Friday, January 30, 2015

Superhero Story Planning

WARNING: Spoilers ahead for Sailor Moon, Spider Man (the first movie,) Iron Man (also the first in the trilogy.)

We all know that on top of my love of horror movies is my love of superhero movies. I don't care where they came from, if they're just made up for the movie, or whatever. Superheroes are my jam.

Moonie for life.

So no surprise when I've pulled some elements from the movies. The most common are as follows. I find it helpful whenever writing some superhero stuff.

Pretty self-explanatory but here are some more points.

Business as Usual
Ignoring the Bad Guy
Normal Setting
Current Situation
Normal is Not Perfect
Monster’s Powers
Life Too Busy/Refusal
Introduction to Love

Reign of Terror
Fight to Survive
Super Powers Start
Getting to Know Love Interest
Supernatural Aide
No One Special (Love Interest)
Crossing the First Threshold

Expanding Services to Public
Civilians in Danger
Separation from Known World/Self
Willingness to Change
Signs of Essence/Didn’t Know Existed
Each of these points should be filled or answered with a scene, a piece of dialogue, something subtle. Easily something that normally happens. (Please, for the love of moviegoers.)

Hard Lessons is harder than the others. Up until now, most of those points are okay in that order. During Hard Lessons, the very meat of the movie/story, there's a lot that can be going on at once. Here's a rough estimate on how the points would be ordered.

Feel free to change the order of them.

Fighting Bad Guys
Finding Unconditional Love
Distance Decrease

ID Blocks Essence/Approach/Black Moment #1
Kidnapped Love
Pummeled/Flaw in the Way/Black Moment #2 (this black moment is completely optional, just another nudge to push the hero over the edge)

Some of these steps will be a little...repetitive, in a way. Still, keep vague line alive.

Monsters Defeated
Fulfillment/Hero Essence
Refusal to Return
Want vs. Need/Outcome

Returning in Superhero Mode

World Hasn’t Changed
Crossing Return Threshold

CONTINUATIONMaster of Two Worlds

Now Forever is for the standalones and end to series. To an extent. Obviously, Happily Ever After is not going to happen if either everyone's dead or the hero hasn't wooed the guy.

FOREVERMission Complete
Loved Ones Close
Living in the Moment
Happily Ever After for Couple
Hero Got What She Needed?
Succumbed to Grief/Built New Life?

But the rest of those points really do help tie everything together. The best example of this forever piece (either than Sailor Moon) is Big Hero 6, which is great, by the way.

If you're planning to write a superhero story or movie, give yourself the benefit of great material. Watch all of the superhero movies under the sun and if you have the time, series as well.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Soap Opera Drama

Hello, everyone!

Today I'm talking about the top cliches/tropes in Mexican soap operas. I am not sure when these things cross the line from one thing to another but I know they're always used.

Mum and I just started watching a new drama. I'm not much of watcher so I was thrilled at the opportunity. (Working kinda steals the ability to watch daily dramas.) It really was nice to sit at a regular hour and follow some very dramatic love story unfold, but that was when I noticed some overused moves/writing.

Super adorable. Amor Real, a period drama.

1. There's always a rich family and a poor family.

2. More than likely, the girl is from the poor family, but sometimes it's the other way around. The woman always has to overcome, as a focus, her economic status.

A woman who works in the fields and her highly rich boss.

3. After being shunned by her true love's family. Naturally.

About a lady boxer and some guy who isn't cool enough for her.
4. This all happens after she goes skinny dipping in a gorgeous pool of water that is prelude to hanky pinky. (Consensual or not.)

I was so young I can't remember this one. But great opening song.
5. Now, depending on how this drama goes, there's premarital sex. Again, consensual or not.

She's evil and doesn't wanna be poor. So she marries blondie even though the other guy was studying to be a doc.
6. From this, if it's the love interest, it's usually resulting in pregnancy.

La Gata. You got me. I've never watched this one. But I've seen the commercials!
7. Which then leads the rich family to make the baby disappear after it's born. That and they probably tried to kill it in utero. Either way, baby is gone.

A girl in love with her sister's boy toy. Sister is evil and guy comes back to young sister.
8. Which leaves the man open to suggestion. And it's usually the family's suggestion. Naturally, they call the protagonist a whore, or had a baby. Usually, the story is the protag took money to stay away.

Mother and daughter, rich and kidnappable, hire some sexy bodyguards to protect them.
9. Dude leaves abroad to study and become a doctor. (Almost always.)

