Tag Archives: tv

Writing lesson from Castle

I love watching Castle for a lot of reasons, among them that it’s partly about writing, so the dialogue is snappy and the writing is, in general, full of win.

Except for the first half of season 3, which is where I am now on DVD from Netflix. The first half of the season was…blah. I thought maybe it was just me, but my husband agreed that it wasn’t what it was before. Of course, for a show as good as Castle, this brought it down to kind of mediocre, rather than actually bad, and, fortunately, it did get back on track and the second half has been engrossing TV once again. Went through a disc and half over the weekend and sent them back to Netflix for more Castle goodness. Already getting sad that we must be nearing the end of the season.

Mondays I usually talk about something that relates to writing, so I wanted to talk about a bit of scene from my Castle watching yesterday. I watched so much of this show yesterday that I have no idea what episode it was in or what it was about.

Castle is sitting. Beckett pokes her head out a door. He’s like, anything new [on the case]? She’s like, matter of fact, yeah.

Now at this point, Beckett’s about to reveal some information to Castle that’s pertinent to solving the mystery. It could easily be written such that she delivers this piece of information and Castle would then react. Cut. Or, Beckett could deliver the information, they could process it, and then decide what action to take next. Maybe that would be a more classic Swainian reaction–> dilemma –> decision type sequel. And it would leave a natural place to stop and pick up in the next scene with them taking action based on their decision.

What actually happened in the episode, was that Beckett handed Castle a folder. Castle opened it, read it, and made some kind of oooh, raised-eyebrow type reaction. Cut.

So we don’t actually know what that bit of information was, just that Castle found it interesting. We don’t actually know what kind of decision they’ll make, and have no idea where the next scene will take us.

Now imagine this isn’t TV where you’re committed to coming back after your commercial time potty break and finishing out this hour-long episode. Imagine that this is a book that’s going to take 4-8 hours to read and that this scene occurs at the end of a chapter. Imagine these two different endings for the chapter.

In the first one, Beckett delivers the information, they process it, they tell us what’s next.

In the second one, Beckett hands over the folder, Castle reads something, and says, oooh, and raises his eyebrows.

In which scenario are you more likely to stay up late to read just one more chapter?

It seems obvious, but I think we writers often tend to want to tell the reader stuff as soon as we can and that, when we’re writing, the way that occurs to us will more likely be the first scenario. And yet the second is a very simple way to hooking the reader deeper into the story, getting her to spend another hour in our world, getting us closer to that review that praises, “It was hard for me to put it down!”

It should be noted that, in the episode, this was just an add-on to the end of a scene in which stuff DID happen. You can’t be just writing a bunch of stuff that sets the reader up for something to happen and then say, nope, not gonna give you anything yet. That would be reneging. You certainly can’t be doing that over and over, or that book’s hitting the wall before too long. But once you’ve delivered something of value that rewards the reader for reading through the scene, this kind of ending is one tool you can use to pull the reader into the next part of the story.

The comments are open to talk about how awesome Castle is, how awesome Nathan Fillion is, how Beckett should lose the hottie doctor before I lose my patience. Or you can talk about writing, too, if you want.


Filed under writing

Thoughts on NBC’s The Cape

I watched the premiere of the The Cape when it aired on Sunday. Some of you know that I don’t watch TV when it’s on TV, so this was thing– a superhero thing– and thanks go to Andrew for reminding me. (Incidentally, I do believe it also happens to be Andrew’s birthday today. So click that link and wish him a Happy Birthday.)

The pilot, which you can watch at the link above, was two hours. Basically the show is about an honest cop who is framed for crimes he didn’t commit, and it’s all very public. He escapes capture, and then falls into this whole masked crusader thing as a way to clear his name.

The Cape thing is because the properties of the cape he acquires allow him to do some cool stuff and, along with the help of other characters he meets, give this mostly ordinary good guy some hope of achieving his goals.

Speaking of the other characters, there’s also an internet crusader with an alias who’s working to expose the corruption that’s been going down. And guess what? She’s a hottie, played by Summer Glau (River, Bennett, Terminator). Sounds awesome, right? Who could ask for more?

Um, I could. Because throw into this set-up, the wife and kid our hero is trying to get back to.

