Category Archives: Writing

Credit Where Credit is Due: Batman Edition

Still thinking of the Oscars this week and I came across this piece in Forbes which mentions a small coup in terms of credits.

You see, for the longest time, the iconic character of Batman was credited pretty much only to Bob Kane, when in fact, that particular caped crusader was not a solo act. In fact, there’s a Bill Finger award that has been established specifically to recognize comic book writers whose work in comic book writing has gone previously unrecognized (at least significantly).

So that’s a Throwback Thursday to make you smile.

Barry Lyga on Writing What You Know (kinda)

I’ve been musing on the old –and to my mind, inaccurate– advice to “write what you know” and I’ve been meaning to write a post about it.

Barry Lyga, as per his website (which you should check out).

But in the meantime –and perhaps for the better– how about I just link to a piece by novelist (and occasional Tohubohu screenwriter) Barry Lyga?

There’s a whole lot of nuggets in here, but I won’t spoil them for you. Suffice to say I agree with a lot of this and find that understanding how you’re like your characters and their experiences has rung true for me as both an actor and a writer.

As it happens, he has over 50 articles of writing advice on his website, so if you like what he has to say, read on! (And I’m sure he’d suggest picking up some of his books. Writers gotta eat, y’know).

But first things first, check out why you should write what you know (kinda).

Hangin’ with the Velocipastor

This week, I joined the Streaming Nonsense crew in their mission to review lesser known films available online. This time, we looked at The Velocipastor. Is it everything you want from a disillusioned-priest-becomes-dinosaur-and-fights-ninjas movie? Give a listen.

Classics per Checkout: the New York Public Library’s List

The New York Public Library (NYPL) released a list of its most checked out books in its 125 year history (it was founded in 1895). Coming from a family that includes librarians, archivists, and avid history readers, this was delightful news. I learned about it as the NPR story covering it was shared widely among my social media channels.

One curious note in the NYPL release: an honorable mention for Goodnight Moon, which I suppose they suppose people would wonder why it was absent. It turns out the NYPL’s chief children’s librarian didn’t care for it and, seeing that this was back in the age of traditional gatekeeping, made sure it was kept out. Dan Kois over at Slate has some additional details.

Strange attitudes about Margaret Wise Brown’s evergreen book with the green bedroom aside, the whole list is interesting, considering it does represent over a century of readers. I hope other library systems add their lists in time.

2019 By the Indie Numbers

I’ve mentioned author and indie published Russell Nohelty a couple times on the blog, both specifically about his book on selling your work and in his detailing his efforts to build his business.

So, as a bit of follow-up, all last year he did a monthly income and expense report about his business, often detailing what worked and what didn’t, what his predictions were, and what the basis of those predictions was. It was wonderfully detailed stuff: data you almost never get to analyze unless you’re doing it yourself.

So on January 1st, he did an income report not just for December, but for all of 2019. It’s remarkably open and informative.

Oh, and because I’m sure he wouldn’t mind, if you think you’d dig the stuff he writes, he has a Kickstarter for his “Godsverse” novels running for the next six days.

Murakami on Magic and Writing

Haruki Murakami

Magic and writing? Redundant, I know.

But anyway, this is from last year, but Japanese writer Haruki Murakami‘s birthday was yesterday, so it popped up in some of my feeds.

Emily Temple over at LitHub collected several of his observations on writing and –what can I say?– they’re a good way to start off the week.

New Year, New Works in the Public Domain

From Buster Keaton’s “Sherlock Jr.”

Public Domain is a topic I periodically cover here on the blog and what with works beginning to enter said domain once again in the United States as of last year, I suppose this might become a January tradition.

Thousands of works from 1924 are now yours for the re-imagining as detailed here in Smithsonian Magazine, Vice news, and art news site Hyperallergic.

I expect a heavy metal version of “Rhapsody in Blue,” stat. Get creative, people!

McQuarrie on Making Things and Playing the Lottery

Moving on from trying to make hobbies conspicuously unproductive, there’s the notion on not waiting on one’s creative aspirations and making things.