(I refused to repeat examples. So, enjoy reading this bit.)

10. This is the part where the girl kind of finds her own way out of poverty. Either she's secretly the daughter of a rich man or suddenly becomes a great entrepreneur. She comes into her own, becomes a woman, a little better dressed, blah, blah, blah.

It's been a long time, but I think she's the daughter of a rich guy.
BONUS: As the years pass, and they usually do, the characters feel the need to tell each other things they would have found out as they went. "As you know father, I was blinded eighteen years ago and I know this house without needing assistance."

Well, hello, debut. Still watching but inspired this post.
11. Two things happen during this time of separation between the protag and true love. They both get new lovers. A sleepy, money-crazed girlfriend for the TL and a pushy, secretly obsessed, dependent guy for the protag.

(Again, the best example for this one would be one I already listed. *La Fuerza del Destino*.)

12. Lovers meet again, sparks fly. More premarital sex.

*Destilando Amor*

13. Fight between them, more rumors. More separation.

*More Destilando Amor* (Seriously. That one made all tropes/cliches work, though. Very good even if the protagonists, as they usually are, are a bunch of idiots.)

14. At this point, more likely, the TL actually marries or is engaged to the shitty woman he was dating before.

*every novela ever*

15. The protag gets close to finding out where her child is.

(Am giving up on pictures.)

16. Protag usually is engaged as well to the person she was with. And depending on what kind of person she is, she'll either dislike him, hate him, or fear him. Sometimes pity too.

17. Generally, this poor sucker the protagonist is with, without fail, tends to be a boyhood or current brother-like-friend to the lover. With no end to the drama, legit. Confrontations spark because of this as if these two dudes weren't bffs before this.

18. Because he's obsessed, he either tries to rape her or someone already has, as her back story. Which is the shittiest trope/cliche/writing I've ever seen on screen. Highly uncomfortable.

19. Now the middle stuff, on how the lovers get back together ranges. The baby is found and they're racing to find him/her with his/her new family. The two don't want the other to marry--it doesn't matter because now they have lovers to dump and families to face.

20. Explosions. Car chases through rural roads--that end in flips.

One of my favorite things are the endings:

21. Bad guys are severely hurt or killed. But not before a lot of the main evils turn good with the arrival of their own children. Usually.

22. The lovers are reunited with their child who seems to seamlessly integrate in their lives, just as pure as they once were.

23. Wedding! White wedding with all their friends who survived all the attempts.

24. This one is not as common as I like but still pretty common. They go forward in time for all characters, to show us how they got along after the wedding. Everyone is happy, their families expanding and finally Fin which is the same as Happily Ever After.

Because I didn't add a million pictures, here's a fun fact.

She is now the First Lady of Mexico.

She's so adorable.

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Two Mr. Hero's Journeys, Second Half

EDIT: I have now watched the last Batman movie. So disappoint. So disappoint. Anywho, here's the last six in the Hero's Journey.

We're back! First Half, in case you missed it.

7. The Approach

Truthfully? This is my favorite step. *giggles evilly while bouncing on the balls of her feet*

External: This setback takes the cake. The hero questions his approach to achieve the goal.
Either because he was so freaking close to winning or because everything has changed. (Like it went from a search and destroy to a rescue mission to a funeral.)

Or it could be a combo of almost-win and everything-changed.

Either way, this is a stop and analyze, regroup, yada, yada.

Internal: The hero knows he's gone about this the wrong way. But really, this is much worse than tactics. It's personal. (Duh.)

The hero hides who he really is (Essence) behind another face (Identity, linked to Flaw.)

And these two clash. Identity gets things wrong and it leads to the Black Moment.

(I had trouble remembering what the Black Moment was. So for those wondering: This is the point where not only has the story changed but it's the moment when all seems lost and it looks like there won't be a happy ending.)


Batman's Black Moment is when Gordon is shot and killed at the funeral ceremony. Gordon, Batman's friend, is dead because Batman fought on the same way he had been, trying to do everything at once.

Batman realizes that he can't do it, maybe at all. (Need: limits.) And this might have a lot to do with Rachel being next. (Remember the post on The Nines? She's his motivation.)

And the story goes from fighting the Joker to appeasing him.

(Let's all take a moment to love The Dark Knight. c:)

8. The Ordeal

External: Stakes are high. For everything. Life and death situation. This is hero versus villain. (Or Father in some versions of HJ. This figure has life or death power so.)

