Saturday, March 18, 2017

Why I Hate the Christian Film Industry™

(the trademark symbol is largely unnecessary as the title of CFI is not trademarked, but it is aesthetically pleasing to do so and helps communicate the target for which I am speaking.)

I feel too strongly on this subject to do much of a preamble, so let's get right to business:

You didn't read that title incorrectly. It's not a joke.

I hate the Christian Film Industry™


Whew. There. I said it. Pray for my salvation.

Why do I - a Christian and a film enthusiast - hate Christian films, you ask? Oh, friend. So, soooo many reasons:


1. The Sacrifice of Art in the Name of ‘Message.’


I, for one, want to know why the Christian church is constantly smashing down on the creative outputs of their members for not being enough about God, or published by Thomas Nelson, or advocated by Willie Robertson. Why. We would rather squelch the heartfelt, beautiful, God-given art produced by our brothers and sisters for not showing a clear Conversion Experience rather than be amazed at the ability God has allowed us to have to make such fantastic, whimsical, thought-provoking, emotionally-resonant things.

This is point number one because on a purely personal and artistic level it. is. my. biggest. issue.

  • “Message films are rarely exciting. So by their very nature, most Christian films aren’t going to be very good because they have to fall within certain message-based parameters. And because the Christian audience is so glad to get a “safe, redeeming, faith-based message,” even at the expense of great art, they don’t demand higher artistic standards.” ~ Dallas Jenkins, movie reviewer and director of The Resurrection of Gavin Stone??? (I have no idea the merit of this new movie, but the quote stands on its own.)
  • “We have the makings of a movement that can change this culture. I honestly believe this. But I also believe the first step toward establishing the groundwork for a vibrant, relevant cultural movement based on scriptural thought is to stop producing “Christian films” or “Christian music” or “Christian art” and simply have Christ-followers who create great Art.” ~ Scott Nehring, in his book You Are What You See: Watching Movies Through a Christian Lens.
  • “If we are trying to evangelize, the fact that most Christian-themed movies are torn to shreds by non-Christian critics becomes an issue. If, however, we just really want to see our fantasies validated on screen, then we will write-off these poor reviews as “persecution.”” ~ Andrew Barber, in his article “The Problem with Christian Films.”

On a similar note, and as a sub-point here, I want to know what the Mormon church is doing that the Christian church is not. Every time I turn around, I discover that another of my favorite artists, whether it be in film or elsewhere, is a professing Mormon or at least grew up in a LDS home:
  • musicians Imagine Dragons, the Killers, and Lindsey Stirling
  • youtube comedians Studio C
  • authors Brandon Sanderson, Shannon Hale, Heather Dixon, and Brandon Mull
  • animator Don Bluth
  • actress Amy Adams and actor Will Swenson (both formerly)
  • etc, the list goes on
What ways of encouraging art and artists does the Mormon church employ that my Baptist upbringing, and the Conservative Christian community in general, is so sorely lacking in?

I have spoken to a few of my Mormon friends on the subject, and the basic gist of what I have gotten in response is this: the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints encourages their members to be in the world but not of it, and at the same time, to go out and live life. To create, make, behold, and enjoy. While I am not asking Christians to follow Mormon faith or theology - not at all - I would encourage you to look into the things other people, cultures, and even religions are doing when it comes to creating art for both secular and religious reasons. I think we can still stand to learn something here.

FILM. IS. A. FORM. OF. ART.

So stop treating it like it's not.

It is an artistic medium, my friends. It's not something you just open a machine, shove in some high-grade cameras, a solid three point sermon, and half a plot inside, and then hope for the best. Stop ignoring what thousands of film-makers ahead of you have learned over the years in the practice of this art, and take a few pages from their book. Write believable dialogue. Conjure accessible characters. Compose a bit of a score. Try something daring with those cameras. Surprise us. Challenge us. Flip the perception of our cultural norms on its head. You can't expect the secular world or even the discerning Christian viewer to watch, enjoy, or be influenced by your films if you don't pay attention to this.

