Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Saturday, February 20, 2010

More Annoying Writing Things

by Sariah S. Wilson

Dear Joss Whedon:

I have followed you devotedly for many years. Few TV writers possess your wit, your verve, have their finger so strongly on the pulse of current cultural phenomenons, or write such strong female leads as you do. (Props alone must be given for writing the Buffy musical episode or for writing an entire episode where the whole cast couldn't speak and still managed to make me afraid to look out my windows at night, even now.)

And I will still probably follow your career and see what you do next as you employ some of my favorite actors/actresses and continue to write well.

But you and I need to have a discussion about this need you have to kill loved ones in the series finale.

By now I should expect it, but it doesn't annoy me any less.

I was willing to give you Spike, because Buffy didn't really love him and, awesome as he was, I knew you wouldn't let him stay dead (and sure enough, he enjoyably showed up on "Angel"). I was willing to give you Anya because her relationships had lapsed and she had become less important.

I was fine when Wesley died, because it meant he got to go and be with Fred (and I didn't really mind her "death" either because Illyria was entertaining).

But then in the Firefly movie, I was supposed to be okay with Wash dying? Unexpectedly, when you finally thought the crew would make it?

Or, as this is the reason I'm upset this go round, on "Dollhouse" Echo loses Paul to some random bullet? I'm sure this is all meaningful about how accidentally and quickly it can happen (particularly when they're so close to the end and about to defeat the bad guys), and you were upping the stakes or whatever, and I know you tried to make it okay because she could download him into her head, but you know it's not the same and you made this character on a quest to end her loneliness be the loneliest of all. Not cool. I'm sorry Fox cancelled your show (again), but that wasn't the ending I wanted. I'm irritated that I cared about a pairing that will never be.

This doesn't mean we're over. You'll write, and I'll watch. But I'm starting to be wary of getting invested when I know it won't end well for anyone.

(End of letter.)


I also had the misfortune recently of picking up the novelization of "Grease."

I wasn't expecting a literary masterpiece. But with movies I enjoy, I will read the book that goes with them (finding it much easier to do it that way than the other way - when I read a book and go see the movie I usually end up angry and frustrated).

So while browsing the library with my kids I happened to see this book sitting out. It was rereleased (originally written back in the '70s) during the 25th anniversary and I picked it up.

I took it home and read until I realized...that the point of view character was Sonny.

That slimy, lame, background character Sonny.

First problem - Sonny's not there when things are happening and so we have to hear about them secondhand. Part of reading a story is getting to be IN the action. I'm not in the action if I'm hearing about Danny and Sandy at the beach from Sonny (who wasn't actually there and seems to be guessing what all went on).

Second problem - I know it's all literary and artsy to have a horrible character as your protagonist, but said character should at least have something going for them to make them readable. I don't have to like them, but I should at least want to spend time in their head. They have to be interesting in some way. Why the author chose to take the least interesting and most annoying character in the movie to tell this story I'll never understand. It would be sort of like reading Harry Potter with Crabbe or Goyle as narrators. Not quite the same.

Third problem - trying to make Sonny the focus of the story. As a useless character (who could easily be wiped from the canvas and the story would not change without him in it, which should have been the author's first clue that this might not be a good idea) it just wrecks the story further and makes it totally unreadable.

So these problems led to me not getting past the first ten pages (and I'm someone who almost always finishes books).

I had to go and cleanse my palate with a Jane Austen and a JK Rowling (authors that I so admire), and am feeling good to go again with a new author.

Anything you've read lately that made you crazy? Or do you have go-to author/book that you read when you've resorted to throwing books against a wall?


At 2/20/2010 11:15 PM, Blogger Annette Lyon said...

Nothing particularly crazy-making, but I just have to tell you to go find and watch (if you haven't already) Joss Whedon's Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog.


At 2/21/2010 2:15 PM, Blogger Karlene said...

Haven't read Grease, but I totally agree with your letter to Joss Whedon. On every single point. Maybe you should start a petition for him to stop that. I'd sign it.

At 2/21/2010 2:43 PM, Blogger Anna said...

I typically don't like stories/shows where they kill off the good guy (or liked guy). If done right, it can be overlooked and still be a good book/show.

But, if they kill off someone just for the sake of killing someone, I don't like those. There needs to be a deep meaning, or make you think for it to come off okay.

At 2/21/2010 6:30 PM, Blogger RobisonWells said...

Perhaps your letter to Joss Whedon ought to have a spoiler warning.

At 2/21/2010 11:29 PM, Blogger Melinda in the Jello Belt said...

I read a movie review about a Nicholas Sparks movie that pointed out that for Sparks, being in love means throwing a funeral. When I saw the movie, and the teenage girl announced she had leukemia, I laughed out loud.

I have the same problem with Richard Paul Evans novels. In every one I read (I gave up after a while), the couple fell in love, then the man died tragically while the woman lived out the rest of her life in gratitude for her brief relationship with dead man. I wanted him to reverse the gender every so often, and just for the sake of variety, kill the woman and leave the man alive and pining away for her.

Then I quit reading Nicholas Sparks and Richard Paul Evans.

At 2/22/2010 10:32 AM, Blogger Sariah S. Wilson said...

Rob - all these shows are over/cancelled/etc. I considered a spoiler alert, but at what point do you draw the spoiler line in the sand? I understand for a show/movie that's still out in theaters or on the air, but do I need to worry about every person that may someday decide they might want to watch Buffy or Dollhouse or Firefly and now I've spoiled it for them? (Plus, I don't much expect people to remember random names from a post about a show they've never seen.)

So readers - if a show is ended and no longer current or a movie is no longer in the theaters, I might spoil the ending for you without warning. Like, for example, I hear that Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker's dad. ;)

Melinda, I cannot discuss Nicholas Sparks. I am unable to remain rational while doing so.

At 2/22/2010 11:31 PM, Blogger Kathi Oram Peterson said...

Sarah: You struck a cord with me in your letter to Joss Whedon. I have the exact feelings over Buffy, Angel, and Firefly all series I was invested in only to have my heart broken when characters died. And yes, I will probably be suckered into anything Joss does, because he is good. Good to know I'm not alone in my frustration.

At 2/24/2010 11:39 PM, Blogger UTMomof4 said...

Sonny? Who in the world is Sonny??
I really love a series I've recently started called The Miss Julia series, by Ann B. Ross. The books are about this funny, endearing elderly southern belle. They are excellent.

At 2/24/2010 11:55 PM, Blogger UTMomof4 said...

Oh, and Agatha Christie, especially her Hercule Poirot books. LOVE her!!


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