Internal: The flaw is addressed. And by addressed, I mean, the flaw gets in the way. Now there's no way the hero can miss what he's doing wrong.

If the hero doesn't change in that instant, there's no way he finishes the journey.

Most likely, the hero dies.

And when Identity crumbles, Essence is revealed.


Batman and the Joker battle after a car chase over Harvey Dent.

Batman rides toward the Joker who's holding a gun of sorts but instead of going off the deep end and killing the Joker (Batman has a no-kill policy,) Batman swerves and crashes.

Because he has limits and if he didn't, he'd lose himself. (Remember Consequence from The Nines?) 

He also wouldn't have changed if he went all out and he might have not survived hitting the Joker.

The Flaw/Identity really tore up the city, possibly killed goons, and almost killed Batman.

That car chase could have gone a lot smoother, I'll tell you what. :P

9. The Reward

External/Internal: The hero is changed. Into his Essence, of course. The Flaw has been shed and true to the step name, there's a reward.


For his change, Batman is spared and even rewarded! His friend Gordon had faked his death and now stops the Joker from killing Batman.

10. The Road Home

External: The job is not done.

Here's the reason:

Internal: This is the internal battle starting. This is where the hero really proves he's FOREVER changed. The scarring and fighting from before wasn't in vain.

This battle is between Want and Need and at this step, he's presented with both.


It's nearly literal in Batman. (Nearly; damn I hate the word literal.) The Joker's pulled one more trick and now Rachel and Harvey are both in danger and in different places.

Batman can only get to one and that would 'break' his non-lethal code.

Want: Rachel, the person he's been fighting to keep alive and safe. But saving her would mean he'd work harder to do what he set out to do and that means never having her. (Crime never ends. No limits. You get it.)

Need: Harvey, the person he shares the burden of cleaning the city with. Harvey who can help Batman, save Bruce Wayne from doing this cleaning job forever. (Limits.)

11. Resurrection

External/Internal: This is the climax of the internal battle. This is where the hero proves he's changed forever and chooses between want and need.


Batman saves Harvey and proves that he's changed. Which blows. Rachel's dead.

Batman is shown his limits and he accepts them. He's getting help. He went after Harvey for himself (*weeps*) because he knew there wouldn't be a Rachel either way.

*sobs more*

I love you. RIP.

12. Sharing the Elixir

External/Internal: This is the last shot. The final image. It's totally afterschool special (in the sense that there's a lesson to share.) But more than that, this shows the hero got what he NEEDED.

(Otherwise the journey's not over.)

The final image should show whether the hero succumbed to his demons (not the flaw but the scars/grief. Remember the Black Moment?) or if he's built a new life.


Though there are more confrontations after Rachel's death and stuff, the story winds down. Though Batman has lost Harvey (yeah, what was all that for, right?) and he's taking the fall for bad stuff Two Face did, Batman takes it in stride.

He still got the point. He still realized that he needed something other than this octopus super hero shit he was doing.

Batman's not Bruce. Bruce is separate. Batman doesn't breakdown or give up. He's an *idea* (copycats, future Batmans! ROBIN!) and Bruce knows that. Bruce knows his limits. He's going to respect them.


(I haven't watched the third movie yet. No spoilers!)

What did you think? Any suggestions? Anything that needs to be fixed?

Hope you enjoyed! I'll see what else I blog about. :)

The Nines, Part Two!

(If you missed Part One, here it is.)

All right! Now onto the four that will focus on the hero's internal struggle.

If you ever had trouble with what your hero is struggling with, this might help.

I gathered Want, Flaw, Need from my versions (you read that right. I have two) of the Hero's Journey. The last, though, Consequence, was earned the hard way. Via Don Maass.

He's author of some great nonfiction books and has the best writing challenges on his Twitter. Go check 'em out.

But back to Consequence. You will *hate* answering this one. I did.

Not to worry, though. Hopefully this TDK example will explain.


This is what the character wants. This is the goal that comes before the Goal.

In TDK, Bruce wants to clear the city and he wants to do it to be with Rachel.


The Want is the internal goal, the Flaw is the internal obstacle or conflict.

Bruce's Flaw is that he has no limits. Everyone points that out. Batman goes out all the time, after everyone so when will he ever have Rachel?


Need is the Solution. Need is also the opposite of Flaw. If someone's a coward, they need to be brave.