Bottom-line on this point? If you are in a committed and genuine relationship with Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, then you have no envelope to push, no reason to force a Message and forsake an art. With the Gospel as your foundation, everything you write and create will show that, with or without your direct intentions. And it will be natural, artistic, beautiful, thought-provoking, and the natural overflow of your love for truth.



2. The Christian Culture’s Subsequent Villainization of Hollywood.


This past Christmas, my sister gifted me a book titled Behind the Screen, “Hollywood Insiders on Faith, Film, and Culture.”

I sat down almost before all the gift-giving was done and devoured the first three chapters before the holiday meal was served. It's a fantastic read, I encourage you to pick it up. But let me quote from the introduction which had me “Amen!”-ing and punching my fist to the sky every third word:

“We obsess about “the culture” endlessly; we analyze and criticize. But we can’t figure out anything to do but point an accusatory finger at Hollywood… Blaming Hollywood for our cultural woes has become a habit… Casting Hollywood as the enemy has only pushed Hollywood farther away. And the farther Hollywood is from us, the less influence we have on our culture. We’ve left the business of defining human experience via the mass media to people with a secular worldview…. In pushing away secular Hollywood, haven’t we turned our backs on the very people Christ called us to minister to - the searching and the desperate, those without the gospel’s saving grace and truth?”

This book, written by creatives and executives in the film world (including one of the writers from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the producer of Home Improvement, and even the multi-credited Ralph Winters, among a whole host of others), is a frank, beautiful, and challenging read for artists, Christians, and film buffs. And we need to be challenged.

What we also need to keep in mind is that Hollywood is one of the biggest informers of our culture today. Take a trip to the local mall, or just walk past a group of students, and you're going to see evidence of movies all over. This isn't a secret, it isn't a revelation, but it's something we need to stop ignoring. Movies are an important part of our lives in every aspect. We need to both pay attention to what they are doing and understand where they are coming from.

The point here is that the church culture says if it doesn’t come from Sherwood Films, or have Kirk Cameron or Ducky Dynasty in it, or have a conversion sequence, it isn’t Christian and therefore Christians should not view or encourage it in any way. This. Is. Crap. Pardon my French.

Beauty can come from imperfection.  Even unregenerate hearts still bear the image of the Divine and are capable of producing so much worthwhile and significant art. Which leads to…


3. Guess What? Secular Film Companies Make Quality Faith Films Too??!


There are multiple examples I could bring up here, but I’m just going to go with the one shining example I always think of: Dreamworks’ Prince of Egypt. It is purely a work of art from any standard, and that is the epitome of what Christians should be looking for in their endeavors to create good film. PoE is gorgeously animated, seamlessly directed, well-scripted, morally driven, and more Biblically and historically accurate than you would believe. And where it falls down on direct representation, it remains true to theme and character in the same way that a child's adapted version of a classic novel (theoretically) remains true to its own source as well.

And, also, I mean

 Just look

At this art

Like, wow


I sacrificed images on the first two points just so I could emphasize this one.

I could go on for ages about how much I adore this film. (Joseph, King of Dreams, is also noteworthy, but I feel not nearly up to par with the craftsmanship of its predecessor.) Okay, moving on...