I wrote a longer post a couple years ago about this need to do and complete creative works, in part referencing the column above. Time is finite for us mere mortals, so you need to figure out where to feed your creative side while life happens. Maybe it’s on the job, maybe it’s outside it. For many of us indie filmmakers who –surprise, surprise– don’t do filmmaking full-time (see life happening above), that’s quite a task.

One of the notions you’ll see in the links above is the idea to just go ahead and do it. Carpe that diem, even if it annoys Latin scholars that you just mangled that phrase. Mister Keating has your back. Alea iacta est and maybe this time it’s a natural 20.

So, on the one hand, it’s nice to see an industry professional mirror some of those sentiments, which is what Christopher McQuarrie did on Twitter back in October. Not being a Twitter power user, I only picked up on it when someone posted No Film School’s recap recently in a writer group.

Christopher McQuarrie

The main thrust of his tweet thread is that those asking him for where to find an agent, read their script, etc., are asking the wrong questions, because on one level, it’s about submitting to the status quo of “the lottery,” the often random way one finds success and builds a career in Hollywood.

That he notes he realized that he was asking the wrong question and after winning an academy award no less (surely winning the lottery), made me sit up and take notice. In fact, hearing some of the same notions from someone who is absolutely “in the system” and has “won the lottery” that I hear from indie folks encouraging each other was striking.

The whole thread is worth reading, but I wanted to highlight some parts. One is the overall implication that he has played –and won– the lottery, but all that gets you is the ability to play the lottery again. This squares entirely with repeated anecdotes I get from people that Hollywood is a very binary environment, where you can be a one or zero at any time as far as various people believe.

And another implication is that if you’re not making something, you never get to be a ‘one’ in anyone’s eyes. And sometimes that something is not seen hardly at all, or it is seen and judged lacking, yet you focus on the “execution and not the result.”

That’s what I liked about him going beyond the oft-repeated idea of “doing what you love” You have to execute and keep on executing until you there’s more people that find you to be a “one”

On the Wordplay site (where the “Never Wait” column comes from), they mention writing a script is like writing your own lottery ticket. But McQuarrie makes the point several times how making a film, making more than just a screenplay, is actually giving you more chances.

“And it’s infinitely harder to sell a screenplay than it is to sell one’s proven abilities.”

~Christopher McQuarrie

I love that he closes with the notion that the business isn’t something to be broken into so much as you are the business to be acquired, that the creative folks we might look up to like-as-not made their own luck, and many –if not all– of them failed spectacularly along the way.

So make the movie. Do the thing. Don’t wait.

Rejection and Gary Owens

How does Space Ghost take rejection? Stoically. Very Stoically.

I’ve linked to Mark Evanier’s series on rejection before. It’s very useful for writers — and many entries perfectly connect to film and TV actors and voiceover artists.

This latest installment may resonate particularly with voiceover artists.

In the realm of voiceovers (and frankly, in plenty of realms), people like to work with who they know.

And it’s not only who you know, it’s safe bets. How does this relate to Gary Owens (aka the voice of Space Ghost to many of my generation)? Read on!

Spock, Chabon, and This Mortal Coil

From “Q&A”

If you’ve checked out any of the anthology series “Short Treks,” you’ll know the arguable standout thus far is the first season’s “Calypso” co-written by Michael Chabon.

Chabon, probably better known to many as an award-winning novelist, also wrote this season’s “Q&A” and is the showrunner for the forthcoming Star Trek: Picard.

When I saw a behind-the-scenes photo of Chabon and the Vasquez Rocks (a popular Hollywood “exotic” filming location and one very storied for Star Trek), you could just tell his connection to Trek.

It was very evident for “Q&A” and now from this piece in the New Yorker, one now knows just how personal Star Trek is for him. And if this pain, love, and loss can be found in Picard (and I suspect it will), then I am loking forward to it more than ever.

I could have put this in my final Crisis of Infinite Star Treks post, but this article deserves to be read now.