust issues that unfold as a result.

However, the movie as a whole is excellent and well worth your time.

Just bring tissues. You will need them.

PG-13 Rating

The PG-13 rating is appropriate because of the story’s premise and theme. Abortion is a horrible crime – I don’t care what society says; I’m going to call it murder – and the movie does not sugarcoat it, nor should it.  The story drives home the sanctity of life while also offering the beautiful gift of forgiveness.

The movie itself is clean – no language, no sexual content or violence. The romantic interest that develops between Hannah and her friend Jason maintains clear, respectful boundaries – so refreshing to see and such a good example for today’s teens.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Snippets for Something Later

“Can you tell I’m easily distracted?”

“She was a very manly woman.”

And my personal favorite quote of the week: “Ribbons bother me. Why do we give them out as awards when we also use them to identify prize fair pigs?”

Ok, so what do these statements have in common? I scribbled them down in my small spiral pad, because they sounded interesting.

You never know when someone’s going to say something that strikes a chord with you. Will you remember it if you don’t write it down?

Keeping a small note pad within arm’s reach lets me jot down ideas, comments, even just things to do that I don’t want to forget. Half of what I write down I will tear out and toss later, but some of it may work its way into one of my character’s personalities or a dialogue sequence.

In his article A Day in the Life of a Writer, Jeff Heffron offers this insight into how capturing the commonplace can pay off in the long run.

In a single day, you can find enough ideas to write about for a good long while. Details, images, dialogue, events—in your life, in the news, in the lives of those around you. We have hundreds, maybe thousands of thoughts, ideas, impressions, and reactions that often are forgotten minutes later.
Heffron recommends the exercise of writing down everything that happens to you in a day. I’ve never tried the full exercise, but I have adopted the habit of keeping my small spiral pad by my side.

So take a minute to think back over your day. Did you hear something today that caught your ear? And if so, did you take the time to write it down?

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Plotting and Perspiration

Thomas Edison summed up the role of hard work in creativity and invention when he said, “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.”

I wish I could say that writers just start typing and the story writes itself, but 9 times out of 10, that’s not how it works. No, a story requires thought and planning. Along the way, you might discover some genius and the words may start to flow more freely  but not until you've rolled up your sleeves and gotten down to work.

I think back to one of my first art projects. My twin brother and I were in the same kindergarten class, and the teacher asked everyone to create and color a picture about the ocean and give it a title. Our “artwork” would then be judged and the winners’ work put on display.
Right away, I pulled out my crayons and started coloring. When I finished, I had a purple octopus, fish of many colors and probably some attempts at ocean seaweed. I got in line behind my brother and waited while he talked to our teacher.
His was not nearly as colorful as mine. In fact, it looked like a meager attempt to recreate a bunch of blue and yellow flounders from The Little Mermaid. I was thinking to myself how mine was totally better than his.
The teacher asked my brother, “What’s yours called?”
“The School of Fish,” he said simply.
I was only four at the time, but I remember my jaw dropped. What looked moments before like a lackluster picture now took on a shade of simple genius. About that time, my four-year-old mind registered that it hadn’t even thought about a title.
The teacher turned to me. “What about yours?”
“The School of Fish,” I blurted. She looked skeptically at my drawing and said kindly, “How about ‘The Hungry Octopus’?”
Yeah, so much for that blue ribbon. And sure enough, my brother won it.
His drawing was no better than my own – maybe worse – but he had taken the time to think before he started scribbling. And his planning paid off.
And sure enough, he found some brilliance along the way.
I’m not saying that you have to plot out your story on hundreds of neat little notecards and then put them in order (although I’ve heard this technique works for some writers). For my books, I keep a running chapter outline in Word. Sure, it’s a work in progress, and certainly, as I type, I give my story the flexibility to “write itself” when I find something’s not working.
But the required element is planning and perspiration.
Booker T. Washington said, “Nothing ever comes to one, that is worth having, except as a result of hard work.”
Yes, my friends, that includes plotting out your story and taking the time to plan.