4. I Do Like Some Films Made By ‘Christian’ Companies


I don't know, honestly I might step on people’s toes or surprise you by which of these I actually approve of, but here we go:

  1. I like Fireproof. I have many issues with it, but overall it is a fairly well-made, Hallmark-style emotional flick. The acting leaves much to be desired, but it’s a decent bit of showmanship, story, and truth (aside from everything working out perfectly in the end, hence the "Hallmark" remark).
  2. I do not like Facing the Giants. Give me Blind Side any day of the week, except don’t because… sports. "Everything is terrible, our sports team can't win, I'm going to lose my job, my wife can't have children - but, oh wait, I need to pray and trust in God - Now absolutely everything is better and my life is fixed! Prayer and Trust worked for me, try it today!" Friend, Jesus trusted God and prayed in the Garden for the Father to take the cup of suffering from him and he still went to the cross and died for you, let that sink in a bit.
  3. However, both Courageous (some actual real life dialogue and not a completely happily ever after, whaaaat???! Oh, but token conversion experience, of course), and the early-and-forgotten Flywheel (which, although low in camera quality and acting, is actually an enjoyable story), come in as films I would sit down and at least watch a second time.
  4. Risen is well-made and acted and has some establishment of genuine Craft. However, as far as story plots go, I feel a lot was sacrificed. The mountain-top encounter with Christ was, while perhaps the most generally cliche piece of story, to me the most heartfelt and provocative. After that…the film kind of ended in mediocrity. Like…what did the characters do after the credits rolled?? When the whole point of the film was... what the characters went and did after the credits rolled. I don't know, I just came out dissatisfied and slightly confused.
  5. I actually really enjoy Mom’s Night Out. The manic theme almost kills me, but the quiet and the reveal at the end is worth sitting through to see. As a double plus, there is a beautiful artistic element and the dialogue is almost flawless.
  6. Soul Surfer is decent. I think I've watched that one a couple of times. Some class-act actors, and some decent script-writing help level up the artistic quality - though those picturesque Hawaiian landscapes don't do the film any harm either. A nice touch was all the "is this the moment the shark attacks?" false starts, since that is the only sure thing moviegoers knew was going to happen in the plot. I would high-five them on that little bit just by itself. The story is also very character driven, and not Message driven, which is fantastic. The Message of it is important, but it is important through the characters, and not used as a heavy-handed plot device slingshotted at the audience.
  7. And I appreciate Luther. I don’t watch it often, because I personally can’t stomach the more violent aspects (the reason I haven’t/don’t watch The Passion or End of the Spear.) But Luther is a great biographical film, and I would encourage anyone studying Catholic and/or Protestant history, especially Martin Luther, to watch it. This is a Film in both art, message, and class.
Tbh, I’ve been avoiding most of the other Christian films, and those others I have seen I was simply not impressed by, which is why I won’t talk about them there.


5. You Don’t Have To Slap A Jesus Fish Bumper Sticker On It To Be Christ-Honoring



Walden Media is a prime example, I believe, of what Christians in the film industry should be doing. I mean, they’re not perfect at all, but they are not sacrificing art for message - or vice versa for that matter. While not strictly a Christian Film group, Walden is founded and run by a majority of Christian Conservatives who are actively seeking to make quality and wholesome films for people of all diversities. They’ve had a few flops and several more that just didn’t quite live up to their potential, but they also brought us:



-which are among some of my favorite films of all time. (And there are other fine examples to add to this list from Walden, but these are the ones I can appreciate artistically and thematically the most.) And the first and last are two of the most good, wholesome, challenging, encouraging films I have ever had the privilege of viewing - with absolutely zero sacrifice to the artistic expression of the chosen medium. LWW did not stand back from Lewis's original tale, or the themes he so lovingly furnished within it, just as AG did not flinch from telling the story of abolition or its champion in Wilberforce, flaws and all. Faith-honoring films, beautifully orchestrated, lovingly crafted, and viewed hungrily by Christians and non-believers alike.  

Walden Media and others like it work to produce well-crafted films, which are put out by *gasp* an assortment of believers and non-believers. Art. Good films. Not Messages dressed up in makeup with a classy Instagram filter and a 30-day challenge booklet to get your revival outfit on.

God changes hearts, people. Not movies. Movies challenge ideas. If you're going to a Christian Film for salvation you are looking in the wrong place. If you are going to a Christian Film to be made to think, to be inspired by the narrative, then your mindset is correct.

