Screen Scene: Fox Force Five

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“Fox Force Five” is the name of the television show Uma Thurman’s character in Pulp Fiction shot a pilot for and even though it’s a tiny part of the movie, it got my mind churning all those years ago. I developed five disparate female characters and wrote introductory scenes for all of them.

The following is Khadija’s introductory scene. She was a kick-ass former military officer, an Israeli Arab and Mossad agent, who found herself teaching suburban and rural women self-defence.

I never really took it anywhere and this was written all the way back in 2001. Continue reading

Everyman Versus Hero Versus Anti-Hero Versus Villain: Making Choices About Your Characters

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Every story has to start somewhere. For me, it always starts with the main character. I often don’t even know what the story is when a character will pop into my head and demand my attention.

When a character is born in this way, they often make their own choice about what kind of main character they will be. But then all the characters around them have to be created and assigned a broad character type. If you have complex characters, they will often fall somewhere between two types. So you end up with seven broad categories:

*Everyman (or everywoman)
*Everyman (or everywoman) verging on hero
*Hero
*Hero verging on anti-hero
*Anti-hero
*Anti-hero verging on villain
*Villain Continue reading

Book Review: Sisters of Mercy by Caroline Overington

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It’s a little spooky-strange-coincidental that I read Sisters of Mercy straight after reading Amnesia by Peter Carey (see my book review from last week here). I wasn’t planning to. In fact, I had five other books sitting on my bedside table that I was planning to read before tackling this one. And the reason it’s a little spooky-strange-coincidental is that Sisters of Mercy is the book that Amnesia could have and should have been. Continue reading

Plot Development Strategies

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I love character development but these days I always prioritise plot development, perhaps because it comes less naturally to me. But unlike character development, plot development is a much broader concept. Sometimes a good way to see if your plot is working is to compare it to some of the theories of how stories should be structured.

Back when I was doing my master’s degree, there were four theories I used to prepare my major assessment piece for the Script Adaptation subject. They’re not specific to script adaptation or even screenplays, but these theories are generally known as film theories.

So what? If it works, it works, regardless of whether we’re talking about short stories, novellas, novels, films or documentaries.

It might not work for everyone but if you compare your plot to these structures and find you can’t identify a key act or part in your story that these theories say it should have, perhaps you might have found the missing link. Continue reading

Character Development Strategies

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Once upon a time, there was only one way I developed characters. I started with an aspect of my own personality – thereby starting from a base of something I could understand through my own personal experience.

Of course, those characters didn’t remain these one-dimensional people for long. I began to build, adding traits and mannerisms and experiences completely removed from my own. In no time those characters would be completely unrecognisable from me except for that one, often deeply hidden, aspect that we shared. Continue reading

Book Review: Amnesia by Peter Carey

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Peter Carey is a celebrated Australian novelist and has won the Booker Prize twice, the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize twice and the Miles Franklin Literary Award three times. None of those awards were in relation to Amnesia and for good reason. It’s not of a standard that would attract the attention of even the most lenient reputable literary judge. Continue reading

Confessions Of A Reformed Perfectionist: Is “Good Enough” Good Enough?

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On the Australian television show, The Block, there is a sign in host Scott Cam’s HQ that says, “Good enough is not good enough.” It’s a fair enough sentiment when you consider what it is they’re doing: repurposing old buildings through significant structural change, often office buildings, hotels and blocks of teeny, tiny shoebox units and turning them into high quality, luxury and spacious apartments.

There are a lot of industries where “good enough” isn’t good enough. Building is one of them. Pharmaceuticals would be another. Medicine. Science. Engineering. We can’t have bridges falling down. We can’t have drugs that don’t work and doctors who work on a pass rate. We can’t have experiments that fail as often as they succeed. Continue reading