Say what now?

Oh, yeah, because let’s just slam the door on any hope of romance.

Because look, if our hero hooks up with our internet crusader, or if the wife hooks up with guy who just hired her, or if the wife and the masked man start making eyes at each other while she’s newly widowed and supposed to be pining for his real identity–none of those possibilities is attractive to this romance fan.

Fail. Fail fail fail. What’s going to pull me through this series now?

Imagine Scarecrow and Mrs. King, if you’re old enough, where Mrs. King started the series with a Mr. King. And OMG, what if Mr. King was around for the whole series? Then every show, after their adventure, Scarecrow and Mrs. King would be on the stoop. Will something happen this time? Will he try to kiss her? Will she let him?

Will Mr. King open the door and interrupt?

Whole. Different. Vibe.

Imagine Wonder Woman with Steve Trevor’s wife and kids dropping in all the time.

Wouldn’t it have been swell if the mystery behind Remington Steele was that he was a runaway deadbeat dad? No. Not really.

If you’re like me, you keep coming back to a fic because you’re intrigued by the romance. Even if that’s hardly the point of the show. (BTW, if you are like me, you’ll probably enjoy this article on superheroes and romance, if you missed it when I linked to it last week.)

Making that impossible in the pilot killed any hope that I’ll follow this show. For me, this was pure fail and more OMGWHY?

I didn’t much enjoy the pilot anyway. I found the beginning really choppy, the ideas not really new or interesting enough to draw me in and hold my interest for two hours. Plus, the villain’s super-cool contact lenses are really annoying to look at.

But I probably would have come back anyway for any hope of a superhero romance.


Filed under Superheroes, Heroism, and Romance

Angel or Spike?

Look, I know this topic seems a little past its freshness date. However, I also know that you know that I know that you still want to talk about it.

Obviously, this will be spoilery, so if you haven’t watched the Buffy series, get the heck out of here and go watch it, for goodness sake!! What have you been waiting for! What if the world ended tomorrow? Priorities.

When Angel showed up with his brooding and his shoulders, hey, I was an instant fan. The impossible relationship of a vampire and a vampire slayer was a brilliance that pushed all my buttons. I was captivated by this romance. When Angel turned, I was devastated. Again with the brilliance. Watching them on opposite sides, her guilt, the subtle sense and hope that the real Angel was still in there somewhere, struggling to get back to Buffy… :sighs: And then he fought his way back from Hell to be with her. That’s hot.

And then he left.

And that really wasn’t. Nope. That pissed me off. I quit watching the show at the end of season 3. The Angel series started, making it obvious that Angel wasn’t coming back, but then the first crossover episode gave me a ray of hope. Made me think that, maybe, there was some greater plan. So I watched. Watched Angel throw away a chance to be with Buffy again because, what? He didn’t trust the slayer to be able to take care of herself, and, ultimately, his own quest for redemption was more important than love. (I should probably mention that I still haven’t watched all of Angel because the show was a little too comedic for me. Someday…)

It was 7 years before I went back to Buffy to watch seasons 4-7. (Hold a grudge much. Oh yeah.) One of my best decisions ever. Because there was Spike. (If you’re hearing ‘Til There Was You right now, it’s just my head. Try to ignore it.)

Maybe part of what I love about Spike is his capacity for obsession. And not obsession with his broody redemption (although, generally, I’m into that), but obsession with the woman. I loved the way the series showed the darker side of Buffy, showed how similar these two opposites were, how they needed each other. I loved the way too outwardly strong characters were shown to have internal elements that were so susceptible to injury by others, and by each other.

There was an openness to Spike’s character that I never felt from Angel. Something that allowed him to be hurt, and for me, as a fan of the fiction, to also experience that, in a way that Angel never did for me.

Spike comes across as more selfish, while Angel can be all broodingly selfless and off to save the world. And that seems very heroic. But in terms of the romance, Spike’s selfishness felt like the you and I are all that matters and screw the rest of the world variety, with a bit of well, ok, I’ll face horrific demons, torture, etc., but only because it’s important to you, sweetie.

Really, I think that’s all any of us can ask from a mate.

So, how about you. Is it Spike or Angel? And why?


Filed under love, romance, tv