Note. In looking through various commentaries and articles on this subject, I just found this one in the link below, which is a superb read and really gets at the heart of what I feel, and am very badly trying to communicate:

 Why Faith-Based Films Hurt Religion

So.

When Christian Films start being an actual representation of creative community and the artistic talents God has given to us as personal and spiritual gifts, rather than a cheap way to try to force morality on Hollywood and on our neighbors without ever leaving the confines of our Bible Boxes in case we might get soiled, I may start appreciating the Christian Film Industry™. Until then??? I’ll stand behind my fellow creatives and my fellow believers and hope and work for the best.


6. Christians Can Enjoy Secular Film Productions.


I would even argue that they should.

We were created by a Creator God, who takes pride and joy in making beautiful things, in making each of us. And we are made in His image. We are creators as well, we make art all the time. Scripture tells us to worship God in everything we do. The movement of making “Christian Films for Christian Audiences because of Christian Reasons” is missing the point entirely.

We as creatives are not here to make God Art, we are here to make art that glorifies God.

This means we can walk into any theater in the world and experience a good, quality film, made by any production studio with an open mind and a Christ-governed heart and have no fear. While we need to be aware of the dangers film portrayals in the secular culture can bring up, with a good head on our shoulders and discernment in our choices, we can witness the art before us and it isn't sinful to enjoy a good movie. I might go as far as saying it is no less holy to watch a clean secular movie as it is to watch a Christian film. Friend, like I said in the beginning, if your eyes are fixed on Christ, then no movie is going to change that.

You don't go to heaven or hell based on what movies you've seen or been a part of. Let Scripture and the Spirit inform your worldview, and then go out and view the world. View the world as your fellow human beings view it, and compare that with how Christ wants you to see. Keep your eyes open. I'm not saying let movies inform your opinions, but be informed by the opinions in the movies, and no matter who produced them (Christian or secular), line them up with Truth. And enjoy the artistry. Enjoy the artistry. God did not create us as creators in vain.

7. Christ Does Not Need Hollywood. However, Hollywood Does Need Christ.

  • “While many missionaries travel to remote villages in Africa or South America to spread Christianity, [Karen] Covell believes her calling—her mission field, if you will—is right here in Los Angeles, in an industry that many of her fellow Christians find immoral or even downright sinful, both for its on-screen depictions of sex and drugs and the real-life sex, drugs, and other temptations that exist behind the scenes. Covell, who was a film producer in the early 1980s, says “the church did not get how I could justify being a Christian in Hollywood, and Hollywood did not get how I would follow God. It was a divide.” It was nearly impossible to meet other Christians working in the industry, let alone ones who would express their faith openly. “I said, ‘The church hates Hollywood, Hollywood hates the church. There’s got to be some way to bridge that divide.’” - in an article by Jennifer Swan.
A little-known fact about me, only known by a tiny handful of friends and family members at present, is that I have felt called, not merely to be a professional creative in the world of visual storytelling, but to be in ministry in it as well. Whether it be film or live theater, that world is calling to me, both in its creative endeavors, and in its desperate need for the hope, truth, life, and light of Christ.

Actors and directors in Hollywood and on Broadway are in as much need of the grace of our Lord as the starving orphans in the unreached people groups on the other side of the planet - same as your next door neighbor. They need us. So often, the only time these people are exposed to the Gospel at all, it's through the media we produce - including films - but more often than not, they are never exposed at all. Who is going to go to them if not us? Who is going to connect with them if not the filmmakers and writers and actors who follow a different Script, and a different Director? Let them see our art, but let them see our love, too. Let them see truth, and light, beautifully and respectfully portrayed. I don't want them to watch our movies and see Church Culture. I want to give them something beautiful, something that will stir their beliefs, something that will ignite their curiosity, something that will point them to Christ.