Bruce has no limits. What he needs is to have them. Yeah, it's my paper if I'm doing to get a doctorate. Or whatever.

It's really not hard. What has to be difficult is the character's transition from Flaw into Need. Which leads us to...


*takes breath with you* Okay, Consequence is what is at stake emotionally. It's a personal stake.
What will your MC lose if s/he doesn't get the Need?

But at the same time, and for bonus drama points, what will your MC lose if s/he changes to the Need? For the maximum effect, all the character's decisions should be a sacrifice.

Like picking between two good things is more dramatic between good and bad.

If Bruce Wayne doesn't get the limits, he doesn't get Rachel, duh, but won't he lose himself if he's always Batman? So what he loses is Bruce Wayne.

And if Bruce Wayne does get his limits, guess what? Things are unsafe for both him and Rachel, him being a rich man and possibly a family man. Crime never ends, so this will be an issue. (BTW, side note, ew on the last movie. From start to finish.)

But still:

That's what I'm saying.

~Tangled, no?

Just make people squirm. You and the character to start.

Next part is The Two Mr. Hero's Journeys.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

31 Tried and True and Boring Too

EDIT: Because I said I would after watching a few more movies. Legit, this is going to get bigger and bigger as I remember what other things are on repeat. So: more to come!

Because rhyming.

Now, as promised long ago and oh so far away (sorry) the top billion things that need to die from movie writing so they can be watchable in the future. Because.

1. The teenagers who are a varied cast--and who seemingly have nothing really in common--who go out from supervised, sheltered to alone and deserted. Why in packs? Why teenagers? Why do all of you hate your parents/authorities so much?

Tough guy/jock/abusive dude, boy/girl next door who happens to be a virgin, slut, racial token, smart/nerd guy/girl, stoner. Yeah, we just all found each other in high school and have in common we're all the same age.

Hold on. The Scooby gang?
2. No one in zombie movie has ever seen a zombie movie. What now? In our culture, you've never seen a zombie movie?

3. Information comes from the elderly, person of color. Or someone batshit insane no one in town or in their right mind would find even a little reliable. Unless it's too late! STFU.

I went there.

4. Being noisy while hiding. I'm hoping you're stabbed, and so is everyone else watching.

5. Survivor women. Has anyone ever thought of letting men win? I mean, at some point, some guy did the rational thing and bolted while everyone else was slaughtered.

6. Sex. Sex is bad, but the act of killing is a direct parallel. And the whole movie is about a virgin sticking something phallic in someone else. Um.

Even though she is my favorite. After Ellen Ripley.
7. Mirror scares. Fuck you. I am no longer scared of my mirror now and that's scary.

8. The whole 'run faster than your friend' thing takes effect. Where are the fighters? Why do people not fight in a group?

9. Calling for someone in the dark when someone is chasing you.

10. The single moms are always MILFs. Actually, all moms are unless they're bad. I like seeing pretty people as much as the next moviegoer, but legit? It screams fake.

Not to say that there aren't beautiful mums. Just that there should be different kinds.
11. The ankle grab from the presumed dead villain. Why would you ever even go over the villain? Unless you are trapped you shouldn't. In case you are trapped, I'd recommend butchering the villain first.

12. Jamming guns, not working weapons when the villain arrives. This also sits with WTF was that at your house bro? A missile launcher? A civil war era sword? What?

13. Discarding weapons or allowing dead people to hold onto theirs. At least take the ammo!

Or like learn how to use stakes and axes and just basically do what I told you earlier not to do.

14.  Romance. Passion is both in murder and in love. If it's good. Make it depraved or you're making it a cliche.

15. The scientist/researcher/nut job who wants to preserve the Big Bad. Time to feed the land-walking pirhannas.

16. Deciding to blow up the unstoppable villain. How do so many of the protagonist survive putting together anything explosive?

17. Asking for directions. I don't know about you guys but as a teenager I would drive around lost too and it was called "an adventure". Why do so many of these people think, "hey, these rundown, clearly bitter, back-roads people will help me leave their  decaying town"? Uh, not in your life. I don't care.

"Yeah. I think I have heard something about 'civilization'."

This crazed-people-thing is getting old. Similar to this:

18. Tourist in another land don't understand language (typical) or customs and run into the wrong small town people in the jungle-covered woods. Please stop. Stop being an asshole.

Like places they don't understand and fucking shit up? Those people were honest organ harvesters, you impure bastards.