But if Christians continue to tie themselves down, and group themselves together, cutting themselves off from the culture and the culture off from them, then we are doing absolutely no heavenly or earthly good to anyone.

So, you see, it’s not just the artistry (or lack thereof) in the Christian Film Industry™ that gets to me.

It’s the fact that the film media culture is a people group that the church as a whole is ignoring. We are ignoring the impact Hollywood has on the world around us and still trying to be relevant to that world, which is counter-productive and just plain silly.

It’s the fact that I see actors, actresses, producers, writers, who are obviously searching for the Something that will fill the void in their souls, and their primary exposure to Christianity and Christ - the only One who can satisfy them - is the Christian Film Industry™. An industry which is largely filled with broad and meaningless substance -  because heaven help us we should talk about something real - and the rest of it is just plain bad art.

I believe with everything within me that God has called us to higher things than this.

Higher art, loving to create as he lovingly created us, and never being satisfied with the things that are less than Good, pushing us to go again, and learn, and change, and develop, and grow.

Higher impact, going deeper into the issues of our culture and our natures to address and satisfy the problems and needs that are felt be every human, not just the church-goers who will show up in theaters and in pews for Sherwood’s next big thing.



So, in closing:

Why do I hate the Christian Film Industry™?


Because I am a Christian.

And because I love film.

And I'm not going to stand idly by and pretend like it doesn't drive me completely mad with frustration and disappointment when Christian Movies are the laughingstock of both the Christian and secular worlds.

Please, please, please, stop guilting other believers into a mindset that there is something spiritually wrong with them if they don't watch, and enjoy, and promote Christian movies. Maybe the horribly-stilted dialogue was too distracting for them. Maybe the awkward acting didn't allow them to get into the story. Don't judge your friends if they didn't like the Christian film you asked them to watch. Chances are they had good reason to be disinterested. Go back and watch it again. Start judging the faith-content alongside the art-content. They should go together, not against each other.

(However, trust me when I say it isn't production quality that makes or breaks a film as far as history is concerned, it's artistry and the content written in that will do that for you. Hence why Monty Python is an eternal cult classic, while Avatar is a movie-goer's award-winning joke)

We as believers do not have to accept bad art and praise it and laud it because of a more-or-less (and, be honest, it is often "less") Bible-centered Message when it is poorly produced. Not because production is of higher worth than content, but because we can do better than this, and we should do better than this. If we are to make quality Christian Films we cannot sacrifice one for the other, they go hand-in-hand, lest by neglecting one you betray the other.

We need a change. We need a revolution. I hope to be a part of it.

The world is watching you, Christian. When the lights go down, and the screen turns on, and for just a couple hours out of eternity, hundreds of souls have their attention focused on what you've produced: what are they going to see? And who are they going to believe?

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Re-Imagining Lady and the Tramp, c.1930

(a light-hearted, mostly writing-related post)



I have multiple projects I should currently be working on. Everything from The Talents Guild, to Air Jumper, to an as-of-yet untitled superhero novel.

What am I doing instead?

Lady and the Tramp fan fiction.

Or, to be more precise: Lady and the Tramp as a humanized retelling, and set during the American Great Depression. Tramp is a hobo, Lady the heiress to a secured fortune, and it's a romp through 1930's San Francisco as Tramp shows a sheltered Lady the city he knows from top to bottom - but mostly the bottom.

The idea came from seeing pieces of artwork like these...


 
by Rica Diaz 

... as well as these...


by Tumblr artist Pugletto

...and, similarly "Bella Notte"...

by DA's Pugletz

and these adorable guys...

re-imagined by DA artist chacckco

and "Hey there, Pigeon"

by DA user taffygiraffe

and lastly this:

from the amazingly talented Taylor Parrish


Now, obviously, the time period varies in even just these pieces of fan art, with the last piece probably being the most canonically accurate, as Lady and the Tramp was set in a small New England town during the latter part of the American parallel to the Edwardian period. (Jim Dear gives Lady to his wife on Christmas, 1901, remember).

So why move a retelling to the Great Depression? Why not make it a modern telling, or host it in some other historical era such as the Gold Rush or the 50s or literally anything else? To be honest, it all has to do with the fact that I am ten thousand percent in love with a hobo Tramp. That's it, guys, that's the big draw.


I mean, just look at him:
by Jessica Deaton, also via DA

Added to that, however, is all the random information I have for that particular period of American history that is rattling about in my head and begging to either be used or forgotten altogether. So I'm going to use it - and, of course, gather far more useful information on the period as I research for the story.

It's still all a very new idea to me, but here's what I'm considering for it thus far:

  • Late 30s time period (subject to change)
  • Set in the suburbs of San Francisco
  • Tramp is a hobo 'station master' aka the guy other hobos come to for help
  • Lady is the niece/cousin/adopted heiress to a family fortune
  • Lady and Co are part of the exclusive high society of the time
  • 'Trusty' is a trapper who made his own fame and has always been a bachelor
  • 'Jock' will probably be 'Jacques' and is a wealthy widower, and probably a French-Scottish doctor
  • Tramp might be the son or grandson of Chinese immigrants
  • I have no idea what I'm going to do about the iconic spaghetti scene o.o
  • Si and Am will be twins under Aunt Sarah's charge, but slightly different
  • The Rat was originally named Herman, so that character is Herman 'the Rat'
  • Tramp's real name might be Daniel??? (see Happy Dan, the Whistling Dog)
  • Dogs will be featured because how could you not
  • Peg will be Peg will be Peg
  • Jim Dear and Darling will have real names - probably
  • Overall plot will remain as close to the original as I can creatively make it

And lastly, for now, have this absolutely delightful video of the original song "I'm Free (as the Breeze)" which was cut from the film when the story, and Tramp's character, took a slight turn away from 'Happy Dan' material, but is shown here along with some original concept art:




Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Similes: The Good, the Bad, and the "What the Heck"


What makes a good simile? What comprises a bad one? How often should you use similes in serious prose? How do you use them well?

In this overview post, I'll show some examples of different metaphors people have used, the pros and the cons of each one, and a few tips on when and how to use them in your own writing.

Okay, let's take a look at some Really Bad ones to start. A quick internet search of "examples of really bad similes" brought me these laughable and yet artistically depressing results:

  1. He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but a real duck that was actually lame. Maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.  [source]
  2. Her parting words lingered heavily inside me like last night’s Taco Bell. [source]
  3. The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for a while. [source]
  4. The red brick wall was the color of a brick-red Crayola crayon.[source] 

The first two examples are so ridiculous and hysterical, it's impossible to me that they were not intended to be seen as humorous rather than poetically descriptive, but who am I to say for sure?

As far as commentary on these similes of duck and Taco Bell is concerned, I will refrain from continuing at length. It is possible, after all, that the writer of #1 is expressing from a personal history of such an occurrence, this connection between their character and an honest-to-goodness lame duck who may very well have stepped on a land mine - it being unclear as to whether the duck or the man is the one who experienced this misfortune.



As for the pining lover with questionable dietary exploits in #2... admit it, Taco Bell can have that affect.

(I tried to find a Taco Bell meme to add but I don't allow that kind of content on my blog, so here is a completely benign Sign which grows vaguely but increasingly ominous the longer you look at it.)

If your intentions are to amuse your reader, 1 and 2 are not a bad road to go, but don't consider them in a serious scene. Avoid using similes that detract or distract from the drama of a scene.

Look at examples 3 and 4 now.

Both "hungry look... from not eating for a while" and "red brick was the color of a brick-red" are just lazy.


If you have written similes that sounds like these, DON'T WORRY, you have two very easy options to choose from to help you which shouldn't dampen your aspirations as a writer.