19. Small towns. Why is it always small towns? Killers are obviously scared of people. Group together and kill them.

20. Mom is to blame for most of the shit that people do. But abusive daddies? Cannibal patriarchs? Handsy uncles? *le sigh*

Where have all the good patriarchs gone?
21. Not leaving when there is a legitimate chance. Yeah, I could understand the whole revenge thing but if a spray of bullets, a machete fight, a car crash into a lake, and an atomic bomb haven't worked, it's time to get more fodder. I mean run out screaming into another back road and potentially flag down more psychos.

22. There's always an expert. I don't know about you guys, but I would be Googling things fiercely if something came about with me. I wouldn't even be brave enough to go to a historian/arms dealer/book worm for assistance or explanation.

23. A specific way of killing a villain. Jump backwards nine times before sunrise--and oh, wait. That's the birth control in Where the Heart Is.

And it actually didn't work out for the first person who tried it.
Magic and stupid, specific tricks gets sick and old. Like who wants to sit through you luring the hobbling evil into the same blown up mine he rose from and walk right into the center of the pentagram you drew? Like who?

24. The dream opening. Where something exciting is happening and it all turns out that our boring protagonist was having a moment before their alarm went off.

25. Ominous weather. "Stephen King is in town," is my favorite thing to say when it's foggy. But if something's in the fog, you're making that poor man wish something otherworldly comes out. Just stop using weather as an omen. It no longer works. (Sadly.)

And all that means is you have to set the tone in another way. Like maybe your killer likes humid nights versus cold ones. Think outside our very worn box.

"It's warm weather, bitches! Let's get this party started!"
26. A divorced man whose ex already has a boyfriend living in the same house as his kids needs to protect his small town from big construction that unearth an evil. Syfy, you've ruined me for this model. And because of that, I not-so-secretly want to punch every ex-husband/actor in the mouth.

27. Ancient evil we can't destroy? Why not crate it and send it to Timbuktu. For fucks sakes, what is in Timbuktu? What magical retaining powers are in crates? Why the fuck would you let this little horror artifact out of your sight? For a sequel?

"And they call it magic."

28. Children. Children laughing. The only way children's laughter is funny is when, a) you don't live with a baby. B) it's in the dead of night. And the laugh track is deteriorating from use. Please stop.

29. Kids who see dead people. What? Change it. Enough with the creepy kids who know creepy shit that turns on them. Why not have a kid like from The Orphan?

I'll say something's wrong.

And please, stop with the little boy demon. Damien/Nemo needs a moment, already. (Bonus points if you know who Nemo is.)

Anyone remember this meme starter?

*dances to music*
30. I hate when someone doesn't respond and the protag approaches and uncovers a corpse. The fuck if I will ever do that. Someone doesn't answer, I think they're the demon and I bolt.

*E would like to tell everyone that this may be as much her fault for years of relentless horrors as it is the fault of people being dead in movies.* --Ian Payin, Imaginary Lawyer.

31. Invincible Villain. Because fuck. Where's the tension in that? Unless your characters are people we would cheer for--the child protagonist of Halloween--we know how it ends and that is never fun.

We were all thinking it.


32. The over bullied kid who freaks out and takes it out on those around him, including the people who were protecting/loving him/her. Or the new Matilda, in most cases.

33. The stupid bitch who won't shut up. This can fall into some categories above but this is the worst. I don't mean the victims who run through the woods screaming, trying to escape the killer. I mean the women in these horrors who instead of listening to the MC/other character and judging quietly, constantly shuts them up or in general disbelieves everything. Commonly the girlfriend but sometimes also the mom. Male characters can also be this character. Annoying as f*ck.

34. This found footage explosion shit. You really can't love movies and found footage without thinking that Paranormal Activity really launched it. Sure, it was here before but that was the start. And it did pretty well on reasoning. Now so many movies want that feel of real but a) don't leave reality in the footage and b) cannot justify it. One of the movies I watched was, "I bought a camera. I want to videotape everything that happens." Why? "The people making this movie didn't say."

I hear ya.

Enough with the jump scenes and the bad music cues. Stop with the stupid characters. You need us to care about what happens to (almost) everyone on the screen. Be smart. Live above the cliches.

A public service announcement.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Attention Must Be Paid! Musical Duo Edition

Bubzbeauty promoted musical duo Amy & Ellen in one of her blogs and now I cannot stop with the listening.

*dances and writes about badass super heroines*

What do you guys think? :)