Option number one is that you consider taking them out and refrain from using analogies to the best of your ability - not every bit of prose has to have them, at least not complicated ones. Option number two is the longer road of learning to simile with style, while not drowning your reader in comparative description.

If you have a hard time thinking up a simile, it's okay. Similes are designed to invoke the senses with your description, but they aren't the only way to go. Instead of wrestling with "Her golden hair was like spun gold," find something else that is interesting and say that instead: "Her dour expression was not made more likeable by the appearance of her golden hair."


Let's take a closer look at some more types of similes before we jump to the good examples:


Aside #1: Commonplace Similes and how to use them wisely
  • "he was pale as a ghost"
  • "her eyes sparkled like jewels." 
Now, whereas these guys are a little dulled by sheer usage, they are simple and familiar enough to not be seen as directly cliche, and they actually do have a metaphorical quality as opposed to the Bad Examples 3 and 4. After all, they still get the point of feeling and description across. They have become so commonplace no one really notices what you're even doing, but they serve their purpose. They won't take anyone's breath away or startle them into deep contemplation, but they do their job adequately and modestly enough to pass in good, solid prose.

Do I recommend using the phrases which have been melted into gray obscurity? Not really, but it isn't something I will fervently preach against either.  If you're concerned with them being boring, drop a few synonyms or an extra adjective in there: "his pallor was the same bloodless tint as that of a long-dead spirit" and "they glistened there in the way an emerald necklace shines in a jeweler's case" are the exact same old similes, but a few tweaks with the help of a good thesaurus can help bring them to life in a way your reader will be able to experience in the story and remember afterward. This can get a little verbose, though, so moving on...



Aside #2: the Superflous Simile and when to use it without sounding like a drunken Shakespeare enthusiast

On their own, these are poetically beautiful, and once in a while, this kind of description is a welcome boon, but don't start writing high-schooler conversations with that tone and vocabulary.

Being a writer of prose as well as a writer of poetry makes me want the former to sing in the same way as the latter. If you are writing an Epic or Period Romance this is usually all well and good. If, however, you are writing a crime thriller, a middle-grade mystery, a modern comedic romance, a hard science fiction, or the rough and tumble life of a historical cowboy, you want to cut out as much of the long-winded fluff as possible, and that especially applies to the metaphors you use.

At the end of the day, just be practical about it. A naval sailor isn't going to wax eloquent about a dessert having the consistency of chiffon and silk, but an heiress (or even a thief) might linger a minute on a strand of pearls whose milky iridescence puts them in mind of the stained glass windows and ivory-bedecked facade of the local palace.



So that brings us to finally examine Really Good similes. Metaphor, analogy, simile, or whatever other term you want to use, it doesn't matter; this form of speech is one of my favorites and is well-beloved and well-used by pretty much everyone. You can communicate a myriad of images and emotions with comparative dialogue in ways you can't achieve otherwise. Behold:
    1. “Warmish-cool, with a faint taste like the hot July wind in cedar trees smells.” As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner.
    2. “Her romantic mind was like the tiny boxes, one within the other, that come from the puzzling East...” Peter Pan, by J. M. Barrie.
    3. “The water made a sound like kittens lapping.” The Yearling, by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
    4. “Her father had inherited that temper; and at times, like antelope fleeing before fire on the slope, his people fled from his red rages.” Riders of the Purple Sage, by Zane Grey
    5. "Mrs. Dursley was thin and blonde and had nearly twice the usual amount of neck, which came in very useful as she spent so much of her time craning over garden fences, spying on the neighbors." Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, by J. K. Rowling
    6. “Holmes looked at him thoughtfully like a master chess-player who meditates his crowning move.” The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
    7. "Like two doomed ships that pass in storm / We had crossed each other’s way." The Ballad of Reading Gaol, by Oscar Wilde [some more Oscar Wilde similes because they are almost as fabulous as Wilde thought himself to be]

    See how these descriptions have interesting angles and definition without using over-the-top speech patterns that distract you from what they're talking about?
    • Faulkner remains focused in analogy on the very nature he is describing, 
    • Barrie reflects at an intellectual level,
    • Rawlings is still talking about water, 
    • Gray uses fierce adjectives and verbs in consistency, 
    • Rowling uses Mrs. Dursley's appearance to talk about Mrs. Dursley's actions to paint Mrs. Dursley's character, 
    • Doyle doesn't stray from the cunning and tenacity of the stakes,
    • and Wilde uses both foreboding and sad images to conjure the end of a relationship
    Everything in these examples are necessary and lovely similes, and a great place to look for inspiration toward writing your own. Check out Homeric Similes, Shakespeare's inexhaustible collection, and watch for metaphors in the newest novel you picked up to read. They're everywhere, available for you to see and learn which ones you like best, and how they work to Serve the Story.

    ***This post is in no way an exhaustive piece on similes and their usage. Many articles and books have been written on the subject. This is merely a practical overview to hopefully help point you in the right direction.*** 

    Alright then. To sum up and round out this post, here is a checklist of little things to consider in using similes in your writing:

    CLICHES
    will get your point across, but try to spice them up a bit if you can

    CONCISE
    is a general rule, and may keep you from losing your reader's interest

    CONSISTENCY
    mainly stick to a recognizable parallel unless it's a comparison by opposites

    CONVEYANCE
    this is most important - use imagery that hearkens back to the image, emotion, or idea you started with


    As always, I would love to hear from you! Leave a comment down below if you have any questions, discussion, or would like to share some of your favorite metaphoric examples! :D

    Wednesday, January 11, 2017

    Stepping Back, and Stepping Forward


    Well, well, well, best-laid plans and all that (yadda yadda)

    As I've been posting about for the past several weeks, I did choose a new platform and begin the set-up process of a new blog, and I may well soon go back and really get it off the ground. However, in doing so, I came across quite a handful of unexpected cons to beginning a new blog on said-platform.

    So.

    I'm not going to. XD

    At least for now. I know, I know. Trust me, I am facepalming and headdesking myself to death over here. But I think this is best, and will work for what I am hoping to achieve. :)

    However, and as you may have been able to work out by the header image I've used, I am beginning a new Tumblr host home for my blog. The link will remain in the icon on the right side of this blog, and I'll also leave it for you down below. Tumblr is a huge site, with an avid following that doesn't appear to be going away any time soon, and I see it as a good opportunity to get my writing out there, get some readership, achieve community, give support, and everything I have been wanting to do since I started out on this journey oh-so-long ago. :D

    All of which is to say:

    Good News! I'm not going anywhere! ;)



    Other and Even Better News! You can now follow me on Tumblr!


    There's really nothing to follow yet over there, but I'll be copying some of my better old posts to the Tumblr site, and then new content will be going up on each. I will be linking articles I post here to my Tumblr, but it will also be full of randomness in writing hints, tips, problems, pains, cartoons, and etc. from other Tumblr users. Stay tuned!

    I'm leaving the url open to non-tumblr users, so if you ever want to drop by and don't have an account, you will be able to do so unhindered.


    https://kayjfields.tumblr.com/
    CLICK THE IMAGE TO VISIT THE NEW TUMBLR

    ((Also, yes, anyone who noticed: I did change my url and blog name. Part of the reason I started this whole "should I move" scenario was because Transcribing These Dreams in a lot of ways, simply doesn't fit me anymore. I love it, but I'm moving on. This blog and associated Tumblr will be run under the same name I live and write under.))

    As always, thank you for reading,
    Kay


    Coming Soon



    It's been longer than I would like, but these things do take time. I have the new blog selected (whoo-hoo!) and am working on setting it up (augh o.o ), which may take some time, considering I'm new to the platform and format. ;) I hope to have a link for my new blogging home up in another week at the very latest.

    ~Kay